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Start Early on Essays [#permalink] New post 08 Feb 2007, 11:05
So I want to apply to about 5-6 schools for fall 08, and hopefully all for round 1 or 2.

I know that applications for fall 08 probably won't come out until late summer of this year. And since most of the deadlines for round 1 are in October/November, that gives me only 1-2 months to work on all my applications. While this may not seem like a problem for some people, it is for me because I spend A LOT of time drafting, revising, and finalizing essays. I also think the essays are the best opportunity for me to shine.

So, I am wondering, are the application essay questions for most schools the same from past years'? Is there any way I can get started on some essays without waiting until the end of this summer?! Thanks!
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 [#permalink] New post 08 Feb 2007, 11:50
I agree that there isn't a whole lot of time between when apps come out and the Round 1 deadlines. I think having some rough ideas on the current or "old" questions would be a good place to start. From the handful of school's that I've seen past and current apps for, the questions don't change drastically. In other words if they change a question it usually isn't a complete departure from the previous one. Like maybe one year a question will be "Tell us about a succesful leadership experience," and maybe next year, "Tell us about a time you struggled as a leader."

But I don't think it would be worth putting too much time working on "old" essays. Of course the one essay that you can almost bank on for all schools is "Why an MBA, why now, and why our school?"
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 [#permalink] New post 08 Feb 2007, 13:51
you can check accepted.com to check the differences between this year's essays and last year's. You'll find out that at least 50-60% remains the same or very similar.

Cheers. L.
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 [#permalink] New post 08 Feb 2007, 20:27
Many applicants focus on essays, which is the most time-consuming part, but don't underestimate all the other pieces of the application.

First, if you haven't yet, get your GMAT DONE!

I jerked off all summer and didn't do the GMAT till November...and then had to take it again, so had only one month to get my apps in. This was enough time for me - I am a pretty quick writer - but it would have been less stressful to have had more time.

Also, see what version of your transcripts the schools want. Some want your undergrad to send the official 'script straight to the school. Others want you to send it yourself. Others still will have you type your transcript into an excel sheet or simply scan and upload the original. Obviously, none of this is hard to do, but it's better if you do it ASAP. And it's unlikely the school would change the submission method from one year to the next, so you can plan now.

Another hint - sit yourself down and write what I like to call my "long-a$$ resume." This document contains just about every college activity, award, education, publication, work, etc experience. Complete with descriptive bullets, dates, and hours committed. The schools will want different versions of this info, but they'll all want it. UNC wanted the most info, and once I'd completed that first draft, the other schools went much quicker.

Good luck, and kudos to you for being so on top of it.
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 [#permalink] New post 09 Feb 2007, 05:33
Good points aaudetat. Another thing that I would make sure you take care of AS SOON AS POSSIBLE is your recommendations. No matter how close you are with your recommenders, or how great they are, they still might procrastinate until the eleventh hour.

Here's what I would do if I were you: Ask them as early as possible. Tell them your reasons for attending b-school, your long-term career goals, and then follow up a few days later with a "rough draft" of your recs, in other words sit down and list all your accomplishments at work, and have some suggested strengths and weaknesses. This will make their job much much easier. Also, give them give them a bullsh*t deadline that's actually like a month early (you don't have to outright lie, just say "I'll need these by this date" you don't have to elaborate that "your" deadline is earlier than the school deadline). I've heard too many horror stories of people whose recommenders put it off until the last few days, and then get busy with work or something and end up turning the recs in late.

The recs are the part of the application that is most out of your control. It sucks. And it will really p*ss you off when you check in with your recommenders every week and they're like, "Oh sorry, I was swamped this week," but that's why the bullsh*t deadline is brilliant, if they pass that deadline then you can give them a serious guilt trip and be like, "It's cool, I called the admissions office and explained my recs would be late, they said just to send it in as soon as humanly possible."

If anyone is going to post a REPLY about how it's unethical to write a rough draft or make up a fake deadline, save your time because I don't want to read it. And save your money, don't go to business school because you won't make it business if you can't manage people and projects.
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 [#permalink] New post 09 Feb 2007, 06:37
Here's what I would suggest. First, be happy - you are waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay ahead of the game on this.

1. Contact local alumni at your target schools. The school can help you set this up. This will let you begin to develop a feel for the school. Keep in touch with whoever you get put in touch with - try and talk over the phone, or better yet, meet the person for coffee.

2. Schedule a campus visit to the ones you are truly interested in and attend any info sessions there are in your local town. In fact, attend two.

3. Research Research Research. All of your schools - get to know them well. (1 and 2 are key elements of this). You should get to the point where you can talk about a school as if you are a student. When someone asks you about Cornell for instance, you should be albe to say "Oh man, well sage hall is really nice, and the practicums they have are pretty cool - this year they had one with siemens... etc etc etc". Find out about school clubs and make a list of ones that interest you. Once you know the details of your school to this extent, writing the "why X" will be easy.

4. Draft the answer to these questions:

Why do you want an MBA?
What do you want to do, both immediately after your MBA and 5-10 years later?
Why does this school interest you?

Keep in mind school specific word limits. Do this for each school, but do it only after (or in parallel) you have done 1-3.

5. If you are involved in any extracurricular activities, reach out to the president of that group and ask for greater involvement. You'd be surprised what kind of impressive roles you can get just by asking for them. (But dont go join something new this year unless you have nothing - or else itll be pretty transparent)

6. I wouldnt do your recs now. It's too early - by the time you get to fall, you may have a new manager, you may have done some new great things, and of course, the questions they ask may have changed as well. I'd say, the minute you can sign in and get them the questions, do it. Like, the DAY OF. Give them a heads up now, but don't start drafting yet. Instead, start taking note of impressive things you deliver over the next 7 or 8 months. Make a list of key leadership activities at work, outside work, etc.

7. Research your target industry - just a ilttle bit - but enough to have at least a passing conversational understanding of the industry. .

8. Get transcripts.

9. Rework your resume. Again and again.

10. Make a list of all your extraccuricular activities, hours and dates for each. You may even need contact information for these, especially those post-college.

11. Rejoice! You are waaay ahead of the curve, and it will pay off HUGE.
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 [#permalink] New post 09 Feb 2007, 06:56
rhyme wrote:
Here's what I would suggest. First, be happy - you are waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay ahead of the game on this.

1. Contact local alumni at your target schools. The school can help you set this up. This will let you begin to develop a feel for the school. Keep in touch with whoever you get put in touch with - try and talk over the phone, or better yet, meet the person for coffee.


Can this possibly lead to an alumni rec? or would that be reaching?

rhyme wrote:
5. If you are involved in any extracurricular activities, reach out to the president of that group and ask for greater involvement. You'd be surprised what kind of impressive roles you can get just by asking for them. (But dont go join something new this year unless you have nothing - or else itll be pretty transparent)


I've read that having extracurricular activities starting the year of the app is all to common and not that a big a deal. I hear that adcoms are not looking for mother theresas, but just want to see a life outside of work for a well rounded person.

Last edited by kidderek on 09 Feb 2007, 07:03, edited 1 time in total.
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 [#permalink] New post 09 Feb 2007, 07:03
Quote:
Can this possibly lead to a alumni rec? or would that be reaching?


It could, but if it did, I wouldn't bother. The odds are the person is not going to have anywhere near enough to say about you. You'd be better off with a non-alumni rec filled with concerete examples than with an alumni rec that's weak on specifics. I had someone I know ask me to write something in support of his application to Cornell, but I don't know him that well (we dont work together, and never have), and I've struggled a LOT to come up with anything of substance. I really really advise you to pick recommenders who can talk about a lot about you and know you - not recommenders who can't. Really really think about who you ask.



Quote:
I've read that having extracurricular activities starting the year of the app is all to common and not that a big a deal. I hear that adcoms are not looking for mother theresas, but just want to see a life outside of work for a well rounded person.


Yes, thats true - it's common, and it doesn't mean much. Adcoms can see through the guy with no activities outside work for the last 5 years and suddenly, in the year he's applying, he joins a food bank or something. It's not a question of being a mother theresa - its just a question of having interests. In fact, with the exception of one of my activities, none of mine had any kind of "helping the poor" or "community service" orientation. They were all personal hobbies and interests. The point is just to show that, as you say, you are a balanced individual who will be engaged in the school's community - not just in the school's classes. Better to have two long standing activities than four new activities.
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 [#permalink] New post 09 Feb 2007, 07:22
Quote:
Yes, thats true - it's common, and it doesn't mean much. Adcoms can see through the guy with no activities outside work for the last 5 years and suddenly, in the year he's applying, he joins a food bank or something. It's not a question of being a mother theresa - its just a question of having interests. In fact, with the exception of one of my activities, none of mine had any kind of "helping the poor" or "community service" orientation. They were all personal hobbies and interests. The point is just to show that, as you say, you are a balanced individual who will be engaged in the school's community - not just in the school's classes. Better to have two long standing activities than four new activities.



I've been living outside my country for 2 years now, and since the change I stopped participating in such activities (I used to participate in sports activities, political activities, etc). My questions are:
Will it count if those activities were in the past (not much remote)?
What can be classified as extra activities? Hang out with friends :) , Travelling, going often to cultural activities such as museums, concerts, etc?
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 [#permalink] New post 09 Feb 2007, 11:51
aaudetat wrote:
Many applicants focus on essays, which is the most time-consuming part, but don't underestimate all the other pieces of the application.

First, if you haven't yet, get your GMAT DONE!

I jerked off all summer and didn't do the GMAT till November...and then had to take it again, so had only one month to get my apps in. This was enough time for me - I am a pretty quick writer - but it would have been less stressful to have had more time.

Also, see what version of your transcripts the schools want. Some want your undergrad to send the official 'script straight to the school. Others want you to send it yourself. Others still will have you type your transcript into an excel sheet or simply scan and upload the original. Obviously, none of this is hard to do, but it's better if you do it ASAP. And it's unlikely the school would change the submission method from one year to the next, so you can plan now.

Another hint - sit yourself down and write what I like to call my "long-a$$ resume." This document contains just about every college activity, award, education, publication, work, etc experience. Complete with descriptive bullets, dates, and hours committed. The schools will want different versions of this info, but they'll all want it. UNC wanted the most info, and once I'd completed that first draft, the other schools went much quicker.

Good luck, and kudos to you for being so on top of it.


Hi, I've actually taken my GMATs already. Funny you brought up the resume as I was just wondering about that. I attended an MBA application workshop last night and the admissions director (from Anderson) said to keep resumes to 1 page, and 1 page only (unless you have like 10-15 yrs of experience). I thought schools would want you to list everything significant you've done in undergrad. But then again, this rule could apply only to Anderson...
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 [#permalink] New post 09 Feb 2007, 11:52
Oh, and thanks for everyone's great suggestions!! :-D
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 [#permalink] New post 09 Feb 2007, 11:59
Resumes should be restricted to one page unless you are Bill Gates. Most MBA employers mandate a one page resume. I would suggest getting started on this ASAP and keep trimming/updating as the months pass by...
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 [#permalink] New post 09 Feb 2007, 13:17
Yes, resumes are often one-page or two at the most. (Let's not have that debate again....)

Long-A$$ Resume isn't a resume at all - it's a document that stands in its own category. It's where I list EVERYTHING I've ever done. Ever. It's pages and pages and pages long. Recently, I needed a resume for a grant application that had to do with working with small business owners. I've got a short publication and a couple presentations on this topic, but these wouldn't normally make my resume. However, for this particular grant, this work was relevant, so I went to Long-A$$, copied and pasted, and voila! The moral: keep a record of everything remotely noteworthy, sorta like a toolbox you can rely on for different needs.

By the way - some schools, such as Stanford, ask for the resume, which is your usual professional doc. But they also ask for a long and rather in-depth report on your various activities, part-time work, etc. Long-A$$ was inordinately helpful during this process.
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 [#permalink] New post 09 Feb 2007, 13:26
Yeah, go ahead and create an application profile at (for eg) Stanford. You'll see how much details you need to add that are not included in the resume (eg: for each job you need to detail salary, bonuses, most significant accomplishment, responsibilities, description of employer, reason for leaving and the list goes on and on; same for extras, lotsa details).

I think there should be no problem with creating the profile so far in advance. They are usually kept for a year or maybe more in the system.

Cheers. L.
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 [#permalink] New post 09 Feb 2007, 17:13
lepium wrote:
Yeah, go ahead and create an application profile at (for eg) Stanford. You'll see how much details you need to add that are not included in the resume (eg: for each job you need to detail salary, bonuses, most significant accomplishment, responsibilities, description of employer, reason for leaving and the list goes on and on; same for extras, lotsa details).

I think there should be no problem with creating the profile so far in advance. They are usually kept for a year or maybe more in the system.

Cheers. L.


I forgot to mention this but yea, start gathering this info now. They want a ton of info in some apps - dates of employment, starting and ending salaries, bonuses, contact phone numbers, address, number of employees, and even in some cases, annual revenue of the firm. It takes time to get all that stuff, at least for me it did.
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 [#permalink] New post 11 Feb 2007, 19:11
Slightly off topic - some of you suggested to speak with my recommenders ASAP. I wasn't planning to until maybe June of this year. I'm afraid by telling them any sooner, it may jeopardize my chances of getting a promotion or assuming a lead role in upcoming projects. (I'm planning to go for Full Time MBA). It's kind of the same reasoning people have about giving their two weeks' notice.

Can someone tell me why I should tell my managers about my plan for bschool right now? Is there a good reason for this?

Thanks.
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 [#permalink] New post 11 Feb 2007, 19:40
rampup82 wrote:
Slightly off topic - some of you suggested to speak with my recommenders ASAP. I wasn't planning to until maybe June of this year. I'm afraid by telling them any sooner, it may jeopardize my chances of getting a promotion or assuming a lead role in upcoming projects. (I'm planning to go for Full Time MBA). It's kind of the same reasoning people have about giving their two weeks' notice.

Can someone tell me why I should tell my managers about my plan for bschool right now? Is there a good reason for this?

Thanks.


It's not so much that you should tell them now, its just that you need to tell them early. The rec letters are a tremendous amount of work for them - and be prepared - for you too. Don't be surprised if they say sure but then say "why dont you draft it?". Without getting into a discussion of whether or not this is ethical - I dont think it is - I can appreciate that some people are lucky enough to have managers willing to put forward the effort and others are not.

The rec letters are a LOT of work to be done right - and every school has a different set of questions - they can cut and paste a lot but probably not everything. Some schools even have word limits. The rec process is no small joke - don't underestimate the quantity of work this will be for your recommender (and even maybe you) and don't underestimate how long they will take to do it. Expect them to ask for your help, or at the least your input. Be prepared for this to be a source of lot of work, effort, follow up and stress.

I think a lot of people here would have done more apps were it not for the recs. There were a lot of people who freaked out about the recs and had to keep on their recommenders. It's common.

My advice? Tell him early - not now - its too early - but as soon as you can get the 08 rec form to him/her, do it. Also, tell him it's due two weeks before it's ACTUALLY due. You'd be surprised how many will leave it to the last minute.
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 [#permalink] New post 11 Feb 2007, 21:44
rhyme wrote:
rampup82 wrote:
Slightly off topic - some of you suggested to speak with my recommenders ASAP. I wasn't planning to until maybe June of this year. I'm afraid by telling them any sooner, it may jeopardize my chances of getting a promotion or assuming a lead role in upcoming projects. (I'm planning to go for Full Time MBA). It's kind of the same reasoning people have about giving their two weeks' notice.

Can someone tell me why I should tell my managers about my plan for bschool right now? Is there a good reason for this?

Thanks.


It's not so much that you should tell them now, its just that you need to tell them early. The rec letters are a tremendous amount of work for them - and be prepared - for you too. Don't be surprised if they say sure but then say "why dont you draft it?". Without getting into a discussion of whether or not this is ethical - I dont think it is - I can appreciate that some people are lucky enough to have managers willing to put forward the effort and others are not.

The rec letters are a LOT of work to be done right - and every school has a different set of questions - they can cut and paste a lot but probably not everything. Some schools even have word limits. The rec process is no small joke - don't underestimate the quantity of work this will be for your recommender (and even maybe you) and don't underestimate how long they will take to do it. Expect them to ask for your help, or at the least your input. Be prepared for this to be a source of lot of work, effort, follow up and stress.

I think a lot of people here would have done more apps were it not for the recs. There were a lot of people who freaked out about the recs and had to keep on their recommenders. It's common.

My advice? Tell him early - not now - its too early - but as soon as you can get the 08 rec form to him/her, do it. Also, tell him it's due two weeks before it's ACTUALLY due. You'd be surprised how many will leave it to the last minute.


While I agree with rhyme's comments, I think you should be able to pull it off by telling them around June. 1st round deadlines are in September (except for a few early application rounds in mid to late August) and 3 months should be plenty of time for a reasonable number of programs (4 to 8). Also, be sure to read aaudetat's recommender guide and take time to inform them of your app. strategy.

Hope it heps. L.
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 [#permalink] New post 11 Feb 2007, 22:04
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Yea I guess maybe I wasn't clear - don't tell them now, but don't wait forever to tell them either. Make sure they have more time than you think they might need to do it.
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 [#permalink] New post 11 Feb 2007, 23:47
Got it, thanks guys. :-D

Another concern - since I'm applying to quite a few schools (anywhere from 5-7, I haven't really decided yet), I'm worried that my recommenders will have a difficult time writing and turning in SEVEN reommendations (worst case scenario). I understand it can get tedious after awhile. I have other people I can ask to split up the work I suppose, but the two people I have in mind can probably write the most honest and effective letters of rec. What do you do in a situation like this? Any tips?

How many recommendations do people typically ask from one person?
  [#permalink] 11 Feb 2007, 23:47
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