Let’s face it, being waitlisted is hard. It feels like a perpetual limbo with no end in sight. For some schools, there is very little you can do to change your placement on the waitlist. For some, demonstrating interest does a lot. Here’s a step-by-step guide of navigating life on the waitlist to acceptance from the point of view of someone who’s done it!
Okay, so you’ve finished your medical school interview and you finally get the email with the results: WAITLISTED. There are probably a thousand things rushing through your mind, but one of them (especially if you haven’t received an acceptance yet) might be some feeling of not being good enough. Stop right there. If you’ve been waitlisted, that means that school believes you will be a great doctor and is willing to have you come to their school this year if they get to you on the waitlist. Be reassured in that. The school believes in you, so you should believe in yourself, too.
Different schools have different suggestions on what to do if you’re waitlisted. Below are some easy steps to follow that work for many schools. If the school provides direction on how frequently/infrequently to contact them, follow that over anything I write.
When I got off the waitlist, it was exactly 2 weeks before I was required to be 20 hours away from where I was living (and I know people who had much less than two weeks to get to school). I had very little in savings; I had just adopted a dog; I was in the middle of a busy time at work; I was about to sign a lease on a new apartment in a location with a much lower cost-of-living than where I was moving; I had a bachelorette party to go to the next weekend; I had a life I was busy living. In two weeks I had to find a house and rent it sight unseen, get financial aid in order, start training someone for my job, and move 20 hours away. I worked until 5 p.m. Friday night and had my white coat ceremony on Monday. It’s been totally worth it. But I wish I’d been more ready. Since I’ve started school, I can tell you there has been no difference in people who got in off the waitlist and those that were admitted right after their interview. It is a struggle trying to keep up with school while also trying to move in and get settled, but that’s a short term struggle. Long term, we’re all on the same playing field, working to become the best we can be for our patients.
IF YOU DON'T GET OFF THE WAITLIST
That’s okay. Disheartening, for sure. But you showed that school that you were interested in them and they are definitely interested in you! That is progress. Reapply at that school and others. Reaffirm your interest in the school. Boost your application, whether that be through volunteer work, research, coursework to bump your GPA, retaking the MCAT, etc. Don’t lose faith though. A lot of people go through multiple application cycles. You’re going to be a great physician! Just keep telling yourself that.