What Process Do Adcoms Go Through in Reviewing Applications?
“You submit your application and it is assigned for a first read/review. This first look is typically done in isolation without directly comparing your materials to other current applications (your friends with the same/similar background).
This initial assessment is mostly looking to see if you’re competitive at a high level relative to historical trends for the program – academics, quality of work experience, etc. – to determine whether or not you should be interviewed. Now, if a candidate does have a much more common background, say consulting, IB, etc., the reader is likely to have more insight into what makes a competitive consultant, banker, etc., and will probably take that into consideration at the initial stage. For less common backgrounds…you’d be reviewed at more of a macro level. It’s unlikely to be a question of are you competitive relative to other Peace Corps/TFA/military candidates in that round.
After that, the decision will probably be vetted by a second reader/subset of the adcom to help ensure that they’re not over or under interviewing, to catch diamonds in the rough, etc. At this point, background might start to come into consideration, but if you and your friends are all comparably solid, then the likelihood of getting an interview invite is going to be quite similar. Adcoms are probably more worried that they’re interviewing too FEW candidates from less common backgrounds than too many.
Once the interviews are in and files become complete, an adcom’s final admit recommendations are still going to typically boil down to your individual performance in the process, though. Remember, while you might look very similar on paper to your colleagues, interview results can vary quite a bit. This is the stage where you’ll potentially start to see a bit more of a comparison of candidates, but the granularity of that comparison is going to vary by school. The final decisions are going to be more influenced by how all of the individual decisions are impacting high-level targets for the admitted class: building to the round’s overall admit volume (are they over/under a target given historical yields? Is the WL pool an appropriate size?); average GMAT and work experience; domestic/international balance; international diversity; gender balance; US minority balance, etc. Overall, at the end of the day, the comment I made about interview volume applies here, too – adcoms are probably more worried that they’re admitting too FEW candidates from less common backgrounds than too many.”
How Does a Waitlist Work?
“…knowing historical enrollment yields (yield = the percentage of admits who ended up paying an enrollment deposit), many adcoms actually plan to oversubscribe a program slightly [in the early rounds’ in anticipation of enrollment “melt.” “Melt” occurs when people pay their enrollment deposit and then change their minds for some reason – they decide to forgo the MBA entirely or attend another program or have a life issue, etc.
Even though the overage will typically accommodate for this melt, adcoms can never be quite sure who exactly will melt, whether the melt volume will be more/less than in previous years, and how the melt might impact the overall class profile (they might need a few more high GMATs, or a few more domestic or targeted international students, or more females). Given the unknowns, you can see how an adcom would want to have a variety of candidates to choose from to fill any needs that might present themselves in the coming months. A larger waitlist pool means more choice.
Ultimately, the waitlist is an insurance policy so the adcom can meet its overall enrollment goals, and it typically comes at a low cost to the adcom.”
Are Early Admissions Acceptances Binding?
“Sorry to hear that you’re having some family issues . . . the school’s ultimate take on the situation might depend on whether you’re planning to forego attending ANY program this year or if you’re hoping to attend a different program given your family circumstances. They’d probably be more OK with the former than the latter.
I don’t see a scenario where the adcom picks up the phone and starts telling other programs to rescind your admission or to not admit you in the first place! The main thing that the program has to hold over on you is any deposit money that you’ve paid up to this point. If you’re talking about CBS and you’ve already paid your $6K, that’s essentially the penalty you will pay in order to not attend CBS.
Regardless, reach out to your admissions point-of-contact and candidly describe your situation. I imagine that you went into the binding application process with the intention of complying with the result, but things happen. Adcom members are people, too, so you might end up with a more sympathetic audience than you think.”
What Is a Major Faux Pas To Avoid?
“One word of caution when it comes to your goals . . . I’d avoid an overt mention of wanting to “build a strong network”. It’s generally poor form to focus on a school’s network and reputation as a motivation for getting an MBA and/or applying to a particular school. Such a presentation can make it appear that you look at the MBA as a transactional experience rather than a transformational one where you hope to benefit from and contribute to the learning experience, the diverse student body, etc.”
DON’T MISS: HOW AN ADMISSIONS OFFICER VIEWS AN APPLICATION