For colleges, wait lists provide peace of mind during admission season, enabling enrollment chiefs to plug unexpected holes in a class.

The Washington Post reports.

Top colleges put thousands of applicants in wait-list limbo, and some won’t admit any

Apollo Yong, 17, a student at Washington-Lee High School, at his home in Arlington, Va. Yong is among thousands on college wait lists. (Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)
Students applying to top colleges crave to hear “yes!” when decisions roll out in March and brace themselves for “no.” But huge numbers get a vague answer that is neither admission nor denial — a tantalizing “maybe” — with an invitation to join a wait list.

Wait-list offers far outnumber seats in the entering classes at many of those schools, a Washington Post analysis found. The University of Michigan last year invited 14,960 students onto its wait list, by far the largest total from among dozens of schools that The Post reviewed and more than 25 percent of all applicants to the state flagship in Ann Arbor. Of the 4,512 who accepted a wait-list spot, just 90 — 1.99 percent — were admitted to a class of 6,071.