Ah, the waitlist….such an agonizing place to find oneself after applying to the business school of your dreams. There’s no denying that this temporary state of limbo is unsettling, especially for Type-A personalities who are used to taking matters into their own hands and getting stuff done.
While being waitlisted isn’t ideal, MBA applicants should celebrate the fact that their candidacy is strong enough to merit further consideration by the admissions committee. It’s a great sign that you are qualified to attend the program, and that the school is interested in your profile.
The applicant pool fluctuates every year, and if you’ve applied during an especially competitive season, it may just be that the program cannot offer you an immediate place in the class. So, what steps should you take if you’ve been waitlisted?
Find out the waitlist protocol and follow it to the letter—Waitlist guidelines vary by program, but some business schools welcome hearing from you if there’s been a significant change that bolsters your candidacy, such as improving your GMAT score, passing a college-level quant class with flying colors, receiving a promotion at work, or having had a recent extracurricular accomplishment.
On the other hand, if you’re waitlisted by a program that requests a simple yes or no answer about whether you are interested in remaining on the waitlist, don’t try to send more information or pester the admissions committee about their reasoning because you’ll only be shooting yourself in the foot. You want to do as much as you can without disregarding their requests or overloading their staff.
Show them the love—Your second goal, after updating the admissions team on improvements to your candidacy, is to show them the love. You want them to understand that you love their school, you very much want to be in their program, and that you are committed to attending if admitted.
Business schools don’t want to be rejected if they extend an invitation to you. They need to manage their yield, and want to be able to say that 100% of the people they invited to attend actually said yes.
So how do you show the love? By staying in touch with your waitlist manager through the occasional phone call or regularly scheduled email reiterating how excited you are about their program and that you absolutely will attend if they offer you a place in their class. Keep the contact and content under control, though. No stalking! This is about love, not obsession.
Relax and reconnect—Most MBA applicants become consumed by the admissions process and find themselves emotionally untethered when there is no immediate next step to advance to the goal. If that’s the case, it’s time to unwind and reconnect with the people and pastimes that fell to the wayside during those hectic months of preparation.
Once you do start business school, life may again be too frenzied to adequately nurture your outside hobbies and relationships, so make sure to devote time and energy to the things that feed your soul outside of your career.
Finally, to all those waitlisted candidates out there, take heart. It’s not the news you wanted, but there are plenty of reasons to keep hope alive. You wouldn’t be on the waitlist if you were not someone they thought could be a great addition to the class. Hang on and stay strong—and positive—as you wait out this last leg of the MBA admissions process.