Before Outward Bound was the name of our organization, it was a sailing term referring to when a ship leaves the safety of a harbor. At Outward Bound, we talk a lot about courage, and for some students, just applying is the first sign of such courage.
That said, when a student finds themselves on the waiting list for a much-anticipated course, it can be disappointing. The good news is that being on the waitlist is more like being on standby; it comes with the expectation that the student will proceed with preparations, with the exception of travel, as if you’ve been accepted onto the course. This doesn’t necessarily include purchasing items on the packing list—as Outward Bound will provide all technical, activity and camping gear—but knowing where to find these items and the ability to get them quickly if you were moved from the waitlist.
Jamie Morrell, Senior Admissions Advisor at the National Admissions Office, offers this tip, “A lot of our courses may be full but with no one on the waitlist yet, so definitely call us for help.” You can reach an Admissions Advisor at 866-467-7651.
Have More Questions? Here Are the Waitlist Basics:
- Each course only accepts three waitlist applications, so there’s always a chance a student will make it onto the expedition. Because of this, a student can only apply to one course at a time, whether that is a waitlist application or regular application.
- If your desired course is accepting waitlist applications, but you would like to know how many people are on the waitlist, please call an Admissions Advisor at 866-467-7651.
- After submitting a waitlist application, you will receive an email with further instructions from the regional school in which your desired course is run out of within 3 to 5 business days—check your spam folder just in case. Receiving registration forms does not mean that a student has been offered a spot on the expedition.
- All students on a waitlist will go through the medical screening process so that they can be automatically accepted if a space becomes available. Please review, complete, and submit all required documentation to your Course Advisor as soon as possible. Waitlist applicants that meet all deadlines throughout the application process may be given preference.
- A $500 deposit is required to apply to the waitlist. This $500 deposit includes a $150 non-refundable application fee.
- If a position does become available, the applicant will be applied to the open position automatically and the Application and Cancellation Policies of the Regional Outward Bound School will be followed, including forfeiture of the $500 deposit if you cancel 90 days or less prior to the course start date.
- Positions may become available up to one week prior to the course start date. A student will be automatically refunded $350, the remainder of their application deposit, when the school decides to close the waitlist at 1 to 2 weeks out from the start of the expedition. It can also be helpful to set your own deadline for making last minute travel plans and withdraw your application for a $350 refund if the student has not been moved onto the course by that date.
What Is the Chance a Spot Will Open Up?
Jamie says the number of students accepted onto a course varies from 7 to 12 students, and the most in-demand courses occur in June when kids are just out of school. Additionally, Leadership Semesters with an international component, youth Blue Ridge Mountains courses and sailing courses often see a waitlist.
The more time in between submitting a waitlist application and the start of the expedition, the greater the chances are that the student will be moved onto the course. Jamie mentioned if a student is on the fence about a waitlist spot on a preferred expedition versus an open space on their second choice, we encourage them to apply to the course with open space so they don’t miss out on an Outward Bound experience.
While there’s always a chance a student will come off the waitlist, the rate of it actually happening varies from course to course. On one course, one spot might be filled from the waitlist, while another course can have nearly the entire roster filled by waitlist students—as a waitlisted student is moved onto a course, another spot on the waitlist opens up.
If you would like to avoid the waitlist altogether, click on the List View option in the Expedition Finder and enter the student’s age at the top left. Expeditions that are still accepting applications will be at the top of the list in orange text, and expeditions at the bottom of the list in gray text are either full or only accepting waitlist applications.
Don’t let the waitlist hold you back from applying. Students and parents look to Outward Bound to develop skills in confidence, leadership, service and communication—taking the time to apply is a courageous investment in our students and our future.
About the Author
Olivia Schneider has worked for the Colorado Outward Bound School in Moab, Utah as a Logistics Coordinator and Media Intern. She is an alumnx of the Voyageur Outward Bound School, Hurricane Island Outward Bound School and has volunteered for the Philadelphia Outward Bound School. She is pursuing an MFA in Graphic Design at Vermont College of Fine Arts.
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