Oberlin Blogs

Waitlist Worries

May 7, 2021

Cora K. Hasegawa ’19

Being waitlisted requires patience. You haven’t been accepted and haven’t been denied and you may have to wait a long time for a final decision. The good news is we take students off our waitlist almost every year and there are things you can do to help improve your chances of being admitted. While every school manages their waitlist differently, I’ll walk you through some steps you can take if you’re still hoping to be accepted to Oberlin.

1. Let us know!

Respond to our waitlist offer. That’s the first way to show that you are still interested. If you’re really invested in attending Oberlin, reach out to your counselor and let them know. Tell them that if you are admitted, you’d accept (if that’s the truth). While it doesn’t guarantee admission, we always like to know who would enroll if we offer them a spot.

2. Make sure it’s all there

If you are serious about being admitted from the waitlist, make sure your application is complete. Every year we have students who are missing materials such as a second teacher rec, midyear grades, or financial aid documents. We need all of these in order to admit anyone, but if you are hoping to change the outcome of your decision, it is especially important that we have a complete application.

3. Add a little extra

In addition to making sure that your application is complete, it can help to add something new such as a letter explaining your continued interest, an additional teacher recommendation, or an updated resume. Updating us on what you’ve been doing since applying also allows you to include activities, awards, and experiences that we aren’t aware of. These updates let us know that you’ve stayed busy and that you have maintained your involvement in all your extracurricular activities.

4. Deposit elsewhere

One of the most important things to know about being waitlisted is that you should still deposit at another school, even if Oberlin is your first choice. You need to reserve your place elsewhere in case we are unable to offer you admission. At Oberlin, we begin to admit students off the waitlist beginning in May and disband the list by July 1. While it may feel like giving up, you can remain on the waitlist and hopefully we will have a space for you. 

The waitlist is a tricky process and we can’t make any broad promises, but I can say that the waitlist is not stagnant and is always changing. If you want to know more about one student’s experience being admitted off the waitlist, you can read this blog by Ben Smith ‘24. My colleague Elizabeth Houston ’06 has also written more about what it means to be waitlisted in hopes to help demystify what it means. Every year we know that we won’t be able to take as many amazing students as we would like, but the waitlist always gives us a chance to let in just a few more.

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