What To Do If You Are Waitlisted in Round 2
It’s peak application decision season for Round 2 MBA applicants, and you may have found yourself waitlisted.
After months of GMAT/GRE prep, building a post-MBA narrative, and revising your essays, getting waitlisted in Round 2 can be disappointing.
Business schools place MBA applicants on the waitlist because they’re trying to create the strongest overall class. They do not know if all the offers they sent out in Round 2 will be accepted. They also don’t know the quality of applicants they’ll receive in Round 3. In a bid to ensure that competitive applications don’t get overlooked, schools often put them on the waitlist.
So, what does that mean for you?
Put simply, they’ve got their eye on you. You’ve matched the school’s criteria and the AdCom is interested in your profile, but something was amiss in your application, which meant that you didn’t get an immediate offer.
There are several things that could have led to this decision. The school may have received more competitive applications than usual. You may not meet their ideal diversity targets. Or you may have failed to convey your post-MBA goals and motivations clearly in the interview.
But there’s still a chance you can get off the MBA waitlist. Here’s what you can do while waiting to hear from the school.
5 Tips to Improve Your Chances of Getting off the Waitlist
1. Accept the Offer
It won’t feel great, but accept your place on the waitlist without letting your pride get in the way. You’re not losing anything, and you can still make the best of the situation by following the next steps.
2. Write a Letter of Continued Interest
First, read the rules. Does the school allow correspondence from waitlisted applicants? If not, then don’t send an update or a letter - it will only reflect poorly on you. Waitlist policies are usually displayed on the school’s official website.
However, some schools accept (and even encourage) updates from waitlisted candidates. In this case, write to the AdCom, expressing your continued interest in the program and your intention to wait for the decision. Reassure them that you won’t reject their offer, helping them preserve their “yield” (% of admitted candidates who accept the offer).
How to structure a Letter of Continued Interest
Start by thanking the Admissions Committee
Address any gaps in your application that you missed in your original application: eg, poor GMAT/GRE scores, low GPA, or lack of managerial experience.
Do you have a significant update to share? This could be a business certification, a quant class, a second attempt at the GMAT/GRE, a job promotion, or a shift to a senior role. Let the AdCom know what you’ve been up to.
Express a deeper motivation to pursue your MBA at this school. You can do this by participating in more school events, visiting the campus, and connecting with professors / current students / alumni. Mention your takeaways from your conversations and how you have developed a better understanding of the school’s ecosystem.
In case you were waitlisted before getting an interview and you believe that there were some aspects of your profile that didn’t come up naturally in your application, you can even make a gentle request for an interview.
Unlock an example update email from an applicant who successfully made it off the waitlist on MBAconsultant.com.
3. Letters of support
Some schools like Ross, Booth, Yale, and Kellogg, offer applicants the opportunity to submit “letters of support” from alumni and current students. The idea behind this is that these current and former students are well positioned to speak to the culture fit between you and the school.
So, if you have friends or colleagues at the school, give them a shout! Ask them to write a letter in support of your candidacy, mentioning:
How they know you
How your profile fits with the school
4. Improve your credentials
Don’t just sit idle while waiting to hear back. Work on improving your credentials to add to your update for the school.
GMAT/GRE: If your GMAT/GRE score wasn’t especially competitive, consider resitting the exam. Even a 10 point improvement in your score can be an opportunity to update the school, and might just give you an edge over the other waitlisted candidates.
Extracurriculars: Professionals who work long hours might find that their extracurricular achievements look a bit dry. If this was a weak area in your profile, use this time to take up a new leadership responsibility at your extracurricular activity.
Courses: A course or online certification might be a good way to address a weak point in your application. Maybe you paused a Coursera C++ course because you were busy with MBA applications; go back and complete it so you can add it to your letter update.
5. Start Thinking About Plan B
Ultimately, whether you get the admit will also depend on factors beyond your control. This includes how many candidates offered a spot accept it, and how many decline or defer it. Only about 20-30% of applicants who get waitlisted after an interview eventually receive offers.
So, if you’ve completed steps 1-4, start thinking about a contingency plan. If you have other offers, you may want to put down a deposit for your second choice. You may lose the money if you get off the waitlist at your preferred school, but schools often refund the deposit (contrary to what sources say online, we’ve seen it happen).
Alternatively, if this is your dream school and you want to wait to reapply, start working on your strategy for the coming year.
Want to make sure your waitlist strategy is working for you? Ask our team of experts by booking a free 20-minute strategy chat.
Check out our Waitlist Strategy course on MBAconsultant.com - our self-paced online program for bespoke application guidance.