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Tell me if I'm crazy!

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Status: Rice c/o 2013
Joined: 24 Jan 2011
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Schools: Rice (R4), Carnegie Mellon (R4)
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Tell me if I'm crazy! [#permalink] New post 24 Jan 2011, 21:33
Hi Alex,

First of all, thank you for offering this free service.

I was going to apply to MBA programs for Fall 2012 matriculation, but life circumstances changed on me and it will be advantageous to me to apply for Fall 2011 instead. This means Round 3 apps, compounded by my unappealing undergrad record. I was hoping you could give me a quick reality check on my school choices.

Here's the short version:

Demographics: Utterly unremarkable (white male).
Undergrad: BA English, second-tier public school.
GPA: 2.8 (more on this below)

GMAT: Taking it 2/14. I took the GRE cold 5 years ago and got 700V/770Q. According to ETS, this is roughly equivalent to a 730 GMAT - since I'm studying my tail off for the GMAT, we'll say 720-740 GMAT for the sake of argument.

Work Experience: 5 years in software development with progressively increasing responsibility.

Extracurriculars: Significant community service and sports, some elected positions.

Career Goals: Management consulting and/or IT leadership.
Long Term: After a few years of experience, found or join a healthcare IT startup.

I'm not terribly worried about the GMAT, work experience, or extracurriculars, but I'm very concerned about my undergraduate record. I attended a large state school, got decent grades my freshman year, but left school my sophomore year while struggling with depression. I didn't drop my courses and so received straight Fs that semester. I transferred to a new school and completely turned myself around with excellent grades and tons of community involvement, but the GPA damage was done.

Here are the schools I'm looking at:
First choice stretch: Duke MBA/Health Sector Management
Second choice stretch: Carnegie Mellon
Reasonable: UT-McCombs, Indiana
Safety: Rice

My questions to you are:
i) Given the above, are the above school choices reasonable?
ii) I have no medical documentation about my depression, because I decided to 'help myself' rather than seek professional help. Should I go into detail about my 'screw-up semester,' or just say I was a knucklehead, learned my lesson, and moved on to a successful and stimulating career?
iii) My recommendations are strong (former indirect manager/current peer, former CEO of my company) but I don't feel comfortable asking my direct supervisor for a recommendation. I don't think she would be receptive to me wanting to pursue other opportunities. Is this a pretty fair defense for not having a rec from a current supervisor?

Thanks in advance!

Last edited by cmo83 on 11 May 2011, 09:46, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Tell me if I'm crazy! [#permalink] New post 26 Jan 2011, 09:01
Don't get too caught up in your GPA -- focus on doing well on the GMAT, and that will help balance out your GPA. In any case, you can't control anything about what has already happened (GPA) and you don't want to spend most of your efforts playing defense on your applications. Focus on your strengths, and let the weaknesses be as they may -- it's not about being perfect, but about being compelling (and perfect = boring).

Also, I wouldn't mention anything about your depression. Unfortunately, there's still a lot of ignorance when it comes to mental illness, and you risk having some folks who can't help but feel concerned about whether you'll be able to cope with the MBA program because of any past history (again, due to ignorance about mental illness). Again, your GPA is what it is, and there's not a whole lot you can say other than the standard 'I could've done better had I been more focused' narrative which is worth about 2-4 sentences in an optional essay.

As for your school choices, you're certainly in range assuming a strong GMAT. But given that it's Round 3, it'll still be a bit of a gamble. In any case, what you may want to do is to apply anyhow (roll the dice), and if you get in, great. If you don't, you can always reapply next year.
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Alex Chu
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Status: Still not there yet!!!
Joined: 11 Jan 2011
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Re: Tell me if I'm crazy! [#permalink] New post 26 Jan 2011, 09:10
I think that you are sooooooooo NOT crazy!!
Re: Tell me if I'm crazy!   [#permalink] 26 Jan 2011, 09:10
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