Today is U-M Day.
If you applied to Harvard in Round 1, then you’ll be nervously checking your email* today at 12noon Eastern time. If you’re in Europe, you probably didn’t get much work done so far today. If you’re on the West Coast, you at least have the advantage of not having been conscious for too long so far this morning. Marginally less stress, based simply on the fewer pre-announcement hours you’ve had to get worked up in a tizzy. It’s still stressful waiting till 9am, but not as stressful as for those who’re in a spot on the planet where they’ve had all day to think about this.
For most people, the nerves will lead to disappointment. It’s just how the cookie crumbles. (“Dang ‘Snark you’re not very nice! let’s at least have some hope here?!??”) There’s only so many spots available – only so many interview invites to be had – and most people stalking their inboxes today will be disappointed.
For them, today will be b-U-M-m-e-r day.
For a slim number of others, who will get the coveted invite, today will be – after a huge sigh of relief – s-M-U-g day. Anyone who ends up accepted to HBS – or even just invited to interview – almost without fail has an sense of self-satisfaction about them. We see it all the time. Yup, it’s unappealing. We share the elation when we see someone move to the next stage; it’s surely exciting. Never want to dampen those spirits. Undoubtedly though, when we interact with them – OK, many, not all, it’s not a universal reaction – but oftentimes, the BSer has an inner attitude, that you can tell they’re trying not to let show, that says “Of course I was invited! I’m all that! It’s me we’re talking about and I am hot sh!t – how could they not invite me?” The preening begins. The rooster comes out. They can’t help it.
Bummed or smug. That’s how this puppy plays.
There’s yet another category: The BSers who will be left hanging – or, still in the game, depending on your perspective. There’ll be a chunk of applicants who will be asked if they’re interested in the not-quite-a-waitlist Further Consideration category – and who ever says no to that?!?
In our experience, these FC people frequently are more bummed than those who get rejected outright. They for some reason often feel doomed. We have never seen a BSer interpret it as the glass-half-full situation it actually is; there’s no partying in the hallways with a Further Consideration. The limbo of not making it, but still being in the running, sort of, is apparently a heavy weight to carry. There’s no closure. It’s like the silver medal winner at the Olympics; you’re left kicking yourself, second-guessing it. “Why didn’t I start my essays earlier? Why didn’t I take the GMAT again?” All of those things consume you.
It’s not like the bronze medal winner at the Olympics, who’s just happy to have made it onto the podium. The silver-medal winner is the one who gets caught up in the throes of anguish.
The FC status is similarly a tormentuous place (we just made that word up, deal with it). You don’t know what to do with this news. You are resigned to facing the likelihood of needing to do Round 2 apps after all – again, b-U-M-m-e-r – and even though you’re still in the running at HBS, it’s not like they have chosen you. You’re not celebrating. It’s complete uncertainty, and it usually comes riddled with self-doubt. “If only I’d done such-and-such differently…” The self-berating begins. Depression slinks in. For these BSers, the news makes them g-l-U-M.
Funnily enough, anyone who’s been rejected would gladly trade that outcome for a spot on the FC list. But many people FC’ed get all down and out about it. They think they’re F*C*ed but they’re adding way more to the picture than is literally there.
See? U-M Day. For the moods of a BSer. Bummed or smug or glum.
Be prepared for it.
(Required Reading: The major problem with the way Harvard Business School manages admissions)
* As we’ve tried to make clear so often, getting an invite from HBS is really not a matter of luck. It’s about the strength of your application and how diversified you are as a candidate. We have gone into this in some detail in the long-ago past in case you’re curious. There’s also details on interviewing at HBS in our Harvard MBA info page — and oh yeah, we have this nifty service where we help you prep for your HBS interview with custom-tailored specific-to-you interview questions.