Sep 8, 2009
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Now that most decisions have been handed down, I'm waitlisted at a few schools (Northwestern, Penn, etc.).

For those who have been successful getting into programs off waitlists, what kind of things did you do (if anything at all)? To phrase it slightly differently, what kinds of things should I be doing to get off a waitlist?
 

achamess

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I'm interested to see what kind of responses you get because I'm in the same spot. Perhaps some kind of impressive update could move you up the ranks on waitlist, thus increasing your chances of getting in? By this point, they've given us careful consideration, but if something significant has happened between the time you interviewed and now, it certainly couldn't hurt to let them know about it.

I've had professors offer to make phone calls to "people they know" to try to help, but I've declined these kind offers, because while good intentioned, I could see such gestures hurting me more than helping.

Let's see what current MSTP students have to say.
 
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bd4727

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Absolutely nothing. They have already ranked people and will just pull people off the list in that order as spots become open. The only thing that *might* help in this situation is to write a letter telling them if you get in you will attend. That may move you up the list on some schools. Just relax and see what happens would be my advice.
 

dmblue

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LOI..and wait

BTW, Northwestern is a good school to be on the wait list for. They accept a several people in late april/early may
 
Feb 12, 2010
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If there is a school that you're wait-listed at that you absolutely certainly will attend if accepted, send the director and/or the admissions committee a letter/email saying so. The wait-list is ranked, but the offers off the wait-list are not strictly made in the rank order. The decisions are made based on a number of factors, including the estimated likelihood of your matriculation if accepted.

For instance, if you're wait-listed at your top choice Midwest program, say WashU, and you've never crossed the Hudson River except for interviews, the committee has no way of knowing how interested you actually are in their program. In this example, if WashU is your number 1 choice, by all means let them know.
 

BasilFawlty

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I agree. I think at schools you are really interested in, LOI and updates may help, and will certainly not hurt.

Caveat: make sure the updates are actually significant (pub, presenting at conf, good final sem grades etc), and LOI is genuine and well-explained (i.e. that there are objective reasons to why you like the school and why you think you are a fit, such as good research in your area etc).

Also, this has probably been mentioned before, but don't send LOIs to all the schools you've been waitlisted at - schools talk to each other and this may work against you.
 

marie78

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I know you're only supposed to send a letter of intent to a school that you would definitely attend if admitted, but doesn't the uncertainty of being on a waitlist make it tricky to be so definite. There's a school that I would attend if they let me in say sometime in May, but after that things get more complicated because I'll have to start committing myself to a different program/location.

I'm probably over-thinking things, but I just don't want to tell a program I would definitely attend and then get admitted there after I've already rented an apartment and set up a summer rotation elsewhere.
 

BasilFawlty

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i'm more an advocate for letter of "interest", rather than "intent", as I believe "intent" is actually not really something in your control, particularly in waitlist scenarios. If you can make a good case for "interest" in a particular school, I think it can be equally helpful, without the added pressure of an unnecessary "binding" agreement. The trick is to ensure that the letter is neither too plain nor too sycophantic, where you must also convey what about the school uniquely interests you and makes it stand above the rest to you.
 

bd4727

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I know you're only supposed to send a letter of intent to a school that you would definitely attend if admitted, but doesn't the uncertainty of being on a waitlist make it tricky to be so definite. There's a school that I would attend if they let me in say sometime in May, but after that things get more complicated because I'll have to start committing myself to a different program/location.

I'm probably over-thinking things, but I just don't want to tell a program I would definitely attend and then get admitted there after I've already rented an apartment and set up a summer rotation elsewhere.
Don't set anything up until after May 15 or whatever the date is for everyone to hold 1 acceptance because things happen rapidly right around that time.
 
Mar 22, 2010
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I have a friend in MSTP at Northwestern; he said that one thing that happens with students is people dropping from MD/PhD to just MD, so if you reiterated your interest not just in the program but in following through with the dual degree, that might make you look more attractive -
 

dmblue

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I have a friend in MSTP at Northwestern; he said that one thing that happens with students is people dropping from MD/PhD to just MD, so if you reiterated your interest not just in the program but in following through with the dual degree, that might make you look more attractive -

I mean, I agree with you, but I'd take a different approach. Talk about why the MD/PhD program is special to you, and how much you want to join it. Don't imply that the program you are sending an LOI to has a problem with this.

Also...from what I've seen, dropping to MD is not that common at most schools, with the exception of WashU.
 

Neuronix

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Also...from what I've seen, dropping to MD is not that common at most schools, with the exception of WashU.
I'm speculating here, but it probably looks like they have more dropouts just because they have such a large program. Generally the rate seems to be ~10%, so figure ~2/year for a 20 person/year program, but this is one more thing where I have no data.
 

dmblue

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I'm speculating here, but it probably looks like they have more dropouts just because they have such a large program. Generally the rate seems to be ~10%, so figure ~2/year for a 20 person/year program, but this is one more thing where I have no data.
I would say that's accurate, but again I have nothing more than anecdotal evidence. They told us that 80-90% of their MD only students who (re)apply during M1/2 year get accepted to the MSTP program. I'm unsure if this is because they have a higher than normal drop out rate and are filling 5 spots with 6 applicants, or if that just means only 2-3 people apply for the ~2 spots that open.
 

Neuronix

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Larger programs can typically be flexible about this. Accepting students from existing classes? Take fewer incomings next year. I'd say on the order of about ~2/year apply to the MD/PhD program here from the med school class. So 80-90% of applicants may sound impressive, but it's probably 80-90% of a small number.
 

dmblue

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Larger programs can typically be flexible about this. Accepting students from existing classes? Take fewer incomings next year. I'd say on the order of about ~2/year apply to the MD/PhD program here from the med school class. So 80-90% of applicants may sound impressive, but it's probably 80-90% of a small number.
that's the most likely possibility