I think last year, or maybe the year before, I wrote a blog post for waitlisted applicants. I actually think it was the year that I applied, so 2011. Here is the post if anyone is interested: Waitlisted Applicants.
I hope that this post offers some solace to those who are currently waitlisted, although it probably won’t.
First and foremost, CALM DOWN. That’s easier said than done because so much hard work has gone into putting in an application, but getting flustered is not the right course of action. Think of it as a test in staying composed. If you were the CEO of a large corporation and did not get something that you wanted, whatever it may be, would you overreact and get upset and all that jazz? No, you’d be upset for about a minute and then think of another course of action to get what you want.
This is how you need to approach the business school application process. Just because you were added to a waitlist isn’t the end of the world. Sure, some people have been admitted but don’t forget that other people have been REJECTED! So now you’re in that middle gray area. I’m an optimist so I say to take this as good thing.
First realize that there are many, lemme repeat MANY, reasons that people are put on a waitlist. Granted, each applicant isn’t sure why he/she was put on the waitlist but then again that’s the beauty of admissions – you’re not supposed to know. Sure many schools provide feedback on one’s candidacy, but being on the other side of the table now, I can tell you that the things that they tell people are very BROAD & GENERIC. And then I see people harp on what the admissions committee says/thinks. I mean, I’m not going to lie, I would have done the same exact thing. I remember trying to decode everything that was said to me by an adcom member. While they were trying to help me out, I now know that they get my seemingly “targeted” question about 50 times a day.
With that being said, the one thing that you DON’T want to do is say – “Oh it was my GMAT score.” This is probably the last thing that it would have been, ESPECIALLY, if you scored within range for said school. I hear of people saying this to themselves and then going to take the GMAT again. I’ll be blunt…. if you scored a 710+ then it’s probably not your GMAT score depending on the field that you want to go in to.
I think that sometimes there are some things that you can do to bolster your profile and other times there isn’t anything that you can do. This is obviously a function of WHY you were put on a waitlist – agian which you don’t know. This can be mitigated by the applicant being truly honest with him/herself during the application process. If you know what your weakness was in your whole application, then that was probably what may have put you on the waitlist, assuming the reason was within your control.
Waitlist with Interview
Another thing that applicants don’t take into consideration is the interview – if he/she was actually interviewed. The interview is can make or break a candidate. I’m sure of that. That’s why all of the top schools interview all admitted applicants. When I was applying, I knew that if invited to interview I had to “get in front of” the adcom in person. I consider myself to be a strong interviewer, so I knew my strength. Other people are not strong interviewers so they tend to not think that this is as important as it really is.
Waitlist without Interview
If you were put on a waitlist without an interview, then there could be a myriad of reasons why you were waitlisted. It has to do something with the rest of your application and from my experience it probably comes down to essays and conveying fit assuming GMAT/GPA aren’t abysmal. I can say abysmal because mine were. When applicants submit essays they usually aren’t thinking “well… this was a bad essay, but i’ll submit it anyway.” This is the one thing that when people submit, they believe that it’s the best thing in the world. I can tell you, with tough love, that many essays don’t answer the questions asked.
Essays should not only answer the questions that were asked, but also give the admissions committee a much broader view of the applicant. That last component is what I believe separates the non-traditional admit from the person who “should” have been admitted.
So what do you do now?
Should you email the admissions committee? Well, I think that depends on the school that you’re applying too. They each have a certain protocol that they follow. If they do welcome update emails, then definitely send that! However, it should be a very genuine email.
- Think hard about your application and why you may have not been admitted – BESIDES GMAT. I say besides GMAT because I think this is a cop–out in most instances. Again, if you were within range then do not use this as a basis for an email.
- Go through your essays and write down every piece of information that you provided to the admissions committee through the stories that you told. Hopefully you did tell stories. If you didn’t then your essays can seem very boring. If you’re not a boring person and your essays seem boring, then there’s an opportunity to show otherwise.
- Start off by thanking them for the opportunity to stay in the process. Sure it would have been better to have been admitted, but that’s not the case.
- Reiterate your interest in the program but be genuine. Don’t regurgitate things from the website that you like about the program. I can tell you that this is an immediate turn-off. The people I’ve seen be admitted off waitlists spoke from the heart. As dumb as that may sound, that’s what’s needed and what separates admitted candidates from dinged candidates.
- Do NOT bombard the admissions committee with updates. 1 or 2 is fine, but not one every week. Also, do not ask when they will be making a decision by. That’s actually a way to get dinged.
You’ve got to remember that the way that you interact with an admissions committee member is being evaluated in a way that they’re asking themselves “Is this how the person would act with a corporate recruiter?” If you give them a bad impression then it’s an easy way to remove yourself from the waitlist. They’ve got to cut the list somehow right? Unless you’ve proved that you are invaluable, then this is an easy way for them to say “AHH.. take that person off the waitlist.”
If you’ve applied R1, which is probably the case at this point, then just sit tight. Remember that you’re 1 amongst THOUSANDS and schools don’t have that many spots given all of the applications that they receive. While, you are special… no applicant is THAT special. Well…. some ARE, but 99% of people are not.
That’s all I’ve got for now! Best of luck to everyone who was waitlisted. Trust me… it will get easier as you are admitted to schools. I go to class with people who were admitted off the waitlist in June! I have a friend who was taken off of a waitlist the DAY BEFORE orientation in August.
I know there was a bit of tough love in this post, but these are the things that people wish were said to them!