“There’s a bit of magic in everything, and some loss to even things out.”
“Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.”
– Winston Churchill
After issuing congrats to a very happy Brave Supplicant last year who wrote to us with news of their success, we asked if we could share their story on the blahg, and this is what we got!! Figured all of you toiling current-crop BSers might appreciate a pick-me-up story of where your hard work will be (hopefully!!!) leading soon.
Thanks Snark! I took my acceptance call while snowboarding and I think my husband and friends were concerned I was going to fall down the mountain from excitement.
Sorry for the delay getting back to you– here’s a write up of my experience. Please feel free to suggest any edits.
I took the GMAT a few years ago and half-heatedly decided to apply that year. I was ambitious with my school selection and underprepared as an applicant both from a personal and professional stance. Although I worked hard on my applications, I was outright rejected without an interview from the two schools to which I’d applied. I was disappointed, but knew I could present myself as a better applicant with a bit of time on my side.
Fast forward to Round 1 of this year’s  application cycle. I knew I had to do things differently this time around if I wanted a better result. I read the Blahg previously and decided I’d go for the Complete Essay Package for my favorite school (which is one I’d applied to the first go around as well).
Although I didn’t enjoy the application process much at all, I appreciated that Snark broke it down into accomplishments and career goals before I started my essays. The feedback I received was at times frustrating, but always accurate. By the end of the process I was really proud of the application I’d put together and felt like the content represented me well and in a concise way I just wouldn’t have arrived at on my own. It did feel like an “introspective” process too in the sense that I feel like I have a better idea what I want to do with my life today than I did ~4.5 months ago when I started thinking about school.
I’m excited to report that I applied to three schools and was admitted (only) to my top choice with a very generous fellowship! I was waitlisted at my second choice and rejected without an interview at my third. I am absolutely stunned by the result and can’t wait to begin my MBA in the fall.
To everyone in the midst of application season, good luck!
This obviously came over to us some months back and we’re certain that many of you who have gone through the process fully understand the sentiments expressed!! What this shows though is that despite how much you don’t like the writing and rewriting (and getting difficult feedback!!) that it’s really necessary to suck it up and go through it. That’s where strong essays are born! The difference between the first drafts that this former BSer sent in for review and the last ones that they ended up submitting with their apps is like night and day. It’s only through the teeth-gritting effort that most people get to that place. So, if you’ve felt like DANG THIS IS PAINFUL!! then yeah, that’s a common experience, and yeah, it’s really really worth it to just keep plugging away!!!
Good luck to this BSer too – maybe at some point we’ll get another update from the in-person experience of being on campus at this top school.
We’ve frequently applauded HBS for improving the process for Brave Supplicants, and for being more transparent, such as with GRE and GMAT scores in applicants and students done in 2014. The changes that HBS made to admissions over the years, particularly with the “mid-cycle release”, really revolutionized how the process works for all of you, and several other schools followed their lead and implemented similar changes. This is super-applicant-friendly. Round 1 candidates benefit tremendously. You get to find out really early in the season if you’re moving to the next stage with them.
Before this innovation with the mid-cycle release, you had to wait till December if you were going to be rejected — or actually, January, since at the time, that’s when Round 1 decisions came in. Yup, you had to submit Round 2 apps at other schools without even knowing if your Round 1 apps were successful or not. Don’t have to tell you how much THAT sucked. Can’t recall which school was the one that started pulling decision releases into December but we’re thinking that was Harvard too.
Harvard has also been the school to move Round 1 app deadlines into September; they did so tentatively at first, moving it from the beginning of October which had been everyone’s standard, up to September 24 in 2012, and then to September 16 in 2013, and then in 2014 a full month earlier than many other schools’ deadlines. (In 2017 the Round 1 deadline was September 6.) This we also feel is to the benefit of EVERYONE in MBA admissions, because it lights a fire under the BSers’ butts much much earlier than ever before. Several other schools now have apparently felt empowered by Harvard’s bravery to also place their Round 1 deadlines in September, which provides further benefit since it means more of those deadlines are spread out over a longer timeframe – which in our experience, results in better apps to every school, since all the workeffort isn’t all lumped together in one two-week period for all of your apps. We noticed this specifically this year with the increase in quality we saw in BSers’ Rd 1 apps. So again, “Thank you, Harvard Business School.”
But the biggest innovation came in 2010 with this mid-cycle release thing. Before Harvard implemented that, you’d just submit the app in October and wonder. And wonder. And wonder. You’d finally get the “no” in December confirming what you would by-then know was inevitable – you’d basically resign yourself to being rejected if you didn’t get an interview invite by the end of November, but that’s a very long sequence of grueling undefined and doubt-filled days to go through before you get the actual word “No” on your app. This is still how a few schools do it, which is pretty lousy, as many of you will be experiencing in the weeks to come. For Harvard and several others, the process is now different.
We are of course referring to the vast majority of Harvard applicants here – not the ones who are getting the interview invitations this week, but the ones who did not, and will not. For that second group, the mid-cycle “release” seems very kind. You’re hearing really really early in the cycle that you’re a no-go for Harvard. Blat. OK well, shoot, that hurts. But at least you can regroup and move on. You can start your Round 2 planning early enough to actually fix the issues and create a competitive application.
So why is the title of this post referring to some “major problem” with how HBS does it?
It is this:
The “major problem” is, a very large percentage of those people are actually TOTALLY QUALIFIED and will UNDOUBTEDLY (if they play their cards right) MAKE IT IN TO ANOTHER REALLY GOOD SCHOOL. One without the word “Harvard” in its name, but a good school nonetheless.
Yet on the “release” day, all these well-qualified and capable Brave Supplicants turn into the most self-doubting and dejected group of people on the planet.
In fact, if you got all of them together in one room on that release day, you’d probably see the world tilt off its axis due to the weight of the depression and despair.
Despite all of our warnings and cautions and the work we do in trying to help set expectations among the lot of you, we know it doesn’t help. You get rejected – when you thought you’d be The One – and it is downright awful. (This is particularly sharp given that those who are rejected from Harvard, despite being so qualified, have typically been success stories in life, so this is sometimes an unusual set of circumstances, and emotions, to be dealing with.)
Those more-reasonable schools have barely begun releasing any interview invitations, though. It’s very possible that hot on the heels of a Harvard rejection, you are going to get news that a different adcom is interested and wants to meet you. And yeah, that can help. However, it’s unlikely that that happen news has hit your inbox quite yet.
So this week, on the second day of HBS interview invites, things are often quite awful for many applicants. We appreciate how early HBS gives this news, but we do sort of wish that it happened a tiny bit later in the cycle, so that people would already have a few invites from other schools racked up, and they wouldn’t go off the emotional deep end quite so much.
All we want to do is remind you that all decisions are independent events, and most people are rejected from Harvard, and lots and lots of that group make it into Very. Good. Schools after that rejection.
If Harvard doesn’t happen, there will still be lots of opportunities out there!
In case you read yesterday’s rant post about when to time your waitlist updates to the adcom and felt like we were too much of UnsupportiveSnark and not enough of HelpfulStrategySnark, today’s post is for you. The BSer in question can totally make it into bschool – but given where we’re at in the current…
A whole bunch of (now former) BSers were celebrating last week! As you are probably well aware, the first Round 1 admit decisions were announced by schools like Chicago Booth and Yale SOM. Columbia Early Decision decisions have of course been happening all along. There’s been some happy Brave Supplicants coming around to let us…
If you didn’t make it in to Darden this past admissions cycle, then don’t forget that they’ll provide feedback on your app in case you want to reapply.
Darden gives applicants who are not offered admission the opportunity to receive feedback on their application at the end of the admissions cycle. If you plan to reapply to Darden next year [meaning, for the Class of 2019] and would like feedback on your application, you will be able to sign up for a feedback appointment in June.
Be sure to watch their blog for announcements of when these calls will be available.
Only a few schools do this. HBS will do it if they interviewed you and/or put you on the waitlist before rejecting you. Tuck will do it too. Yale mentioned in their Round 3 webinar a few weeks ago that they’ll do 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 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.