If you have received a letter where you are on the waitlist or deferred on your early admissions application, you probably feel some combination of disappointment or sometimes even anxiety.
You now have to wait even longer to see if you’ve gotten into the school of your choice. And the worse thing is, the odds of getting accepted off the waitlist are even narrower than the regular acceptance rate. I know you must be feeling helpless. But wait: all is not lost! You may have another chance to work this out. And that, my friends, is what this article is all about.
In this article, we’ll talk about what exactly one of these letters is and how you can go about writing one.
What is a letter of continued interest (LOCI)?
A letter of continued interest is an email you send to an admission office, usually after you’ve been deferred or waitlisted. With this, the college knows you’re still interested in attending and why.
The good news—the college thinks you’re still deserving. They believe that you might be an excellent candidate. Of course, this doesn’t come without caution. Usually, if you’re on the waitlist, the admissions committee is always in doubt that you’re going to be a positive contribution to the incoming class. While they recognize your potential, they had more qualified or compelling candidates, and until they hear back from them, they just aren’t confident they have a place for you.
Should you send one to every school?
Not certainly. When you’re deferred or placed on a waiting list, always follow the college advice directions, they will tell you what you can next. If they particularly ask you not to send a letter, then don’t!
But several colleges will invite you to update your application with a letter outlining your new achievements and why you are still interested in attending the college. If you don’t know what to do, just email back to ask, “May I send a letter of continued interest?” Sometimes all they want is for you to check a box on a form they provide.
How many students do schools usually take off the waitlist? In other words, What are your chances?
In brief, it depends on the year and the school. If you’re curious, you can go through this rad Google spreadsheet, which shows waitlist data for 2017-2019 for several schools.
Note that just because X school accepted Y percentage of students off their waitlist one year doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll take that same number the following year.
According to the chart, Clemson accepted 449 students off the waitlist in 2018 and 6 in 2019. It’s also fascinating to see how much schools vary: Baylor took 1,349 students off the waitlist in 2017. As stated in the chart, Beloit accepted just 3.
Exciting insights from an Admission Officer on Navigating the Waitlist
“If you are placed on the waitlist, the first thing to consider is if you want to continue the decision process. Evaluate how that waitlist school stacks up against the other schools you’ve been admitted to. If you feel a profound connection to that school, a few more weeks of risk may be worth it. But you'll need to express your continued interest in the waitlisted school. Many schools will ask students via survey whether they want to be active members of the waitlist. While it's crucial to respond in the school's requested format, you can often send an additional letter.
Strategy is fundamental, though. Your high school counselor may be able to help you form one. If you have a connection with your admission counselor, this is an excellent time to reconnect. Ask the admission officer to recommend what you might do to show interest. Some schools allow WL students to provide further information (e.g., new recommendation letters, updated grades, a refreshed “why us” essay, a video response, or even a meeting with the admission officer). Do not exaggerate your response; carefully see the requirements and be discerning about what you include. Looking into the school’s WL history can give you helpful insights.
For example: How many WL students were accepted in the previous year? When June arrives, you may need to let go of your WL school. Improving connections with schools that admitted you could help you transition to college. You'll want to prepare for this next step in your life thoughtfully. Connect virtually with classmates, get to know your new city/home, and read the materials your Student Life Office and professors send.”
- Ed Devine, West Coast Regional Director of Admissions, Lafayette College
What should you include in your Letter of Continued Interest?
New information. The school has already made a decision that your application is a “maybe.” You’re an ambitious applicant, but you didn’t get selected. New information is the best way to turn that “maybe” into a “yes.”Let’s have a look at a paragraph-by-paragraph analysis of what you might include in your letter:
- Acknowledge the reader for reevaluating your materials and reaffirm that the school you are applying to is the place for you. If the college is your perfect first choice and you would attend if admitted, mention that.
- Provide new information such as updates on extracurricular activities, any awards earlier or recently, exciting projects you’ve started working on, or new or improved GPA or standardized test scores (if applicable).
- Include any information on a campus visit, if you’ve made one and what precisely you liked about the campus.
- Try to include 2-3 abstract “Why us” details describing why you and the school are a great match.
- Thank the reader again and sign off.
What not to include in your Letter of Continued Interest
We understand; you’re probably feeling annoyed and disappointed. Maybe you also feel powerless. Talking to friends and family, releasing your frustration to peers, or taking it out on sprinting are all great ways to express these valid emotions.
Always remember, the letter of continued interest is not the place to release your feelings, though. Keep your attention on the positives, and don’t let any of those negative feelings appear in your letter.
A great example of a Letter of Continued Interest:
“Dear Ms. Monica Williams,
My name is Aisha Miller, and I’m a lucky Yalie from Bergen County, New Jersey. Despite getting deferred from the Early Action pool, I remain convinced that Yale is the school I made. I’d like to thank the admissions department for reevaluating my materials.
Here how Aisha is simple, clear, and straightforward in her approach.
This last weekend, I got an excellent chance to spend some time up in New Haven for the Yale University Model United Nations Conference (YMUN), assisting as part of the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction Committee (UNISDR) and discussing the rising sea levels and volcanic eruptions. Speaking with the Yale students made me realize more than ever before that I was with my people—calm, sarcastic, artistic in their way, and without any shame inquisitive. This weekend, I was where I belong.
Here she talks about the specifics and mentions when describing the students she met: “cool, sarcastic, artistic in their way, and without any shame inquisitive.”
I would also like to take this time to briefly tell the admissions department about a few things that have happened since I submitted my Early Action application. First, I wrote, illustrated, and published a children’s book by putting major focus on gender inclusivity in STEM fields, with all revenue going towards supporting curriculum development and outreach for the Stereotype Project, an organization I’ve been running for the past four years that focuses on combating stereotypes through art.
I’ve attached PDF copies of my book, but you should be receiving a copy in the mail soon. I very much believe the magic of reading is enhanced when the book is in its physical form.
In this section, she talks about a few updates told in a concise, straightforward way.
Additionally, I’d like to add up the following honors to my admissions file:
- Best Delegate, Yale University Model United Nations Conference
- Excellent Delegate, Bronx Science High School Model United Nations Conference
- Member of the Andrea Rubino Sheridan Chapter of National Honor Society
She has mentioned all the new awards, and she is not adding what was in her application already, which never sounds good.
My whole life, I have tried to draw connections and bridge the gap between science, social justice, and art. Whether walking through the Yale Art Museum or listening to Dr. Woo-Kyoung Ahn speak about causal learning and the relationship between genetic explanations and psychopathology, I know that no community will help me develop entirely as Yale’s would. I know that there is no other place to create the future besides Yale.
Here she talks about “Why us?” details, which she didn’t include in her original application.
Again, thank you for taking the time to reevaluate my application. Please let me know if there’s anything else I can provide.”
Just a simple thank you and goodbye.
Does a letter of continued interest help you?
Sometimes it does. It depends on how the school uses its waitlist and what they’re looking to add to the first-year class. Some colleges use the waitlist to achieve gender balance, boost enrollment in specific academic programs, or increase particular talents.
For schools tracking demonstrated interest, the Letter of Continued Interest more. Some schools don’t even go to their waitlist in a given year, as they’ll fill their class through the early and regular decision rounds. Besides all these, just ask yourself, “Will I regret it if I don’t write a letter?” If you think the answer is Yes, then it is worth a shot—you never know. And indeed write a letter if they ask you to and you’re still interested.
Where and to whom should you send your letter?
The school will tell you where to send your LOCI on your waitlist or deferral notice. There might be some form to fill out—if so, fill that!—if not, send your letter to the person who sent you the original notice. If you are not sure, email or call the admissions office and ask.