A Post for Those on the Wait List

So I finish my week of "catch-up" blogging with a post for those of you who received a wait list decision a few weeks ago. In the on-going debate about college admissions practices, the discussion over wait list policies is one of the most popular. Just do a Google search and you will find tons of newspaper articles about the subject and also "supposed" services or advice columns on how wait list works. Read the first type of articles if you are interested, but please ignore the second type … they are not worth it!

In my years of experience, wait list decisions are the hardest to discuss. Many students have told me that receiving the news that you have been offered a spot on the wait list is considered worse than just being denied outright. I completely understand and sympathize with all the conflicting emotions involved — back in the day I also dealt with the aftermath of being wait listed by a top school of mine.

I think that the reason there is such animosity towards and anxiety about wait list decisions is that such decisions are in fact not definitive. A while back I read in an article a great definition for the college wait list and I wrote it down in a folder of articles I save. Though I unfortunately forget the source, I do feel the quote is worth re-printing here:

"A wait list is sort of the purgartory of college admissions. When you end up on a wait list, you’re in the twilight zone; you’re not in but you’re not out. You’re sort of on-call."

Wait list decisions exist because of the sheer competition to get into college these days, and they work as a form of protection for schools to make sure they yield their class each year. It would be wonderful to exist in a world with definitive decisions and no wait lists, but unfortunately that ideal just doesn’t exist.

So what do you do? Well first it is important to know that being placed on the Johns Hopkins wait list is NOT a rejection of you and your abilities. It is a statement about the exceptional quality of our applicants pool and the limited of number of spots we can offer to make our class. We respect the frustration and apprehension that exists with being placed in a state of limbo, so to assist we try to provide as much information as we can along the way.

A few weeks ago Admissions_Mark and I sat down and composed an extensive list of frequently asked questions and answers about how the Hopkins wait list works. That list is posted below to attempt to assist you along the way. We have also created a discussion thread for you to ask us questions, and for us to post updates when they become available. We hope this helps.

I still really want to go to Hopkins. What should I do if I want to remain on the wait list?
To remain on the wait list we ask the complete and mail back the blue Wait List Reply Card that is included with your decision letter. Send this card back as soon as possible – it needs to be postmarked by May 1. We do not have an online form for submitting this information and we would prefer to receive the reply card back rather than fielding “remain on wait list” responses through email or phone. For students living abroad, you may send an e-mail titled “Remain on the Wait List” to <
gotojhu@jhu.edu>, since international postal times do vary so much. Finally, it is very important to note that only those who select to remain on the wait list option will be considered for a spot in the class if spaces become available.

Should I do anything else besides sending back the card? I heard we can update our applications. Is that true, and what kind of updates can we submit?
You may certainly send updates that you would like added to your application. Such information can assist the Admissions committee if we do review wait list candidates for admission. We suggest the following if updating your application:

  • A Letter of Interest – A one or two page letter to the Admissions Committee that states why you are interested in Hopkins, why you feel it is the right school for you, and why you should be admitted from the wait list.
  • Updated resume – Let us know what you have gotten involved with during your senior year. This should include updated information not in your original application.
  • Recommendations – One or two additional or updated letters.
  • Updated transcript – Your most recent grades, even beyond the mid-year report can be helpful. Ask your guidance counselor to submit them if possible.

Please DO NOT send the following: (1) additional writing samples; (2) supplemental materials such as CDs, slides, portfolios, etc.; (3) research or term papers. Just stick to the list above.

Do note that you are not required to submit any additional materials. Also it important that if you choose to submit updates to your file that they will contribute in a substantive way or provide new information. All updates should be mailed to the Admissions Office, we can not process application updates submitted through email. When mailing, do include your full name, birth date, school name, and a note that the materials are to be used as a wait list update.

Why was I wait listed? Was this just a way to break the bad news more gently?
Admissions decisions are comprehensive decisions that take into account many factors included in each individual application within the context of the overall applicant pool. In every application we are searching for the ideal fit with the university based on the information in the applicant files. The Admissions Committee is unable to discuss with applicants why we were not able to offer admission, but it is important to know that offering a student a spot on our wait list is not done out of a courtesy or lessen the impact of our decision. Any student on the wait list who chooses to remain on the wait list will have a chance for admission if spaces in the class become available.

How big is this year’s wait list? Is the wait list ranked?
We will not know the size of this year’s wait list until we receive all wait list reply cards back. We expect that about 1000 students will request to keep their position on our wait list.

In no way, shape, or form is our wait list ranked. If spaces in the class become available, we will review the application of each and every student who selected to remain on the wait list.

What are my chances of being admitted from the wait list?
It is impossible at this time to predict any individual’s chances of being admitted from the wait list. Admission will depend on how many admitted students accept their offer from Hopkins, how many students send back their wait list replay cards, and a series of other enrollment factors. There is just no way of telling, so we request your patience and understanding.

When will I hear if I’ve been accepted off the wait list? The other schools I was admitted to require a deposit by May 1 – should I wait until I hear from Hopkins?
Once again that all depends on the response from our admitted students. Our decision as to whether we will admit students off the wait list will not be made prior to May 1 and it is more likely we will make that determination closer to June 1. We strongly recommend that you submit your deposit to a school where you have been accepted. If you are later admitted to Hopkins from the wait list and choose to attend, you will withdraw your enrollment from the other school and forfeit the previous deposit.

I want to come see the campus in April. Can I visit, and what kind of visit programs can I participate in?
You are welcome to visit Hopkins in the month of April. Our offices are open Monday – Friday, 8:30am – 4:30pm. Tours are offered on weekdays at 11am and 2pm, and information sessions are available at 10:00am and 1:00pm. There are some exceptions, so check out the visit section on our web site:
http://apply.jhu.edu/visit/guidedtours.html. We regret that we are unable to accommodate any requests for overnights and/or day visits from wait listed students. Additionally, our Open House programs in April are for admitted students only.

During my visit can I get an interview or meet with an Admissions counselor one-on-one?
Unfortunately, no. We are unable to grant interview or meeting requests for wait listed students. Instead, we ask that you put any information or updates in a written letter which will be added to your application file. If you do have a specific question, you may email your regional counselor:

If I am accepted off the wait list and I applied for financial aid, will I receive any financial assistance?
There is no guarantee of financial assistance for students accepted from the wait list. It all depends on whether there is available funding after the numbers are crunched from the admitted students who have chosen to enroll.

If I am accepted off the wait list, am I bound to enroll at Johns Hopkins?
No. If we offer places in the class to students on the wait list, those students will have the chance to select whether they want to enroll at Hopkins or stick with the other University that they had previously selected. We provide students with about a two-week deadline for responding to our offer of admission from the wait list. Submitting the Wait List Reply card and selecting that you want to remain on the wait list is not a commitment to enroll at Hopkins if admitted.

Do you have any historical data of how many students were admitted from the wait list in previous years?
Though every year is different and the numbers vary, here is what happened the past few years:
• 2006 – No offers of admission from the wait list.
• 2005 – No offers of admission from the wait list.
• 2004 – Approximately 150 students were admitted from the wait list.
• 2003 – Approximately 100 offers.
• 2002 – No offers.
• 2001 – Approximately 50 offers.
• 2000 – No offers.

3 thoughts on “A Post for Those on the Wait List

  1. Just wondering… how do you choose from the wait-listed candidates? Do you choose people who will fit better at JHU than others, people who satisfy the problem of “there aren’t many lacrosse players/engineering students etc enrolling this year…” or people who show the most interest. Or the mixture of the above + other reasons?

  2. The last question you answered sayed that you did not offer any positons to people on the waiting list in the last previous years. So does that basically mean there is very little chance of being admitted from the waiting list?

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