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How to get off the MBA waitlist

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How to get off the MBA waitlist  [#permalink]

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New post 26 May 2017, 19:31
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I hope you never have to use this advice, but here it is just in case you need it.
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Being put on the waitlist is disappointing – I would know.

When I applied to business school I was waitlisted by my top three choices: Harvard Business School, Stanford GSB, and Wharton. Getting stuck on those waitlists was frustrating and demoralizing; I had spent so much effort studying for tests, getting recommendations, and writing essays only to come up short.

Unfortunately, few admissions consultants if any offer help to those on the waitlist! I knew that I couldn’t leave my fate to a dice roll of the waitlist officer, so I did a ton of research, worked with every mentor I had, and executed my action plan -- it worked! By late spring I had been admitted to Harvard, Stanford, and Wharton.

While getting off the waitlist is a very difficult task, my personal experience and the subsequent work I’ve done with the admissions officers at Harvard Business School have taught me how to give an individual applicant their best shot as success, or better yet avoid the waitlist by getting in the first time around!

My 7-Step Plan for Getting off the Harvard / Stanford / Wharton MBA Waitlist:



1. Re-examine your narrative



If you’re on the waitlist, you're likely “good enough” to be admitted, but you lack that special something that puts you over the top. By putting you on the waitlist, the admissions committee is asking why the final spot in the class should go to you and not one of the dozens of similarly qualified candidates in the applicant pool. This question is not rhetorical. They want an answer.

Most often that special something you’re missing is a compelling narrative. What is a narrative and how is it different than a brand? Save yourself some pain and read about it here. Crafting such a narrative is extremely difficult. First, it requires considerable skill at writing. Second, most applicants aren’t able to step out of their own bodies long enough to see their experiences, motivations, and interests in a holistic manner. And third, most admissions consultants are more focused on sorting their many clients into buckets (consultants, ex-military, etc.), rather than developing unique story arcs for each.

Having a compelling, credible narrative is imperative to getting off the waitlist. As the admissions officers buzz about in their offices, deciding who should get the last spot off the waitlist, you need them to have the ability to describe you in a quick synopsis. For example, as that “clean water gal” or that “urban development guy.” If you don’t build this narrative for them, they will (1) likely forget you and (2) likely not champion your candidacy in committee. Admissions officers will not infer your narrative for you. You need to explicitly spell it out.

2. Evaluate your weaknesses



Everyone has a weak point in their application. Did you sufficiently address yours?

It is the job of the Adcom to ensure that every student admitted will thrive academically and socially. Could the Adcom wonder whether you would succeed in the classroom? Whether you’ll be able to keep up in finance class? Whether you will be the kind of person who enriches the school community? Re-read your application and develop a hypothesis as to what the hang-up is. An experienced eye can help you see where you need to improve.

3. Start credibly fixing your weaknesses



Show the admissions committee that you have the self-awareness to know your weaknesses, the humility to admit them, and the drive to fix them. Have a low GMAT? Consider studying up and re-taking it. Some schools jealously protect their average GMAT score and hunt for applicants who will improve it. Others just want to see scores that are “good enough.” Often when you take the GRE instead, the school has more flexibility in admitting you since it doesn't impact their GMAT average.

Missing that all-important “impact”? Look for quick quantifiable wins at work or in your volunteer activities. Think the Adcom has trouble imagining you as the leader of a student club? Join a local community organization or non-profit that fits with your narrative. Better yet, found one! Not all titles and achievements are treated the same. Go for the ones that have the greatest institutional prestige.

4. Don’t stay silent



Some Admissions Committees specifically welcome updates. Others say they are not necessary. Regardless, if you know how to communicate with the Adcom, there is a lot of upside and very little downside to providing substantive, well-written updates. The problem is that it is pretty easy for a novice to write a bad update – the kind that makes you seem mediocre, annoying, or worse.

These updates can serve two purposes: first, show improvement upon the application in the areas of weakness discussed above, and second, reaffirm commitment to the school (i.e. prove to them that you are guaranteed to accept their admissions offer and boost their all-important yield).

Some waitlisted applicants are hesitant to send updates because they think it requires judgement and writing talent, which it does. Clearly more of the same from your original application will not help push you over the top. The key is having an advisor who is a good writer, has navigate the process already, and can effectively “sell” you to the Adcom.
_________________

Best,
Nate


IvyAdmissionsGroup.com | Want to know your odds of admission? Get our free assessment here.


Apply to business school like you're running for office. You're the candidate. We're your campaign managers.

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Re: How to get off the MBA waitlist  [#permalink]

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New post 26 May 2017, 19:38
continued from above
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5. Mount an influence campaign



I would only recommend this if you (1) truly need to be admitted to one particular business school in one particular cycle and (2) you are comfortable taking on the social capital debt of such a favor.

The people who make up admissions committees are social animals like the rest of us and can be influenced by others. Specifically two types of people: VIPs with opinions that the Adcom would respect (e.g. famous CEOs, political leaders, and prospective donors with whom the school is trying to curry favor), and current students whom can vouch for your “fit” at the school.

When it comes to VIPs, either you have one or you don’t. Personal/family connections are often too weak to be meaningful, and the waitlist timeline is usually too short to develop a good relationship with a VIP from a cold start.

When it comes to current students, start by looking at your network on LinkedIn and see who is currently at your target school. Look for shared connections such as employer, undergrad, or high school. If you find someone you know well, explain your situation and see if they are willing to vouch for your fit at the school to the Adcom, using your new awesome narrative (see point #1).

Note: Things work a little bit different at HBS where the Adcom is less impressed by titles and there are so many students that personal vouchers are less effective.

6. Be humble, be positive, be patient



Showing any sign of frustration with your situation is absolutely lethal to your application. Often, admissions deans are just itching to find reasons they can remove people from the waitlist – don’t give them one. Remember: you are the happy warrior, and the waitlist is a marathon, not a sprint.

7. Worst case scenario: use the lessons of the waitlist to make a better application next time.



Many schools look favorably on re-applicants and the classrooms are full of them. Next time, make sure that you have a compelling narrative, can confidently communicate your strengths and effectively mitigate your weaknesses.
_________________

Best,
Nate


IvyAdmissionsGroup.com | Want to know your odds of admission? Get our free assessment here.


Apply to business school like you're running for office. You're the candidate. We're your campaign managers.

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Re: How to get off the MBA waitlist  [#permalink]

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New post 02 Apr 2018, 07:41
Great post and truly impressive history! For some reason, I could not open the links to the blog at ivyadmissions.com
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Re: How to get off the MBA waitlist  [#permalink]

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New post 02 Apr 2018, 08:29
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Erjan_S wrote:
Great post and truly impressive history! For some reason, I could not open the links to the blog at ivyadmissions.com


The URL is actually ivyadmissionsGROUP.com. You can check out the blog link here: https://www.ivyadmissionsgroup.com/blog

Cheers!
_________________

Best,
Nate


IvyAdmissionsGroup.com | Want to know your odds of admission? Get our free assessment here.


Apply to business school like you're running for office. You're the candidate. We're your campaign managers.

GMAT Club Bot
Re: How to get off the MBA waitlist &nbs [#permalink] 02 Apr 2018, 08:29
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