On the Waiting List, Some College Applicants Try a Little Dazzle

4798 When Amanda Wolfbauer, a high school senior, received the admissions verdict from Hamilton College, in Clinton, N.Y., she posted on Twitter, "What does one do once they're on a college waitlist? #frustrated #worsethanrejection."

After Amanda Wolfbauer was put on the waiting list at Hamilton College, she sent a letter and video testimonials to the school.
A few minutes later she had gone from dejected to dogged: "Well, @HamiltonAdmssn prepare to be dazzled, because I'm determined to get off that waitlist."

Since then, Ms. Wolfbauer, of Carver, Minn., says she has written the admissions department to tell it "how much I want to go there and why Hamilton has been my No. 1 choice since the beginning of my college search"; she sent in "a lot of high school projects," including one that won a statewide competition; and last weekend she started filming a video with friends -- teachers to be added later -- "basically telling them how awesome I am, talking about the positive qualities I have and why Hamilton should accept me."

Does she ever worry it might be too much? "I more worry that I'm not doing enough," she said.

Especially not while other students on waiting lists are bombarding their dream schools with baked goods, family photos, craft projects depicting campus landmarks and dossiers of testimonials from civic and religious leaders, to name just a few come-ons that admissions offices have seen over the past month.

For most applicants to selective colleges, the letters that arrived by April 1 brought an end to months of anxious wondering. But for some small fraction of those students, the tension is only now reaching its apex. They were assigned not to the relief of the yes pile, or the decisiveness of the no pile, but to the slender median of the maybe, with no idea how their application will be resolved, or even when.

The schools generally ask those students to send word of whether they wish to stay on the waiting list or want to be removed from consideration.

"We encourage wait-listed students who remain very interested in Columbia to send a brief letter affirming that interest and updating us on their senior year," said Jessica Marinaccio, Columbia University's dean of undergraduate admissions, "and discourage them from sending extra letters of recommendation or other supplementary materials."

Given the high stakes and the opaque proceedings, however, some students just cannot hold back.

Admissions officers describe the dynamic in terms that sound like dating: hopeful students are trying to express their interest without coming off like a stalker, while colleges are trying to figure out whether the students are courting other institutions on the side.

"Last year, I had a girl who wrote to me every day," recalled Monica Inzer, Hamilton's dean of admissions. "She'd send me e-mails; she'd send me letters; she had alums write to me. We all knew that this girl wanted us more than anyone else."

When a total of three spots in the freshman class opened up, that eager young woman was the first person Ms. Inzer called. "She said, 'Eh, I'm going someplace else.' "


Source: The New York Times | ARIEL KAMINER
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