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What Does it Mean To Be Put on the MBA Waitlist?

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What Does it Mean To Be Put on the MBA Waitlist

Finding yourself on an MBA waitlist can be a mixed bag of emotions, especially when you spend weeks fine-tuning your application. 

While it is not as good as securing admission to a program of your choice, it means that you are still in the game and may be able to get a spot sooner or later.  

Trying to figure out what to do after being waitlisted? Here’s some guidance and insights into why an applicant may end up on the waitlist.

What is an MBA waitlist? 

An MBA waitlist is a list of candidates waiting to secure a place in the MBA program of a business school. Waitlisted applicants are not admitted to the program immediately but may be accepted later, provided there are enough openings. 

Even though waitlisted candidates have good test scores, stellar GPAs, and all the other relevant qualifications, they may be less attractive than applicants who receive a letter of acceptance immediately. 

Usually, business schools publish an MBA waitlist during the admissions process as it allows them to manage the applicant intake more efficiently. Sometimes, the school may feel an applicant is eligible for the program, but it may not be possible for the school to accept them right away due to several reasons, including limited seats. 

But the waitlist doesn’t translate to a straightforward rejection. It simply means that the applicant has a chance of earning a spot–but just not yet. 

Why are you on the waitlist? 

Here are some of the common reasons why you may be put on a waitlist:

Too many students with similar profiles

Maintaining diversity is essential for business schools. As a result, they may waitlist candidates that have similar work experience and educational qualifications to the ones that have already been accepted.

Low test scores or GPA

A student with a lower GMAT/GRE score or GPA may end up on the waitlist even if they have a strong profile. 

Increasing seats for applicants in later rounds

If a school receives more applications during the first round than expected, they may put a few candidates on the waitlist. It allows them to review more applications for future rounds and select suitable candidates.

How to get off the MBA waitlist? 

Getting off the waitlist and getting accepted is not an impossible task. Here’s what you can do to improve your chances of getting off MBA waitlist.

Go through the school’s waitlist policy

The waitlist policy of each school varies, and you must follow the instructions to the T, and plan your MBA waitlist strategy. Some schools may want you to send an updated application highlighting new achievements (such as getting a scholarship or receiving a promotion at work) since you first applied. Some may want you to enroll in additional courses to enhance your skills. Some may only want you to send additional materials if prompted. 

For example, if you find yourself on the HBS waitlist, don’t send any additional information on your own, as Harvard Business School has a clear policy on its website about reviewing the application based on materials already submitted. The website also explicitly states that the waitlist manager will email candidates if the program wants them to submit updated information. So your best bet is to wait for that email.

But if you are on the Stanford waiting list, you should proactively send a letter to share relevant additional information, as the admissions committee encourages. 

Communicate with the school

If the waitlist policy of your target school has no restrictions on contacting the admissions department, follow through.

Send a letter to let the waitlist manager know how eager you are to secure admission to the MBA program. Emphasize that you want to pick this school over others if you receive an offer. You can also use this opportunity to highlight the steps you have taken recently to boost your candidacy.

Always maintain a professional and positive tone in your communication. Take care not to bombard the point of contact with several MBA waitlist letters simultaneously, as that may backfire completely.  

Supply a supplementary letter of support

You can send a supplemental letter of support if the MBA school has no rules prohibiting it. Compared to a letter of recommendation which is a formal letter written by a professor, a letter of support is less formal.

If you interacted with alumni during the admissions process and made a positive impression, you can request one of them to send a letter that makes a strong case for your candidacy. Contact them as soon as possible to update them about your waitlisted status. 

Such a letter doesn’t need to be as detailed as a recommendation letter–even a one-page email is good enough.

Provide additional letters of recommendation 

Some business schools may allow you to submit additional letters of recommendation

But only send letters that offer fresh insights into your candidature. After all, no one wants to read the same kind of letter multiple times. Ensure that the person writing the letter of recommendation knows you well as a person and has enough information about your academic achievements and extracurricular activities.

Always exercise caution — don’t flood the admissions office with a series of letters. Send them over a few weeks to avoid overwhelming the officer in charge. 

Improve your test scores

If your test score is on the lower side, this is an excellent opportunity to improve and increase your chances of securing a spot.

Suppose your GMAT score was 680 when you submitted your application, and during round 1, the program offered admissions to those with GMAT scores of 700 and above. While you are on the waitlist, retake the test. 

If you can increase your score by 20 or 30 points, send a waitlist letter to the school updating them about your new score and demonstrating that you are genuinely interested in their program.

Reassess your application and look for any gaps

Lastly, if you are serious about getting off the MBA waitlist, take a fresh look at your application to identify shortcomings. 

  • Was your GMAT score low?
  • Do you have unrealistic career goals? 
  • Did you underestimate how competitive a particular program is? 

Final words

It is difficult to zero in on a specific MBA waitlist acceptance rate, but several waitlisted candidates finally make it to their dream college every year. And you can be one of them.

Working with a professional who can identify the shortcomings in your application can be the difference between securing a spot in your dream school and regretting you had done more. You need someone to provide structured feedback, including advising you on arranging supplementary letters of recommendation. 

At Ameer Khatri Consulting, we help you recognize what may have gone wrong and how to craft the perfect strategy to maximize your chances of moving past the waitlist. Get your profile evaluated for free to better understand the gaps in your profile and increase your chances of getting off the waiting list. 

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