What B-school rejection feels like: When Harvard, Wharton, Kellogg, Tuck, and Yale all say no

What B-school rejection feels like: When Harvard, Wharton, Kellogg, Tuck, and Yale all say no It was as if he’d climbed up on a high diving board, shouted down to everyone on the pool deck to watch him perform a triple back flip with four twists, bounced a few times to prepare for launch, bounced a few more times to make sure everyone was looking, propelled himself into the air … and missed the pool completely.


Poor Grant. He wasn’t attempting the world’s most difficult dive, but its academic equivalent instead: applying to an ultra-elite MBA program. And while he wasn’t wearing a Speedo on a high board over a pool, he was even more exposed—Grant was standing in the middle of the Internet for all to see.

You may have read his blog, Grant Me Admission, in which he chronicles his quest for a top-tier MBA. It’s received nearly 100,000 page views. And it’s pretty good: enthusiastic, lively, clearly written, full of tips and ideas and lessons learned. Read it, and you’re right there with Grant as he studies for and takes the GMAT, researches schools, visits campuses, analyzes sample essays, and gets interviews. It’s incredibly detailed.

Which is part of the reason Grant went splat. He wasn’t just applying to top B-schools. He was also working full time, and doing a lot of nonprofit work, plus putting in hours and hours on his blog.

His story holds a valuable lesson for anyone applying to top MBA programs. Grant failed to focus on Goal No. 1, getting admitted to business school, and he paid a painful price.

As he writes on a recent post, below a photo of a bleak Martian landscape:

Harvard: Dinged without an interview
Wharton: Dinged without an interview
Yale: Dinged without an interview
Kellogg: Dinged
Tuck: Dinged

I’m not going to lie; it is incredibly hard for me to share these results.

Of course, as anyone who plays this game knows, rejection is a person’s worst nightmare—but it is also the norm. Last year, the five schools on Grant’s target list received more than 25,400 applications for less than 3,000 available spots. With acceptance rates that range from a low of 12% for Harvard to a high of 24% for Yale, the odds of getting into one of these schools are against you. Overall, not much more than 18% of the applicants to these five MBA programs was accepted last year.

Read full story: Fortune

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