We had this in our recent Lay of the Land post about the fate of international applicants to U.S. MBA programs this season: You didn’t have to be an incredible candidate to make it in this year. You could present a profile with some glitches and, as long as your essays and recs came in…
Dang. You didn’t make it in. BUT WHY???
Most schools are explicit with a no-feedback policy. All decisions are final, and they’re unable to talk to you about it because they don’t have the bandwidth to field all of those calls.
But some schools are much more generous with their time and attention and encouragement.
For example, if you didn’t make it in to Darden, they’ve often offered the chance to get feedback in case you want to reapply. Usually they make this available in June (mark your calendar now!).
Only a few schools do this. In the past, HBS would do it if they interviewed you and/or put you on the waitlist before rejecting you, though they don’t advertise this policy very loudly and we’re not clear if it’s a one-off thing or a standing offer that they’ll continue to make available if you ask. Tuck will do it too. Yale does it. We understand that Berkeley-Haas is no longer doing it, which is a bummer.
If you go for one of these feedback sessions, just manage expectations. The stuff they say tends to be pretty standard. Unless you’re one of those super qualified candidates who just couldn’t break into bschool this year because there were too many others in your pool, then the adcom is more likely than not going to tell you stuff that you should already know. By the time you go for a feedback session, then hopefully will be able to predict what the admissions person is going to tell you. You should have a sense based on profile self-assessment (or a simple comparison to the school’s class profile) what the issues are. If your college academics are not that strong, or if your GMAT is a little low, then that’s what your adcom person will say. Predictable.
They may also tell you if your essays weren’t up to snuff. Maybe.
Generally speaking, the reports we hear back from BSers who ask for one of these feedback sessions are largely the same. The value of such calls is usually a bit limited. The adcoms aren’t going to tell you REALLY why you were rejected (especially not if the reason was the you came across like a jerk in your app in some way, or if your recommenders did not say nice things about you – it’s unusual but it happens, and these reasons will definitely not be directly disclosed). The adcom peeps are more likely than not going to give you some vague comments about how you’re qualified but it’s competitive, yada yada yada.
It can still be useful to go through the experience but honestly, you hopefully by this stage of the game have done enough self-reflecting and gone back over your candidacy in a more objective light, that you are aware of the deficiencies that may have been in evidence. And, even more hopefully, you’re already taking steps to fix them, in preparation for the coming Round 1 season.
We’re of course always up for taking a look at rejected apps – we have the formal Post-Mortem (aka “Oh noz!!”) review where we go into great detail on every aspect of your application. Or you can just get the Comprehensive Profile Review which lets you understand how things may be perceived by the adcoms in the upcoming cycle.
We do still appreciate the schools that do this. It’s certainly an attempt to be more transparent, and it’s an applicant-friendly policy. But it’s kind of like when someone is breaking up with you; it’s possible you’re going to get some variation of, “It’s not you, it’s me” – or maybe, “It’s not you, it’s your test score.” Sometimes people need to hear that directly from A Person In Power before they’ll decide to actually do something about it, so if you’re skeptical of the assessments you’ve heard elsewhere, then definitely get some time on the calendar with your friendly admissions person and see what they say. No matter what, it shows that you are motivated, and if you reapply then they will see that you took advantage of this opportunity, which can only be a positive.
Also, there are some schools that offer such conversations at the beginning of the process, before you even put together your application to submit. Schools like HEC Paris and certain tracks at Duke (e.g. the Cross-Continent MBA) and also many EMBA programs invite candidates to reach out and connect with their admissions teams for a detailed discussion in advance of applying. Typically how it works is you submit your resume to them and then schedule a call where they talk about that specific program and how you might be a fit. Sometimes they’ll steer you to another of the degree programs that that school offers, but often it’ll be a way to encourage you to apply to that program specifically. It’s a high-touch approach that they find valuable, since it lets them start to build the relationship and gain exposure to what they offer, and it can be great for you as a potential applicant since they even sometimes coach candidates or steer them in a better direction on issues like which test (GRE or GMAT or for EMBA, Executive Assessment) and what type of score would be needed. This is more common for some of the European full-time programs; it’s not something that most of the top U.S. schools offer since they don’t have the ability to meet all the demand that they would have for it. Be sure to dig through all the pages of your school’s website to see about such opportunities, and if an admissions team offers it, then jump on the chance.
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This week we’re discussing the real-world situation of the Brave Supplicant who tried for an MBA but did not have success getting in. This is not so much about planning a reapplicant strategy, though that isn’t at odds with this either. This is about, hmmm, things didn’t go as planned, and sitting here in middle…
It may seem like everyone but you has been accepted to bschool this year, but it’s not true. There have been lots of disappointments. You’re not the only one. Everyone crows about their successes but many who don’t make it go very quiet about everything so you can sometimes feel like you’re the only one…
Can you believe we’re halfway through the Fall already?!??
Can you believe that Round 1 is this far along???
Can you believe that it was way back in July that we first heard from our intrepid Brave Supplicant who’s sharing his story with us?????
Nope, we can’t either!
Here’s an update on app strategy, approach, and (yay!!) progress made so far for our reapplicant friend!
If you missed his first episode, you can check it out here.
Episode 2: Progress in Round 1!!
Disclaimer: The content produced for this series was provided as a contribution to the EssaySnark blahg in exchange for free EssaySnark consulting services. The BSer created this report on his own. All opinion, advice, and ideas are his — though we recognize quite a bit of our own coaching advice coming through!!! 😉 For anyone new to this process who wants to learn the strongest techniques for presenting yourself in your essays as he has described, we’d suggest looking into our App Accelerators for guidance. We also have to caution against submitting to that many schools if this is your first season of apps and especially if Round 2 is your first round. However, we have to commend him on the approach to school research!! EVERYONE can benefit from that.
Last season we had a slew of Round 2 BSers who were reapplying to bschool. No problem with that, plenty of schools are very open to reapplicants. The problem occurred with the essays. In multiple cases, these applicants hit us up for help really really late – like, less than a week before their deadline….