Posts by Metro MBA
With many MBA programs getting close to being ready to release their final round decisions, the application season will soon be coming to a close. While we would like to hope that today’s topic isn’t apropos for too many of our readers, we wanted to offer some advice to applicants who’ve been rejected from their preferred programs and are planning on reapplying next season. While it’s important to take some time to deal with the disappointment, it’s never too early to begin thinking about the next season, and there are a number of steps you can take to improve your candidacy and move toward a stronger application.
It’s April, which means that the majority of leading programs will be hosting business school welcome weekends for those candidates that they have admitted during their first two admissions rounds. These “sell” weekends are very important for the schools as part of their push to encourage those that they have admitted to enroll. They know that many of their admitted students have options to go elsewhere, or are now considering the financial aspects of the program and concerned as to whether it is an economically viable option.
If you were fortunate enough to gain admissions to an elite MBA program, this post is for you. We explain the importance of attending welcome weekends and what you should want to learn.
In the last week few weeks we saw multiple decision releases from the schools we covered on MetroMBA and Clear Admit. The MBA LiveWire on Clear Admit has captured a lot of this news and many candidates have already been reporting that they’ve been waitlisted.
We have some guidance for candidates who find themselves placed on a waitlist, but before we get to that, let’s look first at why schools use a waitlist.
First and foremost, while schools now know the quality of their Round 1 matriculants and Round 2 applicants, they do not know how many of the candidates admitted as part of Round 2 will ultimately enroll, nor the number of outstanding candidates in Round 3. Simply put, the waitlist helps schools manage these unknowns to arrive at the strongest possible class come fall. Some schools will be concerned that other schools may need to admit candidates from their waitlists in the next few months, which will have a “knock on” impact, and mean they will have to also go to their waitlists. The goal of the school is, after all, to admit the best overall class, regardless of when someone applies.
Schools also can learn, by placing a candidate on the waitlist, how committed he or she is to attending the school. There is signal value in how a candidate responds to the waitlist decision. Some candidates placed on a waitlist receive offers at other schools they would prefer to attend, in which case they will opt out. Others remain convinced that the school that has waitlisted them is their best choice and will hold out to see if they can ultimately gain admission.
Six Tips for After Being Waitlisted
If you find yourself on the waitlist, don’t lose hope. Some top programs admit a number of individuals from the waitlist in Round 3 and even later. That said, we know that cautious optimism does not make the wait for an answer any easier. To help those in this situation make sure that they’re doing all they can, we do have a few strategic waitlist tips:
- Better options, time to move on
Many candidates that are placed on the waitlist for Round 2 have actually received admissions decisions at other schools, some of which may be preferred options. If this is you, then it is an easy decision; alert the school that you are declining their waitlist offer and moving on. While some candidates may be tempted to remain on the waitlist just to see what the final outcome might be, this will only harm your fellow applicants who need a spot from the waitlist.
- Know—and follow—the rules
Schools vary in their stances when it comes to interaction with those on the waitlist; some shun communication from applicants and even go so far as to discourage on-the-record campus visits, whereas others welcome correspondence and assign an admissions office liaison to serve the needs of waitlisted candidates.
We know that the natural impulse is to update the adcom that recent promotion or the final grade from that accounting class you took to bolster your academic profile. At first blush, a short letter or quick call to communicate this kind of update might seem harmless. But no matter how exciting the piece of news you want to share may be, ignoring the adcom’s instructions is ultimately going to reflect badly on you. Though policies discouraging communication from waitlisted candidates may seem frustrating or unfair, it’s important to respect and abide by the preferences of each school.
- Communicate if you can
For those programs that do permit or encourage contact from waitlisters, it is important to provide an update. In addition to the obvious news items mentioned above, it’s beneficial to read over your essays and reflect on whether there is some piece of your background or interests that you haven’t gotten across yet. Taking the time to write about your relevant recent experiences, positive developments in your candidacy and ways that you’ve enhanced your understanding of the program is a nice sign of your interest in the school and a good strategy for telegraphing your commitment to attending. It is, of course, also in your interest to make sure that the adcom has the most up-to-date information so that it can make an informed decision the next time your file comes up for evaluation.
- Keep in touch
Don’t disappear after an initial note to the adcom or phone call to your waitlist manager (if applicable). If you have plans to be on or near campus, for instance, send a quick email to alert your waitlist manager (or whoever you may have interacted with on the adcom) to this fact. In many cases, you’ll find that the adcom will even invite you to stop by for a friendly chat about your candidacy—something that can go a long way towards helping your case. Beyond a visit, sending a brief update every few weeks or so is another way to reaffirm your interest in the school and keep you fresh in the minds of the adcom—something that could work to your advantage in a discussion of which candidates to admit from the waitlist. In all cases, it is important to remember that there is a fine line between persistence and pestering, so use good judgment!
- Letters of support
If, during the admissions process, you have interacted with students or alumni of the program, it may be worth reaching back out to these individuals and updating them on your status. Assuming you have made a positive impression during the admissions cycle, they may be willing to provide an additional letter of support for your candidacy at this stage of the process.
- Have a contingency plan
While it’s important to be consistent and enthusiastic when waitlisted and communicate with staff at your target program, it’s also wise to have a backup plan. Many waitlisted candidates will have admissions to other schools to which they might plan to attend if not accepted from the waitlist of their preferred school. Even if you’re waitlisted at the school of your dreams and intend to reapply if not admitted, it’s also never too early to start thinking about the coming year and what steps you might take to enhance your candidacy before next fall.
For valuable guidance about being on the waitlist, check out the Clear Admit Waitlist Guide. This guide will teach you to understand the ground rules of a program’s waitlist policy, formulate a plan to address weaknesses in your candidacy, craft effective communications to the admissions committee and explore every opportunity to boost your chances of acceptance. This 23-page PDF file, which includes school-specific waitlist policies and sample communication materials, is available for immediate download.
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As interview invites continue to roll out, and candidates prepare for their interviews, we wanted to continue our theme of providing interview etiquette and advice and share a few very basic pointers on MBA interview etiquette. Though the content of your application materials and comments during the interview are of paramount importance, it’s also crucial to put one’s best foot forward and make a positive initial impression.
Here are a few guidelines for interviewing applicants to keep in mind:
Plan to arrive at least 15 minutes ahead of your interview. This will help remove the stress you will experience if you think you might arrive a little late. It will also help the interviewer, who may have back-to-back interviews, and cannot afford any delays in her schedule.
Dress The Part
Unless meeting with an alum who explicitly specifies a more casual dress code, assume that business attire is appropriate. We recommend that applicants dress conservatively, opting for a dark suit (pants or skirts are both fine for women) and a blue or white shirt. Steer clear of flashy brand gear and loud ties, and go easy on makeup and fragrances; you want to be remembered for what you say and who you are, not what you wore.
For those who do not work in an environment where professional dress is worn on a regular basis, you might want to get comfortable wearing your interview attire prior to your interviews.
This likely goes without saying, but we wanted to state for the record that in addition to fostering a friendly discussion with your interviewer, it’s also important to be polite to administrative staff and anyone else you might encounter while on campus or in your alumni interviewer’s office. Flippant comments to the administrative assistant at the front desk often find their way up the chain of command.
Be Aware Of Body Language
In addition to your comments about your experiences, interests and reasons for seeking an MBA, your interviewer will also be taking note of the way you present yourself. You’ll also want to avoid taking notes or reading from your résumé; it can be fine to have the latter in front of you as a reference, but remember that you should be familiar enough with its content to focus on maintaining eye contact and establishing a rapport.
Bring Your Résumé
It is always best to have an extra copy of your résumé with you, in case your interviewer needs it. The only exception to this case is when you interview with the University of Virginia’s Darden School, which is the only school that conducts interviews in a truly blind fashion. But even in that case, you may prefer to have a copy for yourself as you interview – though we caution against using the résumé as a crutch or a prop to the point of distraction, as successful candidates typically can speak to their résumé without needing to refer to it much.
Make sure that you get your interviewer’s card and take his or her contact information in order to send a “thank you” email within 24 hours of the interview. This is not only common courtesy but could also serve as the first step in forging a lasting correspondence.
We hope these six suggestions on etiquette help you prepare for your interviews. Meanwhile, applicants who are curious about what to expect might want to check out the Clear Admit MBA Interview Archive, which features firsthand accounts of interviews at all of the top programs, and the Clear Admit Interview Guides, which offer in-depth, school-specific interview guidance for nearly every leading MBA program.
Good luck to everyone hoping for an MBA interview invite!
The goalposts for group MBA interviews are constantly shifting. For years, we at MetroMBA and Clear Admit, as well as other provincial publications, have been dishing out valuable advice for how to prepare for it. And for those familiar, one of the key points to remember is constantly being familiar with the changes.