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Admissions Tip: Feedback Session Etiquette

Interview 5At the beginning of April, we discussed the importance of signing up for a feedback session when one is planning to reapply to a program that provides this opportunity.  Today we’d like to follow up on that post by offering a few thoughts on feedback session etiquette.

While on one hand a feedback session marks the close of this year’s process, it’s crucial that you realize that the impression you make on the adcom member conducting the session may be added to your file and come to bear on your candidacy next year.  Taking heed of the following advice could help to make your feedback session as productive as possible – both in terms of gaining information about your weaknesses that you can address now and fostering a positive relationship with the school that will pay off in the future.

Be pleasant.  Though the admissions process is a highly emotional one and to have invested time, effort and money in an application without having an acceptance to show for it is undoubtedly very frustrating, receiving the adcom’s comments in an appreciative – not defensive – manner is of the utmost importance.  While it might be tempting to argue with the adcom’s criticisms of your file or counter their comments about your weaknesses with steps you’ve taken to address them, this is simply not going to be productive.  You should view this as an exercise in listening and an opportunity to demonstrate your commitment to the school.  No one ever converted a rejection to an admit by merely arguing their case in a feedback session.

Take what you can get.  Because time is so limited, we often encourage applicants to approach the adcom member conducting their session with pointed questions about specific elements of their application and ideas for improvement.  However, you need to remember that there is some information they are simply not at liberty to divulge.  If you’ve waived your right to view your recommendations, for instance, they might not be able to speak on this subject, and they might also hesitate to go into detail about your interview as well (for fear that you’ll track down an alumnus or student interviewer to complain about their review).  When you meet a roadblock like this, the best strategy is to leave it at that, letting the adcom member share what he or she is comfortable saying rather than pressing or probing for more information.

Follow through.  If you take down the name and email address of the person conducting your feedback session, it would be a nice touch to send this person a brief thank you note after your meeting.  Further, by keeping in touch with this individual and updating him or her of your progress over the months leading up to your application and decision, you can make that person your advocate by demonstrating that you’ve been following their advice (an email or two between April and November is sufficient).

Of course, the schools are not always able to tell an applicant the whole story; for instance, it’s difficult to tell an applicant who comes from an oversubscribed group and had fine numbers and essays that the class simply didn’t need another banker by the time he applied in round three.  For this reason, it’s important to seek feedback from other sources, such as current students or colleagues.  If you’d like an objective and informed assessment of your candidacy and previous application, feel free to contact us for information about our comprehensive feedback reports.