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2008 Zero admits - Where are they now ??

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Re: 2008 Zero admits - Where are they now ?? [#permalink] New post 17 May 2009, 05:15
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Wow, have I been procrastinating posting on this thread. It's amazing how well I can procrastinate when I really put my mind to it. :-D

I graduated from college (engineering) in 2005 and started working at a BB in a technology role (Yes - I do fall into the dreaded Indian/IT pool). Sometime around 2007, I decided that I want to go for my MBA and started studying for my GMAT. I got a pretty good score on my first attempt in April 2007. At this time made my first mistake in assuming that most of my job was done getting a good GMAT score. (Mistake #1)

In hindsight, after completing my GMAT, I should've spent time researching schools, thinking about essays etc. like many people on here are doing. However, I did not do any of that. I decided to apply to 2 schools based on the rankings and prestige (S/W/Chi). Now, that I've gone through this process over 2 years, I can't believe how naive I was in assuming that I'll get into these schools based only on a good GMAT score and decent essays. I did not make any effort to research these programs or any others or reach out to any current students at these schools. I barely even leveraged my own network much less reach out to others (Mistake #2)

I applied to S/W in round 1. Got an interview at W, nothing at S and got rejected at both. Chi was my round 2 school and I thought I did a decent job on those essays. After my interview, I was WLed. This was when I finally started doing what I should have a long time ago. Firstly, I discovered this forum, which as all of you know is invaluable during the MBA application process. I started reaching out to current students at Chi, understand the culture and visited the school. I'm sure all of you have heard this before, but it deserves to be repeated: If you can visit schools (no money/time constraints), you MUST visit them. It will show you first-hand whether that school is for you, how you would fit in and will also provide you the opportunity to better explain the "why school X" question in apps.

While I did not make it off the WL, it was definitely a great thing to happen because it made me realize all the mistakes I had made and how to go about correcting them.

First up, I decided to evaluate my list of schools. I had not given any thought to school selection last year because I did not understand the importance of fit. I visited about 15 schools (H/MIT/Chi/K/Ross/W/Columbia/NYU/Yale/S/Haas/Cornell/Tuck/Darden), talked to current students and leveraged my network. Finally, I brought the list down to 7 schools - 3 R1 (Chi, K, Tuck), 3 R2 (Ross/Yale/Cornell) and Columbia RD. Why did I finally decide on this list? Fit. Make sure you know why you are applying to the schools you apply to. This is why school visits are so important. You can only know so much from websites and second-hand information.

Secondly, I decided to evaluate myself and last year's application. I felt I knew some areas where I had gone wrong in my application (didn't do anything to differentiate myself, underplayed some of my unique ECs). I reached out to people through these forums and people I had met during visits. I sent them my essays from last year to confirm whether these were the only deficiencies in my application or were there other things I hadn't picked up myself. I asked them for suggestions about how to improve my profile, what else I should include etc. Look at your previous application critically to figure out where you fell short. As buffdaddy said, do not hesitate to ask other applicants/students for help. They've been through or are going through the same process and will be able to provide you with constructive feedback.

I started working on my apps much earlier than I had last year - around July/August or so (right when I got the ding from Chi). I decided to start writing my Why MBA essay from scratch. I realized that last year there was nothing in my essays that was me. I had written a cookie-cutter MBA essay that was probably no different from what anyone else would have written. I decided to inject some of myself into it - Make it more interesting than I started working at company X, worked on the project Y, achieved ABC, got promoted blah blah blah... Once I was happy with this essay, I moved on to specific school applications. I did use some stories from last year, but went into more details to explain why that story/example was important to me. After going through multiple iterations, I sent out my essays to about 3 people to get their inputs on it and continued making changes as necessary. Start working on your apps as early as possible. It'll give you more time at the end to polish everything and get feedback.

Another mistake I made last year was that I had no discussions with my recommenders. I had detailed discussions with them this year and used the information in the GC wiki to provide them a framework about what to include in my recommendation. I provided them with a document in which I included certain stories/achievements which I wanted them to talk about in my recommendation. I made sure to add some stuff in here which I knew I would not be able to include in my app, but which would be important to show the adcom. I am not sure how much of a difference this made, but I am sure it didn't hurt and probably allowed me to show a well-rounded profile. So make sure you have a discussion with your recommenders and know what you want them to include in the recommendation. Also, I got one new recommendation and one from my manager who was also my recommenders last year.

Lastly, while I had some good ECs (sports, teaching), I realized that I did not have much leadership experience to show in this. I got on the board of one of the organizations that I was volunteering with to show experiences beyond just being involved. I also took a leadership role in the alumni association of my undergrad. While I had some good ECs, I realized that I had not shown any initiative/leadership outside of work. In addition to rounding out my profile, it also provided me with better examples to use in essays and interviews. If you can try to get additional responsibilities both at work and in ECs.

I hope this information is helpful to anyone who is reapplying next year. Let me know if you have any other questions. I'm sure you guys learnt a lot this application season that you didn't know last year and that information will allow you to be better placed than other applicants. Good luck with the applications!
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Re: 2008 Zero admits - Where are they now ?? [#permalink] New post 17 May 2009, 05:32
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Also, I encourage all reapplicants to read Rhyme's post to understand what I said about getting additional responsibilities at work and in ECs:

calling-chicago-gsb-applicants-48955-2660.html#p494426
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Re: 2008 Zero admits - Where are they now ?? [#permalink] New post 18 May 2009, 04:25
Thanks yellowjacket! for sharing your story.

In general, everybody talks about fit, which is very important IMHO. However, what about international student who cannot travel (various constraints) to understand if X school is a fit? Reaching out, research etc can be done using the schools website, most of the information is available.

I have a big list of schools, which I'd like to apply. I'd like to narrow down the schools, but is there a way I can work on the "fit"? The raw data is available, however, I feel its not enough.
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Re: 2008 Zero admits - Where are they now ?? [#permalink] New post 18 May 2009, 05:25
pm4553 wrote:
Thanks yellowjacket! for sharing your story.

In general, everybody talks about fit, which is very important IMHO. However, what about international student who cannot travel (various constraints) to understand if X school is a fit? Reaching out, research etc can be done using the schools website, most of the information is available.

I have a big list of schools, which I'd like to apply. I'd like to narrow down the schools, but is there a way I can work on the "fit"? The raw data is available, however, I feel its not enough.


A few ideas:

- See if the school has an alumni club in your area, and if it does try and talk to local alumni about their experience, school cuture, etc.
- Read through the school threads on here, and see if you can talk to some of the current students who post here.

Fit is a difficult thing to put your finger on, and really the best way to judge fit is to talk with students/alumni, either during a campus visit or through other means. Since this can be time consuming, you may want to use some other criteria as a first filter, to narrow your list down a bit.
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Re: 2008 Zero admits - Where are they now ?? [#permalink] New post 18 May 2009, 05:44
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Brilliant work yellowjacket !!!! +1

pm4553 - that is a good question. What exactly is "fit" and how does one define and determine it (esp without even visiting the school)? You can gather a little from the raw student body numbers - average age / WE / incoming industries / incoming nationalities should give an indication of the folks' basic profile. You may also catch up with alumni in your home location. Usually alums are more than happy to have a chat and describe their school in good detail and I've found their insights the most valuable; they've been there and done that. Alums also have the added advantage of being from your country so knowing the cultural differences that they might have experienced at the program (and at the target school's country)

But frankly, because most top schools tend to have incredibly diverse student bodies, chances are that you will end up meeting "your type" of people at most of these schools. So don't ignore researching your aims fit before researching your personality fit.

pm4553 wrote:
Thanks yellowjacket! for sharing your story.

In general, everybody talks about fit, which is very important IMHO. However, what about international student who cannot travel (various constraints) to understand if X school is a fit? Reaching out, research etc can be done using the schools website, most of the information is available.

I have a big list of schools, which I'd like to apply. I'd like to narrow down the schools, but is there a way I can work on the "fit"? The raw data is available, however, I feel its not enough.
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Re: 2008 Zero admits - Where are they now ?? [#permalink] New post 18 May 2009, 06:10
Jerz & bsd_lover, good points.

Contacting Alumni in my home town, is definately doable. I think, its the closest to the school visit experience. I'll begin contacting some of them, hope they'll find time to respond :)
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Re: 2008 Zero admits - Where are they now ?? [#permalink] New post 18 May 2009, 07:19
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I think there are other factors that you can use to filter your list down before assessing fit. I think first of all you should narrow down your list of schools based on career goals and how goals tie in with each school. The first line of attack is definitely websites and your own personal network. Talk to people you know in your target industry to understand how your list of schools is percieved in the eyes of recruiters. After that, reach out to people in specific clubs you are/would be interested in (preferably both career and activities). Once you go to school, chances are they will probably be the sort of people you will be interacting with the most. In addition to that, alumni are also a very valuable resource about the school. Personally, I preferred talking to curret students over alums since current students know more about the current situation in each school than someone who graduated 5 years ago. I would definitely encourage you to talk to more young alumni than people who graduated a while back. Lastly, I'm not sure where you're located, but you should definitely try to go to as many information sessions for colleges that you are interested in. While most of it is a PR exercise, you get a chance to meet a large number of alums and chances are that some of them are probably in your target industry so you'll get a more targeted perspective from them.



pm4553 wrote:
Thanks yellowjacket! for sharing your story.

In general, everybody talks about fit, which is very important IMHO. However, what about international student who cannot travel (various constraints) to understand if X school is a fit? Reaching out, research etc can be done using the schools website, most of the information is available.

I have a big list of schools, which I'd like to apply. I'd like to narrow down the schools, but is there a way I can work on the "fit"? The raw data is available, however, I feel its not enough.
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Re: 2008 Zero admits - Where are they now ?? [#permalink] New post 18 May 2009, 09:22
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If you were to meet with an Alumni, what would you try to find out?
I've listed a few :

* which schools did he/she apply to. why did he/she choose X over Y,Z etc.?
* what the biggest take away?
* something unique about school X?
* any classes or professors which he/she liked?
* what clubs were he/she in?
* favourite subject & why?
* basic profile - prior to MBA? (not sure if this is required but good to know)

Your views?
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Re: 2008 Zero admits - Where are they now ?? [#permalink] New post 19 May 2009, 03:32
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I always try to find out the alum's post MBA career trajectory to get me a sense of how the MBA might have helped this person (subconsciously reassuring me that this school is right for me :) ). Of course that means that I do try to find the basic profile prior to the MBA as well. Other things you might want to consider are :
- How long did it take you (and others that you know) to pay off the loan
- How did you find your post MBA job
- What are some interesting career switches (in industry xyz) that you witnessed

Of course the type of questions you ask would depend on the type of rapport you establish with the alum.

Good luck.

pm4553 wrote:
If you were to meet with an Alumni, what would you try to find out?
I've listed a few :

* which schools did he/she apply to. why did he/she choose X over Y,Z etc.?
* what the biggest take away?
* something unique about school X?
* any classes or professors which he/she liked?
* what clubs were he/she in?
* favourite subject & why?
* basic profile - prior to MBA? (not sure if this is required but good to know)

Your views?
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Re: 2008 Zero admits - Where are they now ?? [#permalink] New post 03 Jun 2009, 11:44
Thanks for creating this forum. I have an interview with Columbia but just got dinged from NYU - not even an interview - I only applied to two schools - to say that I am nervous is an understatement. Checked my NYU status online at work today, devastated to say the least - spent most of my work day when I could in the bathroom sobbing. Reapplying is one thing but thinking about staying in investment banking for another year is really making me horrible.

Once again - thanks for the forum, it means a lot to people who are not having the best of luck right now.
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Re: 2008 Zero admits - Where are they now ?? [#permalink] New post 03 Jun 2009, 11:51
hoffsta wrote:
Thanks for creating this forum. I have an interview with Columbia but just got dinged from NYU - not even an interview - I only applied to two schools - to say that I am nervous is an understatement. Checked my NYU status online at work today, devastated to say the least - spent most of my work day when I could in the bathroom sobbing. Reapplying is one thing but thinking about staying in investment banking for another year is really making me horrible.

Once again - thanks for the forum, it means a lot to people who are not having the best of luck right now.


Sorry to hear about your NYU news. NYU is a top school and it is tough to get in. Many people have awesome background and stats but he/she fails to get into his/her top choice. I've met various individuals in this forum with similar stories. Hopefully, you can ace that Columbia interview and have a happy ending. Welcome to the forum and good luck!
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Re: 2008 Zero admits - Where are they now ?? [#permalink] New post 03 Jun 2009, 12:00
hoffsta, that is rough. However you still have an amazing chance with Columbia so focus all your energy on the interview. Really convey how you love the "cluster" format of the class, make sure to research the school...etc. Columbia rocks, and make sure you convey it!
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Re: 2008 Zero admits - Where are they now ?? [#permalink] New post 03 Jun 2009, 18:11
hoffsta believe me I've been there (5 dings before an admit) it SUCKS. The whole process is painful. As Alex Chu (MBAApply) puts it, the process closer to dating than it is to admissions. You can get rejected for the most superficial subjective of reasons. So, the best thing to do is to spread your bets next year (that is if you dont get admitted to Columbia this year). We'll all be around to help you.

hoffsta wrote:
Thanks for creating this forum. I have an interview with Columbia but just got dinged from NYU - not even an interview - I only applied to two schools - to say that I am nervous is an understatement. Checked my NYU status online at work today, devastated to say the least - spent most of my work day when I could in the bathroom sobbing. Reapplying is one thing but thinking about staying in investment banking for another year is really making me horrible.

Once again - thanks for the forum, it means a lot to people who are not having the best of luck right now.
Re: 2008 Zero admits - Where are they now ??   [#permalink] 03 Jun 2009, 18:11
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