The Three Kinds of Waitlisting Schools
Schools fall into three broad categories in terms of how they handle their waitlisted applicants. Since schools change policies and may fit into different categories in different years, it is better to refer to the categories, which are constant, than to individual schools, which can and do change their policies from year to year and sometimes within the course of an application cycle. Just make sure you know where your waitlisting school(s) fall.
Group 1: Don't call us; we'll call you. ("DCU")
These schools strongly discourage any kind of contact between the waitlisted applicant and the school. They only want to know if you want to remain on the waitlist or not. They don't want updates (at least not from you). They don't want you to visit (officially). They don't want face time. Leave them alone, they say. Traditionally, Harvard and UCLA Anderson fall into this category.
Group 2: Show me you love me. ("SMULM")
This is the majority of the schools. They want you to keep in touch and demonstrate your interest in the program. Obviously, no one, not even a school wanting to be courted, likes a pest or an empty wind-bag. So even for these schools, don't call daily, waste their time with long-winded missives, or take other actions that will cause them to question your judgment or sanity. Chicago, Michigan, and Columbia belong to this group.
Group 3: Coy ("COY")
I could also have called these schools "schizophrenic." They are the schools that say they don't want to be bothered, like the schools in Category 1, but they do want to know about major developments. They are a little mealy mouthed when saying "Don't call us," but they certainly are less welcoming than the Show-me-you-love-me schools. Wharton is most prominent in this category, sometimes joined by Stanford and INSEAD.
Waitlisted at a top b-school and not sure how to proceed? Check out Accepted.com's December featured ebook, The Nine Mistakes You Don't Want to Make on an MBA Waitlist (of which this post is an excerpt), to receive winning tips on how to transform your waitlist status into a full-on acceptance. Use coupon code MBAWL to save 20% off the cover price!