What is the waitlist?
Each year, colleges admit a certain number of applicants to fill their incoming class. The number of admitted students who decide to enroll in a particular college fluctuates from year to year. In anticipation of this fluctuation, colleges have a waitlist in case the number of admitted students who say yes to the college falls short of the expected incoming class size.
It’s more a “waitpool” than a “waitlist”
The word waitlist is a bit misleading. It’s not really a list with ranking. It’s more like a waitpool. Admission from the waitpool will depend on what the incoming class is missing. For example, if the admissions committee wanted to admit two violinists to play in its orchestra but only one decided to matriculate, the admissions committee would go back to the waitpool and find another violinist to fill that spot.
What are the chances of getting off Dartmouth’s waitlist?
In the past five years (2017-2021), with the exception of 2018, Dartmouth has been putting more students on its waitlist each year. In 2021, it put over 2,600 students on its waitlist, which is more than the number of students it admitted.
Unfortunately, in the last five years, the number of students Dartmouth admitted has not grown with the number of students it put on its waitlist. In fact, except for 2020, when all colleges experienced lower-than-expected enrollment due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dartmouth admitted no one from its waitlist.
What do all these numbers mean?
Dartmouth has not admitted any students from its waitlist in four of the past five years. If you have been placed on Dartmouth's waitlist, it is reasonable to assume that the likelihood of being taken off the waitlist is minimal. However, this does not mean that you should not make an effort to secure admission from the waitlist. Ultimately, it is difficult to predict how the waitlist situation will unfold.
If Dartmouth is your top choice, opt into the waitlist and submit a letter of continued interest to the admissions committee. But it's important not to become overly fixated on this.
To ensure that you have a viable option, pay the deposit to a college that you would be happy to attend. Love the college that loves you. If you seize all the opportunities available to you, you will have an amazing education wherever you choose to go.
What should you do to get off Dartmouth’s waitlist?
1. Opt in to the waitlist before deadline
When your application becomes waitlisted, Dartmouth will ask if you want to opt into the waitlist. If you’re interested in the waitlist, remember to opt in before the deadline.
2. Write a letter of continued interest
Write to Dartmouth and express your continued interest and intention. The email doesn’t have to be long. In fact, it’s best to keep it short and to the point— admissions officers are busy.
If Dartmouth is your first choice and you would attend for sure if admitted, confirm that.
If you have any updates about your coursework or achievements, include them. This will reemphasize your interest in and dedication to the school.
Example: Letter of continued interest
3. Sending further updates when available
If any substantial updates come up, such as winning a prize or receiving an award, email the admissions office again. Remember, only email them with substantial updates. You don’t want to come across as annoying or desperate.