Thanks for reaching out to me and I'll try and answer your questions one by one.
Before we start - you are basically asking me if you should apply this year next year, so whether or not you apply in the fall of this year or in the fall of next year should really have no bearing. That is, if you apply this fall or next fall it really will not affect your chances for a scholarship - its all the same fall (early in the season.) Point made.
1. Why can't you do both? I would apply for the pro bono project and apply to business schools. If you get into a top business school – then go. If you get rejected, then you reapply next year with a great pro bono project under your belt. Now, if you are going to leave the pro bono project early, and leave a lot of your coworkers in the lurch – then maybe you might want to reconsider applying to both. It all depends on how many bridges you are willing to burn (potentially.) Personally, I'm never a big fan of burning bridges.
2. You're really not at a disadvantage. Yes, we know that schools are trending lower. In reality that may mean that the average is affected by one or two years. So no big deal – in reality. But examining it from the bare minimum work experience that you need, two years to date is enough.
3. Well, this is a tougher question than I can answer with an absolute degree of certainty - but I see nothing that would exclude you from a top 10 school. In fact, based on what I see, I would encourage you to apply to top five schools as well.
4. This is an even tougher question and would require a lengthy conversation. An "application strategy" depends on how you define your goals, as well as the school you are applying to. Some schools want you to dream big like Stanford – and that should be reflected in your goals, as well as other essays. Other schools want you to be very tactical and realistic. Using Columbia as an example, they want you to define very specific goals that depend heavily on your current work experiences, and perhaps less on passions. It's never a one size fits all approach.
What I can offer you is this - if you would like to get on the phone for an hour and talk about your individual candidacy, please drop me a line at MBA@amerasiaconsulting.com
Hi. I am looking to apply either Fall 2013 for 2014 matriculation or Fall 2014 for 2015 matriculation.
Asian Female / 22 (Will be 23 by Fall 2013 / 24 by Fall 2014)
750 (Q49, V44), 98th percentile
Graduated in three years from top 20 private university ('11)
GPA: 3.56 GPA
Double Major: Mathematical Economic Analysis and German Studies
In college: Copy editor for the university newspaper, tutor for the German Studies Department, women's singles player for intramural tennis.
Post college: Volunteer with non-profit that helps financially disadvantaged high school students get into / prepare for college and land internships and jobs. Mentor and recruiter at work.
Two years at a top implementation management consulting firm (Accenture/Deloitte). Finance projects at Fortune 500 Energy clients (no strategy work). Recently promoted. High performance with excellent recommendations from executives.
The main reason I'm interested in applying in Fall 2013 is because I have the best shot at getting a scholarship from my firm that would fully cover my MBA.
1. I want to sign up for a pro bono project for a non-profit (through my firm). However, in this situation I would have to delay applying until Fall 2014. Do you recommend doing this (i.e. would this heavily bolster my application)?
2. I'm a little below the average age of applicants. Does that put me at a disadvantage? It's another reason why I'm considering applying in Fall 2014.
3. Do I need more work experience? Again, if I apply in Fall 2014, I will have three years of work experience.
4. What schools do I have a shot at?
5. What should my application strategy be?
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