Apollo Yong, one of many college-bound students nationwide who were left in wait-list limbo this spring, is headed to the University of Virginia.
The 17-year-old from Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, Va., was featured last month in a Washington Post report on how numerous students are forced to cope with the stress of competing in overtime for college admission. Yong had been admitted to U-Va. in January but placed on wait lists in March by the University of Chicago and Dartmouth College.
“Just FYI, I heard back from UChicago,” Yong wrote in a text last week. “I was denied, but I’m fine with it. Haven’t heard back from Dartmouth yet, but I think I’ll be sticking with U-Va. even if I am pulled from the waiting list.”
Top colleges often offer thousands of applicants a place on their wait lists but wind up admitting relatively few — or even none — of them.
May is a month of reckoning for colleges and students alike. Admitted students have a deadline of May 1 to choose where they want to enroll and place a deposit to secure a seat. Meanwhile, colleges are sifting through their wait lists for qualified candidates to fill any late holes in their classes. Many wait-list offers are made in late April and the first weeks of May. But the cycle can’t last forever. Eventually, decisions must be made.
U-Va.’s dean of admission, Greg Roberts, said Monday that the prestigious public flagship offered entry this month to between 250 and 275 students from a wait list that had 2,451 names as of April 1. In 2015, the number of wait-listed students admitted to U-Va. was 402. In 2014, the total was just 42.
“We’re done, basically,” Roberts said. He said the list will be shut down in June.
Many selective colleges push hundreds or even thousands of applicants into limbo in April by placing them on wait lists, leaving open the possibility of admission if space in the class opens up. Here is an analysis of how dozens of prominent colleges and universities used wait lists in 2014 and 2015. First, they offer places on the list. Then, students decide whether to accept or forgo a wait list spot. Finally, colleges let students know (usually in May) whether they will be offered admission. Note: Categories marked as “n/a” indicate that data was not available.
[See the full interactive wait list table.]