Everyone on the Admissions staff has gone through at least one round (undergraduate) of competitive admissions, and many of us have gone through two or more.  So I’m being completely sincere when I say that we understand that waiting for a final decision from March into the summer, after already waiting from January to March, is a drag.  You want to move on, but there’s this process that’s still holding you back.  We get it.  And waiting may not be for everyone, but if you make the decision to remain on the waitlist, here are some tips for you.

First, the prospects.  Nearly every year, we’ve made offers of admission to applicants who have remained on the waitlist:  only a few people in some years, but as many as 20 in others.  We didn’t end up making any offers for last September (a surprise to us), but some of last spring’s waitlisted students were offered admission for January.

And here’s how the waitlist works at Fletcher.  (Please don’t assume that other schools do things the same way.)  We’ve made a bunch of offers of a place on the waitlist for applicants to all Fletcher programs.  For the next six weeks, the waitlist won’t be the focus of much of our attention, but applicants will be making their own decisions on whether to continue to wait.  Many will decide to turn down the offer — they’ll attend another graduate school or, maybe, continue to work.  By May 1, all the responses are in, and we’ll set aside the applications for future review.  (And I should note that the applications are in alphabetical order — we don’t “rank” the waitlist.)

Meanwhile…we’re monitoring the responses of admitted students.  Some will accept the admission offer, but they’re organizing joint degrees, or balancing educational goals and professional responsibilities, and they’ll decide to defer enrollment for a year.  As these fine details of the enrollment situation unfold, we’ll go to the waitlist to admit the students we need to fill the September class.

So what can you do, once you’ve confirmed that you’ll wait?  We invite you to update your application with carefully selected materials, such as…

1.  Any update to basic application credentials:  Grades for newly completed classes, new test scores, an additional recommendation from your university or workplace, written by someone who knows you well and who can add a new perspective on your background.  (Please read that last sentence carefully.  You won’t gain much from a recommendation (however positive it might be) that covers the same ground as your previous three recommendations.)  You can also update your résumé, or send a copy of a newly published article.

2.  A brief essay to complete the sentence, “When I wrote my essay, I wish I had said….”  Do you have a better sense of your academic and career goals than you did in January?  If so, fill us in!  (Keeping your response to about 500 words is a good idea.)

3.  A visit to Fletcher.  We don’t offer formal interviews during the spring, but we’ll certainly meet with you, if you happen to be able to visit.  The best time for an appointment is late April to early May.  We’ll try to accommodate you whenever you are here, but we’d appreciate it if you could hold off until after April 15.

4.  Anything else that you would have put in your application if the instructions had been written differently.  While I discourage you from sending a research paper or thesis (and I say this because I know that many applicants would like to send us additional reading materials…), there may be something that you wished you could have included.

5.  Information that helps explain that gap or shortcoming that you feel may be holding your application back.  You may not have chosen to address it in your application, but now would be a good time to explain those crummy grades from your first undergraduate semester, or your limited international experience, or whatever else is a weakness in your application.

So there you go.  Some tips on how to boost your application while you wait.  You can send a short update by email, but please use “snail mail” for anything more substantive.

Historically, we have admitted students from the waiting list as early as late April (only once or twice) to early August (also rare).  The majority of the waiting list activity will take place from early May to the end of June.  It’s always our goal to sew everything up as quickly as possible — both for your sake and for ours.  And, last, the scholarship question.  At the same time as I can’t guarantee we’ll have scholarship funds remaining in late May or June, I can say that we generally have had some money to work with.  (Remember that the applicants who decide not to enroll are often returning scholarship funds, too.)

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10 Responses to Tips for the waitlisted

  1. Hi Jessica,

    I don’t know if I am wasting your time at the moment asking next year’s admissions questions but will do it anyway :)

    The MALD program excites me so much that I read this blog every single day!

    I will be applying for MALD’11 but I already have an account open a month ago. I was wondering if the essay questions and everything else will be the same or do I have to create a new account come August or Sept?

    If the profs and the GRE testing centre sends info even before you have an online account, what will happen to those letters and score sheets?

    Thank you,
    Subhash

  2. Sandra says:

    Jessica,

    Congratulations on the end of one more admissions cycle! Fletcher’s blog has been incredibly helpful.

    I would like to ask about new credentials. Will classes of 2010 count as part of the “update” or will they not, since those grades are not released until after July?

    Thank you for all your help,

    Sandra.

  3. Sandra says:

    I forgot to clarify, classes taken in the summer of 2010.

  4. Hi Sandra,

    Any grades you receive between now and the conclusion of the waiting list process will be a good addition to your application. You can also send an email update, listing classes you are about to take, even before you receive grades.

    Thanks,
    Jessica

  5. Hello Subhash,

    We’ll probably change the essays a bit, so you probably don’t want to do too much advance work on them. The new application will go up (most likely) in August. As for test scores, etc., we file those materials as they come in, and then pull them out of the files when applications are submitted. We save them, generally, for three years. I’m glad to hear you’re thinking ahead!

    Regards,
    Jessica

  6. Jhuma says:

    Hi Jessica, the blog is incredible! Congratulations on the good work done. I am one of the hapless few on the MALD waitlist. Keeping my fingers crossed! Keep posting tips on how to make it to the list of offers. :)

  7. Thanks, Jhuma. And we certainly don’t see our waitlisted applicants as hapless, so hang in there with the knowledge that the Committee saw real strong points in your application.

    There won’t be much to report on the waitlist for a few weeks, but I will certainly post updates when we have them.

    Jessica

  8. Kathleen says:

    Hi:
    I am on the waitlist and I find it helpful to understand my chances in any situation so approximately how many students do you (or did you this year) wait list for the MALD program?

    Thank you.
    -Kathleen

  9. Hi Kathleen,

    Your note made me realize that I had answered this question in a comment to a previous post, but not on this waitlist-related post itself. Sorry for the oversight!

    Also sorry that I don’t have good information for you. It doesn’t matter how many waitlist spots we offer. What matters is how many people reply. At this point, we have a few people who have selected to stay on the waitlist, and a few people who have declined the offer. Everyone else is still thinking, and we can’t predict how many people will choose to wait.

    Thanks for reminding me to clarify this.

    Jessica

  10. Vanessa Vázquez says:

    Thanks again for your patience! You have been extremely helpful!

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