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Getting Through the MBA Waitlist – A Guide

Students tend to get impatient when even after tons of effort and hard work, their MBA admission status remains undecided. It may happen that the business school keeps your application waitlisted instead of offering you admission. Finding your name on the waitlist might initially disappoint you, but there are ways to make the best of this time and situation.

First, let’s understand what a waitlist is and why some applications get waitlisted.

What is a Waitlist and Why My Application Got Waitlisted?

Being on a waitlist doesn’t mean that your application has been rejected, but it has been put on hold as of now. Business schools generally offer admission to the best available candidates while putting the next best on their waitlist. Waitlisted students are considered over the next rounds of admission. This strategy ensures that they admit the top-most and deserving candidates only.

Some of the common reasons why your application has been waitlisted are:

  • Low GMAT Score: If you have a lower GMAT score than the median score and there are other candidates with a similar background but better scores, your application might get waitlisted or rejected.
  • Low GPA: Though it is not the most important decision point but can be an influencing factor looking at the competitive scenario. A score of at least 3.2 can brighten your chances of selection.
  • Essays/Extracurriculars: An ambiguous essay that lacks clarity and expression may fail to impress the admission committee. The extracurriculars reflect your leadership skills and ability to take the initiative, collaborate and work effectively towards a cause. If any of these sections are weak in comparison to other candidates, there is a chance that your application lands on the waitlist. Read this article on why is extracurriculars important and how to get it right.
  • You’re Not Contributing to the Diversity: Most of the top B-schools look to have applicants from diverse backgrounds, both culturally and career-wise.  For instance, if you are from a career or background that already has a lot of representation, the college may put you on a waitlist. If you’re from a background that already has a lot of representation, try applying for your MBA school in Round 1 instead of waiting for Round 2 or 3. Alternatively, try and bring a change in your MBA application that ensures the admission committee of diversity. 

Is it Possible to Get Off the Waitlist?

Yes, it is very much possible to get off the waitlist and get an admission offer from the business schools of your choice. As per data reported by GMAT club members, in the year 2018, a maximum of 21% of candidates from the waitlist got the final admission offer. Though it may not always be the case, you can expect at least a few intakes from the waitlist by the time the admission process ends.

Read this success story of a student who got admission into a top US B-school after being waitlisted. 

How to Get Off the MBA WaitList?

There is no substitute for hard work, 23 or 24 hours a day. And there is no substitute for patience and acceptance.” – Cesar Chavez

Once you get to know your waitlist status, you must first ensure to keep calm and not panic at all. Understand that you are not rejected and still stand a chance to get an admission offer. Staying patient and accepting your admission status is crucial for planning and working on getting off the MBA waitlist. 

The below-mentioned steps can help you improve your application status and navigate through the waiting list.

  • Step 1: Analyze the Gaps in Your Application:  Take your time and analyze your candidature. It is important to understand the gaps in your application so that they can be addressed well in time. You can also take help from your acquaintances who are experienced and can guide you in this analysis.
  • Step 2: Study the Past Acceptance Rate and Yield Data: A yield represents the ratio of candidates who accept the admission offer. Check out the acceptance rate and yield for business schools you are interested in. It will help you to gauge your chances of making it to the final offer.
  • Step 3: Convey Your Acceptance: Once you have decided to wait for the waitlist to get cleared, it must be conveyed to the admission committee without any delay. 
  • Step 4: Go Through the Guidelines For Waitlisted Candidates: If the business school has mentioned any guidelines for the waitlisted candidates, make sure to follow them. You may be asked to provide additional details, improve upon some of the specifics of your application, or just wait for further communication.
  • Step 5: Strengthen Your Profile: You must work on improving your profile by focusing on the weak areas. You may consider retaking the GMAT, getting certified for a new course, or participating in group ventures showcasing your leadership skills.
  • Step 6: Communicate Your Achievements to the Admission Committee: Any significant addition to your application must periodically be communicated to the admission committee. Your upgraded profile can improve your chances of getting the final admission offer.

Common Mistakes to be Avoided

  • Not going by the guidelines specified for the waitlist candidates –  If you have been asked to wait, follow that. However, if your weak areas have been pointed out, you must try to improve them and update the admission committee accordingly.
  • Flooding the admission committee with repeated and irrelevant information – You must send the update letter only if you have something new and relevant to share that can positively impact the admission committee’s final decision.
  • Being impatient and demotivated – Finally, staying calm and positive throughout the admission process is important, even if you are waitlisted. A positive mindset can help you focus better on improving your profile and getting through the waitlist.


Patience and Focussed Effort is the Key to Getting Off the Waitlist

It is important to consistently covey the admission committee, your interest in joining their MBA course without being too pushy. Staying patient and focusing your efforts to truly enrich the application is the key to getting through the waitlist.


For over 15+ years as an Entrepreneur, and India’s Top Educationist, Jatin has led a range of initiatives in the Education Industry. In this role, he has created many successful educational services and products geared towards generating success for professionals aspiring to join IVY League and global Top Tier Universities for MBA Programs, Masters Programs, and undergraduate courses. He is the Founder and CEO of PythaGURUS Education, and has been recognized as a thought leader in the Higher education sector. Economic Times, Hindustan Times, Times of India, India Today, Business Today, Tribune, and many other national newspapers have recognized his work, and have given him numerous opportunities to be a regular columnist. He has also served as a panelist for NDTV, and other national news channels.

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