Avoid 4 Mistakes Wait-Listed MBA Applicants Make

Applying for an MBA program requires patience. Once prospective students submit applications, it can be weeks or months before they know if they've been accepted.

The waiting game can be extended even longer when applicants get the news that they've been wait-listed.

"We try to kind of wrap up our waitlist decisions sometime in July," says James Holmen, director of admissions and financial aid at Indiana University —Bloomington's Kelley School of Business. New MBA students usually have orientation in August, he says.

There are rules for what applicants should or should not do when wait-listed, and applicants who break these guidelines can push schools from saying "maybe" to "no." Here are four common mistakes that experts say,​ wait-listed students have been known to make and how to avoid them.

Refusing to listen to sound advice: Some applicants will call the schools that have wait-listed them to say they'll do whatever it takes to be admitted – but they don't really mean it, says Treavor Peterson, managing director of MBA programs at Brigham Young University's Marriott School of Management.

Certain schools, such as Marriott, tell wait-listed applicants why they've been wait-listed and what they can do to increase their chances of admittance, says Peterson​. Applicants don't always agree with the school's feedback,​ though.

"They don't want to follow the direction we gave them," he says.

In other cases, applicants will take it upon themselves to update schools with information they think will improve their candidacy, regardless of if ​the school has asked for this type of information or not, says Leah Derus, founder of the admissions consulting company fxMBAConsulting.

Applicants should first listen to any instructions or feedback a school has given, experts say, and use those as guidelines​ for how to proceed.

• Meeting with too many business school staff members: In some instances,​ applicants like to speak with someone from the school to learn more about why they've been wait-listed and what they can do to get off the list.

Speaking with too many people, though, can be problematic.

"They're trying to network their way in," says Peterson. "I'll meet with a student who hasn't been admitted. But then I don't want to meet with them if they've met with the admissions manager and the recruiting manager and career services and the alumni manager."

Applicants should not expect different school leaders to offer different advice. At Marriott, Peterson says, a candidate is likely to get the same feedback from everyone because there may be a note in the candidate's file on why he or she has been wait-listed.

Applicants should instead focus on the feedback given to them in the message that said they were wait-listed, he says.

Playing it cool: Many schools will ask applicants if they wish to remain on the waitlist or be removed. Other than saying yes or no, applicants usually aren't obligated to do anything more as they wait to hear if they'll be admitted.

In some cases, though, continuing to say yes more than once may pay off.

"There are candidates who are offered a place on the waitlist and then we never hear from them again. And there's candidates who don't overwhelm us with contact but at least stay in touch and help us remember them," says Holmen, from Kelley. If the program is able to offer admissions to one of two wait-listed candidates who are otherwise equal, "the one that has demonstrated their continued interest is probably going to get the offer," he says.

• Selecting the wrong person to endorse your application: To sway an admissions team, a wait-listed applicant may ask someone well-known to speak with the team, says Derus...

Read full story: U.S. News & World Report

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