Posted on April 17, 2023

12 Effective Strategies to Get off the ‘Waitlist’

 12 Effective

Being placed on a waitlist by your target MBA program can be both frustrating and uncertain. You have invested significant time and effort into your MBA applications - earned a strong GMAT, researched your schools well, drafted compelling essays, had your recommenders do a great job, and aced your interview. Now, when you are waiting eagerly to get that coveted acceptance letter, you receive a discouraging letter that you have been 'waitlisted.' In recent years, schools have also waitlisted candidates without an interview, which adds to the confusion.

Why Schools Waitlist Candidates

While being waitlisted can be frustrating, it's important to understand that Business schools put only qualified candidates on the waitlist. There could be several reasons why you were placed on the waitlist. It may be due to the strength of your application or a highly competitive applicant pool, like Indian foreign national male engineers. In such cases, the school may have received an overwhelming number of qualified applications and had to make tough choices. Additionally, admissions committees may need more time to see how many admitted students accept their offers before making further decisions on the waitlist. Ultimately, being waitlisted doesn't mean rejection. If you work hard and follow the right approach and mindset, you can still increase your chances of acceptance.

This article will explore 12 effective strategies MBA applicants can take after being waitlisted by their target schools. So, if you are a waitlisted MBA applicant looking to increase your chances of acceptance, read on to discover the actionable steps you can take to enhance your candidacy and show the admissions committee that you are the right fit for their program.

1. Briefly Thank the School

After you get over your initial disappointment, go ahead and take your first step. Thank the school for continuing to consider your application and expressing how their resources and motto fit your educational preferences and goals. Be positive, and avoid mentioning your disappointment in not being offered admission at this time.

2. Follow the Instructions Provided

Each school has specific instructions for candidates on their waitlist, so reviewing and following them carefully is essential. For instance, schools like Wharton and Harvard Business School ask candidates not to provide additional material. Wharton only accepts updates on GMAT scores, new job opportunities, or coursework. However, some schools give the applicant feedback on weak areas and will accept new information. Some schools want you to follow up with additional information, such as improved GMAT, a new recommender, an update on your job, or a progress report on classes you might be taking. Whatever they say, please do it.

3. Highlight Recent Achievements

Please review your application again or have an expert do it for you. Have you missed anything good?

- Has there been any significant improvement since you submitted your application?
- Have you led a project or organization?
- Have you volunteered or taken a leadership role in a non-profit?
- Have you taken your department, business, or club in a new direction? Have you published an article or earned a patent?
- Have you launched a business?
- Have you recently received a promotion or assumed additional responsibility?
- Have you succeeded in a particularly demanding class or project?

In short, you should bring out any RECENT accomplishments not discussed in your application and, if possible, tie them back to some of the themes or experiences you have discussed in your essay(s).

4. Discuss how you have Addressed Shortcomings

To demonstrate your commitment to improving your qualifications, consider directly addressing any weaknesses in your application. For instance, if your GMAT score is lower than ideal, consider retaking the GMAT and showing improvement.

If you have a low quant score on the GMAT, make sure to take some stats classes at your local community college. If you lack an analytical background, take a Math class and earn an 'A'. The admissions committee will appreciate that you are committed to improving your qualifications and are addressing shortfalls in your application.

If your GPA is low and you didn't create an alternate transcript, now might be a good time to do something in that direction. GMAT and GPA are the two key reasons why candidates are waitlisted. These steps will show the admissions committee that you are serious about improving your qualifications.

5. Submit an Updated Resume and Additional LOR

If you have received a promotion or have any other significant update on your work or community engagement. consider sending an updated resume. An additional LOR can go a long way, especially if you missed something in your initial application or previous letters of recommendation. Approach someone for another reference. Seek an additional letter of recommendation from someone who can attest to your leadership and character, such as a senior a work or a key leader at a non-profit organization where you handle leadership. A recommendation from a successful alumni member of the school could also be helpful. The ideal additional recommendation letter will highlight a new dimension to your profile that was not evident in your previous letters. An extra LOR will help if your earlier LORS were not as strong as you had expected.

6. Visit the School

Visiting the school can also show the admissions committee that you are serious about attending the program. In your letter, explain how the visit demonstrated that you were a good fit for the school, how the specific program would help you achieve your long-term goals, and how you can contribute to the school community. Some admission committee members feel more strongly about visits than others. But they understand that it's not always a realistic expectation if you are an international candidate. However, if the school is conducting info sessions in your city or country, you must attend them.

7. Elaborate short-term and long-term goals

If you think you have not articulated or communicated your career goals in detail, now is the time to work on that. Schools want to know that you have a clear idea of your post-MBA goals and how you plan to progress from short-term to long-term goals.

8. Write a Letter Restating Your Interest

If the school is your first choice and you are confident that you would attend this School upon acceptance, inform the School that you will accept the offer and pay the tuition deposit immediately. Clarifying your passion for the School would help the school look at your application positively.

Explain why you believe the program is a good fit for your goals and how you can contribute to the community Some schools discuss their mission and criterion for selection on their site. Try to show examples of how your accomplishments align with the school's motto. For example, UCLA Anderson defining values are –'share success, drive change, and think fearlessly. Provide recent examples of how you have demonstrated one or more of these values.

When writing your waitlist letter, keep the following in mind:

- Keep your essay/e-mail crisp and to the point—500-750 words.
- Don't rewrite or even summarize your life history or essays. Instead, stay focused on what you have accomplished since you submitted your application.
- Stay positive, as your letter will reflect your attitude. Though you may feel frustrated, the tone of your email should be positive

9. Have a Plan B

It is important to be realistic and have a Plan B, as waitlists do not always result in admission offers Now is the time to build and put into action a backup plan. Make up your mind if you want to apply to more schools or stay at your job for another year. Whatever you decide, you must have a viable option. At MER, we always advise applicants to apply to more schools while taking the necessary steps to get off the waitlist. For example, if you are waitlisted in Round 1, don’t pin all your hopes on the waitlist decision; apply to more schools in Round 2.

10. Connect with Current Students and Alumni

One of the best resources to learn more about the school is connecting with current students and alumni. Talking to them will give you access to the most up-to-date information about the school's culture, initiatives, classes, and recruiting. This will also help you understand how the community at that school functions and help you write a compelling waitlist essay.

11. Attend the School’s Webinars for Waitlisted Students

Attend webinars or virtual events that the school hosts specifically for waitlisted applicants, which provide more information about the waitlist process and answer any questions you may have. This can help you gain valuable insights into how the school evaluates waitlisted candidates and how you can enhance your candidacy. Participating in these events can demonstrate your continued interest in the program and showcase your commitment and proactive attitude.

12. Be Patient and Maintain a Positive Attitude

Finally, and most importantly, be patient. Do not panic and jeopardize your application by constantly emailing the admission committee members or calling the admissions office. Instead, focus on other applications you may be working on and remain positive. Stay in touch with the school every 3 to 4 weeks with an interesting update and notify them of your steps to strengthen your application. Contact them only if you have something new to share, not just to express your continued interest.

In short, while on the waitlist, continue to pursue activities that strengthen your profile. This includes taking relevant courses, earning certifications, or engaging in volunteer work or professional projects that align with your career goals. Demonstrating your ongoing dedication to personal and professional growth can positively impact the admissions committee's perception of your candidacy. Remember that being waitlisted does not define your abilities or potential for success. By taking all the necessary steps, you can rest assured that you have done your best to get to the finish line. Stay strong and positive as you wait on this last leg of the MBA admissions process.

Good luck!

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About MER (myEssayReview)

Poonam Tandon, the founder of MER (myEssayReview), is a Ph.D. in English with 12 years of MBA consulting experience and three decades of teaching experience in India and the US. A master storyteller, Poonam has successfully guided hundreds of students from around the world to gain admission into the esteemed MBA, EMBA, and specialized Masters's programs in the US, Canada, Europe, and Asia. Throughout her four-decade-long professional career, she has reviewed 10,000+ essays written by applicants worldwide. Poonam is recognized as one of the top 5 most reviewed consultants on the GMAT Club (142 reviews).

Do you have questions about your application for the 2023-24 application cycle? E-mail Poonam at or sign up here for a free consultation.