It’s that time of year. B-school applicants are hearing Yes, No, or Maybe. Let’s discuss those of you in the latter category: MBA wait-lists. I encourage you to seize the initiative. Unless the MBA program discourages additional contact, take a pro-active approach.
You have already shown that you qualify; 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:
- First of all, follow the instructions provided in the letter advising you of your wait-list status. If the letter says, "Jump!" and you want to attend that school, you should respond, "How high?" If applicable, agree to take any additional courses or follow any additional recommendations. Express your willingness to provide additional information requested by the committee.
- Reiterate your interest in the school's MBA program. Briefly thank the school for continuing to consider your application and mention that the school's philosophy and approach fit your educational preferences and goals. Don't dwell on your disappointment at not being accepted.
- Discuss recent achievements. Did you take a few classes and earn A's? Passed a CFA exam? Have you led a project or organization?? 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 responsibility? Succeeded in a particularly demanding 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 essay(s).
- Discuss how you have addressed shortcomings - without highlighting them. For example, if you enrolled in Toastmasters to improve your English, inform the adcom that you joined Toastmasters two months ago, tell them of any awards you have won, and enlighten them as to how much you are enjoying giving presentations. BUT don't say that you are doing all this because you are concerned about your low TOEFL or sub-standard GMAT verbal score.
- If you are certain you would attend this school, make it clear that this MBA program 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 essay(s). Stay focused on what you have accomplished since applying.
Then plan a campaign of regular, but not pesky, contact designed to demonstrate your interest in and fit with this school. Three to four weeks after you send in your initial letter, submit an additional letter of recommendation. After another three to four weeks go by, send in another update. Follow this last correspondence with a phone call and offer to interview, either in person or over the phone. If you are informed of your wait-list status later in the application cycle, compress the timeline and contact the schools at slightly more frequent intervals.
If feasible, plan to visit the school and see if you can set up an appointment with a member of the adcom. If you haven't previously done so, ask for a tour, attend a class, and meet with students. Then write the school and say how the visit strengthened your conviction that you and School X are a match.
Show them that you are committed to attend, demonstrate that you are "new and improved" since you initially applied, and you'll increase your chances of moving from the MBA Wait List to the Accepted List.
For additional insights into making the right moves while on the waitlist, checkout The Nine Mistakes You Don't Want to Make on an MBA Waitlist.
About the author: Linda Abraham is founder and president of Accepted.com. Accepted.com’s experienced, international staff comprised of professional authors, seasoned admissions experts, and former admissions staff at top b-schools. They have helped applicants gain acceptance to over 100 MBA programs around the globe. Learn how they can mentor you through the grueling MBA admissions process.