MBA Application – When You Can No Longer Control Your Fate
I would have to say that the most emotionally challenging part of my MBA application process was the seemingly eternal wait for the final admissions decision after my interview. In reality, it was actually just a mere five weeks of uncertainty, but it truly does feel like forever when you can no longer directly affect the outcome of something you want so badly. That sense of helplessness can induce quite a fanciful thought or two.
Say a prayer to every single deity ever recorded in the history of man and hope that at least one of them is legitimate? Carefully re-watch Christopher Nolan’s Inception to see if you can master the secret to entering and influencing the dreams of Oxford Saïd Business School’s Admissions Committee? Both ideas may have briefly crossed my mind for a fleeting moment or two…at some point though, you simply have to accept the fact that the ball’s no longer in your court and so long as you put your best foot forward in your application, there’s nothing more you could’ve done. So there’s no benefit to you worrying when it won’t affect the outcome of the MBA application which somebody else is deciding for you. Obviously this type of rational thinking is easier said than done and certainly in hindsight, I was guilty of the second-guessing tendency I believe all MBA applicants exhibit. After all, there’s always a better answer that you could’ve given for one of the interview questions and you begin to fear that one hiccup will seal your fate and prevent you from being accepted by your dream b-school.
However, stumbling upon one of the MBA forums later, I read that one of the ways Saïd Business School seeks to alleviate this waiting game stress is that they announce most, if not all of their admissions decisions on the same day for that application round (listed on the SBS website). I handed in my MBA application in Round 2, which meant that all applicants for that round were to be notified of their admissions decision at the latest by December 11, 2015. From what I gathered, almost everyone in Round 2 would know their fate on this date and not any sooner. Therefore, there was no need for a heart attack every time I received a new e-mail notification on my phone during those five weeks of temporary life limbo.
I’m not going to lie to you though, on that date that you know you will finally find out your admissions decision, you might be the most emotionally volatile you’ve felt in a long time. I tried my best to stay on an even keel regardless of the outcome but deep down, I totally knew that getting in would send me to cloud nine and since Oxford was my first choice, the sheer joy that all my hard work had eventually paid off would be so deeply liberating on an emotional level.
Now, even though I had waited all day for that e-mail (which actually was sent later than 5 PM Oxford time that Friday), when it finally arrived in my inbox, it required quite a bit of courage to actually open the darn thing. I guess that anxiety is normal and it didn’t help that the undescriptive subject of the e-mail, “University of Oxford MBA,” didn’t offer any hints as to the tone of its contents. After about a couple minutes and one last deep breath, I finally clicked on it and what I felt while reading that congratulatory message was pretty close to euphoric! I think I might’ve literally pinched myself on the cheek (twice!) to ensure that it wasn’t one of my dreams. And well, yeah, basically I couldn’t stop smiling for a week. No more GMATs. No more personal essays. No more reference letter requests. No more admissions interviews. All done and over with – forever!
I should note that part of the reason I had chosen to apply in Round 2 was that the winter holidays were right around the corner following the notification date. I knew that if my MBA application were successful, I’d have a lot of extra reason to celebrate with my family and loved ones that Christmas! Conversely, if I hadn’t been admitted, at least I would have a few extra days to regroup mentally and start applying to some other schools. As I luckily and thankfully belonged to the former category, those final three weeks of December 2015 ended up being very blissful. That following week while I watched Star Wars Episode 7 (something else I had long awaited – four years, in fact!) on opening night with a few friends, I realized that life was pretty good right about now. Just like my favourite film franchise, I was already looking forward to and counting down the days to this next exciting chapter! If you’re reading this now and thinking about applying for the next intake, I say take that leap of faith and may the force be with you!