Q&A for the Waitlisted by Matt McGann '00
Some (hopefully) helpful questions and answers for waitlisted students.
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 1,040 students this year. Based on our estimates of the percentage of admitted students who will attend (known as the “yield”), we admitted 1554 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?
How many people are on the waitlist?
We offered 739 applicants — approximately 5.5% 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 20 students from the waitlist, and the year before we admitted 40 students. However, the three years before that, we didn’t take anyone from the waitlist. But there was another recent year where we admitted more than 100 students from the waitlist. So, it’s hard to know how this year will look.
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 (why is the example admissions officers always use the 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). 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.