In this first of a two part series, I will provide my responses to ten of the questions prospective business school applicants most often ask. In this article I will discuss questions 1 through 5.
Question 1: Does what I do during the application process really make that much of a difference? Is not the decision-making process based more on quotas and “who you know” than on genuinely admitting the best applicants?
Response: The answer to both questions is yes. Most business schools are committed to achieving certain enrollment goals – quality, diversity and a strong acceptance percentage, to name a few. Within the bounds of the law they try very hard to achieve these goals. That said, there are times when who an applicant knows at a certain institution could have an impact on the application decision. However, it has been my experience time and time again that the manner with which applicants represent themselves can and does make a difference. Well written essays, a strong cover letter and a solid interview do help to narrow the competition. Always look to put your best foot forward. Do your best, relax, and remember that things do work out the way they are meant to.
Question 2: What if I discover an error in my application after I have already submitted it?
Response: First and foremost, do not panic. Contact the admissions office and calmly explain what happened. Do not ask the admissions office to make any corrections or changes. Rather, ask if you can send updated/corrected information online or via overnight mail. If the admissions office offers to make changes or corrections, and that can readily be done, accept the offer with your thanks. Then send a thank you note to the person who helped you. Before ending the conversation, be sure you have done the following: 1) Know exactly how/when the corrections/changes will be made; 2) Thank the admissions staff for their patience and assistance; 3) Ask if you should call to confirm that the corrections/changes have been made; 4) Get the name of the person who is assisting you.
If you are sending corrected/updated information via overnight mail, make sure to enclose a note indicating with whom you spoke, and once again, thank the admissions staff for their patience and assistance. Do not be overly apologetic or dramatic. We all make mistakes. If you handle things calmly and do not over-react, you may help yourself by demonstrating to the admissions committee how you handle a difficult and potentially embarrassing situation.
Question 3: What if I have a bad experience with the admissions staff while on a campus visit , at an information session/receptoin, or during an interview?
Response: Wait 24 hours before doing anything. Then, if you believe you were the offending party, apologize in person or on the phone and follow up with a written apology. This time, however, copy the director of admissions on your letter. That way what you said in the letter will directly reach the director, and not be communicated second hand. If you believe you were not the offending party, contact the director of admissions only, and do so in writing. Send your letter via overnight mail (not via email), and indicate that the contents of the letter are confidential. Inform the director of your complaint, provide your contact information and ask to speak with her/him about this matter as soon as possible. If you have not heard from anyone within three days and you know that your letter did reach its destination, call and ask to speak with the director. The response you receive to your complaint will tell you something about the institution to which you have applied. In most cases a bad experience does not have a huge impact on the final decision provided you have handled yourself honestly, calmly and professionally. A situation like this, as difficult as it may be, provides insight into who you are and how you behave in situations that are not optimal.
Question 4: What if I decide that, for whatever reason, I am no longer interested in an b-school to which I have applied before they have notified me of a decision?
Response: You have been doing your homework and have one less option on the list. Send a letter or email message to the admissions director, asking that your application be withdrawn. Or you might decide to wait and see what the decision is on your application. After all, you did do all the work and the application fee is non-refundable.
Question 5: What if several days have gone by since the notification deadline and I have not heard anything?
Response: My best advice is to wait at least one week after the notification deadline. If you have not heard anything, call the admissions office to request an update.
Check out Dr. Don’s MBA blog series on U.S. News & World Report: https://www.usnews.com/topics/author/dr_don_martin?offset=50
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