Mythbusters: The Wait List

By Tom

Well, we had another highly competitive year for admission and, as is always the case, we had many more qualified applicants than we have space for in our class. Those of you who have been offered a spot on the wait list are students whom we believe are fully qualified and would contribute greatly to our campus but for whom we don’t, given our size limitations, have space at present. Selective admission is a difficult process for us, as we try to select a class from among many strong, similarly-qualified applicants.

There are quite a few myths and rumors out there about how wait lists work, so I want to spend a few moments busting up some of the myths and perhaps confirming some others. Here goes.

We have no idea whether or not we’re going to go to the wait list this year (or any year for that matter) – that’s why we have a wait list. If we knew we’d need to admit more students, we’d have done so already. Typically, we won’t have a strong sense of whether or not we’ll go to the wait list until the very end of April/beginning of May. We have been able to go to the wait list three out of the last five years.

We won’t know how many students are on the wait list until after April 15 when all students have decided. Typically about half of the students offered a place on the wait list will accept that offer. We offer spots to hundreds of students, but we don’t release the final number.

The wait list is not an actual ranked list, so you don’t get a number after you accept a place on it. Should we go to the wait list, we will go back into the admission committee and reevaluate all applicants on the wait list using the same holistic process we use in regular admission, which as you know places greatest emphasis on academic achievement. The one additional, secondary factor that may be added into that holistic process in wait list review is your level of interest. If Richmond is your first choice, please be sure to let us know of that. Feel free to check in with us once May rolls around to see how things are shaping up and let us know if you’re still interested at that point. Again, your academic and personal merits will always be the primary basis of the decisions that the committee makes – interest is secondary to that.

Some things you should do:

  • Confirm your spot on the wait list online
  • Read the Wait List 2009 brochure thoroughly
  • Make your deposit at another university to secure your place in their class by May 1
  • Send us additional academic information (e.g. third-quarter grades) that becomes available
  • Check in with us periodically to let us know you’re still interested (periodically=every few weeks or so)
  • Visit campus IF AND ONLY IF you need to learn more about Richmond or decide whether Richmond is right for you

Some things you shouldn’t do:

  • Call us every day
  • Call us every week
  • Try to bribe us
  • Send us more letters of recommendation
  • Send us crazy, ridiculous items to try to get our attention
  • Send us anything other than additional academic information
  • Visit campus to try to convince us of your interest or make a case in person (a phone call or e-mail is just as effective and will be looked upon equally)

We do our very best to keep you posted on what’s going on. We will contact you by mid-June at the latest to let you know about the status of the wait list. Watch your e-mail once mid-June rolls around for news and further instructions.

We understand how difficult this process can be, and we try to be as forthright as possible, but when it comes to the wait list there are simply a lot of unknown factors. I am confident that all of you have many wonderful options from which to choose, and that you will find yourselves excited and content next autumn, whether you are at Richmond or elsewhere.


  1. Stella
    Posted March 30, 2010 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

    First I’d like to say how enlightening this post was and I was just wondering if you knew the approximate number of students that are on the waitlist this year.

    • Tom
      Posted March 31, 2010 at 9:04 am | Permalink


      Glad you’ve found this post helpful. We won’t actually know how many students accept a place on the wait list until the April 15th response deadline. Typically around a third of students to whom we offer a space actually accept our offer. In past years our wait list has averaged around 800 students, though it can vary pretty significantly from year to year. Last year, we were only able to take a handful of students from the wait list; the year before, we took more than 140.

      Hope that’s helpful!


      • Stella
        Posted April 5, 2010 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

        Yes, thank you! I was just curious as to how many were offered a place on the waitlist, sorry for phrasing it incorrectly.

  2. Stephanie Scime
    Posted April 2, 2010 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    Under “some things you should do”, you say to contact us periodically. What form should this contact be and to whom should it be addressed? I am still very interested in attending Richmond (I have already signed on to the wait list)and want to be sure that I follow the correct procedure.

    • Tom
      Posted April 5, 2010 at 11:55 am | Permalink


      We view all types of contact equally – whether it’s a phone call, an e-mail, or a visit to campus – so however contact is most convenient for you. By e-mail, it’s simple enough to contact your regional counselor; by phone, simply call our office and you’ll be connected with your regional person (if available) or, if not, with another colleague. We work as a team, so contact with any of us is the same.

      Again, I’d reiterate that periodic contact is every few weeks – we won’t really know much until early May, in any case.


2 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] of limited space, our Accepted Student events are open to accepted students only. Please see my post on the Wait List for more […]

  2. […] For more information and answers to common questions, see the wait list brochure, as well as last year’s post Mythbusters: The Wait List. […]

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