My life, my blog, and B-school somewhere inbetween

A catalog of one reapplicant's journey towards an MBA in 2008

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Wharton's Interview Policy

Last night I was thinking about b-school stuff, as usual, and I started to think about Wharton and their interview policy. They interview ~50% of their applicants and deny the rest. This leaves you with ~30% chance of getting in if you're interviewed. HBS has a different approach, where they interview far fewer candidates such that if you get an interview you have ~65% chance of getting in. BTW, all these statistics I'm using are numbers I worked out last year based on info provided by Wharton adcom in S2S and Businessweek's data. Presumably, if you are not selected to interview it is because you have no shot of getting in, even if you have a great interview. Therefore, if you get an interview you actually have a shot at getting in, depending on how the interview and maybe some other factors go. Reasonable assumption, yes? So, then one could conclude that Wharton either 1) places more weight on the interview than HBS, 2) does not thoroughly read the application before calling for an interview and just "overgrants" interviews figuring they'll sort it out later, 3) has some degree of inconsistency between the opinions of individual application readers and the committee as a whole and thus needs be more conservative about who they deny early, 4) has some degree of incompetence in the process relative to their peers, or 5) something I didn't consider. Now, I'm not inclined to believe #4 because Wharton is the only school I can think of that's competent enough to get all the decisions out before the holidays and have a full size applicant pool for R1. I don't know about the rest though. The only significant difference I can think of between Wharton and HBS adcoms is that Wharton has student members who need to be trained every year, thus increasing the liklihood of inconsistencies of adcom member opinions. I believe adcom members are supposed to draw the same conclusions about an application to ensure greatest consistency in the admissions process.

Now let's consider my situation. I was granted an interview at Wharton. According to what the adcom has said on S2S, that means I was a viable candidate for admission. At that point, the only thing left was the interview. Ok, so bad interview = easy ding. I happened to have had a great interview and my interviewer explicitly told me he'd recommend me at "the highest possible level". So, then if I had the best possible interview I could have possibly had (for all intensive purposes), how is it that I was still denied? That would seem to indicate that I never should have been interviewed in the first place because I never had a chance, but given my profile I can't believe I am not in the top 50% of applicants (don't mean to sound arrogant here). So what could explain this? Let's think about this. Perhaps my interviewer didn't write such a good recommendation? I considered this for while, but then I got an email from him which said he was "very surprised" by the decision. So, he most likely followed through with what he said he was going to write. Perhaps I was near the bottom of the "admitables" applicant pool and they happened to have many many great interviews this year thus rendering my great interview meaningless and thus denying me? Somehow I don't think this was the case. All I'm left with now is that either 1) Wharton has a clear idea about admission status ahead of the interview but for some reason doesn't act upon it, 2) there is some kind of disconnect between application readers and the committee process, 3) Wharton doesn't scrutinize applications that thoroughly until after interview offers go out, 4) "class sculpting" forces viable applicants in one profession/category to get denied because there are "too many" applicants from that field/group and this factor is not considered until the committee process, or 5) there is "noise" affecting admission decisions in the committee process (like someone "just doesn't like" a certain characteristic of an applicant. I presume since Wharton has so many applicants they can be picky when it comes time for admissions). I'm leaning towards #1, #4, and #5. I say "and" because I think it's mixed. Wharton says they train their readers in what to look for, etc., so I'm less inclined to believe in #2 beyond elements which would be captured in #5. #3 is just unrealistic based on the accounts of application readers like Hella.

I used Wharton and HBS in this analysis because they're the only schools I happen to know some admissions stats. Kellogg's method obviously doesn't fit this model to begin with. I am curious to know more about Stanford's stats because they also have a no-student adcom. I'd love to hear some thoughts on this since I haven't spent a ton of time thinking this thing through. I just threw it up here to get some ideas flowing and attempt to demystify the process a little. I think the admissions process should be a science, but in reality it's an art.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Of Course

So my buddy did in fact get in to Wharton. Good for him. It's such a waste of an admit though. He's going to get into HBS and he'll definitely go there. My only solice is that his roommate was waitlisted, thus avoiding my worst-case rejection scenario. It's not much of a solice though because I've been reading you actually have a good shot of getting in off the waitlist during the R2 intake. Oh well. As if I was really going to cheat fate. Ha! I am destined to go to either Columbia or Chicago. I can tell you that now. Don't get me wrong, both are excellent schools one would normally be thrilled to attend. I, however, have some personal circumstances which would attach a small amount of misery to attending either school. C'est la vie, non?

So now that I'm definitely applying to Kellogg I've done more research into the program. It actually looks like it would be really good for what I need. There are some very interesting courses unlike any others I've seen at other schools. How is it that it got labeled a "Marketing" school anyway? Seems like it could be an "Everything" school. I've also decided to focus my efforts on Kellogg and Stanford, leaving HBS in the dust. It seems like such a waste to make a concerted effort for that school when I know I don't fit the school's MO. I can't even B.S. the persona well in my essays. At least with Stanford I have a great idea for my "What matters most and why?" essay. And I don't think anyone really knows what it takes to get into that place anyway. Maybe I got it? ;-p

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

You'd think that following the Yellow Brick Road would lead to all kinds of good things. So, I decided to follow it. I mean, it's like a golden path, right? But then I remember what happens at the end of the road. All the people start singing a song. Do you remember how that song goes? The one that begins with the word "Ding".

Rejected. Twice. And now I'm just waiting for that phone call from my buddy saying "[Roommate] and I got in!" Ugh.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Less than a day

It's less than a day until the big decision. I should be really stressed out, but I'm not. What I am though is unable to work on my other apps. I can't bring myself to do it. I just have no motivation. I keep thinking, "I already sent the apps in to all the schools I really should go to, so why am I bothering to waste my time on these others for schools I won't get into anyway?" Of course, for some reason I still have this notion that I might actually get into Wharton, which makes this whole predicament even worse. So, I've come to terms with not getting any application work done until after I get my "waitlist" tomorrow ;-). I'll have to get the applicant data sections together for Kellogg so I can get that thing out before the deadline to be eligible for interviews. Then I'll have to bust my ass on the three schools' essays I have left to do. What a depressing state of affairs that will be.

My biggest dread now is getting rejected tomorrow and my buddy who also applied R1 as well as his roommate whom I sort of know both getting in. I'm like 90% sure my buddy will get in, less sure about his roommate, but I think they both have better shots than me so it's not an unlikely situation. Man that would SUCK!!!! Especially because it would be my second rejection by them. And then to think of that girl who worked in my office and got in last year finding out! I know just the guy in the office who'll tell her too. I'm depressed just thinking about it. Well, at least I'm not stressed out... ;-)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Faster than Fate

Things seem to be lining up well with Wharton for me. A little too well. Generally, the fates have conspired against me when it comes to things like this, but I kept thinking that my application is close to being as good as it could be and that my app (not specifically me though) is not rejection worthy. So, how am I going to be screwed? Were they going to let me in only to discover Wharton is not the right school for me and it was all in vain? Or were they going to let me in only to find after the first couple of months that I hate it? But then it hit me last night. Waitlist. Always forget about that damn waitlist. Enough to keep hope alive, but you might as well have been rejected. With Wharton, my guess is that like 2 people get in off the waitlist. Other schools (so the theory goes) use it strategically to boost their yield numbers. Why accept people who might not really want to go there and end up going somewhere else? Better to put them on the waitlist, and if they show the interest on the waitlist, then let 'em in. That way yield numbers are higher. Or, you accept a bunch of really good applicants, but think they're so good they'll probably go somewhere else. Got to have a backup. But, Wharton is generally one of those "somewhere else" schools, so they don't need to have much in terms of backups. So, I don't know. Realizing that I haven't been thinking about the decision date much has now made me start thinking about it. And I'm soooo far behind with my other apps that I'm not even sure I'll be able to get them all in. HBS is making it a little easier though with the whole grade disclosure thing. I've decided to stop working on that app for now and focus on Stanford. If I get in to Wharton though, then I won't apply to Kellogg and I'll have the time I need to send out HBS and Stanford. I figure I might as well just send 'em out after having put in all the effort thus far. Neither are better for what I want to do, but the cold weather these days is making me dream of Cali and I'd really like to be able to use the Harvard club in NY ;-). I'm going to send Columbia out this week. Really easy app for reapplicants. I've been pushing it off for too long.

I guess we'll just have to keep waiting... One week and counting.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Wharton Interview

So I had my Wharton interview a couple days ago. The first thing that comes to mind when I think about it is, "Thank God I didn't go on-campus." If you recall, I had this whole strategy around doing on alumni interview because of some connection I knew one of my potential interviewers and I had. I also didn't want to run the risk of a female student with little connection to finance (like last year) interviewing me on-campus (there's a theory out there that female students are more inclined to connect with female applicants because of the whole "women in business are a minority" connection thing. I doubt this is 100% true, but I'm not willing to take the risk. Also note I am not making any statements for people to go voicing their opinions on either). Anyway, the more important thing is that my strategy totally worked. I made an instant connection with my interviewer based on that common thing we have, and the interview became very conversational and relaxed. We talked for over an hour, half interview stuff, half discussing the common thing, switching back and forth as we pleased. I told him about my interview last year and the feedback I got on it, and he was actually a little pissed off that the girl who interviewed me made those comments! He was shocked that I didn't get in last year (granted, I didn't mention that my essays then weren't particularly good). And at the end, he said he'd recommend me at the highest possible level. So, all and all, I think it went well :-).

At this point, I put my chances at 50/50 to get in. Getting an interview puts you at a 1/3 chance, but the good interview makes me bump it up to 1/2. Why not higher you ask? Well, it is Wharton man. Nothing is guaranteed. And life doesn't normally work out so well for me. But, at the very least, I haven't really thought about it at all. I should be stressed out with so little time left, but I'm fine. I wonder if I'll even remember to check my status next Thursday (I read that decisions will not be coming out early this year)... Good luck to all.