College Waiting Lists Bulge in Competitive Admissions Season

April 21, 2008 12:46 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Fearful that many of this year’s record number of applicants won’t be able to afford college as the economy nosedives, colleges are wait-listing thousands.

30-Second Summary

One of the largest high school senior classes in history has made this year’s application season highly competitive. But colleges have put a record number of students in waiting-list limbo, instead of rejecting them outright.

Ohio State University and the University of Vermont
say their lengthy waiting lists are “an enrollment buffer” to ensure a full first-year class, given fears that many admitted students won’t actually attend because of the flagging economy.

The financial downturn has led to fierce competition among schools offering financial aid, narrowed the availability of student loans, and may force many students to forego college.

Forty percent more colleges
are using wait-lists than last year.

The University of Pennsylvania’s wait-list has 2,300 students on it, up 500 from last year. Harvard University, the University of Chicago, Williams College and Wesleyan University, whose applicant pools often overlap with Penn’s, increased the amount of grant money available to freshmen, putting Penn at risk of losing students. Penn now has taken similar steps.

Author Daniel Golden says admissions are already swayed too much by financial considerations rather than student merit, and the troubled economy makes the situation worse. He argues that wealthier applicants have an advantage because their parents can make large donations.

But Penn’s admissions head, Eric Kaplan, advises wait-listed students to tell colleges of their continued interest, without seeking favor. “Don’t send roses. No chocolate,” he said.

Headline Link: ‘A Wait List of Woes for the Class of ’08'

Background: ‘I Can Get Your Kid into an Ivy,’ Harvard’s tough admissions year

Video: ‘Who Wins and Who Loses?’

Opinion & Analysis: How to get off the wait-list

Reference: College admissions resources

Related Topics: Athletic prowess, generous financial aid, draw applicants


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