Alternate List FAQs

Before you read on…

You impressed us.

This may not seem obvious to you if you have found yourself on the Harvey Mudd College alternate list, but it’s true. We only place students on the alternate list who we know will thrive at Harvey Mudd, and you are one of them. If you are on the alternate list, we hope that in some scenario we will be able to offer you admission. It’s that simple. One of the best moments we have each year (well, most years) is when we are able to reach out to students on our alternate list and offer them space in our incoming class. We hope that we will have that opportunity this year, and in fact, we have planned for it if our historical response patterns remain consistent.

You have been waiting for months now for our response, and we know that we are now asking you to wait some more. We are also aware that you received this decision placing you in limbo during what is already an uncertain time in our world. It is uncertain for us as well, and for that reason, we have a larger alternate list than we normally have in order to ensure that we will be able to start next fall with 240 first-year students. Please know that we will move as quickly and efficiently as we can once we have a sense of how many spaces we may have available.

As the advice below says, by the stated deadline you should plan on making a decision to enroll at another institution to make sure you have a place for next fall. We would also recommend you read this perfectly stated piece about the alternate list that was written in 2019 by our friends at Georgia Tech. While we all wait, we are here to answer any questions you may have that are not answered below. Thank you for the time and energy you have already invested in Harvey Mudd. We’re still impressed.

Thyra Briggs
Vice President for Admission and Financial Aid

How does the HMC Alternate List (a.k.a. waitlist) work?

  • We have admitted 473 students this year hoping for a first-year class of 240. These admitted students must respond by May 1 (this year extended to May 3) and our estimates tell us that we should hit or at least be very close to our target class size. However, since it’s actually very difficult to predict how many students will accept admission, we keep an alternate list of students.
  • This year we have offered 647 applicants a place on our alternate list. Typically two-thirds of these students stay on our alternate list, and it is these students who we will consider should we have space in our first-year class after May 3.
  • In the last five years, we have admitted as many as 63 students from our alternate list and as few as 0. It’s impossible to know how many students, if any, we will offer admission from the alternate list until or after the second week of May.
  • Our alternate list is not ranked.

What should I do?

  • The first and most important step is to carefully consider your offers of admission to other colleges AND submit an enrollment deposit by their May deadline. The waitlist process is uncertain at best and it is important that you secure your future first.
  • Next, decide if you will stay on our alternate list. We understand this process and your interest in HMC is fluid (and dependent on many other factors) so please accept our gratitude and best wishes regardless of whether or not you choose to stay. No matter your decision, please notify us by by completing the Alternate List Response Form found in your HMC Applicant Hub.
  • If you choose to stay on our alternate list, you are able to include a brief statement or updates for your application through the Alternate List Response Form. This is optional, but if you wish to provide a statement or updates, it is best done through the form and not by email to our office. You are able to submit this form more than once, allowing you to provide multiple updates for your application including staying at first and later deciding not to (and vice versa).
  • Students often want to know if they should send additional information to strengthen their applications. Please don’t. Your submission of the Alternate List Response Form and any updates are all we need. If we require any additional information, we’ll ask, promise.
  • If we are able to admit students from our alternate list, we will want to provide financial aid information without delay. Please ensure that you have submitted all required financial aid information (FAFSA, CSS PROFILE, tax returns) to our Office of Financial Aid. Merit scholarships are not available for students admitted from the alternate list.

What about other colleges?

  • Again, be sure to submit an enrollment deposit to a college that has offered you admission.
  • Choosing to stay on our alternate list does not commit you to attend HMC if offered admission later. It simply signals us of your continued interest in admission to HMC.
  • You are allowed to stay on the alternate list (a.k.a. waitlist) for more than one college.
  • If you are offered admission from our alternate list, you may choose then whether to enroll at HMC or keep the commitment you have made to the college to which you have already deposited. This is normal for the process and there is nothing immoral/unethical about considering a new option. If say, you then decide to attend HMC, you must notify both colleges of your plans. This allows the other college to offer admission to another student for the spot you vacated. You should not keep deposits at more than one college.

When and how will I be notified?

  • Our first alternate list update typically goes out in or after the second week of May. If you call or email us after May 3 but prior to this update, you’ll be told that our update is coming soon.
  • We send updates by email only to students that have submitted the Alternate List Response Form and have chosen to stay on our alternate list.
  • When we make an offer of admission from the alternate list, we call or email the student to notify them. Students and their family are afforded time and the necessary information (including financial aid) to consider our offer.