Let's get into Booth's waitlist video assignment a bit. It always causes people to feel tremendous stress when they see this option because they immediately think "how can I create an amazing video that will blow away the admissions committee?"
This is especially stressful when there are caveats like not having strong skills in areas like shooting film or editing or things of that nature. So the first ting to do is stop, take a breath, and re-frame the entire operation.
What is the purpose of this assignment?
Is Booth looking to see who is awesome at filmmaking? Obviously not. Even if you could make a case that their continued PPT assignment is meant to - in some small way - measure business skills (creating presentations) that will one day be used (as a consultant, for road shows, etc.), that logic doesn't extend here. There are just simply not very many post-MBA roles that involve making 45-second videos. And if you ever are involved in such a thing, you will not be doing the filming, lighting, sound, and editing yourself, I am guessing.
What about "getting to know you?"
Maybe. I think there is some of that at play here. NYU Stern has always welcomed a video essay question, UCLA Anderson used to ask one, and there are other examples, so it's not a stretch to think that the school - especially having seen enough to waitlist you - might want to get a peak into more pockets of your life or personality. However, if they really felt this was the best tool for that, they would definitely include it in the original app and it would come before the interview phase, not after.
Therefore, to me, the clear reason they include this is to measure effort.
Just being willing to make and submit a video is half the battle!
Why is effort so important to Booth here?
Normally, elite business schools aren't going to play a game of "who wants it the most?" when it comes to admitting students. However, the waitlist is a totally different ballgame. Why?
Well, it all starts with understanding how the waitlist works and impacts the "numbers" of building a class.
Normally, when an admissions office is making a decision, they are using simple math: how many students do we need (or want) to enroll? What is our projected yield rate? Okay, now we know how many to admit. As they go through files, they may engage in what is called "yield protection" (leaning towards candidates more likely to attend), but the pressure to figure out "who is coming here if they get in?" does not factor nearly as much as it does when a school is working off the waitlist.
The reason for this is simple: they already sent out as many acceptance letters as they really wanted to send.
If they have not yielded the class with that - meaning if they are going to their waitlist - it means admissions committees are going to have to admit more people. In situations like this, schools are far more inclined to want to have "one-for-one" conversions - meaning if they are going to send out another acceptance letter, they want to know that person will attend. The last thing Booth needs if they are going to be sending out more letters is to send out even more than they need to.
All of this means that if you can waive your arms around and say "I really want to attend!" it can be helpful.
But you have to avoid looking desperate when doing so, which is why it's hard to make that kind of display at a lot of schools. Booth has threaded the needle perfectly by offering a task that is hard enough to require real effort (thus signaling real interest), but nothing that will make a candidate look desperate.
What should you make your waitlist video about?
The key is to be able to get this done efficiently and to show some personality and passion, so I would always default to those factors. Some people want to see out "coverage" of their application gaps - meaning try to cover some new territory or hit on an aspect they feel wasn't strong. The problem with that approach is that if you got an interview and then landed on the waitlist, you didn't have any major issues or gaps on your app. There is absolutely no way Booth would waitlist you if there were issues. There are just a lot of amazing candidates and they are clearly having another huge year (U.S. News just ranked them 3rd, behind HBS and Wharton who tied for 1st in the rankings).
Rather than try to reverse-engineer your content based on what the school might want, you should be thinking about what YOU want.
Is Booth so exciting to you that you want to talk about going there? Then pick the Why Booth option. If you feel you have a real sense of momentum in your life right now and are just dying to hit the ground running, then talk about Why Now. If you have some specific elements of your goals you want to dive into (beyond what you already shared in the short essays on the app), go that route.
In the end, it's all about picking something you can get excited about it and then go film yourself talking about. If you put in the passion and the effort, you will be accomplishing everything this task is meant to offer you.
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