April has been called the cruelest month on the calendar for college-bound seniors. It’s the time when admissions letters arrive in mailboxes, elating some and dashing the hopes of others. But those on the waiting list of the college of their choice say, for them, the news may be cruelest of all. “I’d rather have a yes or no,” says Ashley Koski, who was put on Duke University’s waiting list along with 3,382 applicants. “I can’t make plans and be excited like the rest of my friends.”
According to the New York Times, Duke’s waiting list is almost twice the size of the incoming freshman class, and much larger than it was last year. Although the university is uncertain how many of the 4,000 applicants it accepted will actually attend, it estimates that only about 60 applicants will be admitted off the waiting list.
The uncertain economy has led many other schools to take the same approach. MIT for example, saw applications increase by 6 percent and increased its waiting list by more than half to 722. The Times reports. The waiting list at Dartmouth is 1,740 and Yale’s is right at about 1,000. But of the selective schools that make their numbers public, Duke’s waiting list is the longest.
Christoph Guttentag, Duke’s dean of undergraduate admissions, said the list is so long in part because they received so many applications this year. “What we could have done, had we had another week,” he said, “was to look at everybody on the waiting list and say, ‘Do they all need to be on?’ “Of all the priorities,” he added, “that was not in the top two or three.”