California public schools beginning to use wait lists

The University of California recently announced that it would begin using wait lists this spring for fall 2010 freshmen applicants.

Officials confirmed last week that at least six of the nine undergraduate UC campuses will follow suit, while the California State University system will expand its use of the lists, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Recent state budget cuts have caused UC and Cal State schools to decrease the number of incoming freshmen students on their campuses and the practice of using wait lists can help the universities better reach their enrollment targets.

High school counselors, however, said they worried about the emotional effects this practice could have on students. In an already stressful time of waiting for college acceptance letters, the uncertainty of being placed on a wait list can add anxiety — a student placed on a wait list might choose to wait for the university’s response, perhaps jeopardizing his acceptance at another school.

The National Association for College Admission Counseling found last year that only about 30 percent of students who opted to be wait listed were offered enrollment.

USC has traditionally avoided the practice of using wait lists, instead choosing to admit a small number of students for the spring semester.