How to Write Waitlist Update Letters

You are so close to acceptance, but still not quite there! Get the guidance you need to get that offer of admission.

Continue fighting for that acceptance!

The application process is not over for waitlisted applicants. You’ve still got a chance of getting into your dream school, so now’s not the time to slack off, and it’s certainly not the time to give up. Continue fighting for that acceptance!

Your waitlist updates (you write those) and letters of support (other people write these) should focus on three areas:

1) Your growing list of qualifications. You want to prove to the adcoms that while you were a responsible, accomplished, impressive candidate before, now you are even more so. Discuss recent initiatives you’ve taken—in the workplace and in your community—and developments or advances you’ve made in your career or academics.

2) Steps you’ve taken to ameliorate shortcomings. Figure out what weaknesses were revealed in your application and/or interview and work to improve them. Be able to discuss specific changes you’ve made in your life—education and career—that make you a stronger candidate.

3) How you fit with the school. You were born to attend this school and this school was created just for you. Your fit is as perfect as a cozy glove on a cold hand.

Waitlist Update Writing Step-By-Step:

1) Begin your letter by briefly thanking the school for considering your application. Don’t talk about your disappointment; instead focus on how the school’s philosophy and approach fit your educational goals.

2) Discuss your recent accomplishments. Choose achievements that you did not address in your application and try and tie them back to key themes in your essays. These could include a recent promotion, freshly minted A’s, a new leadership role in a project or organization, a recent volunteer experience, initiatives you’ve taken in your department, business, or club, additional work responsibilities, etc.

3) Talk about the measures you’ve taken to ameliorate your weaknesses, if necessary. Focus on the action you’ve taken rather than on the actual shortcoming. For example, if you have/had weak communication skills, discuss how you enrolled in Toastmasters and how the experience has influenced and inspired you.

4) If you are sure that upon acceptance you would attend, inform the school of your commitment.

Above all, stay positive as your letter will reflect your attitude. Adcoms do not want to read a bitter and angry letter, nor will they want that writer in their classrooms.

A couple of caveats:

• Don’t waste your reader’s time by repeating material already in your application.

• Don’t write if the school states explicitly that it doesn’t want to hear from you.

Click here to listen to the 6 Tips for Waitlisted Applicants!

Help! I'm on the waitlist!

For more information on how to transform your waitlist status into an acceptance, check out one of Accepted’s popular waitlist ebooks:

• The Nine Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make on an MBA Waitlist

• The Nine Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make on a Med School Waitlist

• The Nine Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make on a Law School Waitlist

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  • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

    What do you wish you could tell the adcom that you believe would move you off the waitlist? And why didn’t you tell them?

  • Andy

    1. How often should we communicate with the Adcom?
    2. Is 1 Update letter + 2 additional LORs a good amount of follow up to show interest? Is physical / paper update letter preferred to emails?
    -Andy

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      Andy,

      1) First of all follow any recommendations provided by the school. If they don’t want additional communications, the answer is “You shouldn’t.” If they don’t specify, then I would space out the communications so they are 2-4 weeks apart, but still come in before the next consideration period.
      2) Again, assuming they are open to receiving additional materials, yes, that sounds good, but the LORs should be more about your fit with the program and any recent achievements not discussed in your app. They shouldn’t simply rehash material that the school already has.

      Email is fine, unless the schools says otherwise.

      Best,
      Linda