Q & A

Q. So what does it really mean to be on a wait list?

A. Colleges use wait lists to manage what they call “yield,” the number of students who are accepted and then choose to attend. For many reasons, including the unknown future of the economy and the fact that online applications make it easy for students to apply to many colleges, it is very hard for colleges to predict who will actually show up in the fall. Many colleges have been employing wait lists as insurance that they will be able to fill their class. If not enough students accept their offers on May 1, colleges can go to their wait lists to let in more students. In reality, the chances of getting off a wait list are very slim. Many schools offer thousands of spots on the wait list when only a few of those students will actually get in.

Q. For SAT and ACT tests, do I need to select schools to send the tests to when I sign up?

A. Both the SAT and the ACT allow test takers to select four schools to receive their scores free of charge. After that, the fee is about $10 per school. For the ACT, you are required to select the schools when you sign up or choose the schools on the actual test day, otherwise each score sent to a chosen school will have to be paid for. For the SAT, there is more leeway, but they do have a cut-off date for selecting schools. There isn’t any harm in sending scores because you will always have the opportunity to send additional, better scores and the colleges will use either the highest score from each section or the highest score from one sitting. However, some schools like the UC’s and CSU’s use self-reported scores and only ask for the scores if they need to verify. If you know the schools to which you want to apply, go ahead and the scores. If you are unsure, then we recommend waiting.

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