Why Are You on the Waitlist?

Posted by: Francesca Di Meglio on April 05, 2010

‘Tis the season for business schools to make decisions about whether to admit, reject, or waitlist applicants. Being put on the waitlist is the equivalent of MBA purgatory. You just don’t know whether you’ll make it into your dream school or not. And many a waitlisted applicant retreats and second guesses his or her application. Some try to get off the waitlist, but few know why they made it to the list in the first place — until now.

Recently, Veritas Prep, a test prep and admissions consulting firm, outlined four of the most common reasons a business school waitlists an applicant. Some of the reasons are not as obvious as you might think.

For starters, interesting applicants with low GMAT scores or undergraduate GPAs might not make the cut, according to Veritas Prep. Older applicants with more than five years of work experience find themselves vulnerable because business schools that once encouraged these candidates now feel the MBA makes less of an impact on their careers. Having unclear goals or appearing anything less than absolutely enthusiastic about a particular business school could land you on the waitlist, too, according to Veritas Prep.

"With thoughtful, proactive outreach to admissions offices, a competitive applicant can turn a waitlist to an acceptance,” says Scott Shrum, director of MBA admissions research at Veritas Prep. (You can discuss strategies for getting off the waitlist on the Bloomberg BusinessWeek B-Schools Forum.)

Applicants who find themselves on the waitlist should educate themselves about the school's policies. Some business schools, for example, don't want to hear from waitlisted applicants and will simply get in touch when they have more news. Others want waitlisted candidates to keep them updated on their career changes and accomplishments. Sometimes, providing a brief overview of your application, updates, and a re-affirmation of your devotion to a particular program can help.

What have you done to get off a business school waitlist? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

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