Waitlist Follow Up Letter: How do I make my candidacy more compelling?
I am on Ross’ waitlist. Ross is my 1st choice school and I am preparing my 300-word response to try and stay in the running…-What will Ross look for? Should I focus on my application’s weaknesses and try and fill the gaps?
Thanks for the post . . . given the academic information that you provided [See Post], I don’t see that as a factor that would’ve pushed you to the WL, so that leaves a couple of other things to consider. The main one that jumps out to me is how your background connects to your goals and whether they’re realistic and sensible. It’s obviously a big jump from video games to energy.
Go back to your materials and interview with a fresh set of eyes and think about how you conveyed your plans – did you point to specific skills and experiences that you possess that will make your career transition feasible? Were you detailed about your goals, not only speaking to industry, but also functions you want to pursue? Specific companies you plan to target and particular roles/titles? If you didn’t show that kind of detailed thought in your essays/interview, then your update could include a mention of how you’ve continued to research your goals. This can help increase the adcom’s confidence that you’re focused and that you have a feasible plan.
Since Ross is mostly looking for any new information that has come to light since you applied, I think mentioning the internship is also a great idea. That definitely qualifies, and it shows your seriousness about preparing for the MBA experience. The adcom is also looking for a clear indication that you’re still really interested in attending. Providing an update at all generally accomplishes this goal, but showing how you’ve continued to engage with the Ross community, new research that you’ve done on the program, etc. is advisable. Be mindful to not just rehash what they already know if at all possible. They know you visited campus, did the group exercise, etc., so hopefully there are other tangible things that you can highlight.
Standing Out: How do you separate yourself from the crowd?
I am an Indian engineer aiming to pursue my MBA from a top-tier U.S. business school. Can you tell me what things I need to do in order to become a competitive applicant in the near future for the top-tier programs?
This is a question that all candidates need to address effectively, and it’s all the more important for candidates from typically overrepresented backgrounds (for example, Indian males with an engineering background).
When laying out a plan to do this, keep in mind the broad elements that the admissions process assesses – academics, professional experiences, and extracurriculars/interests/hobbies. For academics, you can stand out by having stronger academics than the typical applicant – graduated from a very well-known undergrad at the top of your class; a GMAT that is way above a school’s average. Undergrad is important in that the perceived reputation/quality of the school can help elevate you.
At a first glance, an adcom is going to be more impressed with an engineering candidate who graduated from MIT than an engineering candidate who graduated from a school they’re not familiar with. Most are going to be initially more enthusiastic about the MIT grad. Professionally, you want your work to show significant impact and results (quantifiable whenever possible), progression in responsibility, demonstrated leadership, excellent team work skills, etc. Working for a well-known employer is also an asset for similar reasons as it’s preferable to have attended a well-known undergrad. Extracurriculars can reinforce many the same elements that your professional experiences can, but these activities also serve to make you more interesting and memorable as well. A robust set of interests also provides an adcom with the confidence that you’ll be an involved student while in the program. Do all of these things at an exceedingly high level with flawless execution, and you’ll go a long way to being competitive in the applicant pool.
[Check out Why B-Schools Reject MBA Applicants]