Hello ke18sb, thanks for your question and the detailed background!
Yours is a good question, and there certainly are no easy answers. In my mind, it comes down to tradeoffs.
I agree with you that waiting a year puts you on the older end of applicants at most programs, but it really depends on what you’d do with that extra time. If you were to acquire impressive experience that fits in with your overall story, then that would be worth it. Of course, it would seem you’d need a year or two at the fund to gain that type of experience, right? Simply helping co-found the fund but then exiting shortly after might seem fishy/funny to the admissions committee.
Moreover, the option you mention of applying early before you start with the fund could be problematic if you don’t have any significant new accomplishments or changes with your current job (unless you are applying to new schools and therefore the re-application issues do not come into play). Have your responsibilities or results at the Peace Corps changed since you applied? If not, I understand your desire to hedge by applying again, but I wouldn’t be confident in the strength of your reapplication story.
In terms of how to fit in a real estate fund with your overall application story, I am having a tough time seeing the connection at first blush, as you fear. But, let’s start at the source. Clearly, your friend sees something in your combination of skills and experience to make this offer to you. Can you articulate the value that he sees in you that led to this development? Will it give you entrepreneurial or fund-raising experience that might be valuable? You mentioned that you might want to start your own fund one day – this fund experience could therefore prove invaluable. I think there are risks no matter which path you take, but if you can position this fund as offering valuable experience tied to your goals, then I think the risk is minimized. The more insight you can provide into this angle, the easier it would be to tie this into your story. I’d love to know more.
(Oh – and you might want to try deferring, rather than rejecting, Fuqua. You would have to petition them for a year deferral, and there is no guarantee, but if they say yes, having that acceptance guaranteed could greatly ease your mind as you take the extra year.)
Best of luck!
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