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How To Get Off the Waitlist

Patience is a virtue, they say. Well, try telling that to someone who’s been waitlisted.

In fact, you can use “waitlist” as a verb – but there is no action in it. And that’s the problem. You’re helplessly stuck in no man’s land – with an uncertain future and your fate seemingly out of your control.

But “seemingly” is the key word. Yogi Berra is credited with saying, “It ain’t over until it’s over.” And being waitlisted confirms that the door hasn’t shut. “If you’re wait-listed, it means you’re a great candidate,” says Leah Derus, founder of the admissions consulting company fxMBAConsulting, in an interview with U.S. News. “The fact that they’ve placed your application aside instead of simply rejecting it means you’ve impressed them enough to be seriously considered and that you have a fighting chance,” adds an unnamed author from Aringo MBA Admissions Consultants, which recently posted a column on TopMBA on this very topic.

In other words, a school sees something in a waitlisted candidate…and they aren’t quite ready to let go. While you may think that you’re stuck in a waiting game, there are a few actions you can take to improve your chances.

For one, you can find out if a school provides feedback on waitlisted applications. Some schools, such as Brigham Young University’s Marriott School of Management, do exactly that. However, this advice comes with a caveat – follow the adcom’s advice. Treavor Peterson, managing director of MBA programs at Marriott, points to some students being too stuck in their ways to take the feedback to heart.  “They don’t want to follow the direction we gave them,” Peterson tells U.S. News. As a result, they actually hurt their chances.

Continuing to show interest is another way to tip the scales in your favor. Aringo MBA Admissions Consultants recommends staying in touch with timely news that shows career progress. For example, Aringo urges waitlisted applicants to send an update letter, “detailing any notable accomplishments or impressive developments you’ve made since submitting your application and MBA résumé.” Submitting an additional recommendation can also boost your chances, particularly if it breaks new ground on your candidacy. “Unless the school specifically instructs you to refrain from sending in additional recommendation letters,” Aringo adds, “submitting a new recommendation letter may serve to bolster your profile and prompt the MBA admissions committee to give your application serious consideration. The same is true for letters of support, which provide additional voices weighing in on your behalf.”

Obviously, such lobbying in excess could become annoying to adcoms. However, the rewards far outweigh the risk, says James Holmen, director of admissions and financial aid at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business in an interview with U.S. News. “There are candidates who are offered a place on the waitlist and then we never hear from them again. And there’s candidates who don’t overwhelm us with contact but at least stay in touch and help us remember them. If the program is able to offer admissions to one of two wait-listed candidates who are otherwise equal, “the one that has demonstrated their continued interest is probably going to get the offer.”

Just as important, Aringo also counsels waitlisted applicants to beef up their GMAT scores or take a quant-heavy course to reinforce that they can handle the rigor. “If you’ve been waitlisted on account of either a weaker than desired GPA or GMAT score (under 700), enrolling in some community college courses or retaking the test to prove your intellectual ability can definitely help,” Arringo explains. “It is best to excel in courses in the areas of accounting, microeconomics, calculus or statistics. Raising your GMAT score to at least a 680 can dramatically impact your chances, especially since it is probable that the MBA admissions committee was impressed by your application and just may have had concerns about your score.”

For additional advice on getting off the waitlist, click on the links below.


Sources: U.S. News & World Report, TopMBA

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