Skip to content ↓

COVID-19

Learn more about how MIT Admissions is responding to COVID-19 in this blog post from our Dean and new dedicated FAQs.

MIT staff blogger Matt McGann '00

Waitlist post by Matt McGann '00

Some Q & A about the waitlist.

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 1,020 students this year. Based on our estimates of the percentage of admitted students who will attend (known as the “yield”), we admitted 1533 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.

How many people are on the waitlist?

We offered 499 applicants — approximately 4% of applicants — a spot on the waitlist. Not all of those students will choose to remain on 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 know some of you may be saying, “C’mon, MIT is really good at math. They have to know how how many people will enroll, and how many people will be admitted from the wiatlist.” The reality is that predicting yield is very tricky. It is hard to know who will choose to come and who will go elsewhere. We won’t know more until after May 1.

How many people have you admitted from the waitlist in the past?

Last year, we admitted 40 students from the waitlist. The three years prior to that, we did not admit anyone from the waitlist. We have admitted as many as 100+ from the waitlist, but I do not anticipate that happening this year (though it is always a possibility).

What are the realities here?

If we go to the waitlist this year — and I am hopeful that we will — the odds are that it won’t be for large numbers of people. Most people on the waitlist will not be admitted, in all likelihood. 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.

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. 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.

Can you tell me where I am on the waitlist?

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.

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. 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.

13 responses to “Waitlist post”

  1. AB says:

    thanks for taking the time to post for us, matt.

  2. Waitlisted says:

    thanks alot for the post, it really answers many of my questions, but one is still not answered;
    Do domestic applicants have the priority over int’l ones in the waitlist? and how do you choose applicants, for example if an int’l admitted applicant chooses not to enroll then you give his spot to an int’l waitlisted applicant and the same for domestic applicants cases? Or an int’l waitlisted applicant can take the spot of a domestic admitted applicant who chooses not to enroll?

  3. anxious says:

    when you say “the odds are that it won’t be for large numbers of people”. Does this mean that its expected not to be more than 5 people…. 20 ppl… 50 ppl?

  4. Matt,we all are grateful for your time to consider our impatience of knowing everything that circulates waitlisted students at MIT,so i appreciate all the Q&A…You’re the best!!

  5. Timothy says:

    When I first got my decision, I was very sad and unhappy. However, I realised that MIT could not admit all the great people who want to attend. I’m still praying hard that I get admitted from the waitlist. MIT is everything to me, and I just can’t live with the thought of not attending the school that happens to be the optical isomer of my name,TIM.

  6. Dan says:

    Well, things sure are getting interesting for me. I have decided to wait for all my decisions in the mail, and in the last two days, I have heard from 3 colleges; Washington University in St. Louis, CalTech, and MIT, and you got it, I was wait-listed by all of them. I’m actually pretty satisfied with that though; many of you have no idea how gratifying it is to receive a very small envelope, assume you’re rejected, and then find out that there is still hope (kind of).

  7. Matt, while answering the third question in your post, the spelling of “waitlist” is wrong in the second para. Please correct it, its MIT blog….

  8. AB says:

    matt,
    should we send in our third-quarter grades?

  9. JamesM says:

    I appreciate this, Matt. Thanks for not leaving us in the dark.

  10. kevinfromMA says:

    Are there any figures on what percentage of kids turn down their spot on the waitlist?

  11. LLA says:

    Matt, I have several questions.

    If I may ask, how is it determined who gets admitted and who gets waitlisted? The letter says something like “we’d love to see anyone on our wait list at MIT”… OK, so how do you decide who makes the cut?

    Second, assuming there is room for some waitlisted students, what are the most important factors in determining who you’ll call back? If someone from Oregon declines, are you more likely to ask a waitlisted applicant from the same state?

    Thanks.

  12. CambridgeBoy says:

    Matt, I have several questions too,

    What factors go into deciding whether or not an applicant on the waitlist is able to get off the waitlist? Say applicant A has very great scores and awesome extracurriculars but was waitlisted. Would you guys take him up for consideration in light of the fact that he may have applied to other competitive colleges which may or not have accepted him and does this factor into the waitlist process?

    Let me restate this in simpler more general terms. Applicant A may have gotten into Harvard, Stanford, and other colleges on par with MIT. Would applicant A give up his enrollment deposit to go to MIT? I wonder if MIT consider which college the waitlisted person *may* have registered to enroll in context of his overall application or not.

  13. Linda says:

    How can I confirm that my wait-list card has been received?