Wednesday, August 5, 2009

How (not) to handle the waitlisted status!

After running my 2 interviews for the INSEAD MBA starting in Sept 09, I finally received the answer on the 19th of December 08 from the INSEAD Adcom: you're waitlisted!! Damned, what an horrible situation!!!

First it is a very mixed feeling because some kind of hope still exists but at the end of the day it is so small that you just want to forget it and move it. Easier said than done!

My Christmas holidays have been horrible because I was stuck in some kind of limbo and unable to think forward :(

INSEAD is such a great school and being that close is very difficult to bear. At the time, even though I didn't have any response from HEC, UCLA and Berkeley, I knew I was 100% sure getting one of those.

Second, you just wonder what made them make this decision, apparently too many french people with a better profile than me (they are very strict with their <10% french :(), bad interview? You just don't know...

So what can you do? After browsing some business week and MBA forums, several options appeared:
  • you wait until the end, pay the deposits to your other admits and if accepted, you just go
  • you wait until the end, reject your other admits and cross your fingers!
  • you try to speed up the decision process before having to pay any deposit to other schools
Well, well, well...

Not easy to decide but actually HEC made me decide because you have to pay a 6000€ deposit to secure your seat while it was something around 1000$ for Berkeley.

If I had been rich, I would have chosen the first option but as it is still not the case I had to choose between second ans third one. (well it is not really about being rich or not but 6000€ sounds so big!!)

The second one was a bit like suicidal mission so I sticked to the third option.

Before having to pay the deposits, I contacted INSEAD to know whether there was some way to speed up the process. Actually, their answer was quite clear: No!
They only suggested to inform them about any "major" update of your file in the meantime.

Well, what can you do if you don't have any update to add? Answer: Just don't do any!

That's not what I did...I registered to attend an INSEAD in house event, and after that prepared a big mail stating all the major updates I had made since the application. But in retrospect, I am not sure there were worth mentioning.
During the in-house event I met the adcoms and they told me GMAT, essays... are OK and to emphasize what I could bring to the class...
Plus I mentioned the deposits I had to pay in order to kind of push them to tell me what to expect from INSEAD.

Answer was quite fast, 2 days after my update mail: "We are sorry....blabla" Snifff!

Here we are, so I won't go to INSEAD, too bad!! but hey, now I know that and can move forward! So this is great news! :D

In conclusion, I don't know if I can advise you anything on how to handle the waitlisted status but here are some suggestions about stuff I did that broke the deal:
  • don't be too pushy saying you have other deposits to pay (especially for lesser-rank schools I think)
  • don't be needy like "Pleeeease let me in, INSEAD is such a great school, blabla". It does not work with the girls so why would it work with INSEAD? :D (Keep in mind: "you are the prize"; Neil Strauss inside :D)
  • If you have nothing to say, just don't say anything. Don't waste the Adcom time!
So here are the main ideas, sound obvious and during the process I kept telling myself, don't do anything stupid, but you run under such stress that your reactions might change (some will say that your true self is revealed under stressed, so now it's official, I'm stupid! :D) because you just want to stop the pain.

So my best advice if you are waitlisted: drink some green tea, go and work out, take holidays, cut the internet and don't go on all these crazy MBA forums :D, party, read novels, meet new people and don't do any thing stupid!

That's it!

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