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Size of program and admission chances

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Joined: 03 Sep 2007
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Size of program and admission chances [#permalink] New post 08 Jul 2008, 17:08
Has or is anyone not applying to smaller programs because of a perceived greater difficulty of getting in eventhough you would prefer a smaller program? I know you can look acceptance rates and calculate your chances that way, but has anyone not applied to say Haas or TUck because they thought the small class made acceptance less likely than say Columbia, Chicago, etc.

My thinking is this: I am not a typical applicant with a few hurdles to overcome from my ug days. My reasoning is that it is more likely that a larger program might take a chance and make room for me rather than a program that only has 200+ slots. I would definitely prefer a smaller program, but if I have any sort of shot at a top program, I think it would be at some of the larger classes.

Is this thinking justified at all?
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Re: Size of program and admission chances [#permalink] New post 08 Jul 2008, 17:35
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dghazer wrote:
Has or is anyone not applying to smaller programs because of a perceived greater difficulty of getting in eventhough you would prefer a smaller program? I know you can look acceptance rates and calculate your chances that way, but has anyone not applied to say Haas or TUck because they thought the small class made acceptance less likely than say Columbia, Chicago, etc.

My thinking is this: I am not a typical applicant with a few hurdles to overcome from my ug days. My reasoning is that it is more likely that a larger program might take a chance and make room for me rather than a program that only has 200+ slots. I would definitely prefer a smaller program, but if I have any sort of shot at a top program, I think it would be at some of the larger classes.

Is this thinking justified at all?


If you can prove your fit with a school like Haas, Tuck, Fuqua, or Darden and you are really interested in attending one of them - by all means go for it. Fuqua and Darden are small programs with high acceptance rates. Tuck and Haas value diversity as much as anyone else and it would pain them to have a class full of only bankers and consultants.

Your underlying thinking is correct in some cases. For example, a large amount of people choose HBS as their hail mary school, and don't bother with Stanford. This is largely due to HBS' class size and the fact that HBS admits and enrolls more students than Stanford. I would recommend that you have a well diversified portfolio of schools that you apply to - make sure you have 1 hail mary school, 2-3 stretches, and 2-4 good shot schools. If you absolutely need to go this year and need to add safeties, go ahead and do that too. If your stats line up with Tuck or Haas, don't let the smaller class size discourage you.

One last thing to keep in mind - the small programs really value visits, efforts to get to know the school and the community, etc. It is essential that you visit campus if you want to have a decent shot at Tuck or Haas.
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Re: Size of program and admission chances [#permalink] New post 08 Jul 2008, 23:21
terp, you haven't submitted your applications yet and you're already sounding like a seasoned admissions consultant! :)

But I agree with terp06, generally the smaller programs are trickier because each spot they give out requires a lot more thought (which is why Berkeley is famous for taking its time until the very end to send out interview invites and final decisions). If they make a mistake by admitting someone who doesn't fit the culture or program, then the mistake is that much bigger because it's a larger percentage of the class.

With that said, if you spend time visiting the smaller schools, research what you like about it and what you want to do there, and express your passion for the school in your essays, you will have a good chance of getting in. Many people actually don't apply to Haas and Tuck because they're worried about the low acceptance rates, similar to Stanford. That, coupled with Haas liking applicants from non-traditional backgrounds with non-traditional goals, may set you apart if you are not from the consulting/banking industries.

What I'm trying to say is, apply to a school if you like it, and don't worry too much about whether their acceptance rate is high or low. If you are a good fit for the school and can tell a good story of your fit, you will have a good shot.
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Re: Size of program and admission chances   [#permalink] 08 Jul 2008, 23:21
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