4 Tips for Getting Off the B-School Wait List

Nobody likes to land on the wait list when applying to business school, but an article on Forbes.com shares some insight from admissions directors on how to handle the dreaded wait while your first-choice school makes up its mind about you.

Here are some top tips from the story:

Follow the school’s directions about being in touch. And whatever you do, don’t be a pest.

Columbia Business School says: Don’t call us–we’ll call you. “We no longer encourage people to set up an appointment with their wait list manager or reach out voluntarily to us,” Linda B. Meehan, assistant dean and executive director of MBA admissions, explains. “We’ve decided it makes better use of our resources if we reach out when we have questions, rather than having candidates flood us with information we may or may not be looking for.”

(On the bright side, Forbes found that the Kellogg School of Management and the Tuck School of Business are both more open to contact from waitlisted applicants. Haas School of Business prefers to hear from applicants via email.)

Let them know you’re still interested, if indeed you still are.

Haas School says: Enthusiasm will only get you so far. “Some people believe that convincing us they’re really, really interested will get them off the wait list. That’s just not true,” says Peter Johnson, executive director of admissions for the full-time MBA program. “What gets them off the wait list is strengthening one of these weaknesses.”

Enhance your application

Scrutinize your application and look for weaknesses. Remember, be brutal. Some common reasons for being wait-listed include low grades in college math courses; a lack of clarity about your future job aspirations; and/or a lack of evident leadership experience or community service.

Communicate your deadline

If you’ve already been accepted at another program but still holding out hope for your first-choice school, let them know you’re on a deadline. Many say they’ll try to accomodate your deadlines if they can, Forbes found.

In the end, though, there may not be anything you can do. “One of the big determinants in getting off the wait list has nothing to do with you,” says Peter Johnson. “We can’t predict what all the admitted students will do. Our goal is to minimize the stress as much as we can. We try to communicate frequently–and not give anyone unrealistic hopes.”


For a concise, thoughtful guide that will help you navigate the MBA admissions process with greater success, order our NEW book, The MBA Application Roadmap.

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