What if things do NOT go like you planned? What if you are rejected or waitlisted at your first choice? Here are some ideas that may help overcome these challenges.
First, create a plan B. Pick the best option of the schools that have accepted you. Send in a housing deposit if you need to meet the May 1 deadline. You are much better off accepting an offer at your second choice college, working hard to get great grades, and transferring to your first choice college than you are attempting to take a year off. Even if you do something really cool like live in Europe or work on a cruise ship, this will not help your chances of getting accepted the next fall. You will just end up doing the same paperwork and get the same result. However, the Peace Corps is an exception. This may enhance your chances of being accepted.
So, if you really want to go to college, go to college. For some schools, waitlisted is a waiting list of students to offer admissions. The schools wait until they figure out their yield, which means how many students will accept our offer of admission and how much room do we still need to fill. For other schools, they do not really mean it, but it sounds politer than a no.
To find out which type of school at which you are waitlisted, find out what percentage of students are accepted from the wait list. If 10 of 170 are accepted, you may decide not to waste your time. If you think you could get off the waitlist, try the following ideas to significantly improve your chances of acceptance.
Write a letter telling the school all your accomplishments since your original application. List the awards you have won, the great grades you have earned, the community service you have done, and your summer internship. Give the admissions officer a reason to choose you instead of someone else. Be polite, but do not be shy. Be as specific as you can. Do not tell them you have improved your grades; tell them exactly how much you have improved your grades.
Add a list of reasons WHY you want to attend their school. Again be as specific as possible about why this school is your number one choice. For instance, reference a new music center, a visiting professor, or a really great research opportunity at their school. It shows you are paying attention to their school.
Address the letter by name, not just to the Dean of Admissions. Look up the name on the school website. Then CC (copy) the letter to anyone else on campus that has helped you or would be interested engine stand in having you attend this school: a coach, a band director, a family friend, an employee, anyone you can think of.
Send the package Fed-Ex. Here is why: the first battle is getting your letter seen by somebody, so you need to get it to the right people. And NOTHING does that better than a Fed-Ex package. You can write the best letter ever, but if nobody sees it, it will not do you any good.
Include a picture of yourself, it personalizes the package. It helps the admissions officer to identify with who you are. And, if you are going to include a photo, make it of you with your family, your dog, or doing something interesting. Do NOT make it of you with your boyfriend/girlfriend or wearing a sweatshirt from their college.
You have done something most waitlisted students have not. You have tried to argue your case and that alone will help you stand out from the crowd. Like Woody Allen said 50% of success is just showing up. If you have been rejected, you can use the same method to try to get a second chance. You need to be sure that your grades, test scores, and other activities fit the schools profile first. If the average student scores a 29 on the ACT and you scored a 23, chances are you will not get that second chance.