Stuck in the Middle: Waitlists

When I wrote previously about push materials for waitlisted applicants, I mentioned that some schools encourage them but others don’t, and that you can’t adopt the same waitlist strategy for every school. To demonstrate my point I’m including parts of waitlist notifications received by some of my clients.

NYU encourages additional materials:

“Below are some of the ways you can strengthen your application...

Academic Potential

Retake your GMAT. We consider only your highest overall score, so there is no downside to retaking the test if you believe there is room for improvement. The GMAT is a good indicator of future academic performance. An improved score may alleviate concerns in this area. If you intend to retake the GMAT, please email your test date to XXX. Once you take your exam, please fax your unofficial score report to us at YYY. Even if the score does not improve, please send us the new result. It will signal that you put forth additional effort to improve your application (international students also can consider retaking the TOEFL if appropriate).

Inform us of new, relevant coursework or continuing education classes you are taking. Please provide a transcript when your coursework reaches conclusion.

Provide an explanation of your undergraduate performance (if not already provided).

Inform us of any new, relevant credentials you have pursued (e.g. CFA, CPA).

New information should only be submitted when it provides a different or updated perspective to the Committee.”

So does Haas:

“There are many things that you can do to enhance your candidacy:

1) We strongly encourage you to schedule an interview if you have not
already had one as a part of the admissions process. In addition to
interviewing on campus, you may also schedule an interview in other cities
around the US and the world. To request an interview, please use the
Interview Scheduler link available on the Status Report page of your online
application. (NOTE: You will not be able to schedule an interview until you
first accept a place on our waitlist by following the directions below.)

2) If your GMAT or TOEFL scores fall below our averages, you may retake the
test and forward an unofficial score (followed by your official score) to
the admissions office.

4) You may provide an additional letter of recommendation (or two) to your
file, if the letter will add information that was not provided in the
original letters submitted
. New letters may be submitted in hard copy or
electronically. To request a new online recommendation, you must enter the
Recommendations section of your online application and provide the requested
information regarding your new recommender. (NOTE: You will not be able to
request a new online recommendation until you first accept a place on our
waitlist by following the directions below.)

5) You may submit a new statement (via mail, fax, or email) updating the
Admissions Committee on any relevant changes in your professional or
personal life since your application was submitted.


Columbia, however, does not:

“Please do not send in additional materials. The waitlist manager will contact you if there is any further information that we need.”

A few things I want to point out:

You should know your own weaknesses and take steps to address them pro-actively. One of my clients last year had a low GMAT (under 600), particularly in math. I encouraged him to take a pre-calculus class through a university online extension program to demonstrate his recognition of and commitment to improving his weak area. He was outstanding in all other areas and garnered interview invitations from many top programs, during several of which the interviewer mentioned the math class as being a very positive sign. He ended up getting accepted at Chicago, Kellogg and Wharton.

Don’t just blindly send in materials. As I’ve indicated above, NYU and Haas only want information that is new and significant. It is a safe bet that other schools feel the same, if they want additional materials at all. Being waitlisted is incredibly frustrating and nerve-wracking, but fight the temptation to send in weekly “love letters.” This is business school, not high school.