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Why mba candidates should ditch the phrase safety school


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Why MBA Candidates Should Ditch the Phrase - Safety School

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Why mba candidates should ditch the phrase safety school

  1. 1. MBA Candidates Should Ditch the Phrase"Safety School"
  2. 2. By the Amerasia Consulting Group,Boutique MBA Admissions ConsultingWhy MBA Candidates Should Ditch the Phrase"Safety School"MBA Admissions Consultant |
  3. 3. Today we are going to take the term "Safety School" andput it through the shredder. Reasonable minds canprobably disagree on what the term should mean, butwhat I want to do is explain why I personally do notbelieve that "Safety School" should be part of an MBAapplicants lexicon.First, the term is used incorrectly about 90% of thetime. When applicants say "safety school," what theyoften mean is "a school that is really good but thathopefully I have a better chance to get into." If you areusing the term this way, just as a shorthand, that is finebut make sure that its clarified with anyone you areworking with, such as your consultant.MBA Admissions Consultant |
  4. 4. The real use for "safety school" should probably translatemore or less to "a sure bet." With college applicants -due to the pressure to be enrolled on an exact timeline(following high school graduation, of course) - a "safetyschool" is a very real thing; you simply have to pick someprograms that you are sure to get into. Often this meansa program from that students home state, sometimeswith sheer numerical thresholds (lacking holisticadmissions processes). If you go to school in Californiaand have a certain matrix of GPA and test scores, youcan feel "safe" about getting into certain Cal-Stateprograms. Thats a safety school. Ross and Duke Fuquaare not safety schools. Now, what if you are using theterm in the right way?MBA Admissions Consultant |
  5. 5. Second, if the term *is* being used correctly, it meansyou should not apply to that school. Look, getting anMBA is not going to college. The ROI is only really thereif going to this school elevates your path and builds yourcredentials. If you attend a school that you were sure toget into all along, theres no way that program is takingyou to new heights.Its paradoxical to approach it that way. Now, there mightbe the minute possibility that an elite applicant woulduniquely benefit from a low-ranked regional school, thuscreating the rare situation where a school is bothcompletely safe and also appropriate to attend, but weretalking once in a blue moon here.MBA Admissions Consultant |
  6. 6. The reality is that the schools you want to attend are notgoing to be sure bets and, alternatively the sure bets arenot going to be schools you want to attend.Third, the use of the term creates an attitude thatpermeates the application and impacts results.Guess who is always the very first to figure out when youview a school as a "safety school"?The person reading your file! If you view UCLA orDarden as a safety school, they are going to figure thatout in about five seconds. And if you are a greatapplicant - an amazing applicant, even - and they feel likethey are your fifth choice, you probably wont get in there.MBA Admissions Consultant |
  7. 7. It is absolutely not uncommon for people to get "weird"admissions decisions or results that "dont make sense."They feel this way because they get into Wharton anddinged at Yale.Or they get into MIT and denied at Haas. Or in atColumbia and waitlisted at Duke. How can this happen?Thats a refrain we hear all the time.Well, it can happen because all of these schools are elite,they are all looking for different things, and - most of all -they are going to engage in a certain amount of yieldprotection.MBA Admissions Consultant |
  8. 8. Ever wonder how some of these programs have yieldrates (the number of admits who ultimately enroll) uparound 60 or 70 percent? Its not because the campus isso breathtaking that nobody can ever say no - itsbecause admissions officers are good at sussing out whois more likely to actually attend. "Will this person actuallyenroll?" is often a tiebreaking question in admissionscommittee and its an omnipresent consideration forreaders as they go through files. The point of all this isthat if you treat a school like its a "safety," your essayswill almost certainly reflect that attitude, and that mightultimately lead to you squandering the very strongmathematical odds you were banking on in the first place.MBA Admissions Consultant |
  9. 9. What we encourage instead of putting "safety schools" onyour list is to instead use a two-step approach for creatinga strategic list of schools:1.Seek safety in numbers, not schools. Rather thantrying to find sure bets, simply make sure you have plentyof bets on the board. You have multiple rounds to workwith and many schools are shrinking their essays, soapplying to five schools should be well within reach foreach candidate. Make sure to have a list 5-6 schoolsdeep, so that you can diversify your bets and giveyourself more chances.MBA Admissions Consultant |
  10. 10. If you are qualified, you structure your essayscorrectly, and you hit the DNA of all five schools (thisis of paramount importance), the chances that you willgo 0-for-5 are low, even if you pick five schools thatyou actually want to attend (imagine that!). Thoseodds will be better still if you...2. Run a selectivity filter over your entire list. There area lot of fantastic business schools, both in the U.S.and abroad. Our advice to clients is to use the wholeof that list to balance out your own mix of schools in away that features some varying levels of selectivity.MBA Admissions Consultant |
  11. 11. How hard a school is to get into should not governyour choices completely, of course, but its a goodthing to lay over the top. We say: pick 10 you wouldlove to attend, then pull your 5-6 based on tiers ofdifficulty. You will be surprised when you sort thingsby selectivity that you get surprising results.NYU is much harder to get into than Booth, forinstance (they have the same number of apps eachyear, but Booth has almost 200 more students in theclass), so while Booth makes a great 4th or 5th choiceon an elite candidates list, NYU does not (eventhough Booth is "better" by almost every measure).MBA Admissions Consultant |
  12. 12. Haas is very small and in a very popular location, so istherefore very, *very* selective - it is not an idealprogram to "toss onto the list" at #5 or #6 just becauseit is ranked below the first four schools on your wishlist. And it goes without saying that a list with onlyHBS, Stanford, Wharton, and MIT is basically settingthe highest degree of difficulty possible. It might stillbe someones list, but its sure not very "safe."In the end, you want to approach all of this with a wordwe keep using in so many posts - respect.MBA Admissions Consultant |
  13. 13. Be respectful of all these schools and know they havepride and passion for their programs, such that they wontrespond to you if you believe you are too good for them orsomehow a slam dunk for their school.Its going to bleed through your essays and they will dingyou just as readily as Stanford or HBS. So take the timeto find five or six schools you really want to attend andthat offer varying chances of success and then throwyourself into pursing each one of them with gusto. Youwill appreciate each one more, they will certainlyappreciate you far more, and, in the end, you willultimately have only choices you actually want. And thatsthe entire goal in the first place.MBA Admissions Consultant |
  14. 14. If you are prepared to not say the words "safety school"on a free initial consult, we want to chat with you! Emailus at and we can get youstarted with a comprehensive package that puts the rightlist of schools together and then attacks that list in a waythat gives you the best chance at results - so that youdont have to resort to applying to sure bets.MBA Admissions Consultant |
  15. 15. If you are interested in a free initial consultation, please boutique approach pairs you with a consultant capable of walking youthrough the above steps and perfecting your application.