In the middle of college decision season, I rolled out of bed one morning, an aspiring chemical engineering major, to an email telling me to check my Cal admissions portal. Typing in my login details, I peeled my eyes open to what seemed like another rejection letter. Upon reading more closely, I found out that I had another shot; I’d been waitlisted. I proceeded to scour the internet for advice, and after staring at a blank screen for quite some time, writing and editing, I got the acceptance I’d been hoping for the first time. Here’s how I did it.
1. Opt onto the waitlist!
If you’ve gotten the offer, you might as well give it a shot, right? True, you’re going to have to write the essay, and you’re not guaranteed success. You’re definitely going to have a better chance of coming to this boba-addicted school, however, than if you didn’t even give the waitlist a try. Now, this doesn’t mean actually pressing the button right now — after all, you still have that essay to write and the transcript update to fill out. Accept that you have a little more work cut out for you and forge on toward success!
2. Be a little practical
Even though you’ve got your heart set on Cal, guaranteeing yourself a spot at another college by making the Statement of Intent to Register, or SIR, deposit ensures you a protective safety net. Although such a deposit is usually nonrefundable, the practical move relieves worry and makes the waitlist process a lot less stressful.
3. Make a list of what you’ve been up to since November
What have you been up to since you submitted that application? Making a list of what you’ve been doing will help process your thoughts and make the writing process easier. Any volunteer work? Maybe you did a cool project in a class. The list would essentially act as a scaffold for your essay, allowing you to discuss what you’ve been doing and how it makes you a good fit for UC Berkeley. Essentially, the waitlist essay is that “Why UC Berkeley?” essay you never got to write in your original application.
Now that you’ve got your plan and a general gist of the aim of the essay, start writing! Don’t worry about grammar and writing style — those can be fixed later. If you’re struggling with phrasing, think of how you’d explain it to your mom, and actually test the explanation. If it works with her, you’re good to go!
Good luck, and we at the Clog hope to see you in August!