Na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na BATNA!

If the title of this post doesn’t get a song stuck in your head, you fail the nerd test.

Just over a week left until Round 2 decision time! I know the waiting has gotten pretty bad because I’ve started having nightmares about MBA admissions.

In my dream, my mom called to say that a packet had arrived from Dream School, and that I had been rejected. Now, you have to understand that my mother and I don’t exactly see eye to eye on business school (in real life), so in my dream logic I determined that she must be wrong and dream-traveled to her house to prove it. Lo and behold, the package included an admissions letter! But wait – not only was the letter addressed to someone else, it was not even from the right school.

That’s when I woke up screaming.

It stands to reason that this sort of anxiety can’t possibly be healthy. Therefore I’ve resolved to spend the last week before the decision date thinking about my BATNA.

BATNA stands for “Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement,” though you might think of it as leverage. Simply put, in any business negotiation you should never accept a resolution worse than the next best alternative. Seems obvious, right? Why would you accept $5 when someone else is willing to give you $10? Yet applying to business school is essentially a no-BATNA situation. After spending an enormous amount of time, money and energy on the application process, most people sit back and cross their fingers that they will get in. I totally get it – you’re wiped out, mentally and emotionally, and all you want to do is crawl into bed and cry softly. But it’s time to invest in your BATNA. Think of it as an insurance policy against both the crushing disappointment of rejection and the desperate feeling of “What now?”

The way I see it, these are my options if Dream School doesn’t admit me this round:

  1. Go to Third-Choice School (a mid-ranked program…but I could do better).
  2. Hope to get off the waitlist at Dream School or Second-Choice School.
  3. Reapply next year.
  4. Forget business school and try to get the best job I can with my current skill set.
  5. Start learning a technical skill like accounting or computer programming that will allow me to get a higher-paying job without a masters degree.

#1 is attractive simply because it’s a guaranteed road to an MBA, but I’m not convinced that Third-Choice School would give me the most bang for my buck. #2 seems hopeless and #3 makes me tired just thinking about it. #4 is a possibilty considering that I’ve done a lot of resume-building over the past year and a half, but I’m still skeptical that I’ll be competitive for the sort of job that I want. And while #5 would probably give me the best ROI of the bunch, it basically entails starting over from scratch.

So what’s my BATNA? For a while I thought that Third-Choice School was it, but now I’m not sure. Is it worth it to quit my job, relocate, and take on a hefty debt load (though TCS did offer me a pretty nice scholarship package) when I believe I can do better? Or is Third-Choice School good enough to get the job done?

I honestly can’t answer any of these questions right now, and maybe it’s silly to try until I get my decision from Dream School. To quote Scarlett O’Hara, “I can’t think about that right now. If I do, I’ll go crazy. I’ll think about that tomorrow.” Best case scenario, Dream School admits me and this will all be useless worrying. But for my own mental health, I have to assume that I might have to employ one of these five alternatives.

What would you do?

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3 thoughts on “Na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na BATNA!

  1. embeeay says:

    Personally, I would opt for #1. But everyone holds themselves to their own standards. I’m not sure what qualifies as “mid-ranking” in your book but so long as the school can effectively give you the network, education, and job prospects that you need, it would still provide a lot of the benefits of the MBA I’m sure you were originally seeking when applying. After all, you did apply to this school right?
    Reapplying a year later, for me, was almost entirely out of the question, since I would probably go batsh*t crazy by then having to wait more. Also, not getting any younger…
    #4 was my choice of BATNA if I did not end up getting accepted to business school, which I think could be a viable option for you. It would have to boil down to how confident you are in your current CV and set of skills. What I picture myself doing when I am still working 15 years from now is night and day when comparing MBA vs. no MBA.
    Best of luck with your decision!! The biased part of me hopes you go for the MBA as a fellow member of the class of 2015 🙂

    • bschoolgirl says:

      Thanks embeeay! You’re right, I did apply to Third Choice School for a reason…it was in the right location, I liked the culture, and they have connections at companies that I would be a good fit for. My hangup is this: First and Second Choice schools are in the top 20 and top 30, whereas Third Choice School is in the top 50. I keep hearing that you should go to the highest ranking school you can, so I just don’t know if Third Choice will offer the same ROI as the others. On the other hand, it would be less expensive and they also offered me a fellowship. And it would get me out of a dead-end job that I hate. Sooo…lots of things to consider! Anyway, congratulations on your acceptance and I hope to join you in the c/o 2015! 🙂

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