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

Author: Maria Finan

The Waiting List 1

“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 are being offered a spot on the waiting list was probably not the decision you were hoping for, or even the one you were expecting.

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.

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 students we admit between May 3 and May 15.

As we all discovered last year, each year is a bit different and it’s hard to predict what any given year might look like.

Most years, we take between 20 and 100 students from the waiting list. Some years, we have taken more; other years we have taken none. Although it’s impossible to predict who will be offered a spot to 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 about the waiting list here.

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.

Students who opt to remain on the waiting list will have to select another college to attend, typically by May 1. Some schools have different deadlines, so be sure to check each school you’re considering.

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.

Reflect 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 finding out they have been placed on a waitlist and writing are usually able to better explain why they want to attend Notre Dame and what they hope to bring to offer to our community.

There is no one right reason that students want 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 the Notre Dame Writing Supplement you submitted with your application may not have felt like enough space to answer “Why Notre Dame?” fully. So take this opportunity to expand on why Notre Dame is right for you.

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. This is preferable to email.

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 May 1. 

4. If you haven't already, apply for financial aid and complete your applications.

The waiting list is need-blind (we are need-aware for international students) and financial aid is available for students 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 students, 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. So, if you are offered a 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 reach out to your regional admissions counselor. We are always happy to assist students in any way that we can! 

Take those deep breaths, and enjoy the rest of your senior year!


Maria Finan is an assistant director of admissions for the following areas: Colorado and California (excluding South Bay, Long Beach, and South/South Central LA); Hong Kong, Guangdong Province, and Macau. Learn more.