Thursday, July 17, 2008

Of Stretch Schools, Safe Schools and all that Stuff

With the start of Application Season starts the unavoidable process of School Selection. A common predicament facing the applicants is selection of "Safe Schools", both -How many to select & whether or not to select one.

Most applicants on an average apply to around than 7-8 Schools. What shifts the balance in favor of keeping at least 1 safe school is that among the 7-8 Schools is that
  • The top B schools i.e Stretch Schools have a dismal acceptance record ( every 5 out of 6 applicants get rejected)
  • For Most applicants it is necessary to get into at least one of the applied schools by the end of the application season. Not everyone has the time and energy to go through the entire process allover again the next year.
  • The top B Schools are terribly expensive whereas you stand a good chance of getting a big scholarship if selected by a safe school. So a safe schools works out to be a better return on investment
But some of the applicants (me included) still decide to keep safe schools out of the list.... Why?
  • Is it because we believe that only the top B Schools will help us to achieve our career goals spectacularly ?.. may be. But remember B schools are not an end by itself but only a means to an end
  • Or because we believe Safe schools are just mediocre schools ?... Not necessarily true. Safe schools are those which you believe you have a very good chance of getting into (because of your accads, professional or personal background). For e.g. Schools which are Stretch Schools for some one scored 610 in GMAT might be Safe schools for some on who scored 770
So whats the real reason? ...
Some of us are desperate to change things around us& to change ourselves in this process...

to stretch ourselves to the limits & to expand our horizons....
to inspire, to get inspired...
and at the end of all this achieve our full potential (or even better, go beyond our full potential.)
For most of us this is the last opportunity to quit our jobs and get involved in a fulltime learning program and we want to proudly say (to ourselves) -" I got into the Best possible MBA Program. I am incapable of doing any better"

Not keeping a Safe school in the application , to some may seem to be ridiculous and impractical, while to others may be the only way out. Different people tend to look at the same thing from different perspectives and arrive at different conclusions. But thats life and you have to live with it.

But what about me? ....where stand have I taken?
Well I still stand by my last years decision of not applying to a Safe school...

But this time around I have also decided to keep a plan B ready in case things go awry. As I have started well in advance, I am targeting to finish off 7 application by round 1 . In case none of the applications gets converted into interview calls, I will apply some more schools in round 2. This round of application will definitely contain some safe schools. I guess beyond a certain point you stop optimizing your potential and start banging your head against a closed door.


  1. how many total apps are you planing on?
    in any case gl, and nice blig

  2. Well said. Its becoming a major problem for me, not just whether to choose safe schools, but also whether to choose 'safer' schools than focussing on the biggie stretches.

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