How to Get Off the MBA Waitlist
You put a lot of time and effort into your MBA applications and, after months of hard work, you're...waiting. It's ok to scream into a pillow or go to town on a punching bag. It's frustrating! Sometimes you're put on the waiting list because of something you did. And sometimes you're there for no better reason than the school simply doesn't know yet. They're stringing you along! The worst part is probably the rate of getting off that darned list which hovers somewhere between 15 - 30%. That isn't even uniform with international students facing a lower rate than domestic applicants. With those invited to interview having a higher rate than those waitlisted before being invited.
All said, it is perhaps one of the most frustrating states of purgatory out there - but there are some things you can, AND SHOULD, be doing to help shift that odds ever in your favor (Hunger Games anyone?). Here are a few things you should keep in mind as you put together your waitlist strategy:
Figure out what went wrong
The answer to this could be nothing - so know that going in. But for some people, there are legitimate reasons they were kept out. The first, and probably most obvious, are the academic components. If your GPA is low and you didn't create an alternate transcript, now might be a good time to show you're moving in that direction. Or if your GMAT is low for your applicant pool, get a retake on the books right away. Show them you're serious and show them improvement. GMAT is the #1 reason applicants get dinged. GPA is #2.
Others might have communicated their short / long term goals poorly or without enough detail and support. That can be a big flag too! They want to know that YOU know how you'll get from A to B. And if that doesn't make sense or needs more clarification, then this is the time to provide it. Do more research. Talk to students. Research stats. Speak with people in the industry you're targeting.
Did you visit the school or attend their sessions? If you didn't, now's a great time to start. Show that you're serious. Some adcoms feel more strongly about visits than others. Some don't care if you're international - they expect to see you put your money where your mouth is.
And yet others might need a few more people in their corner. Maybe you have alumni in your network who could write a letter of support or another recommendation. Call 'em in! Or maybe your recommendation strategy turned out to be weaker than you anticipated - in which case you have some damage control to do!
Sometimes, it's hard to figure out what went wrong because you're too close to the process yourself. This is your baby, after all! An outside perspective can be just what you need to tear into your application and find out what went wrong. Our [Ding Review] service does just that - check it out!
Follow the d*** directions
This happens E-V-E-R-Y year. Candidate submits application > school waitlists applicant > school distributes waitlist instructions > candidate chooses to ignore said instructions > mayhem ensues. The directions are there for a reason. There is a process. You need to follow that process. Can you bend the rules? Of course! But break them? No. The last thing you want is an adcom already on the fence to think you're perhaps not qualified AND incapable of following directions. Right? Right. So follow the directions.
You're off the reservation. They have defined the playground, but you get to design the rides! BE CREATIVE! Applied to a school that only asked for essays? Put together a snazzy waitlist packet with a slick look and fancy designs. Wow them. Dazzle them. SHOW THEM YOU ARE SERIOUS.
Reach out to the adcom every 3 - 5 weeks IF YOU HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY. Anything more frequent than that is way too much and longer than that could put you out of sight, out of mind. But remember, don't just write for the sake of writing. Don't update for the sake of updating. If all you have to write is, "hey, still interested, still waiting..." that might work against you in more ways than one! So work to make sure that isn't the case. Try to pace out accomplishments and updates. Because you never know, you could be here for a few weeks or a few months. Or up until 2 days before classes start.
The waitlist is not the time to start being optimistic. Is there a chance you can get off it? Yes. Is the chance huge? No. So plan. Execute contingencies. Figure out what your Plan B is. If you don't have a Plan B, get one.
There you have it - some of the things you should be keeping in mind if you find yourself on the dreaded waitlist! And remember - the first step is figuring out what went wrong. So check out our [Ding Review] service - we won't pull our punches and we'll tell you where you screwed up - we promise! Thinking about crafting a new strategy for next year? Chat with us! [Sign up for a free consultation]