Because both of our kids have practice or other obligations most nights, we do not watch much TV in real time. However, this spring between the NCAA tournament, the NBA playoffs, and Carson Garrett (a Georgia Tech student) on Survivor, we’ve been a bit more tuned in lately.
Naturally, along with the shows and the games come commercials. In my opinion, despite the big budgets, the AI enhancements, and the vast amount of market analysis and research companies direct toward their ads, I’m not terribly impressed.
Recently, this sparked a big debate in our house. Then or now? Has the heyday, specifically of humorous commercials passed us by—kind of like the use of the word “heyday?” They contend there are some funny spots out there currently, and they even pulled up a few on YouTube that I can’t remember right now (because they weren’t funny).
So, in an effort to enhance the quality of their lives, I showed them a few of my historical favorites.
- Terry Tate, Office Linebacker.
- The frogs, wassup, and then there’s the pandora’s box of Bud Light.
- Capitol One. David Spade’s “No”
“Of course you like the Capitol One ads, dad. All you do is say ‘No’.” I can see how they feel that way (I can also tell you some of their requests are absurd). And as Georgia Tech has become more popular and selective, it’s also true that I’m saying NO more at work.
Do I enjoy this? NO.
Did I get into admissions or parenting for that purpose? NO.
But, since it’s that time of year in admissions land, I’m going to embrace those two letters to explain a few truths about waitlists.
Can I give someone from the waitlist my spot? No.
When colleges put out acceptances during their early and regular rounds, they use prior year’s yield models in order to hit class goals. In other words, they over offer knowing a certain percentage of students will say NO and attend a different college.
Here is how this plays out:
Example College’s yield is 40%. If their class goal is 1000, they need to accept about 2500 students in order to hit their goal. Now, in order to be sure they don’t go over, they may choose to accept 2300 or even less (with the anticipation of using their waitlist later), but the point is many more students are sitting on offers than actual seats/beds exist on campus.
Is the waitlist ranked? No.
A waitlist for a college is not the same as a line outside of a concert or restaurant. In other words, schools do not assign numbers or rank to waitlisted students. Instead, they watch their deposits closely in the spring leading up to May 1, and compare those numbers with their goals. If they see that their geographic, gender, academic, or other demographic targets are “soft” (i.e., not coming in at the level they are looking for), they may go to their waitlist early. Otherwise, they will wait until after their deposit deadline, assess the gap between their targets and their current number of deposits, and then begin making offers to “shape” their class.
Here is an example. Good College, located in Bonne, is trying to grow their Economics program. They have 560 students on their waitlist. After their deposit deadline, they see they still need 20 deposits to hit their overall class target. They also notice they have not seen growth in students for Economics—so guess who is getting the first wave of waitlist offers? You can replace “Economics” with a particular state or region of the country, another major, or any other priority the university has established.
Waitlist activity is influenced not only by the demographics and composition of the incoming students, but also by who is graduating and which current students they expect to return. In other words, if the university always wants to be able to say they have at least one student from each of the 50 states, none of the admitted students from Nebraska have deposited, and their one Nebraskan is a senior… “Welcome to Good, Mr. Bien from Kearney, NE.”
It’s May 2, 3, 4…so I’m calling to see if you can tell me my odds of coming off the waitlist. NO. First, we just established that the waitlist is not ranked. Second, while the majority of waitlist activity does occur in May, in the first few days after the deadline most schools are still refreshing browsers, checking to be sure commitments submitted prior to the deadline processed correctly in their system, and speaking with their president or VP about current deposits levels… or perhaps just getting ready for the office Cinco De Mayo party. Please don’t ask ChatGPT to generate another letter of continued interest and time it to send to the admission office on May 2 at 12:01 a.m.
Should I send another letter of recommendation? Mail a creative and colorful card reiterating my interest? Have my school counselor call? Convince an alum my parents know to text his friend who is a professor at the college to stop by the admission office? NO, NO, and definitely NO.
As long as you’ve accepted your spot, turned in what they asked for in your portal or the emails they’ve sent you, now is the time to do what the list says… wait. Admission offices regularly receive chocolates, cookies, and treats along with poems or notes. It is safe to say that a couple hundred grams of sugar and a few couplets are not going to outweigh institutional priorities. As a reminder, there is a distinct line between expressing interest and stalking.
The waitlist sucks. Some believe that so strongly they felt compelled to write a three-part series about the topic. You’ve been told to be proactive, to advocate for yourself, and to go after what you want. I get it. There are times for that for sure. Right now, the admissions roulette wheel is still spinning, and the little silver ball has not landed yet. NO. You cannot pick it up, make it go faster, or put any additional bets down. Instead, when it comes to the waitlist, I’m asking you to do the hardest thing…wait.
But contrary to what my kids say, I do like saying YES. So here are a few for you:
YES. You should be proactive- go thank a teacher, coach, boss, or counselor who has helped you along the way.
YES. You should advocate for yourself and go after what you want— focus that energy on what you want to see change on your team, in your job, or in a relationship.
Being in limbo is not fun or easy. It is, however, an experience you’ll continue to face in life with jobs, medical test results, relationships, and more. As I’ve said before, the admission experience, if you let it, has the ability to help you learn and grow in ways that will prepare you for college and life well beyond it. Hang in there. You got this!