Today’s post comes from Manhattan Review UK, a well-known provider of MBA Admissions Consulting for Top Business Schools.
Being waitlisted for an opportunity, whether it’s a spot in a college program or a fellowship, is a mixed experience: you’re probably exhilarated to have made it that far and at the same time confused about what it means. Are there that many other, better candidates? Should you start to make plans, or is it premature? And is there anything you can do to improve your chances of getting in? Here are 5 strategies to get off the waitlist and into the program:
- Reiterate Your Interest
Few things are more interesting than, well, interest. If you’re on a first date and your new friend ignores you, say by texting half the night, you’re probably not going on a second date (unless you’re a masochist who likes to watch people send texts). So when you’ve been waitlisted, it’s important to send an email immediately that reiterates your strong interest. Don’t go overboard, but make sure the administrator knows you’re still available and would gladly take the opportunity.
- Follow Up
If you were waitlisted for a program after a phone or in-person interview, follow up by email with the people you spoke with and/or met. When you write them, be sure to thank them for their time and consideration, reiterate your interest (as above), and ask if there’s anything you can do to help affect their decision. Don’t be afraid to come out and say, “I want this opportunity, and if there’s anything I can do to positively impact your decision, please let me know.”
- Use Your Network
Have you been waitlisted for a college program? This would be a great time to activate your network. Does anyone in your network have a relationship with the program? Do you know alumni? If so, get in touch and see if they’ll put in a good word for you. Don’t be afraid to ask for a favor, and offer to meet and speak with anyone in your network who might be able to help. If you’re worried about asking a favor out of the blue, instead ask for advice. “Hello, I’m applying to XYZ and was just waitlisted. I know you attended and I wonder if you can tell me about your experiences there. Would you recommend it?” This will start the conversation, and if you play your cards right, you may be able to get a quick recommendation emailed, which can make the difference.
- Make a Call
If after all this you don’t hear from anyone within a couple days, it’s okay to make a phone call to the program and aim to speak with one of the decision-makers. If you call and go to voicemail, leave a polite message reiterating your interest and saying “thank you” for the consideration. And that’s it. Don’t call again, and don’t leave another message. Most people will appreciate one call, but more than that will probably irritate them. Remember: the people making admissions-decisions are busy.
- Befriend the Administrator
It might be tempting to be brusque to the administrator who handles incoming calls and directs messages – after all, this person doesn’t have any say in your admissions decision, right? Wrong. If you’re abrupt to an administrator, he or she has the power to put your call directly to voicemail (rather than through to the decision-maker), and if you come across negatively to the admin, she might just mention it to the decision-makers. Make sure the admin talks about how lovely you are by phone and email.
If you do all of this, you can rest knowing you’ve done your best to push yourself over the finish line and into the program. All you can do now is (of course) wait. Good luck!
If you are at the start of your MBA application, we recommend that you attend our free interactive MBA Admissions Webinars where you gain lots of useful insight into the MBA Admissions process from Manhattan Review’s Director of Admissions Consulting, who has been a member for the Wharton Admissions Committee for many years. The session will reveal many secrets of the admissions process to you and definitely will increase your chances of success. Don’t miss this opportunity to get all your questions answered and get an inside perspective!