What to do When You’re on the Waitlist as a US Medical School Applicant

Being on the waitlist for medical school can feel disheartening. You worked so hard preparing your application and interviewing and now it feels like you are so close, yet so far.  Unfortunately, most of the time you do not even know where you stand on the waitlist. However, being on the waitlist is not a time to be discouraged; instead it is a time to be proactive and try to get off of it! Although every waitlist is different, many schools fill upwards of 50% of their class from the waitlist. So how can you maximize your chances of getting off the waitlist? 

  1. Check the school’s admissions page, website or contact the admissions office to see if you can submit more information, additional reference letters, updates or letters of interest. 
  2. Don’t be afraid to ask for updates! Emailing every week can be aggressive, but checking in a few times will at least show the school that you are still interested and may even help them remember your name during additional admissions committee meetings.
  3. Sending update letters → Updates letters can include end of semester grades, awards, publications, new volunteer experience or any other significant experience you had that you feel will demonstrate that you are a good medical school candidate and ready to start medical school. Keep these letters short and sweet and right to the point! As well, make sure you include your demographic information (i.e. name, email, phone number and AAMC identification number so they know how to reach you). Always end with why you feel that you are suited to attend the school at which you’re waitlisted.
  4. Send a letter of intent → If you know you want to go to a specific medical school, say that in your letter. Let the admissions committee know you intend to accept their offer if you are pulled off the waitlist. Explain the specific reasons why that school is the best fit for you and why you will be a successful student at their school. Also, make it very clear that regardless of what happens with other schools, if you got in you are going to attend that school.
  5. Have a plan for both outcomes → Look over your application and figure out your weaknesses. Are there places you wished you volunteered at before applying? Do you think you can secure stronger letter writers? If so, start working on this ASAP.  You can even use new letters towards your current application!
  6. Be hopeful→ The medical school application process can be a very stressful time, especially if you are on the waitlist. However, do not give up hope! Make sure to take time for self care whether that means meditation, exercise, bingeing Netflix, etc. Just do whatever makes you feel happy! Everything will happen the way it is supposed to happen. Finally, many final decisions on acceptances are made after April 30. Students who hold admissions to multiple medical schools must notify the school they plan to attend at that time. Therefore, their vacated seats can be offered to another applicant and waitlist movement is often seen in May and right until the first day of classes!


Check out our other resources on US med schools:
Applying to US Medical Schools with AMCAS