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Getting off the MBA Waitlist

You’ve been waitlisted. Sure, it’s not exactly the result that you were hoping for. But, as frustrating as a “Maybe” answer can be, at least it is not a “No.”. You still have a shot- a good shot- at being admitted to this school. You just need to know which steps to take.

1. Find the gaps in your application. This is the first and most important step. The waitlist is not arbitrary, and your placement there means that the committee liked many things in your application, but also found a few things wanting.

MBA Waitlist

To successfully further your candidacy, you must determine what was lacking.

  • Talk directly with admissions officials. Consult the email that notified you of your status. If that note encourages you to contact the admissions office with questions, call and ask if you could discuss what your application was missing. If such contact is discouraged, however, it might be best to rely on another option.
  • Ask a trusted advisor to read your application and find gaps. This should be someone who is familiar with the business school environment. Their honest feedback should give you some clues about what your application is missing.

2. Identify relevant updates. Once you have pinpointed your application’s gaps, you need to identify new information that can help fill those gaps in. This could include professional updates- such as a promotion or a new project- as well as personal accomplishments, such as a new community project or updated test scores. Choose one or two updates to focus on – you don’t want to inundate the committee with irrelevant information. Draft a letter sharing these updates and reiterating your interest in the school.


3. Seek a letter of support. An outside perspective can be very valuable to the admissions committee as they debate which candidates to pluck from the MBA waitlist . If possible, solicit a letter of recommendation from an alumnus of the school, a mentor, or another professional acquaintance. This person should be familiar both with the school and with your work. Avoid using previous recommenders, as well as friends and family. Ask your supporter to write a letter to the admissions committee on your behalf, explaining why they believe you would be a good fit for the school. Send both this letter and your own updates to the committee within a week of receiving your waitlist decision.

4. Be patient and positive. Never express anger or frustration to the committee. This should go without saying, but unfortunately, far too many applicants fail to control their emotions. Instead, focus on remaining positive.  Optimism is key to getting off the waitlist. If you do not believe in yourself, how do you expect the admissions committee to believe in you?

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