WOW, THE WORLD CHANGED AFTER THIS POST WAS PUBLISHED. This first went live at the end of January 2020. Only a few weeks later, everything was different. Some of what the 'Snark had to say then is still totally in line with reality but much of it is DRASTICALLY opposite (like the stock market), and your specific situation and the situation with your school may not follow the logic that we were using back then. We started a series on coronavirus and the MBA subsequent to this, which may be more useful for you to study depending on when you're reading this and what your needs are right now in learning about MBA admissions.
As you might expect, there are no simple answers to this question, but we do see reason to be hopeful if you’re currently stalled out in waitlist limbo after Round 1!
It may be interesting to go back to the ‘snarchive and review what we said about Round 1 waitlisters’ chances two years ago, for those who were trying for the Class of 2020 (many of whom are actually getting ready to graduate in a few short months! your MBA will go by so quickly once you begin). The drivers of MBA admissions that we discussed in that post largely still apply. The economy is still a very big variable in how admissions go but as of this writing, in mid-January 2020, it appears that things are stabilizing again — which is kinda shocking, given how very unstable they’ve been for periods in the not-distant past, and also considering how high the stock market indexes have gotten. In case you haven’t been paying attention, the stock market is in one of its longest bull markets ever (a “bull market” is a time when the “bulls” are energized and driving things higher, or more precisely, people keep buying stocks which pushes prices up; a “bear market” is a time when everyone is feeling grumpy and they’re selling stocks, which makes prices go down). The stock market is not the same thing as the economy overall, and there are definitely parts of the American economy that have economists nervous. Wages aren’t really going up even though unemployment is low, but that also means that inflation has held largely in check too, which is a good thing for the consumer. The U.S. government debt is at truly ridiculous levels, but many politicians in power now are incredibly hypocritical on this issue and seem to only care about debt when their man is not in the White House. Farmers are in trouble due to the tariffs and trade wars that this administration has been waging, though the government is bailing out the farmers by subsidizing crops. All of these issues come together in an incredibly complex picture and EssaySnark is no economist but staying on top of these trends is important to understanding business cycles, which is a good chunk of what you’ll learn in business school, and all of this certainly impacts the MBA admissions marketplace too. So it’s useful and relevant to offer a basic explanation of some of these factors here, when we’re talking about the waitlist from Round 1 and whether you’re going to have a chance to convert that into an admit at the schools that you’re in limbo at.
The selectivity factor of many of the best MBA programs has shifted in the past five years. Schools that quite recently were becoming much more difficult to get into have softened up again. These same schools also tend to use the waitlist very liberally — but that means that there’s a real shot to get in if you are patient and play your cards right.
One big question to ask yourself: Do you really want to go to this school? If so, why???
Can you articulate that easily?
Being able to do so in a way that is insightful about you and what this school can do for you may help you gain notice of admissions as this cycle unfolds.
The schools that tend to care about this aspect of “school fit” which have also become softer admits (in our assessment) are places like Dartmouth Tuck; NYU Stern; Berkeley Haas (for some candidate pools); Duke Fuqua (ditto). We’ll put Yale SOM in this category too, though they’re a slipperier one where in some ways they’re just as selective as ever, and in others they’re softer.
By contrast, Michigan Ross used to be in this category, but just lately they’ve become harder to break into overall. If you’re waitlisted at Ross there’s totally still a chance that that converts to an admit but it more depends on how Round 2 goes for them. If their increasing selectivity continues, then it’s a tougher call to make for a Ross waitlist conversion. But definitely not impossible!
All bets are off. It’s near-impossible for us (or anyone, truly) to predict if you’re going to make it in to one of those schools off the waitlist. We could go through your full application and do an in-depth assessment of every single factor and still only end up with a verdict of “You’ve got a lot going for you! You might make it in!” Which does no good at all because you’re still in limbo, at the mercy of the admissions gods, waiting and wondering what to do. Which is also especially stressful if you’re needing to decide on other schools’ offers, too (which almost everyone waitlisted at H/S/W is facing, since it’s highly unlikely you’d be a strong-enough candidate to get waitlisted at one of those schools and not sail in on a straight-up admit at some other very good places).
These two schools are somewhat more like H/S/W — but not entirely. It really really depends on you and how you have pitched them, and what they have learned about you throughout the application process (for Kellogg especially). If you’re waitlisted at one of these, then going through the Waitlist Assist process with us might be useful.
Would it be useful to enlist our help for a waitlist on any other school we’ve mentioned today?
Well sure, it might be, if you’re looking for input on whether to update the adcom at all (for schools that don’t allow updates — lots of waitlisters disregard that and update anyway, so should you?) and if you do update, what you should update about, and how should you do it.
In most cases, when waitlisted at most schools, we absolutely do recommend that you plan out an update schedule, and be very intentional on what you say and when. That’s where the Waitlist Assist service is most useful.
We would of course be able to offer our take on how much your app has a shot at converting at your specific school, and also give you some commentary around the other schools you may have gotten a straight-up admit on and what you should do about those.
And the tl;dr of this long post is: If you’re waitlisted from Round 1 for the Class of 2022, you totally have a chance at making it in!!! That’s even true of H/S/W.
In past years, when things were significantly more competitive than this cycle is shaping up to be, we would not be able to be nearly this encouraging. This year, yup, it could happen!
There are many decisions ahead of you about how to navigate the waitlist, and we have a whole category of posts in our ‘snarchive here to help you with that, and a dedicated Waitlist Guide that offers best practices and considerations.
It may be a drawn-out process, but there’s hope!
Provided the economy holds. 😉
If the stock market goes into a freefall in the next few weeks or months, then all bets are off, grasshopper.
But sitting here today: You picked a good time to try for an MBA!
You may also be interested in: