On the Waiting List? Here's Some Advice from a Notre Dame Admissions Counselor

Author: Maria Finan

The Waiting List Graphic


“The Committee on Admissions is grateful for the significant time and effort you have invested…we would like to offer you a place on our waiting list.”

We know how much of yourself you put into your applications. Finding out you were offered a spot on the waiting list was probably not the decision you were anticipating. Hopefully, you finished reading your letter and have already opted to confirm your spot on the waiting list via your applicant status portal. If not, you should do that now, if you’re still interested in attending Notre Dame next year.

But before you do anything else, take a deep breath.

What to Expect

Each year, we hope to admit applicants from the waiting list. We never know quite how many students we will be able to admit until May 1.

Typically, we begin notifying the applicants we admit in early May. As we have all seen recently, each year is a bit different and it’s hard to predict what any given year might look like.

The percentage of applicants offered waiting list who agree to remain on our waiting list has historically been around 60%. Although it’s impossible to predict who will be offered a spot in any given year, you may find it reassuring to know that there is no ranking on the waitlist.

You can find helpful information, and answers to many of the most commonly asked questions, under our waiting list FAQs.

Next Steps to Take

I can’t give you the secret to being admitted from Notre Dame’s waiting list (there isn’t one), but I hope I can offer you some helpful guidance.

1. Research the colleges from which you have received acceptance letters and choose one to attend.

Applicants who opt to remain on the waiting list will have to select another college to attend, typically by May 1. Choose to enroll at a school where you'll be happy, and one that will enable you to thrive academically and socially. This will likely be your home for the next four years—choose the best school for you!

2. Write a letter of continued interest and upload it to your applicant status portal by April 15.

Reflect on, and explain why you want to attend Notre Dame.

Before you do this, make sure you take that deep breath (or many deep breaths). In my experience, the students who give themselves some time between being waitlisted and writing are usually able to better explain why they want to attend Notre Dame more than any other college.

There is no one right reason why a student wants to attend Notre Dame. Figure out what it is about Notre Dame that makes YOU want to call this place home for the next four years. Think about how a Notre Dame education will transform you, and what you have to offer to the Notre Dame family.

We know that the limit of 200 words for your Notre Dame supplement may not have felt like enough space to answer “Why Notre Dame” fully. Take this opportunity to expand on why Notre Dame is right for you!

Be sure to give yourself a bit of time to let the emotions settle and reflect before you write.

3. Submit any updates (and your letter of continued interest) via your applicant portal.

Once you’ve given yourself some time, compiled your meaningful updates, and composed a thoughtful letter of continued interest, please submit your document(s) via your applicant portal. You do NOT also need to email them.

The admissions staff will be able to see all updates submitted via your applicant portal—it highlights new submissions for us on our end!

You should do this via the “Upload Materials” section of your applicant portal. We do NOT recommend additional recommendation letters. If you intend to submit updates for us to review, you should plan to do this prior to April 15.

4. If you haven't already, apply for financial aid.

The waiting list is need-blind (we are need-aware for international students) and financial aid is available for applicants admitted from the waiting list. Be sure any required documents have been submitted. You can view the Financial Aid tab in your applicant status portal to check.

If you are admitted and need financial assistance, we commit to meeting your family’s full demonstrated financial need, regardless of when you are admitted. You can learn more about financial aid here.

We know that cost is a significant part of the college decision process for many of our applicants, which is why waiting list offers are non-binding. We do, of course, hope that students offered admission from the waiting list will ultimately decide to attend Notre Dame. If you are offered admission, it is helpful to have submitted all required financial aid documents in advance so that you can receive your aid package more quickly.


If you still have questions, please feel free to email your admissions counselor. They can be contacted via your applicant portal. We are always happy to assist students in any way that we can.



Maria Finan is an assistant director of admissions for the Western Region of the U.S., along with Hong Kong, Macau, and Guangdong Province. Learn more.