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I'm on the waitlist for med school... Now what?

Updated: Jan 11, 2020

A letter from a medical school admissions committee usually starts with "congratulations" or "we regret to inform you". But, what happens when your letter states that you are being placed on a waitlist?

I recently did a pre-med consultation for a medical school applicant who is waitlisted at two schools. She wasn't quite sure what this meant for her chances of being accepted. She also didn't know if there were any steps that she could take to increase her chances getting off the waitlist and into medical school.

Before I go through some of the strategies that can improve her chances of receiving an acceptance letter, let's talk about what it means to be on the waitlist.

What is the waitlist and who's on it?

Each year, hundreds of students are waitlisted at medical schools. A waitlist is a list of students whom the admissions committee has not ruled out as students who might be a good fit for its medical school. These students haven't been accepted or rejected. In other words, waitlisted students still have a fighting chance of getting into medical school!

First, it is important to understand that medical schools engage in rolling admissions. Basically, they continuously accept students as they review applications and interview candidates. In most cases, students can be accepted as early as October and as late as May or June. However, a medical school's acceptance list does not necessarily reflect all the students who will be attending that school. Why?

Well, applicants can and do receive acceptances from multiple medical schools. This means that students will decline acceptances to other medical schools to attend their school of choice. When that happens, medical schools go to their waitlist to offer acceptances. Waitlisted students have been known to receive a notice of acceptance up to a few days before the start of the school year!

Waitlist strategies

So, what strategies can you use to increase your chances of getting off the waitlist and into a medical school classroom? Here are a few!

  1. Don't get discouraged Being waitlisted is an accomplishment! It means that the school is seriously considering you and that if they had more room, you'd most likely be accepted. Hang in there... The party's not over!

  2. Call to ask where you stand The admissions office can give you insight as to your status on the weight list and the chances of getting off it and into school. All waitlists are not necessarily approached the same at every school. So, find out the criteria that particular uses to determine who gets an acceptance.

  3. Write a letter Write a letter to the admissions committee to express your enthusiastic interest in their school and why you would be an asset to the incoming class.

  4. Go on a visit If you are or will be in close proximity to the school, look out for any open houses the school is hosting or any campus club/organizational events that will give you a reason to stop in for a quick visit to the admissions office. Show them that you are interested!

  5. Keep them updated Be sure to share any new grades, MCAT scores, or new experiences that you've had since being waitlisted. Every bit of positive information will help.

  6. Consider alternatives Ask about any other ways to get off the waitlist. Is there a pre-matriculation program that you can do? Is it possible to remove yourself from the waitlist and be guaranteed a place in next year's class?

Being waitlisted isn't ideal, but it's better than a rejection. Hopefully, if you have or will be waitlisted, these strategies will give you some guidance. Now, remember... Patience is a virtue. Use these strategies within reason. Don't stalk or harass the admissions office! You are trying to shine.

If you have questions about being waitlisted or other questions about applying to med school, be sure to book your free consultation with PSI today!

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