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Profile evaluation - design background, what're my chances?

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Profile evaluation - design background, what're my chances? [#permalink] New post 21 Jan 2009, 15:42
hi, I took the GMAT for the first time yesterday and got 680 (Q:46 (77%), V:37 (81%)). Giving that Round I and Round II have already ended at B-schools, I'm trying to decide between my two options outlined below. if someone could evaluate my profile, I'd really appreciate any tips and advice :-D :

My current options are:
1. Whether I should not worry about my GMAT scores and just focus on my essays and recommendation letters and apply for Round III, then if I don't get into a b-school of my choice, then I'll retake the GMAT and re-apply to those same schools in RI in the fall.

2. Should I not apply for Round III and simply direct my energies on studying some more and retake the GMAT to get a 700+ score and apply for RI spots in the fall?

Here's my profile:
Personal - 29 yr old Asian female

Edu - GPA: 3.66, cum laude, from a top 5 liberal arts college. Major: economics Minor: psychology
- GPA: 3.68 Screenwriting certificate from Emerson College at the graduate school level
- GPA: 3.8 some general courses at a local community college (although it's most recent, i'm not sure whether i should even include it in my application, since the classes I took are for self-improvement purposes, like Investing and Graphic Design classes)

besides my undergraduate studies, all other courses were completed when I was working full-time

Work exp:
-3 yrs as a Research Assistant at a top 10 national hospital.
--During this time, I got a promotion, co-authored several papers published in nationally recognized journals, incl. one where I was the 2nd author.
--Am the first one in my dept to learn a new internal classification system and trained other staff on its use

-Got the creative bug, quit the job and got two internships, one at a production house, the other one was at a post-production facility, in both places I got to assist on projects and being on location shoots for national networks like CBS, MTV, etc.

-put together a portfolio, came out to S.Ca, got a job as a designer at a small internet company.
--worked with international contractors, including supervising 1 overseas designer.
--am the only designer in my company, so I'm a jack-of-all-trades, doing both print and web work.
--I taught myself on how to us all the design softwares like the Adobe suite, web programming languages like xhtml and actionscript
--besides the classes I mentioned above, I also took various design classes at a well-respected art school, but I don't have a grade or record of attendance in those classes b/c the school charges more for these and since I have to pay tuition myself, I was simply trying to save $, not realizing that I could need these later. Sad

-currently self-employed after gotten laid off in Aug.

Extracurricular:
-not too much since I graduated, I didn't have much free time b/c I pretty much always had both a full-time job and full courseload.
-right now I joined two women's business leadership associations, I also signed up to volunteer for my local design association and the animal shelter (I'd do that even if I wasn't applying to b-school), but these were way recent and I currently don't hold any leadership position in either organization.

Reason for b-school:
Many designers work as freelancers or small design firms. Eventually I'd like to have my own design business, having artistic skills isn't enough to succeed as a designer, so going to b-school is always at the back of my mind. But the laid-off probably pushed the dates earlier, which is fine w/me. I don't want to go to b-school when I'm 35+.

My dream schools:
My top choice is Kellogg, followed by UCLA, USC, Stanford, and Berkeley.

While my 680 GMAT score isn't too shabby, it's not that great either. My quant. section is also worse than my verbal. Although I can counter that by pointing out my GPA as a econ major, it may also help that my school's econ dept has a very good reputation.

My main concern is my unconventional background, esp. b/c I didn't come from the typical i-banking, management consulting background. Also, since my switched careers, my job titles aren't as impressive, I was always an assistant of some type 'til my last job, not some corporate VP with 100 underlings. I've heard that b-schools are looking for diversity, but I really don't know if my kind of work experience would be an asset or hindrance in the application process.

Some of my other concerns are:
What type of qualities should I emphasize in my applications? Do I have enough leadership experience? (it's difficult for me to compare myself with most candidate profiles on the web as I've not read one with a similar background successfully got into top b-schools)
Do I need to include all my transcripts, including those at the community college?
Since I'm currently self-employed, I could put off my work right now and devote myself full-time to applying to b-school. so even though time is tight, I'm confident that I have enough time for my essays. But what I want to know is this:
What are my chances in round III w/my current situation? does re-apply hurt your chances more than if you simply wait for round I, when the competition presumably isn't as bad? I'd really like to enter business school in fall'09, but I also want to get into a top school of my choice. My only concern about r3 and r1 this time is that due to the economy, I'm afraid the competition in r1 in the fall may be just as bad as applying for r3 right now.

I welcome any suggestions you may have. Thanks so much in advance.
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Re: Profile evaluation - design background, what're my chances? [#permalink] New post 22 Jan 2009, 06:44
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Welcome to GMATClub.

You have an interesting background and your stats are very solid.

Since you suggested it yourself, why don't you try applying to 2 or 3 schools. In R3, your chance of admit is diminished dramatically compared to earlier rounds. However, here are pluses:

1) Many bschools are favorable to reapplicants
2) You will have experience applying to bschool so you can perfect it next year
3) You don't have much to lose but time, app fees and rec letters....
4) Your age is little bit on the upper end of the age range for many bschools....longer you wait, lesser your chances
5) Your GMAT score is at the lower end of many top schools. I think you do need to break 700 for better chance
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Re: Profile evaluation - design background, what're my chances? [#permalink] New post 22 Jan 2009, 11:05
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Your profile is definitely unique enough that it's worth a shot. The worst thing that can happen is you'll have to reapply next year.

I agree with ninkorn, apply 2 or 3 schools round 3.

With that said. As soon as apps are over, I suggest you to maybe restudy and retake the GMAT for a 700+. For unusual profiles, I feel stronger GMAT would help alleviate any concerns about your Quant abilities. 80% plus on Q and V is usually a good standard.

Goodluck!
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Re: Profile evaluation - design background, what're my chances? [#permalink] New post 23 Jan 2009, 07:29
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wcgmatclub wrote:
What type of qualities should I emphasize in my applications? Do I have enough leadership experience? (it's difficult for me to compare myself with most candidate profiles on the web as I've not read one with a similar background successfully got into top b-schools)


With your background, I would show how your different experiences have led you to your current role (so there's a coherent story of how you got from econ major to internet designer). Your background does make you distinct, which is a plus, but you'll have to work a bit harder than someone in consulting or banking to explain how the MBA will help you to achieve your goals. In terms of leadership, from your description it didn't look like you had positions where you directly supervised others, so you'll need to look for examples of informal leadership. For example, when you were the first to learn about the new internal classification system and then taught others in the department, was this your idea or something you were told to do? Think about other examples where you came up with a new idea, or where you convinced others to do something, or where people consistently come to you for advice on what to do. Most business schools understand that applicants may not have formal leadership roles or impressive titles, but they do expect that they've acted like a leader even in a small group.

wcgmatclub wrote:
Do I need to include all my transcripts, including those at the community college?


Probably, but it may vary by school. Usually the application instructions will specify which courses/transcripts must be included. If you're unsure, call/email the admissions office and ask.

In general I agree with ninkorn and GoBruins. Give it a shot at 2-3 schools in R3, and if you don't get in you can retake the GMAT and re-apply next fall. If you do apply in R3, I would definitely apply to Kellogg since it's your top choice and you wouldn't want to have to choose between entering in fall 09 and applying to your dream school.
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Re: Profile evaluation - design background, what're my chances? [#permalink] New post 26 Jan 2009, 03:40
Thank you guys so much for evaluating my profile! I really appreciate all your advice.
I plan on retake the GMAT in late Feb/early Mar. Since Kellogg and Haas's application deadlines are the soonest, my plan is to work on their essays first and work on the essays for the other schools in March.

Which areas in my profile would you guys say is my weakness? I'm trying to see if I can get a consensus as to my weak area so I can address those in my essays :)

To NJMike:
For the new internal classification system, we had to have someone from our dept to get trained and I was the one who volunteered to do so.
Also, I actually directly supervised our overseas designer at my last job, and I'm sorta indirectly supervise our overseas programmers since I had to tell them what to fix and track their progress on projects. I just don't have the final say on things.

I'm just confused by the leadership requirement that b-schools have, are they looking for ppl who increased sales by 150% or improved productivity by xyz, etc.?
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Re: Profile evaluation - design background, what're my chances? [#permalink] New post 28 Jan 2009, 15:03
wcgmatclub wrote:

Which areas in my profile would you guys say is my weakness? I'm trying to see if I can get a consensus as to my weak area so I can address those in my essays :)




Not everyone will agree with me here, but don't address your weakness in your essays, focus on your strengths. You profile is a bit unique and if you address how that can help the student body, I would address that. But to answer you question, I don't think you really have any weakness per se. You might want to highlight some strong quantative assignments you have done, but only briefly.

I believe in "don't tell them why they should not reject you, tell them why they should accept you."
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Re: Profile evaluation - design background, what're my chances?   [#permalink] 28 Jan 2009, 15:03
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