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Beware the Urban Legends of MBA Admissions!

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Beware the Urban Legends of MBA Admissions! [#permalink] New post 10 Jun 2013, 11:19
True of False?

1. You increase your chances of admission to an MBA program if you get a famous person to write your letter of recommendation.

2. Being admitted from the waitlist means that you’re a “second-class” student.

3. If you are 29, you’re too old to get an MBA.

4. Don’t let an MBA program know which schools you are applying to, because they could negatively influence your applications at the other schools.

Answers:

1. False

2. False

3. False

4. False

Yes, all false. And yet, these are very common fears of MBA applicants. I call them the “Urban Legends of MBA Admissions.” Well-meaning MBA applicants and others pass around these statements as fact. MBA Admissions offices frequently receive these questions in their email in-boxes.

Many applicants view the MBA admissions process as a mysterious process fraught with dire pitfalls. In reality, each MBA admissions team is working strategically to admit and yield the group of MBA applicants that best fit the goals of their institution. Every school knows how many applicants and admits they need in order to meet their target (statistically speaking). MBA programs want to admit the best candidates for the right reasons.

In my 15 years as Director of MBA Admissions and now as an MBA Admissions Consultant, I commonly see MBA applicants who speculate with their fellow applicants to figure out the “game” of MBA admissions. It’s human nature to want to understand information that is unknown or not apparent to us.

I encourage MBA applicants to approach the process with solid information and confidence. Don’t be drawn like a moth to a flame by the urban legends. Seek your information from the schools directly or from a truly reliable source. Feel free to contact me directly if you have questions about the Urban Legends of MBA Admissions. And, in my free time, maybe I’ll work on an “MBA edition” of Snopes!
_________________

Wendy

Wendy Flynn
15 Years as Director of MBA Admissions - Now Working For the Applicants as the MBA Admissions Coach
Wendy Flynn is the MBA Admissions Coach, providing comprehensive MBA admissions consulting services. As the former Director of MBA Admissions for 15 years at a top-30 MBA pgoram, Wendy holds deep expertise in admissions issues for Full-Time, Executive and Professional (Part-Time) MBA Programs. Through her blog, MBA Expert Insights, she brings the view of the Director of MBA admissions to MBA applicants and others.


WendyLFlynn89@gmail.com
Web: http://MBAAdmissionsCoach.com
MBA Expert Insights Blog: http://www.mbaadmissionscoach.com/blog/
Facebook: http://Facebook.com/MBAAdmissionsCoach
Twitter: http://www.Twitter.com/WendyLFlynn
Member of the AIGAC, Association of International Graduate Admissions Counselors

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Re: Beware the Urban Legends of MBA Admissions! [#permalink] New post 13 Jun 2013, 04:04
Can you elaborate on #4? are you sure it can't hurt admission chances at that school? (not at the other schools)
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Re: Beware the Urban Legends of MBA Admissions! [#permalink] New post 13 Jun 2013, 05:57
Sure.

I believe this "urban legend" comes from the belief of applicants that the admissions process is an "applicant versus admissions committee" perspective. In fact, the process is one of selection. If you are an otherwise admissable candidate, and the school wants to admit you, they will not deny you based on the other schools that you applied to.

I answered this question for another post on the forum, and I'll share a quote of that post here:

"I'm responding to your question as a former Director of MBA Admission, a position I held for 15 years at a top-ranked MBA program.

The only definitive information a school can see is the list of schools you sent your GMAT scores to. This appears on the school report of the GMAT scores, which has slightly different information than the student-based score report.

Now, even though I could see that list, it doesn't mean anything really unless a candidate has actually applied to those schools. And that is something that is not known.

Another way I might be able to tell if an applicant is applying to another school is if they made a mistake in their essays and put the name of a competitor school in the essay. Humorous, yes. This happens very frequently. It's not a reason to deny an otherwise qualified applicant.

One last way I might be able to tell if an applicant is applying to another school is if the recommender sends a recommendation form for another school to us. As the recommendations become more web-based, this is less of an issue. However, when I was the Director of MBA Admissions, I always instructed my staff to forward those letters on to the correct school as a matter of professional courtesy to both the applicant and the other school. I can't say what the policy of other admissions offices was.

As an admissions professional, I found it interesting to discuss the school choice set with the applicants, and would always bring this up in my interview. I also always asked candidates which school was their top choice. What I was looking for in this line of questioning is not for applicants to tell me that they loved my school the best - but I was assessing their professional judgement and checking to see if their professional post-MBA goals lined up with their school choice set. I also expect good candidates to apply to more than one school. I think it would be very foolish indeed to apply only to one school. Why put all your eggs in one basket?

To get to the heart of your question, would this information count against you in your application? No. "

Let me know if you'd like to discuss this more. I love to talk about anything MBA admissions, and enjoy sharing my past experiences as a Director of MBA Admissions with applicants.
_________________

Wendy

Wendy Flynn
15 Years as Director of MBA Admissions - Now Working For the Applicants as the MBA Admissions Coach
Wendy Flynn is the MBA Admissions Coach, providing comprehensive MBA admissions consulting services. As the former Director of MBA Admissions for 15 years at a top-30 MBA pgoram, Wendy holds deep expertise in admissions issues for Full-Time, Executive and Professional (Part-Time) MBA Programs. Through her blog, MBA Expert Insights, she brings the view of the Director of MBA admissions to MBA applicants and others.


WendyLFlynn89@gmail.com
Web: http://MBAAdmissionsCoach.com
MBA Expert Insights Blog: http://www.mbaadmissionscoach.com/blog/
Facebook: http://Facebook.com/MBAAdmissionsCoach
Twitter: http://www.Twitter.com/WendyLFlynn
Member of the AIGAC, Association of International Graduate Admissions Counselors

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Re: Beware the Urban Legends of MBA Admissions! [#permalink] New post 13 Jun 2013, 09:02
I do have a question that is sort of an urban myth. I currently have a family friend who is very high ranking dean at the college (not part of the MBA program) where I would like to get my MBA and he told me he will write a letter on my behalf (not counting as a letter of recommendation) to the school on my behalf. I know it's a case by case basis, but how do admissions directors interpret that kind of influence on a candidate?

In my case, I have a lot of pride so I really want to believe that I can get in on my own wares and not rely on outside influence (shooting for a 700+ GMAT, working extremely hard at my current job, volunteering, etc.), but I also understand that I need every bit of help I can get since at the end of the day, once you get in, no one cares how you got in. I suppose I want to avoid the stereotype candidate who rides on the coat tails of a big donor or legacy if that makes sense...
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Re: Beware the Urban Legends of MBA Admissions! [#permalink] New post 13 Jun 2013, 18:28
Great question, and variation on the theme, so to speak.

I don't see this as a problem in any way.

One significant difference is that your family friend/dean offered to write a letter for you - you did not seek out the letter. it's likely that the tone of the letter will reflect that, and may even state that outright.

Furthermore, because the letter is not one of the recommenders, it would be viewed as a courtesy addition to the file. It's unlikely that the letter will either help or hurt your file. However, because the offer was made, I do think you should take your family friend up on the offer to write the letter.

You're right that this will vary at every program. I was fortunate to have a dean who made it clear that letters like this were given no special treatment. However, we did keep the dean (of the business school) informed of the status of the application, if it was admitted or denied, and any information that would be helpful to respond to any questions that he may receive in his role.

By contrast, here's an example of how this sort of thing could hurt you: I once received a letter from a former U.S. President regarding a candidate. The letter was remarkable in its brevity. It said, "I know the candidate's family. They are great supporters of mine in another state. His family is a well-regarded family." Why did this hurt the candidate? 1) Clearly, the letter writer did not know the applicant, and in fact, probably never met him; 2) The letter gives the committee nothing of substance to consider or add to the file; 3) It was an extremely poor choice on the applicant's part to choose a big name recommender who did not know him over another recommender who could speak to his professional accomplishments and his potential for future managerial leadership.

kple12, it sounds to me like you are doing all the right things and you are focusing your efforts appropriately. Furthermore, none of your classmates will be aware of the letter unless you tell them about it.
_________________

Wendy

Wendy Flynn
15 Years as Director of MBA Admissions - Now Working For the Applicants as the MBA Admissions Coach
Wendy Flynn is the MBA Admissions Coach, providing comprehensive MBA admissions consulting services. As the former Director of MBA Admissions for 15 years at a top-30 MBA pgoram, Wendy holds deep expertise in admissions issues for Full-Time, Executive and Professional (Part-Time) MBA Programs. Through her blog, MBA Expert Insights, she brings the view of the Director of MBA admissions to MBA applicants and others.


WendyLFlynn89@gmail.com
Web: http://MBAAdmissionsCoach.com
MBA Expert Insights Blog: http://www.mbaadmissionscoach.com/blog/
Facebook: http://Facebook.com/MBAAdmissionsCoach
Twitter: http://www.Twitter.com/WendyLFlynn
Member of the AIGAC, Association of International Graduate Admissions Counselors

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Re: Beware the Urban Legends of MBA Admissions! [#permalink] New post 13 Jun 2013, 19:57
Thank you for your response Wendy! The example you described about how it could backfire was exactly what I was worried about so I took steps to make sure that he really got to know me as a person and why I wanted to get the MBA. I had an inkling that admissions directors see this a lot and can easily sniff out a letter from a recommender who knows very little about a candidate and was requested to write the letter almost exclusively because of their status. Luckily, it seems I'm on the right side of this and I think the best way to make sure this helps me the most is ironically to focus my efforts on maximizing my application. Thanks again for your response and keep up the great work!
Re: Beware the Urban Legends of MBA Admissions!   [#permalink] 13 Jun 2013, 19:57
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