Many b-school applicants supplement their GMAT study time with avid participation in one (or more!) of the GMAT/MBA forums on the world wide web. Here at Knewton, we’re pretty big fans too, and in all our trolling, we’ve noticed some distinctive types of forum participants.
Our observations may not be (entirely) scientific, but all you MBA forum junkies are bound to recognize some familiar types:
1. The Score-Keeper: He’s obsessed with keeping score. The forum is his living room and the admissions process his kid’s birthday party. He considers it an achievement if you or anyone you know gets in. Its his way of controlling a process which feels a little mysterious and overwhelming to him. One question: When is Score-Keeper going to get an MBA himself and stop keeping score?
Typical Post: “Let me know if you’re DG (dinged), WL (waitlisted) or ADMT (admitted). Include your stats and interview Q’s. Everyone, PLEASE CHECK THE ROLL CALL FOR UPDATES. And pls PM me if your status changes. Anyone want to call about the Wharton waitlist?”
2. The Instigator: He’s responsible for the longest threads, the nastiest spats, and the latest round of sock-puppeting accusations. He’s been kicked off the forum three times, resurrected twice as many, and may or may not be that guy from the monthly Ivy League mixer who always lists the full name of every school he attended on his name-tag (and the degree achieved there). A long time ago, this grinch was sad, lonely and bewildered–until he discovered the world of b-school admissions where he now reigns in his fortress of provocation.
Typical Post: “I’m sorry, but __________ School of Business has NEVER been part of the M7, the T6, or the G5. And those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, don’t even bother applying.”
3. The Moderator: As a former educator or class president, the Moderator diffuses forum conflict, defends those who are picked on by the Instigator, and, above all, wants to be seen as mature and even-tempered. Unfortunately, there’s no prize for congeniality, and Moderators are easy prey for Instigators who like to kick people off their maturity high horse… Watch for this fight when it comes.
Typical Post: “That’s simply not true, HedgeFundDude. M&AGal needs to decide where she wants to go, where she feels she will truly thrive, regardless of your biases. ______ school has the better finance network but ______may have the stronger brand in Asia.”
4. The Sorority Girl: He or she sometimes overlaps with the Score Keeper, but really, it’s her job to plan the museum excursions, movie sessions, pub crawls, study breaks, meetups, freak-out sessions, victory dances, and commiseration gatherings. Sorority Girl makes sure the MBA forum is fun and friendly and that everyone gets some face-to-face time.
Typical Post: “Everyone wear red so we can find each other in the Citrus Room!”
5. The Representative: The rep works for an admissions consultancy and sees the MBA forum as a business opportunity and every forum member as a potential client. The rep is personable, friendly and always mature. He disguises his rep status at first but comes with a quiver full of stats (yield, scores, rates) to demonstrate his wisdom about the process right before he drops a link to his online services and testimonials. The Instigator may try to attack the Rep, but the Rep’s lack of emotional investment in the process makes it difficult to stir any drama up.
Typical Post: “Looks like a challenging year for entrepreneurs and non-traditional applicants. As a representative of Equity Admissions Incorporated, I can say that I’m impressed but not surprised. For more information on how YOU can better brand yourself, check us out!”
6. The Speculator: He takes the data from the Score-Keeper and plugs it through his special algorithm which magically produces all the answers to your biggest questions (how many interview slots are left, when acceptances will stop trickling, what percent of applicants have less than 3 years of work experience, etc). The catch: He’s usually wrong.
Typical Post: “Based on data from GMATSociety, ClubMBA, and impeccable sources along both coasts, there are 57 interview slots left for the New York region and 26 for the Bay area. See graph attached. Will be happy to recalibrate at next 5 PM EST release.”
7. The Intellectual: He’s not so much interested in who gets in as how the admissions process reflects our society. Either that or he’s writing an ethnography of Wall Street. (Which, by the way, exists! Check out Liquidated: An Ethnography of Wall Street by Karen Ho. One of the first academic texts about the culture of investment banking.)
Typical Post: “Do we think this trend reflects a new age of adult adolescence? What do we think about this culture of ‘smartness’ and how it reinforces our sense of entitlement?”
8. The Spigot of Random Questions: He has a disturbing or miraculous (depending on how you see it) ability to miss the whole point of a discussion. Concerns like brand, prestige, popularity, and politics have no place in this poster’s consciousness.
Typical Post: “Are people in business school generally attractive? Which school has the best student center? Do you think Brown will start an MBA program? Also, can someone tell me what it means to “waive” my right to review a recommendation? Thanks!”
9. The Artist: The blank page stirs him. He churns out lists, parodies, and limericks at the rate of four or five posts a day and joins the ranks of thousands who use online spaces to create unexpected pockets of art. He’d could be channeling his creativity into a blog/website of his own, but somehow it’s the forum that gets his juices flowing.
Typical Post: “Click here to check out my MBA song on YouTube!”
10. The Silent Presence: The forum attracts him, but he refuses to participate. He lives in the fear that someone from his new company or b-school will rescind their offer because of an inappropriate post which will be tracked back to him.
Typical Post: “?”