What Do They Mean By Waitlist? by Sandy Eiges of LA School Scout

L.A. School Scout
What Do They Mean By A Waitlist

Are They Just Shining Me On? 

Hi everyone,This is turning into an annual ritual – the writing of the newsletter about the waitlist. But first, congratulations to all of you out there who received those coveted acceptances!


As most of you might already know, all of the private elementary schools send out their acceptance letters on an agreed upon date; this year it was March 15th. That means that Saturday was definitely D day for those of you applying to private schools.


To those of you with acceptance letters, congratulations! But whether you’re dancing in the streets with letters of acceptance from all of the schools you applied to, or howling in pain from rejection letter after rejection letter, chances are that you also received at least one letter saying that they were happy to inform you that you were being placed on a waitlist. Yup, just like being cryogenically frozen in time, you were going to have to wait for some future time when you were suddenly going to be accepted into the school of your dreams. Ah, the future!


But there’s no guarantee of that rosy future, and by the way they didn’t tell you when you might hope to emerge from said waitlist. So what exactly does that waitlist mean?


First, it is not a euphemism for “thanks, but no thanks.” Schools take applicants from their waitlists all the time. Let’s say an applicant applies to half a dozen schools and gets into all of them. This might be what is known as a good problem, but the reality is, they can only go to one school. So their spot at all of those other schools suddenly becomes available to someone on – drumroll, please – the waitlist. Here, being waitlisted is a good thing.


In general, if you’re on a Kindergarten waitlist at a school you’re truly interested in, let the school know that you are interested in staying on the waitlist. You have no idea how many people don’t bother to let anyone know. And while some schools will in fact keep that list, many will need that gentle reminder that this school is your first pick school, and you’re holding out for it. If it is your first pick school, let them know that if offered a space, you will take it! I can’t stress this enough.


Secondly, for those of you glass half fullers out there, the waitlist is a step up – it is not a euphemism for you are not getting into any school. Trust me, if they are not interested in you they will not offer you a space, period, not even a waitlist space. There are people who get that letter – sorry, but we are not going to be able to offer you a spot. Period. That is definitely a “thanks, but no thanks.” So now the waitlist is looking up, isn’t it?


And thirdly, being on the waitlist means that, agonizing as it is, it’s not over. You might be offered a space in two weeks or a month from now; you might be offered a space at the end of August. Spaces open up all the time.


But if the waitlist is making you feel crazy, this might just be the right time to find a viable alternative, public, private or parochial. If that’s the case, please don’t hesitate to call. You can reach me atsandy@LAschoolscout.com or 310 926 0050; or submit an inquiry form on my website atwww.LAschoolscout.com. I will do my best to get back to you within 24 hours. Please note that March is fully booked, and I am now scheduling appointment for April.


Stay open, stay flexible, stay tuned for more on what those of you applying for September 2014 need to do right now. And for the time being, congratulations to all of you who were waitlisted. Take heart – the end is not near…yet.


Have a wonderful spring break! I will be out of town from March 23-March 29, and there will not be a newsletter next week.

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Christina Simon: Los Angeles, California, United States I'm the mom of two kids who attended The Willows School in Culver City and Viewpoint School in Calabasas. My daughter is a graduate of Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism ('23) and my son is a sophomore at UPenn/Wharton ('26). I live in Coldwater Canyon with my husband, Barry, and our dogs. Contact me at csimon2007@gmail.com

One thought to “What Do They Mean By Waitlist? by Sandy Eiges of LA School Scout”

  1. Sandy makes some excellent points. It does feel as though it’s just a euphemism for “thanks, but no thanks”, but I know many families that got into their top choice school after being wait listed. As she says, there are families who got into multiple schools & their child can’t go to all of them – so spaces do open up! Wishing everyone who is on the wait list lots of luck.

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