Being Wait-listed for Medical School is Not the End

Medical School Application Wait Listed

Being wait-listed is not the end of the world. Having your medical school application placed on the waiting list is a constant nail-biter. You are probably checking your email every minute, running to the mailbox every moment you get the chance, and your heart skips a beat every time the phone rings. You spend your every waking (and sometimes sleeping) moment holding your breath for some news, although you do not know whether it will be bad or good.

There is hope. Think of being wait-listed as an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to better yourself in an effort to become a doctor. Meanwhile, make the most of your opportunity by increasing your chances of success.

Determine Why You Were Wait-Listed

First, take a moment to imbibe a small dose of reality. Chances are, you know your application better than anyone else. Review your application for inconsistencies and study areas of your application that appear mediocre. Look over your notes from your interview (you did take notes, didn’t you?). Use these tools to create a list of possibilities as to why your application might have been placed on the waiting list.

Next, evaluate two important factors as they pertain to your application: the mission of the medical school and the caliber of the applicant pool. If your application does not coincide with the mission of the medical school to which you have applied, the medical school may not be a good fit for you. If your GPA and MCAT were slightly below average for a particular school, you may want to apply earlier in the application year.

Once you have determined the parts of your application that could be improved, take the opportunity to act. Use your determination to feed your passion. Make every effort to be better than you were before.

[Read more about Choosing a Medical School.]

Never Stop Trying

The absolute worst thing you can do is nothing. If you do not take the time to improve certain aspects of your application, you risk being looked over in favor of an applicant that did. Use the time you are wait-listed to show and prove your commitment to and passion for medicine.

There are several ways to improve your application while you are on the waiting list.

  • Take additional courses.
  • Get a clinical job.
  • Volunteer and Community Service.
  • Shadow a physician.

If the medical schools to which you have applied allow wait-listed applicants to submit updates, be sure to send details of your continued involvement and efforts. Either way, staying occupied is surely better use of your time waiting.

Keep a High Spirit

Expect the worst and hope for the best. Of course, be realistic about your chances of ultimately receiving an acceptance letter. Wait-listed candidates have almost always been invited to interview. For most schools, an interview means that you are definitely a competitive applicant.

However, if your interview was the problem, you may want to take the time working on your interview skills and displaying a positive, yet personable, demeanor. Continue you focus on improving yourself, your application, and in turn, your chances of admission.

[Read more about How to Prepare for Medical School Interviews.]

Stay in Touch

Some medical schools allow applicants on the waiting list to continue submitting information. If a medical school has this policy, be sure to send them updates that might enhance your application. Only include updates that are truly updates – not things already listed on your application. Examples of updates may include things like:

  • Final Grades
  • Awards, Achievements
  • Clinical Experience
  • Shadowing Experiences
  • Letter of Intent

On the other hand, some schools maintain a non-contact policy after interviews are conducted. If a medical school asks for you to refrain from emails, phone calls, or letters, be courteous and abide by the rules.


In the end, it’s better to be wait-listed than rejected. It may not feel that way, but you should really take the time to understand what it means to be on the waiting list. Being wait-listed does not mean there is anything wrong with you as an applicant. It could be that other applicants were simply that much better.

If you are still on the waiting list in June, apply for the upcoming year. Medical school admissions officers who have not filled all available seats will notice an early application for the upcoming cycle. It possible that something so simple may give your application the boost it needs for your acceptance. If you remain on the waiting list, your application for the upcoming year is already complete.

Whatever the outcome, keep your spirits high, maintain your focus, and you will surely be successful.


Leave a Reply

Get started now.

Sign up