Don’t Wait on the Waitlist: Do Something

It’s a new year. You just discovered if you were on the Naughty or Nice List in December, and you are making a list of goals and resolutions for the year.  Maybe you just made it on another list: the dreaded Waitlist at your preferred B-School. Oh no! What can you do?  This isn’t all bad news because obviously there were things about your application that the admissions team liked, or you’d be denied already.

  • Look objectively at your application against the stated admissions criteria and published student averages, and think about what is in your power to change. You can’t change the past, but you might be able to redefine or improve upon it.
  • Did you explain career goals clearly and specifically? How do you plan to leverage past skills with the new degree to maximize your chances of success? Are those goals realistic?  (Example: a hopeful equities analyst shouldn’t have weak quant skills, but strong ones, well above average applicants. If your new career depends on it, it should be a strength.)
  • Explain gaps and transitions if you haven’t already. The admissions staff will have found those gaps and made their own conclusions about job transitions, transfers from one school to another, or other aspects of your history. Our conclusions may not be accurate but may have given us pause about your motivations and decision-making.
  • Figure out how to address weaknesses and readdress them in an email to the admissions staff. You can re-GMAT (but can’t change undergrad GPA). Could you wait a year to gain more substantial and relevant basic experience? Send an updated resume, explaining new work accomplishments or old gaps in work.
  • Don’t quit a job to “work on improving your applications or take courses.” Gaps in work are damaging unless you are doing something for career leverage: launching a nonprofit, or pursuing a full-time charitable service that builds new skills like supervisory skills. Worried about how it might look on your resume later? If so, you probably shouldn’t do it.
  • Whatever you do, you should do something to improve your application. Show your diligence and interest in improving your application. Do not mistake the value of your own actions to improve your candidacy (which we like) with the poor judgment of getting others to write on your behalf to change our minds (because it won’t).

In the end, it boils down to your application in a particular competitive applicant pool at a particular time. Whatever your outcome, I hope your education goals for 2017 come true.

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