Find Zen While You Stay on the Waitlist

stay on the waitlist

If you were a Round 1 applicant this season, over the last week or so, you might have received great news, upsetting news, or a mix of both—otherwise known as placement on the waitlist.

First of all, the waitlist is encouraging feedback. It means that you are qualified to attend the program, and your application and profile interested the AdCom. Unfortunately, they couldn’t immediately offer you a place in the class.

No matter the reason, the waitlist is still a tough place to be. So try to stay calm and adopt a zen mindset. This will help you accept what is while making any changes within your power.

Will I get in?

There is almost no way to know if you will get admitted off the waitlist. It certainly does happen, yet you have little information about the waitlist’s ranking, how many people are on the waitlist, or whether the school will reach the yield they are looking for with regular applicants.

Therefore, remaining on the waitlist means requires comfort with ambiguity. Hopefully, you were admitted to another school and can decide whether to stay in limbo.

Should I stay on the waitlist?

The decision to stay on the waitlist depends on your interest in that MBA program. If it is your top choice, you may be willing to remain on the list until school begins, especially if you are willing to move quickly and give up a deposit on a school that has offered you firm admission.

If the waitlisting program is not your first choice, or you would like to settle your MBA plans before school starts, you may choose to remove your name from the list. It is a considerate move for another applicant if you do so promptly, allowing someone else a chance at their MBA dream.

Can I improve my chances of admission from the waitlist?

You may be able to improve your chances. The number one rule of waitlists is to follow directions. The school has provided instructions about how to handle the waitlist process. Follow these directions to avoid negatively impacting your standing with the admissions committee.

If the school tells you that no additional materials are required, no supplemental materials are needed, and you should not submit any under any circumstances.

If the MBA program does provide the option of submitting additional materials, apply a consistent application strategy to the task. The AdCom may welcome letters of recommendation, improved GMAT scores, or other essays/letters from you.


Carefully consider your strengths and weaknesses and whether the following would be beneficial in your situation:

Supplemental Letter

Have you recently received a job promotion, accomplished a personal goal, or completed an academic class with a high grade? If so, it may be worth writing a letter to update the admissions committee with your news. Keep your letter factual, and do not repeat information already included in your original application.

Supplemental Recommendation

A supplemental recommendation may add information about you to strengthen your position on the waitlist. If you are involved in an extracurricular activity, know someone associated with the school, or can use a letter to enhance a part of your application, this may be the right direction to proceed in.

Ensure your additional recommendation is brief, focused, and adds important information to your overall profile.

New GMAT/GRE Score, Transcripts

Factual information like improved GMAT/GRE scores or transcripts from successful business-related classes could go a long way toward bolstering your chances.

While waitlist standing is frustrating, it is a positive sign about your application. In the end, you may receive final admission from your chosen program. In the meantime, do yoga, meditate, go for a run–whatever you can do to maintain your inner peace as you wait to hear a formal decision.

Stacy Blackman

SBC’s star-studded consultant team is unparalleled. Our clients benefit from current intelligence that we receive from the former MBA Admissions Officers from Kellogg, Booth and every elite business program in the US and Europe.  These MBA Admissions Officers have chosen to work exclusively with SBC.

Just two of the many superstars on the SBC team:
Meet Beth who held the position of Director of Admissions for Kellogg’s Full Time MBA program selecting candidates for the 2-year, 1-year, MMM and JD MBA programs.

Meet Kim, who was an Senior Associate Director of Admissions at Chicago Booth.

Tap into this inside knowledge for your MBA applications by requesting a consultation.

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