MBA round one and early results are out and some of you may be celebrating with exciting news while some may be processing being rejected from your dream business school. However, some of you might have been placed on a business school’s waitlist. We understand that it’s unsettling and disappointing when there is no clear decision, but keep in mind that being placed on the waitlist isn’t a rejection. Rather the admissions committee has decided to continue evaluating your application. While there is no guarantee you will be taken off the waitlist, you should use this time wisely in the event that the waitlist opens up.
Since being in limbo can be confusing, here are six tips for what you should do to get off the waitlist:
1) To wait or not wait:
First off, decide if you are willing to give up a guaranteed spot at another school for the possibility of being accepted from the waitlist. If the MBA programme you are waitlisted for isn’t your first choice, then it may make sense to decline the offer to be placed on the list. Weigh your options carefully before you decide what to do.
2) Follow the business school’s process:
Every business school has a different waitlist process so make sure that you review and observe their guidelines carefully. Some schools only want to know if you would like to remain on their waitlist, while others are open to receiving additional information and updates. Some others may also offer suggestions to strengthen your candidacy.
3) Retake your tests:
What were your scores like? If your GMAT score is lower than average, then it might make sense to take it again. Do you need to demonstrate English language skills? Take or redo the TOEFL to demonstrate your English language proficiency. Business schools look for candidates with strong quantitative abilities, so if your GMAT quant score is on the lower side, take courses or certifications to demonstrate that you have made an effort to build these skills.
4) Update the school on your activities:
Some schools allow an update letter or essay, so think about what has changed since you applied.
- Professional/Extracurricular Accomplishments: Got promoted or a raise? Received an award or commendation? Led or accomplished any significant projects? Volunteered with an NGO? Taken an online course to upskill yourself in your professional area of interest? Summarise any changes in your life and share some highlights of your accomplishments in a succinct essay or letter. Ensure that it doesn’t exceed one page or 500 words. While mentioning projects, focus on your accomplishments and try relating them to the ethos of the business school, showcasing skills and traits that the business school values.
- Demonstrated Interest: Mention any webinars or events you have attended. If you have connected with alumni or current students post submitting your application, you can include that as well. Again, it is key to highlight the takeaways and how these interactions have convinced you that the business school is uniquely positioned to help you achieve your goals. It is imperative that you clearly state that the business school where you are waitlisted is your business school of choice and you will definitely attend if accepted.
You should send this letter a few weeks after you get your notification as it gives the admissions representatives time to get a clearer sense of how many spaces they have left to fill.
5) Additional letters of recommendation:
Some schools may allow you to send additional letters of recommendation. Reach out to recommenders who can offer a new perspective on your candidacy. The admissions committee is not interested in reviewing the same instances they have read in your previous letters of recommendation. Alumni of the MBA programme who know you well can also offer the admissions team a good perspective on your fit for the programme.
6) Letter of support:
Alternately, you can request a letter of support from an alumnus or current student, asking them to endorse your candidature by demonstrating your fit for the programme. Remember that the letter of support is NOT the same as the letter of recommendation submitted with the application.
If possible, ask for a letter of support from a senior industry alumnus as this will help it to carry more weight. Remember that the alumnus or current student should know you well, either professionally, personally or both. It is not necessary for you to have worked with the alumnus as the letter of support does not necessarily have to talk about your work.
The letter of support should:
- Provide context of your relationship with the alumnus or current student. For example, it should state how long they have known you and in what context.
- Demonstrate your fit for the school. Since the alumnus knows both you and the business school, they are in a unique position to validate your fit. They need to highlight how you are aligned to the ethos of the business school and must speak from their personal experience on how they think you will be a good addition to the school.
- State how the business school can help you achieve your goals.
- Elaborate on how you will contribute to the business school, both within and outside the classroom.
- Endorse you.
By remaining on the waitlist and updating the admissions committee, you are communicating your commitment to their MBA programme and your willingness to work hard to achieve your goals. Don’t panic and rush to send in new material. Doing so without reviewing and polishing your work may squander any opportunity to show change or improvement in your candidacy, thereby hindering your chances.
If you want help with how to maximise this time, get in touch with The Red Pen MBA Admissions team.