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Pages: Wait list FAQ

If you’ve been offered a spot on our wait list, you may have some questions, so we’ve assembled answers to some common questions below.

How does the wait list work?

Each year we aim for a class of approximately 1,100 students. Based on our best estimates of the percentage of admitted students who will attend, we annually admit somewhat more than that, assuming some will choose to go elsewhere. However, it isn’t possible to exactly predict how many students will attend each year. To help with the uncertainties, we also keep a wait list of students.

We won’t know if we will be able to select students from the wait list until admitted students return their enrollment decisions in early May. 

Is the wait list ranked?


How many people are on the wait list?

We usually offer ~2% of applicants a spot on the wait list. Not all of those students will choose to remain on the wait list.

Can you tell me where I am on the wait list?

No, because it’s not ranked. We will reconsider all of the students on the wait list again in May, when we know how many admitted students choose to enroll.

How many people will you admit from the wait list this year?

It’s impossible to know. We will have no idea how many people, if any, we will take from the wait list until the second week of May at the earliest.

What has the wait list looked like, historically?

In recent years, we have had some years where we don’t take anyone from the wait list, and some years where we’ve admitted as many as 32. However, it’s impossible to know what will happen in any given year, since we don’t know how many students will accept their offer of admission.

Can you tell me where my application was lacking, or what I should improve on?

If you’re on the wait list, it means you are already a strong candidate, and you do not need to improve on your application. You should, however, continue to get good grades, as we may call your school to check on your academic progress.

What are the realities here?

It’s likely that most people on the wait list will not be admitted. But remember, any statistic against you (or for you) is associative but not causal. This means, what has happened in the past or on any other application doesn’t impact your application.

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

Sometimes we look at things like that but we’re not strict about it. So, if a foosball champion decides to go somewhere else, we may, or may not, go out of our way to try to find another foosball player. It just depends on what the list looks like.

If I’m on the wait list, can I still participate in CPW activities?

Unfortunately, CPW events are only for admitted students.

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

  • Please submit the wait list confirmation form in your portal by May 1 to let us know whether you wish to remain on the wait list or not.
  • We will reconsider your application in mid-May, once we know how many more students we can admit to the class. At that time, we will send you an update.
  • If you don’t hear from us by the time you need to make an enrollment decision at another college/university, be sure to enroll in another college/university by its reply date, even if it means making a deposit.

What should I NOT do?

Here are some things you should NOT do: Submit additional documents or a whole new application. Fly to campus to make the case in person. Send us ridiculous things (or “things” in general). Bombard our office with way too much stuff. Be pushy. Be sketchy. Let your grades drop. Not choose another college to attend by its reply date if you don’t hear from us by the time you need to make an enrollment decision.

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, or whatever deadline they have set for you to reply by, even if it means making a deposit. After all students have sent their replies, colleges will determine if they need to go to their wait list or not, and if so, how many students they need to admit. At this point, colleges will begin admitting students from the wait list. 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 wait list admissions. All of this is a standard part of the admissions process. We colleges recognize and accept this. The timeline for this may be later than in previous years since many colleges have extended their reply deadlines due to changes with the FAFSA. MIT will do its best to notify students promptly with wait list decisions.

If I’m admitted off of the wait list, do I have to go to MIT? What about financial aid and housing?

You’re not required to enroll. If you have applied for financial aid, Student Financial Services will send you your award. If you haven’t yet applied for aid, you will still be able to. And, of course, you’ll have time to consider your decision before letting us know one way or the other. It’s in your best interest to complete your financial aid application now (if you haven’t already), so that if you are admitted, we’ll have a financial aid package ready to go. Our wait list process, like our entire admissions process, is need-blind, and we meet full demonstrated financial need for all admitted students.

Students from the wait list have the same access to housing as all other admitted students, so you don’t have to worry about that.

Okay, what should I do now?

First, focus on choosing the college with the best fit from those who have offered you admission. Wait lists are uncertain, so it’s always best to ensure your happiness no matter what the outcome. You do not need to submit additional documents or updates. If you’re still interested in MIT, simply let us know by filling out the wait list confirmation form. In the meantime, be patient. There won’t be any wait list news until mid-May at the earliest.