Since we started the topic of adulting recently… Here’s a tip in the category of planning ahead! Because we just know you’re going to land an admit to some school this year!! Up to this point, we’d hazard a guess that 99.9% of your time in preparing for this huge big leap in your life…
Now that the craziness of the first round deadlines is behind you, we wanted to make an important point clear:
All school decisions are independent events.
We have touched on this at regular points throughout the life of the blahg, including this post on “I got into one school, should I now try for a better one?”
It matters most to remember this once decisions start coming out and people start getting rejected.
Just because one school rejects you does not mean you’re doomed for all of them to do so.
(Well, that’s true if you’ve done your homework and submitted a strong application to each of the schools. If all your apps are crap then please don’t expect any of them to work out differently.)
Assuming you are a) qualified, and b) presented well and c) did your research to show the school why they’re a fit (not mandatory at all schools, but high priority at most) — then just remember that each school has its own idiosyncrasies and priorities and will be screening your candidacy through at least a slightly different lens.
Typically, if someone makes it into Stanford, they’re also highly likely to get into Harvard. Or at least Wharton.
Or if someone gets into Columbia, then Tuck could easily say ‘yes’ as well.
That’s just because those particular school pairings are more similar than different.
But if Columbia rejects you … that does NOT mean you’re not going to have any luck at Kellogg.
One season we had a BSer admitted to Duke who was turned away from Ross. That was a surprise. But there are often surprises.
We’ve had plenty of people get the interview at Stanford and not at Harvard.
Or make it into LBS but not INSEAD.
These are the same people, with the same profile, and generally similar essay-writing skills, applying to schools that are more similar than different – yet they are able to convert at one place and not another.
See? Independent events.
Happens all the time.
So before you read too much into any one school’s decision on your application – either for or against – just remember that they’re all different. Which is what you’ve already gained an appreciation for, based on all the work you’ve put in in researching them. Well, those differences extend to how they will be interpreting your pitch and the decisions that they make on your candidacy.
Of course, all this is predicated on the presumption that you did a good job on the apps.
If we’ve never reviewed your work before, then you can always hit us up for a Post-Mortem Ding Analysis if you start getting those rejects and don’t know why. Or better yet, have us do a Sanity Check on the apps before you submit. We are in the best position possible of answering the “What are my chances?” question through that service. We also always tell people going through the Essay Decimator essay review process if the drafts that they’ve submitted are so far off the mark that they won’t likely work out. We’re big on dealing straight with people.
We also know that this whole thing becomes this massive emotional roller coaster torture chamber experience. So we are trying to help you manage expectations – and better interpret the input that you’re going to be receiving in the coming weeks and months.
Sometimes, a reject is a fluke, and every other app turns into an admit.
Sometimes, the rejects stack up – in which case it’s likely that there’s an unrecoverable flaw in the pitch. Which means, you need to change course before submitting additional applications.
When these rejects are coming TO YOU then understandably, it can be hard to interpret them accurately. That’s what we’re here for. We’re happy to help out if we can!
Last season we had a slew of Round 2 BSers who were reapplying to bschool. No problem with that, plenty of schools are very open to reapplicants. The problem occurred with the essays. In multiple cases, these applicants hit us up for help really really late – like, less than a week before their deadline….
There’s nothing worse than someone telling you you have a shot at a top school and then not even getting the interview. It can REALLY tick you off.
And understandably so!
After all, that’s what you PAID THEM for!
MBA admissions lacks so much transparency and having a so-called expert help you focus your efforts can be a massive benefit.
Unless of course, they’re wrong.
If you’re working with someone who does not have a depth of experience to truly assess YOUR profile against the schools you’re in love with, then they can be doing more damage than good.
We’ve made our share of bad calls before, notably this one that we posted about publicly. We’ve never gotten it that wrong before or since. That was a learning experience for sure.
This is one reason why our Comprehensive Profile Review will tell you which schools are in range for you — but with a gazillion caveats, reminding you that it’s the execution that will be the determining factor. If your core stats and the essential background you are presenting shows you as QUALIFIED for a top MBA program, it’s still up to you to put the application together in a way that makes the admissions reviewer say “Yes!”
You may remember from some long-ago science class that a false negative is when a test comes back as a “no” when it’s actually a “yes” — and when you’re testing for infectious diseases, then this is a problem! If a test says “No, you do not have cancer” but really you do, then that’s bad.
A false positive is when the test says “Uh-oh you do have it!” but you actually don’t.
In medicine, that’s not necessarily so bad — the main issue being of course that you’re subject to treatment that you don’t really need, and sometimes the treatment is damaging.
But in this case, a false positive would be, “Oh yes, you definitely have a shot at Harvard!!” when actually, you don’t.
Man, that one hurts, when October comes around.
In medicine, a false negative is a major problem, particularly if it’s an infectious disease. A false negative says “You’re healthy!” when actually you might be walking around spreading it to others.
In MBA apps, a false negative is something you will never, ever know about because if you believe your consultant and trust in him, and he says “Nope, not a chance, don’t even bother” and so you never apply…. and if they were WRONG….. nobody ever will know. If your consultant says “Sorry, I don’t see Harvard as being a fit” and you don’t try for Harvard, then dang. That’s a lot of “What ifs.”
More often, we see consultants being unrealistically optimistic, sometimes this may be intentional, but probably in most cases it’s because they have an unconscious bias: If they’re talking to you FOR FREE during a pitch for their services, then a) they’re usually looking at very limited information, often only GMAT and GPA and maybe the resume; and b) they’re trying to get you to sign up with them. Even if they are authentically wanting to only provide value to you as a person and are not fixated on making a sale, it is only human nature that they are trying to make a sale. It’s really hard (impossible?) to set that aside. And it’s also really hard to be speaking to someone on the phone and telling them, “Nope, you’re crap, nobody is going to want to admit you.”
This is why EssaySnark does not do free consults as part of a pre-sales process, and it’s why we do everything in writing.
It is much much easier to be honest and forthcoming when we can type it out on a screen and deliver the news. It’s just hard to shatter someone’s hopes in Real Life one-on-one conversation. Yes, good consultants find a way to say this but sometimes it’s couched in so many platitudes that the message is not heard.
And very often, a consultant who is working closely with a candidate over many weeks or months gets to the end of the process with them and is looking at the final product of the essays that they have created together with the applicant (because many consultants get their fingers very deep into the pie) and they have lost objectivity. They see how far the client progressed from the beginning and yes, the final drafts are better, but maybe they’re still not good enough? And they’ve been subject to how many rounds of review? The consultant is tired. They just want the project to be done with. They sign off on the essays with a note of confidence, and the client submits an app that still has no chance at all. But whether the consultant consciously knows this or not, they have tacitly given their approval and rubber-stamped it, so the client/applicant thinks they have a real shot. After all, there was a tremendous amount of WORK involved – they MUST be good essays by now!!
Or so the thinking goes.
And yes, this is a self-serving post, and here is where we plug our Sanity Check review that gives you our unbiased opinion of whether your application has come together in a way that this school will respond to.
And if you’re still on the hunt for a consultant, we have posted many times before about what to look for, and what to be cautious about.
Your consultant needs to have experience with the tier of school that you’re targeting — with the understanding that someone who is truly HBS material is likely going to make it into HBS with or without a consultant!! There are absolutely cases where the consultant helped someone who is borderline get tipped over into the HBS pool, but there are many consultants who managed to only not hurt the applicant’s chances. The applicant was going to get in, regardless, and the consultant perhaps helped them with polish and presentation.
Your consultant also needs to have extensive experience with the type of applicant you are. If your consultant has never worked with military candidates, or has only done so here or there, then honestly, how much help can they offer? Particularly when this segment of the applicant population has been booming and the competition has ratcheted up.
If your consultant has never helped someone with a really low GPA make it into a school like Columbia or Duke or Kellogg, how much help can they be if that’s the challenge you’re facing?
These are the questions you need to ask.
And yes, obviously we’ve helped people in your shoes before — regardless of what shoes you’re wearing! We’ve been doing this practically for-ev-er and we have high confidence that we’ve seen a profile EXACTLY like yours before. Whatever uniqueness you bring or challenges you offer. You can find out in our Comprehensive Profile Review, or if you just want a confirmation before you dive in with even the most basic service, hit us up with a question about your profile and how you’re so special and we will let you know yay or nay if we’ve never seen one like you before (who got in! as a result of our efforts).
Every year we get comments like this after doing a final-hour essay review for someone:
Lastly, I know you probably still feel this is a polished turd, but considering I submit tomorrow please help me get to the best product I can in the next 18 hours. (I fired my consultant because I’ve had this essay done for a month and he loved it).
Obviously that BSer sensed that perhaps something was off on the essay they’d created, enough to seek out a second opinion — but not everyone has that premonition.
Even more often, we get people sign up for our Post-Mortem Review at the end of November after their previous consultant told them they were a shoe-in, and they got nowhere on all of Round 1.
So yeah, this is a self-serving post — but honestly, we want all of you to be successful!! You found your way over to EssaySnark by some turn of fate and we feel very invested in helping you get in. We shoot straight. We keep it real. We offer feedback and advice to help you aim higher when warranted, and tools to support you in climbing. We want you to get into the best school you can!
If there’s more we can do, please ask!
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“Failure taught me things about myself that I could have learned no other way”
You may think that some of the suggestions we’ve been making recently for your MBA interview are trivial — like, wear good shoes. You’re likely of two camps: You either don’t need to be told that (because you already know!) or you think such advice is ridiculous (because, what do your SHOES matter??). However, our…
You say you want an MBA, and we believe you.
But do you want an education?
Do you even know what they’ll teach you in the hallowed halls of Columbia or Kellogg or Cornell or whatever school you end up at?
You’ve read through the website enough to plug the name of a class into an essay to tell the adcom how much you want to go there.
But do you know what any of those classes are actually about?
Here’s a tip:
If you don’t, you may want to start learning!
Because if you make it through this arduous process and you land an admit or two, and you end up with your butt sitting in a business school classroom 11 short months from now…
Do you know what you’re in for?
We can guarantee you this:
If you’re only interested in bschool so that you can get the credential, so that you can have those three little letters “M-B-A” associated with your name, so you can get some plum job with a six-figure salary where you get to sit in meetings all day….
That’s fine, it’s not “wrong” and there are plenty of good people who think that way.
If that’s your entire motivation and you have not thought through the whole possible scenario that involves things like studying and learning and hard subjects and tests then what you’re setting yourself up for is two years of h3ll.
Or at least, a solid one semester, and parts of another, and then a summer break in between where at least you’ll have an income again, and then another year of school that’s mostly electives and so shouldn’t be that bad…
But if you go into this only focused on that end result of having the fancy initials after your name (which honestly aren’t that impressive, you just are enamored of them now) and you forget the part about it being a CLASSROOM and maybe they even will force you to buy BOOKS though maybe not because these days books are overrated but who knows, and then you find yourself in a year sitting there staring at an equation on a white board and not understanding a single word that the professor has said in the last 20 minutes and wishing you actually had taken that class that you told EssaySnark yes you were going to take but hey you got in anyway so must not’ve needed it! Except that there’s all those Greek symbols on the board and you can’t remember which one means what.
And you’re not there because you WANT TO LEARN SOMETHING and expand your mind and get smarter and learn how the money supply is a lever of government and how interest rates work with inflation or what dual-entry accounting means and why it should matter or what the time value of money is and how it affects decisions and and and and and and and
If you’re unable to get motivated to push past the hard part of “OH HOLY F NONE OF THIS MAKES ANY SENSE WHAT HAVE I **DONE** I HATE THIS LET ME OUT” and actually do the WORK of learning…
You’re gonna have a rough go of it.
All we’re saying today is that sitting on the “before” side of the picture where you’ve got this dream and you’re fixated on winning and it’s all you can think about and you’ve already done all this work and the GMAT is over and some essays were written and you clicked Submit on a number of apps…
And all the schools hype up their international travel and the culture and community and happy hour and how much FUN!! everyone has…
If you don’t find a way to get motivated on THE LEARNING as well then, well, we just don’t think it’s gonna be what it could be.
It takes a certain level of maturity to embrace learning for the sake of learning alone. Not all subjects are fun, and not all professors are interesting. Doing school full-time is a massive opportunity and what a luxury and an advantage, and a privilege to even have a quality of life that you can be considering it. You’re taking a break from Real Life for two full years to go focus on building yourself.
It’s not just the job and all the recruiters that will want you. It’s not just living in some fun new city for two years. It’s all of those things, but it’s none of them.
It’s what are you going to put into it?
That’s what you will get out of it.
And in order to know that, and be truly prepared, you need to know WHY you are doing this.
Is it just to coast through so you can get rubber-stamped and spit out the other side?
Or is it to LEARN STUFF?
We’ll tell you, LEARNING STUFF is hard. You’ve been out of school for awhile — and this is graduate school. This is no Intro to Econ or whatever.
Do you want to do it because you’re actually interested?
If you can’t say you’re interested, that’s okay too, but can you still motivate yourself even if you’re not?
If the answers to these questions are “Hmm” or “Never thought about it” or “Now that you ask…” then you may want to do some self-reflection. Be ready for what you’re pursuing.
Maybe even start by taking a class now. Like a practice one. To get in the groove, to remind you.
Were you someone who loved school so much that you were able to self-motivate for the thrill of it? The achievement of a good score on a test could make you hit the books like you needed?
Or was each class like pulling teeth and you were the clock-watcher scrunched down in your chair at the back of the room, praying you wouldn’t get cold-called?
Just be honest with yourself.
If you haven’t been in school for awhile, look to Coursera or some other MOOC to get back in the swing of things. Find a way to challenge yourself, if that’s not a habit you’ve had just lately.
Remember that what you experience in school (as in life) depends at least the orientation and attitude. It’s not just about showing up. It’s about doing the work.
When learning switches on it’s totally awesome and you get fired up, even if it’s a subject you don’t like. And when it’s resisted and you’re trying to just get by then it can be a nightmare of days. Either is your choice.
Just remember what you’re signing up for.
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Did you know that the standard student F-1 visa allows international students to work in the U.S. for 12 months post-graduation without requiring any sponsorship from an employer? This is granted under the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program and your school’s career services office will help you secure an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) by graduation…
This goes for men and women alike — and no, don’t worry, we’re not gonna turn into FashionSnark on you.
But these things matter. The impression you create in the world depends in large part on the presentation.
This is an interesting quote — from a 2016 Business Insider article on interviewing :
“Research shows that 80% of hiring executives say shoes are ‘extremely important’ in creating the right impression in work environments, but only 51% of young men even wear appropriate shoes to an interview.”
We cover the perennial “what to wear?!?” question in our MBA Interviewing Guide and you should really be picking that up anyway so that you understand exactly how to prepare for this important opportunity.
They say that the clothes make the man (or woman) but we’d go so far as to say that the shoes do.
Call us old school but we really go conservative when it comes to the interview. Not only should you wear a suit, and iron your shirt, but you should pay attention to things like jewelry and yes, definitely to shoes.
For men and women both, no sandals for interviews. No open-toed shoes.
For women, usually a pump with a slight heel is ideal. For men, dress shoes. They can be Oxfords or brogues or whatever style you prefer. No suede. No boat shoes. Polished loafers might be fine.
If it’s something you might wear to a non-black-tie wedding then you’re probably in the general ballpark.
You don’t have to go shopping for fancy new clothes for your bschool interview — though if you are scratching your head at these suggestions and pondering an empty closet, you may want to. You’ve got some disposable income for this now. When it comes time for interviewing during your MBA recruiting process, you will also want to dress professionally and more conservatively, and if you don’t have those clothes available today, you’d be better off going shopping and building out the basics now. You aren’t going to have the money to buy them when you’re a student.
Even if you got away with interviewing for your current job in a hoodie and sneakers, that’s not the impression you want to construct for your MBA interview. Take this part seriously. Give a nod to tradition. It may be one of the few times where you need to dress up for business anymore — but if you’re saying you want to be a leader in the future and you want to set an example and have others see that you’re taking that role seriously, then it’s likely you’ll be doing so in a suit. May as well start dressing the part now, don’t you think?