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What Does It Mean If I’m On The Waitlist?

Posted by Emily Cummings on 1/4/18 12:35 PM


So. You’re all set to send in your application to go volunteering with ILP and even have your country picked out … then find out you’re on the wait list. What does that even mean?

Wait list sounds like a scary word, but it’s really not. Basically, volunteers who have applied, had their ILP interview and have been accepted either are assigned to a country and are good to go or are put on a wait list.

Haven’t started your ILP application? Fill one out, right here! 

The wait list basically means that tons of awesome volunteers are looking to go to the same country that semester but we’ve got limited spots at each school. So if we have lots of people who apply to be volunteering in Ukraine, we’ll need to start a wait list. It’s not a bad thing! We promise — hopefully we can clear up a few questions:

  • Why is there a wait list to volunteer?
  • Will I get to go if I'm on a wait list? 
  • What are my options?
  • How can I avoid the wait list? 

Why is there a wait list to volunteer?

There isn't always one, but sometimes there is. In a quick nut shell, the local coordinator who is running the ILP program abroad will tell ILP how many volunteers they need. For example, the coordinator in Kiev, Ukraine will decide that they need say 25 volunteer teachers - based on how many students have signed up, how many they can accommodate with their housing setup, etc. Then they come to ILP and say, "Okay, we can take 25 volunteers this Spring!"

If we have more than 25 people who are accepted for Spring and are saying that they really want to go to Kiev, then we start a wait list. We use a first-come-first-serve system for making assignments, so the first 25 people to apply and turn in all of the required items receive notice that they're officially assigned to volunteer in Kiev! Woohoo! We track when you turn required items in down to the minute so that we can be as fair as possible. After that - Kiev is technically "full" for that semester so we let applicants know that they are placed on a wait list.

We want to provide an opportunity for everyone who wants to serve! Keep reading for tips on how to get assigned to the best country for you.

Will I get to go if I'm on wait list? 

Say you’re set to go on a semester in Thailand. Great. But once you’re accepted your ILP representative lets you know that there is a wait list for Thailand … should you stop dreaming up a weekend itinerary for Bangkok? Nope!

We have a wait list because it's very common for people to change their mind, so we know that there's still a chance to get you in.

We will begin accepting applications about a year and a half before that semester starts and sometimes countries "fill up" pretty quickly after that (volunteering abroad is popular!). But there's good news because think about it...do you know what you're going to be doing a year and a half from now? Sometimes it's hard to know and plans do change. There's so many unknown things that come up (from engagements, to sicknesses, to financial trouble to working around school requirements) and we often have people who decide they can't volunteer anymore, for a number of reasons. When that happens we can move someone up from the wait list to be officially assigned to that country. 

ILP China

What are my options? 

Say you’re dreaming of going one of the humanitarian programs … like serving at the orphanage in Romania. Awesome right? But then you learn that Romania is full for the semester you were planning on going. Your ILP representative will give you a few options.

1. You can be put on the Romania wait list and we’ll let you know when/if a spot opens up. 

2. Or you can also choose to go to another country completely (maybe you’ve always wanted to be one of the volunteers living in Moscow …  now’s your chance!).

3. Or, you can do both! Lots of volunteers choose to be assigned to another country they're interested in and also be put on a wait list for their first choice country so that they know they definitely have a spot that semester, no matter where they go. This is usually the most popular choice.

4. You can also choose to switch to another semester where we do have available spots so that you don't have to roll the dice with the wait list.

orphanage volunteer

As a head’s up, we have volunteers ALL THE TIME who apply to one country, find out that it’s full and are put on the wait list. But while they wait, they opt to be assigned to an open country. Then, when a spot opens up in their 1st choice country … they don’t switch back! They’ve done all the research and stalked #ilpadventure and decided that they’ll be happy in the country they already have a spot in. So, just keep that in mind. If Lithuania is full, you might actually fall in love with the idea of volunteering in Haiti while you wait. So, keep an open mind!

If you ask just about any volunteer which country is the best one to go to, they'll say the one that they went to. You know why? Because you fall in love with the country, the people the serve, and your group - no matter where you go! Be flexible, be open, and communicate with your ILP representative to work your way through the application process stress free so that we can help you get the volunteer experience you want.


How can I avoid the wait list? 

Like we mentioned, the wait list is on a first-come, first-served basis, so we recommend applying early! You can apply up to three semesters in advance (or 1.5 years). It's really hard to predict how quick a country will "fill up", so we recommend applying as soon as you can! 

You can also change semesters. If you know you only want to go to the Dominican Republic, and chances don’t look great because the wait list is really long, you can opt to go next fall, or spring.

When you apply you'll be assigned a representative and they can work with you to help you know all of your options at that time and help you to get assigned to a country where you'll have an amazing experience. 


Make sense? If you’ve got a few more questions about the whole “volunteering with International Language Programs” thing, we’re here to help with that too. ILP sends college-aged volunteers all around the world to teach English and make a difference. And the wait lists help us make that happen for a lot more volunteers each semester — which is great news for you.

Get in touch, right here:

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Topics: ILP Basics

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Over the years of assisting more than 6,000 volunteers in their desire to travel and make a difference in the lives of others, ILP has seen what works and what doesn't.

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