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Linda Abraham: Hello, my name is Linda Abraham. I'm the president and founder of Accepted.com and the presenter of today's Q&A. First of all, I want to welcome all of you to the webinar and give you a brief overview of what we'll be discussing, as well as the few technical kinds of instructions.
I'll begin with the basics of MBA Waitlist. I anticipate that we'll have 5 or 10 minutes of me just talking and giving you some tips and advice. Then I'm going to open it up to questions and the remainder of this hour will be Q&A. I hope that you thought of some good questions that I'll be able to answer. I'll also give you some general tips and resources and then as I've said, I'll be taking your questions.
So thank you again for joining and let's get going. The overriding objective when you're on an MBA waitlist is, of course, to get accepted from that waitlist and that's the same objective you've had since you started your MBA application journey. Now, realize that you're on the waitlist because on some level the school you applied to, the waitlisting school, likes you. They like your application and they like your qualifications, but there were others that they clearly liked more.
You want to maximize your chances now so the next time the school turns the waitlist and evaluates your application, you will be perceived as even better than you were when you were waitlisted and again worthy of an acceptance this time around. Now, realize that schools use the waitlist to protect against declined offers, to protect against "melt" which is when people first accept and then decline to attend, and to ensure the diversity of their classes.
This implies that this process is not entirely in your control. You can do a great job in terms of your updates and in terms of everything you do on the waitlist and you still may not make it in because if the school has a very high yield this particular year. Or if that yield is high among people like you, you are less likely to get accepted from the waitlist because these schools all value the diversity of their classes.
The silver lining of being on the waitlist is that if you choose to reapply and you can show growth from this year's application to next year's, then your chances of getting on the acceptance list this time are higher. So that's kind of the good news and again, the silver lining in this rather frustrating situation. I know that it is a frustrating situation. So in the pursuit of that overriding objective, what should you do?
Step one, you're going to want to follow the school's instructions. If the school says, tell us that you're interested and keep us updated about the developments of interest, then do it. Do it with good judgment. Good judgment, not bad judgment. Just good judgment, but do it. If they say, as have Harvard and Wharton in the past, "Don’t call us during the waitlist. We'll call you when we make up our minds." Don’t contact them. It really won't do you any good. It may annoy.
If they say you may send in one update, as it has upon occasion, then make the most of that one update and don’t send in more. Since there really is nothing to say about the "don’t call us” schools we'll focus on those that allow contact. We'll certainly focus much more on those.
So once you've followed the school's instructions, and again, you determine that the school is welcoming updates, you need to assess your profile on your application. Are there weaknesses that you have worked on or ameliorated since you applied? Discuss how you have addressed them. So what could some of those be?
Did you perhaps not have much leadership since you left college? Have you taken on more responsibility or a promotion, got an award? Was your GMAT a little bit below average and did you subsequently retake it? Were you a poet or liberal arts major who hadn’t taken a math class since high school and have you since you applied taken courses that you did very well in? Have you gotten involved in nonprofessional activities? Have you gotten international exposure? Any of these items would address a perceived weakness.
The other thing you want to do even if you don’t have weaknesses, even if you're strong across the board, you still want to show that you are new and improved, that you're a dynamic, growing individual. So if you took on that new leadership role, it may be somewhat less important to the person who didn’t have that much leadership, but you still want to mention that.
You still want to let the schools know that you have assumed more responsibility or that somebody has entrusted you with greater responsibility. You want to let them know if you've initiated something innovative, originated. Again, that's the kind of activity that business schools value and that you want to inform them of.
Secondly, in trying to show that you're new and improved, even if you don’t have weaknesses that you are addressing, you want to incorporate anything that would demonstrate your fit with the school or your seriousness of purpose in pursuing your goals.
Now, I don’t want to do all the talking here this evening, so I'm going to ask you. What would be an example of something that would, from your life, show a seriousness of purpose in pursuit of a particular goal? I have some examples prepared, but I'd like you to do a little bit of thinking in response to that.
Anybody who's going to volunteer? What if you're not in financial services now and you want to switch to financial services? Take a math class. Good, Josh. That would be one real good one. Again, that would also work if you don’t have much of a math background.
Another example would be if you could report that you took the CFA exam in December and passed it. That would be a very concrete way of showing both quantitative skills, self discipline and seriousness of purpose about pursuing a career in finance and not just that you saw a good movie about Wall Street.
Arnab says, "I tried a startup which failed but did launch my business." I guess that would be something showing seriousness of purpose certainly about business in general and specifically about entrepreneurship. Good, thank you. So, that would all work.
Now, let's move on to the closely-related ABCs of the MBA waitlist.
A: First, you want to address and ameliorate weaknesses without magnifying them. Now, what do I mean without magnifying them? I already said you can say you retook the GMAT. Normally, people would retake the GMAT because they weren’t happy with their first GMAT, but I don’t think you have to go too much into motivations there. But you don’t have to say, if you took a quant class, "I took a quant because my quant skills are weak."
You can say, "I took a quant class to prepare for the rigors of business school." You can say, "I joined some Toastmasters to improve my presentation ability. You can do all kinds of things and put it in the positive as opposed to the negative.
B: You want to boost your strengths. That was something again I talked about in terms of the three goals of showing that you're new and improved. You want to boost your strengths by revealing recent promotions, projects, awards and achievements.
C: Confirm fit by revealing how recent visits to the schools and events that may have nothing to do with schools have confirmed that the waitlisting school is the place for you. It could be revisits. It could be interactions with students or alumni. It could be something that had nothing to do directly with the school, but somehow told you, that school, that focus, that set of values and that kind of community is really the one for me.
It could be something that happened in your church or perhaps in the campaign, if you were involved in the presidential campaign or some other campaign. It could be something that happened on a sports team that you're involved in. There are many different ways that events can confirm a particular school in your mind is right for you, but be concrete and be specific. As I said before, don’t waste anybody's time.
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