This weekend, high school students from across the nation received their admission decisions from Georgetown and similar top schools. Upcoming GAAP weekends will bring in even more admitted students than last weekend’s did, and our annual campaign to convince the admitted to enroll will begin.
So much of the admissions process has been about this campaign—more than ever, universities have struggled to fill their enrollment targets and establish the perfectly rounded class. As buzzwords like “diversity” and “pluralism” become increasingly prominent throughout the season, universities worry. What if all fifteen admitted bassoon players decide to attend another institution and our band is without the resources it needs? What if the incoming class is void of environmental activists?
That’s where the waitlists come in. Instead of ranking students based on preference, many universities have begun to adopt a new sort of waitlist that simply involves a pool of students they can pick and choose from at their pleasure. Perhaps Student A wouldn’t have been the first added to the incoming class if there was one more spot available at the school, but because these fifteen bassoon players declined the school’s offer, and she plays bassoon, she’s the one who is pulled up.
It’s a sort of purgatory for admissions decisions, and there’s nothing the students can do about it. Any opportunity that will be offered to them is based almost entirely on the actions of their peers.
The whole practice is rather one-sided. It is arguable that a waitlist exists entirely to benefit the university, and not at all to help the individual student. A waitlist offers the university financial security and stability at the expense of the student. An admitted student will often have to submit their enrollment deposit before waitlist decision are received, sometimes shorting them as much as $900 when it comes time to choose a school for good.
Similarly, the university is pulling students up to advance its standing as a utopian community of diverse interests and backgrounds. Are the students benefiting from this choice? Perhaps the students who have already decided to enroll are reaping the benefits of a more diverse population, but the students on the waitlist may be at a disadvantage.
It’s a scary and uncertain time for many high school seniors right now, but let’s not forget that it’s also a terribly exciting time. It’s a time of new beginnings and of exciting possibilities—but most of all, it’s a time of accomplishment. It’s so easy to forget about our successes and fortune as we advance into the university and become immersed in business and busy-ness and everything else that goes along with studying at such an amazing place. I invite you, whether or not you find yourself in a waitlist purgatory of uncertainty or one of security, to remind yourself of your own admissions time. We have had some success, and there is more to come.
Alexandria Plutnicki is a freshman in the McDonough School of Business. Sound-off is part of an ongoing series of responses to news on and off campus.