You’ve been wait-listed… Now what?

You’ve worked hard on your GMAT, submitted your application on time, and attended the MBA admissions interview. You’ve been advised to expect a final decision on your application within 2-3 weeks – sometimes even longer. Those few weeks seem to be the longest weeks of your life!

During this time, you keep re-evaluating your application – should have included this, could have said that at the interview… finally you receive an update and unfortunately the business school is asking you to wait a little more because you’ve been placed on the wait-list!

What could be more disappointing?

Many candidates think that being placed on the wait-list is almost as bad as getting a rejection letter. We beg to differ!

The Admissions Committee didn’t want to reject your application because it liked your profile, but nevertheless couldn’t offer you an admission right away. This can happen for 2 main reasons:

  1. the school has already admitted enough candidates with a similar profile into the program and is looking for diversity, or
  2. the school needs to see more applications in the pool to understand what the class composition will look like before deciding which candidates from the waiting list to admit.


You may feel like the ball’s in their court and other than waiting patiently there isn’t much you can do to change this situation. In fact, there are many things you can do to turn things around.

First of all, you should do some self-reflection. Now that enough time has passed since your admissions interview, you can take an objective look at your application and re-evaluate it. Ask for feedback from your contact on the Admissions Committee.

Pick up the phone and have a conversation! Don’t just email, show you are taking this application seriously. Always remain enthusiastic about the program and show your willingness to accept the admission, once it is offered.

What if the school doesn’t offer me any feedback?

Sometimes due to the heavy volume of applications, the school cannot provide feedback. If that is the case with you, you can create your own feedback mechanism by objectively answering these questions:

  • Do you see any weaknesses in your profile?
  • Are there any gaps you can address on your resume or in your application?
  • Are there any accomplishments you accidentally forgot to include in your resume or essays?
  • If you were to given another chance, what would you have done differently?


Is there anything I can do to improve my chances?

Once you had a chance to do self-reflection and gather all the new information, it’s time to devise a wait-list communication strategy. Here are a few tips:

  • Keep in touch with the Admissions team but don’t bombard it with updates and questions.
  • Continue to work hard at your job and try to get as many accomplishments as you can under your belt, then update your resume and send a revised copy to your admissions contact.
  • Continue to attend school events and build your network with the school ambassadors and alumni. They may be able to provide an endorsement to the Admissions Committee.
  • If there is a weakness in your application, address it promptly. For example, if your GMAT score is below the average, consider re-writing the test. Get into a good GMAT prep program and show that you’re serious. Book a date for your test and inform your contact at the admissions office of your exam date – this will show your solid commitment!
  • If the weakness in your application is work related, you may try to get another reference highlighting a different set of skills, or obtain a volunteer position that will help you overcome your weaknesses and make your experience more diverse.
  • Last but not least, don’t put all your eggs in one basket and consider applying to several schools. No matter what business schools you’re applying to, applicant pools change from year to year and your chances of admission can be hard to predict ahead of time. For this reason, many candidates decide to hedge their risk and apply to multiple programs. Time is your most valuable resource and doing your MBA sooner, rather than later may mean $30,000-$100,000 in foregone salary increase after graduation. Don’t wait another year just in case you can’t get into your top choice school!

As you can see, there are many things you can do to get yourself off that wait-list. There is no guarantee that you will still be able to get into your top choice school, but you’ll definitely have the peace of mind in knowing that you gave it your best shot.

Hopefully, the Admission Committee members will see your efforts and will offer you a spot because they’ll love your enthusiasm about the program! And even if they don’t, you could take your newly discovered experience and insights about yourself, and give it your best when applying to another school. Good luck!

Wait-listed and would like to get an opinion on your profile?

Been wait-listed and would like to get an opinion on your profile?

Better yet, want to know how to avoid being wait-listed altogether?

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