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Using leverage to get off the business school wait list

Posted by Chioma Isiadinso

Let’s face it: landing on the wait list at one of your target business schools can be frustrating. Even if you applied to several other schools – and even if you were accepted at one or more of your alternates! – the fact is that for most MBA candidates who find themselves on the wait list, their main goal is getting off.

There are a couple of ways for an MBA applicant to get off of a business school wait list. Most commonly, as we have discussed before, applicants do well by carefully and objectively assessing their application for weaknesses, working to strengthen those weak areas, and keeping in touch with the admissions committee to inform them of changes or additions to their application.


Those potential changes could include landing a promotion that you’ve pushed hard for at work, re-taking the GMAT to improve your score, or enrolling in a statistics or calculus course at a local university in order to improve your quantitative skills.

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But there is another, less commonly pursued strategy for getting off the b-school wait list that may be a good fit for you: leveraging an admission from another school.

How to leverage a competitive MBA program admission

There are a couple of keys to effectively using leverage to get off the b-school admissions wait list:

–  The schools need to be of comparable ranking
– You should be humble in your approach
– You must be able to present a clear argument for why specifically you want to attend the school where you’re wait listed

Leveraging admission only works when the schools are roughly comparable in terms of ranking, prestige, and competitiveness. For example, while UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School (2016 acceptance rate: 36.4%) is a highly-regarded school, being accepted into their MBA program is not likely to sway the decision for Harvard Business School’s admissions committee (2016 acceptance rate: 10.7%). However, an acceptance for HBS would be of note for Chicago Booth or Stanford Graduate School of Business, and vice versa.

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However, you have to be subtle when approaching the wait list school. If you have a relationship with the waitlist manager, it may be better to communicate this information by phone or in person versus in an email. You need to know that admission to a higher ranked or equally ranked school doesn’t automatically mean the school where you are waitlisted will be impressed. When approaching your waitlisted school to share your update, you should send a message that says, “Hey, I got accepted into this other school, but your school is my number one preference, because of reasons A, B, and C.” The more specific you can be, the better.

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Why leveraging admissions works for getting off the b-school wait list

Leveraging an admission from a competitive school works because it lets the admissions committee know that you are truly passionate about attending their school.

If you’ve found yourself on the wait list at one of your target schools – or would like to get help with your MBA application before you get to that point – EXPARTUS may be able to help. Our focused approach lets us work closely with each client to assess the strengths and weaknesses of their application and communicate their value and uniqueness to top business schools. If you’d like to find out more, you can get in touch with us at

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