Thu, March 7, 2024

Surviving the Waitlist for NYC Independent Schools

Families can expect one of three outcomes as the admissions season for independent schools draws to a close: admit, deny or waitlist. While the first two are self-explanatory, people often ask what it means to be waitlisted. Waitlists are actively used by schools to enroll a full class while not over enrolling.

What does it mean to be on a waitlist?

It means your student meets the criteria for admission but the class has been filled.  There is always the possibility this scenario could change and result in an offer.

Do waitlisted students get accepted?

Absolutely … but it’s always up to the school. Schools may or may not admit students from the waitlist. Being on a waitlist is not necessarily a bad thing, but it may be worth checking with the school to see if it’s gone to the waitlist in the past to admit students or if waitlisted students are ever admitted.

How should I respond to a waitlist email? 

Communicate your interest immediately to the admissions office, either by phone or email, should you be placed on a waitlist to a school and want to remain on it. You may want to ask them how they would like you to stay in touch with them as the process unfolds. You don’t want to be a pest but you do want to indicate your strong interest.

If I accept a spot at another school what do I do about the waitlist offer?

Should you take a place at another school or decide you do not want to remain on the waitlist, communicate this immediately as well. Do be aware, however, if you put a deposit down to a school that has accepted you, you will forfeit that deposit should you decide to choose another school.

How does a school’s waitlist work?

Waitlists may be active for just the notification period that a school is enrolling students, or it may continue to be active through the spring and sometimes into the summer. Policies for each school vary and you can ask the admissions office about the specifics when you communicate with them.

Should you have more questions about the waitlists and how to navigate admissions decisions for independent and private schools, please contact the Parents League office by email at or call 212-737-7385 to speak to a school advisor. Advisory services are free to all members.

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