I'm on the waitlist - now what?


What should I expect from the waitlist/waitpool in 2021?

This year continues to be different in so many ways. Several schools have a full class for Fall 2021, however given the unusual times (i.e. India’s COVID outbreak, strong job market leading to job promotions for several successful candidates), many schools are unclear how many students will actually matriculate in just a few months’ time. While there are fewer extended deadlines than in Spring 2020, there are larger-than-usual waitlists/waitpools.


What does this mean for you?

In a nutshell, waiting patiently.


Given the continued uncertainty, we expect schools to continue to evaluated waitlisted candidates long into the summer. Some candidates may even get a phone call a few days after a program starts. That’s because there is a chance some students don’t show up, opening new spots after the first tuition payment deadline. We expect that patience will be rewarded.


How will this uncertainty impact my MBA application?

If admitted off the waitlist during the summer, you may have to scramble a bit to move and catch up on some of the academic material. However, you may be surrounded by higher-quality classmates. Top schools have deep applicant pools, and in normal years can fill their classes many times over with qualified candidates. However, the students who are patient off waitlists will likely be more resourceful, more eager to achieve their goals, and more creative in how they use their MBAs to change the world. They will be exactly the people you want as classmates!


What am I supposed to do now?

The evolving waitlist should not stop you from communicating with your admissions contacts, continuing to grow professionally and personally, and updating schools on your changing circumstances. Your growth at work may be different than in a pre-COVID environment, however, there is growth nonetheless. Focus on how you’re continuing to grow. Have you coached a client or mentee through a thorny issue? Taught your team a new software that boosted productivity? Hosted new types of social events to boost team morale? As many remain exhausted from the pace of change in today’s economy, showing any forward progress during difficult times can be a positive differentiator for your application.

What if I already have a spot at another school? How long should I wait?

This is a deeply personal decision. Are you the only person impacted by the move or is someone else? What’s your appetite for change? Are you eager to know exactly where you’re living next year or is the prospect of a few weeks in an Airbnb while you’re waiting for an apartment perfectly acceptable? How much more excited are you about the waitlisted program vs. one that you’re already in? When do you want to fully invest in relationships with students and alumni within a program? What’s your recruiting path? These questions all impact timing and we’re happy to talk about your personal choices / tradeoffs with you.


What if I ultimately get rejected?

Firstly, it is ok to grieve, especially if you have been waiting for a school that is a top choice. Know that those efforts generally create a favorable bias for the upcoming admissions cycle. In order to take advantage of that goodwill, focus on growth at work and in the surrounding community! Discussions with school admissions directors at the recent AIGAC conference reinforced for us how schools are increasingly looking for resilient people who make the most out of any setbacks.


Every year, we have numerous clients who are successful at top-5 MBA programs as re-applicants. Their longer-run trajectories are similar as those successful the first time. So, don’t give up on your dreams! To talk about if this path could work for you, let us know.

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