Waitlisted at your dream college or need more financial aid? Expert explains your options

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Wednesday Stanford University released its college decisions, becoming the last major university to announce its acceptances and rejections.

Tuesday was Ivy Day, when the eight Ivy League universities released their decisions. Whether your high school senior has been accepted, waitlisted, rejected, or accepted but disappointed by the financial aid package, what can you do?

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Helping parents and students navigate this process is Lauren Cook, Dean of College Advising at Jewish Community High School of the Bay in San Francisco, and President of the Western Association for College Admission Counseling.

Cook was on ABC7 News "Getting Answers" Wednesday to offer some insight that may help your family.

Cook tells anchor Kristen Sze that applications soared and acceptances were down across the nation's most elite universities.

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"It doesn't matter what your age or what you're planning to do," Alena Wicker said. "Go for it, dream, then accomplish it."



For example, acceptance rate at Columbia University dropped from 6.1% last year to 3.7% this year. The acceptance rate at UC Berkeley fell from 17.5% last year to about 13% this year.

"This is likely due to the more holistic review process of making standardized testing more optional. At these very selective places, yeah, it was a tough year," Cook said.

Many students find themselves waitlisted at multiple universities, uncertain whether they'll be able to move off the waitlist and receive an offer in the summer. Cook says while that's impossible to predict, she suggests taking action.

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First, know that you need to opt in to stay on the waitlist, it is an offer. She says follow their instructions. Some allow you to submit an extra letter of recommendation.

Cook suggests, "Write up an email that talks a little about your continued interest and why you're a goof fit and send that off to the school. But you want to remember it's a fine line between advocating for yourself and becoming irritating."

If you got into your dream school, but are disappointed in the financial aid the school offered, Cook suggests reaching out to if they can work with you. If the pandemic has changed your family's financial situation, don't be shy about making sure the university has your latest information and asking for more support.

For those hoping to attend a University of California school, if you didn't get in this year as a freshman applicant, all is not lost. California community college students have the option of doing the TAG program.

That's short for Transfer Admission Guarantee. Six of the nine UC campuses offer that path in as a junior, if you complete your requirements at a California community college.
For more information, see the entire interview in the video player at the top of the post.

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