Being put on the waitlist of your dream MBA school is a painful outcome to the already exhausting process of MBA application. Last week, I was able to  help one of my clients celebrate getting off the waitlist of a top-15 school in the US. But the happy ending isn’t always there. I have known people who were taken off the waitlist while attending the orientation of their Plan-B school.Some were able to do a U-turn; some didn’t have the energy to switch gears so late in the game.

The first step is to evaluate your status and chances of getting into the school from the waitlist. If you didn’t interview and the school’s policy is to interview 100% of its students, your chances of getting in are pretty low. It would be much easier for the admissions committee to admit someone they have already seen in person. While you could be a better fit than other applicants who interviewed and got waitlisted, the school can’t know that for sure, and won’t have time to interview you – once spots open up in the program, they want to move ahead and fill them as soon as possible.

If you had your interview and the outcome was a waitlist, you need to figure out whether it was because of the interview, or despite it.  Understanding the dynamics of the interview is critical to identifying what actions you should take next. You also want to be realistic in managing your plans for the next year – if you have already been admitted to other programs that you like enough to attend, you should pay the deposit and start getting excited and positive about what was probably your Plan B. . . . If you have not been admitted into any other schools, you should consider applying in the third round, or waiting for the first round in the fall. You should consider the outcome of this application cycle as a reality check, and try to figure out how you can improve your application next year.