This first went up on the blahg almost 10 years ago 😯 – and we’re putting it front-and-center for you today because, well, there’s some goodness here! For, you know, Round 2 apps and stuff. Point 1: You should not simply take your existing resume (that you have not updated in two years)…
So, Round 2. Let’s get busy, shall we? We already offered some guidelines for how many apps might be appropriate to try for Round 2, given the time remaining. And of course you need to know which schools are on this list that you are targeting, and hopefully you have vetted these to be realistic…
Everything was pointing to an admit and…
It’s a waitlist.
Some schools are unfortunately overusing the waitlist these days because there is so much uncertainty on their side of the admissions marketplace. Part of that is a factor of how many applications every applicant seems to be submitting, which throws everything into question for the admissions officers. They extend offers to X number of applicants, but which of those applicants will actually say yes and become students?
That uncertainty, especially in the middle tier of top schools — places like Duke, Yale, Tuck, and Berkeley — means that lots of very strong candidates end up in limbo, uncertain of what their fate will be at a school they really really really want to go to. This is happening especially badly in Round 1, and it seems to be an increasing practice among those “really good but not the best” MBA programs.
Harvard has a stage called “Further Consideration” which some Round 1 applicants have been in since October, so some folks have been dealing with this no man’s land for months already (though to be clear, technically, the FC bucket isn’t a waitlist).
The waitlist truly sucks. You’re so close… and then this. It can be a harder blow than just being rejected, in some cases. It’s like the athlete who wins the silver at the Olympics; that person typically is very, very upset. You’re a runner-up in a game where being close doesn’t count.
And it’s grueling, the stress of it. With the waitlist, you’ve been waiting waiting waiting, already three months of waiting — and now what.
Does it mean you have to put in more apps for Round 2?
Unfortunately, the prudent answer to that is “yes.” 🙁
Does it mean you will, or you won’t, get in to this waitlisted school?
Unfortunately, the answer sitting here right now is “who knows?” 😕
Some schools seem to have gotten almost sloppy, or greedy, or lazy, in how they’re using the waitlist. They are putting lots of good candidates into this bucket, in the wait-and-see stage, just to figure out how their roster will shape up. There was a time not that many years ago where being on the waitlist was basically a “no chance in h3ll” place. Not anymore. For many schools, it’s just this inconvenient holding ground where you have to apparently pay your dues before they eventually give an admit.
Of course, there are still many schools where the waitlist is no guarantee at all.
For this season, we expect Harvard (no surprise), Wharton (ditto), Stanford (again), and also MIT to be in this category (and MIT seems to be waitlisting a LOT of people these days). If you’re waitlisted at any of these schools, don’t bank on an eventual admit. 🙁 Sure, it’s very possible it may happen, but the chances are near-impossible to read at this stage.
For certain other schools? Chances are way higher. There is a very high likelihood that a strong candidate sitting on a waitlist offer right now to a school like Booth or Berkeley or Tuck or the others we already named could end up making it in before all the cards are played.
But when that might happen is anybody’s guess.
If you want to enlist our one-on-one help, we can share what we know, based on BSers in past seasons we’ve worked with through this stage.
The limbo is truly awful. It feels like you can’t make any plans. Like you can’t move forward with your life in any respect. Which isn’t true, but making decisions with this hanging over your head can really put the pressure on.
And if you get in to one or more of your other schools — yet not The One that you really really want to go to — what do you do?????
All of these questions are harrowing, and for anyone who ended up with a “Hey we like you! Just not quite enough to say ‘yes’ to you yet” non-answer answer, we sympathize. And we will totally be there for you to work through these weeks and months if you need some objective advice and personalized support.
For now, we’ll direct you to this in the ‘snarchives covering the basics of getting off the waitlist, and invite you to update your School Targets in SnarkCenter so we can see if there are any pointers or insights we can offer to you based on the exact school that you’re in limbo on, which others you have pending, and what your thinking might be for Round 2. We also have a Getting Off the Waitlist Strategy Guide in case you want something to dive into, to channel that horrible feeling into a sense of productivity.
Most important — well, two things really.
One is, don’t beat yourself up. You submitted the best app you could at the time. Lots of applicants are super well qualified and they still end up waiting around in this in-between stage, instead of sliding in straightaway.
The other thing is, don’t give up hope! It may feel like the glass is half empty right now, but you’re still in the running. And, there are steps you can take — if you’re careful, and you create a level-headed strategy, with the long view in mind (again, we can help with that if you want!).
The tl;dr is: The waitlist SUCKS!! And, there’s totally reason for optimism. We’ve seen lots and lots of Round 1 BSers make it into their favorite schools from the waitlist in recent years. It can happen for you too! But it may be a slog.
You may also be interested in:
Perhaps surprisingly, the answer to that question is not “As many as you possibly can.” Along with many other areas, this is where our suggestions to you will run counter to oft-repeated advice from many other MBA admissions consultants you may encounter. Getting into bschool is not a numbers game. “You miss 100% of the…
Many Round 1 applicants have already been getting those happy phone calls with news from admissions folks telling you that you’re in. Or those calls will be coming today, or tomorrow, or soon.
Others though are facing the prospect of your phone never ringing, and sometime this week or next, having to log onto the schools’ app system to learn that you didn’t make it.
Our hopes of course are that all of you are in that first boat and you will be setting sail happily off to a bschool adventure in Fall 2020!
But just in case… We thought we’d write today about why getting rejected from business school hurts so goddamn much.
The first is the obvious: It’s REJECTION!
Rejection hurts under any circumstance. No way around it. It just flat-out sucks.
But there are two more reasons why having an MBA app rejected hurts like the dickens.
One is that the essays are so darned PERSONAL. The school asked you to share who you are. They had all these questions that forced you to dig deep, and you did that, and you laid it all out there.
And then they turn around and REJECT you.
It’s as if they’re saying, “Meh. No thanks. This is who you are? We’ll take a pass.”
That promise of the “holistic review” didn’t apparently add up to much, did it? They looked at all of you holistically and decided, nah, that’s okay.
WTF is up with that?!
You pour out your heart and soul in those essays, and then they read through, and shrug the shoulders and move on.
Yeah, that hurts. That’s not just an impersonal rejection. It’s really hard not to think that they’re literally rejecting YOU.
Even though they’re not. Yes, it’s personal, in that they passed you up and have tapped others instead. But at the same time, it’s really not about the real you, the person of you. It’s about what you presented to them on the page.
That’s why there’s always a chance of another school deciding differently — and if all your Round 1 schools decide the same, there’s totally still a chance to regroup and try a different presentation technique for other schools in Round 2. A lot of this is marketing. There are techniques for how to present yourself effectively, based on what each school is looking for, and the particulars of your specific life story.
The last reason that it hurts so much when you get turned away from a top MBA program is that if you made it this far in the cycle, all the way out to the end, after being invited to interview and then many many days of sitting on your hands or twiddling your thumbs or in some other way trying to stay distracted and will the time to pass so that you could get to this point in December and finally learn your fate…
And after jumping through all of these hurdles and obstacles of GMAT and GMAT again, and essays and revisions and more essays with some despair sprinkled in… And getting the interview invite, and then prep-prep-prepping, and nervously making it through that gauntlet, hoping you did okay… And so many months from the time in September when you clicked that little “submit” button on the app…
You made it here. And then the admissions committee responds with a “We regret to inform you…”
They try to word it nicely, but there’s never a nice way to say, “No.”
The reason that it hurts so much at this stage of the game is because a part of you has already been living out this dream-future of moving to this new city and starting classes there in the Fall. There was a part of you that’s totally bought into the idea that yes, you were absolutely going to get in!
And it’s jarring, and dissonant, and unnerving in so many ways if that dream you’ve been dreaming turns out not to be real.
There’s a part of your identity that will die if that happens.
You’d probably already mapped out when you would quit your job and maybe had been joking with your buddy at work about leaving him high and dry on that project from hell. And now, not only are you not escaping to that new MBA life you’d built out in your mind, but dang, you are seemingly doomed to the endless misery of this job that you’d been trying to escape.
It’s soul-crushing indeed.
At least, it certainly can be.
If this happens to you, there may be a moment when you cannot even believe that it’s happened. Dumbfounded denial. And then it starts to sink in. And then you realize you have to tell your boss, who you’d had to practically harass to get to put in the recommendation on time, that it looks like, no, they don’t have room for you in the entering class.
Not only do you have to experience the
sting blow dumptruck of shittiness dumping on you with this news of rejection, you have to inform the people you work with, and whatever effed-up emotions of embarrassment or shame or just chagrin that that might entail. It’s not a happy time.
So intellectually, sitting here now, you may realize that yes, there are people who are going to be rejected, and sure, there’s a chance that your app might be among them. But if you’ve hung on this far in the round and you still have some active apps pending, it’s highly likely that you’re living in a state of assumption where you just don’t think there’s actually a real possibility that you won’t make it in. (Unless you’re on the opposite end of the overconfident spectrum, where you are always so self-critical and doubting, that if you do get accepted, you’re ready to call the admissions office and tell them you think they made a mistake.)
You know who you’re gonna call if you get in; you probably won’t hesitate for a second in calling your partner, or best friend, or your mom. Maybe that’s who you’ll call if you don’t make it in, too. It wouldn’t hurt to plan out a response strategy now, while Schroedinger’s Cat is still alive. Coming up with an advance plan to take care of yourself, with some actions to take to react to a negative outcome, can help move through the emotions and start the process of mourning.
Because that’s what it would be, if you are expecting an admit, and one does not materialize.
You will be saying goodbye to a life that you thought you would be living, in that particular town, with those particular people, eating at those cute / trendy restaurants, pursuing those specific opportunities.
Chances are great that you’ll end up doing all of that somewhere in the Fall. But if you go into this week expecting that a specific school will be admitting you, then it can be a real hit to the self-esteem and identity if that one school does not pan out. Because even though your fantasies of going there were only in your head, your brain does not know the difference between imagination and reality. It will hurt as if a part of you has been killed.
Depressing Snark will be moving on after today, with Round 2 Snark coming back into the driver’s seat of the blahg again tomorrow, to help with practical advice for getting those apps done.
Hopefully Depressing Snark did all this hand-wringing today for no reason. (But just in case: Put together a self-care plan. You know, one that you probably won’t need. But just in case.)
Hopefully all of you have your Round 1 apps sail straight in with happy decisions coming through many excited phone calls this week!
(And, extra-hopefully, you end up being admitted, and not just left hanging with offers of being placed on the waitlist. Which we fear may be the news that many, many will be receiving. More on that to come later.)
We do hope you’ll inform us of how things pan out for you as those decisions come through! Please log on to SnarkCenter and update your School Targets to let us know of your successes!!
We hope so! The world seems to be in quite a bit of trouble ATM!
If you’re inspired to go make a difference, then we hope you’ll read this post carefully.
If you’re in a hurry, then the tl;dr is:
Just say no.
Say no to shady employers.
Say no to working on projects that give you pause.
SPEAK UP when someone at your company has this brilliant idea to trick users into doing something the users are unaware they’re agreeing to.
Our world is accelerating very quickly towards a tipping point where things will be VERY DIFFERENT and none of us will be able to roll any of it back.
There was a researcher who spliced human DNA to make babies that are supposedly protected from HIV infection.
Sounds good, but guess what?
THAT’S TOTALLY UNETHICAL.
There are software developers who are building extensions that provide some nifty function on your browser while you’re viewing reddit… while simultaneously watching every click and page load from the user . Then selling those data to brokers. Well guess what? THAT’S UNETHICAL TOO.
There are AI tools that will create mashups of this person’s head on this person’s naked body that seem like innocent fun. Well guess what? DEEPFAKES ARE CREEPY AND INSIDIOUS AND VERY MUCH NOT FUN FOR THE PEOPLE WHO ARE VICTIMIZED BY IT .
There are Google and Amazon and Facebook projects installing surveillance stuff on every street corner and into the homes. Well guess what? There is so much risk of abuse for this type of surveillance and it’s very much socioeconomically class-driven.
You’re going to be in a position to make decisions someday; maybe you already are.
It’s so easy to get caught up in groupthink at work, where an idea is not questioned and seems rational, maybe because of who suggested it, or that it’s not that much of a divergence from the idea you had before, which was only a small variation from an original thought, which…. But when you pop your head up and step back from it and say, “Hmm. I wonder if this really makes sense? I wonder what the ramifications might be?” Then you start to think more carefully.
Having doubts about corporate direction is normal. Healthy. If all you do is go along with status quo, and follow orders, and never question, then all of humanity may end up running ourselves off the road.
It’s totally possible to build an amazing career for yourself doing something you’re good at, that you enjoy, that pays well — that doesn’t put the future of society at risk.
(Yes we’re being dramatic. But truly, each and every person makes decisions every day that contribute to the state of affairs for us all.)
We have gone on and on about that essay for Harvard Business School on this here blahg because, well, Harvard. There’s like everyone interested in going there. And there’s like everyone telling you how to write your essay for your HBS app. Here’s a subtle reinforcement — since that’s all you ever really get from…
You thought we were kidding when we said it’s time to write essays? Nope. Here we are, telling you really truly to start writing essays. With some advice on specifically what to write for Harvard! Now, before we get into it, let’s direct you here to what we talked about in the run-up to Round…
We’re still a week out before decisions will start to come for the top schools, but we know that Round 1 didn’t turn out as hoped for with many BSers’ strategies. We’ve seen enough from this vantage point to give some advice and suggestions for those of you who really don’t want to experience a…
If you’re in the States: Welcome back! Heading to work on the Monday after Thanksgiving is always a bummer. Four-day weekends go by much too quickly! And if you were stuck in an airport during any of that time, then you’re probably feeling like you need a vacation from your vacation.
We’re still technically in November but in case you haven’t noticed, the month is draining away, and THIS WEEK — yes, THIS WEEK!! — the calendar page will turn to December.
As of today, Monday, November 26th, you have less than six weeks until the first Round 2 application deadlines will hit.
But you don’t really have six weeks.
Because one of those weeks is between Christmas and New Year’s, and nobody wants to be writing essays then.*
So you have five weeks.
But you don’t really have five weeks.
Because you’re reading this now, when it still seems like it must be November and not yet December, and surely, it doesn’t feel like you have to get started yet.
So let’s call it four weeks.
But some of you don’t actually have four weeks, since you’re currently clutching a lottery ticket of Round 1 applications — which we hope will turn out!!! We know many of you are interviewing / have interviewed at multiple places, so the chances are in fact looking hopeful. But you won’t actually know for another few weeks.
So we’re down to the real getting-started date for many BSers of around December 10th or 15th, which is when most schools will be issuing final decisions and you’ll have verdicts rendered and your fate will be known.
So yeah, it’s kinda like two weeks or maybe three.
Did we mention it’s time to get started?
In lieu of a Round 2 Countdown, we’re using the blahg to try and motivate you, and help you stay on track if you have Round 2 in your sights.
What should have happened already? Where should you be in your process?
Well, for sure, your short list of schools — no more than, say, 6 or 7 — should be identified. These need to be reasonable targets, not all stretch schools, please! (Not sure if your targets are reasonable? Our Comprehensive Profile Review can give input to that question!)
And, you should know WHY you’re targeting each school on that list.
And you should know which one you’re tackling first. Which school’s essays are easiest? Which will be the best place for you to begin?
Often Columbia makes sense, if you’re applying there. They have (reasonably) straightforward questions. The work you do on building out your Columbia application will be at least semi-transferable to certain other schools too. (Pro Tip: All schools’ essays need to be written from scratch. There are very few cases where you can do a save-as and reuse an essay for a different school altogether. Trying to do so is almost always guaranteed to cause problems, and the adcom at the second school, who’s getting a recycled essay, will undoubtedly be able to tell. No cutting corners like that, BSer!)
The other key reason for Columbia of course: You need to get that app in fast! Like, NOW. Don’t wait till their January deadline. If you haven’t already read it, grab our Columbia SnarkStrategies Guide to understand all the implications of rolling admissions for their MBA app and how Regular Decision works, and the impact on timing.
You should also be clear on the interview requirements and process at each of your 6-ish schools. Are you trying for Tuck, or Kellogg, or any other interview-everyone school? You need to know how interviews work there. Again, the SnarkStrategies Guides will be invaluable (Tuck MBA Application Guide; Kellogg MBA Application Guide).
You should be reading up on the blahg! Learning to write a good essay will not happen overnight. This requires study — for many people, nearly as much study as prep for the GMAT. Start with our show, don’t tell topics and read, read, read. Come back to them again as you’re writing. Blahg members can use our “favorite” feature to save posts and come back to them later. Many of the techniques that we discuss won’t make sense until you’re knee-deep in essays. They simply require time, and context, and (unfortunately, for many) a certain amount of suffering until they start to make sense.
And oh yeah, even though we often feel like we’re shouting into the wind about this, outlines really do help!!! We lay out specific ways to structure your essays in our Essay Ideas App Accelerator, and you’ll get your outlines for one school reviewed through that process. Doing more prework upfront, before you start to write, is going to make the whole process go more smoothly.
You need to plan on a good two weeks of dedicated focus for each application. You can stack those weeks and tag-team your essays but only do so after you are CERTAIN you know what you’re doing. If you start in on essays for all your schools as one project, you are guaranteed to be setting yourself up for more rework than necessary. The first essays you write will be crap. Recognize that fact — work hard and apply yourself — figure out what’s needed in writing these things — and focus intently on beating the learning curve. Then, and only then, should you start in on others. To do so prematurely will create nothing but grief.
For your most beloved school, and/or the most competitive one, we do suggest getting some professional input into your process. Our Essay Decimator is our #1 best seller for a reason. We also have the very affordable Sanity Check, which you can use instead to make sure that what you’ve produced truly has a chance at the school that you’re aiming for. And, if you’re reading this in November or early December or even up till, say, middle of December if you’re diligent and ready to work, then the Complete Essay Package really is a great way to go from nothing to finished (at least on the essays) in a structured and rational way.
And you can always leave a question on any post on the blahg and we’re happy to answer it!
We’ll be around nearly nonstop through the holidays and all the way into your Round 2 deadlines. Let us know how we can help, Brave Supplicant! You got this! We know you can do it!
*Many of you will in fact be writing essays then. Because you will read this post when it was published, in the first days of December, and you will breezily remain in your comfy State of Denial all the way through until aroundabouts December 21st when you will suddenly realize what needs to be done, and much scrambling will thereupon commence.