The MBA Waitlist Essay That Will Get You In

Philippe Barr, PhD
8 min readMay 18, 2023

Congratulations on making it to the waitlist for graduate school! While it’s not the ideal acceptance letter, it’s still a significant accomplishment that you should be proud of. But, what does being waitlisted mean exactly, and what should your waitlist essay include?

To put it simply, to be waitlisted means that you’re a qualified candidate, but there are no spots left, at least for the time being. However, there’s a silver lining. There are still chances to get off the waitlist and secure an admission offer. How? By writing a waitlist essay that stands out from the crowd. In this blog post, we’ll guide you on how to write an informative MBA waitlist essay.

Follow the Guidelines

Before you start writing, ensure that you have thoroughly read the instructions. Different graduate schools may have different requirements when it comes to a waitlist essay. So, ensure you haven’t missed any word count, font size, or format guidelines. Also, avoid addressing the admission committee by their first names or using a casual tone. Keep it formal and professional.

What is the goal of the waitlist essay?

First things first, let’s talk about what a waitlist essay is. Essentially, it’s an opportunity for you to update the admissions committee on anything new or noteworthy that has happened since you submitted your application. This could be new job experience, additional coursework, awards or accomplishments, or any other relevant information that would strengthen your application. The key is to make it concise and to the point. You don’t want to bore the admissions committee with irrelevant information.

Structure

Next, let’s talk about how to structure your waitlist essay. Just like any other essay, it should have an introduction, body, and conclusion:

  • In the introduction, you should briefly explain why you’re writing the essay and what new information you have to share.
  • In the body, you should provide specific examples of the new information you have to share and explain how it strengthens your application.
  • And finally, in the conclusion, you should emphasize your continued interest in the program and thank the admissions committee for considering your application.

Now, let’s get to the fun part — writing the essay itself. Remember, the key is to be concise and to the point. You don’t need to write a novel here. Start off by addressing the admissions committee by name and thanking them for the opportunity to provide an update on your application. Then, dive right into the new information you have to share. Use specific examples and provide context for why it’s important. And don’t forget to tie it back to how it strengthens your overall application.

Confirm your commitment to the school

The first thing you need to do is convey your interest in the program you have applied to. The waitlist essay is an opportunity to share why you’re passionate about the program and what makes it your top choice. You might want to mention a particular professor whose research interests align with yours.

When responding to waitlist essay prompts, it’s important to show that the school is your preferred choice, or at minimum, a top choice. This helps schools select students who are most likely to enroll. Therefore, when you write your waitlist essay, make sure to express your commitment to attending the university. You can state, for instance, “<school name> is my top choice. If I am admitted, I cannot express enough how thrilled I am about attending! I absolutely adore everything about your school from the various programs offered to the vibrant campus culture. It’s as if I can already envision myself thriving here and making a positive impact. I truly hope to be given the opportunity to become a part of this amazing community.”

To better convey your interest in the school, it is recommended that you conduct more thorough research. This will help you demonstrate how well you fit with the school and how well it would fit with you. You can build upon what you have already shared in any previous essays, such as the “why us” essay. You may want to express how you can contribute to the school’s community by explaining how you plan on engaging with your fellow students and highlighting the value this could bring to them. However, ensure that this content is not duplicated in your other essays.

Recent information

You may share updates regarding both academic and extracurricular activities. Regarding academics, you can share significant achievements such as an improvement in your GMAT score. Only include academic updates that are significantly different from the information you provided in your application.

When considering extracurricular activities, think about how you’ve been spending your free time. Have you made any meaningful changes or taken on new intellectual pursuits? Have you joined any new communities or organizations? Are there any skills you’ve been improving that you didn’t mention in your application? Can you describe how you have made a meaningful and unique contribution to any organization you have been a part of?

Supplemental information. If there’s anything important about you that you couldn’t include in the application, this is your chance to share it. You can expand on experiences or activities that you briefly mentioned in your essays, or talk about new ones that you didn’t get to write about. Make sure that the information you provide gives a deeper understanding of who you are. Even if these details highlight similar traits to what you’ve covered before, it’s okay because it reinforces your strengths. Discuss any challenges you faced and how you overcame them, which will highlight your intellectual curiosity.

Address Weaknesses

If you know that you might have had a red flag, now’s your chance to explain it. Be honest and take accountability for any shortcomings. But remember to show how you’ve worked to overcome those weaknesses or challenges. The admission committee would like to see that you’re aware of your flaws and are willing to learn and improve. However, refrain from providing excuses or negative comments about your situation. Always be professional and keep your tone optimistic.

Show, Don’t Tell

This old adage is particularly important when it comes to the waitlist essay. Don’t just tell the admissions committee that you’re a hard worker — show them. Talk about the challenges you’ve faced, and how you’ve overcome them through persistence and dedication. Share stories of the times when you went above and beyond expectations or the moments when you learned a valuable lesson through failure. By providing concrete examples, you show the committee that you’re not just talk — you’re action.

Stand Out

The waitlist essay is your opportunity to differentiate yourself from the other applicants. So, think outside the box and find a unique angle that showcases your individuality. Write about your experience volunteering in a community that relates to your field of study, or share a personal anecdote that highlights your creativity and problem-solving skills. Whatever you do, make sure it’s authentic and true to who you are.

Keep it Short and Sweet

Remember, the admissions committee is likely reading hundreds of waitlist essays. So, don’t waste their time with unnecessary fluff or big words. Keep your essay concise and to the point, and make every word count. Keep in mind that a thoughtful, well-constructed essay will have a much greater impact than one that is long-winded and rambling

Express Gratitude

Finally, don’t forget to thank the admissions committee for considering your application. Show your appreciation for the opportunity to explain why you’re the perfect fit for their program, and assure them that you’re committed to pursuing your goals, regardless of the outcome. By expressing your gratitude, you leave a positive impression on the committee, which could make all the difference when it comes time to make their final decision.

Proofread and Edit

Finally, it’s essential to polish your essay and eliminate any errors. Take time to proofread and edit your essay not once, but twice or thrice. You could even ask a friend, a family member, or a professional to proofread it for you. Sometimes, a fresh pair of eyes can spot mistakes that you might have missed. Once you’ve edited, set the essay aside for a few days, then proofread it again before submitting it.

Conclusion

Writing an MBA waitlist essay isn’t easy and requires strong writing skills and great confidence. However, with the right tips and guidance, it’s possible to craft a persuasive essay that highlights your greatest accomplishments in a compelling manner. It’s important to remember that you can make a difference between success and failure with this essay, so be brave enough to tell your story in detail, highlight key points, include goals, and be sure to share information that will demonstrate your passion for the program you are targeting. Lastly, if you feel like you need more help crafting an exceptional MBA waitlist essay or want to ensure that it shines with perfect grammar and spelling — we highly recommend checking out our hourly essay editing services — they are designed to help you get maximum results at a minimum cost. Good luck on this important journey — with proper preparation and effort, we know you’ll be successful!

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With a Master’s from McGill University and a Ph.D. from New York University, Dr. Philippe Barr is the founder of The Admit Lab. As a tenure-track professor, Dr. Barr spent a decade teaching and serving on several graduate admission committees at UNC-Chapel Hill before turning to full-time consulting. With more than seven years of experience as a graduate school admissions consultant, Dr. Barr has stewarded the candidate journey across multiple master’s and Ph.D. programs and helped hundreds of students get admitted to top-tier graduate programs all over the world.

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Originally published at https://admit-lab.com on May 18, 2023.

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Philippe Barr, PhD

I am Philippe Barr, founder of The Admit Lab, a graduate school admissions consultancy that helps students get admitted into grad school: https://admit-lab.com/