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MBA Admissions Edge step 9: What to do if you’re waitlisted

Caroline Diarte Edwards of Fortuna Admissions - December 19, 2017

MBA Admissions Edge step 9:
What to do if you’re waitlisted

While the waitlist feels like limbo, there are several actions you can take now to boost your chances of admissions success.

It’s frustrating – often disheartening – to learn your dream school has placed you on its waitlist. It’s certainly better than being rejected. But, it’s also tormenting – to be so close to your goal yet living with the uncertainty of having to wait for an answer. What can you do to manage this anxious period?

While it may seem it’s all out of your control, there are a few immediate actions you can take to boost your standing to maximise your chances of a confirmed offer.

Six specific actions you can take, as recommended by our team of former senior admissions professionals at Fortuna Admissions:

1. Reinforce your commitment to the school and confirm that you accept a spot on the waitlist. Keep your tone positive and professional, without any hint of disappointment (or worse, resentment).

2. Supply an additional letter of support – ideally, from a member of the school community who can corroborate your fit with the programme. A one-page email will suffice – it needn’t be as formal as the recommendation letters submitted with your application. But, don’t flood the admissions team with additional letters – this can backfire and potentially harm your reputation. Also, certain schools do not accept any additional materials and you must respect that policy.

3. Share an update with your alumni interviewer on your situation, and ask for any feedback or suggestions (if you interviewed with an alum). While they won’t be able to tell you “why” (and they may not know), they can offer their sense of your fit with the programme and some insight about your conversation.

4. Step back and evaluate why your application came up short. Seek help to identify areas of potential weakness. For example, retaking the GMAT may be worth considering if your score is below the school average, but only if you think you can improve by a solid margin, not just ten extra points.

5. Contact the admissions office periodically – without being a pest. Reaching out every three to four-weeks is appropriate. Share a useful update on your profile, if possible, such as a promotion or a job move, or inform the school if you’re on the verge of accepting another offer. At the very least reinforce your motivation. Balance emails with the occasional phone call – personal touches can keep you on the radar screen and reinforce a positive impression.

6. Consider next steps. If you don’t have a plan B, now’s the time to hatch one. If you don’t receive an acceptance offer – and know that most waitlisted candidates won’t – do you want to reapply to the same programmes? Apply to other programmes? As you weigh next steps, start looking for ways to strengthen your profile over the coming year to increase your chances of success in the future.

Finally, stay optimistic - tough as it feels. As a waitlisted candidate, you still have a chance of admission.

For more advice on handling the waitlist, especially if you have offers from other business schools, view my short video blog discussion with my colleague Catherine Tuttle, Duke Fuqua former Associate Director.


The Fortuna Admissions team are former admissions gatekeepers from top-tier institutions including Wharton, INSEAD, Harvard Business School, London Business School, Chicago Booth, NYU Stern, IE Business School, Johnson Cornell, Yale SOM and Berkeley Haas.

This is the ninth in a 12-part series for Prodigy Finance by Fortuna Admissions on how to boost your chances of getting into a top business school (see below). Stay tuned for more.


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