SBC Scoop: Success on the Wait List

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

This time of year we hear from many applicants who have ended up on a wait list for their top choice programs. For our comprehensive clients, wait list strategy is part of the all inclusive consulting package. We’re also available to help new clients on an hourly basis – go ahead and contact us to hear more.

Our comprehensive client Abhishek had selected Wharton as one of his “reach schools” out of a list that included Duke, North Carolina, and UT-Austin. He had a stellar academic record in his engineering program, and an interesting work trajectory. Abhishek started his career at a large multi-national IT consulting firm, and then took a position as the third employee at a start-up providing services to small businesses. The company grew and as their client base expanded Abhishek was able to increase his responsibilities rapidly into project management and client facing services.

Abhishek’s work experience helped him stand out from similar applicants, and his MBA plans were in line with his future goal to be a C-level executive at the company. However, Abhishek had a hard time with the GMAT and had only a 680. The quant and verbal sections were also a bit uneven, and despite taking the test several times Abhishek had been unable to crack the 80th percentile barrier that schools like Wharton prefer to see.

Though Abhishek’s GMAT was lower than the mean for Wharton and many of his other target schools, we thought his excellent GPA and interesting work experience would be enough to get him a close read from the admissions committee. As results came in, Abhishek was admitted to UT-Austin, Duke, and wait listed at Wharton. Because Wharton was his top choice, and the reach school, Abhishek decided to remain on the wait list and see if it would come through.

Wharton specifically discourages additional information from wait listed candidates. Therefore we did not put together a wait list letter or seek additional recommendations to bolster Abhishek’s case. It was clear that Abhishek’s lower than average GMAT was likely causing question on his candidacy and making it difficult to choose him over similar candidates with stronger scores. Since this was such a clear weakness in his application, we encouraged Abhishek to take the test again after changing his study approach (he used a tutor who designed a personalized plan to address his specific issues). Though Wharton wouldn’t accept additional materials, they would see his improved GMAT score when it was officially submitted at the test site.

Abhishek successfully increased his score to 710 by focusing on some of his test anxiety. Later in the summer he was offered a spot in the Wharton incoming class and he decided to take it.

Though we can never know if his improved GMAT score was the reason Abhishek made it off the wait list he was glad to have taken concrete steps to improve his chances.

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