Harvard Waitlist: Stats & How to Get Off

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January 15, 2024
6 min read
Expert Reviewed


Reviewed by:

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 5/4/22

If you just found yourself on the Harvard waitlist, you may be interested in how to get off it. This article will answer that and other important information about the waitlist process.

The Harvard waitlist combines anticipation, uncertainty, and the possibility of a dream come true. Being placed on the waitlist means that Harvard University recognizes your potential but cannot offer immediate admission. 

However, there are strategies you can employ to enhance your chances of moving from the waitlist to an accepted student

By understanding the process, demonstrating continued interest, providing updated information, and keeping an open mind, you can optimistically navigate the waitlist experience and maximize your opportunity to secure a spot at one of the world's most prestigious institutions.

Harvard hall building

How Many People Does Harvard Waitlist?

You might be wondering how many people does Harvard waitlist. Like most Ivy League schools, Harvard's admissions process is highly competitive, and they receive many applications each year. 

However, the number of applicants waitlisted can vary from year to year, as it depends on various factors such as the number of applications received, the quality of applicants, and the capacity of the incoming class.

Unfortunately, how many people are on the Harvard waitlist is not public knowledge. Due to the competitive nature of Harvard, and the published numbers from similar schools, Harvard's waitlist is roughly 1000 to 2000 people. For the 2026 class, we know that Harvard accepted 36 students from the waitlist. 

Crowd of people waiting

What to Do If You Are Waitlisted By Harvard

If you find yourself waitlisted by Harvard University or any other institution, here are some steps you can consider taking.

Understand the Waitlist Process

Research and understand Harvard's specific guidelines and instructions regarding its waitlist process. This information may be available on their website or in the communication you received.

Accept Your Spot on the Waitlist

Follow the instructions given by Harvard to  accept your spot on the waitlist officially. This typically involves submitting a form or responding to an email indicating your continued interest in being considered for admission.

Review Your Other Options

While on the Harvard waitlist, exploring and considering other college options is important. Accept an offer of admission from another institution before the deadline to ensure you have a backup plan in case you are not ultimately admitted off the waitlist.

Send a Letter of Continued Interest

If Harvard allows it,  consider writing a letter of continued interest to the admissions office. This letter should express your continued interest in attending Harvard, update them on any significant achievements or developments since your application, and explain why Harvard remains your top choice.

Provide Additional Materials

Some institutions may allow you to submit additional materials to support your application while on the waitlist. This could include updated grades, test scores, or additional recommendation letters. Follow Harvard's guidelines regarding what materials they accept and the deadline for submission.

Maintain Communication with the Admissions Office

Stay in touch with the admissions office if appropriate. However, be mindful not to overstep any stated boundaries or guidelines provided by Harvard. Respect their process and follow their instructions regarding communication.

Focus on Other Opportunities

While it's natural to have a strong desire to attend Harvard, try to focus your attention on other positive opportunities that come your way. Embrace other college options and engage in activities that will further your personal and academic growth.

Friends laughing

FAQs: Harvard Waitlist

Here are a few common questions that come up about the Harvard waitlist.

1. How Many Harvard Applicants Get Waitlisted?

While it is impossible to know exactly how many students are  on the waitlist as Harvard does not publish those numbers, comparing Harvard admission statistics to those of similar schools such as Yale leads to a rough estimate that 1000 to 2000 students are placed on the waitlist. 

2. Is Getting Waitlisted at Harvard a Good Thing?

Getting waitlisted by a prestigious university such as Harvard can  be considered an accomplishment. Harvard is already a very selective school and has limited waitlist slots as opposed to being rejected outright. This proves  you have what it takes to surpass the competitive screening and interview process. 

3. What Percentage of Waitlisted Students Actually End Up Getting Accepted?

Harvard, unfortunately, does not publish how many people were placed on the waitlist for any given year. However, from the Harvard website, we can see that 36 students were accepted from the waitlist for the 2026 class.

Final Thoughts

Being waitlisted by Harvard can be both challenging and hopeful. While the specific number of applicants admitted from the waitlist can vary each year, there are steps you can take to increase your chances of getting off the waitlist. 

Accept your spot on the waitlist, explore other college options as a backup plan, and consider sending a well-crafted letter of continued interest. 

If allowed, provide  additional materials  showcasing your growth and achievements since submitting your application. It's essential to maintain respectful communication with the admissions office and focus on other positive opportunities that come your way. 

Remember, the waitlist offers a chance to demonstrate your continued interest and commitment to Harvard, but ultimately, the final decision is beyond your control. Stay optimistic, embrace all potential paths, and trust in the process.

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