Wait Listed?!

Posted on February 16, 2009 | Filed in Admissions

Getting on the wait list can be frustrating, especially when you’ve been wait-listed at one of your top choices. You should still congratulate yourself on the accomplishment because it means you’re close to being accepted. Many candidates are denied admission outright, so pat yourself on the back.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that with most business schools, you still have more work to do. Begin with the following steps:

  • Be sure to contact the number provided by the school, if they’ve provided one, and let them know you are still interested.
  • Let them know in writing of your continued interest.
  • Write down the contacts you have at the school, whether they’re alumni, students, faculty, or admissions committee members. You may consider contacting them about your waiting list status later in the process.
  • Some wait-listed applicants also visit the schools and meet personally with admissions committee members regarding their candidacy. This also shows great interest and drive to attend the school.

Just sitting back and waiting for an acceptance letter won’t help your candidacy, but well-thought-out moves based on why you were not originally accepted can. In order to figure out the reason for not being accepted, contact the school by phone or simply reassess your application based on statistics available on the school’s website for their class profile.

Weak GMAT. If based on GMAT scores, retake the GMAT. Each person is allowed to repeat the test up to five times a year. Take a course, if you didn’t originally. They are likely to improve your score. Send the updated scores to the school.

Weak Transcript. There is little you can do to dramatically improve a weak transcript. However, enrolling in courses and receiving good grades in business school preparatory classes shows initiative, interest, and improvement. Also consider sending in an additional recommendation from a professor that can attest to your academic strength.

Weak Work Experience. Let the school know about any added responsibilities or roles you have taken on since applying. Leadership or management roles may be especially helpful.

Weak Community Service. Send updates about leadership roles you’ve taken within community service organizations. Consider sending a recommendation related to your community service work, especially from a current student.

Weak Professional Goals. Consider telling the admissions committee more concisely where you have been and are going. You may do this in an interview, especially if you have yet to interview, or in a letter directed to an admissions committee member.

For a few schools — such as HBS or Wharton — that ask that you do not contact or update them, it’s best to follow their directions. Do not contact them. A concise, thoughtful recommendation from an alumnus or student may help, but otherwise allow them to simply make their own decision based on your previously submitted application.

With any school, be sure all correspondence is substantive and be careful not to overdo it. Use your people skills to understand when you have done enough.

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