How to Write a Letter of Continued Interest

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The college admissions process can be cruel, especially to those students who find themselves in limbo because they've been deferred or waitlisted. This frustrating status tells you that the school thought you were a strong enough applicant to admit, but you weren't among the first round of top-choice candidates. As a result, you're left waiting to find out what your future might hold. On the plus side, you haven't been rejected, and you can often take action to improve your chances of getting off the waitlist and eventually being admitted.

Tips for a Letter of Continued Interest

  • Remain positive and enthusiastic in your letter, even if you are disappointed or even angry.
  • Reaffirm your interest in the school, and provide a couple reasons why you are interested.
  • Share any new, non-trivial accomplishments.
  • Make sure your letter is short, polite, and free of any writing errors.

What to Include in a Letter of Continued Interest

Assuming the college explicitly states that you shouldn't write, your first step when you find that you've been deferred or waitlisted should be to write a letter of continued interest. The tips below can help guide you as you craft your letter.

  • Address your letter to the admissions officer assigned to you, or the Director of Admissions. In most cases, you'll be writing to the person who sent you the waitlist or deferral letter. An opening such as "To Whom it May Concern" is impersonal and will make your message seem generic and cold.
  • Restate your interest in attending the college, and give a couple of specific reasons why you want to attend. Is there a program that excites you? Did you visit the campus and feel the college was a good match? Does the college line up with your professional and personal goals in a specific way?
  • If the college is your first choice school, don't be shy about telling this to the admissions committee. When colleges give offers of admission, they want students to accept those offers. A strong yield makes the school look good and helps the admissions staff meet their enrollment goals efficiently.
  • Let the college know if you have new and significant information to add to your application. Since you originally applied, did you get new and better SAT/ACT scores? Did you win any meaningful awards or honors? Has your GPA gone up? Don't include trivial information, but don't hesitate to highlight new accomplishments.
  • Thank the admissions folks for taking the time to review your application materials.
  • Make sure you include current contact information so that the college can reach you. Waitlist activity can occur in the summer, so make sure the college can contact you even if you are traveling. 

To see what an effective letter might look like, examine some sample letters of continued interest. Generally, these letters are not long. You don't want to impose too much on the time of the admissions staff.

What to Not Include in a Letter of Continued Interest

There are various things you shouldn't include in a letter of continued interest. This include:

  • Anger or Frustration: You may feel both of these things—and it would be surprising if you didn't—but keep your letter positive. Show that you are mature enough to handle disappointment with a level head.
  • Presumption: If you write as if you are assuming you'll get off the waitlist, you are likely to come off as arrogant, and arrogance is going to hurt your cause, not help it.
  • Desperation: You won't be improving your chances if you tell the college that you have no other options, or that you'll die if you don't get in. Highlight your continued interest, not your unenviable position on the waitlist.

General Guidelines for a Letter of Continued Interest

  • Make sure the college accepts letters of continued interest. If your waitlist or deferral letter states that you should send no further materials, you should respect the college's wish and show that you know how to follow directions.
  • Send the letter as soon as you learn that you have been deferred or waitlisted. Your promptness helps show your eagerness to attend (demonstrated interest is essential!), and some schools start admitting students from their waitlists soon after creating lists.
  • Keep the letter to a single page. It shouldn't ever take more space than that to state your continued interest, and you should be respectful of the busy schedules of the admissions staff.
  • A physical letter isn't always the best option. Read the admissions website to see if the college tends to ask for materials electronically or physically. An old-school paper letter looks nice and is easy to slip into an applicant's physical file, but if a college is handling all application materials electronically, someone will have the inconvenience of scanning your paper letter to include it in your file.
  • Attend to grammar, style, and presentation. If your letter of continued interest looks like it was dashed off in two minutes and written by a third-grader, you'll be hurting your chances, not helping them.

A Final Word

Will your letter of continued interest improve your chances of getting in? It might. At the same time, you should be realistic. In most cases, the odds of getting off a waitlist are not in your favor. It's not unusual for colleges to put 1,000 students on the waitlist and admit only a dozen or so. But when a college does turn to the waitlist, or when the school looks at the general applicant pool in the case of deferral, demonstrated interest matters. Your letter of continued interest is no magic admission bullet, but it can play a positive role in the process, and at worst it will be neutral.

Finally, keep in mind that you may not get off a waitlist until after the May 1st decision day. You should move on with other plans as if you had been rejected. If good news does come, you can then weigh your options and change plans if it makes sense to do so. Late in the process, this may involve forfeiting your deposit at a school.

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Your Citation
Grove, Allen. "How to Write a Letter of Continued Interest." ThoughtCo, Apr. 30, 2021, Grove, Allen. (2021, April 30). How to Write a Letter of Continued Interest. Retrieved from Grove, Allen. "How to Write a Letter of Continued Interest." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 31, 2023).