All MBA applicants wait anxiously to hear final decisions from the programs they’ve applied to. For some b-school prospectives, however, that date comes and goes—and they’re still waiting. They’ve been waitlisted.
If you’ve been rolled over from a Round 1 waitlist, have recently been informed that you were neither accepted nor denied at one of your Round 2 schools, or get this same news in the coming weeks from a program that hasn’t notified applicants yet, your first question might be, “Well, now what?”
Before you pick up the phone to call the admissions team, take a moment to reread the email they sent. Usually it will contain pretty explicit information and instructions about timelines and next steps. It should also be clear as to whether the program has a dedicated waitlist contact, if they’ll be following up with more information for you in the weeks ahead, and if there’s a drop-dead date by which you’ll have a final answer.
Most importantly, there should be guidance on additional actions you can (or must) take or materials they’d be willing to consider. Some schools make it very, very clear that they will not look at any more letters of recommendations or candidate updates before they make their decision, whereas other programs encourage applicants to send in additional essays, videos and words of support from colleagues and alumni.
Some people are tempted to bombard the AdCom with more information after they’ve been waitlisted, but the reality is that that probably won’t help your case. If the school has stated that they don’t want anything else from you, now might not be the best time to ignore their instructions. As frustrating as it is to feel like you’re not doing anything proactive, you need to remind yourself that you already did do everything you could to put your best foot forward in your original application.
If a school welcomes more insight into your candidacy, then give it to them. Let them know what you’ve been up to in the months since your round’s deadline. What else have you done at work? What more have you learned about their program? Have you taken any trips, had any interesting experiences or done something cool in your community?
Make your communication with them count, because even if a school does accept new information on waitlisted candidates, they’re not going to want to be contacted every single day. One solid update will likely come off better than several emails or uploads that don’t have much meat.
At some point (and that point might already be here), there’s nothing you can do but wait. Try to keep your mind off of it and hope for the best. A number of waitlisted candidates are ultimately accepted into top programs each year, so there’s reason to remain positive!
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