A few months ago, we posted Aringo’s tips for those waitlisted, a situation familiar to many MBA candidates at this point in the year. For those left with a taste for more (or left on the waiting list), here are some additional tips from the site Poets & Quants towards acceptance from the waiting list.
“UNDERSTAND YOUR WAITLIST STATUS
There are two kinds of waitlists. The opt-out waitlist means that a school automatically puts you on its waitlist unless you tell them to remove you. The opt-in waitlist requires that you accept a position on the list, usually within a certain time frame. Always accept a waitlist offer, even if you’re not sure what you want to do. You can always withdraw later.
IMMEDIATELY ASK FOR AN APPLICATION REVIEW
Some MBA programs, like Cornell’s Johnson School, will give you feedback as to why you were waitlisted. They may even make specific suggestions for how you can improve your chances of getting off the waitlist and into the incoming class. (I have known Columbia to ask people to raise their GMAT thirty points, for example, for automatic entry.) If your school offers reviews, the waitlist letter will say so. If it specifically tells you not to contact them, don’t ask. If the school is unclear, or if you get an obviously personalized waitlist notification from a specific individual, feel free to ask for feedback.
WRITE AN UPDATE LETTER
You only write a single update letter—they don’t need to be notified every time your boss says “good job.” Submit your letter via email three to four weeks after getting waitlisted. If you were waitlisted as a first-round applicant, send your update letter in about four weeks before the second-round decision-announcement date, as many waitlisted first-round candidates are actively considered as second round candidates as well.
GET A NEW RECOMMENDATION
Unless the school specifically asks that you do not send in a new recommendation, you’ll want to take this step. If you applied to a school that requires three recs, like Harvard and Stanford, you’ve already got a third rec “in the can” you could use for any school that originally required only two recs.
GET LETTERS OF SUPPORT
Now is when letters of support are most effective—an additional voice to weigh in now that the school has already judged you worthy.
If your GPA is low, that probably factored heavily into why you weren’t a clear admit. Immediately sign up for a couple of community college classes at night—and get As—to prove you’ve got the intellectual ability as well as the discipline to do well in a rigorous quantitative curriculum. The four best classes to choose from are any kind of accounting, microeconomics, calculus, or statistics.
RETAKE THE GMAT
Let them know your plans in your update letter— including the date you intend to take the test—and send them the result in a “ping” email. If you’ve already got a 700-plus GMAT, or at least an 80 percentile quant score, raising your score further won’t likely help. If you were waitlisted with less than a 680 GMAT, raising it to at least 680 may dramatically increase your chances of getting off the waitlist. If you were waitlisted at a very competitive school with less than a 680 GMAT, chances are the school really liked you—they simply have concerns about your score. Raising that score removes the most likely reason you were waitlisted rather than accepted outright.
VISIT THE CAMPUS AND VISIT AGAIN
No matter why you’ve been waitlisted, you should get yourself to campus ASAP. Ask to see an admissions officer; include this request in your update letter. Many schools will be happy to accommodate you; for the ones that won’t, camp out in the admissions office and ambush someone. Seriously—that has worked for many of our candidates in the past! Tell them you were in town on business and you simply wanted to put a face to the name. Don’t spend more than five minutes with an admission officer unless they invite you to stay longer.
PING THE COMMITTEE
Your first contact will be your update letter, and you’ll continue to ping the committee after that with a brief note. Send a brief note to your waitlist manager (if you were assigned one) or to the director of admissions expressing your continued interest in the school, willingness to provide further information, or anything else you feel is appropriate. “Ping” emails should go out about once every three weeks. When decision time comes, it is your name they will remember.”
After you’ve done everything in your abilities to gain acceptance, here is some general advice offered by Chicago’s admissions committee:
“What’s done is done
Take the long view, and stay focused on the future without looking back. You finally hit submit, worked hard to get there, and have already done what you can to put your best foot forward. So don’t dwell on what you could have done better, how you should have included that alternate essay, second guess other offers you may have rejected, or agonize over getting into ‘the one’. At this stage, it’s important to keep your eyes on what matters most – choosing a school where you will have a great experience (even if it wasn’t your first choice) and jump-start your future career. The results may be out of your hands at the moment, but you can still continue to map out your goals. Keep thinking about what you want your career and life to look like, not just for the next two years, but for the next ten years and beyond.
Take care of business
This will require you to think positively. Imagine you are starting business school in the fall. Are you headed to a different city or country in just a few months? Start thinking about how you will break the news to your employer and what strategies you will employ to do that gracefully. You may wish to begin researching the cities where your top business schools are located; what’s the cost of living? Do they offer serviceable public transportation? Since this will mean a major life change with many associated costs, this is also a fine time to start putting away funds for those expenses. Most importantly, analyze what you need to take care of at home before your transition begins.
Cultivate your network
You’ve probably met a lot of people while on this MBA journey and that’s a good thing. No matter where you and your new acquaintances end up, this is the start of a network filled with like-minded people. Having access to people you met in the MBA search process will yield great friends, partners to exchange ideas with, or potential business colleagues for your entire career.”