How to Get Off the MBA Waitlist: Insider Tips for Admissions

This expert guide offers tips and strategies to help you stand out and increase your chances of acceptance. We'll show you how to make the most of your waitlist status and increase your chances of getting admitted.

Karla M.

By Karla M.

Posted April 13, 2023

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As MBA applicants anxiously await their admissions decisions, being waitlisted can feel like a setback. However, it's important to remember that being waitlisted is just a detour. With the right approach and mindset, it's possible to turn a waitlist designation into an acceptance. As someone with deep admissions experience helping candidates navigate the waitlist process, I want to share some insider tips.

What is the MBA Waitlist?

First, it's important to understand the waitlist landscape. The business school waitlist is a list of applicants who have been neither accepted nor rejected, but will be considered for acceptance if and when spots in the program become available. They're often used by schools to ensure that the class is diverse and qualified.

Though waitlist acceptance rates vary widely by school, only about ~30% of waitlisted MBA applicants receive an offer of admission, according to Poets & Quants. Furthermore, many applicants receive no feedback or guidance from Admissions, making it difficult to know what to do next. In the current application cycle, professional coaches are seeing longer waitlists than usual, making it even more important to have a clear plan of action.

How Are Waitlist Decisions Made?

One crucial aspect of the waitlist process is the assessment of application materials. Admissions committees consider academic ability, professional experience, leadership potential, and diversity when evaluating candidates. It's essential to ensure that your original application materials demonstrated your strengths and that your interactions while waitlisted address any areas of concern.

Here is an overview of the primary factors the AdCom will take into account when evaluating your candidacy for admissions:

Strategies to Get Off the MBA Waitlist

1. Write a Letter of Continued Interest (LOCI)

Crafting a compelling Letter of Continued Interest is an important step to shoring up any areas of weakness in your application and demonstrating your continued interest in the program. A strong LOCI can make a difference in your chances of being admitted off the waitlist.

For example, if your test scores did not meet the program averages when you applied, this might be an opportunity to update the AdCom on your progress towards improving your scores. Perhaps you’ve spent some time working on retaking the test and now have a better score in hand. Or, maybe you didn’t visit campus before applying and now you’ve had the opportunity to interact with the community 1:1 and feel that this specific program is the best fit for you. Relaying any useful updates like these is important to make yourself memorable to the AdCom.

2. Get Additional Letters of Support

Obtaining additional endorsements or recommendations from school alumni or those with ties to the institution can also be a helpful strategy. These can come from individuals who can speak to your qualifications and commitment to the program. Personalized endorsements that indicate your intent to enroll can be particularly effective.

3. Show Your Commitment

Staying engaged with the program(s) is another important tactic. This includes networking with people close to the AdCom, attending classes, and demonstrating your interest in the program. It's essential to strike a balance between staying engaged and being over-demanding.

Being waitlisted can be a challenging and uncertain time. However, with the right approach and mindset, it's possible to turn a waitlist status into an acceptance. Remember, it's important to stay positive, engaged, and focused on your goal.

If you'd like to work with me on your waitlist strategy, head to my Leland coach profile! I'd love to help you strengthen your areas of improvement and maximize your chances of admission.

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