Admissions 101: Your Future is Not Defined by a College Rejection Letter

Oberlin CollegeIt is admissions decision time, and many institutions are reporting an increase in applicants for the Class of 2022, and a decrease in admissions rates. For the first time, Harvard admitted less than 5% of applicants! So, for the 95% of you who applied to Harvard and received a rejection letter, or for any other students who feel like their dreams have been crushed, this post is for you.

First and foremost, it’s important to allow yourself to feel how you want to feel – disappointed, angry, frustrated or even sad. You worked tirelessly in high school to be a stellar student, spent hours outside of schools participating in extracurricular activities, pulled all-nighters to complete homework assignments and stayed up late rewriting your application essays over and over again. You may have even lost some sleep in the last week in anticipation of the decision. It’s perfectly reasonable to feel a sinking disappointment. However, your rejection letter should not take anything away from your herculean efforts over the past four years. You are still an outstanding, accomplished student. Repeat that to yourself a few times.

Your future is not defined by today. We won’t try to get too motivational on you, but it is important to remember that tomorrow is a new day, life will continue on, and your future will not defined by the admissions decisions you received.

If you’re wondering what to do next, here are three suggestions to help you get excited about the next phase of your life:

Ask for an explanation

If you find yourself asking “what happened?” or “what could I have done differently?” you might get some peace of mind by connecting with an admissions officer. Many institutions are willing to give you feedback on why you weren’t admitted. If this is something that would help you feel closure, we suggest reaching out to the admissions office and getting this information!

Get excited about your plan B

Once you are ready to stop mourning what could have been, it’s time to start getting excited about what will be! If you’re able, go on a campus visit to your Plan B school to start envisioning yourself as a student there. If you happen to find yourself with no offers of admission, take this time to research schools who are still accepting applications, or seek a Community College option that might be a good fit for you for the upcoming year. You may even choose to work with a college admissions consultant to help guide you through the process.

Celebrate your successes

We get it, you didn’t crack the selective admissions rates at the top colleges in the country, but if you strategized your school list wisely, it’s likely you were admitted somewhere, and that’s worth celebrating! Go out to dinner, hang that admissions letter on the fridge and remind yourself that you’re awesome and your future is bright.

In the end, your future is what you make of it. No matter where you enroll, your future will be fantastic because you make it that way. Take advantage of the opportunities around you and the people in your corner cheering you on. The best is yet to come!

How to Successfully Ask for an MBA Admissions Deferral

AdmissionAn MBA admissions deferral is when an applicant is admitted to an MBA program with the intent to attend, but with the desire to defer admission to a later date due to some sort of extenuating circumstance. (This is different than the official deferred enrollment programs that are offered at some schools, such as the HBS 2+2 Program, Yale Silver Scholars Program, or Stanford MBA Deferred Enrollment Program, which you can read about in this article.)

Note, first and foremost, that MBA admissions deferrals are rare. One reason for that is that a big part of applying to business school is affirming that right now is the ideal time for you to pursue your MBA. So, when an admitted student (in admissions parlance, an “admit”) asks for a deferral, it pretty much flies in the face of all evidence presented that now is the perfect time for business school. Because of this, once a request to defer admission is made, Admissions Committees (AdComs) will question if the admit was honest throughout the essay and interview process.

Furthermore, statistics show that most admitted students who ask to defer their admission to a future year or semester do not actually ever attend that particular business school after all. That is often because the admit did not get accepted by his/her top choice and consequently plans to reapply to his/her dream MBA program in the next admissions cycle while using the deferral as a Plan B. As a result, business schools understandably do not want to allow admitted students to defer admission when they are unlikely to ever really show up on campus.

Accordingly, the policy of most top MBA programs is to not allow applicants to defer admission, and typically these policies don’t have any stated exemptions. Instead, MBA AdComs tell their admitted students to withdraw their applications and reapply the following year. This allows the business schools to accept candidates off the waitlist who view the MBA program as a dream school and will absolutely attend, as opposed to holding a precious seat open for someone who has already demonstrated reservations about attending.

Now, while these policies might sound ironclad, top MBA programs will make occasional exceptions and allow a small number of admits to defer their MBA admission. However, those concessions are generally limited to extreme circumstances that are outside of the control of the admitted students such as military deployment, deaths or illnesses in the family (particularly when the admit is the primary care-giver), or personal illnesses that require significant treatment. In these scenarios, you would have to provide documentation to the business school to prove your claim(s).

Other, more common requests to defer admission relate to finances or new career opportunities. However, these requests for MBA admissions deferral are much less frequently approved. For example, many admitted students end up deciding that they need more time to get the money together for the financial investment of business school. However, MBA AdComs expect their applicants to have already analyzed the costs prior to applying, so asking for more time to acquire the funds often comes across as the admits not having their acts together. Therefore, a desire to secure funding is not typically a compelling reason for business schools to allow admitted students to defer admission. An exception would be if there were a significant and unpredictable change to your financial situation that would make attending business school a hardship (e.g. the source for funding your MBA went away and you do not qualify for financial aid). Again, you would have to provide documentation to the business school to prove this hardship to even have a chance of receiving a deferral.

Alternatively, MBA admits often receive promotions in their careers, are assigned new consulting projects, positions at other companies, or inherit new responsibilities on the job. Understandably, admitted students in these situations would want to defer admission in order to take on new challenges and earn extra money that could go towards tuition. If you feel that you really need a deferral for one of these reasons by all means request one, just know the likelihood of the deferral being granted will not be in your favor, especially without a very compelling reason for why these opportunities are better and more timely than attending business school. Most likely, you will just be invited to apply again – but with your enhanced career experience and additional pre-MBA seasoning, your applicant profile will only have increased in value (which, of course, AdComs know can make it more likely that you’ll be admitted by an even better school, hence the reluctance to simply offer a deferral in the first place).

There are stories of admits deciding that they will defer admission or withdraw their applications but fail to communicate this to the business school AdCom. That is the worst thing you can do. Aside from the fact that this will irrevocably harm your chances of being able to attend the MBA program you wanted the deferral from, it could also harm your chances at other business schools as well (the admissions world is a small community with representatives attending many of the same recruitment and networking events, after all). So, be sure to reach out to the admissions office as soon as you know that you want to matriculate later than the cycle for which you have applied. If you have come to this conclusion before you have received a decision from the AdCom, then withdraw your application and reapply when you are ready. This allows the Admissions Committee to focus on the candidates who are likely to matriculate in the fall.

If you have received an acceptance letter (congratulations!) and you are going to make the request to have your business school admission deferred, see if you can have a conversation about your situation with the Admissions Committee in-person, or at least on the phone, rather than over email. You will learn more about the business school’s policy regarding deferrals and assess your chances of being able to defer admission. More importantly, this will also add a personal element to your request and increase the chance that the Admissions Committee will make their decision in your favor and allow a deferral.

As noted above, you will have to make sure your reason for wanting to defer admission is quite convincing. It helps if you can position the reason for your deferral as a once in a lifetime opportunity while reaffirming your commitment to pursuing an MBA at that particular business school the following year. You should also remind the AdCom of how you will be able to offer more value to the student community upon your eventual matriculation because of the added work experience and maturity you will have gained during your deferral period. Consider how the added work experience will allow you to contribute to the business school classroom and position you to reach your post-MBA goals more effectively.

Remember this is a difficult decision for the Admissions Committee as well. If the business school admitted you, then the staff is invested in you becoming a part of their community and may take a request to defer admission personally. So, engaging in discussions around a deferral is equally challenging for the AdCom. Schools make admissions decisions carefully: by accepting you, that school waitlisted or denied another candidate that it would otherwise have accepted; furthermore, your seat (and tuition) are important to the school, so your backing away from that means that the AdCom has a new task in order to fill the seat with a quality candidate. Be mindful of this in your communication. Remember, your admission took a space away from another qualified candidate, so positive dialogue is key in creating the best scenario for all involved.

Make sure to follow up your conversation with the Admissions Committee via email, and include a special thank you for their consideration as well as a reminder of the above notes, as this request is ultimately outside of the typical application process. The best thing you can do when engaging in the process of requesting an MBA deferral is to be gracious and humble. Remember, you are making a BIG request that the school does not need to grant you. Being humble and appreciative of the consideration you are receiving can only help your chances, and keep you in the good graces of the admissions committee should you need to reapply to attend later.

It is important to enter this process understanding the limited odds you have to actually secure a deferral, so follow the tips above to increase your chances of successfully requesting an MBA admissions deferral, and to make sure you are properly evaluating whether the alternative to matriculating in the year you applied is worth the overall hassle and potential risk to your future MBA opportunities.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more articles by him here.

How to Make Your Admissions Decision With Uneven Information

AdmissionReceiving multiple offers of admission to various business schools after a long application season is a great feeling for most candidates, but the hard part is not quite done yet – now it is time to make a final decision.

For some, this decision-making process will be fairly simple – many candidates prioritize their list of schools well in advance of submitting their applications, so it is easy for them to choose which one they want to attend when they finally hear back from the Admissions Committees. However, in many other situations, all offers are not created equal, so selecting one school from another can often become very complicated. So, where should candidates start with so much uneven information from programs?

Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you choose between multiple business school admissions offers:

Is there a distinction between the programs you are considering? Evaluating your decision between a program with a global reputation like Harvard Business School and a smaller regional program would be an uneven comparison. Generally, the more reputable programs will offer better long term career considerations due to their prestigious names and large alumni base.

Where do you want to live post-MBA? The location of your MBA program plays a huge role in determining the likelihood of where your future job offers will come from. It is always recommended to attend a program in close proximity to your target post-MBA location, whether that is regionally, nationally, or internationally. Reputation can also certainly can factor in here, as the more well-known programs often offer a broader reach of opportunities that can make location preference moot.

Career Opportunities:
Which program better equips you to reach your career goals? Really look at this question holistically – reviewing your target program’s employment report is a great place to start. Look at both the aggregate number of students that have pursued the particular industry you want to be involved in, as well as the percentage. You should also consider are the reputation of the program in this particular industry. For example, Kellogg has a great finance program, but generally does not have a major reputation in the finance industry and with finance practitioners; if finance is your focus and you are choosing between other programs that possess a better reputation in that unique sphere, this would be something to keep in mind.

This is business school after all, so the financial aspect of this decision will probably be a major component for you, even if you are one of the lucky recipients of scholarships. Now, money tends to complicate what may be an otherwise clear decision for many candidates, so build out a few scenarios that will aid in this aspect of your decision-making process. The toughest choices occur between programs that better address the above criteria but provide more limited scholarship money with those that provide more scholarship money but less of the desired attributes. In these situations, it is important to balance out all of your options to make the most holistic decision for you and your family.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more articles by him here.

How I Chose Berkeley

UC BerkeleyToday we feature a guest post from Veritas Prep SAT instructor Courtney Tran. Courtney is a student at UC Berkeley, studying Political Economy and Rhetoric. In high school, she was named a National Merit Finalist and National AP Scholar, and she represented her district two years in a row in Public Forum Debate at the National Forensics League National Tournament. She was always active in local politics, including speaking against budget cuts in and closings of Oakland Public Libraries.

When I received my acceptance email from the University of California at Berkeley in February of last year, I didn’t even finish reading the letter before closing it and resuming my Tetris game.  I was happy to have been accepted, but I had never seriously considered attending Cal; I had already fallen head over heels for the University of Southern California.  After all, I had lived in the Bay Area for more than a decade.  I was ready for a change of scene.

A couple of high scores later, I reopened and skimmed the letter, which noted that I had been invited to a scholarship interview.  I attended later that month, figuring that I had no excuse for skipping out on a prestigious scholarship opportunity within jogging distance of my mother’s apartment.  A few weeks later, however, I received notice that I had been awarded several scholarships that would enable me to attend Cal nearly free of charge.

Grudgingly, I accepted.  In April, when some calculator-crunching of the financial aid packages from my college acceptance letters revealed that Berkeley was by far the most financially sensible of my options, I even more grudgingly submitted my deposit to the University of California.  Don’t get me wrong—I was and still am extremely grateful for the generous financial support I received for my education. But I had grown up waiting for a chance to see what the world looked like beyond the Bay Area, and attending Cal felt like taking the easy road instead of following my dreams.

I moved into my dorm room a few short months later, lugging four duffel bags and outlining transfer application essays in my head.  Despite my reluctance, I couldn’t help but be impressed by the diversity of my class and the enormous range of classes and activities available.  Bit by bit, the school grew on me: the beautiful North Side architecture, the surprisingly tasty dining hall food (who knew?), and my peers’ enthusiasm for learning. I was delighted by the fact that, for the first time in my life, school was fast-paced and challenging: memorizing wasn’t enough anymore, and I often had to study late into the night in order to keep up with my classmates.

Before I knew it, I woke up every day excited to go to class.  My dorm-mates became my second family, the exposure to new cultures and types of people broadened my perspectives, and I slowly grew to appreciate the convenience and comfort of living close to home.  Even better, Cal’s alumni network and internship programs fed my interests in travel, politics, languages, and the field of public policy by helping me secure two winter break externships—one in Washington D.C., and one in San Jose—and a place in a summer program that will allow me to intern in the state capital for eight weeks.  I got my wish after all.

It’s January now. I’ve just finished my first semester as a Golden Bear, as well as a few applications for study abroad programs. New classes start in two weeks. I’m writing this from beneath a bundle of fuzzy blankets on the couch in my mother’s apartment; and as comfy as it is here, I can’t wait to go back to school. I never did submit those transfer essays, because it didn’t take me long to realize that UC Berkeley, despite my initial reservations, was the perfect place for me. I wear my Golden Bear hoodie with pride.

Do you need more help with your college applications? Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE Profile Evaluation for personalized feedback on your unique background! And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!