If you didn’t bother to go through our wonky decision tree recently, then we’ll offer a recap for you now (we can’t call it a tl;dr since all of our posts are tl, even the summary stuff, but you knew that already). This is for those of you in that special pocket of h3ll called…
We are reblahgging this from 2012 because it’s timely! And those of you who read our “Rd 2?!?” decision tree on Friday can check this out if you got all the way down to Q6 and the “ALMOST-YAY!” verdict! -ES About this time in the Round 1 cycle one long-ago year, we got an email…
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 scared 🙁 because most people 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, 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 all their interviews, 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!!!
Not much more can be said for you! Right? You’re all in that delicious afterglow of success. You do indeed get to break out the champagne! You deserve it!! (Though please check back again tomorrow — POSTED HERE! — as we have a few more words to be said in your case specifically.)
There are likely bugs in this logic where certain BSers will get halfway through and go, “Huh?? EssaySnark, your tree is whacked.” 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).
We know you know what we think about using Columbia Early Decision as an insurance policy. If Columbia is not your first choice school, then don’t apply Early Decision. If you’re also applying to schools like Harvard and Stanford and Wharton, then it’s borderline unethical to also try for Columbia ED since you’re clearly focused…
As we started yesterday, in the category of “Oh crap! How did this happen?!??” aka Yes, Round 1 is here! Here’s the thing: Regardless of how awesome your profile may be, you should still have a balanced strategy if you’re committed to sitting in a bschool classroom next Fall. That means including a less-competitive school…
We know some of you are seriously stressing out right now. You had every intention of making Round 1 happen, and yet Real Life conspired, and now you’re not where you had planned to be. Should you just plan to take advantage of Round 2 instead? This is a legit question!! And it completely depends…
Some of you may have guessed what we were alluding to in yesterday’s “What’s wrong with this picture?” post, but if not, here you go.
That person sounded like they were definitely headed to Booth, right? Based on how they related the results? Did you examine where else they applied and what their outcomes were?
You may have noticed the admit to the Columbia J-Term, and wondered if we were going to comment on that. Nope, that’s not the issue. The J-Term is not binding. The potential wrinkle is that this person also applied to Duke.
The results didn’t say, but Duke has a Round 1, and an Early Action. Early Action at Duke is like Early Decision at Columbia: They are both binding.
It’s totally possible that this applicant applied in Duke Round 1 with no strings attached. But just in case there are some people considering Duke EA along with their other schools in Round 1, or Columbia ED, we’d like to talk through the options you’re looking at.
We already posted about Columbia Early Decision at the end of June, so none of this is news. We spoke there about how it’s a binding process — but we know that this seemingly obvious stance on how to navigate decisions in life is not universally shared. There are many MBA admissions consultants out there who apparently have no qualms about advising their clients to act unethically. It’s not something we will ever be able to understand. 😕
From a purely practical level though, the advice is flawed from its foundation. The idea is this: Try for Columbia Early Decision. If you get in, then that means you have a chance at a better school, because clearly you did something right!
But actually, no.
Columbia Early Decision tends to be easier to get in through – marginally so, at least, and dependent upon many factors.
So the logic being proposed is: “I’m going to try clearing an easier bar, and that means I’ll have success at the harder one!”
It’s like saying you are going to send your resume out for jobs at the Manager level, and if you get a job offer, then you’ll accept that offer, and then immediately send your resume out for jobs at the Director level, to see what happens.
These are different playing fields entirely.
Maybe the issue is, you’re thinking about it a little bit off. Maybe you’re thinking of it like running.
You run a 5K as preparation for the marathon.
Does that analogy hold?
Well, kinda. If your goal with trying for Columbia first is to learn what’s required to put a good application together, then sure. Applying to Columbia and getting accepted means you did a good job on that.
But these two separate goals — getting into Columbia, versus getting into Harvard or Stanford — they require optimization on different dimensions.
What Columbia cares about in its applicants is really not the same as what Harvard or Stanford care about.
Sure, there are overlaps.
But making it to the end of a 5k isn’t that big of a deal. Heck, OutOfShapeSnark can do it.
Making it to the end of a marathon is a whole ‘nother beast.
They’d be scooping this ‘Snark up off the course at sundown if it were us that were trying it.
The execution of a 5k and a marathon are really quite different.
If you want to get into Harvard or Stanford or wherever, then apply to Harvard or Stanford. Getting into Columbia first does not say anything about whether those other schools will work out. It just says you got into Columbia.
While we understand the thinking with this strategy, to try for Columbia ED and then use that to determine trying for other schools, and while yes, we know people do it all the time, that does not make it right.
Just because other people do it does not mean it’s okay. Do you want to be like other people?
Here’s the real problem with the Columbia/Duke “early” app as a planned first step and a H/S/W/whomever later app in the works (in case our point has escaped you):
Columbia Early Decision is binding.
You would be giving your COMMITMENT to Columbia by applying through their Early Decision process.
Your commitment is your word. It’s about honor. It’s not about the money that you would forfeit by paying a deposit and walking away from it if another school lets you in. It’s about following through on a promise that you make. You can examine the text in the Columbia application and reflect on what you would be promising to them. It may feel trivial, but in our perspective, decisions on every level matter in life.
We have many posts about this:
- “I’ll just apply to Columbia Early Decision as an insurance policy” (because obviously you’re not the first person to be thinking this way)
- Renegging on an Early Decision offer
There are actually more posts than that, in case you’re really into hearing us lecture, but those capture the gist of it.
Ethics are what let us live a noble life, one of honor and character. That’s what EssaySnark stands for, and we are always so inspired to work with others who share those values.
Oh hey wait.
Where have we heard that word before???
Oh that’s right. It’s what so many schools are saying they care about now.
And, the best part is: You don’t need to cheat in order to get in to Columbia!
If you have a solid profile, you’re going to have just as much shot at getting in through Regular Decision, if you apply at the right time and you present yourself effectively. Early Decision has been an advantage more so in highly competitive seasons. Which this season is unlikely to be (at least, not at that level). There is strategy involved, yes. There is execution required, yes. (Shameless plug: We go into all of this in our Columbia Essay Guide!!)
What could be a “weakness” for Harvard or Stanford is not even going to be noticed at Columbia — provided your essays are really strong, of course! Columbia cares a lot about the essays; the essays are very important there, regardless of which round.
This means that there isn’t much logic to the plan of trying for Columbia before trying for the others. That’s a common fallacy of a “trade-up strategy” and we just don’t see it work out that often. Admissions to each school is an independent event; the only reason that there is correlation between admits to multiple schools is based on underlying attributes in a profile, but the execution of each of those apps needs to be quite different in almost every case – and that’s ESPECIALLY true for the presentation of material for Harvard and Stanford compared to Columbia.
Someone who’s admitted to Harvard or Stanford, also being admitted to Columbia and MIT? Yes, absolutely, that’s going to happen all the time.
Someone admitted to Columbia or MIT also having a solid chance at Harvard and Stanford? No, sorry. Doesn’t work that way. Correlations fall apart when you move that direction.
Oh hey look! We cover this in multiple posts, too!
- The typical futility of aiming higher
- You got in somewhere good. Should you now try for somewhere better?
- Round 1 and your favorite school
There have been several years in a row now where admissions was all whack. The adcoms didn’t know what to expect in terms of numbers of applications, and how many would matriculate. This year is likely to have some uncertainty associated with it, but unless there’s a major shock to the economy, we do not expect it to be anything like what’s been seen previously. In other words: It looks like things are more stable. Predictable. If you want to play a risky strategy and try “trading up” then there’s no harm in trying — but having a sound Round 1 strategy in place first is really important. That’s the conservative way to do it.
Try for your most important schools early. Then if they don’t pan out, figure out why, and go at it again in Round 2 with that learning under your belt.
If you’d truly be thrilled with an admit to Columbia and wouldn’t be tempted by other schools later, then go for Columbia Early Decision. If you cannot commit to them upfront, then don’t.
It’s not necessary, and every time we compromise our values, a little shadow darkens our souls.
The other takeaway message from that results post from yesterday: This is a GREAT TIME to be reapplying to bschool! With a forecast of a softer season ahead — especially if you’re trying in Round 1 — it could totally turn into a set of happy results like this other BSer racked up. Congrats to him from last year! Maybe you’ll be in a similar wonderful (difficult!) position of having to choose between great programs in a few months.
We’re reblahgging this from the ‘snarchives since it’s an important topic!! You can see some comments below from BSers who’ve gone before, asking about their own strategies — feel free to post your own such questions too if you have them! Should you apply Early Action? (Note: Not to be confused with MIT Sloan’s…
There is much celebration happening in Snarkville this week – so many admits!
And so many of you with multiple admits!! WOO-HOO!!
This week that’s only exciting.
Next week and the week after….. well, that’s when it may start to become a little overwhelming.
If you’ve made it into more than one MBA program, the first thing to say is CONGRATULATIONS!! You are in elite company. (Not crazy about that term but, well, you know, it’s a valid one to describe your situation!!)
We know from your acceptance that you are not a slacker! At least, not one who lets your procrastination habit totally derail you from executing on life’s plans. Woo-hoo for that!
This has been one of the most liberal and generous Round 2 cycles in recent memory; lots and lots of wonderful BSers have gotten into lots and lots of their programs.
Oddly, Round 2 is apparently becoming an easier round — which it never has been before. It’s traditionally been much much harder to get in during Round 2, since the app volumes tend to be way higher at this second half of the season. However, what we’re seeing these days is some schools are holding off on Round 1 and not admitting all the well-qualified candidates that they might, because they don’t know what they’ll get in Round 2. So they’re using the waitlist a lot, or some candidates are unfortunately being rejected outright in Round 1. Round 1 was kinda grueling this season, and many were disappointed.
And then Round 2 came around and the schools sorted through all the apps and while they may have gotten oodles and oddles of candidates submitting (high volumes), they’re not seeing oodles and oodles of strong ones (lower quality), and so they’re more inclined to make acceptance offers to more and more of them than they had in Round 1. That’s also combined with the new reality that’s apparently here to stay, where many applicants are applying to 6+ schools in each round. That means that the schools have an impossible-to-predict outcome from their side; many of them have to admit way more than you would expect, because they know that most who they’re accepting are also going to be accepted at other schools, too, so the adcoms cannot count on all of their admits ending up as students.
Also they know that there are consultants like us warning candidates about Round 3 being really hard to get in, so their app volumes will be low in the final round of the season. (Hint: Because of all these factors, this year Round 3 might be viable for more of you who are considering it!!)
Basically all the past trends and rules of the road are out the window. There’s a new admissions environment happening and many of you are the beneficiaries.
That’s happy news indeed! Much to celebrate!! It’s not like the schools are admitting just any old Joe; instead, they’re finding spots for the very good candidates who are buttoned-up and prepared — whereas in the very recent past, you had to be even more than buttoned-up and prepared and very good, you had to be INCREDIBLE to make it in. At least for now, it appears that those days are over.
Huzzah!!! So exciting to see so many of you well-deserving BSers make it in to these amazing schools.
And now of course…..
You have to decide where to go!!
You’d think this would be the easy part, the fun part, the no-brainer part. Nope. This is where the sheer torment begins.
Once you’ve got the champagne glasses washed and put away after celebrating your many successes, then the reality sets in: What are you going to decide? Which will you choose?!?
Thankfully we’ve written on this quite a lot!
Check out the category on the EssaySnark blahg titled: “Deciding on a school (multiple offers)”
And if you have a special situation where you want our input: The Private Consult is perfect for that!
Or if you were a consulting client this year who we helped with essays or apps, lay your questions on us in the SnarkCenter School Targets notes field. Tell us what you’re thinking, which direction you’re leaning, what your rationale is. What are your priorities? What do you care about most from this whole MBA endeavor?
Articulating that clearly for yourself is an important step in making a good decision, and that’s likely going to take quite a bit of thinking and pondering and ugh-ing before you get there.
As you muddle through the seemingly impossible over the next few weeks and maybe even months: Don’t forget to be glad you’re in this position!
If you have “only” made it into one school: Nothing wrong with that! You deserve to be equally proud!! It’s no small feat to get such a win!
If you have not yet made it in: We’re here to help!!! We’ll be continuing with our “What can I do now?” series soon, for any of you who are either just starting your first apps in advance of a Round 1 app this summer, or who have come up short, and will need to consider either trying for Round 3 in a scramble in the next few weeks, or will be doing a longer game as a reapplicant for Round 1. Let us know how we can add value and assist in your process!!!!
Actually, read this. It’s Everything You Need to Know, in one compact little guidelette. A few prognasticators have hinted that this year’s app volumes were up in Rounds 1 and 2 so there’s even less likely (if they’re right) that a Round 3 app has a chance. We talked before about why the schools have…