Waitlisted! What Now?

Listen to the full recording of 'Waitlisted! Now What?'So, you’ve been waitlisted and you’re not sure whether to laugh or cry. You can choose to do either, neither or both, but then it is time to figure out what to do next.

Listen to the recording of our latest podcast episode to hear Linda Abraham’s six tips for waitlisted applicants. Make sure you know what to do (and what not to do!) to ensure that you are the candidate on the very top of that waitlist.

00:01:28 – Devastated about your waitlisted status? Don’t give up!

00:02:16 – Don’t be an independent thinker please.

00:03:43 – Self-evaluate and take action.

00:04:24 – Spread the good word (even if it doesn’t relate to your weaknesses).

00:05:44 – Schools like applicants who are interested in attending their program!

00:06:13 – Don’t spam the adcom.

00:06:48 – How a waitlist letter should begin and what it should include.

00:07:33 – Addressing your weaknesses without sounding weak.

Listen to the full conversation to learn more!

*Theme music is courtesy of podcastthemes.com.

Relevant Links:

•  MBA Waitlist Advice 101
•  Med School Waitlist Advice 101
•  Grad School Waitlist Advice 101
•  College Waitlist Advice 101 
•  The Nine Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make on an MBA Waitlistan ebook
•  The Nine Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make on a Med School Waitlistan ebook
•  The Nine Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make on a Law School Waitlist, an ebook

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When to Give Up Your Acceptance in Hopes for “Greener” Pastures

Get advice for writing your wait list letter!

Don’t look for greener pastures when you’re most likely in the pasture that’s optimized for your individual growth.

Scenario: You get accepted to an excellent MBA program. You’re happy…but…you can’t help thinking that maybe you could’ve done “better.” Should you turn down your acceptance (whether it’s an early decision acceptance or regular) in hopes that the school that waitlisted you ends up accepting you, or in hopes that a school that rejected you this year accepts you next year?

When to Accept an Offer of Admission

Here are two reasons why I think you should probably count your lucky stars and say “yes” (enthusiastically) to the program that accepted you:

1. As I’m sure you noticed, I put “greener” and “better” in quote marks above. You need to think about whether your alternate options are truly better for you than the amazing school that accepted you. Maybe HBS is a better school than, say, Yale SOM, according to most ranking reports, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best program for you. And in fact, if you’re thinking about heading into non-profit management, it may not be better than Yale. If the accepting top school supports your goals and provides an educational environment that suits you (and you shouldn’t have applied if it didn’t), then a bird in hand is worth two in the bush. Don’t look for greener pastures when you’re most likely in the pasture that’s optimized for your individual growth.

2. Acceptance at one elite school does not at all imply that you’ll get accepted at another elite school. Acceptance decisions are independent events – Wharton doesn’t consult with Booth, which in turn couldn’t care less that you were accepted to Stanford. Be happy about the outstanding school that accepted you and attend!

Legitimate Reasons for Deferring or Rejecting an Admissions Offer:

There are some situations in which I’d recommend deferring or rejecting an admissions offer and reapplying next year:

1. Personal circumstances unrelated to education, like an illness in the family compel you to defer or reject an offer.

2. A geographical/relationship issue, like your significant other got into a one-year program across the country from the program that accepted you, and you don’t want to be apart for a year. (You should try to defer for a year in this case, obviously, and not reject the acceptance, if you plan on then pursuing your educational goals next year.)

3. Your post-MBA goals have changed since you applied, and the school that accepted you is no longer the best school for you. (This doesn’t happen very often.)

Some of you may be thinking, “Can I ask for a deferral?” Schools are reluctant to give a deferral. It binds them, and doesn’t bind the applicants. Furthermore many applicants requesting the deferral use the additional year to reapply at other programs. This bit of shopping around and gamesmanship has given deferrals a bad name in admissions offices. And they frequently don’t want to play.

Here’s a tip if you want to defer and are serious about attending the accepting school a year later: Offer to put down a large deposit that will be applied to your tuition when you matriculate and lost if you don’t matriculate.

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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


All You Need to Know About MBA Waitlists Q&A

MBA Waitlist Chat


Waitlisted? Accepted.com founder and president, Linda Abraham, will be hosting a Q&A devoted to waitlisted applicants on Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at 6:00 PM PT / 9:00 PM ET. During the Q&A, Linda will provide an overview of waitlist basics – key steps you should take, things to avoid, and more. The overview will be followed by plenty of time for questions and answers. Don’t just dream of being accepted to your top school – make it a reality when you attend Accepted’s live waitlist Q&A and benefit from Linda’s successful waitlist tactics.

Register now to reserve your spot for the Accepted.com MBA Waitlist Q&A.

What time is that for me? Click on the link to find out the exact time for your location.

For more information, please e-mail your questions to webinar@accepted.com.

Accepted.com Accepted.com ~ Helping You Write Your Best

MBA Admissions A-Z: W is for Waitlist

Advancing from Waitlist Limbo5 Secrets to Advancing from Waitlist Limbo

You probably have mixed emotions about being waitlisted. On the one hand, you weren’t dinged and you still have a chance of gaining acceptance to your top choice school. On the other hand, you haven’t been accepted yet, which means as of now, you still don’t know what the future holds. That’s why many feel that being waitlisted is like being in limbo – you are neither here nor there, at least not yet.

The following 5 tips will help you launch from waitlist limbo to acceptance:

  1. Read your waitlist letter carefully, looking for hints of deficiency. Some schools are better about stating straight out why you weren’t accepted. For others, you’ll need to read between the lines to determine where you fell short in your application. And for most, you will have to do the assessment on your own. (Or ask us; we’re happy to do it for you.)
  2. Follow the instructions. If the school says that you are welcome to send additional materials to support your candidacy, then you should absolutely do so. If they say that you should not contact them at all, then you’ll need to respect their wishes and wait for them to contact you…no matter how badly you want to share new information with them.
  3. Emphasize your continued interest in the MBA program. If contact is allowed, then you should draft a short letter that thanks the school for considering your application and reiterates your desire to attend the program. Your letter should also include a brief paragraph or two on the following….
  4. Address shortcomings and tout recent achievements. If you’ve taken steps to ameliorate your MBA profile weakness (as determined in Step 1 above), then you should certainly include the measures you’ve taken to improve. If you’ve retaken the GMAT or enrolled in a college statistics course, for example, then you should say so. Furthermore, if you’ve bulked up your achievements – had an article published, launched a new business, earned a patent, received a promotion, increased your volunteer hours, etc. –share this important information with the adcom.
  5. Make your intentions clear. If you are certain that you would accept an offer if the program extended it, say so.

Remember, your letter should be short, sweet, and to the point – two pages max, one page preferred. Don’t be pushy, don’t be defensive, and don’t beg.

Learn more must-know waitlist tips when you visit Accepted’s MBA Waitlist 101 guide.

Accepted.comAccepted.com ~ Helping You Write Your Best