With all the talk of waitlisters recently, we’ve neglected to mention one important point:
Please be kind and decline.
If you’ve been accepted to one or more MBA programs that you already know you won’t be attending, please formally decline those offers as soon as you possibly can.
There are hoardes of other BSers out there in limbo. Every single admitted candidate who turns down a spot in one MBA program can potentially be affecting the lives of more than one other person.
Well, it’s pretty obvious if you decline your spot at a school. That means that there could be a spot opening up.
We say “could be” because every school admits more candidates than they actually have seats for, in order to make sure they get enough offer acceptances to fill all seats. It’s kind of like airlines with selling tickets on a flight: They intentionally oversell, where they have more sold tickets than the plane can hold, because people’s plans change. They never want to fly a plane with empty seats if they can avoid it.
But assume that the seat you’re holding for the Class of 2024 is the last available one in the entering class. If you turn that school down, then the adcom will need to find someone else to sit in it.
They’ll go to their waitlist. They’ll extend an offer of admission to some poor excited soul who’ll have his or her own moment of jumping up and down with joy and losing an entire afternoon’s worth of productivity because they’re so excited that they got in.
Remember that day?
Remember your experience when you found out you were admitted?
You’ll be giving some other BSer that gift. Simply by declining the school’s offer.
But wait! There’s more!
What if you’ve been admitted to Harvard, Stanford and Wharton. (It happens!)
Most people are going to automatically cross Wharton off that list. They may be debating between HBS and the GSB but they know they don’t want to go to Philadelphia.
If you know you’re not going to take Wharton’s offer, then it would be the kind and generous thing to do to let them know right away.
Because here’s the deal: Wharton is going to go to its waitlist (probably) and find someone else who fits a similar profile to yours (probably) and extend an offer to them.
But it doesn’t stop there.
Anyone who was loitering on the Wharton waitlist is almost definitely also admitted to at least one other school. Maybe they got into, say, Booth and Tuck, with outright admits, but they also got slapped with the waitlist from Wharton, and so they were trying to figure out what to do. They are now celebrating their Wharton win, because compared to those other schools, most would agree that it’s almost a no-brainer to choose Wharton (EssaySnark actually does NOT agree with that assessment but you know how we feel about going for brand and prestige alone. Admittedly we seem to be in a small minority with this mindset.)
So anyway. You tell Wharton, “Thanks but no thanks” and Wharton admits this other gal off the waitlist, and she celebrates, and then if she’s also a kind and generous type, she immediately tells Booth and Tuck that she’s not going to attend.
And then GUESS WHAT? Now that process repeats itself.
Booth and Tuck get a spot opened up. They are both able to go to their waitlists as well. There are now potentially two more candidates who get news that they’re in out of the cold, that the waitlist worked out, and they now have new options opened up.
And so on.
Lookie there, you just changed the lives of THREE people and counting.
This may not be in the category of “paying it forward” (the definition of which may be open to interpretation) but it’s still the right thing to do.
Sure, someone who’s admitted off the waitlist this week based on you declining your spot is likely to eventually be admitted off the waitlist in the future based on some other person declining theirs. But you could accelerate that for them. Being on the waitlist SUCKS. Helping to limit the amount of time that any BSer lingers in that purgatory might accrue you one small merit of good karma.
When you know you ain’t going to a school: Please be kind and decline.