How to “Double Down” on Your Admissions Waitlist Situation

When you’re on the waitlist at a top business school, law school, or medical school, you can’t help but want to reach out and grab the admissions officers and shout, “Why won’t you put me out of my misery??”

Last Friday our own Brian Galvin, Veritas Prep’s Director of Academic Programs and the head honcho for all things related to GMAT prep around here, decided to try KFC’s new Double Down sandwich. (We’ll give you his take on the sandwich later!) KFC’s thinking behind “doubling down?” If some chicken is good, then twice as much chicken (and no bun) must be way better. Makes sense, if you like chicken. But how can you “double down” on your admissions waitlist status and improve your chances?

Except for instances where schools explicitly say, “Don’t contact us, no matter what” (and even in some of those cases), erring on the side of thoughtful, succinct outreach can only help your chances. What frustrates many applicants is that it may not do anything to improve their chances (and they’re Type A people… they can’t take the fact that they may have no influence on their own fates!), but proactive outreach will almost always leave you better off than will doing nothing.

How to go about it? Here are four things to do (or not do):

Don’t just try to shore up weaknesses. Emphasize strengths!
When you’re on the waitlist, it’s only natural to say “I didn’t get the outcome I wanted, so I must fix whatever is wrong,” but being waitlisted — as opposed to being denied admission altogether — means you did something right. Find out what made you so attractive through admissions officers (if possible), or other admissions experts, and play to those strengths in your waitlist outreach.

Skip additional letters of support…from current students.
Normally, letters from current students do nothing more than communicate enthusiasm (“He’s a great guy and he really wants to come here”), which the admissions office probably already knows. While you should certainly emphasize your enthusiasm when reaching out to the admissions office, avoid submitting new letters of support unless they a) bolster key themes in your application, b) shore up any perceived weaknesses and c) come from a new source, preferably a manager or direct supervisor who can speak to progress since you crafted your original application.

Communicate your intention to enroll, if accepted — if it’s true.
Top business schools are notoriously concerned with managing their yield — the number of admitted students that matriculate. Assuming you really, truly want to attend the school, and have a deposit ready should they be accepted, be sure to communicate that intent in their waitlist outreach. Now that’s doubling down!

If possible, execute these strategies in-person.
If possible, visit the school, go to the admissions office, ask to meet with an admissions representative and make your care. Explain your strengths and addressing weaknesses, introduce new letters of support, and communicate excitement and intent to enroll if accepted — face-to-face.

As for Brian, who opted for the grilled variety of the Double Down sandwich, he had this to say: “It was good, maybe not totally deserving of the hype, but I’m glad that I got to eat something sort of like chicken cordon bleu with my hands.”

For help in creating your own successful business school, medical school, or law school application, give us a call at (800) 925-7737 and speak with an admissions expert today. And, be sure to subscribe to this blog and follow us on Twitter!