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Admissions Tip: Waitlist Correspondence

waitlistedIn addition to actively evaluating the applications of Round Two applicants at this time of year, many top programs revisit their Round One waitlists and consider the strength of those individuals with respect to the new information about the pool.  While schools vary in their receptivity to correspondence from applicants, those programs that do welcome additional materials offer a great chance for waitlisted candidates to reaffirm their interest in the school and keep themselves fresh in the mind of the adcom.

With the second-round notification dates for a number schools coming up in a matter of weeks, we wanted to offer some tips to students who have been waitlisted at such correspondence-friendly programs while there’s still some time to tip the balance in their favor.

It’s clear that you should take advantage of this chance to add to your file, so the first real step is determining what you want—and need—to communicate in your waitlist correspondence.  We suggest that you begin by revisiting your application with a critical eye.  Being waitlisted is ultimately a positive sign of the strength of your candidacy, so it’s likely you’ve put together a very solid set of materials; you do, however, want to consider what you might have done to make your application even better.  For instance, if your comments in your essays focused primarily on your work experience, you might want to convey some information about your outside interests and activities in your waitlist letter

Another important aim is to cover new developments and recent improvements in your candidacy.  For instance, have you made any progress toward your stated career goals?  Visited the school?  Taken on additional responsibility at work or in an extracurricular?  Sharing impressive information about your work will help to underscore the idea that you are on an upward trajectory, while writing about additional steps you’ve taken to familiarize yourself with the program will emphasize your interest in attending.

In addition to considering content, presentation is also important.  Rather than jotting off a few quick sentences to the adcom or the waitlist manager, you should treat any written contact as a formal element of your application, much like your essays, résumé and data forms.  This affords you a great chance to underscore your communication skills and ability to market yourself.

For more information on navigating waitlists, see this tip from the Clear Admit archives.

In addition, for valuable guidance about being on the waitlist, check out the Clear Admit Waitlist Guide.  This guide will teach you to understand the ground rules of a program’s waitlist policy, formulate a plan to address weaknesses in your candidacy, craft effective communications to the admissions committee and explore every opportunity to boost your chances of acceptance.  This 23-page PDF file, which includes school-specific waitlist policies and sample communication materials, is available for immediate download.