Next Steps for Admitted, Alt Start, and Waitlisted Students

Over the last couple weeks, you’ve probably heard from several students as they’ve shared admission offers, weighed options, and discussed future plans. Although a traditional fall start is standard for most students, some might ask why they were offered admission for a spring start — or even for the following fall. What does it mean to be waitlisted? How do places like Denison arrive at these decisions, and how can students decide what to do next?

Fall Start:

If admitted for the fall, the name of the game is engagement. It’s critical to get a taste of community — especially during this challenging year —  by participating in webinars, connecting via social media, and visiting campus. It’s important that students continue to check their email and Applicant Portal as new information and opportunities are communicated frequently. When ready, students can submit their enrollment deposit via the portal. As always, our team is happy to work individually with students and parents to answer questions or introduce you to current students, faculty, or staff.

Alternative Start:

At Denison, part of holistic review is to learn the tendencies of students, identify how each applicant might thrive in our communities, and make decisions based in-part by how a student can impact our campus. This is perhaps the hardest part of what we do as admission officers; especially at highly selective colleges, where we know that difficult decisions will ultimately be made on several capable, deserving students. By offering spring admission we’re able to accomplish two things. 1) We can provide more avenues for admission for students who we may otherwise might not be able to accommodate. 2) We can identify students who would make remarkable additions to a different cohort. We’re going to focus on that latter.

So, what makes a strong spring start candidate? Well, students usually tell us so! If a student indicates within the application that they’d be interested in pursuing an alternative entry option, then we take them for their word. In many instances, our review will reveal that a student highlights experiences or interests that would indicate that taking a semester of full gap-year experience would not only be intriguing, but welcomed and largely beneficial! Taking time to be exploratory, travel, or participate in unique programs like Global Citizen Year or Verto provide students a level of depth that can be difficult to fully experience while attending college full-time. While we can understand a student’s apprehension about doing something non-traditional, we encourage students to embrace the curiosity that led us to an alternative entry decision. Our team is always happy to chat in-depth about what other Denison students have done, and how to approach their own gap experience.


Similar to alternative entry, utilizing a waitlist allows us to identify students who would make great additions to campus, but where capacity concerns cause us to draw a line in the sand. Although schools use their waitlists differently — ours is unranked and remains largely undisturbed until after May 1 — the basic principle is the same for students; wait until an offer is made. Opting-into a waitlist is entirely up to each individual student and is dependent upon a number of factors, like satisfaction with other options and their willingness to wait. We recommend waiting to opt-in if you can, to evaluate offers and see if Denison is still at the top of your list; our deadline to opt-in is April 2. Though not required, we advise students to provide additional information via the waitlist form or by directly contacting their admission counselor If opting-in, we recommend that students have a plan; secure a deposit elsewhere and be prepared to provide a quick response if an offer is made. The first of May seems like a lifetime away, but April will pass in an instant, and they’ll be ready to end their college search!