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Waitlisted Applicants Situation - Fair or Unfair?

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Waitlisted Applicants Situation - Fair or Unfair? [#permalink] New post 20 May 2013, 14:35
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The purpose of this post is to inform prospective applicants who have been waitlisted about some business schools admission policy. I would like to state that the information given below is not an accusation of any kind but a factual description of things that happened to me and in lieu of some schools not actively disclosing their modus operandi, I felt it imperative that I bring this out here so that future applicants do not have go through the agony I went through. This is also an opportunity to the school(s) to come clean with their admission process. In order not to insinuate any individual or school I am not stating their names but leave it to your intelligence to figure it out. The school is a top Bay Area school who introduced a new EMBA program this year. Now the story,

I was an applicant to this school's EMBA program and applied in the second round. Given that I had barely few days to apply before the application deadline when I made the decision to do EMBA, I got extension to submit my GMAT. In between compiling all my application material, I barely had 3 weeks of preparation to study for my GMAT. However, after a lot of hard work and many hours of studying I got a decent score in my GMAT and was proud about that fact. The final admission decision of the second round was made by the school nearly two months after the application deadline and I was waitlisted. I accepted the waitlist and provided the school with additional materials to enhance my candidature. Here is a timeline of things that followed,

1. Provided additional materials a day after the decision
2. Called a week later to enquire about the waitlist status and was told to call a week later
3. Made the second call after another week and was told that all the admitted candidates have accepted and I could wait if I choose to, which I did
4. I made my final call exactly two weeks before the classes was to start (nearly a month after the final admit decision was made) and was told that the class is full and the chances for me are not good.

However, an individual whom I knew had just submitted his application the day before my final call (during which I was told the class is full) and was interviewed two days later and got accepted. When I came to know this I was upset and crestfallen. I also came to know that the school was continuing to accept applications after the final deadline (it was not a rolling deadline for this school) Here are the questions that begs answers,

1. If schools have set deadline then why continue to accept applications after the final deadline?
2. Is it fair to candidates who sweated out to meet the deadline?
3. Why put applicants on waitlist, while you are looking for applicants outside the waitlist?
4. How can the school say that the class is full even before interviewing new candidates? Does it mean interviews are just a formality?
5. What about all the things that is being said about how they judge applicants? like the applicants interest level in the school and knowledge of the school etc.. especially when you admit last minute candidates

I had sent an e-mail to the parties concerned about the unfairness of the situation and promptly got a call saying that this is a practice all school's follow and that they have to find the right mix. I contested but a few days sent them an apology letter giving them the benefit of doubt. In all probability I might have misread the situation. I did speak to many individuals regarding this including an industry expert who has written books on MBA applications and is active in many blogs. All of them felt that I, as a waitlisted, candidate was wronged. This e-mail, I reiterate, is an effort to bring the issue to focus and help future candidates weigh their options while waitlisted given this scenario.
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Re: Waitlisted Applicants Situation - Fair or Unfair? [#permalink] New post 21 May 2013, 06:36
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Sorry this happened to you...it does suck getting waitlisted and having to hang around until classes start, only to find out you've been rejected.

It completely makes sense that you're frustrated, but as the old saying goes "life isn't fair." The waitlist is frequently used as a way to "round out" the class. Being placed on the waitlist means you were likely qualified, but maybe you're also a member of a group that is over-represented this year and your friend/contact is not.

In any case, I don't know how much sense it makes to dwell on this. For future reference, I would also not advise emailing an adcom to argue about their admissions policies. It is what it is. Your goal is to get accepted, and the only way that'll happen is with some luck and with the blessing of the adcom, who--especially once you're talking about the waitlist--really needs to like you.

Do you have another option for this year?
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Re: Waitlisted Applicants Situation - Fair or Unfair? [#permalink] New post 21 May 2013, 08:00
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Hi lb2015,

Thanks for your response! I have quite a few other options and so not unduly affected by this situation. However, the school in question was my top choice school for various reasons. I agree about "life is not fair" :-). I did make it clear to them that I was not contesting their right to choose the applicants but expected transparency in the process. I felt that if the school had stated that early in the process that they will keep accepting applications beyond their deadline and decision dates (if need be) and had not stated "mistakenly" that the class is full when in fact a new candidate was interviewed and accepted after stating this, it would have saved me from unnecessary waiting (personally I cancelled an international trip to visit my dad who was in ICU just so that I can complete the formalities if I got accepted). In my case, I knew that I will lose whatever little chance I may have of getting into the school when I shot off that e-mail to AdCom hoping that they will rectify their process so that future waitlisted candidates will be better addressed.

Another school which has rolling deadlines and where I was waitlisted too was very candid about their process and the expectations were set right from the beginning. I felt that beyond making up numbers and the right mix, there is a human element missing in the process. I decided to write this on a public forum after speaking to many, including an industry expert who said that this was unheard of and definitely not right for a school of high caliber. In the end I am hoping that something good comes out of it and everyone involved has something to learn from it.
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Re: Waitlisted Applicants Situation - Fair or Unfair? [#permalink] New post 21 May 2013, 12:51
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I do agree it's unfair and it's easily understandable to be frustrated; I sure would be too.
I was waitlisted for a school this time around as well; it's very difficult to be in-between, I would almost rather know my fate beforehand, even if it's a ding, so I can plan ahead. At the same time, schools usually deal with the same thing, with applicants matriculating at other places too. While I understand what they have to go through, I do agree they should be expected to be professional and honest in dealing with these situations, just like we need to be when we apply.
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Re: Waitlisted Applicants Situation - Fair or Unfair? [#permalink] New post 21 May 2013, 18:08
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Hey GrayMatter,

I'm not a big fan of contesting admissions decisions, but in this case you were justified. You come across as very measured in your posts - so I imagine that you did not rampage on them, but were more reserved.

Not that this offers you any solace, but the lack of transparency was probably something that the adcom in question also struggles with. Depending on the resources available, I am going to guess that this school is not running a "world-class" operation behind the curtain. If it's the program I am thinking of - just take a look at their online application - it's literally cut and paste - what's a Word doc? That type of tech tells you that things are probably going to get missed.
Again, this does not excuse them, but they probably don't know what's going on either.

I suppose the adcom could hold it against you - for speaking up. But whatever. If they reject you because you stuck up for yourself - and you were relatively professional about it - then they would have to be complete assholes to ding you for that. In my knowledge, that is not this school's (if I am guessing the right school's) style. Regardless, if you you really want to go to the school - reapply. If you think they are going to hold it against you next year, reapply next year and just show up to a bunch of in-person events and be nice. Don't shirk the issue though if you have the opportunity to talk about it in person, just take the no-blame approach. What's done is done. So if you're mature about it going forward, you'll get some brownie points. So buck up!

That's my 2 cents anyway.

Respectfully,
Paul Lanzillotti

GrayMatter wrote:
Hi lb2015,

Thanks for your response! I have quite a few other options and so not unduly affected by this situation. However, the school in question was my top choice school for various reasons. I agree about "life is not fair" :-). I did make it clear to them that I was not contesting their right to choose the applicants but expected transparency in the process. I felt that if the school had stated that early in the process that they will keep accepting applications beyond their deadline and decision dates (if need be) and had not stated "mistakenly" that the class is full when in fact a new candidate was interviewed and accepted after stating this, it would have saved me from unnecessary waiting (personally I cancelled an international trip to visit my dad who was in ICU just so that I can complete the formalities if I got accepted). In my case, I knew that I will lose whatever little chance I may have of getting into the school when I shot off that e-mail to AdCom hoping that they will rectify their process so that future waitlisted candidates will be better addressed.

Another school which has rolling deadlines and where I was waitlisted too was very candid about their process and the expectations were set right from the beginning. I felt that beyond making up numbers and the right mix, there is a human element missing in the process. I decided to write this on a public forum after speaking to many, including an industry expert who said that this was unheard of and definitely not right for a school of high caliber. In the end I am hoping that something good comes out of it and everyone involved has something to learn from it.

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Re: Waitlisted Applicants Situation - Fair or Unfair? [#permalink] New post 22 May 2013, 12:05
Paul,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

At the time I wrote them the e-mail and given the events that preceded it, I was pretty sure my chances were next to nothing at this school. While being respectful I did express my feelings very clearly. I have admits from 5 other schools and I have accepted at another great school since I didn't want to wait another year.
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Re: Waitlisted Applicants Situation - Fair or Unfair? [#permalink] New post 27 May 2013, 23:27
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Graymatter sorry to hear that this happened to you.

But your story does bring up a very good point about the Admissions process in general, and in fact the situation is similar to that of a company hiring. Although they give out guidelines, deadlines, "rules", etc. they aren't actually bound to necessarily follow their own guidelines if it is not in their benefit. Unfortunately, the school having all the "power" if they get an offer that is significantly to their advantage (say, interest from a very strong candidate after the deadline) that it is in their interest then there is really nothing stopping them from doing so, except of course the interests of Transparency.

Thankfully though most schools in most cases are quite transparent about the process (even if they are quite secretive about how they have the admissions committee members evaluate candidates), for the same reason that businesses aim for transparency - i.e. it is in their interests.

But anyhow, you got into not one but FIVE other schools!!! (congrats) and a "Who needs them if they don't want me" attitude is probably better than anything you could tell them. ;)
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Re: Waitlisted Applicants Situation - Fair or Unfair? [#permalink] New post 30 May 2013, 07:04
Wow, what a story... really unfair. Sorry to hear about that, but thanks for sharing.
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Re: Waitlisted Applicants Situation - Fair or Unfair? [#permalink] New post 30 May 2013, 14:42
As someone above pointed out.. Do you really wanna go to a place where they clearly do not want or care much about you?

I think you will be much happier at any of the five other schools that accepted you..

Good luck on the rest of the way!

Sent from my Galaxy Nexus
Re: Waitlisted Applicants Situation - Fair or Unfair?   [#permalink] 30 May 2013, 14:42
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