How to Write a Letter of Continued Interest with Examples

March 1, 2024

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The waitlist: the limbo of the college admissions world. No doubt, it can certainly feel like purgatory for some. For the most part, all you can do is wait (hence the name) and maybe say a few Hail Marys. However, some schools do allow waitlisted students a certain degree of hope that they can turn the decision in their favor. That welcome agency comes in the form of the letter of continued interest (learn how to write a letter of continued interest and see examples below). A letter of continued interest allows waitlisted students to reinforce their commitment to a particular university or college. It also allows them a chance to update the committee on important recent accomplishments or experiences that enhance their profile.

Finally, it’s another opportunity for the student to persuade the committee of why they are a good fit. A sister genre to the application essay, the letter of continued interest is something of an epistolary lifeline when the future is murky.

This article provides an introduction and guide for how to write a letter of continued interest. It identifies the key components of the letter and offers tips for how to write it. Additionally, it includes two examples (written from the perspective of fictional college aspirants), with commentary on what they do well.

How to Write a Letter of Continued Interest: Components of the Letter

As with most writing genres, the letter of continued interest has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Before the letter begins, you can include typical information like the date and sender and receiver’s addresses. After you’ve addressed the admissions committee, you’ll want to draft an opening that succinctly states your purpose. In 2-3 sentences maximum, express gratitude to the committee for their continued consideration and reiterate your interest in attending the school. You might also include some identifying information that helps the committee recall you as an applicant. Finally, the opening can convey that the school is the student’s top choice. This helps the committee appreciate how seriously you view this opportunity to be reconsidered.

After the opening comes the real meat of the letter in your body paragraphs. Your body should ideally include some combination of the following information:

  1. Clear and compelling explanation for *why* the college remains your top choice.
  2. A concise summary of updates for the committee. These can include any of your relevant achievements, experiences, or projects since the initial application.
  3. A persuasive case for how your personal goals and interests align with specific attributes or values of the institution.

In the examples below, the writers devoted separate paragraphs to each of these components. Depending on the information you have to relay, this can result in a letter that is anywhere from a half-page to a page and a half. You don’t want to unnecessarily pad out the letter. Instead, relay only the most relevant details in as concise a manner as possible. Remember: your letter will likely not be the only letter the committee has to read, and you don’t want to try their patience.

Finally, before signing off, include a brief closing. Reiterate your eagerness to join their college in a straightforward way and give a final word of thanks.

How to Write a Letter of Continued Interest: Tips for Writing

Before we get to the sample letters, some general tips for writing the letter of continued interest:

  1. Tailor it: You should absolutely tailor your letter to the college or university you are writing to. Think of this as another crack at the “why us” admissions essay, with an even greater need to persuade.
  2. Stay positive: Don’t risk alienating your audience by seeming sullen or dejected about being waitlisted. Keep the tone light and optimistic.
  3. Follow instructions: Schools will let you know if the letter of continued interest is even on the table. Further, they might have specific instructions for how it should be written and delivered.
  4. Keep it brief and easy to read: Focus on concision and clarity, editing with the reading experience in mind.
  5. Offer something new: You should take this opportunity to give updates or provide new reasons why you see the college as a good fit. You do not want to repeat details or claims from your application essays. Not only is this wasting the opportunity, but it could also connote that you think the admissions committee made a mistake by waitlisting you.

A final tip, which should be a given for all writing genres: revise, revise, revise. Ask friends, family, and mentors to read and provide feedback. Read your writing out loud and experiment with new strategies. Don’t just proofread – dramatically rewrite until it feels like it can’t be reworked anymore (or you run out of time).

How to Write a Letter of Continued Interest: Examples

Below you’ll find two examples of strong letters of continued interest. Though playfully written from the perspective of fictional characters, they demonstrate many successful qualities of a good letter. As you read, think about how they are organizing information, handling tone, and personalizing their letters. There is also commentary that can help you identify why both of these examples are effective.

Letter of Continued Interest Example 1

The first letter of continued interest example is written in the voice of Jude Hawley. In this example, Jude is a UChicago hopeful with a passion for architecture and urban planning. (More than likely, your experience on the waitlist will have less tragic results than the original Jude.)

Dear Admissions Committee,

My name is Jude Hawley, a hopeful University of Chicago student and aspiring urban planner based in Chicago, Illinois. While my application for Early Action was waitlisted, I wanted to take this opportunity to express that UChicago remains my number one choice. I also want to share recent experiences and updates that confirm my sense of why UChicago is a perfect fit for me.

  • A succinct opening that signposts the purpose of the letter
  • Nicely includes information that can help recall specific details about this applicant

Earlier this month, I attended an event at the Seminary Co-op featuring Emily Talen, head of the Urbanism Lab. She was discussing her recent book, Neighborhood, which focuses on urban sustainability and histories of neighborhood design. At the event, I got the chance to meet UChicago students and discuss how to create new urban environments that center sustainable community. That day in Hyde Park I felt like I had found an endearingly nerdy and mission-driven academic home. 

  • Finds a novel way to communicate fit and familiarity with the institution’s resources and faculty
  • Goes above and beyond in conveying aspects of the applicant’s personality (“endearingly nerdy” and “mission-driven”)

Example 1 (continued)

Since submitting my application, I have been able to further explore urban planning and architectural design careers by participating in the Chicago Architecture Center’s Teen Fellows program. Through the program, I’ve been able to attend college courses on architecture and urbanism studies at Harold Washington College and analyze Chicago’s built environment and architecturally significant sites with my fellowship cohort. Additionally, I’ve begun developing a project focused on increasing green spaces in Ukrainian Village, my home neighborhood, and will participate in a paid summer internship at a local design firm.

  • Straightforward summary of important updates, which have clear connections to the applicant’s desired program of study and career goals

My roots in Chicago fuel both my love of the city and my commitment to rethink how it can be a sustainable, inviting community for all its people. I am convinced that UChicago’s Environmental and Urban Studies program is the best opportunity for me to build the kind of career I imagine for myself. I am particularly drawn to the program’s focus on the neighboring Calumet region, which will further my ability to translate technical design and planning skills to specific local challenges. Further, I am excited about the prospect of joining a community that values thinking both historically and creatively about how to address environmental and communal costs of urbanization.

  • A stirring justification for why this student should attend the program/school (which is different from how they framed their motivations in the initial application)

Letter of Continued Interest Example 1 (conclusion)

Thank you once again for considering my application. Please let me know if I can provide anything else for the admissions committee to consider.

  • Concise wrap-up, no need to draw things out here


Jude Hawley 

Letter of Continued Interest Example 2

In this example, Christine “Lady Bird” MacPherson tries to persuade NYU’s committee about her fit for Tisch Drama. She did in fact get off the waitlist and make it to New York in the end!

Dear Admissions Committee,

As I anticipate the upcoming decision regarding my application to New York University, I want to express my sincere interest in attending your esteemed institution. I am writing this letter to reaffirm that NYU remains my number one choice and update you on recent achievements and performance experiences. I believe these experiences have improved my ability to meaningfully contribute to NYU’s vibrant Tisch Drama program.

  • Once again clearly signals the purpose of this letter and its component pieces
  • A bit more formal and impersonal than the last letter of continued interest, but which still provides some details specific to this applicant

Letter of Continued Interest Example 2 (continued)

Since applying to NYU, I was cast in my school’s production of Merrily We Roll Along. During that production, I gained experience in Spolin method improvisation and theatrical set design. I also produced, directed, and edited a short film about my mother, spotlighting her tireless and often thankless work as a psychiatric nurse. She has yet to see it, as I want to show it to her as a present before I leave for college. It’s attached here for you to see. Finally, I mounted a campaign for class president this past semester. Though the campaign was ultimately unsuccessful, my avant-garde posters left an undeniable impression, breaking the mold of my all-girls Catholic high school.

  • Here the applicant identifies a range of new experiences which have varying degrees of relevancy to their desired degree program
  • The experiences that are less relevant and even unsuccessful (the class president campaign) still convey the personality and interests this student could bring to campus
  • The applicant has included a supplemental piece of their work for the committee to consider (a good strategy if the school allows it!)

Example 2 (concluded)

Although I have deep roots in Sacramento, I’ve long felt that my creative and intellectual personality has been at somewhat odds with my surroundings. Tisch Drama would enable me to experience the incomparable cultural resources of New York City, involve me in a rich schedule of theatrical productions, and allow me to learn from internationally recognized faculty and theatre artists. In other words, the opportunity to attend would be nothing short of life-changing.

  • Explains how student’s goals and aspects of their personality could potentially form a good fit with the host institution

Thank you once again for considering my application. It would be an honor and a privilege to be a part of the NYU family, and I am excited about the possibility of joining your community and making a meaningful impact.

  • Reiterating the main point (let me in!) in a succinct, complimentary way


Christine “Lady Bird” MacPherson

How to Write a Letter of Continued Interest: Final Thoughts

Admittedly, the incredibly personal nature of the genre defies a one-size-fits-all approach. But a good letter of continued interest will emphasize things like personality, ambition, and intellectual curiosity, and make a clear case for why this school will miss you in your absence. It’s one last shot to make an impression and convince others of what you’ve been convinced about all along. At the same time, always remember that it is best to keep as many options alive as you can. Do the work to reach that dream school, but keep in mind that happiness and success can come from anywhere.

Additional Reading and Resources