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MIT staff blogger Matt McGann '00

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.

54 responses to “Q&A for the Waitlisted”

  1. Marcel says:

    First!!! Finally.

  2. Mgccl says:

    Why not fly to campus and make the case in person?

  3. Isshak says:

    Er, is 4 extra letters of rec from people who know me well too pushy ?
    (And can we call just to chat about life and other interesting topics?)
    And are you over the international student quota already or not yet ?

  4. Isshak says:

    Sorry for the double post, but as I was re reading I just noticed something : you might not use the waitlist at all ?

  5. Teresa '11 says:

    Because we oboe players are awesome. That’s why.

  6. Celena '12 says:

    @ Isshak
    Depending on how many people choose to enroll, they may choose to use/not use the waitlist.

  7. Isshak says:

    Yes I know, but I thought you could make prognostics.

  8. Rob says:

    Are the deposits at other colleges that we must make refundable or does it depend on the school?

    Also, why not have the example be an underwater robot builder next year rather than an oboe player?

  9. Snively says:


    That’s pushing it. Try to keep it to like, um, 1.

  10. Isshak says:

    Oh no. I will have to make a choice. Maybe 2 ? No ? Okay, one will do.

  11. udkwyam!! says:

    Faith are you here?

  12. Rob says:

    udkwyam – U don’t know who you are missing?

  13. ag says:

    @Teresa – We oboe players are awesome!
    And I’m not going elsewhere.

  14. I know the answer is no, but if enough people don’t stay on the waitlist and you need to take more people from the waitlist than are on it, can you put me on the waitlist?

  15. Granton says:

    I second Rob’s question. What if MIT doesn’t receive the postcard?

  16. Rob says:

    Thanks Almani. I’ll do that.

  17. Lord says:

    Gosh, I’m dejected, a bit. What are the chances with all these uncertainties. What magic does one need to overcome this unparalleled competition? But I still have a lot of hope.

  18. Anonymous says:

    I wish May comes fast…. I reaaalllllyyy want to go to MIT!!!!! smile

  19. MUJTABA says:

    I wish all the waitlisted students are accepted this time.

  20. Almani says:

    I think this year there are more chances for people to get off the waitlist………..

  21. Andy says:

    I would hate for that little postcard to get lost in the mail…

  22. Rob says:

    One other question I have:

    Is there any way to make certain that our cards were returned properly and not lost in the mail? I know that I wouldn’t want to miss out on a chance at MIT solely because of something like that.

  23. Almani says:

    @ Rob

    You can just email to admissions office that you are still interested in MIT and that you want to keep you name on the waitlist. It is enough……

  24. Disha says:

    Hey everyone!..Is anyone an international student here?…Actually I haven’t received my card yet..So I was wondering how long does it usually take to reach the international students….

  25. Isshak says:

    I’m an international student too and I wonder if notifying them via email isn’t better, I wonder if I’ll have time to receive it and send it in time for them to get it before the deadline…

  26. Disha says:

    Ok…so you also haven’t received yours?..I was just thinking doing the same…
    Which part of the world are you in?

  27. Commoner says:

    I find it eerily accurate that this blog has the least responses. Not many people can stay positive in the face of de-facto rejection, and I, myself, am not one of them. I find it creepy and wrong to happily accept defeat. As for me, I will never again have anything to do with MIT.

  28. Almani says:

    This year there are more chances for people to get off the wait list…….Good Luck everyone

  29. Almani says:

    @ Disha

    I am from Pakistan and I haven’t received the card yet. Don’t worry! Just email MIT admissions office, telling them that you are still interested in MIT and want to keep your name on the list…..

  30. Isshak says:

    I am from Benin (in West Africa), where mail takes up to one month to get here ! (unless it gets forwarded to Italy first, that is another story).

  31. tokenadult says:

    The oboe player is the canonical admission example because every Western orchestra, which is something most colleges have, needs an oboe player. And because double-reed instruments are cool. smile (My childhood best friend’s oldest daughter plays the oboe, and his younger daughter plays the bassoon.)

  32. Anonymous says:


    Thanks…I’ll send them an email right away..

  33. Disha says:


    Thanks…I’ll send them an email right away..

  34. Anonymous says:

    If I have not gotten an interview yet from my EC should I contact him and have that completed?

  35. Jessica says:


    Will additional contact / interview with your EC (or a different EC) benefit a wait-listed case any?

  36. Anonymous says:

    if anyone has got admission elsewhere please drop out from the waitlist and give others a chance…we’d be really grateful thanks smile

  37. Anonymous says:

    when will the final number of people on the waitlist be available?

  38. Almani says:

    After 18 April…………………

  39. John says:

    Why were so many more applicants “waitlisted” this year than last? On the average, what percent of waitlisted applicants actually choose to remain on the list for consideration after May 1st? Please respond on blog if possible, thanks.

  40. Faz says:

    @ Almani

    Which city and school are you from Almani?

  41. Faz says:

    I thought MIT never had a quota for international students. No fair!

    (Honestly, all the information given here depresses me a little).

  42. Almani says:

    @ Faz

    I am from Karachi (PAKISTAN). St. Patrick’s High School….

    What about you?

  43. Almani says:


    This year MIT is uncertain about the acceptance yield because of new financial aid initiatives taken by many Ivy League institutions and the elimination of EC by Harvard and Princeton……….For this reason MIT has increased the number of waitlisted applicants this year…..

  44. Faz says:

    @ Almani

    Im from Lahore Grammar School. Do you have any idea how many students got waitlisted and accepted from Pakistan this year?

  45. Almani says:

    @ Faz
    I think two or three people are selected from Pakistan.
    From Karachi two people are wait listed (I don’t know about other cities)……

  46. Viraj says:

    Anyone from Pune, India on the waitlist?

  47. Almani says:

    @ Faz

    What about Lahore?

  48. Faizan says:

    @ Almani

    I have heard that no one else got waitlisted from Lahore. And that all the peope who got accepted are from Islamabad region.

  49. Al says:

    Matt is there any real possibility that all the wait listed people enters to MIT? I really do not think so! so why do you wait list so many people and accept so few?

  50. Anonymous says:

    Anyone to study Nuclear engineering in waitlist?!!!!!

  51. Wahinya says:

    How many international students did you admit? Is it past the 8% quota?

  52. Almani says:

    MIT only accepts 8% international……

  53. Wolfie says:

    What should we send in besides the letter/email indicating our continued interest? Another recommendation letter? Update of our grades? I can’t really think of anything else…