I'll begin anew, since the old thread seems not to be functioning. Poor Lilycat was cut off in mid-sentence, just as she was on the verge of revealing something potentially life-changing. WHAT must I "realiz", O lilycat, WHAT? Christiangirl, I've been thinking about your predicament. Since the admissions office isn't being very accomodating, what I'd suggest is this: try to get in touch with someone on the committee itself, for example the person whose name appears on your "alternate" letter. Explain your situation. Maybe she will be able to give you some idea of how much chance you have of making it off the waitlist. She wouldn't need to reveal your actual rank, but she could certainly tell you APPROXIMATELY how good your chances are. You could also ask her about how Duke feels about people who decline acceptances in one admissions cycle and apply again in the next one. She might tell you that Duke sees that as indicative of skewed priorities, in which case you'd know not to risk it. Or she might tell you that Duke sees it as evidence of integrity and an unwillingness to settle, which would mean they'd be extra receptive if you applied again next year. Or she might just be really vague. But I think it would help you to talk to someone who is actually involved with making those decisions. Bon chance.