Monday, 18 April 2016

Top US colleges putting thousands of applicants in wait-list limbo

Students applying to top colleges crave to hear “yes!” when decisions roll out in March and brace themselves for “no”. But huge numbers get a vague answer that is neither admission nor denial - a tantalising “maybe” - with an invitation to join a wait list.


Guanyu said...

Top US colleges putting thousands of applicants in wait-list limbo

18 April 2016

Students applying to top colleges crave to hear “yes!” when decisions roll out in March and brace themselves for “no”. But huge numbers get a vague answer that is neither admission nor denial - a tantalising “maybe” - with an invitation to join a wait list.

Wait-list offers far outnumber seats in the entering classes at many of those schools, a Washington Post analysis found. The University of Michigan last year invited 14,960 students onto its wait list, by far the largest total from among dozens of schools that The Post reviewed and more than 25 per cent of all applicants to the state flagship in Ann Arbor. Of the 4,512 who accepted a wait-list spot, just 90 - 1.99 per cent - were admitted to a class of 6,071.

Wait lists prolong the tension of the gruelling college search for tens of thousands of students a year, giving a glimmer of hope that often ends with no payoff beyond the satisfaction of learning that elite schools considered their bids worthy of a verdict other than outright rejection.

For colleges, wait lists provide peace of mind during admission season, enabling enrolment chiefs to plug unexpected holes in a class - perhaps nursing students, or prospective engineers, or out-of-state residents interested in business. But for teenagers on the cusp of high school graduation, the massive lists exact an emotional toll after they already have spent many stressful months in pursuit of their college dreams.

“I definitely do still feel like I’m in a limbo state,” said Apollo Yong, 17, a senior at Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, Virginia. He is wait-listed at the University of Chicago and Dartmouth College, and is wondering what his final choices will be as the May 1 deadline looms for admitted students to choose a school.

A strong International Baccalaureate student with an interest in biomedical engineering, Mr Yong plays the violin in the orchestra and picked up the mandolin for a part in the spring play Dark of the Moon. He has been admitted to the University of Virginia, Georgia Tech and the University of Texas at Dallas, and said that he is “really happy” with those options.

Chicago and Dartmouth both praised Mr Yong’s “impressive accomplishments”. But instead of admission they offered him places on their wait lists. “Initially I thought, ‘What did I do wrong?’“ Mr Yong said. He acknowledged feeling a curious mix of disappointment, frustration and hope in knowing that he qualified for those two ultra-selective schools, if only space would open up.

It is difficult to say what the chances are that Mr Yong will get into either school. At the most elite schools, wait-listed students seem to face prospects ranging from slim to none.

Chicago reveals little about its wait lists. Data from Dartmouth shows that it is hit-or-miss: Last year, Dartmouth admitted 129 from a wait list of 963, amounting to roughly 10 per cent of the entering class. But Dartmouth did not admit any wait-listed applicants in 2014 - of 1,133 names, zero made it to the New Hampshire campus.

The Post reviewed wait-list results for 2014 and 2015 at nearly 100 selective schools, drawn from responses to the Common Data Set questionnaire. Some colleges will start to make admission offers from their wait list in late April. Many, though, will wait until after the May 1 deadline for admitted students to make an enrolment deposit. Then, when they know how their classes are shaping up, they might dip into their wait lists. Or they might not.

Some famous schools, such as Harvard University, use wait lists but reveal nothing about them. Yale University disclosed that it invited 1,324 applicants to its list in 2014, about the same size of its entering class, but declined to reveal how many were admitted through that route.

Guanyu said...

Stanford, the nation’s most selective university, admitted a mere seven from its wait list in 2014 and none from a list of 927 in 2015. Wait-listed students also were shut out last year at Lehigh and Tulane universities and at the University of Maryland, as well as Bryn Mawr, Dickinson and Macalester colleges. They had little success at Carnegie Mellon (four admits) and Duke (nine).

The dynamics of wait lists provide a stark illustration of the pecking order in higher education at a time when top-flight students often apply to a dozen or more schools.

Consider students who have accepted admission to a school ranked in the top 25 by US News and World Report but not in the top 10. If those students get an offer from a top-10 school via a wait list after May 1, they might well accept it and forfeit their enrolment deposits elsewhere. But that, in turn, leaves the first schools they accepted with a suddenly vacant seat. So those schools must go to their wait lists, creating a cascading effect through the market.

Case Western Reserve, a private university in Cleveland ranked 37th nationally, keeps an eye every year on the flow of students to higher-ranked private schools such as Northwestern, Chicago, Carnegie Mellon and Emory, as well as public universities such as Ohio State, Penn State, the University of Pittsburgh, Georgia Tech and the University of California at Berkeley. Those schools sometimes lure strong candidates away from Case Western. “What happens there matters to us,” said Rick Bischoff, Case Western’s vice-president for enrolment.

To ensure that the university hits its freshman enrolment target of 1,250, Case Western keeps one of the deepest wait lists in the country and uses it aggressively. The school invited more than 9,000 applicants to its wait list last year, and wound up with 5,119 names. Ultimately, it offered admission to 518 of those students. Not all accepted, but the school met its enrolment goal. Mr Bischoff said that it is vital not to admit too many students through regular admission. In 2012, the university overshot its enrolment target by 30 per cent, leaving the school to scramble to find beds for hundreds of unexpected arrivals and to schedule more courses. “That’s bad,” Mr Bischoff said.

Now, Case Western doles out regular-admission offers conservatively and plans on filling about 10 per cent of its class through the wait list. Mr Bischoff said that he starts making offers from the list in late April. “We love our wait-list kids,” Mr Bischoff said, noting that their academic profile is as strong or stronger than the overall entering class. “It’s not that these are sub-par students. These are terrific, terrific kids.”

When the school pulls from the wait list, he said, “we’re making some kids’ dreams come true”. Sometimes, schools activate nearly their entire wait list. Penn State admitted 1,445 of its 1,473 wait-listed applicants in 2015 to its main campus, a year after it wait-listed no one. Ohio State let in everyone from its list in 2014 (239 students) and again in 2015 (304).

Vanderbilt University works its list heavily. In 2014, it offered admission to 210 of its 4,536 wait-listed students to help fill a class of about 1,600.

Jasmine Ben Hamed, 17, a classmate of Mr Yong’s at Washington-Lee High, said that she has an offer from American University and is wait-listed at George Washington and William and Mary. A varsity tennis-team captain who is involved in community service, Ms Ben Hamed said that she is interested in international relations and humanities.

It was hard to get the wait-list news, she said. “It was telling you, ‘You’ve done a good job,’ “ she said. “But if I had done one more thing, would I have gotten in?”

Sally Ancheva, 17, another Washington-Lee senior, was admitted to UC-Berkeley, UCLA and University of Virginia, as well as Stetson University in Florida, with a scholarship. She said that she was wait-listed at Harvard, Stanford and Chicago.

Guanyu said...

She recalled getting the Stanford decision in late March: “A part of you always thinks it’s going to be a yes.” But she was realistic, ready for a no.

The “maybe” caught her off-guard. “I wasn’t prepared for that. I took it like a rejection. It was very tough,” she said. Now, she is reiterating her interest to her wait-list schools and trying to stay flexible. “I’ve come to peace with the whole thing.” WP

h2region SEO said...

Nice post. I learn something more challenging on different blogs everyday. It will always be stimulating to read content from other writers and practice a little something from their store. I’d prefer to use some with the content on my blog whether you don’t mind. I’ll give you a link on your web blog. I recently came to know about, their Applying to Top Colleges are very effective.
Applying to Top Colleges Thanks for sharing.