Jan 15, 2012

Waitlisted at your target business school? Know what to do next.

Picture courtsey: Wisechoice.com

You are wailisted... damn ..Now what?

Getting waitlisted is not the end of the road for you. While it is not an admit for sure, it's also not an outright deny. Waitlisting process can definitely be pretty frustrating but this is not the time to give up. You still have a chance to get that coveted admission offer; you just need to make sure that when the admissions committee turn to the waitlisted candidates, it finds you in front of the line. So follow these tips to make the best of this long process -

1. Reply back and request a feedback - Unless you have an admission offer from another, and better, business school, you may want to keep your options open by staying on the waitlist. Reply promptly to the school mentioning your interest in staying on the waitlist. Also, this would be a great time to request for a feedback on your application. Most of the schools are too busy to provide individual feedback, however, there is hardly any downside for a polite request.

2. Follow the Instructions - Yes, this has to be the first tip. Some schools specifically ask the waitlisted candidates NOT to send any additional material. Do as they say or risk getting branded as someone who can not follow directions. (The additional material is anyways not going to be considered). Some schools may provide you with some kind of feedback and what you can do to address the weaknesses (retake the GMAT, take an English class). Take these feedbacks seriously.

3. Check out school blogs, FAQs and waitlisted chat transcripts - Your MBA program should offer advice in its FAQ section of the website or in the admissions blog, or you can search on Internet forums. Also, you may want to check out the waitlist chats at Accepted website to know what do the MBA admissions directors recommend for those who are waitlisted.

4. Inform school after addressing your weakness - Let your MBA program know if you have improved your GMAT or took a leadership position at work or outside, took a quant class, etc. If you received specific feedback from the school about your application, you'll know what  steps you need to take to address adcom's concerns. However, if your request for a feedback is denied, then you'll have to critique your application – a Bizschoolprep consultant can help – and take steps based on your own analyses.

5. Submit an additional essay -   Look back at your application. Is there anything you have missed? Anything that the school's standard set of essay questions did not ask but it reflects great on your attributes such as leadership? Something that you think the school will value? But how will you know that? Go to your school's website, search Internet for admissions director's interview and find out what are the admissions criteria for your MBA program. Then write an essay, of around 500 words, reflecting your strength on one or more of those criteria.

6. Get an additional recommendation letter - This is a great time to get an additional reference from someone who is connected to the school, faculty, alumnus or a current student. The letter can stress on how good a fit you'll be to the program. Even if you do not know someone from the school, an additional reference can go a long way in showing your interest in the school and also if you missed something that you want to be highlighted. Since there is no standard format for these additional LORs unlike the ones that are part of standard business school application, a 1-1.5 pages long letter will do.

7. Update the school about the developments since applying -  A promotion at work, an initiative that you launched outside work, or a new leadership position, etc will show the admissions committee that you are someone who is always growing and making impact in your surroundings. However, pace yourself intelligently. Do not write to the adcom every other day with a new set of activity. Get in touch with the admission committee in around every three weeks. It will also give you some time to bunch few interesting things when you write that email.

8. Visit the campus - There can be no better way to strengthen your chances than to visit the campus and make your case to the admissions committee, in person. Talk to current students, know the facilities and initiatives the school is taking, and see if that is what you are really looking to get from your MBA program. Moreover, campus visit will give you a great deal of information to talk about in your updates as well.

9. Be considerate to the school's policy and adcom's time - If the adcom doesn't want to hear from waitlisted candidates, do not contact the school. Otherwise also, keep all your communication and emails relevant, meaningful, and succinct. Long emails with no substance or repeated phone calls for no reason will definitely work against you.

10. Stay positive, realistic and proactive - Being on the waitlist can be frustrating but do not forget that being on the waitlist means that the adcoms see you as one of the potential students of their respective MBA programs. Demonstrate your interest in the program through the steps we have outlined above, and wait.

Good luck!

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