Cornell Johnson Waitlist Chat with Randall Sawyer

Cornell Johnson Waitlist Chat with Randall Sawyer

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Linda Abraham (Feb 28, 2007 1:59:21 PM)
First I want to welcome you all to’s Cornell Johnson waitlist chat.

Linda Abraham (Feb 28, 2007 1:59:44 PM)
My name is Linda Abraham. I am the founder and president of and I will be the chat moderator today. I also want to welcome Randall Sawyer, Director, MBA Admissions at Cornell Johnson. Thanks to everyone for joining.

Amit (Feb 28, 2007 2:00:46 PM)
I really appreciate you taking the time to do this. Thanks!

Brandon J (Feb 28, 2007 2:00:53 PM)
Destination Johnson looks like a great opportunity to gain further knowledge of the Johnson School and a valuable chance to meet fellow students and faculty before classes begin. Do you expect any decisions on waitlisted candidates to be made in time for participation in this weekend?

RandallSawyerCornell (Feb 28, 2007 2:01:12 PM)
Thanks Amit and hi everyone! Applications are up 30% for us this year and we still have a round to go.

RandallSawyerCornell (Feb 28, 2007 2:01:54 PM)
Brandon--DJ is a great weekend and we will be reviewing the waitlist before that time.

Linda Abraham (Feb 28, 2007 2:02:07 PM)
Randall, are they up 30% over last year at this time or over all of last year's rounds?

Anthony Garcia (Feb 28, 2007 2:02:27 PM)
Good afternoon sir. I am actively working on strengthening my application by enrolling in summer coursework in accounting and statistics, and I’m sure others in this chat session are as well. Some of us won’t complete these courses until after a decision is made on our applications. 1. Is this a worthwhile endeavor, or should we seek out more immediate opportunities? 2. And do you have any other suggestions for improving our applications with regard to low scores on the quantitative portion of the GMAT?

RandallSawyerCornell (Feb 28, 2007 2:02:36 PM)
Linda, they are up 30% over last year same date and we are up nearly 20% over last year's final numbers.

Linda Abraham (Feb 28, 2007 2:03:00 PM)
Congrats, and thanks for clarifying.

RandallSawyerCornell (Feb 28, 2007 2:03:27 PM)
Hi Anthony. The coursework you have selected is good. Share with us your mid-semester grades to show us that you are advancing along nicely.

aspirant2007 (Feb 28, 2007 2:03:42 PM)
When do you plan to start notifying candidates on waitlist from Round 1

RandallSawyerCornell (Feb 28, 2007 2:04:17 PM)
Regarding question 2 from Anthony, I would urge you to take the opportunity at work to do more quant and share with us these new opportunities.

Lina Yin (Feb 28, 2007 2:05:00 PM)
Randall, I am taking classes as well, but I feel like there should be more things to update you on then just classes. Are there any other information you are looking for?

RandallSawyerCornell (Feb 28, 2007 2:05:01 PM)
aspirant, the waitlist is currently not being looked at, however, we plan to start looking at it in late March.

RandallSawyerCornell (Feb 28, 2007 2:05:39 PM)
Lina, specifically for Johnson waitlists, I urge you to fax back to us your form that keeps you on the waitlist and stay in touch regarding good news--a raise, promotion, class grades.

Amit (Feb 28, 2007 2:05:57 PM)
How soon do you expect to start sending out decisions/notifications to waitlisted applicants?

RandallSawyerCornell (Feb 28, 2007 2:06:41 PM)
We will start working on the waitlist late March, early April.

Aarti Subramanian (Feb 28, 2007 2:06:48 PM)
Sir, If a waitlist student is admitted in June, what are his/her chances of getting a scholarship / financial aid?

RandallSawyerCornell (Feb 28, 2007 2:07:53 PM)
Financial Aid will not be a problem--in fact you can be taken off the waitlist right up to orientation in August and still get financial aid. However, scholarship is rarely available to waitlisted candidates unless you are taken off the waitlist by the end of Round 4.

qf77 (Feb 28, 2007 2:07:55 PM)
Hello - In the past few years has there been any instance where no people were accepted from the waitlist? Do you anticipate this could happen this year?

RandallSawyerCornell (Feb 28, 2007 2:08:34 PM)
qf77, we have moved to the waitlist each year. I expect we will so the same this year.

aspirant2007 (Feb 28, 2007 2:08:46 PM)
Do you consider the waitlisted candidates from all the rounds at once or do you take them 1 round at a time?

RandallSawyerCornell (Feb 28, 2007 2:09:16 PM)
Aspirant, we review candidates from the entire group, not from the round applied.

george (Feb 28, 2007 2:09:19 PM)
I haven't gotten a form notifying me of waitlist status -- just an email. When can I expect to receive a form to mail back. Thanks.

RandallSawyerCornell (Feb 28, 2007 2:09:43 PM)
george, the form is on-line within your application and should have been in your waitlist letter.

Anthony Garcia (Feb 28, 2007 2:09:48 PM)
How many candidates are currently on the waitlist and are they currently prioritized? What is the average number selected from the waitlist each year?

RandallSawyerCornell (Feb 28, 2007 2:10:51 PM)
Our waitlist is about 75 currently--there is no average number selected from the waitlist each year. I would say we went 30 into the waitlist last year. We do not prioritize or number.

Anuradha Muralidharan (Feb 28, 2007 2:11:11 PM)
Mr Sawyer, first off, thank you so much for hosting this chat. Since being waitlisted I have shared a lot of information with the adcom professionally as well as on an extra-curricular front (as have most people in this chat and otherwise I'm sure). At this point, I am a little concerned about what would constitute relevant information/updates that the adcom would like to have. I am worried that just any type of contact might be over communication and at the same time, not staying in touch at this point might be perceived as lack of interest. Is there anything specific that you would recommend apart from updates and letters of interest?

RandallSawyerCornell (Feb 28, 2007 2:11:34 PM)
AM that is a great question! I have a top notch team here that keeps the process moving smoothly and keeps me informed of changes to waitlisted files. I urge you to continue to communicate with us every couple of weeks with new info if you have it. This does show continued interest and strengthens you file by showing that passion.

Linda Abraham (Feb 28, 2007 2:11:41 PM)

PraShant (Feb 28, 2007 2:13:06 PM)
What is the criteria for selecting candidates from the waitlist?

RandallSawyerCornell (Feb 28, 2007 2:13:36 PM)
Criteria for selecting form the waitlist varies. Some concerns we have are GMAT scores, quant scores within GMAT. Sometimes a lack of passion to get an MBA here. Sometimes we like to see how much desire a student has to push themselves based on our feedback.

Sam Liu (Feb 28, 2007 2:13:57 PM)
Thank you Mr. Sawyer for your availability today. Would the timing of the supplemental material submission help or hurt with one's wait list status? I am also enrolled in a class and awaiting the grade.

RandallSawyerCornell (Feb 28, 2007 2:15:07 PM)
SL--good job on enrolling in class. It sharpens the mind and prepares you for the rigor of our academic program here. Make sure we know you are enrolled and keep us informed about your grades.

Brandon J (Feb 28, 2007 2:15:26 PM)
Mr Sawyer, Can you point to one or two things in particular about your program that can account for this surge in applications?

RandallSawyerCornell (Feb 28, 2007 2:16:16 PM)
Hi Brandon--I understand that many programs are up. We have made a concerted effort this year to attract a larger, better pool than in past years. You will note that two years ago our average GMAT fell to 660, last year it was 680. I think that has a lot to do with it.

Jayson (Feb 28, 2007 2:16:24 PM)
I heard that Cornell had a huge increase in application volume this year. True? If so, were there a disproportionate number of excellent candidates or just a general increase?

RandallSawyerCornell (Feb 28, 2007 2:17:58 PM)
hi Jayson--I think the pool this year is stronger, older and with more work experience--we do see a bunch more excellent candidates than past years.

Aarti Subramanian (Feb 28, 2007 2:18:10 PM)
I will be appearing for CFA level 1 in June 2007, however the results will be declared only in mid July - will my preparation add any value to my over all package?

RandallSawyerCornell (Feb 28, 2007 2:18:53 PM)
Hi Aarti--congratulations on appearing for the CFA. Did you note that in your application? Please do as it does make you stronger.

Lina Yin (Feb 28, 2007 2:19:00 PM)
Randall, Is it wise to keep in touch with your and keep you updated on our application as well as other admissions staff, say the ODI office?

RandallSawyerCornell (Feb 28, 2007 2:20:39 PM)
Absolutely Lina--we work very closely with ODI and my team is truly a team. We meet regularly and each member of the team comments about students they communicate with. So do keep in touch and get to know us. Your decision for business school is a big one so we want to know who you are!

Anuradha Muralidharan (Feb 28, 2007 2:20:49 PM)
Thank you for clearing that Mr. Sawyer. I am an international applicant and I interviewed telephonically. For me as well as the many international applicants that you might have waitlisted, would it add value to arrange a meeting with a Cornell alumnus in India and have them write back to you about it? I am wondering because meeting someone in person always helps making a decision regarding their candidacy simpler. Could we be missing this opportunity?

RandallSawyerCornell (Feb 28, 2007 2:22:36 PM)
Anuradha, certainly meeting our alumni is a good way to lean more about the school and make an impression. I do usually hear back from our alumni with comments about the prospective student they have met. If you know a Johnson School alumni, please introduce yourself to them and get to know them and their experience here.

Linda Abraham (Feb 28, 2007 2:22:43 PM)
What applicant behavior detracts from a waitlisted applicant's chances?

RandallSawyerCornell (Feb 28, 2007 2:24:13 PM)
Linda, there is a fine line between keeping us informed and being over the top with contacts. I urge everyone to contact their best friend every time you contact us. Your friend will tell you when too much is too much and when you need to reach out to us again.

george (Feb 28, 2007 2:24:20 PM)
I have a very strong application, aside maybe from GMAT score. You say that GMAT score is among the top reason why someone is wait-listed, but there is so much more that makes for a good candidate. I'm concerned that Cornell is filling its class with experts in math but little other demonstrable achievements, and it isn't reflecting well on the program.

RandallSawyerCornell (Feb 28, 2007 2:25:20 PM)
George, thanks for the comments. I respectfully disagree with you. And let me address each point you raise. GMAT is important as we find that 50% of all students in academic trouble have scored 61% or less on the quant side of the GMAT. Why would we want to bring someone in to fail. We are not filling our class with experts in math--we are filling our class with students who are capable of surviving the core, especially quant core, and are well rounded students. I would suspect the 286 accepted students and the 172 deposits we have already tell the story of great well rounded students with strong GMATs and great achievements. I can assure that we look at the entire candidate.

Linda Abraham (Feb 28, 2007 2:26:32 PM)
That's the predictive value of the GMAT.

Amit (Feb 28, 2007 2:28:02 PM)
Johnson has had an average class age of 25 yrs in past years. With a stronger, older pool with more work experience, does Johnson intend to modify its class profile to reflect this change or still maintain its mix of young and older applicants?

RandallSawyerCornell (Feb 28, 2007 2:30:49 PM)
Amit, our class this year will be older in age, with more experience on average but we continue to try and mix the class both in age and experience.

aspirant2007 (Feb 28, 2007 2:30:56 PM)
Would you recommend somebody having a quant intensive engineering background, to take additional courses to come across as a better candidate

RandallSawyerCornell (Feb 28, 2007 2:31:56 PM)
Hi again a2007--an engineering background is great--does your GMAT sync with your education? That may be the issue with the waitlist

RandallSawyerCornell (Feb 28, 2007 2:32:08 PM)
Has everyone asked us for feedback? If you have not, I urge you to do so

Linda Abraham (Feb 28, 2007 2:32:42 PM)
So Cornell gives feedback to all waitlisted applicants? That's invaluable.

RandallSawyerCornell (Feb 28, 2007 2:32:54 PM)
We are happy to spend 30 minutes with you reviewing ways to strengthen your application.

Linda Abraham (Feb 28, 2007 2:33:12 PM)
Very impressive, and quite an opportunity.

RandallSawyerCornell (Feb 28, 2007 2:33:14 PM)
All waitlisted students who ask for feedback get it

Aarti Subramanian (Feb 28, 2007 2:33:26 PM)
Thank you I will update adcom with my CFA plan. Will a visit to the university and a face-to-face meeting with an adcom member be an advantage?

Linda Abraham (Feb 28, 2007 2:34:11 PM)
Take advantage of the opportunity and get the feedback. There is no need to grope in the dark.

RandallSawyerCornell (Feb 28, 2007 2:34:24 PM)
The Adcom is about 8 people and you cannot meet with them--no one can. However, certainly a visit to the Johnson School is a strong signal that you want to come off the waitlist. I know this is different than many other Admissions Directors, but, should you come to campus I will gladly say hello to you and put a face with a name. I meet with students nearly everyday and want to be very accessible.

Amit (Feb 28, 2007 2:35:40 PM)
I did already. It was great to talk to Ann and get her inputs.

RandallSawyerCornell (Feb 28, 2007 2:36:22 PM)
Hi Lina--you can contact Michael Corbett of the Admission Team and he can help put you in touch with alumni.

Jayson (Feb 28, 2007 2:36:33 PM)
I also talked with Ann, and she was very helpful and willing to frankly discuss my options.

Jayson (Feb 28, 2007 2:36:47 PM)
Short of retaking the GMAT, what can a waitlisted applicant do to improve his/her profile w/ regard to quantitative ability? For example, I am a Level II CFA candidate and I maintained good grades in quant courses, and I don't feel that the GMAT reflects my true quant skills. I am sure there are many who are in a similar position. Any advice?

RandallSawyerCornell (Feb 28, 2007 2:37:07 PM)
 I cannot share waitlisted info with you as per fed guidelines. and glad you made it to JMB--great weekend indeed!

RandallSawyerCornell (Feb 28, 2007 2:37:45 PM)
Lina--to close, we'd love to have you come back--get on my calendar via Michael should you return.

RandallSawyerCornell (Feb 28, 2007 2:38:04 PM)
Ann is GREAT. Period!

Lina Y (Feb 28, 2007 2:38:07 PM)
I definitely will. Thank you!

RandallSawyerCornell (Feb 28, 2007 2:39:22 PM)
Jayson--a Level II CFA and trouble with the GMAT? Bad test taker? bad day? Did you take it multiple times with same results?

Jayson (Feb 28, 2007 2:40:02 PM)
Yeah, I took the GMAT twice and had strep throat both times, if you can believe it

RandallSawyerCornell (Feb 28, 2007 2:40:16 PM)
I would be happy to talk with you offline--please contact Michael of my office and he'll get you on my phone calendar--we'll connect

Linda Abraham (Feb 28, 2007 2:40:18 PM)
It's dangerous, that test.

Anuradha Muralidharan (Feb 28, 2007 2:40:33 PM)
Mr. Sawyer, if it is possible for you to comment about this at this point, what is the intended class size for this Fall? Is Johnson looking at increasing its class size from last year?

Linda Abraham (Feb 28, 2007 2:40:50 PM)
That was a joke, Jayson. I do believe you.

RandallSawyerCornell (Feb 28, 2007 2:41:16 PM)
Also, to everyone--I want to let you know that I am happy to talk with you, email with you et al. I give my contact info out at the end of this chat.

RandallSawyerCornell (Feb 28, 2007 2:41:58 PM)
HI AM--the class size for the fall will not exceed 280. With 172 deposits on 268 offers, we are moving quickly toward filling those seats.

aspirant2007 (Feb 28, 2007 2:42:03 PM)
Thanks for being open to feedback sessions Mr. Sawyer. Is the additional information submitted by an applicant reviewed regularly by the adcomm or do you look at it when you decide to consider the waitlist?. The answer to my question would be more useful for a candidate who seeks feedback after submitting further updates.

Jayson (Feb 28, 2007 2:43:23 PM)
I will do that. Thank you.

Jayson (Feb 28, 2007 2:43:26 PM)
Ha! I can hardly believe it myself, Linda.

Anuradha Muralidharan (Feb 28, 2007 2:43:30 PM)
The numbers have us all palpitating now!

RandallSawyerCornell (Feb 28, 2007 2:43:43 PM)
a2007--we look at the additional material when we consider the waitlist--however, that being said, we do keep a spreadsheet of all info and additions as they come in. My staff does work me over pretty hard when they connect with a student so I get updated regularly.

george (Feb 28, 2007 2:43:50 PM)
There is a great deal of discussion here about taking extra classes and maintaining regular contact with Admissions about personal achievements. At what point though should a waitlisted applicant come to realize that it's not time well spent? Is there any indication they can get that registering for and successfully completing, say, a quant class would be worthwhile? Thanks.

RandallSawyerCornell (Feb 28, 2007 2:44:58 PM)
hi again George--good question. It is not time well spent when you get the letter indicating that your status has changed to deny. We took two people off the waitlist last year within 3 days of orientation.

Linda Abraham (Feb 28, 2007 2:46:08 PM)
I would also urge you not to overlook professional and personal non-academic developments. Randall, please correct me if I'm wrong, but those can also play a role in adcom decisions. They may not have been the focus here today, but don't overlook them -- unless Randall says otherwise.

RandallSawyerCornell (Feb 28, 2007 2:46:38 PM)
You are correct Linda

Seth (Feb 28, 2007 2:46:41 PM)
Have all the decision notification dates passed?

RandallSawyerCornell (Feb 28, 2007 2:47:37 PM)
To close George's question, a quant class is worthwhile if you are looking to go to b-school; here or anywhere else. If you are waitlisted, it helps your application, so why not?

RandallSawyerCornell (Feb 28, 2007 2:47:52 PM)
Seth, round 1 and 2 notification dates have come and gone. Round 3 is big one and is March 23rd. We will visit the waitlist after that round is notified

RandallSawyerCornell (Feb 28, 2007 2:48:49 PM)
Hi LY--economics is a good one in that group too

RandallSawyerCornell (Feb 28, 2007 2:51:20 PM)
hi AS--not a true assumption; we have found that each round, except the 4th, are about equal in quality. You might be a round 1 waitlist that was a bit ahead in the application drive. And we don't wait until all round are finished, we look after round 3 is completed.

Linda Abraham (Feb 28, 2007 2:51:55 PM)
Do you appreciate letters of support from Johnson students and alumni?

RandallSawyerCornell (Feb 28, 2007 2:52:02 PM)
LOVE THEM! They are the biggest defenders of the brand!

Anuradha Muralidharan (Feb 28, 2007 2:52:10 PM)
And following up on Aarti's question, an applicant who has made the effort to turn in his/her application in R1 Vs someone who has applied much later in R3. Isn't the former displaying keener interest as well as school focus? Isn't this passion vital to the class?

Linda Abraham (Feb 28, 2007 2:52:38 PM)
I love your clarity and enthusiasm.

Aarti Subramanian (Feb 28, 2007 2:52:56 PM)
Thank you for the clarification.

RandallSawyerCornell (Feb 28, 2007 2:52:56 PM)
Absolutely, it shows more passion to apply in round 1. However, we do not look at round 3 waitlists just after round 3 decisions--we'll be focusing on Round 1 and 2

ind_chat (Feb 28, 2007 2:53:20 PM)
Hi Randall. I am a waitlist from round 1. In my feedback it was intimated that the teamwork aspect of my applications were not as well represented as other selected applicants. I was also advised to submit another letter of recommendation if possible. My query is whether submitting a recommendation letter from a peer will be a good option since peers are generally the best source of information as far as teamwork is concerned. Or am I better of getting another recommendation from a senior and address my teamwork issues separately?

RandallSawyerCornell (Feb 28, 2007 2:54:17 PM)
I think a letter from both would do you well; it will provide us with keen insight from both directions..

george (Feb 28, 2007 2:54:27 PM)
Randall, if a candidate has a "low" GMAT score but a B or better average in several quant and econ classes noted in his or her academic record, including grad-level classes, coursework which adcom is already aware of, what, if anything, can the applicant do to persuade adcom s/he can handle a quant-heavy curriculum? Thanks.

RandallSawyerCornell (Feb 28, 2007 2:54:50 PM)
george--great questions. We do take a close look at undergrad and grad academic rigor--a b at one school might be a c at another--so that might be an issue. Also, for some candidates who have been out of school for many years, those grades are not a great snapshot anymore so we look at GMAT a bit more closely

RandallSawyerCornell (Feb 28, 2007 2:56:58 PM)
George, I would like to chat with you offline too--please contact Michael

aspirant2007 (Feb 28, 2007 2:57:03 PM)
adding to Linda's question, in the waitlist letter Johnson urged prospectives to submit only 1 recommendation letter, would a letter of support from a current student also fall into that category.

RandallSawyerCornell (Feb 28, 2007 2:57:54 PM)
student letters are different that regular recommendations--I hear from current students all the time and we add those comments to your files

Amit (Feb 28, 2007 2:58:01 PM)
Given visa issues, is there any 'last date' (in June/July) for international applicants by which they will hear of being admitted/denied?

RandallSawyerCornell (Feb 28, 2007 2:58:15 PM)
Another good question, Amit. We do try and decide international students on the waitlist due to visa issues--the date is not firm, but will be sometime this summer--we need to get through April first and will know better then

Aarti Subramanian (Feb 28, 2007 2:59:35 PM)
If you start reviewing waitlist applicant in late March, early April, by when can we start hearing from you? The letter says Jun 11.

RandallSawyerCornell (Feb 28, 2007 3:01:07 PM)
Aarti, if you are taken off the list, we'll contact you the day we take you off the list. Jun 11 is a late target date, not knowing where we would be in the whole process when we set it last year. We are ahead this year so we'll be moving the list earlier than planned.

george (Feb 28, 2007 3:01:31 PM)
Randall, how often are these sessions held and how can we learn when others are scheduled? Thanks.

Linda Abraham (Feb 28, 2007 3:01:43 PM)
We don't currently have another session planned.

Linda Abraham (Feb 28, 2007 3:01:53 PM)
Randall, maybe you and I will discuss this later.

RandallSawyerCornell (Feb 28, 2007 3:01:54 PM)
Well, I want to thank Linda and for hosting this.

Linda Abraham (Feb 28, 2007 3:02:00 PM)
You're most welcome.

Lina Y (Feb 28, 2007 3:02:32 PM)
I have spoken with some current students and some of them was put on waitlists on their first choice schools and accepted to other schools and having to decide to wait for their first choice or accept an offer. What are your thoughts on this?

RandallSawyerCornell (Feb 28, 2007 3:04:22 PM)
Lina, I think that students hedge their bets all the time. A deposit at one school holds your place while you hope for your number one school to come through I think is a good idea. It is money well spent as you secure a space a b-school.

RandallSawyerCornell (Feb 28, 2007 3:05:03 PM)
First of all, thanks everyone for joining me today. I hope that I have been able to help each one of you in some way.

Linda Abraham (Feb 28, 2007 3:05:07 PM)
If a student is approaching a "drop-dead" date, a date when they must make a decision and they are on Cornell's WL. Would you like to know that he or she is approaching a point of no return?

Linda Abraham (Feb 28, 2007 3:05:15 PM)
I think this has been fantastic.

Lina Y (Feb 28, 2007 3:05:22 PM)
Thank you very much Randall. I look forward to speaking with you again!

RandallSawyerCornell (Feb 28, 2007 3:05:38 PM)
Linsa, yes--I do want to know if the student is approaching a drop dead date!

RandallSawyerCornell (Feb 28, 2007 3:05:44 PM)
Here is my contact info: You can reach me by phone at 800-847-2082 or 607-255-4526 . I am always happy to speak with you. However, plan on 10 minutes or less of conversation as I have much to do! If you want to email me, you can do so at I get 200 plus emails a day and 40 phone calls so please understand that it may take a bit to get back to you but I will.

Anuradha Muralidharan (Feb 28, 2007 3:06:08 PM)
Thank you so much for taking the time. The talk has truly helped clear some doubts and misconceptions

Linda Abraham (Feb 28, 2007 3:07:06 PM)
Thank you again all for participating this evening. Special thanks to Randall for taking the time to virtually meet with you, provide this information, and make this process as transparent and humane as possible.

Linda Abraham (Feb 28, 2007 3:07:42 PM)
Thank you again.

RandallSawyerCornell (Feb 28, 2007 3:07:56 PM)
Glad to do it--good luck everyone!

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