How do you deal with being waitlisted?

You have worked hard in creating those hundred drafts of essays before finally submitting your applications, nudging your recommenders tens of times to submit the letters before deadlines, working your ass off on your GMAT exam, and finally getting that confidence of hitting the submit button. Now, you are on your nerves waiting or getting your results. Some have hit the bullseye, some are rejected of their dreams and hard work and some are still hanging in there- on the waitlist! This is what we call an MBA waitlist.


Finding yourself on the MBA waitlist at top business schools is a mixed bag of experience. Although it’s difficult not to have a final yes, you’re still in the running and should take some comfort in realizing that you’ve cleared a crucial hurdle with the adcoms.

Schools may also determine how dedicated an applicant is to get into the school by putting him or her on the MBA waitlist. The way a candidate reacts to the MBA waitlist decision and frames his MBA waitlist strategy has a signal value. Some candidates on the MBA waitlist accept proposals from other business schools they would like to join, in which case they will opt-out. Others are still adamant that the school that has waitlisted them is their only option and will wait to see their chances of getting off the waitlist.

But how should you react to the MBA waitlist? Should you wait? Should you go on to applying to other schools? Or, maybe, ask the schools’ admission committee about the reasons for which they have put you on the waitlist? Best, you should improve your application, right? Here, in this article, we will discuss each of these points and talk about the MBA waitlist strategy which will help you increase your chances of getting off the waitlist.


Here are a few strategic MBA waitlist tips to help you make your next move:


1) Since each business school is unique, determine what your target school expects from waitlisted applicants. Some schools are only interested in knowing whether you want to be on the MBA waitlist or be released. If this is the case, don’t try to give more detail or pester the admissions committee on their reasoning; you’ll just be punishing yourself.

2) Some schools request an extra 250-300 word essay from MBA waitlisted candidates—it is critical to include an update. It’s a good idea to look back through your essays to see if there’s something about your background or passions that you haven’t mentioned yet. Taking the opportunity to write a letter about important recent experiences, promising changes in your nomination, and aspects you’ve improved your perception of the curriculum is a pleasant indication of your engagement in the business school and a strong technique for telegraphing your commitment to attend and so considerably enhance your chances of getting off the waitlist. It is, of course, also in your best interests to ensure that the adcoms have the most up-to-date records so that they can make an educated decision the next time your file is reviewed out of the MBA waitlist. But make sure you do not send too many updates on your MBA application. Ideally, two updates with a gap of 20-30 days between them would be enough. This will improve the odds of getting off the MBA Waitlist.


1) If you’ve been promoted or taken on more responsibilities at work, raised your GMAT score, strengthened your volunteer engagement, or had a fresh, meaningful travel experience, be sure to share it and explain why these changes make you a great prospect, and therefore student, who will enrich their MBA course curriculum. 

Based on data from, an increased GMAT score will considerably enhance your chances of getting off the waitlist.

2) If you interact with students or alumni of the MBA program during the admissions process, it might be worth contacting them again and updating them on your status. They could be able to have an extra MBA waitlist letter of support for your candidacy at this point of the MBA waitlist process if you made a good impact during the admissions process. However, the letter should appear absolutely genuine lest it would lose its credibility.

Further, if you do not know anyone related to the schools’ community, you can ask a recommender who knows you and can advocate for your constant improvement after you have submitted your business school application and are on the MBA waitlist. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to add another MBA Waitlist Letter of Support (if your target school allows you to) or a letter of support for the waitlist.

3) Write an MBA waitlist letter of support restating your desire to attend business school. Any significant change in your profile, be it academics, extracurriculars, GMAT score, do communicate it in time through writing a letter to the admissions committee. The letter should not be more than 1 page and should include:

Your continued interest in the college and why it is your top choice. Here, you can talk about anything that you love about the school and what makes you the perfect fit for the community. However, write it only if you truly mean it. It would be a restatement and if there is no genuineness in your letter, it would clearly speak to the adcoms.

Accomplishments you have achieved since you submitted the application.

Adding graphics to your achievements adds the spark and credibility to your candidature. If you have any photos or videos to testify your achievements, do add them to your LinkedIn and link them to the letter. Your LinkedIn profile can do much more than you expect. 

4) While it is critical to remain consistent and enthusiastic when waitlisted and to communicate with staff at your target program, it is also prudent to have a backup plan. If you are on the MBA waitlist, there is still time to put together a solid application for another school with the coming round deadlines for some top programs just over a month out. Even if you’ve been waitlisted at your dream business school and want to reapply if accepted, it’s never too early to start dreaming about the next year and what steps you could take to improve your MBA waitlist odds.


There is no guarantee on the MBA waitlist and so, while you can do your best, you can never be sure of clearing it or getting off the MBA Waitlist. U.S. News surveyed 91 ranked colleges which reported that they admitted anywhere from zero to 100% of MBA wait-listed applicants. On average, 1 in 5 MBA waitlisted applicants got admitted. Therefore, no one can predict the MBA Waitlist acceptance rate and the acceptance rate does vary from college to college and year to year. 

However, you can make a sound decision about your chances of getting off the waitlist and if you should keep waiting by two rates. One is the yield rate. So, the Yield rate is the percentage of students who choose to enroll after being offered the admission letter. A business school with a higher yield rate is less likely to admit students from the MBA waitlist. For example, Harvard Business School. You can easily compare yield rates by looking up the website of your target school.

And the other is the MBA waitlist acceptance rate for GMAT scores. This rate will tell you if you should retake your GMAT and how it would impact your chances to get off the waitlist. Here is the data (by

BUSINESS SCHOOL< 700 700-730 740+ 
Harvard Business School
Standford GSB


Getting on the MBA waitlist is a setback you did not expect after putting in all the hard work and time into your application. While it implies that you still are in the race, it also means that you may have to wait for an eternity before getting the decision, and if the answer is negative, by then you may miss all the opportunities to getting into a perfectly good business school and you probably have to wait another year or drop the idea of doing an MBA at all.

Therefore, you need to make a sound decision like working on a better MBA Waitlist Strategy before you lose all of it. One, look at the yield rate because if it’s very high, the chances of you getting off the MBA waitlist can be slim. Two, if you are waitlisted even after Round 3, then you should look into other schools. You may accept a spot at your next choice of school and send in the deposit to have an alternative plan and wait for the final decision of your target school. 

To everybody out there anxious about being waitlisted by their dream business schools, we would like to say, everyone has one or the other gaps in their profile or it can be that you applied in a tough year or simply hard luck. What matters is your clarity of going into a business school and how you present this clarity of purpose to adcoms. If you think you are a strong candidate and a perfect fit for the school, do not sell yourself short! We are with you to help you clear the MBA waitlist! Feel free to connect with us for any of your waitlist/application concerns. 

To all the waitlisted/rejected applicants, we want to assure you that all is not lost!

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