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MIT staff blogger Matt McGann '00

More Information on the Waitlist by Matt McGann '00

Further details for waitlisted applicants.

I know that folks on the waitlist have lots of questions; hopefully this post will be quite helpful!

How does the waitlist work?

We are aiming for a class of about 1,075 students this year. Based on our estimates of the percentage of admitted students who will attend (known as the “yield”), we admitted 1597 students. However, it isn’t possible to exactly predict how many student will attend this year. To help with the uncertainties, we also keep a waitlist of students.

Is the waitlist ranked?

No.

How many people are on the waitlist?

We offered 454 applicants — approximately 2.9% of applicants — a spot on the waitlist. Not all of those students will choose to remain on the waitlist.

Can you tell me where I am on the waitlist?

As I’ve said, the waitlist is not ranked. We will reconsider all of the waitlisted students again in May, when we know how many students remain on the waitlist, and how many we wish to take from the waitlist.

How many people will you admit from the waitlist this year?

It is impossible to know. We will have no idea how many people we will take from the waitlist until after the reply date of May 1. I wouldn’t be surprised in this year of uncertainty if we took a large number of students from the waitlist, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if we weren’t able to take anyone.

What has the waitlist looked like, historically?

Last year we admitted 35 students from the waitlist. The year before that, we admitted 20 students from the waitlist, and the year before that we admitted 40 students. However, the three years before that, we didn’t take anyone from the waitlist. But there was another year this decade where we admitted more than 100 students from the waitlist. So, it’s hard to know how this year will look. Over the past few years, the “waitlist admit rate” has range from 0% to 10%, with a mean and median of ~5%.

What are the realities here?

I know that while we plan for the worst, usually things don’t go quite so badly. Thus, it’s likely that most people on the waitlist will not be admitted. I hope that you will have another great choice to fall in love with, so that no matter what happens with the MIT waitlist, everything will still turn out well for you in the end.

Who do you admit from the waitlist? For example, if someone from state X or major Y declines, are you likely to look for another student like them?

If we go to the waitlist, we will consider what our class looks like as one factor in choosing students. But we’re not strict about it. So, if an oboe player decides to go somewhere else, we may, or may not, try to take another oboe player.

Are domestic students given priority over international students on the waitlist?

No, but we do consider whether admitting international students from the waitlist would put us over our 8% international quota.

I’m still very interested in attending MIT. What should I do if I hope to be admitted from the waitlist?

Certainly, you should return the postcard coming in the postal mail with your waitlist notification (decision letter). This letter is set to be mailed on Wednesday. Additionally, I would recommend sending us a letter in mid-late April with an update on what you’ve been up to since our last contact. You can also feel free to provide any other information you think would be helpful.

What should I not do?

Here are some things you should not do: Fly to campus to make the case in person. Send us ridiculous items or bribes. Submit a whole new application. Bombard our office with way too much stuff. Be pushy. Be sketchy. Let your grades drop. Not choose another college to attend by May 1.

What should I do about the May 1 reply date for other colleges?

You should accept the offer of admission from another college before May 1, even if it means making a deposit. After May 1, when all students have sent their replies, colleges will determine if they need to go to their waitlist or not, and if so, how many students they need to admit. At this point, colleges will begin admitting students from the waitlist. Students who accept this offer will “unenroll” at the first college and enroll at the second. This shifting can lead to a second round of waitlist admissions. It is a part of the admissions process. We colleges recognize and accept this.

If I’m admitted off of the waitlist, do I have to go to MIT? What about financial aid?

You’re not required to enroll. We’ll give you a financial aid package and you’ll have time to consider your decision before letting us know one way or the other. It is in your best interest to complete your financial aid application now, so that if you are admitted from the waitlist, we’ll have a financial aid package ready to go. Our waitlist process, like our entire admissions process, is need blind, and we will meet full need for all admitted students.

Okay, what should I do now?

If you are still interested in MIT, you should stay in contact with us. A letter, a phone call, notes from people who know you well… these are good things to provide. Please always be very nice in all of your interactions with us! Keep us up to date all the way through May 1 and beyond if you remain interested.

And in the meantime… be patient. There won’t be any waitlist news until after May 1.

25 responses to “More Information on the Waitlist”

  1. Anon says:

    This is not very helpful:

    “I wouldn’t be surprised in this year of uncertainty if we took a large number of students from the waitlist, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if we weren’t able to take anyone.”

    And I’m glad you raised the international quota. It used to be 5% or something.

  2. Xiaowei says:

    Thanks! Very helpful.

  3. Xiaowei says:

    Oh my, I’m the FIRST!!

    Good luck to everyone on the wait list.

  4. Anonymous says:

    ^^^^^ good coment

  5. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for your advice. I have a question:

    This shifting can lead to a second round of waitlist admissions. It is a part of the admissions process. We colleges recognize and accept this.

    My counsellor actually strongly advised me against “unenrolling” at a college. He told me essentially it was bad form to do so. Is there anything I can tell him to change his mind? (It would break my heart to get accepted off the waitlist after all this waiting and have to turn it down).

  6. Sheryl-vi says:

    Hmm… I wonder if there will be a trend/correlation between the economy and enrollment into private colleges…

    Meanwhile, thanks for the helpful post! smile

  7. Jimmy says:

    “If you are still interested in MIT, you should stay in contact with us. A letter, a phone call, notes from people who know you well… these are good things to provide.”

    Does the latter mean additional recommendation letters?

  8. me says:

    @ Anon
    The int’l quota has been 8% for many years.

  9. Anon says:

    Oh, I’m sorry. I thought it used to be 5. My mistake.

  10. '12 says:

    @ Matt

    “send us ridiculous items or bribes”

    has this happened before?

  11. Anonymous says:

    What if you did not pass the TOEFL exam. Is there a chance of being waitlisted?

  12. Anonymous says:

    Would a video fall into the “ridiculous” category?

  13. Thanks for the post Matt!

    I’ve heard that it’s not unusual for a college to take some people off their waitlist even in late June (I imagine this means second round…?) Is that how late it can be sometimes?

    Looking forward to the waitlist letter in the mail…I sure hope they’ve made it pretty! (or at least sleek like the decisions website….but I’m not going to worry too much about that) smile

  14. Troy says:

    Hi Matt,

    You mentioned that we should provide an update in mid-April. Should we also send in a copy of the second semester progress report? Thank you for considering my application and for being so helpful in the admissions process.

  15. Sheryl-vi says:

    @ Matt

    If we are planning to send additional recommendation letters, is there a specific form MIT prefers like the one on the application?

  16. Anonymous says:

    Reality Check for International Students:

    This unfair and unjustified 8% international quota plays a major role in taking people off the waitlist. Last year, 35 students were taken from the waitlist; not even a single was international because as the quota was already full, they were not even considered. The ‘policy of non-discrimination’ is somehow very misleading.
    Anyway, best of luck to all of you.

  17. Nicole '10 says:

    @Anonymous – people get in to schools off waitlists (not necessarily MITs) every year; it’s part of the admission’s process, and most schools understand that. Why is it any of your counselor’s business which offer you actually accept? If you get in off the waitlist, don’t spend four years at a school you don’t love just because you thought accepting your new offer was ‘bad form’.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Is there a way to see if MIT has received our postcard saying that we want to remain on the waitlist? My internal paranoia wants to make sure this isn’t the one time something for colleges is lost in the mail when I’m unable to do something about it.

  19. Anon says:

    “Over the past few years, the “waitlist admit rate” has range from 0% to 10%, with a mean and median of ~5%.”

    Typo revision: has ranged || has a range

  20. Rahul Jain says:

    Hey Matt,
    Do you look at Transfer Admissions? Is the same department involved? If so, can you please post what is taking place right now?
    Thanks,
    Regards,
    Rahul Jain

    P.S. are International Students taken into consideration for transfer admissions (from a US college but International Passport)?

  21. Deeni says:

    @Matt

    I still haven’t received my “card” – the one I’m supposed to fill up and send back to MIT. Someone told me you would email us the card. I’m REALLY WORRIED!!!

  22. anonymous says:

    @ Deeni

    I got mine via mail last saturday.
    I think if you wait you’ll get it soon.

  23. JK says:

    Hi Matt,

    I am a Diploma student from a local college, TARCollege, in Malaysia and am about to graduate in June 2009. Does MIT accept my qualification, ie, Diploma, for entry into MIT’s degree program? If possible can you please provide me with the link where I can search for the necessary information, eg entry requirements etc? I tried searching via MIT’s website but to no avail.

  24. Deeni says:

    Yeah, I got it! I mailed it back to MIT as well.

  25. Anonymous says:

    I dont have a mymit account and I applied for mit by doiwnloading the pdf format of the form and then I sent it by post,how can I know if I am admitted or not?Please help me out.