Waitlist Acceptance Rates

For many students aspiring to enter their dream college, the waitlist can be a beacon of hope amidst the college admissions process. While waitlist acceptance rates may be lower than desired, it’s important to remember that being placed on a waitlist is still a chance to potentially secure a spot at your dream institution. Institutions use waitlists strategically to manage their incoming class, and they often consider waitlisted students as strong candidates. Therefore, it’s crucial to approach the waitlist phase with optimism and persistence, knowing that your dedication and qualifications have earned you a valuable position in this competitive game.

Why are waitlist acceptance rates generally so low?

In looking at historic records, waitlist acceptance rates are generally lower due to a combination of factors. Firstly, colleges and universities must carefully balance their class size to maintain a diverse and qualified student body, which means there are only a limited number of spots available for waitlisted students. Secondly, some institutions may over-enroll their initial admitted class to ensure they meet their enrollment goals, further reducing the chances of accepting waitlisted applicants. Moreover, the strength of the waitlisted pool can vary each year, depending on the number of applicants and the qualifications of those on the list. Consequently, even exceptionally talented students may find themselves pitted against stiff competition when vying for admission from the waitlist.

What to do if you’re on the Waitlist?

While the waitlist can be a stressful and uncertain period, it’s crucial to remember that it is not the only path to your dream college. If you are not accepted from the waitlist or if you decide to explore different opportunities, transferring in your freshman year can be an excellent option. Many colleges and universities offer transfer programs, allowing students to transition from one institution to another after completing their first year or two of studies.

Transferring provides a chance to excel academically at another institution, build a strong college record, and then apply to your dream college as a transfer student. This option can be particularly beneficial if your initial college choice was highly competitive or if you have a change in academic or personal interests. Transferring gives you the opportunity to demonstrate your abilities, experience college life, and ultimately achieve your goal of attending your dream college.

Waitlist Acceptance Rates

The below table illustrates the waitlist acceptance rates for last year’s class (Class of 2026):

 SchoolWaitlistedAccepted from WaitlistWaitlist Acceptance Rate
American University2,086884.22%
Amherst College902363.99%
Babson College1,28600.00%
Bates College1,26400.00%
Bowdoin CollegeUnknown10Unknown
Boston University5,89930.05%
Brown UniversityUnknown15Unknown
Bucknell University1,544100.65%
Carleton College591305.08%
Carnegie Mellon University4,652430.92%
Case Western Reserve University6,0564367.20%
Claremont McKenna College538112.04%
Colorado College19321.04%
Cornell University5,5312604.70%
Dartmouth College1,785412.30%
Emory University – Emory Campus3,3881073.16%
Georgia Tech4,903410.84%
Georgetown University1,804402.22%
Grinnell College1,426584.07%
Hamilton College1,56800.00%
Harvard UniversityUnknown36Unknown
Harvey Mudd College419174.06%
Haverford College1,06770.66%
Johns Hopkins University2,35800.00%
Lehigh University2,499933.72%
Middlebury College2,215120.54%
Olin College of Engineering482858.33%
Pitzer College27110.36%
Pomona College614132.12%
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute 1,1292 0.18%
Smith College1,132373.27%
Stanford University45781.75%
Swarthmore CollegeUnknown00.00%
Trinity University603498.13%
Tulane University2,27130.13%
University of California – Berkeley4,655440.95%
University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill5,392383 7.10%
University of Richmond65400.00%
University of VirginiaUnknown6Unknown
Vanderbilt UniversityUnknown221Unknown
Vassar College638325.02%
Washington and Lee University1,029111.10%
Wellesley College1,304443.37%
Wesleyan University1,557815.20%
William and Mary2,04240.20%
Williams College85000.00%
Yale University78091.15%