You’ve gone through the entire business school application process – school research, GMAT/GRE, application and essays, interview – and all that awaits is the final decision. You’re nervous, but you feel good about your prospects. The day when decisions are released arrives…and you find out that you’ve been waitlisted. Definitely not the ideal scenario.
While being waitlisted can be frustrating, do not be disheartened! Being waitlisted is an indication that you are extremely competitive and are still in the running. Follow the tips below to increase your chances of being taken off the waitlist.
Find out the school's waitlist policies
Before doing anything, the first step that you should take after being waitlisted at a school is find out what its waitlist policies are since that can vary from school to school. Often, schools will provide that information with their waitlist decision, but if not, don’t hesitate to reach out to the school to get a clearer understanding of those policies. For instance, some schools will require confirming that you would like to remain on the waitlist. You may even be assigned a Waitlist Manager as a resource, as is the case with Columbia, as you await the final word. In addition, some schools will accept additional material, but others will request that you hang tight. Don’t make any assumptions!
Retake the GMAT/GRE
If a school allows updates to be submitted as part of your application file, then consider retaking the GMAT/GRE if there is room for improvement. Studying for the exam and scoring higher is a positive indicator that you are committed to self-improvement and serious about demonstrating your potential. A weak score on the quantitative section of the GMAT/GRE tends to cause the most concern for business schools given the rigor of their curriculums. Aim to score above an 80th percentile on the quantitative section (and verbal section) if your original score is weaker than that – this is true of both the GMAT and the GRE.
Submit another recommendation letter
Some schools will let you include another recommendation letter. If this is the case, approach a recommender who knows you and your work/contributions/achievements well and will complement the original recommendation letters that were submitted.
Visit the school
Interestingly, this is the least utilized action step that I see with waitlisted clients. Even though you may have already visited the school, it doesn’t hurt to go to the school again, stop by the Admissions Office, and immerse yourself in the environment. Visiting the school after you have been waitlisted is an excellent way to show the Admissions Committee that you are excited about their program and enthusiastic about all that it offers. Furthermore, this is something that you can mention in a potential update letter.
Write an update letter
Finally, consider writing an update letter if the school’s waitlist policy permits this. What should the update letter cover? Essentially, any key updates that you may have after the submission of your application; do not repeat what has already been covered in your application. So, this could be an increase in your GMAT/GRE score, if applicable. Also, any professional and/or extracurricular updates where you have demonstrated leadership and impact can also be included. If you have visited the school after being waitlisted, you should also mention that, but be specific with respect to what you particularly enjoyed about the experience and how you can see yourself contributing.
I have seen many clients being taken off the waitlist by utilizing these tips; you too can increase your chances by implementing these strategies.
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Ivy Groupe is a boutique MBA admissions consulting company founded by Shaifali Aggarwal, who received her MBA from Harvard Business School and undergraduate degree from Princeton University. Shaifali’s philosophy focuses on authenticity and storytelling to help clients craft compelling and differentiated applications that stand out. With this approach, Shaifali’s clients have gained admission to top-tier MBA programs such as Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Kellogg, MIT, Columbia, Booth, Tuck, and Yale, among others.
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