As admissions consultants, we know firsthand the intense pressure candidates feel, and we sometimes wish we could convince you that small points are really just … small points. We get asked, “Should this be a comma or a semicolon?” and want to respond, “Please trust us that the admissions committee will not say, ‘Oh, I would have accepted this applicant if she had used a comma here, but she chose a semicolon, so DING!’” That said, we are certainly not telling you to ignore the small things—the overall impression your application makes will depend in part on your attention to typos, font consistency and grammar, for example—but we are encouraging you to make smart and reasonable decisions and move on. You can be confident that your judgment on such topics will likely be sufficient.
We realize, however, that you can get too tense and worried sometimes to hear us, so we were delighted to see this recent post by Allison Davis, the associate director of MBA admissions at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, on the school’s admissions blog:
Worry that it’s there, but not about where…
Recently, I held two webinars for Round 1 applicants to answer your last-minute questions. Many of your questions had to do with small, logistical details like…Where do I put my CFA? How do I abbreviate an award that won’t fit? Should I put my 40-hour weekend job in the part-time or full-time employment section?
We’re glad you’re paying attention to the instructions and trying to represent yourself carefully and correctly. Please be assured, however, that your admission decision will not hinge on whether you put information in one box or another. We read everything you submit. If you’re not sure where to put something, just do what makes sense. Feel free to include a brief explanation in the Additional Information section of your application.
And, yes, don’t forget to run spell check. :-)
Music to our ears—and, we hope, to yours.