How to get off the Harvard waitlist?

Welcome, Everyone!

For candidates, we delve into the most critical concerns of applicants. This time, we are addressing the intriguing topic of “how to get off the Harvard waitlist.” It’s an essential subject, and rightfully so, as Harvard is often the dream and top choice when listing down business schools. 

This article will be the ultimate guide on how to get off the Harvard waitlist (or any waitlist, in general, too). We will assist you in thoroughly assessing whether there are gaps in your ‘story’ or ‘profile,’ necessitating distinct strategies.

 To get personalized advice, book a free 1:1 session with our experts (alums and students of top B-Schools!)

harvard waitlist


We are all aware that top B-schools have limited seats, with schools like Harvard boasting acceptance rates slimmer than many others. Being placed on the Harvard waitlist can signify various things and is significantly influenced by applicants’ backgrounds, profiles, and the application rounds they choose. For instance, if you are a white male in the private equity industry applying in Round 3, the school might have nearly filled its seats with applicants from similar backgrounds. While they may appreciate your profile, they could be waiting to observe more diverse profiles before making a decision.

“I believe it’s crucial for a student to view the waitlist more in institutional terms rather than interpreting what it implies about them as an applicant,” states Ian Fisher, senior director of educational counseling and strategic partnerships at Bright Horizons College Coach.

While no one can assure that specific actions will guarantee getting off the waitlist, there are strategies you can employ to improve your chances. Given that there is no ranking when a student is placed on the waitlist, applicants need to learn their chances of beating the odds. But let’s see if we can help you with what’s in our kitty! 😉


As emphasized earlier, grasping the potential reasons behind your waitlist status is crucial. Various factors, some within your control and others beyond it, can influence this outcome. Without understanding the underlying cause, attempting to address the situation may feel like shooting in the dark.

We’ll only be talking about two factors (which are in your control)- 

Profile– If your profile has evident gaps, such as a low GPA/GMAT, limited work experience, or gaps in your work history, addressing and effectively communicating these aspects can significantly influence your chances of moving off the waitlist.

Applications– If there are no significant gaps in your profile, it’s essential to have your application reviewed by consultants/current students/alums to identify any potential gaps in your narrative or essays. Seeking external input is crucial because there’s a likelihood of bias when reviewing your own writing. Having someone else assess it can help you identify and address any overlooked gaps.

If you’d like to get a 1:1 analysis of your profile and applications, feel free to book a 1:1 session with our experts (who come from the alum base of top 10 B-Schools including Harvard, Columbia, INSEAD, among others)

Want to pursue an MBA but not sure if your profile fits?

Talk to our Profile Experts to know your chances for a top MBA Program.



Secure your deposit fees in the B-school where you get selected. 

“If plan A didn’t work, the alphabet has 25 more letters.” Numerous top B-schools eagerly await your arrival. Always strategize wisely (or avoid making unwise moves) and secure your spot at your next-in-line college by submitting the deposit fees. This action ensures your place in that class, even if there’s no refund policy in place.

Make a decisive choice regarding that seat.

The first thing you should do is consider how much you still want to study at Harvard. 

“If you remain on the waitlist without the intention of attending that school, you are essentially occupying a seat that another student would have cherished,” remarked Christopher Rim, the founder and CEO of the admissions firm Command Education.

Nevertheless, if the school remains your top preference, ensure you stay on its waitlist, as there’s still a chance of acceptance. However, if financial aid significantly influences your decision, be aware that most of the financial aid may have already been allocated to admitted students.

Keep your Academics Strong

Typically, under the pressure of the moment, we may overlook our final semester. However, this is an opportunity for you to demonstrate to the Harvard admissions committee that nothing can divert your focus from academics, leaving a lasting impression. This effort sets you apart from other waitlist candidates and reinforces your academic commitment and readiness for the challenges at the school, further improving your chances of moving off the Harvard waitlist.

Express your aspiration for Harvard.

According to our experts, it does make a difference if an applicant conveys their sustained interest in the school and passionately expresses their enthusiasm via email (not to spam their inbox!). Communicate your interest in a way that highlights how you can contribute as an asset to their school. Stress your recent achievements, the specific courses and activities you’re eager to engage in, what distinguishes you from other waitlisted candidates, and any additional information that conveys your genuine interest. It’s crucial to note that the email shouldn’t solely describe your love for the school; instead, focus on illustrating how you can genuinely be the best fit.

This will give them proof of your personal and academic fronts. Also, top schools want to admit students who will accept their offers quickly, so an email can give you this advantage. 

Act Patiently and Flexibly

Following all these steps, the only recourse is to patiently wait and remain adaptable when the time arrives. Avoid wasting your time by daily calls regarding the waitlist; instead, make the most of this valuable time by investing in your career.

Be ready if you get selected.

We understand that this would be a dream come true for you. However, as previously suggested, after depositing fees in other listed colleges, you and your family should be prepared in advance to forfeit the deposit and make a final decision considering all financial, location, and other factors regarding Harvard.

We have tried to cover all the steps to give you the best chance. We offer a limited number of complimentary profile evaluations each week, where we match you with students and alums of top B-Schools, including those who have experience with the Harvard waitlist process, according to your background and target schools. The experts will dig out your USP for top B-schools and provide feedback on your profile and chances to your target schools.

We have tried to cover all the steps to give you the best chance. We offer a limited number of complimentary profile evaluations each week where we match you with students and alums of top B-Schools according to your background and target schools. The experts will dig out your USP for top B-schools and provide feedback on your profile and chances to your target schools.

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