MBA Waitlist: Why You’re on It and What to Do Next



Are you currently on an MBA waitlist, anxiously awaiting a decision from your dream business school? If so, you’re not alone. The MBA application process can be a rollercoaster of emotions, and finding yourself on a waitlist is a common part of this journey.

mba waitlist

In this article, we will guide you through the ins and outs of MBA waitlists, explaining why you might end up on one and what to do next. We’ll cover essential steps to take, strategies to enhance your chances, and, just as crucial, what not to do. By the end of this article, you’ll be well-equipped to navigate the uncertain waters of an MBA waitlist and work towards securing your spot at the business school of your dreams

What is an MBA waitlist and why are you on it?

A waitlist is basically a list of people who may be accepted to a certain MBA program if there are enough openings. Business schools put candidates on a waitlist because they want to ensure that they enroll enough students to make the program viable, but they may not have enough openings to accept everyone who applies. 

Waitlisted candidates usually have good grades and test scores, but they may not have been quite as competitive as those who were accepted outright. 

If you’re waitlisted, it’s important to stay in touch with the admissions committee and let them know that you’re still interested in attending the program. You may also want to send additional information, such as updated test scores or new letters of recommendation. 

With perseverance and a little luck, you may find yourself enrolled in your dream MBA program.

Here are 3 things you should do when you’re waitlisted:

The first thing to do after you’re waitlisted


Yes, you read it correctly. 

Take a deep breath, absorb the information and realize that this is not a rejection. The admissions committee wants to continue reviewing your application. Consider this an opportunity and spring into action! 

Take a day or two to review the gaps in your current profile and work on them. Retake the GMAT if that helps, or take a certification course aligned with your career goals.

Looking for expert help to fulfill your MBA dream?

At Admit Expert, we have helped hundreds of students get into top MBA programs around the world. We would be happy to help you too.
Schedule a free call with us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you achieve your goals.

The second thing to do after you’re waitlisted

Decide whether you want to stay on the MBA waitlist. If you know for sure that this business school and the program is essential to achieving your career goals, then it’s worth being on the waitlist.

According to Caroline Diarte Edwards, Former Admissions Director at INSEAD, once you’re waitlisted, take a step back and think if you’re committed to staying on the waitlist. Do you want to work towards getting off the waitlist or do you have an acceptance letter from any other business school? Do you feel you’d be able to apply with a much stronger profile in the next admissions cycle?

These are a few questions you need to ponder before deciding. There is another metric that can help you decide whether to stay on the waitlist or not. 

This metric is the yield rate. 

The yield rate is the percentage of students who choose to enroll in a particular program after being offered admission.

A typical yield rate of Harvard Business School is around 90% and that of Kellogg is between 50% and 60%.

It means that the probability of getting off the waitlist for Harvard Business School is lower as compared to Kellogg School of Management.

The third thing to do after you’re waitlisted

Getting off the business school waitlist is no easy task. In order to do so, it’s important that you show constant improvement in your profile and be willing to work on any part of the application where necessary! 

For example: if a specific section has been highlighted by an admissions committee as something they would like improved then go ahead and improve that section. A 300-400 word email to update the admissions committee would suffice.

In case, the admissions committee just asks you to wait, then wait.

You shouldn’t send an update letter immediately. You should wait at least a month, as this time will allow you to show a genuine improvement in your application.

Moreover, note down the next round’s application deadline. Send the second update approximately 2 weeks before the deadline. Two updates would be enough. 

Keep a third update reserved for important events like promotion, awards, or more leadership opportunities.

Berkeley’s Haas School of Business encourages all waitlisted candidates to complete an additional interview and submit a supplemental update to their application.

According to Eric Askins, executive director of full-time MBA admissions at Haas, “In many cases, candidates are well-aware of their areas of growth and can address those areas through the supplemental update. Candidates, who provided a broad career goals statement, may choose this opportunity to narrow the scope of their goals and identify specific competencies that reinforce the attainability of those future goals. We have also received additional letters of recommendation that clarify a candidate’s program fit or professional experience.”

Now that you know how to navigate the MBA waitlist, here are a few tips to help you get off the waitlist.

Looking for expert help to fulfill your MBA dream?

At Admit Expert, we have helped hundreds of students get into top MBA programs around the world. We would be happy to help you too.
Schedule a free call with us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you achieve your goals.

How to get off the business school waitlist?

If you’re one of the thousands of applicants who were waitlisted by your dream business school, don’t worry – you can still get in. 

Here are five tips to help increase your chances of getting off the MBA waitlist and into the classroom.

  1. Get in touch with the admissions committee. The first thing you should do is reach out to the admissions committee and express your continued interest in the program. This is your opportunity to reiterate why you believe you would be a good fit for the school and what unique contributions you would bring to the MBA class.
  1. Update your application. Take a close look at your application and see if there is anything you can update or change. Did you recently receive a promotion at work? Did you take any new courses or complete any new projects that highlight your leadership skills? Make sure to highlight any new developments in your application so that the admissions committee can see that you are still a strong candidate.
  1. Request an interview with a member of the admissions committee. This is your chance to make a personal connection and to demonstrate why you would be an asset to the school. Be prepared to discuss your goals, why you’re interested in the program, and what you would bring to the classroom.
  1. Keep up with your professional and personal commitments. The admissions committee will be looking at your activity since you submitted your original application. Keep giving your best at work. In case you land a leadership position or a promotion, this update will definitely improve your chances of getting off the MBA waitlist.
  1. Stay positive, yet pragmatic. If you’ve been in touch with the admissions committee, and have improved your profile since you were waitlisted, there’s every reason to be hopeful. Remember, the adcom still sees potential in you. However, if you’re waitlisted after Round 3, then there’s a slim chance of you getting off the waitlist. 

What NOT to do after getting on the waitlist – Mistakes to avoid

If you’ve been placed on a business school waitlist, it’s important to take the right steps in order to improve your chances of getting accepted. First and foremost, don’t panic. It’s not the end of the world, and there are things you can do to improve your chances of being admitted off the waitlist. 

Here are a few things NOT to do if you find yourself on a business school waitlist:

  1. Don’t give up. It can be tempting to just move on and forget about your MBA dreams but don’t give up just yet. If you’re still interested in attending the school, make sure to let them know. Stay in touch with the admissions office and continue to express your interest.
  1. Don’t badmouth the school. It’s important to maintain a positive attitude, even if you’re feeling disappointed or anxious. Be careful not to say anything negative about the school, as this could reflect poorly on you.
  1. Don’t sit back and wait. Just because you’re on a waitlist doesn’t mean you should stop trying to improve your application. Use this time to strengthen your application by taking additional courses or volunteering for relevant organizations. Showing that you’re still committed to attending the school will only leave the admissions committee impressed with your perseverance.
  1. Don’t reach out to the admissions committee without an improvement plan – They have already made their decision and contacting them without a plan is not going to change that. Instead, focus on making sure your application is as strong as it can be.
  1. Finally, don’t give up hope. A spot on the MBA waitlist simply means that you are still in the running for admission. Keep up your grades and test scores, stay involved in extracurricular activities and remain engaged with your recommenders. If you do all of these things, you’ll improve your chances of getting off the MBA waitlist and into your dream school.

Final Thoughts

If you find yourself on a business school waitlist, don’t despair. Follow the business school’s guidelines and tips mentioned in this article to increase your chances of getting off the waitlist and into the program of your dreams.

Here at Admit Expert, we’ve helped countless applicants get into their dream MBA programs, and we want to help you too. Schedule a free consultation with one of our admissions experts today, and let us help you take your next steps toward your dream business school.

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