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If you're waitlisted, is there anything that can be done to improve your chances?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by Assassin, Apr 9, 2002.

  1. Assassin

    Assassin Assassin 7+ Year Member

    Jan 28, 2002
    Before anyone spews the standard responses (additional updates, LORs, letters of intent, etc.), please consider the following:

    Although there are many people out there who may tell you that they got off the waitlist because they called every other week, sent letters, etc., there are just as many (probably more) who have gotten off the waitlist and have done NOTHING. Is it not reasonable to assume that the proactive waitlistees eventually admitted, would have been admitted ANYWAY regardless of their efforts?

    Please do not misunderstand me. The point of my post is neither to discourage anyone from sending updates or whatever, nor to stir up ****. Being waitlisted at my top choice, I myself would very much like to think that there is something that could be done to improve one's chances. However, I have yet to hear of any concrete evidence that you can really make a difference one way or the other once you're waitlisted. If you have any useful, FACTUAL, info, please contribute...I'm all ears on suggestions or thoughts on the matter.
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  3. none

    none 1K Member 10+ Year Member

    Jul 27, 2001
    I suggest you contact the school in question, anonymously, and question them as to their view on a barrage of letters of interest.
  4. whoanelly

    whoanelly Member 7+ Year Member

    Apr 4, 2002
    I've posted parts of this before, but will give you the whole page. It is from the UCLA premed advisory webpage and makes sense to me. Besides, you'd at least like to think that premed advisors know whereof they speak (more than we lowly SDNers):

    This section covers ways to get in off waitlists. Many applicants these days are waitlisted rather than outright accepted or denied. In an era where applicants apply to over twenty schools, neither the applicants nor the medical schools knows who wants to go where. The solution for the medical schools is the waitlist. Waitlisted applicants are expected to be extremely aggressive if they really want to go to that school. If an applicant does nothing, then it is assumed that he or she has been accepted at another school and doesn't care if he or she gets in or not. So, if you have been waitlisted, don't despair! Usually at least one-half of the class comes in from the waitlist! Just follow the recommendations below, and continue expressing your interest in the school.
    Contact Your Interviewers
    The first thing to do when you are told you have been waitlisted is to contact your interviewers, especially if your interview went well, and if he or she is a voting member of the admissions committee. At most schools, the interviewer acts as your advocate. This means that he or she is trying to sell you to the rest of the committee, telling them of your strong points and why you would make a good member of that particular school. It is in your best interests to write or e-mail your interviewer to tell him or her that you are genuinely interested in that school, and that you still consider it one of your top choices. Also, you might want to ask what other steps you can take. Some interviewers will ask you to write a letter to the admissions committee, others will ask that you write the dean, and some will tell you not to write at all. The interviewer will know the pulse of the committee best, so use him and ask! Continue contacting your interviewer every two or three weeks, increasing frequency as it gets later in the season.
    Write the Dean
    At some schools (Columbia), the Dean has total control over who gets in off the waiting list. At others (UCSF), it is completely done by formula, and the Dean doesn't really do much. But, you will really never know who has the real power, so just go straight to the top. This means, write the Dean! Often, the Dean will admit people whenever he or she feels like it. If you write, telling him or her that you are very interested in the school, then you will get more consideration. The Dean will see that his or her school was not simply another school, but one of your favorites. Once again, write and call more as the year progresses. Usually there is no movement off waiting lists until after May 15, the AAMC deadline for final class selection by medical schools. But after that date, get more aggressive and call every one or two weeks. By mid-june and july, some people call or write every day! This may be too much, but it shows that people are really showing their interest.
    Get Extra Letters of Recommendation
    Another avenue of attack you might try is getting extra letters of recommendation. You should always run things by your interviewer or call anonymously to the admissions office (stating that you are "A waitlisted student") before doing anything, but this has been recommended to me before. These extra rec letters should not be for things you did before applying. Those should have been sent with your secondaries. These rec letters should only be about things you have been doing in the time after turning in your AMCAS application in June. For instance, if you started volunteering in a hospice or working in a lab this year, you probably didn't get an opportunity to get a rec because you started after you handed in the AMCAS Primary. Well, now is your chance to get a rec in.
    Ask for Another Interview
    I have also heard of applicants requesting another interview. This is more irregular than the usual write/call method, but you might want to try it. I have heard it works especially well at Columbia. Schools will be impressed that you are ready to fly or drive back to the school to get reevaulated.
    Use the Phone
    May 15 is a universal deadline for the AAMC. By that date, each medical school should have accepted a number of students at least as large as the class. And, that is the day you must renounce all acceptances save one. After May 15, you may only hold one spot at a time, although you may remain waitlisted at as many as you wish. After this deadline, you should step up your attack and begin calling as well as writing. Call your interviewer, and start calling the Dean. Don't call the admissions office because they're just a bunch of administrators with no real power. As mid-June rolls around, start calling more often. Perhaps once every week or every three days, to see if there has been movement off the waiting list. And if you still haven't heard by mid-July, you can even start calling every day. There is the story of a student from San Diego who was on a three day drive to Chicago to start medical school, and every day of the trip, she called UCSD to see if there was a spot for her. On the second day of the trip, she was accepted! She turned around and drove home. One more day, and she would have been a student at the University of Chicago! So keep calling. People do get in!
    Write a Letter of Intent
    The ultimate expression of desire to attend a medical school is the "Letter of Intent." This letter essentially goes something like this.
    Dear Dean Bigguy,
    I would like to reaffirm that your medical school is my unequivocal number one choice. If accepted for entrance this fall, I guarantee that I will attend. I can think of no place I would rather spend the next four years of my life than at your medical school.


    Wana Gedin

    There are many variations of this letter, but if you state you will go, and you get in, you must go! It is bad form not to mention immoral to lie about something like this. If a medical school finds out you wrote a letter such as the one above to more than one school, you may lose all of your acceptances! So DON'T LIE! You can change the letter to state "your medical school is one of my top choices" or something similar. This leaves you some recourse. But, if you say "I will attend if accepted," then you must go. If you don't, then don't ever think about going there for residency or a job in the future. Your credibility was shot when you lied to the Dean.
    You can also get your premed advisor or another person to write a letter of intent for you. This is essentially the same, but it attaches a more important name (and larger credibility) to your desire. Same rules apply regarding lying. But, now the stakes are higher. If you destroy the credibility of your premed advisor, that is a serious problem. Be sure of your desires before you write a strong letter of intent.
  5. Doctora Foxy

    Doctora Foxy Meow 7+ Year Member

    Jan 28, 2002
    Wouldn't it be nice if we could just sit tight and not do anything after sending in the secondaries and interviewing? (hence the name waitlist instead of the "write letters and pester schools list".) In a world without SDN, I never would have heard of sending additional materials (except for the BU acceptability letter, although it is specfic). Since most med school applicants don't read SDN and don't get significant advise on this matter (think about it--not many people have access to the premed advisor over the summer while waitlisted), I would say we have somewhat priveledged information. I doubt most students send in extra letters, so if the school accepts them, it's all the better for us. Am I wrong in thinking this way?

    I do believe if you show continued interest in a school it will enable you to stand out from the others in the pile. Many applicants are very similar, so anything to make you different is good, IMHO.
  6. slim_shanie

    slim_shanie Member 7+ Year Member

    Mar 21, 2002
    It depends on the school, honestly. I've been told at interviews to please NOT contact them in the next so and so amount of weeks. But at another of my interviews, I was told that if you write a letter saying that you really really really want to attend that school, it will bump you up on the list of consideration.

    I think what it comes down to is this: if they have a pool of 10 students who are about equal in qualifications, they will pick the person who sent in a letter of intent before the others. But, again, if those ten are high on the waitlist, you're right--they will probably all get in.

    But it can't hurt. Contact the office and ask them what you can do. If they say to send something, go for it.

    I personally don't think letters of recommendation do much. You already have 4 or 5 at the school; they know you have good recommendations. But if you did some kind of clinical work and a clinical recommendation was missing from your file, then it might be a good idea.

    Ok, no more rambling. :)
  7. Assassin

    Assassin Assassin 7+ Year Member

    Jan 28, 2002
    whoanelly thank you for that entire post...many things are so problematic however :(
    1-calling admissions office anonymously - they ask your name before they speak with you <img border="0" alt="[Laughy]" title="" src="graemlins/laughy.gif" />
    2-contacting interviewers - what if they're neither on the admissions committe nor willing (and who can blame them) to go out of their way to recommend you again (especially if their first one was strong).
    3-contacting the dean directly - that may prove to be as difficult as contacting President Bush directly <img border="0" alt="[Laughy]" title="" src="graemlins/laughy.gif" />

    now, soliciting the help of the pre-med advisor for the letter of intent is something I've never heard before...such a long shot in my case, but a shot nevertheless. :rolleyes:
  8. MiamiDoc

    MiamiDoc Member 7+ Year Member

    Mar 5, 2002
    This is all good advice, but what do you do if your waitlist letter specifically states that they do not want to be contacted as in the case of CWRU?
  9. whoanelly

    whoanelly Member 7+ Year Member

    Apr 4, 2002
    MiamiDoc--your situation is easy if frustrating: if you can't do anything, you can't do anything.

    For everyone else, if you felt you had good rapport with any interviewer, it might at least be worth doing what the UCLA website suggests as a minimum--ask that person for suggestions as to what more you can do. I agree that they probably know how the system works and what will help, or if it's advisable to do nothing. You don't have to ask the interviewer directly for assistance, just for advice. If you're lucky, that person might in fact offer to try to do more for you, like make a phone call. The worst that can happen is that you get blown off, and we've all gotten used to that by now.

    I'm with Dra Foxy--who, by the way, I think should become an advisor (as well as an MD)cause she's always full of good advice and wisdom--it's probably worth trying to make your name stand out given that most schools likely have many, many names on the wait list. Put yourself in their position--how would YOU decide who to take off the list if the choice was among equally qualified candidates?
  10. Resident Alien

    Resident Alien What? 7+ Year Member

    Jul 21, 2001
    </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by MiamiDoc:
    <strong>This is all good advice, but what do you do if your waitlist letter specifically states that they do not want to be contacted as in the case of CWRU?</strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Im I am not mistaken, they ask you not to contact them in the Hold letter, not the alternate list letter.
  11. msu769

    msu769 Junior Member

    Feb 26, 2002
    Whoanelly, do you think that it would be in bad taste to withdraw your application from the waitlist if you sent a letter of intent to that school?
  12. whoanelly

    whoanelly Member 7+ Year Member

    Apr 4, 2002
    I've been trying to answer, but it won't post my reply. In short, I think it's far better to write NOW if you are sure you no longer would go there. Just say, "After serious deliberation, I have decided to ask that my name be removed from the wait list...Thank you for your consideration of my application...
  13. botticelli

    botticelli Member 7+ Year Member

    Jul 24, 2001
    the South
    whoanelly, thanks for all the good advice you have given on this and other threads - I like your name too!
  14. IlliniEMT1

    IlliniEMT1 Member 7+ Year Member

    May 18, 2001
    Pittsburgh, PA
    could you put a time limit on a letter of intent- or would that sound pushy? Theres an out of state school that id definetly go to if i got accepted soon, but id like to have time to move and settle in. Otherwise, if I dont hear by summer-- I would rather go to an in-state school where i am already accepted.
  15. jam128

    jam128 Junior Member 7+ Year Member

    Mar 25, 2002
    New York
    This is a really good thread and I printed out all the information given by WHOANELLY, some of which I didn't know.

    Thanks alot.
  16. ckent

    ckent Banned Banned

    Jul 31, 2000
    I was waitlisted with a friend who had practically an identical application with me at a top 5 school. I had a higher MCAT, but he had a slightly higher GPA, we had similar ECs, he had more leadership positions but I had a little more research experience. On paper, I think that my app was slightly more competetive because I got interviews at a lot of schools he did not, but he was probably a better interviewer then I was. After we both were waitlisted, I didn't really want to go to this school but I did want to get in, so all I did was send them a letter saying that I liked their school (but I didn't promise to attend if accepted, and didn't send any additional letters, or update my transcript there). He was waitlisted at this school and another school that he wanted to go to, so he sent both schools letters of intent (promising both schools that he would attend if accepted, not completely ethical but not wrong either in my opinion), and sent additional letters and checked up with the school frequently by telephone. When he called, the admissions office at this school indicated that they had him down as having their school as his "top choice" in their computer. He ended up getting into this school and is attending now, I never got in off the waitlist.

    I would highly recommend that students who are waitlisted at schools they really want to go to send letters indicating that they would go to the school if accepted. Sending additional letters, updates, calling the admissions office so they all know your name, meeting with the dean of admissions (if you are confident in your presentability skills) to discuss your status are all good ways to improve your chances of getting in. Schools like to accept students they think will actually attend, so definitely promise the school that you will attend if you really do want to attend if accepted off the waitlist. If you are waitlisted at multiple schools that you would like to attend, I don't know how much schools communicate, but I think that the probability of you getting "caught" promising more then one schools that you will attend are pretty low, but that is a risk that you will have to decide if you are willing to take. If more then one school which you have promised accepts you, you can always make up some reason about cost or something of why you changed your mind and no longer want to attend their school.

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