Delayed Dings Rile Wharton Applicants

University of Pennsylvania Wharton School

University of Pennsylvania Wharton School

For whom does the ding toll? It tolls for thee. You just don’t know it yet.

Imagine: You’ve applied to one of the world’s best business schools. Let’s call it “Wharton.” You anxiously await an answer. Finally, a ping arrives – your application status has been updated! You follow the “check status” link to your application portal. There’s no change to your application. You wait a few minutes and check again. Still no change.

You call Wharton admissions. Although it’s October, you get a recorded message from last February saying no one’s in the office because of inclement weather. You go to the website of the application-management company. Let’s call it “CollegeNET.” There’s no phone number, just an online form to submit.

You think to yourself, “Maybe other applicants are in the same boat.” You jump into a live chat on a B-school site. Let’s call it “gmatclub.” You find there are dozens of people having the same experience with the same school.


People on the chat compare notes. They can’t figure out what’s going on. Then someone posts a celebratory comment: “I got an interview!” It turns out that applicant was notified by email about the interview. Those who received no such emails begin to fear the worst.

That’s what happened on Oct. 31 to an applicant named Annie, who was left hanging for close to an hour after being notified via CollegeNET’s ApplyWeb portal that her application status with the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School had changed. Annie does not want her full name published because her employer isn’t yet aware she’s applying to B-schools.

After futile attempts to find out what, exactly, had changed about her Wharton application status, Annie learned, when her status on ApplyWeb did change, that she’d been dinged.

“It was really just frustrating for everyone,” says Annie, 26, who has an undergraduate architecture degree from the University of Arkansas, and in late October interviewed with Harvard Business School.


Participants in the gmatclub live chat felt they had been treated unprofessionally and disrespectfully, says Annie, who’s awaiting notice regarding her applications at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, U.C. Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, and UCLA’s Anderson School of Management.

It appears that everyone on the live chat who had received notice of a Wharton application status change but found their applications unchanged eventually learned they’d been rejected, Annie says.

She sent messages to Wharton and CollegeNET to make sure they knew there had been a problem.

Annie says she’s not bitter about the ding, but she didn’t appreciate the lack of what she would consider an appropriate response and explanation from Wharton and CollegeNET.


“I felt very undervalued: ‘You don’t matter to us anymore,'” she says. “It was not a good experience.

“There were people that were really, really upset about it.”

Later that night, Annie received, in her email box, form-letter apologies from the school and the company.

“They did respond once it was fixed, so I’ll give them that,” Annie says.

CollegeNET, in a statement, blamed the problem on “a technical error in the web-based admissions software hosted by CollegeNET…temporarily delayed delivery of decision announcements to some Wharton applicants. The error was resolved within 45 minutes after detection, and all students were then able to access their application status.”


Company spokesperson Jill Thacker says CollegeNET doesn’t know how many people were affected by the delayed notification. “We have no way of tracking which students attempted to check their status within that 45 minutes,” Thacker says. “Anyone who checked their status outside that 45-minute window would not have encountered any problem.”


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