If Round 2 results from your dream school have come in and you didn’t get the news you hoped for, it can feel pretty devastating. After months of hard work on your application and then a few more months of anxiety-ridden waiting, finding out that you weren’t accepted really stinks. When you already feel confused, down or angry, learning that a friend or co-worker did get in feels like having salt poured in your proverbial wound. If you believe you’re actually more qualified than that person, it’s even worse. That’s when many dinged applicants start to play the MBA comparison game.
Why do scenarios like this come to pass? How can two people who work at the same place or are similar “on paper” meet such different MBA fates? How can a stellar candidate receive a ding when a seemingly so-so applicant gets admitted?
Let’s break it down.
The MBA application process is subjective.
Admissions committees consider thousands and thousands of qualified applicants each year. They’ve developed a strong sense for who will fit best with their program. While you may think you’d be more of an asset to a certain school than an acquaintance who got in, the admissions committee felt differently.
You don’t know absolutely everything about your friend or co-worker’s candidacy.
If you did your homework on the MBA process, you know that AdComs are looking for what makes applicants tick. They want to understand your personality. They are interested in more than just your career experience and “stats.”
Even if you read your friend’s essays, you probably don’t know every single detail of their applications and recommendation letters. Nor do you know they performed in their interview. Maybe your demographics, backgrounds and motivations don’t overlap as much as you might have thought. Perhaps the AdCom saw something specific in your friend that they were looking for.
You may not have even been competing with your friend for a spot in the first place.
As alluded to above, we know that each program strives to put together a diverse class of impressive people. However, no one knows the magic formula that any given AdCom uses to fill open spots.
But what we do know is that it’s not as straightforward as most applicants assume—meaning that everything from your gender to your industry to your nationality to your career aspirations, community service and personality comes into play when an AdCom attempts to build a graduating class.
We know how tempting it is to play the MBA comparison game.
But unfortunately, doing so won’t change anything or make you feel any better. The best thing you can do is try to be objective about how you could improve your candidacy if you reapply next year—or consider additional programs that might improve your odds.
Think of it this way:
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