“Waitlisted. Now What?” is the latest post in our series Navigate the MBA Maze.
First, a word of introduction: Realize that receiving a wait-list letter means you qualify for admission. You pass. You are probably on the wait-list (and not admitted) because they have already admitted applicants with your profile and want diversity in the class. Or they find your qualifications impressive, but find someone else’s even more so.
I encourage you to seize the initiative and launch a campaign. Unless the school discourages additional contact, take a proactive approach. You have already shown that you qualify for the school; otherwise you wouldn’t find yourself on the wait-list. They like you. Now give the adcom additional reasons to admit you by writing a succinct wait-list letter.
Your waitlist updates and letters of support from others should focus on three areas:
1. Your qualifications: specifically recent professional achievements, academics, research, increases in responsibilities, initiatives, and community service.
2. Steps you have taken to ameliorate weaknesses.
The first two areas demonstrate that you are an even better applicant today than you were when you applied. The third reveals that you belong at that school like a hand fits in a snug glove on a cold winter day, and that you will attend if, or should I say when, accepted.
Suggestions for a Waitlist Update:
1. Briefly thank the school for continuing to consider your application and mention how the school’s philosophy and approach fit your educational preferences and goals. Don’t dwell on your disappointment at not being accepted.
2. Agree to take any additional courses or follow any additional instructions provided.
3. Discuss recent achievements. Did you have a 4.0 during the last quarter? Have you led a project or organization? Volunteered? Have you taken your department, business, or club in a new direction? Have you had an article published? Earned a patent? Launched a business? Received a promotion or assumed additional responsibilities? Succeeded in a particularly demanding class or project? You should bring out any recent accomplishments not discussed in your application and ideally tie them back to some of the themes or experiences you raised in your essays.
4. Discuss how you have addressed shortcomings—without highlighting them. For example, if you enrolled in Toastmasters to improve your communications skills, inform the adcom that you did so two months ago, tell them of any awards you have won, and enlighten them as to how much you are enjoying the experience. BUT don’t say that you are doing all this because you are concerned about your low verbal score or sub-standard grades in social science courses.
5. If you are certain you would attend this school, make it clear that this is your first choice and that you will attend if accepted.
Keep the letter short and sweet — two pages max. Don’t succumb to the temptation to rewrite or even summarize your life history or essays. Stay focused on what you have accomplished since applying.
Accepted’s consultants are available to help you evaluate your application, advise you on your waitlist strategy, and edit waitlist letters. For more information, please visit our waitlist services for more details.
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