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: your growing list of qualifications, steps you’ve taken to ameliorate shortcomings, and how you are the perfect fit with the school.
Your Step-By-Step Guide to Writing a Waitlist Update
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.
You want to prove to the adcom that while you were a responsible, accomplished, impressive candidate before, now you are even more so.
3. Talk about the measures you’ve taken to ameliorate your weaknesses or shortcomings.
Focus on the specific actions 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. Examine, identify, and address weaknesses in your education, career, and community life.
4. If you are sure that upon acceptance you would attend, inform the school of your commitment.
The message you want to get across is this: 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.
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 few things to look out for:
1. Before you start writing, be sure that your target school is open to receiving waitlist letters. If the school states explicitly that it doesn’t want to hear from you, then do not contact them – doing so will only hurt your case.
2. When you’re at the brainstorming stage of the letter, and then again once you’re done writing, check and then double check that you haven’t repeated material already in your application – you don’t want to waste anyone’s time!