Why Do B-Schools Put Best Applicants On The Waitlist?


Why do business schools put even the best applicants on the waitlist? How do their “yield” calculations or acceptance rate affect my admission chances? These types of questions are of deep concern to MBA applicants.

Admission season spells hectic activity for business schools and applicants alike. Admission officers peruse each application carefully to detect serious intent on the part of the candidate to join the school. For the applicants, the task of filling up the forms itself is a source of tension, having to find ways and means of impressing the admission staff.

On top of it all, applicants are forced to apply to several schools in view of the low acceptance rate in the top rated ones.

“Yield” refers to the percentage of applicants who are offered admission and go on to enrol. The top schools have no problem in maintaining high yield as almost all those granted admission join the program.

For example, in 2014, Harvard Business School (HBS) had a yield of 81%, Stanford Graduate School of Business 78%, MIT Sloan School of Management 72% and UAF School of Management 71%. At the bottom of the heap would be schools managing just around 10%.

Why Yield Management is important for B-Schools

An accurate estimate helps them decide on how many students to admit, calculate tuition revenue and budget for programs.

A higher yield also provides advantages in the form better rating from ranking agencies that use it as a criterion besides creating the right impression among education consultants, counsellors and admission guides.

Among the various measurements used to determine the yield is analysis of the admission data from the previous years.

Meanwhile, according to a survey by Stacy Blackman Consulting found 25% of the applicants, concerned at the low acceptance rates, planning to apply to at least five schools.

Such circumstances lead to increased possibility of candidates who have received admission letters failing to enrol. A waiting list comes in handy for the schools at this juncture. They would offer vacant seats to the waitlisted candidates.

Some of the schools even have a priority waitlist concept where accepted applicants are directed to deposit a substantial amount that they stand to forfeit if they do not join.

How do schools know about your intentions?

Admission officers use a fine toothcomb approach in scrutinising the application forms especially in analysing the reasons you had stated for joining that particular school.

ALSO READ: Acceptance Rates For MBA Admissions In Top US Schools Fall

The applicants show of interest in visiting the Institute, interviewing college representatives and the like also give pointers about the seriousness of the candidate.

Demonstrated Interest

Not all schools follow such methods to detect what is called “demonstrated interest”. Stanford and Tuck Business School at Dartmouth explicitly state it too. However, almost 50% of the schools in the US give at least some importance to this aspect.

ForumSome of them like Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business use a software ‘Talisma’ to gather applicants contacts with the admission officers at various stages and the like. However, Chicago University’s Booth School of Business and Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University use ‘slate’ software. MIT Sloan and Berkeley Haas depend only on their admission staff.

Another strategy adopted by the schools is Early Decision, deciding on the candidate’s admission ahead of the usual admission date. It makes a binding commitment on the part of the applicant to enrol if selected. This entails that he or she will have to withdraw applications filed at all other institutes. They also have to provide a non-refundable deposit. (Image Courtesy: pixabay.com)

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