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8January2017

You have been placed on our waitlist…what now?  

by The Red Pen

After a long and exhaustive application process, spread over a few months, getting a waitlist notification can be disappointing. However, while many see the waitlist as a rejection, MBA applicants need to understand that being placed on the waitlist is another opportunity to shine. It really means the admissions committee has decided to continue evaluating your candidacy. But sometimes the waiting can get to you. So here are some guidelines on the waitlist strategy to keep you on track.

Should I stay on the waitlist?
Is the MBA program you are waitlisted for is your top choice? Are you willing to give up your spot at another schools for the chance of potentially being accepted at your dream school? If the school you are waitlisted for is not your first choice, then it would be advisable to get your name off the list as soon as possible, so that another waitlisted applicant can have a better chance of pursuing their MBA dream.

What can I do to improve my chances to get off from the waitlist?
Remember that every school has a different process so you really want to make sure that you follow the instructions that come with the waitlist process. Some schools only want to know if you would like to remain on their waitlist or not. If your answer is yes, inform them of your interest in remaining on the waitlist and thank the school for continuing to consider your application. If the school specifically tells you that no additional materials should be submitted then do not do so.

Now, this is easier said than done, but vital: don’t panic. You don’t need to send a waitlist essay/letter/recommendation letter the same day or even the day after you receive a waitlist decision. By sending materials immediately and without carefully considering, revising and polishing your work, you squander an opportunity to really showcase improvements in your candidacy. So instead of rushing through sloppy work, spend some time re-reviewing your materials, identifying gaps in your profile, and address them.

For example, is your GMAT on the lower side versus their average? If so, consider taking it again. Have you taken the TOEFL to demonstrate English language proficiency? Now might be a good time to do so. If the school allows an update letter or essay, write a succinct letter (maximum 500 words) that outlines all the changes/updates in your profile or specific steps that you are taking to rectify weaknesses that reiterates your fit for the program. Were your goals unclear/vague? Clarify them, with fresh insights you’ve gained since completing your application. Try making a list of everything that has changed since you applied. Promotion? Finished your CFA? Organised a blood drive? Write it down for yourself, summarise it, and give them the greatest hits, in a clear concise way.

Your main aim in sending in additional materials while being placed on the school’s waitlist is to impress upon the admissions committee that:

  1. You will accept the admission, if offered.
  2. You are clear about your goals and are willing to work hard to achieve them.
  3. You are invested in their MBA program and are a great fit for the school.

If the school gives you no specific instructions on when to submit this kind of letter, beyond saying that it’s acceptable to do so, send it about a month after you received your original notification. This gives the school time to calculate their yield (i.e., what offers have been accepted) and their projected class size, so they have a stronger sense of how many spaces they have left to fill.

If the school gives you an opportunity to send additional letters of recommendation, try to find recommenders that can add a new perspective or spin on your candidacy. Perhaps a vendor or supplier who can speak to your skills of persuasion, or maybe a co-worker on a CSR project who is about to talk about your ability to rally a group. Don’t provide letters that simply re-hash the same incidents you’ve written about in your essays and those that your previous recommenders have commented on. If you are close to alumni from the program, or know someone well enough for them to recommend you, ask them to provide drop an email to admissions emphasising your fit for the program and endorsing your candidacy.

Even though it might not immediately feel that way, the waitlist is a good sign. It’s just up to you to decide how to deal with it, how to stay confident, and make the best decision possible with the information you have.

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