Been Waitlisted? Here’s What to Do (And Not Do)

Waitlisted for Business School

There’s an art to the waitlist, and it can be mastered.

Remember, you’ve probably been waitlisted for a reason. For one, you’re qualified. Otherwise, you would have received a denial. Unfortunately for you, other candidates had a bit more of an edge. Maybe their GMAT scores or GPA was higher. However, your dream school might not be theirs, so there’s always that chance that enough applicants will deny the offer, and the school will, in turn, offer a place to you.

The waitlist can also serve as a sort of test for applicants the school isn’t 100 percent sure about. Here are a few simple tips to help you put your best foot forward while on the waitlist and show your dream school that it needs you just as much as you need it.

Follow Instructions

Schools are pretty clear about how they want you to respond to their notice. If they ask that you not send a letter, then don’t—no matter how much your heart aches to. If they ask for another letter of recommendation, send one as soon as possible. It’d be even more effective if a former colleague or mentor who attends/attended the school or works at it write the letter (assuming they know you personally). Don’t hesitate to do whatever the school asks from you, especially if it is your first choice. That’s the kind of attitude that may lead you where you want to go. But don’t do too much if the school doesn’t ask for it.

Last year, Clear Admit wrote about this dilemma, saying, “ignoring the adcom’s instructions is ultimately going to reflect badly on you. Though policies discouraging communication from waitlisted candidates may seem frustrating or unfair, it’s important to respect and abide by the preferences of each school.”

Clarify Your Intentions

If you plan to wait it out, it may be important to let the school know. If the school is your first choice, let your contact there know as well. Whatever it is that you plan to do next, inform the school. You must do all this, of course, without appearing too cloying and without disregarding whatever instructions the school provided in the waitlist notice. If schools know, however, that you’ll definitely accept their offer, there’s a better chance they’ll offer it to you than that waitlist applicant from whom they never heard back. They also want to know how interested you are, so keep in touch.

“There are candidates who are offered a place on the waitlist and then we never hear from them again. And there’s candidates who don’t overwhelm us with contact but at least stay in touch and help us remember them,” said James Holmen, Director of Admissions and Financial aid at Indiana University—Bloomington’s Kelley School of Business, to U.S. News.

Retake GMAT

Even if a school doesn’t ask this from you, it still might be a good idea to retake the GMAT. Some of the most common gaps in applications include a low GMAT score and GPA. If a school doesn’t accept you the first time around, chances are it had something to do with one of those factors. And your GMAT score, at least, you can change. Unless you scored an 800. Then, you’re a genius, and something is really wrong with the school to which you applied.

Really, though, any time something changes in your application, feel free to inform the school, which includes updated GMAT scores. But if you receive a promotion or a job change, that’s something worth telling them too.

Consider Plan B

This really is a personal decision. Are you in a rush to get that MBA? If so, then it might be a better idea to hop on it as soon as you can and forget that waitlist. You’ve likely been accepted into a number of other MBA programs. But have you been waitlisted at your dream school? Is it one of the best in the world? Well, then, it might be worth waiting it out because you have a chance. If they don’t go with you this time, you can increase your chances next round by doing some of the tips laid out above.

“If you’re wait-listed, it means you’re a great candidate,” U.S. News reported. “You can apply next year. So, honestly, a year plus or minus doesn’t change things.”

Good luck, and chill out. Everything will turn out for the best in the end.

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