When business schools start sending out admissions notifications, the one decision that seems to stress out applicants more than rejection is waitlist placement. It leaves candidates wondering what mistakes they may have made in their application, why admissions committees didn’t immediately want them and whether there’s anything they can do to move the needle.

If you receive a waitlist notification, first understand that this is a positive sign that the school likes your profile and believes you’re qualified for its program. Business school admissions committees – especially in round one – use the waitlist to hedge their bets while they wait to see more applicants in future rounds to compare with those on the waitlist.

Their primary goal is creating the best possible class, so it makes sense to wait and see how many of their round one admits will ultimately enroll. They don’t want to overenroll early in the admissions season and miss out on some amazing candidates in subsequent rounds.

If you find yourself on the waitlist for one of your target programs, follow the admissions committee’s waitlist instructions to the letter. For some, that means simply indicating your continued interest and no more, so you must make peace with this limbo time or risk annoying the admissions team and prejudicing them against your candidacy.

However, many schools accept and even welcome further contact if it helps them more accurately assess your candidacy. Here are several key do’s and don’ts for communicating with the admissions committee while on the MBA waitlist.

Do respond to the school promptly

Some business schools have an automatic opt-in, while others request your explicit decision to remain on the waitlist. Make sure you let the school know promptly if you’re interested in remaining on the waitlist.


Don’t delay

Don’t take too long to inform a business school if you plan to accept an admissions offer from another MBA program. It’s common courtesy to free up that spot on the waitlist for another candidate.


Do re-examine your application

Take time to thoroughly evaluate your application and seek the admissions committee’s explicit feedback, if offered, to determine what weaknesses you can immediately improve.

If a low test score likely cast a shadow on your candidacy, retake the GMAT or GRE. If you have a limited quant background, immediately sign up for a financial accounting or calculus class at a local community college to bolster your credentials in this area. If you’re lacking leadership, find ways to enhance this aspect either at work or through your extracurricular activities.


Don’t immediately send an update letter

Wait at least a month after learning of your waitlist status before you send an update letter to the admissions committee. This will give you time to show the committee genuine improvement or the steps you have planned.


Do reconnect with alumni or current students

Reach out to individuals with whom you established a connection during the application process – even your interviewer if you developed a great rapport – to update them of your waitlist situation. Find out whether they would be willing to write a supplemental letter supporting your candidacy and fit with the program.


Don’t send lofty recommendations

Avoid trying to sway the admissions team with an additional recommendation letter from a well-known or high-ranking individual, unless that person has an authentic connection to you and can speak to your candidacy in a truly compelling way.


Do connect on a campus visit

Email your waitlist manager or the admissions director if you plan to visit the school’s campus again, which you absolutely should do if you can.

Given advance notice, the admissions team will often invite you to stop by to chat about your candidacy. This informal visit can provide valuable application feedback and makes a compelling case for your continued dedication to attending the program, all of which make you a more memorable waitlist candidate.


Don’t update too frequently

Avoid inundating the admissions committee with excessive or non-substantive updates. Use good judgment and put yourself in the admissions committee’s shoes for a moment.

They review thousands of applications each season and deal with scores of waitlist candidates, so make sure every interaction enhances their opinion of your candidacy. And be sure to stagger your communications with the committee so that you’re on the right side of the line between showing genuine enthusiasm for the program and coming off as too aggressive.

The waitlist period can last several months and even into the summer, so you’ll want to send your first meaningful update about a month after notification. Then a month later, send an additional letter of recommendation. After another four weeks, submit a letter of support from an alumnus or current student, if you know one who will support your candidacy.

When the time comes to decide between two waitlist applicants – one who disappeared after indicating he or she would stay on the list versus the person who thoughtfully kept in contact and demonstrated keen interest – the admissions committee will likely go with the latter candidate.

Finally, take heart. Being wait-listed isn’t the news you wanted, but there are plenty of reasons to maintain hope. You wouldn’t be on the waitlist if you weren’t someone the MBA admissions committee thought could be a great addition to the class.

Source- usnews.com