Many Round 1 applicants have already been getting those happy phone calls with news from admissions folks telling you that you’re in. Or those calls will be coming today, or tomorrow, or soon.
Others though are facing the prospect of your phone never ringing, and sometime this week or next, having to log onto the schools’ app system to learn that you didn’t make it.
Our hopes of course are that all of you are in that first boat and you will be setting sail happily off to a bschool adventure in Fall 2023!
But just in case… We thought we’d write today about why getting rejected from business school hurts so goddamn much.
The first is the obvious: It’s REJECTION!
Rejection hurts under any circumstance. No way around it. It just flat-out sucks.
But there are two more reasons why having an MBA app rejected hurts like the dickens.
One is that the essays are so darned PERSONAL. The school asked you to share who you are. They had all these questions that forced you to dig deep, and you did that, and you laid it all out there.
And then they turn around and REJECT you.
It’s as if they’re saying, “Meh. No thanks. This is who you are? We’ll take a pass.”
That promise of the “holistic review” didn’t apparently add up to much, did it? They looked at all of you holistically and decided, nah, that’s okay.
WTF is up with that?!
You pour out your heart and soul in those essays, and then they read through, and shrug the shoulders and move on.
Yeah, that hurts. That’s not just an impersonal rejection. It’s really hard not to think that they’re literally rejecting YOU.
Even though they’re not. Yes, it’s personal, in that they passed you up and have tapped others instead. But at the same time, it’s really not about the real you, the person of you. It’s about what you presented to them on the page.
That’s why there’s always a chance of another school deciding differently — and if all your Round 1 schools decide the same, there’s totally still a chance to regroup and try a different presentation technique for other schools in Round 2. A lot of this is marketing. There are techniques for how to present yourself effectively, based on what each school is looking for, and the particulars of your specific life story.
The last reason that it hurts so much when you get turned away from a top MBA program is that if you made it this far in the cycle, all the way out to the end, after being invited to interview and then many many days of sitting on your hands or twiddling your thumbs or in some other way trying to stay distracted and will the time to pass so that you could get to this point in December and finally learn your fate…
And after jumping through all of these hurdles and obstacles of GMAT and GMAT again, and essays and revisions and more essays with some despair sprinkled in… And getting the interview invite, and then prep-prep-prepping, and nervously making it through that gauntlet, hoping you did okay… And so many months from the time in September when you clicked that little “submit” button on the app…
You made it here. And then the admissions committee responds with a “We regret to inform you…”
They try to word it nicely, but there’s never a nice way to say, “No.”
The reason that it hurts so much at this stage of the game is because a part of you has already been living out this dream-future of moving to this new city and starting classes there in the Fall. There was a part of you that’s totally bought into the idea that yes, you were absolutely going to get in!
And it’s jarring, and dissonant, and unnerving in so many ways if that dream you’ve been dreaming turns out not to be real.
There’s a part of your identity that will die if that happens.
You’d probably already mapped out when you would quit your job and maybe had been joking with your buddy at work about leaving him high and dry on that project from h3ll. And now, not only are you not escaping to that new MBA life you’d built out in your mind, but dang, you are seemingly doomed to the endless misery of this job that you’d been trying to escape.
It’s soul-crushing indeed.
At least, it certainly can be.
If this happens to you, there may be a moment when you cannot even believe that it’s happened. Dumbfounded denial. And then it starts to sink in. And then you realize you have to tell your boss, who you’d had to practically harass to get to put in the recommendation on time, that it looks like, no, they don’t have room for you in the entering class.
Not only do you have to experience the
sting blow dumptruck of shittiness dumping on you with this news of rejection, you have to inform the people you work with, and whatever effed-up emotions of embarrassment or shame or just chagrin that that might entail. It’s not a happy time.
So intellectually, sitting here now, you may realize that yes, there are people who are going to be rejected, and sure, there’s a chance that your app might be among them. But if you’ve hung on this far in the round and you still have some active apps pending, it’s highly likely that you’re living in a state of assumption where you just don’t think there’s actually a real possibility that you won’t make it in. (Unless you’re on the opposite end of the overconfident spectrum, where you are always so self-critical and doubting, that if you do get accepted, you’re ready to call the admissions office and tell them you think they made a mistake.)
You know who you’re gonna call if you get in; you probably won’t hesitate for a second in calling your partner, or best friend, or your mom. Maybe that’s who you’ll call if you don’t make it in, too. It wouldn’t hurt to plan out a response strategy now, while Schroedinger’s Cat is still alive. Coming up with an advance plan to take care of yourself, with some actions to take to react to a negative outcome, can help move through the emotions and start the process of mourning.
Because that’s what it would be, if you are expecting an admit, and one does not materialize.
You will be saying goodbye to a life that you thought you would be living, in that particular town, with those particular people, eating at those cute / trendy restaurants, pursuing those specific opportunities.
Chances are great that you’ll end up doing all of that somewhere in the Fall. But if you go into this week expecting that a specific school will be admitting you, then it can be a real hit to the self-esteem and identity if that one school does not pan out. Because even though your fantasies of going there were only in your head, your brain does not know the difference between imagination and reality. It will hurt as if a part of you has been killed.
Depressing Snark will be moving on after today, with Round 2 Snark coming back into the driver’s seat of the blahg again tomorrow, to help with practical advice for getting those apps done.
Hopefully Depressing Snark did all this hand-wringing today for no reason. (But just in case: Put together a self-care plan. You know, one that you probably won’t need. But just in case.)
Hopefully all of you have your Round 1 apps sail straight in with happy decisions coming through many excited phone calls this week!
(And, extra-hopefully, you end up being admitted, and not just left hanging with offers of being placed on the waitlist. Which we fear may be the news that many, many will be receiving. More on that to come later.)
We do hope you’ll inform us of how things pan out for you as those decisions come through! Please log on to SnarkCenter and update your School Targets to let us know of your successes!!
Tell us what you think.