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MBA Waitlist: Why Some People Almost Always Get Off The MBA Waitlist

Posted by Chioma Isiadinso

Imagine logging on to the admission site of your dream MBA program — only to find out that you’re on the MBA waitlist.

You feel disappointed and frustrated. Maybe, even a little angry. After all, you worked really hard on your MBA application.

You’re not alone. Many MBA applicants are in the same situation.

So, what do you do now?

1.  Do you wait and do nothing till the admissions board gets back to you on their decision?

2.  How about start an email campaign that puts most presidential campaigns to shame?

3.  Or is the right answer somewhere in the middle?

Applicants who get off the MBA waitlist have figured out how to successfully manage the waitlist. Is this something anyone can learn?
mba waitlist

Take Another Look

Meet Dave.
Like most MBA applicants on the admissions waitlist, Dave was disappointed and frustrated at receiving this news. But after a couple of days of self-pity, Dave got back in the game.

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The first thing Dave did was take another look at his entire application.

He read his essays, his resume, and his recommendations and even his own interview assessment.

The next thing Dave did was ask us to review his application to identify the holes in his story and help him to close the gaps.

We went through his entire application with a fine-tooth comb and found a few holes.

Dave had a couple of flags in his essays that the admissions board probed during his interview. Unfortunately, his responses to those questions were not very good.

So, Dave had one last chance to impress the admissions board. He chose a friend and former colleague who was a current student at the school to write one letter of support for him.

The letter of support had to do three things:

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1. Confirm that Dave was a good guy who made an impact at the firm.

2. Share anecdotal evidence about Dave that confirmed everything in Dave’s application.

3. Speak directly to how Dave would fit into the MBA program given the particular unique culture of the school.

Dave’s friend sent the letter of support to the admissions board and Dave waited for a response. A few weeks later Dave was admitted off the MBA admissions waitlist to HBS.

A Little Too Far?

Many applicants on the waitlist take a different approach than Dave. They do things like:

1. Continuously agonize over their stats, comparing notes on who they know with higher or lower stats who got admitted or rejected.

2. Spend countless hours trawling through MBA admissions forums trying to comb through all of the conflicting messages that are dished out.

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3. Bombard the waitlist manager with an avalanche of letters and emails (Some people tend to take the instruction “update us with any new things about your story” a little too far.)

Candidates on the waitlist taking any one of these steps end up frustrated and exhausted.
Even worse, it sends the wrong message about your candidacy to the waitlist manager.

To learn more about how to get admitted after being on the waitlist you can check out my article Waitlisted Am I Out of the Game?

Next Steps

Are you, or someone you know, currently on an MBA waitlist? I’d love to hear how you are managing this process, what you have done that has worked/not worked.

Leave a comment in the comment box below and I’ll give you my thoughts. 

Your Success,


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