“I think it is possible for ordinary people to choose to become extraordinary.”
“Everyone starts strong. Success comes to those with unwavering commitment to be at the end.”
– Howard Shultz, CEO of Starbucks
With all the talk of waitlisters recently, we’ve neglected to mention one important point:
Please be kind and decline.
If you’ve been accepted to one or more MBA programs that you already know you won’t be attending, please formally decline those offers as soon as you possibly can.
There are hoardes of other BSers out there in limbo. Every single admitted candidate who turns down a spot in one MBA program can potentially be affecting the lives of more than one other person.
Well, it’s pretty obvious if you decline your spot at a school. That means that there could be a spot opening up.
We say “could be” because every school admits more candidates than they actually have seats for, in order to make sure they get enough offer acceptances to fill all seats. It’s kind of like airlines with selling tickets on a flight: They intentionally oversell, where they have more sold tickets than the plane can hold, because people’s plans change. They never want to fly a plane with empty seats if they can avoid it.
But assume that the seat you’re holding for the Class of 2019 is the last available one in the entering class. If you turn that school down, then the adcom will need to find someone else to sit in it.
They’ll go to their waitlist. They’ll extend an offer of admission to some poor excited soul who’ll have his or her own moment of jumping up and down with joy and losing an entire afternoon’s worth of productivity because they’re so excited that they got in.
Remember that day?
Remember your experience when you found out you were admitted?
You’ll be giving some other BSer that gift. Simply by declining the school’s offer.
But wait! There’s more!
What if you’ve been admitted to Harvard, Stanford and Wharton. (It happens!)
Most people are going to automatically cross Wharton off that list. They may be debating between HBS and the GSB but they know they don’t want to go to Philadelphia.
If you know you’re not going to take Wharton’s offer, then it would be the kind and generous thing to do to let them know right away.
Because here’s the deal: Wharton is going to go to its waitlist (probably) and find someone else who fits a similar profile to yours (probably) and extend an offer to them.
But it doesn’t stop there.
Anyone who was loitering on the Wharton waitlist is almost definitely also admitted to at least one other school. Maybe they got into, say, Booth and Tuck, with outright admits, but they also got slapped with the waitlist from Wharton, and so they were trying to figure out what to do. They are now celebrating their Wharton win, because compared to those other schools, most would agree that it’s almost a no-brainer to choose Wharton (EssaySnark actually does NOT agree with that assessment but you know how we feel about going for brand and prestige alone. Admittedly we seem to be in a small minority with this mindset.)
So anyway. You tell Wharton, “Thanks but no thanks” and Wharton admits this other gal off the waitlist, and she celebrates, and then if she’s also a kind and generous type, she immediately tells Booth and Tuck that she’s not going to attend.
And then GUESS WHAT? Now that process repeats itself.
Booth and Tuck get a spot opened up. They are both able to go to their waitlists as well. There are now potentially two more candidates who get news that they’re in out of the cold, that the waitlist worked out, and they now have new options opened up.
And so on.
Lookie there, you just changed the lives of THREE people and counting.
This may not be in the category of “paying it forward” (the definition of which may be open to interpretation) but it’s still the right thing to do.
Sure, someone who’s admitted off the waitlist this week based on you declining your spot is likely to eventually be admitted off the waitlist in the future based on some other person declining theirs. But you could accelerate that for them. Being on the waitlist SUCKS. Helping to limit the amount of time that any BSer lingers in that purgatory might accrue you one small merit of good karma.
When you know you ain’t going to a school: Please be kind and decline.
Hopefully you’re celebrating with some big news of acceptances — at least one, and maybe multiple! We’ve started to get lots of happy emails and updates from excited Brave Supplicants who are headed to bschool in the fall.
In the rush of your big news of successes then there’s one important task you should not forget about:
Remember all those people who recommended you for admission? The current and former bosses who spent all that time on your apps? Now would be an excellent time to say THANK YOU!! to all of those people.
And we don’t mean just the excited “OMG thanks!” when you announce to your boss you got in. Yes you will do that, obviously, but there’s more to be done at this moment of power.
Having a gesture with people who believed in you, who went out of their way to make effort on your behalf, is a way to close the loop and make sure they know that you appreciate what they did.
It’s not like those people did it because they expected to get thanked or gifted later on.
However, you’re in a moment of power — a big win has happened that you worked hard to achieve. There’s an opening with that, and if you stay humble, and appreciative, and capture some of this energy in a way that sends it back to people in your life that you admire and respect, then it is a way of honoring it, for yourself and for them.
You can say “thank you” in any way that feels right for you, that’s appropriate to the nature of the relationship. Maybe you’ll take your manager out for a drink, or sport for a really nice dinner. Maybe you’ll buy a round of drinks for everyone on your team. Maybe you’ll buy a formal thank-you card from a nice stationery store, and write your appreciate by hand. Maybe it’s a nice box of chocolates that she can take home to her family. Obviously the minimum would be a well-crafted email but our opinion is that this moment deserves more. Reflect on this person. Take some time to think of something meaningful to say. Do more than just thank them. Tell them what you appreciate about them. Share some way that they helped you to develop and grow. Include a small reference to something that they may not even have recognized that was meaningful for you. Make it specific, and personal. Highlight their value to you in some way. Make it explicit.
Or if that all seems like too much, then at least be sure you directly communicate your gratitude and appreciation. Do what feels right to you, based on the nature of the relationship you have with him or her as an individual.
Showing some class, and good manners, at these moments in life will make an impression, especially in this day and age when people seem to always cut corners and be in a rush and it’s easy to forget the niceties of life. But that’s not why you’re doing it. You’re doing it for you. These people did something for you when they didn’t have to, and they clearly did it well enough that the schools want to have you. They didn’t phone it in or just rattle off meaningless answers to the questions that the schools asked for in the recs. (Or maybe they did, but even if so, they still went to the effort of completing them!! and whatever they said didn’t prevent you from getting accepted.) So an acknowledgement and a heart-felt ‘thank you’ is warranted. That’s just about being a decent person.
But what will actually happen if you go to the trouble of doing something more than the minimum is you will capture the magic of this moment in your life, this phase when you’re flying high from your successes, and like embedding in amber, it will crystallize in very fine memories. Those you will have for the rest of your life.
Beginnings and endings are important. You’re in a moment of big transition and these moments will float by so fast. Having a gesture with the people who matter and who have played a role in your life at such times will change you. As they say, sweat the details. The details are all that we have.
Just to be clear, this post is not a veiled attempt to get people to say ‘Thank You EssaySnark!!’ — we’re always thrilled to hear of BSers’ acceptances and MBA wins so such emails and updates announcing your admits are always fun to receive, but that’s not what this post is about. If you wanna let us know you got in we would love to hear it! But if not, that’s ok too. You should still thank your recommenders, either way. 🙂
EssaySnark doesn’t want to get all metasophical on you or anything (yes that’s a word, we just made it up) but…
We have this one client.
He tried to get in last year.
He started too late, and he got bad advice, and he submitted some really lousy apps. And of course he targeted the very best schools.
(Oh wait – you’ve heard this story before? Yeah, so have we.)
So then he comes to us and wants help this year. And we go over a strategy and he’s bound and determined to reapply at some of those schools he bombed at before, and OK fine, we say it’s unlikely but go along with it, and we keep encouraging him to try elsewhere too. At other really good schools. Like UCLA Anderson.
(Maybe this kid is a little too big for his britches. LA isn’t good enough for him. It’s New York New York New York for this one.)
Whatever. He tries again this season, with Round 1 apps like he’s supposed to, and…
Here we are in March and he’s not been accepted anywhere yet.
And do you wanna know what we think the reason is?
(Besides the aforementioned too-big issue.)
This kid has lost the faith.
This guy has a screamin’ GMAT score, his academics are decent to good, he’s done the standard pre-MBA career track and his goals are in line with what we’d expect. He’s got some relatively OK stories to tell in his apps, nothing earth-shattering, but some above-average examples of having an impact and doing good. On paper he’s competitive with his peers.
And he’s not getting in.
If a Brave Supplicant finds him- or herself in this situation, then in our brutally direct assessment, there are two possible causes:
#1. The BSer is arrogant. Yes, we’ve detected a smidgeon of that in this dude, but, nothing extreme. However, if the arrogant vibe comes out too strong in an interview, it can be the kiss of death. Perhaps there’s some of that going on.
More likely though it’s:
#2. The BSer doesn’t believe. In fact, the BSer not only does not believe he’ll get in to bschool — he actively imagines and fears and fantasizes about not getting in.
While EssaySnark does not have direct access to this kid’s thoughts, we are quite confident in our assessment that this is what the problem is.
This guy has gotten his confidence trampled, and now he believes the worst. He has decided that he is a bschool loser, and he’s doing all in his power to create that as his reality.
If someone is in this situation, if someone has convinced himself that he’s not gonna make it, if the underlying thought patterns are of doom and gloom in someone’s mind, well… sorry Charlie, there ain’t nuthin’ we can do.
Yes, we’ve tried the cheerleading rap, we’ve tried all the rah-rah and go get ums and all. There is NO REASON why this person should not be getting an offer (at least, for the schools he finally resigned himself to in Round 2, which were much more in line with where he should’ve been targeting from the beginning — yes, we’re now talking Kellogg instead of Harvard).
Sometimes, it just takes time. Some people don’t make it in the first time through, and they get up, brush themselves off, and try again. As long as you do that with clear eyes and a realistic plan, you WILL get in — eventually. There is room for everyone at the bschool inn, you just have to find your proper home. Swear to G., this is what EssaySnark believes.
And we will be there to help you. We WANT you to be successful. (At least, the non-arrogant, non-greedy, non-unethical ones of you.)
But we canNOT help at all if you do not believe in yourself.
As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
Ya gotta believe. If you don’t believe in yourself, nobody else can do it for you.
“Winners act like winners before they become winners. That’s how they become winners.”
– Bill Wals