How Applicants Can Get Off the MBA Wait List

By Chris Hassan
Posted March 11, 2013 11:00 AM

What MBA applicants can do when wait-listed.
What MBA applicants can do when wait-listed.

Halfway between being accepted to and rejected from a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree program is being placed on a wait list. For some applicants, the uncertainty that comes with landing on a wait list is worse than receiving a rejection letter. However, being wait-listed does not have to be a negative experience. In fact, it may even provide individuals with another chance to change business school admissions officials' minds and receive the acceptance letter they desire.

There is Always Hope

Just because applicants have been wait-listed does not mean there is no chance they will be accepted. After all, if they were not flat-out rejected from an MBA degree program, admissions officials must see something in them. Every business school is different, but many of them extend an invitation to applicants from their wait lists.

This past fall, Cornell University's Johnson Graduate School of Management admitted 40 of the 470 individuals it had on its wait list, while Vanderbilt University's Owen Graduate School of Management did the same for 29 out of 94 wait-listed applicants, Bloomberg Businessweek reports.

Ways to Get Off a Wait List

If wait-listed applicants want to be like those lucky few who were accepted to Cornell and Vanderbilt, there are a few things they can try. For starters, Businessweek suggests individuals follow a school's advice and, if they welcome updates, provide a few that will leave admissions officials impressed. Anything from a promotion at work to new extracurricular activities could be all it takes for someone to be moved  off of a wait list.

"You haven't been denied," Alex Lawrence, the assistant dean of MBA admissions and financial aid at the University of California, Los Angeles' Anderson School of Management, told Businessweek. "Just follow the guidelines we put forth. If you do what we tell you, then you'll be in better shape."

According to Forbes, it may be possible for applicants to change admissions officials' minds by identifying whatever weaknesses landed them on the wait list and then addressing them. For example, if prospective students submitted a low Graduate Management Admission Test score, they could take the exam again and see if they can do any better. Meanwhile, those who received low math grades in college can enroll in a calculus class, work hard and inform the school they have applied to that they are off to a good start.

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