As someone who has been helping people with their admissions to business school for many years and who has a strong grounding in financial statistics and probabilities, I thought I could predict who gets the big prize. But when I discovered a text message from a client indicating that Derrick Bolton, Dean of Admissions at Stanford Graduate School of Business had rung her last night with the good news, I realized that it’s not just a numbers game.
Now face it, this client was outstanding. A brilliant scientist with less-than-traditional work experience. We’ll call her Kate. We worked on her applications to five of the top schools, and all the while she kept saying, “But Stanford is my favorite.” I appreciate that crush-like feeling. I was once that way about Harvard, and later about Goldman Sachs (I ended up at both places). As the interview invitations began trickling out, I was surprised. Kate wasn’t getting as many invitations as I had thought she would, but a decent percentage. She didn’t apply to any “safe” schools because she figured she had diversified enough in her choices of top schools that, which her outstanding record of achievements, she would get in somewhere.
But something funny happened. She got back-to-back ding letters, from schools where she had the perfect profile. I had coached her on most of her essays, so I knew they were high quality. She was depressed and we puzzled about what to do next. The only remaining school was Stanford. We both knew the way the numbers worked. It didn’t make logical sense that if four schools with an average admit rate of 10% rejected her, that she had a very high chance of getting into the final school that had an admit rate of 6.7%.
The numbers lie. Kate got in. I personally think she deserved to get into all those other schools, but that’s irrelevant now. Kate is now a member of the Stanford GSB Class of 2012.
It’s simply not linear. You go girl!