Got Waitlisted? How to Write a Letter of Continued Interest

A letter of continued interest adds to your application by highlighting your recent accomplishments. Here's how to write a stand-out letter if you're waitlisted.

portrait of Genevieve Carlton, Ph.D.
by Genevieve Carlton, Ph.D.

Updated June 6, 2022

Edited by Tyler Epps
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Got Waitlisted? How to Write a Letter of Continued Interest
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Many selective colleges waitlist students. According to the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), around 10% of applicants at those schools were waitlisted in 2018. But what can you do while you're still waiting for an admission decision?

Instead of feeling hopeless or frustrated, take steps to improve your chances of getting in. That means staying on top of your classes and reaching out to schools that waitlisted you to show you're still interested in attending.

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Ready to start your journey?

Writing a letter of continued interest does more than tell the school to keep you on the waitlist. It can also highlight your recent accomplishments. And the letter might even improve your chances of getting off the waitlist.

Why You're on the Waitlist

Which schools use waitlists? And why do students end up on them?

According to NACAC, 43% of colleges used a waitlist in 2018. And certain colleges were more likely to use waitlists than others. Only 34% of public colleges waitlist students, while 48% of private institutions use a waitlist.

Among the most selective colleges — those that admit less than 50% of all applicants — 82% use a waitlist. Therefore, students applying to more competitive colleges are most likely to end up on a waitlist.

At these competitive schools, waitlisted students are strong candidates that the college may not have space to admit. After learning the size of the incoming class, the college often lets in applicants from the waitlist.

What can you do to improve your chances of getting an offer of admission? Schools that use a waitlist report that half of waitlisted students remove themselves from the list. The other half stay on the list and wait for an admission decision. Writing a letter of continued interest can help you stand out from other waitlisted students.

What Is a Letter of Continued Interest?

Each school has a different procedure when it comes to waitlisted applicants. Many allow or encourage students to write a letter updating the admissions office about their interest. If the school welcomes these letters, use your letter as an opportunity to make your application stand out.

A letter of continued interest serves two purposes:

Make sure your letter achieves both of these goals.

How to Write a Letter of Continued Interest

First, open the letter by thanking the school for considering your application. Many admissions committees evaluate tens of thousands of applicants each year, and making the waitlist is an achievement.

Then, update the school on any recent accomplishments. Let the admissions committee know about your current grades or if your GPA improved since your initial application. If you retook the SAT or ACT, mention a higher score.

Also, showcase any awards or notable achievements. Colleges look for well-rounded applicants, so if you've recently started volunteering or a sports team you're on made regionals, let the school know.

Finally, demonstrate your passion for the school by mentioning why it's your top choice. Let the school know if you've recently visited or made contact with faculty or current students.

Overall, keep your letter brief. Busy admissions counselors want a succinct statement of your interest rather than a novel. And stay positive and professional in your letter. Show that you'd be a valuable addition to the school — and avoid even a hint of frustration, desperation, or arrogance.

Letter of Continued Interest Example #1

Dear Director of Admissions,

Thank you for reviewing my application. City U is my top choice for college, and I would be thrilled to join the Class of 2026 in the fall if accepted off the waitlist.

I would like to update my application with some recent accomplishments. In the winter quarter, I earned a perfect 4.0 GPA, raising my overall GPA to 3.88. And recently, my drama troupe received a commendation from the governor for our play "Stay in School." I hope to develop my interest in theater arts in the university's exceptional theater program.

Please let me know if I can provide you with any additional information, and I look forward to your decision.


Letter of Continued Interest Example #2

Dear Director of Admissions,

I am reaching out to express my interest in attending Pembroke University if admitted from the waitlist. The campus environment and the exceptional co-op program make the university my top choice. Last month, I visited campus and toured the engineering labs, which reinforced my excitement to attend Pembroke.

In addition to expressing my continued interest in attending, I would also like to update the admissions office. Recently, my robotics team received second place in a state-wide competition. I also took the SAT II tests in math and science, earning scores of 770 and 780, respectively.

Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Letter of Continued Interest Tips

What Are the Odds of Getting In From the Waitlist?

Colleges with a waitlist place 10% of applicants on the list. But what are your odds of admission if you're on the waitlist?

On average, schools accepted 20% of students who opted to stay on the waitlist, according to NACAC. And that number varies depending on the school. At the most selective colleges, only 7% of students received an acceptance offer from the waitlist.

When should you avoid writing a letter of continued interest? If you aren't sure whether you'd attend the school with an offer, consider not writing a letter. Since only a small number of students get in from the waitlist, only send a letter if you would accept an offer of admission.

A letter of continued interest cannot guarantee an admission offer. But it can improve your chances. When evaluating the waitlist to admit students, admissions officers look for candidates that will most likely accept an offer. So use your letter of continued interest to help your application stand out.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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