Now back to the b-school world. Round 2 decisions are out in full force, and I love being along for the ride. It’s crazy that I can hardly remember the anxiety that I felt the weeks leading up to my Judgment Days. But there you have it, the forums are burning bright with the feverish dance of an Anxious Applicant. What, if any advice, can applicants take right now?
I know that this advice would have fallen on deaf ears if you had said it to me while in the throes of my own anxiety, but I hope that some of my readers might feel at least find a smidgen of solace in my recommendations. So here goes:
1) You will receive a decision. Not all decisions are created equal, and unfortunately some of them will likely not be what you’d hoped. An acceptance call will make it all worth it; it will wash away your anxiety, and with it a new stream of excitement (and tears?) will likely follow. A rejection will sting, but it should not make you bitter. Your peers are worthy, don’t think of them as adversaries. A wait list notification, I hate to say it, is the worst news of all. It’s a horrible continuation of your purgatory. But again, I repeat: you will receive a decision. You need to find comfort (what little it may be) that this feeling won’t last forever. You still have R3 or 4 to make that final pitch!
2) Attending business school is NOT your dream; your dreams are. So often I hear people talk about how it is their dream to attend business school. But, business school is a means to an end. It can be a very enjoyable and thrilling means, but your dreams are (hopefully!) far more personal and profound. Do you dream of wealth? Prestige? Power? Or perhaps just got old-fashioned self realization? There are many many other ways to achieve these goals, and business school is not always the best way. Once you accept that your ambition to attend business school is really an ambition to accomplish something else, you may be relieved to know that your ambition can be pursued in many many ways. If business schools don’t admit you, perhaps they don’t think your goals require an MBA to begin with!
3) The reasons you are rejected are finite. Sometimes those reasons are fixable and sometimes they are not. Your lack of extra curriculars, leadership experiences, and GMAT score have potential to be improved. Your GPA, undergrad institution, and employment history, not so much. Work on the things you can change and recognize the things you can’t. Schools aren’t issuing their judgments about you or your accomplishments, they’re creating a class of individuals that they believe will thrive in their program. Not being right for their program and not being a successful person are VERY different.
4) There’s always next year. Really. Even if you’re 45 years old. If this is what you want, you can make it happen. There is a program that’s right for you, and maybe you need to do more soul-searching to figure out what the program is. Don’t trap yourself in a plan that makes THIS YEAR the only year. Life is a long and great road if you weave along its winding paths. Plowing through a mountain can sometimes be easier than climbing over it, but the scenic route can be both enjoyable and lovely.
Sassafras is a 30-year-old MBA applicant who works for a San Francisco-based non-profit organization with a primary focus on youth development and education. With a 730 GMAT and a 3.4 grade point average from a highly ranked liberal arts college, he currently blogs at MBA: My Break Away? His previous posts for Poets&Quants: