02/21/2013 05:40 pm ET Updated Apr 23, 2013

Wait! You've Been Waitlisted!

I live in the Northeast and most of the time I really love it. My favorite season is fall. The whole world becomes a kaleidoscope of color overnight. And there's nothing that makes you appreciate the summer weather like six months of freezing temperatures and blowing snow. But this time of year the whole northeast thing becomes nothing but a waiting game. Every day I hope that the temperature will begin to rise. I'm tired of being cold and wet and just need that little reminder that warmer days are on the horizon.

I get up and look out the window at the thermometer to see if there's a chance that we'll hit 40. This morning as I looked out and felt the hope of a 40-degree day slip away.I thought about students receiving their admission envelopes. Today's weather is a lot like being waitlisted. You had hope, gave it your best shot and now you're in limbo land. They didn't flat out say no, but they didn't actually say yes either. So now what?

There are some things you can and should do if you're one of the thousands of students who received this non decision notice;

1. Take stock. How badly did you want to attend this school? Is it a top choice? Is there another school that did accept you that you would be just as happy to attend?

2. Get information. Find out what your chances of being admitted are. The number of students actually admitted from the wait list varies greatly from school to school. Call the admissions office before you decide if you want to be on the waitlist. Ask them where you are on the list if it is a ranked list. If not ask them how many students are typically admitted from the list.

3. Keep the school updated. If you do decide to go onto the wait list keep the college updated on any new developments in your record. But only contact them if there has been a significant change or improvement in any part of your record since you applied. Do not be a pest or pressure the school.

4. Consider if waiting will be worth while. Because a waitlisted students is notified late in the process, there may not be as much financial aid available at the school and your housing accommodations may be compromised. Find out how being accepted from a wait list will affect both.

5. Move forward as if you were rejected. Unfortunately the chances are not good that you will be admitted from a wait list. Take a close look at your options and make other plans. This will ensure you end up somewhere. If you are accepted from the list after you have made a deposit at another college, you may have to forfeit that deposit.

Life is full of ambiguity but the one thing to keep in mind if you have been waitlisted is that there is not one single college that will offer you the best experience. You can have a great experience at many colleges. This is just like a March snowstorm. They're disappointing, aggravating and frustrating but most importantly you will get past them.