The Dreaded Ding

A few weeks ago, Harvard Business School sent out the balance of its Round 1 interview invitations—followed by “release” notices to the majority of applicants. That means thousands of MBA hopefuls around the world recently received their first big fat DING.

While some people are able to easily shrug off this unfortunate news, others have a tough time dealing with what they see as “rejection.” If you’ve been feeling down ever since mid-October, we want to remind you why you should keep your chin up.

First off, all of the top MBA programs are notorious for being extremely selective. It may be that out of every 100 people who submit materials, only 7 – 12 are accepted. In other words, it’s very much a numbers game when you’re applying to such competitive programs. There are only so many spots for an overwhelming number of extremely talented candidates.

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As such, a past dean of HBS used to kick off his speech to new first-year students by stating that the school could’ve easily added an additional 900 candidates to the graduating class who were equally qualified. His point was that while admitted students were certainly accomplished and deserving, a little bit of luck played into their outcomes as well.

That may be hard to accept for people who have reached every single goal they’ve ever gone after. But it’s the truth. Once you’ve pulled together a strong application and hit “submit,” the process is out of your hands. You will never be able to do anything about who (or how many people) you were truly competing against for a spot, who read your application, or what kind of mood they were in that day.

The good news is that your results for a certain school are only the results for that school. They have absolutely no bearing on what you’ll hear from other programs. So there’s no need to panic or to question your approach. You should remain hopeful that positive news from another school may be right around the corner.

dealing with rejection


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