It’s the end of October. How on earth did that happen??
It’s also the midpoint of the Round 1 application cycle. Again, how on earth??!? Time has this way of slipping by. It seems like just yesterday you were pulling your hair out over essay revisions and banging your head against the table after getting essays critiqued by the ‘Snark. And now here you are, with actual interviews happening!
Or, err, wait. Maybe not?
Here’s a mini decision tree for what you need to be thinking about right now:
Q1: Did you put in between 3 and 6 apps for Round 1?
If YES jump to Q4.
If NO continue.
Q2: Did you put in 0 apps?
If YES jump to UH-OH.
If NO continue.
Q3: Did you put in 7 or more apps?
If YES we are a teensy bit scared 🙁 because sometimes, those who submit that many apps don’t actually have a solid strategy and outcomes tend to be poor… But hopefully you’ll be the exception!! Continue.
If NO, it sounds like you put in 1 or 2 apps for Round 1. We’re probably nervous for you, too, but it depends on which schools, your profile, and how you pitched them. Continue.
Q4: Have you already gotten at least 1 interview invitation?
If NO jump to Q7.
If YES, AWESOME! then continue.
Q5: Have you already gotten an admit??
If YES, that’s very exciting! You must’ve applied to someplace like Columbia, Darden, Duke, or INSEAD. Jump to YAY!!
If NO continue.
Q6: Have you already gotten rejected??
If YES then if our fancy schmancy decision tree is correct, you were interviewed at a by-invitation school which has then rejected you post-interview…. and that means an intervention is necessary unless you also have other by-invitation interviews happening for Round 1. We suggest going for the Post-Mortem Review to find out what went sideways for you on the school (probably Columbia, or HBS) where you got so far… and didn’t make it. Remember, each school’s decision is an independent event, but still, when you get that close and then it goes negative, there’s always something to be learned and then those learnings applied to course-correct from the strategy that had been attempted. For now, continue to Q7, answering the remaining questions in terms of still-active apps (not total apps submitted at the beginning of the round).
If NO then we’ll have a post going up on Monday for you, so come back and read that! For now, jump to ALMOST-YAY! It’s not time to celebrate but you seem like you could be in good shape!!!
Q7: Were at least half your apps to schools OTHER THAN H/S/W?
If NO go to UH-OH.
If YES continue.
Q8: Were at least 2 of your apps to schools OTHER THAN Tuck or Kellogg?
If NO jump to UH-OH.
If YES: Answer the remaining questions ONLY for your active apps that are NOT Tuck, Kellogg, Harvard, Stanford and Wharton.
Q9: Were at least 2 of your apps submitted to schools with deadlines in October?
If YES it’s too early to worry. It sounds like you submitted to schools like NYU or Cornell or Columbia, with October deadlines. Maybe you’re just dealing with a slow-moving school that hasn’t managed to issue invites for your region/industry/however-they-have-divided-things-up-this-year. It takes awhile for the adcoms to get through all of the apps. In past years, we’ve often seen Early Decision candidates to Columbia not get the interview invite until November if they submitted right at the deadline — and they were still admitted even though the invitation seemed to come late. There’s lots of apps to review! Timelines varies by school.
If YES but you’ve been following your school’s policies and know that they’ve already issued most/all of their intended interview invites, as schools like Ross already have, then this does not bode well. Jump to UH-OH.
If NO and you have not yet gotten the interview invite for Round 1 apps submitted in September to non-H/S/W schools, then go read this and start thinking about Round 2. It’s not that you have no chances remaining or that you’re screwed if none of your apps have turned into an interview yet. It’s just that (provided the logic in our decision tree is sound) your Rd 1 chances are starting to look like they’re minimizing. Maybe the essays just weren’t there; maybe there was indeed more competition from your pool. Unfortunately, we have to say to you also: Jump to UH-OH.
Q10: Have you been praying sufficiently?
We’re not saying that prayer is the way to get in… but you never know, right?
Looks like it’s time to start Round 2 applications!!!!
This is “Uh-Oh!” because either a) you didn’t submit anywhere yet, so the entirety of your essay-writing skills development and all the figuring out about how to present yourself needs to happen in one black-box cycle with no opportunity to learn from mistakes (for example: not getting an interview from a school that should be in range for you is massively valuable input!!!!). OR: b) because you’re in that latter category of at least having gone through the essay-writing process a few times but based on the realities of your current application status, we have reason to suspect that perhaps something was off, and if we’re right about that, then you kinda sorta probably need to think about starting over. But at least you have a leg up on the category (a) people, in that you tried one approach and now you know it wasn’t on target!
In both cases, there will be many groans involved as you face the reality of having to do all this work. You might even reject this completely and go back to the top of our decision tree to see where we’re wrong! (And we might be!)
If you come around to the same conclusions as we have, though, it’ll put you in a strong position — especially the (b) people. The (b) people are at a big advantage because they’ve been to this rodeo before. That whole experience thing truly is valuable.
Very often, the reason the (a) people are in this boat, of having Round 2 apps be their first, is because they couldn’t overcome the dread of how to do this massive project. Procrastination is real. Now you are facing a drop-dead date — at least, if you’re going to apply this year. (Because you know that Round 3 is not your savior.)
While things are looking very good for you, you don’t want to assume too much. It’s not over till it’s over! Our advice: Have a list of at least 3 Round 2 targets lined up, that are in the same peer group as the school(s) you’re interviewing at — and if you’re bound and determined to be sitting in an MBA classroom starting in the Fall, then add one more to the list that you really like but maybe not totally love (that’s in range for your profile). Take a casual look at essay questions. Make sure you understand their interview requirements and policies. Maybe even start in on some outlines for one of their essays. You’ll know in mid-December for sure if you have the daunting task of Round 2 ahead of you, but most schools don’t release decisions until right before the holidays, and it’s a real bummer to have to scramble and get ready for January deadlines if you’re starting at that point from zero. So put in the work NOW — while you’re doing interview prep and have your application content still fresh. At least lay out an informal architecture for what you will have to do then. If it doesn’t pan out, you do NOT want to be starting with nothing except the failed apps from Round 1. It’ll be MUCH (much much much) easier to do this work today than to re-motivate yourself and dig yourself out of the emotional dumpster to do it if you end up having to in December. Right now you’re still motivated and optimistic. Putting in the foundation when you’re feeling crappy is a task from the d3vil. Even though it’s not something you will want to do now, and we’re certain you’ll do it in only a half-a##ed and mediocre way, having at least a mediocre head start in December will be way better than having nothing done at that point.
You can’t bring out the champagne for admissions celebrations until the admit actually happens, and the curse of the calendar means that you’ll learn your fate one way or another at a supremely inconvenient time of the year. You think it was tough to put together apps when everyone else was doing Labor Day barbeques and beach parties? Just wait till you discover how hard it is to do so in December when the entire planet is in holiday-mode and family and travel are taking up all of your time.
Anyway, our main caution is, don’t get out the champagne glasses just yet. It’s not over till it’s over. Unless you have an admit in hand — for a school you actually want to go to (don’t get us started on the phenomenon of applicants applying and then saying, “Meh, don’t wanna go there”) — then you need to stay in Application Mode all the way through. Don’t cut out early. It’s way easier to keep going with your intent and focus and motivation, then to let it all slack away with the beer and the Doritoes and have to start all over at the beginning again.
And we hope we’re wrong!! We hope our overly cautious and conservative cautionings end up all being for naught. You’ll write us and let us know, won’t you?
OMG YES YOU DID IT YAY AND CONFETTI!!!
There are likely bugs in this logic where certain BSers will get halfway through and go, “Huh?? EssaySnark, your tree is whack.” If that happens to you, we’d love to get the details on your Round 1 strategy and your progress to date!! You can either update your School Targets in My SnarkCenter and we’ll reply to you privately (and update the chart) or if you want to share it here on this post you can leave a comment and we’ll respond publicly (and update the chart).