If you were a Round 1 applicant this season, over the last few weeks you may have received great news, upsetting news or a mix of both— otherwise known as placement on the waitlist. First of all, the waitlist is great feedback. It means that you are qualified to attend the program, and that the school was interested in your application and your profile. Unfortunately, it was a competitive year and they couldn’t offer you a solid place in the class. No matter the reason, the waitlist is still a tough place to be.
Will I get in?
There is almost no way to know if you will be admitted off the waitlist. It certainly does happen, often, yet you have little information about the ranking of the waitlist, how many people are on the waitlist, or whether the school will reach the yield they are looking for with regular applicants. Therefore, being on the waitlist means a certain comfort with ambiguity. Hopefully you were admitted to another school and can decide whether to remain in limbo or not.
Should I stay on the waitlist?
The decision to stay on the waitlist depends on your interest level in the MBA program you have been waitlisted for. 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 great service to 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 provided you with instructions about how to handle the waitlist process, and you must follow these directions to avoid having a negative impact on your standing with the admissions committee. If the school tells you that no additional materials are required, no additional materials are required, and you should not submit any under any circumstances.
If the MBA program does provide the option of submitting additional materials, apply consistent application strategy to the task. The AdCom may welcome letters of recommendation, improved GMAT scores or additional essays/letters from you. Carefully consider your strengths and weaknesses and what may be most beneficial in your situation.
If you have recently been promoted at work, have accomplished a personal goal, or have completed an academic class with a strong grade, it may be worth writing a letter to update the admissions committee with your news. Try to keep your essay or letter factual, and do not repeat information that was already included in your original application.
A supplemental recommendation may add information about you to strengthen your position on the waitlist. If you have been involved in an extracurricular activity, know someone associated with the school, or can use a letter to strengthen a part of your application, the letter may be the right direction to proceed in. Make sure your additional recommendation is brief, focused and adds significant additional information to your overall profile.
Factual information like improved GMAT scores or transcripts from successful business related classes could go a long way towards bolstering your chances.
While the waitlist may be frustrating, it is a positive indication for your application, and you may be fortunate enough to receive final admission from your chosen program.