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How College Waitlists Work

Improving Your Chances for College Admission

No formula exists for successful acceptance to a university other than what each explicitly states in its requirements for admission. Universities, for the most part, stay away from quotas and make decisions based solely on the application package. Here's an example of what the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech each found to be important of its applicants in 2009:

  University of Georgia Georgia Tech
Grade Point Average
Middle 50 percent of all enrolled first-year students: 3.68 - 4.0; overall average GPA of all enrolled first-year students: 3.83Middle 50 percent of all enrolled first-year students: 3.67 - 4.04
SAT-1 Scores
For middle 50 percent: 1160-1360; overall average: 1263
For middle 50 percent: 1310-1470
ACT Scores
For middle 50 percent: 25-30; overall average: 27
For middle 50 percent: 29-33


So what can you do to stand out in the crowd? A well-written essay is a good start. Personal interviews are also important. It's a common practice for schools like Harvard to meet with applicants and ask them several questions -- both personal and professional. When all else is equal, the candidate who sells himself or herself the best can sway the vote. It's almost like running for public office. After all, you're competing with thousands of others for a limited number of available spots. Anything you can do to gain the advantage will help you secure your future.

Most of the time, colleges won't ask anything else from you while you wait for admission on the waiting list. It's literally a waiting game. With any luck, you won't have to wait long. But don't feel the need to sit around hoping for a spot to open up. Universities encourage applicants on their waiting lists to apply to other institutions. After all, what's the sense in putting all your eggs in one basket?

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