In the category of well-intentioned but potentially damaging:
We keep having BSers tell us what they’ve been told by the current students attending the schools they want to go to.
It’s awesome when they report to us about their experiences or what new changes are happening or some amazing popular course or professor.
It’s often cringe-inducing when they tell us what the students are claiming about admissions to their schools.
Current students just LOVE to tell you how to get in.
Problem is, mostly, they’re wrong.
Current students rarely have the perspective offered from seeing massive amounts of data on who is getting in – and not. They hear about ONE case or ONE applicant – or maybe a handful – and they make all sorts of interpretations about that.
As in, “If you’re a military candidate, you have to have more than 8 years of experience to get into a Top 10 school.” We’re paraphrasing, but that’s essentially what a BSer reported to us recently, that he gleaned from conversations with current vets at different schools.
That is untrue.
No school makes admit decisions like that.
Wait, no, we take that back. Many schools DO make admit decisions on LACK OF experience. But the implication with what was reported to us is that these military candidates believe that they need MORE experience than average to have a shot at a good school.
There’s also huge danger in isolating ONE candidate profile who, for example, didn’t make it into H/S/W. This happens on the applicant discussion boards all the time. Someone has their stats posted in their profile – 750 / 3.8 / PE or whatever. And they have the little log of all the Top 10 schools they tried for, and as decisions come out, you start to see the Rejected flag show up on the best schools.
And then you’re like, “D@mn, even a 750 + 3.8 isn’t good enough for Harvard!”
No, Brave Supplicant, no. That is not the conclusion to draw from it.
Someone with a 750 + 3.8 should be exceptionally well positioned to have a go at H/S/W” and if they play their cards right, AND IF THEY HAVE SOMETHING NOTABLE TO PRESENT ABOUT WHO THEY ARE IN THE ESSAYS then this person should have NO TROUBLE getting into at least one of those schools. Or at MINIMUM getting the interview invite.
Yes you can quote us on that. With stats like that, there’s practically NO EXCUSE to not at least make it to the interview stage at one of those schools.
Now, we’re completely going against our own advice about how a good consultant would never predict someone’s chances based on these two core stats alone. In fact we call that borderline professional malpractice.
What you will note, though, is the very big disclaimer that we’ve put on this prediction: That the person has something worthwhile to present about themselves in the app.
Of course it’s not enough to simply have a 750 + 3.8.
And of course it’s always possible to get in with a 650 + 2.8.
In ALL CASES it comes down to how you actually pitch yourself.
Which really boils down to: What have you done in your life?
The danger of listening to current students offering advice on how to get into bschool is that they have only a tiny sample size from which they’re drawing their conclusions. And current students should KNOW BETTER. They took stats in their first term!
Even for those schools that have current students help with admissions interviews, it’s rare that those students are so intimately involved with the behind-the-scenes decision-making that they can give out meaningful insights about the actual factors that their admissions people are using to issue admits by. Sure, they may hear an anecdote here or there – but anecdotes cannot be used to draw your own strategy from. You have no idea what other factors may have played a part in one individual’s acceptance or rejection.
So just like our exhortation that friends don’t let friends read their essays…. this is important to understand.
Yes you want to be reaching out to the schools and talking to students. And sure, listen to everything that they have to say.
But treat it as gospel? Like they have some insider access or privileged information that can help you get in?
We say, be careful with that.
The only way for a non admissions person to tell you what happens in admissions is to have volumes of data to analyze about what different applicants have presented at that school, and how their candidacy turned out. And the only way to extrapolate full-system trends and insights from that is to have the appropriate volumes across the ecosystem of schools.
It’s also a reason why you want an admissions consultant who deals with lots of clients every year. That’s the only way for the consultant to be able to give valid advice.
Talk with lots of people. Then talk to some more.
Then carefully filter out the information that your different sources are offering and evaluate it based on what the source actually has access to.
There are so many myths and misconceptions in this industry. You don’t want to get thrown under the bus inadvertently by a well-meaning friend.
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