We actually love Ross but this season, and especially after the first round, not so much.
They probably thought they were being fair and applicant-friendly in the decision to not reject any of their Round 1 candidates . But really, the unintended consequences of that in terms of emotional impact on applicants are severe.
Here is our assessment of the impact:
1. Applicants who got waitlisted at Ross in Round 1 assumed that the reason was due to their GMAT or GRE score not being good enough. After all, that reject-nobody policy was announced in conjunction with their Round 2 change to allow applicants to request a waiver of testing. Therefore, the logic follows that if you weren’t admitted straight in during Round 1, then the issue was your test score, the implication being that you’re the type of candidate who would’ve benefited from the test-waiver option. Ross’s attempts at some kind of parity for how candidates are being treated in Round 1 vs Round 2 is signaling to those who didn’t get admitted in Round 1 that the reason they weren’t admitted was over the test.
Beyond the obvious issue with that (there are many, many reasons why an individual might not make it into a school), it goes against Ross’s own admit philosophy that we’ve seen played out season after season: They’re usually not that hung up on test scores when deciding who to admit. Yet this seems to imply that the test score kept you out.
That’s almost never the case with Ross — unless your score is truly so low that they’re concerned about your ability to succeed in their program – in which case getting a waiver of your test score might not even be approved, because you’d need to show proficiency some other way in yuor profile.
So, many waitlisted applicants may be sitting there figuring that it was the test score, but in actuality, it was something else entirely.
2. Applicants who were waitlisted in Round 1 gain no meaningful information from the waitlist status.
Usually, landing on the waitlist tells you something — the very fact that you’re waitlisted is informative data. Being waitlisted in a normal year tells you that yes, you did stuff right, but there were maybe errors in execution, like the essays just weren’t that great, or yeah maybe your test score was borderline, or that college transcript is iffy and you didn’t show enough evidence to counteract it. You’re still gonna be guessing as to literally why you didn’t make it straight in (though EssaySnark can help shed light on those reasons through our Post Mortem Review if you’re interested!) In other words, if you’re waitlisted, it wasn’t a complete #appfail — you did stuff right, but just not quite right enough, or if we’re talking waitlists at Harvard/Stanford/Wharton it’s not you, it’s them; the competition being what it is at those places especially, there is not actually much useful insight from being waitlisted except that it’s a hypercompetitive gig and you’re close, and in a good position, and it still could work out for you. Being waitlisted at H/S/W is actually leaving you in a great spot given the odds of possibly making it in there. It’s not saying you muffed your app; quite the contrary, it’s saying you did a great job, but there’s only so much room, so you have to wait it out and see.
Being waitlisted at a school like Duke or Tuck or Yale or, in a normal year, Ross would typically mean that there is something you could be working on to improve. Being waitlisted in Round 1 at Ross tells you nothing. You don’t know if you screwed the pooch so completely that there is never a chance based on how badly you put together your pitch, OR if there was just one small thing that you could’ve done differently, and if you were to correct that, you can have a different outcome with Round 2 apps at other places.
You know nothing. (Again, EssaySnark can help demystify this for people, but we really don’t like it that so many are put in this position at Ross after Round 1.)
Instead, since EVERYBODY got waitlisted, then the ones who are LEGITIMATELY waitlisted do not know if that’s them or not — meaning, if you’re a candidate who would’ve been waitlisted in any typical season, then that is useful information! It means you did something right! It means you still have a chance!
3. The real problem is that this is cruel. It hammers the self-confidence. It’s like the goddamn Participation Prize — except that all of you are adults.
Right now, everybody who is waitlisted just assumes that they’re the mercy-waitlisted ones, the ones who the adcom never ever intended to admit but out of “fairness” they have been placed in this limbo state. For what reason? To preserve the adcoms’ illusion that this process is ever fair?? It’s a pure CYA move by the adcom, so that they can’t be accused of switching the rules in the middle.
But they DID switch the rules in the middle, and it does affect people.
Getting waitlisted SUCKS. It is generally NOT thought of as a positive outcome by applicants. We talk about this over and over on the blahg including recently in this “what to do if you’re waitlisted” post.
Unintended consequences, sure. Trying to do things right, ok, we get it.
But hey, Ross people, you like knew there was a global pandemic and that testing issues were a thing in June and July. Fine, making a change late is better than not changing at all — maybe. The policy to request a waiver? That seems like it was something that only the testing privileged could even have availed themselves of. If you have enough other evidence in your profile that you’re up to snuff for a Ross MBA, then sure, you don’t need a GMAT or GRE score on top of it; you’ve already got it showing through on your transcripts or a past CFA or whatever. If this was meant as a policy to advance fairness in test acceptance, it does not seem to have met its mark, and these impacts on Round 1 applicants are also unfair.
We’re just not seeing this as being very applicant-friendly no matter which way we look at it.
And oh yeah, if you wanted to get a GMAT/GRE waiver for Round 2, that ship has sailed. You would’ve had to request it a couple weeks ago.
Let’s see what Ross does with this waitpool from Round 1. We will be watching to see how this plays out.