It's not that bad. Really!
Tis the season…to be WAITLISTED.
Don't freak out. Don't melt down. Don't throw in the towel and get all "to hell with my MBA!"
This is NOT the end of the road for you, friends. Not in the least. Getting on the waitlist at a b-school isn't an admit, sure, but it's also not an outright ding. You still have a chance; you just need to play your cards right and smart.
Now to be sure, there is an ART to waitlist management. Some schools know this, and they have hired special STAFF to manage this process. Ha, can you imagine? Wild stuff.
Luckily, we have friends on the inside and we've gotten the behind-the-scenes scoop on getting off the waitlist. It's not rocket science, but, again, it's an artform. If we had to boil it aaaall down, there would be THREE things that you can do to get yourself in off the waitlist.
So let’s get into it.
1) Write an additional essay. Have a fresh look at your application (or, better yet, ask someone else to do it for you). What have you missed? What did you leave out? Anything good? Let’s come up with 500 words if we can. No more than 750. Has there been any significant improvement since you submitted? Get promoted? Do anything cool? NOW IS YOUR CHANCE TO BOAST! You should be in touch with the adcom every 3 weeks or so with an interesting update. So don’t let it sliiiide, my friends.
2) Submit an additional LOR. Is there an aspect of your background that perhaps your recommenders left out? Approach someone for an additional reference. Perhaps someone connected to the school–faculty, alum, or current student. Would you make an AMAZING fit? Well, let’s come up with something and SAY so. An additional LOR can go a long way, especially if you MISSED something elsewhere in your app. And again, ask a third party to read your materials with a fresh set of eyes to identify this kind of gap.
[Get more info on getting the best LOR right here!]
3) VISIT! I was once chatting with a friend who sits on the adcom of one of the leading European schools. Our conversation was FASCINATING. She explained that she expected EVERYONE who applied to her program to have visited. ”How could an applicant know that it is a good fit, if he hasn’t ever been?” And it is a fair question. I asked, “but what about visas, the cost to visit?” She wasn’t fazed at all. Compared to the cost of an MBA, she said, a visit was peanuts. If you’ve been waitlisted, above and beyond all the stuff we just listed, you can go and prove all of these things…in person. How’s THAT for proving your dedication to the program?
One parting thought, folks: the only BAD thing you can do while waitlisted is to NOT follow directions. Wharton is VERY clear that they don’t want ANY additional contact. So…follow directions! You must do EXACTLY what these folks say, especially at this sensitive moment. But if there is room to be a bit…creative, use our guidelines above.
Again it is an ART form; but if we had to boil down the main points, now you’ve got ‘em.
Good luck to everyone!