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# Application best practices for each B-school

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Application best practices for each B-school [#permalink]

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30 May 2007, 12:08
Congratulations to the class of 2009 and all the best for your B-school years.

I am a fall 2008 applicant and I have been thinking about the B-school application for a while now. On behalf of all fellow applicants, I request you to share your application DO's and DONT's. Something along the following lines will be precious.

School Name :
What do you think worked for you in the application? What was the X-factor in this application which wasn't present in your unsuccessful ones?How did you show that you fit with your admit school? Did you visit the school?
Was your GMAT ever mentioned as a specific plus point during the admissions process,by ad-com or interviewer?
If you got a positive note from your interviewer or ad-com, what was it?
Did you take care to emphasize certain aspects of your profile?If yes, what were they? Why did you choose to emphasize them?
Did you deliberately choose to omit certain aspects of your profile, specific to your admit school? What were they and why did you omit? Did you include these data points in other applications?
Application DO's:
Applicant DONT's:

This is just a list to get started. Much of the information is scattered in various threads on this board. I thought that a consolidated thread will be very useful.

Thanks.
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30 May 2007, 16:08
I could write five hundred pages on this... but here's the quick version (Ill draft something proper later)

School Name: Honestly, I think its a pretty standard issue across the board - each school may have a slight focus (eg team work for kellogg) but the core isnt going to change.

What do you think worked for you in the application?

Like I said, I dont think there is really anything especially unique about any particular school. It's not like Kellogg wants only teamwork and Chicago wants math while Harvard wants only people from PE or whatever. The basic core elements are the same -

Leadership - demonstrable (dont confuse leadership with manager) in some capacity, professional or not.
Teamwork - critical, think well about how you view it
Extracurriculars - meaningful. Donating money to the red cross is not an extracurricular. Dont' confuse the term extracurricular with the term charity work. They are not the same thing and they dont have to be. Its ok if you aren't mother teresa as long as your extracurriculars are not "Reaching level 60 in WOW".

Words that should come to mind when you read / write your applications are things like:

Introspective
Clear Goals
Well balanced
Diverse interests

We can talk much more at length on this subject, and I'll probably draft something up later. In short, what I'm trying to convey to you here is that if you are hoping for that "X factor" at each school that is somehow a magic bullet, you won't find it. Each school is unique - yes - but in the end, its a blended crapshoot. How does the school pick from the Deloitte consultant with a 3.9 GPA nad 720 GMAT who also sings in a quartet and the Goldman banker with a 3.2 GPA and 750 GMAT who spent his summer in Nepal building beds for nuns? There's no magic cutoff, magic number, magic formula.

Since I brought up GMAT, I'll just say this about it. My personal take on the subject is this: A strong GMAT cant get you in, but a low GMAT can keep you out. Nuff bout that.

What was the X-factor in this application which wasn't present in your unsuccessful ones?

If I knew, they wouldn't have been unsuccessful.... and honestly, like I said, there is always some amount of randomness in the decision.

Research and tons of it. Know the school. Know the culture. Visit if you can. Talk to students. Reach out to anyone and everyone. BE SPECIFIC IN YOUR ESSAYS.

Here is a good example of what not write

"I want to attend the Chicago GSB because of world renonwed faculty and a global and diverse student body. I am excited at the 21st century facilities and diverse options avaliable to the students, both in the classroom and in outside activities."

Here's one that seems better, but is just as bad:

"I want to come to the Chicago GSB because of its world renowned faculty such as Steven Levitt and because of its diverse and global student body. I am excited by the new Parker Center and diverse options avaliable to students, both in the classroom and in extracurriculars."

This is still horrible for two reasons. First is it still isnt specific enough.... but there's a second point --- Don't cut and paste too much, because if you arent careful, you'll do something stupid, like for instance, mention a Parker Center that exists at Cornell (I think) while talking about Chicago. You may have noticed that above, you may not have, but an adcom would. This leads me to a key rule: DO NOT CUT AND PASTE YOUR "WHY" ABOUT THE SCHOOL. I didn't cut and paste ONE SENTENCE here.

So what is a SPECIFIC EXAMPLE that CLEARLY and DEMONSTRABLY illustrates your INTIMATE KNOWLEDGE OF THE SCHOOL?

"I am especially excited at the prospect of attending the Chicago GSB because of the diverse and exciting student body I met during my visit in April. Mary Mcboobies ('08) kindly invited me to her class by Steven Levitt "How to write a book for 12th graders and make millions" which I found both engaging and enthralling. I was asstounded not only by the level of class participation but also (idiom!) by how the students were so involved in extracurriculars. In particular, given my background in Financial Engineering, I was very pleased to see that Chicago offers a "Integral Calculus is Fun(tm)" student group."

So, ok, I'm being a little silly here... but this is my point - specific specific specific. If you took that and made it a bit more serious it would sound a helluva lot better than "I want to come here because the faculty is excellent."

Did you visit the school?

When possible yes. There are many reasons to in my mind. First, its hard to say you really want to go to Cornell if you've never been to Cornell. Hard sell. Second, if you are waitlisted, you already have all the material in the world to write a nice love letter about how you loved your visit, really wanna come, bla bla. Much harder to do than if you didn't. Third, if you visit, you'll get all the material in the world for your essays... 2 days on a campus will give you more than enough to pump an essay full of solid and specific examples. Finally, theres at least a remote chance you'll hear about something that is NOT on the webpage, which means your essays are, at least in a small way, a little less repetitive to read than the last guys.

Was your GMAT ever mentioned as a specific plus point during the admissions process,by ad-com or interviewer?

No, it was not. That said, I do know of one person who was flat out told he was waitlisted because of his GMAT.

If you got a positive note from your interviewer or ad-com, what was it?

Nope, never got one.

Did you take care to emphasize certain aspects of your profile?

No, I just randomally wrote things down and then ran a spellcheck accepting the first word it suggested in each case. Just kidding.

If yes, what were they?

Leadership, Teamwork, Potential, Extracurriculars all rounded off with an overreaching plan of representing a balanced individual with clear and attainable goals. Then I sprinkled a little dreamery and the occasional humour for good measure. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes and serve warm. Really though, the key elements of any application don't change.... its the same basic elements that schools look for.

Why did you choose to emphasize them?

It seemed better than emphasizing my crooked teeth and unmanagable hairstyle. Jokes aside, I could be a lot more specific abotu what I emphasized, but basically the criteria was this - is what I'm talking about MEANINGFUL? Does it matter? Is it in some way relevant or interesting? Does it portray the image I'm trying to convey? Is it clear? Is it diverse in some way?

You'll get to a point where you have to pick between writing about X or Y in an essay, and both stories will seem good to you.... one is usually better ... finding the "right" story to emphasize takes some time. You really have to disect your experiences and see which ones truly demonstrate something of note.

Focus not on the experience that necessarily sounds the most "senior" but the experiences that say the most about you as a person. A word of caution here - I've seen a lot of people go off on major tangents about their childhoods - trying to portray an image that they were somehow shaped by the time "Dad came home with no food" or something. Often, the stories end up being more about their dad than they do about them, and 98% of the time, they end up being completely disjointed from anything at all related to the essay. Its an attempt at introspection and showing how you got to where you are today (often its a lead in to why you want to do what you want to do) but again, 90% of the time, they fall flat. In fact, out of all of the variations of these I read, there are probably only one or two that I can honestly say I remember. Keep in mind that this isn't a sit down session with Dr. Phil, you want to be introspective and talk about yourself, but you aren't trying to figure out if Uncle Johnny ClosetMaster did something innapropriate with you at age 6.

Not really, I just didnt focus on things that didnt make sense to focus on. I mean you cant really "omit" your GPA, as much as I would have liked to. I just didn't talk about it.

more later.

I know what I wrote is pretty poorly written (in my defense I'm jetlagged and operating on like 2 hours sleep)... I'll be bak with something more logical later.

Last edited by rhyme on 31 May 2007, 08:46, edited 1 time in total.
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31 May 2007, 04:43
While the idea of a consolidated thread is a good one, for anyone who is really really serious about getting in to their target schools, I would recommend spending some serious time going back through this forum and reading every thread. There is some duplicate information for sure, but there are a million little nuanced things, and some slightly different philosophical approaches to some aspects of the application process (e.g., apply in Round 1 vs. Round 2) that are worth learning about to know how to best market yourself to your target schools.
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Re: Application best practices for each B-school [#permalink]

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31 May 2007, 05:57
First of all, let me state that I agree 100% with what rhyme wrote.

School Name :
5 from the Ultra Elite and Elite clusters.

What do you think worked for you in the application?

At all schools, a unique profile (experience wise), steady progress at work (backed by promotions, responsibilities, and - I hope - good recos), well written essays, reasonable plans and goals backed by extensive evidence and good interviews.

What was the X-factor in this application which wasn't present in your unsuccessful ones?

I don't know for sure, as I had no feedback. However I have several theories: I rushed 2 apps. to make R1 deadlines. I didn't give enough time to recommenders to make compelling recos and I produced some OK, just not WOW essays due to time constraints during those R1 apps. My GPA was not that good and may have probably hurt at Stanford where everyone seems to have 4.0s and 780+ GMATs. At another R1 school I did not visit, and visiting seems to be a very big issue with that particular school. In retrospective, I also feel that I was trying to hard to make the "why school X" point. I was pulling stuff from the sites, trying to sound convincing but I think I made a sub-par job at that. R1 (my first 2 apps.) was my learning curve.

Research. Attending info sessions, talking to people, connecting the schools particular strengths with my vision. Basically, I made a compelling argument about why school X was what I needed to go from A (pre-MBA situation) to B (post - MBA vision).

Did you visit the school?

After applying. I would not recommend this, though. Visit before if you can.

Was your GMAT ever mentioned as a specific plus point during the admissions process,by ad-com or interviewer?

GMAT was never mentioned by anyone during the admissions process.

If you got a positive note from your interviewer or ad-com, what was it?

I got some positive comments during one of the interviews (the one which was done over the phone). I got a good feeling (without any actual positive comments) on one of the other interviews and I got a neutral feeling on the other one. I did get positive notes / calls from both adcom and interviewers after admission.

Did you take care to emphasize certain aspects of your profile? If yes, what were they?

I tried to back up my claims (the a + school X = b I mentioned above) with my experiences, strengths and weaknesses. Once again, think of the application as a whole and not as the sum of its parts. That's the way it's evaluated (i.e. holistic evaluation).

Why did you choose to emphasize them?

Because I thought they made the most compelling argument in my vision.

Did you deliberately choose to omit certain aspects of your profile, specific to your admit school? What were they and why did you omit? Did you include these data points in other applications?

What exactly is a "profile"? If the profile is made up of GMAT/GPA/WE/extras, then I did mention all of them in the application (the first 2 in the alloted fill-in boxes and the later 2 in the essays and CV). However, I did have to select some specific examples as there are word limits to essays. So, in essence, I did keep out significant portions of my work and extras (aside from the CV), but used a handful of examples from both work and extras to illustrate my point.

Application DO's:

- Get as much information as you can. Talk to students and alumni, read forums, go to websites, visit, etc.
- Understand the application process throughly and decide whether you want to live by its rules before applying.
- Analyze your "desirability factor", i.e. why do you think the schools should take you rather than another similarly qualified candidate.
- Analyze which groups of schools are your reach, reasonable and backup schools and craft an adequate portfolio. You may need outside help to do this.
- Craft your vision and then:

a) Decide if B-school fits into that vision.
b) Explain how and why B-school and in particular B-schools X, Y and Z fit into your vision.
c) Make sure a) and b) are plausible.

- Execute well: answer the questions being asked, choose the right examples to back your claims, stick close to the word- limits, follow all instructions, give recommenders appropriate time and information and appropriately prepare for interviews (if invited).

Applicant DONT's:

- Try to write what you think the admissions people want to hear or what was succesful for other applicants rather than what would work best for you.
- Think of the process in terms of abridged profiles and stats, such as: 710/3.2/6 yrs WE/solid extras. There's way more to the application than that.
- Give your GMAT score more credit than it deserves.
- Have goals that sound unresearched. Eg: I'm in IT but want to get into IB because I heard the salaries are great. You could make a case of wanting to transition from IT into IB, if that's what you really want, but you should show that you have researched IB thoroughly, have the skills, personality and values to survive the experience and have shown some interest in this particular plan for some time now, rather than sounding like making something up 5 minutes before the application deadline. Also, beware of inconsistent goals, such as: "I want to go into IB and if that doesn't work, then MC". Those are two very different tracks and you should know so.
- complain about the process after you have agreed to live by its rules.
- Write boring essays or essays which don't answer the questions being asked.
- Concentrate on your undergrad years, unless you are a college senior and have nothing else to write about.
- Ever lie.

Hope it helps. L.
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31 May 2007, 07:04
rhyme, lepium - Thank you guys! This is one thread i'll be visiting often
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31 May 2007, 08:07

Such a great/useful post from M7 Admits, shouldn't be lost in the forums

Good one Rhyme/Lepium!
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02 Jun 2007, 16:31

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02 Jun 2007, 22:38
Application DO's:

- Reach out to the local alumni president. See if you cant get some face time with him/her, or a phone call. Just ask them about the school and ask for any advice.
- Failing that, call the school and ask them to put you in touch with an alum. They will likely do it.
- This is all about RESEARCH. You need to really really research. This is a lot more than visiting webpages. Visits, alumni, campus visits, road events, students, clubs, you name it, find a way to get into the schools brain and pick it.
- Start as early as you can and be prepared for several months of hard work
- Do a little "triage". This means pick what you want to talk about carefully. For instance, I had some extracurriculars I could have listed, or certifications I could have mentioned - for instance, I have a CCNA from way way back when. Never used it at work, never used it home. I never even mentioned I had it because I felt it just distracted from the message and vision of myself. It made me sound more technical (which I was trying to avoid), and beyond that, it made no sense as relates to what I do, or want to do. This takes a little discipline. When you get to a question "List any certifications you would the admissions committee to know about" and you intentionally leave it blank - thats hard. I guess this is an example of ommitting that you were looking for.

Similarly, if you have two dozen extracurriculars, maybe you dont list them all. For instance, I didnt list all of mine. I could have listed MORE, but I felt like listing MORE just DILUTED the ones I already had. I chose my best extracurriculars - the ones with the most leadership, the most involvement, and/or the most interesting and just didn't bother to mention them all. This of course is difficult to do --- the tendency, as you might imagine, is to list everything you've ever done and achieved, including the "Mr Potty Trainer" award you got as a baby. Picking the RIGHT list, not THE BIGGEST list, is effective.

Especially for IT folk, there seems to be a tendency to want to make lists... and often they are meaningless. Remember your audience. Avoid laundry listing your skills. Ask yourself, IS THIS RELEVANT? SSH? ASP.NET? Relevant? No. UNIX, C++, SUN OS, ORACLE, APACHE? No. SPSS, MATLAB, MATHEMATICA? Maybe. TCO, NPV, ROI, IRR? Better. Better yet, no lists.

Its all about packaging yourself with a consistent message. For instance, saying you want to go into business because your current job has exposed you to finance, but then your resume reads "Wrote little endian ASP.NET Web 2.0 Calls for the Oracle Financial API under Java..." or whatever, and that link seems weak and tenuous. Not the best example, but what I'm trying to get at is really this -

Think of your essays not as essays, but as chapters. They are chapters 4 through 8 of a book. Chapters 1 through 3 are the application and mini questions in them, chapters 9 and 10 are your recommendations, chapters 11 and 12 are your GMAT and resume. Together they have to tell a story that makes sense and is consistent. By the time the reader finishes your application package, they aren't left wondering what comes next. They should put it down and feel like no gaps were left.

Its really important you think about your application this way. It avoids repeating yourself and it ensures that your examples dont get re-used. It helps ensure that you stay balanced - not all work examples, not all extracurricular, not repeating themselves, not boring, not conflicting in message, style or content. One consistent message. One application to rule them all, One application to find them, One application to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.

- Work on one school AT A TIME. Do not try to juggle multiple apps at once. You will inevitably get confused about which story you used in which application... and increase the odds of repeating yourself, or even whole paragraphs substantially..... seriously, this one is a big one. Dont try it. I nearly wrote an entire application for Cornell getting details from Darden confused with details from Cornell.

Now if you are wondering "but wont i use the same stories in all my applications?" No, not if you really take the time to think about what story answers the question asked best.... in fact, this brings me to a big one:

- Don't try to cut and paste. Just don't do it. Seriously. Don't. For 99% of essays the question you answered for school A, trying to reuse something for B wont work. It'll be "sort of close" but not quite answering exactly what they asked. Be warned: GETTING CLOSE TO ANSWERING THE QUESTION ASKED IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH. YOU WILL BE DENIED. ANSWER THE QUESTION ASKED, AND NOTHING ELSE AND NOTHING LESS.

- It can be very veyr tempting to reuse. A cut and paste of something you spent 35 hours on is obviously a lot easier than another 20 hours of work. I really really urge you not to. Some people on this site successfully reused stuff, but I think they are the exception to the rule and a little lucky. I've read soooo many essays where the essay is a good essay, and its sort-of close, but you get to the end and wonder "But wait..... what about "X" (something thats int he question)... "

In any case, thats all i have for now. I'm sure I'll come up with more later.
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03 Jun 2007, 00:24
Rhyme,

I posted an open ended thread mainly hoping to elicit responses similar to your latest post.

Awesome tips!

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03 Jun 2007, 00:43
Awesome tips here!!!
- Yogesh
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03 Jun 2007, 00:45
Rhyme and Lepium covered a lot of ground with their responses so I'll try to not be repetitive.

School Name : I agree that most of the factors for any of the ultra elite and elite schools will be the same. Certainly, they have different strengths, and cater to different preferences (concentration, big city, small town, etc.) but they are all largely looking for the same things. In addition to the basic factors like smart, hard working, etc., I'd summarize what top schools are looking for by saying that they like people who have maximized their opportunities. Did you participate in activities during college or did you sit around on your butt? Were you a leader in the clubs you joined? Did you gain admission to a highly selective college? Did you land a highly competitive job? Were you promoted ahead of schedule? All of these factors basically try to ascertain whether you made the most of your opportunities - they are tying to figure out if you will utilize the resources available at the school to do great things during school and beyond. Try to keep this in mind when tell your story (in your essays and interviews).

What do you think worked for you in the application? I think I was most success when I was able to link past achievements qualities and ideals valued by the schools. For example, during my last year of law school I drafted briefs in support of immigrants seeking humanitarian relief from deportation. That's interesting, and maybe it shows I'm a nice guy, but you can't wait for the schools to draw their own conclusions - they have too many applications to deal with. You need to draw the conclusion for them. As I refined my story, I told about how I encountered people who preferred to stay and serve extended prison terms in the US rather than be deported to their home countries. I explained that this made me realize that business development must come before any social or political movement could be successful in these places. Finally, I tied this experience to my work as en entrepreneur and was able to present a believable story about how I intended to pursue entrepreneurial opportunities for the benefit of local populations. You can't summarize your experiences - you must tell a story and present compelling believable conclusions.

What was the X-factor in this application which wasn't present in your unsuccessful ones? Well, I guess I can't point to any one thing really. I had some substantial strengths and weaknesses. The main points of concern were my GPA (below the middle 80%) and my age (above the middle 80%). My work experience was also a concern - I've been running my own business for over 4 years so while schools say they like entrepreneurs, my work experience is difficult to document and I also had to get recommendations from people that aren't familiar with the business school process.

Given my profile several schools rejected me out of hand. I was successful at other schools where I was able to connect personally with the school. I guess I'd give this advice. If your profile is generally in line with the school you are targeting (GMAT, GPA, work experience, age, etc.) then you should stick to application basics - as you might find described in Moutauk's book or with online resources. On the other hand, if your profile is not typical, you might need to work harder to connect with the school so they will take a closer look and see your strengths.

How did you show that you fit with your admit school? Speaking about Darden, I had a great chat with the Dean and a bunch of alumni at a reception. I was able to incorporate these conversations into my application essays, and I had a great interview that felt like a personal conversation.

Did you visit the school? Again, talking about Darden, I didn't visit until I was invited to interview. This is actually unusual because they have applicant initiated interviews and generally require visits ahead of time. They usually invite people late in the application process if they are considering admitting them - so I guess they liked my application before I ever visited the school.

Was your GMAT ever mentioned as a specific plus point during the admissions process,by ad-com or interviewer? During my Columbia interview, the alumni interviewer mentioned the GMAT several times. I interviewed with him over dinner and had a very frank conversation with him about admissions policies. He specifically mentioned that admitting applicants with very high scores allowed them to admit underrepresented minorities and children of donors with lower scores. He actually memorized my entire resume prior to our interview. GMAT was not specifically mentioned in my other interviews, but I did field questions regarding my comfort with quantitative subjects (I was an English major) - it's helpful to be able to point to a solid GMAT score if there are any questions like these.
If you got a positive note from your interviewer or ad-com, what was it? My Columbia interviewer specifically stated several times during our interview that he would write a stellar recommendation. After I sent a thank you note, he responded by saying that he was sure I could look forward to good news during the application season. In response to my thank you note, my Darden interviewer responded with a very positive note. I was admitted a few days later.

Did you take care to emphasize certain aspects of your profile? Yes.

If yes, what were they? Why did you choose to emphasize them? I talked about launching my business and exploring entrepreneurial opportunities working with businesses in China. Virtually every school likes to think of themselves as powerhouses of international business, and they all seem to say that they are strong in entrepreneurship - so it seemed like a good idea.

Did you deliberately choose to omit certain aspects of your profile, specific to your admit school? What were they and why did you omit? Did you include these data points in other applications? No, but you don't cover your entire life in your application essays - you tailor them to respond to the questions asked and to share the experiences that best tell your story.

Application DO's: I'd suggest starting as early as possible and taking plenty of time to think over your experiences. Try to take 1/2 an hour a day (while your on the can or in the shower) to think about your experiences. Try to think about how these relate to qualities valued by business schools. You'll start remembering experiences that you had forgotten about, and after a while you'll start seeing your own experiences in a new light.

I'd also suggest seriously considering your writing and interviewing skills. If you're not a great writer, it will take you longer to prepare a quality application. Also, be aware that it will take a really really long time to complete the first application. If you are not a great interviewer, try to start practicing early.
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03 Jun 2007, 16:00
Hi. Would you recommend any books that would help the application process?

I'm not just saying books like "great essays for business school" or "mba game plan."

I am talking about real books with great stories about lives of people pre-mba-, during mba, post-mba. Books that can help us in the application process.

It'll really be helpful if you guys can give some advice. Thanks a bunch,
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04 Jun 2007, 16:31
I'd like to invite all of you to contribute to the wiki.. We think it is a very useful way to organize information.
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04 Jun 2007, 18:39
(Sorry, Praet...I'm just not ready to go Wiki....in fact, my video cassette recorder -- I think some of you young kids are calling it a VCR these days -- is still blinking a 12 at me.)

Like Peli, I will just try to add a bit without repeating the valuable stuff that rhyme and lepium have already contributed.

School Name :

I applied to 3 elites and 1 trans-elite. (Got into 2 elites and 1 trans-elite; all with solid merit dollars.) But the guys are right - a solid candidate is a solid candidate.

What do you think worked for you in the application?

In my successful apps, I showed how passionate I am for my work and for taking the right steps in my career. My essays oozed excitement and determination.

I'm also a fairly original applicant -- female, grew up in a Midwestern trailer court, and work in economic community development.

What was the X-factor in this application which wasn't present in your unsuccessful ones?

Who knows? This process is the world's most drawn-out and expensive black box. But to flip it: I think my ding at Yale was largely due to the lack of passion in those essays. It was the last of the bunch and I did them all in just a few weeks' time. I was wiped out and just couldn't seem to find the zing, particularly on the "why Yale?" part. I also think that Yale is trying to get away from its reputation as the public interest b-school and is now less interested in admitting people of my ilk.

I worked really hard to find specific things about the school that fit very clearly with my profile and goals. On 3 of them it was easy -- for Cornell, I talked about being a local and having worked with various Johnson staff and students. For Duke and UNC, I waxed poetic about the social entrepreneurship options and the placement stats for their students, who sometimes end up at a couple of organizations that are very similar to my current one. For Yale, I couldn't find jack that seemed particularly pertinent, and apparently, they knew it!

Did you visit the school? I visited Cornell in March of 2006, since they're just up the hill, and then again when I interviewed. I didn't visit Duke and UNC until the interview. Never went to Yale.

Was your GMAT ever mentioned as a specific plus point during the admissions process,by ad-com or interviewer?

The interviewer at UNC was impressed, but he sorta treated me like some sort of bizarre species that did interesting parlor tricks. I think that they mentioned it at Cornell, but that might have been during the Park Fellowship interview.

If you got a positive note from your interviewer or ad-com, what was it?

I knew that my Cornell and UNC interviewers were pleased -- the Cornell interviewer basically told me he'd see me at the Park weekend. The Duke interviewer was a student, and I actually thought she wasn't too into me. I think students are tougher to read.

Did you take care to emphasize certain aspects of your profile? Yes.

If yes, what were they? Why did you choose to emphasize them?

My big point was to show that while I bring all of the benefits of being from a nonprofit background, I don't come with the risks. In other words, I offer a unique viewpoint and am very solid on the qualitative skills. On the other hand, I'm ready for the quant stuff, I've got guts, and I am highly employable post-MBA.

Did you deliberately choose to omit certain aspects of your profile, specific to your admit school? What were they and why did you omit? Did you include these data points in other applications?

Not really. Rather than omitting anything, I took special care to address anything the adcom might have considered weak. I signed up for a stats class and made sure they knew it and I emphasized the value of my undergrad education (even though the school is largely unknown).

Other Points

Give yourself enough time. We're all different -- Rhyme wrote approximately 8000 drafts of each essay. I wrote maybe 7 of my first batch and only 3 or 4 of subsequent ones. Either way, I was completely fried and largely nonsensical by the time I got to the end.

Along the same lines, you will likely lose your ability to rationally analyze what you're doing, particularly if you're short on time. You should see the idiotic questions we were all posting right before our apps were due. We just didn't have any perspective left. Either give yourself enough time or find some folks -- like your fellow 'clubbers -- who can help you.

Get a book. Montauk was my bible. No, all of the answers aren't there, but man, it was a great outline. Unlike Peli, I didn't introspect much while sitting on the can. Instead, I would read Montauk and make notes in the margins.

And to present a different approach: I decided recycling was good for the planet and re-used vast portions of my essays -- even the "why mba, why school x" portion. But I was EXTREMELY CAREFUL when doing so. It did save me a load of time, but I still did a full re-edit of each one.

Finally, Rhyme is right that you should do an entire application -- at least a super-solid draft -- at a time. At least, for the essays. However, I found that doing all of the boiler-plate stuff (resume, activities list, job history, etc) all together to be a time-saver. I had done this for four schools, and then decided to do a final school at the last minute. The final one took me longer than the 2nd and 3rd ones did.
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04 Jun 2007, 19:43
aaudetat wrote:
(Sorry, Praet...I'm just not ready to go Wiki....in fact, my video cassette recorder -- I think some of you young kids are calling it a VCR these days -- is still blinking a 12 at me.)
.

No problem. We could do this ourselves using the wonders of copy-paste, but I worry that some of you might not like us using your work. An option is to request all of you wonderful people to give us your consent to use your work on the wiki.
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04 Jun 2007, 19:50
Praetorian wrote:
No problem. We could do this ourselves using the wonders of copy-paste, but I worry that some of you might not like us using your work. An option is to request all of you wonderful people to give us your consent to use your work on the wiki.

Feel free to copy paste anything I've written. What's keeping me back from doing so is:

a) I'm lazy.
b) I feel that by putting stuff into a Wiki I would pretend to have a knowledge which I'm not sure I have.

But feel free to copy & paste with the appropriate disclaimers (i.e.: what's written is the writer's personal view and not necessarily right, professional driver in closed course, price shown is the basic no wheels, no AC, no nothing model, etc.)

L.
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04 Jun 2007, 23:07
Even though i have been a regular visitor, due to my busy schedule i have not been able to contirubte to this forum completely. Now that i have time and some insight in the GMAT, application, admission and money process, i think i m ready to share my thoughts.
It seems better that i formally introduce myself to the people in this forum and thread.
I took GMAT in January this year and scored 660. With virtually no time to study and very severe migrane (head ache) i though my score was merely ok. though i was completely unsatisfied with that. I was indifferent in going to business school in 2007 or 2008, so with such a low score i decided to learn more about the whole GMAt and application process and if i dont get into a good enough school i shall consider going next year.
ANy way, you wouldnt believe in how many schools did i apply for admission. Its 11. yes eleven. I appled to 6 schools in Uk, and 5 in USA. In uk out of 6, 3 for MBA while 3 for M.Sc. whereas in USA 4 in MBA while one is Masters. Its seems that i would have spend a ton of money on my applciatins but it was not like that. All the US schools contacted me themselves to apply and i paid only 70$in total for 5 application. All the 4 schools for MBA waived my application fee. Out of these schools one was among top ten in business week rankings, while 2 were in top thirty in business week rankings. SO the first lesson, if u dont have enough money like me, u can still apply to business schools. the art is to just ask for the waiver. tell them that u want to apply but cant afford paying 150 or so$. But usually the ultra elites dont grant such waivers.
Ok, now i come to the point, why i applied to so mnay and varied programs. Since i want to attend an ultra elite, and i didnt get good scorer in GMAt, so i decided to learn about the admission program.
since i am an international applicant and i applied in round three and on average did not give more than 20 hours to one application, so the results were pretty good. I was dinged from the top ten, given admission in one top thirty and wiatlisted in other two programs (one top thirty and the other in UK HSMP list). For UK batch, i was dinged in all MSc programs and two MBA, but was admitted in one MBA which is arguably one of the top three in UK and they have given me maximum scholarship as well.
From these results, i have learned a lot which i shall constantly share in different posts as in office it is difficult to have so much time at a stretch. one thing to remember here is that my experience is more relevent to schools outside the ultraelite or elite class. Or u might say that my experience is more valid for 2nd tiers programs (2nd tier in FT rankings for 2007).
In my next post i shall share my insights on essays, overall application and interviews.
take care for now
tata
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05 Jun 2007, 08:40
shahrukh wrote:
...................

OK.....WOW
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05 Jun 2007, 20:27
There is a great collection of tips for applicants. I would like to add extra emphasis to rhyme's point about copying and pasting- it sounds like a great idea for avoiding "duplication" of effort when one is pressed to finish several applications in a short time perid but it really ends up diminishing the quality of the final product.
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06 Jun 2007, 00:20
OK. Here's the next episode. The Essays..
Note: some of the thoughts are mine, whereas some i have read at different places.
The first thing is give them enough time and thought. I know this has been said many times but from my experience, the first few essays for b-school applications were nothing but crap. there is literally no comparison between the first few essays that i wrote and the last few essays. When i read them i am amazed how badly i wroter them. So start oractising now for ur essays. Get sample essays of the 2007 application of ur targeted schools and practice. Othe thing that i noticed was that ideas keep coming to u all the time. For example, through out the three months during which i was sending applications i kept remembering incidents and examples of my leadership and other activities. These examples are vital for you. So writing sample responses will definitely help you.
I agree that u dont put each and everything in ur essays. u select the best possible examples that clearly define and highlight who u are.
The concept of essays is really a tricky one and in my opinion they are the second most important thing in ur application. Certainly more important than CGPA and slightly less important than GMAT. Let me tell u s story to illustrate how essays are used and what they do.
In ancient times, a traveller passed through a town at night. Since he was tired he decided to spend the night in the town. He was travelling on an elephant. for the night, he tied the elephant insdie a totally dark barn. The town people had never seen an elephant before. In the night, the elephant made some noise. This itrigued the town peopel and they gathered in the barn and tried to look at the elephant. Since there was no light, they touched and felt him in order to visualize what was an elephant like. The person who touched his legs sadi that it was like a pilar. The person who touched his trunck said that he was like a snake. Those who touched his eaes said that he was like a bat and thsoe who touched his middle part of the body said that he is like a cow.
Now consider urself as the elephant andthe town people are the admission officers. They cant see u so they have to paint a picture of u based on ur essays. What u touch in ur essays is what they touch. Now it is up to u what u want them to see. If u want to be like a snake, then let them touch ur trunk....
to summarize, with the help of ur essays, u are supposed to show who u r. be very careful what u give in ur essays. U dont want them to feel that either u r making ur story up or that ur stories are no correlated. This gives a bad impression.
In ur essays, when u tell a story try to support it with some specific examples or numbers. Like i did releif work and helped the earthquake victims by collecting xxx\$ (specifc amount of money) is much better than just stating that i collected money for victims. Or that i worked hard and imporved my grades can be better said in the way that i worked hard and my math score went up from 70 to 90. Similarly, good essays should show ur versatility. Leadership in work place is precious, but if u can come up with examples of leadership out of work place, then its gold. This will show that u a natural leader, no matter what u do. Even when going out with friends, u arrange or decide what to or where u should eat, shows that u r a natural leader and leadership is every day stuff to u.
This example takes me to the next point. Nothing is small. Even such a small thing as being a person who leads in the group of friends can be significant.
Apart from leadership essays, there are many other essay questions. I shall specifically address them in my next post.
Bye for now

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