SBC Scoop: Waitlist Management

*Please note that no client details are ever shared in SBC Scoop or otherwise without complete sign off from client.

As Round 2 decisions start coming in, many applicants are shocked by the option they had not even considered ”“ a waitlist decision. First of all, a waitlist selection by your target school is definitely a good sign. You wouldn’t be on the waitlist if you were not someone they want in the class. You may not be feeling good if you are on the waitlist, despite the vote of confidence, because it keeps you in limbo for a completely undetermined period of time.

Our client Max signed up for the Stacy Blackman hourly service after preparing his applications to Duke, HBS, Darden and Columbia on his own. He was disappointed to receive two deny decisions (Darden and Columbia) and two waitlist decisions (Duke and HBS). When his consultant reviewed Max’s applications to Duke and HBS to help him formulate a waitlist strategy it was clear that his key strengths were a strong undergrad GPA (3.7) and interesting work experience in the renewable energy sector. However, Max had limited extracurricular involvement and a GMAT that fell below the mean for both programs (680). We decided together that Max needed to highlight his academic potential and leadership in any waitlist strategy.

After we reviewed Max’s applications with him we discussed the schools. HBS does not allow any additional materials for waitlisted candidates. Max was discouraged from contacting the admissions office or submitting recommendations or updates. Duke, on the other hand, welcomes additional information.
Max decided to take the GMAT again as he believed that he could increase the score with better time management. Though he could not guarantee HBS would receive the new score, he decided to automatically submit it through GMAC just in case. Max was fortunate to achieve an increased score of 710 on his second attempt. For Duke we additionally crafted an update letter that talked a bit about an organization he started at work to develop junior employees, and asked a mentor to submit a letter on his behalf that spoke to his work ethic and leadership.

When Round 3 decisions were released Max was surprised to be admitted to HBS. He decided to attend, and took himself off the Duke waitlist at that time. We can’t know for sure if the additional material submitted during the waitlist process had any impact on the end result, but it certainly helped Max to feel more in control of his own destiny as he waited.

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