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…
And yes, that’s true. But the people who are saying that have never struggled with the challenge of figuring out what to write as a reapplicant. And so what we say to their advice is: DON’T LISTEN We touched on this marginally in the Be careful about applying to Columbia now post earlier this week,…
Columbia Business School is as you know a great school, but they do their entire process differently, both because they don’t have rounds in the same way as other schools, and instead have rolling admissions. And this could trip an unsuspecting Brave Supplicant up. So every year around this time, we take it upon ourselves…
Most of the advice here on the blahg is about “DON’T DO IT!!” – meaning, a last-round app to bschool is very very challenging and has much less probability of success than it does in the first two rounds of the admissions season. There are many factors and reasons for this and we discuss them…
But they do happen to be schools with Round 2 deadlines in the future. Does that mean you should apply? It would be in our self-interest to say YES! APPLY! Because then we could try and sell you the need for some consulting services to increase your chances of success. But that’s pretty distasteful don’t…