Springtime, for many prospective college students, means anxiously awaiting for their college acceptance letters. However, sometimes these letters do not definitively disclose either an acceptance or a denial. Colleges can opt to select certain applicants for deferment. In other words, these applicants have been waitlisted. This decision of deferment could lead to wasting students’ time and reducing their options.
According to college admissions specialist for the Baldwin School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Sara Harberson, schools can use waitlists as a back-up plan to meet enrollment targets or control how much financial aid is given because space may simply be unavailable.
These are sensible enough reasons to utilize a waitlist. But while colleges use them to protect their own interests, the deferred applicants end up shorted on their time and their hope.
Waiting for a college offer that may never come is unsustainable when aid-dependent students are forced to wait on a decision that could affect the amount of tuition assistance they receive. Colleges may have little financial aid left to offer by the time they decide to admit a student on a waitlist.
If and when an applicant is denied entrance, they could be left with limited alternatives. Schools should not string along deferred students only to cut the line after a student has spent time and energy holding out for a potential offer. Colleges either need to be more selective when deferring students or make definitive decisions for their pool of applicants.
USF does not currently utilize a waitlist for admissions. According to the USF Info Center, out of the 29,132 first-time students who applied in the 2017-2018 school year, 11,190 were admitted and 3,063 enrolled. While USF appears more selective in its admission rates, the admitted students were afforded the opportunity to be selective in their enrollment. Had students been waitlisted, they would be limited in their chance to make their own choices or move on accordingly if they were eventually denied.
When a college defers their decision to admit, students are made to delay their own decisions on which college to enroll. Consequently, this may delay or hinder other factors important in college acceptance, such as financial aid or student housing. Students should have the opportunity to explore other options with reduced stress and without wasting time.
Paige Wisniewski is a junior majoring in interdisciplinary social sciences.