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The evolution of your B-school pursuit

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Re: The evolution of your B-school pursuit [#permalink] New post 07 Feb 2013, 11:02
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terry12 wrote:
I nearly threw my computer at a wall during Stanford's essays


Good story, but especially for this line. The 'What matters to you most?' essay? Oy. Though I will say after figuring out honest answers to all Stanford's questions in round 1 I was WAY better prepared for the other questions in round 2. It forced me to do a lot of soul searching.
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Re: The evolution of your B-school pursuit [#permalink] New post 10 Feb 2013, 09:19
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What struck me the most about this thread was learning why people chose to apply or attend the schools that they did. Everyone’s thoughts here certainly factored into my own research, so I thought I’d add in my two cents on that part of my application process.

I started out bright eyed and bushy tailed with a clean slate: any school in the continental US. I figured I could go wherever and have a good 2 years. My main factors were: could I get in (GMAT, GPA in range) and could I get a job. From there, I factored in what actually mattered to me: the community, student life, what kind of person I could be after my 2 years there, and finally location.

I spreadsheeted stats from school websites and various ranking sources and came up with a list of 50+ schools. I then narrowed that down based on adcom presentations, school visits, speaking with students/alumni, and reading lots of GMATClub entries on threads like these.


Where



  • Ross: You drew me in and I never looked back. I’ll admit being in Detroit concerned me, but everyone I know in AA loved/loves the college town vibe – and I have personal connections in the area, so I could survive not being in/near a major city. For you, Ross, I could survive. You’re a big school, which I didn’t want, but your community completely blew me away. It’s like I was joining your little exclusive club, and I wanted to be in. Everyone from current students to alumni to admissions officers opened their doors to me, and I couldn’t believe that for such a large, public university, your program had the resources for that. Couple that with your recruiting is exactly what I’m looking for, how could I not apply?

  • Fuqua: Team Fuqua. You’ve always been so warm and welcoming. Everyone eats, sleeps, breathes Fuqua which is exactly what I’m looking for. Your recruiting is pretty strong for what I want to do, but I already know Durham like the back of my hand and I didn’t even go to Duke undergrad. I’m worried that I’ll stay there for more than a month and be completely bored. But I guess I have tenting to keep me busy…if you actually survive the Sweet Sixteen this year.

  • Stern: You’ve always been in the top few schools of my list. Amazing location. Amazing recruiting into everything I could possibly do post-graduation. You have more than enough specializations and classes to choose from. And your alumni network, surprisingly to me, is really strong. I’m concerned that your students are a bit commuter-y and bring in their existing NYC networks and some might be super finance competitive, but the pluses definitely outweigh the minuses.

  • Anderson: LA. Sunny weather. Chill student body. Great recruiting in any of my career paths. Super close community. I like your updated curriculum. Admissions is doing a great job in attempting to transform the school from a regional to a national school. I’m not sure if they’ll quite get there, but for what I want to do and where I want to be, it’s a great school.

  • Sloan: Sloan – you are amazing. Your students aren’t the East Campus undergrads everyone thinks they are; instead, you have some of the most down to earth, smart students ever. I love that you have a quant-y focus that’s balanced with non quant opportunities too. Your recruiting in my area of interest is growing. Your professors are on the cutting-edge of every type of research, yet they are still down to earth enough to develop strong relationships with students. I would hands down matriculate, no questions asked.

  • Yale SOM: My last minute addition. I initially wrote you off as the non-profit/social enterprise school. After all, that’s what everyone says you are so I guess they must be right. But something nagged at me to look at you more closely. Obviously, the university name carries weight, but what about SOM itself? Researching more, I discovered that your new curriculum and your new leadership program completely resonated with me. Your small, tight knit community was exactly what I was looking for, and your alumni base is so strong. My main concern is recruiting – how disadvantaged will I be if I don’t go to a “core” school that companies are looking at? Granted, there are still alumni at all the major corporations I’m looking at now; if the alumni network is as good as they say it is, someone should be able to help me find a job or pass along some leads, right? So I’ll toss my hat in the ring and see what happens.

  • Stanford: You are sooo difficult to get into, but you made me fall in love with you anyways. Other schools have better recruiting into my current career direction, but I don’t even care. You have great resources, you have a great community, and your information session spoke to me like no other session has. I hung on to every word and every slide like a kid in a candy store … and I came out of that information session more excited about Stanford than I was going into it. I can’t say that about any other school. Major props to admissions if any of you ever find this post.


Where Not


  • Haas: You have the smaller school I’m looking for. You have better weather than the east coast. Great recruiting. But your information session told me what I needed to know – I felt young, I felt like I didn’t ask the “right” questions, I was interested in different things. As sad as that was, you were nixed. On the plus side though, I didn’t have to deal with your ridiculous application (though, the fact that I thought your application was ridiculous to begin with probably means our personalities don’t mesh).

  • Wharton: The name brought me in. Trump is the man. UPenn is a cool campus. Wharton itself though? I didn’t want that large of a class size. I didn’t want to graduate not having at least met all my other classmates. The alums I met didn’t seem very passionate about the school – and your admissions information session started almost half an hour late. If you can’t even start that on time, I worry about what else I’ll have issues with should I matriculate. (Note: the info session didn’t cross them off my list by itself; it’s just a pet peeve of mine)

  • CBS: You have a location that only Stern can rival. But I don’t want to go into finance. Yes, I have friends at CBS who aren’t in finance but something doesn’t feel quite right about it. I’ve talked with alums who have my dream job and they don’t credit CBS with getting them to where they are. They look at the CBS MBA as a checkbox on their resume they had to check off. I wasn’t okay with that.

  • Kellogg: I should love you. Marketing is king. You have everything on paper that I should be looking for – great program, great recruiting, friendly down-to-earth students. But, I’m not a fan of Chicago…and I keep thinking, what if I don’t end up pursuing marketing in bschool? What if I change my mind? Will Kellogg still be a good choice for me? If R1 didn’t work out, I would have considered you for R2, but only if the weather gods promised no blizzards.

  • Booth: Way too quant of a curriculum for my taste. I don’t want to be in finance or in Chicago.

  • Tuck: Location, location, location. And the case study method. I love that you have a small, tight-knit community, which is exactly what I’m looking for. I love that your alumni base is so helpful. But I don’t want to be in NH. I’m not one for small towns or the woods. A lot of your recruiting ends being consulting in Boston – neither of which I’m that interested in (yes, that’s a generalization, but that’s what I felt). If my R1 apps didn’t work out, I probably would have put that aside and applied … but maybe not.

  • Cornell: Location, but I otherwise thought the program was great. Again, if I didn’t have the R1 admits I did, I would have considered an R2/R3 application here

  • HBS: Everyone asks if I’m applying here. Yes, it fits the career goals I wrote about in my application, but ultimately you are not for me – and you were the first school I said “no” to. I don’t like the case study method. I’ve been to your campus many many times. I’ve toured, sat in on classes, been to your parties. I’ve worked with current students and alums, and have friends who are current students and alums too. Frankly, what it comes down to though, is …. I don’t want to be you. I’ll be friends with you, but we are different people, from a different mold. Simple or as confusing to others as that may seem, HBS, we were just not meant to be.


The Decision



It’s certainly been a long journey – one that I didn’t expect to turn out this way at all. I figured the schools would somehow decide for me, and in some ways they have and in others they’ve left me to my own devices.

I started out on this journey wanting to find a school that would, of course, put me on the right path for my career. And, as probably all of you have experienced, I thought what I wrote in my essays was going to be what I did with my life… but now, I’m not so sure. As with everything in this unpredictable process, our own lives and careers take turns and twists, and we might end up miles from where we ever thought was possible.

Now that I’m at the end of the application process, I know I want to attend a school where regardless of what path I end up following – personally or professionally, I know I’ll have support and guidance, not only from the institution but also from my peers and my fellow alumni. I want to be surrounded by a diverse, interesting student body with people interested in going all different directions. And most important of all to me, I want to find my people, and as cheesy as it sounds, my family. While my career is certainly important to me – I wouldn’t be pursuing an MBA if it wasn’t – I know that twenty years down the road, I won’t remember all the case studies I prepared for or what internship offers I received; I’ll remember the times I spent with my peers in those off moments just hanging out, moving apartments, or cramming for finals together in the wee hours of the morning.

And with the help of campus visits, interviews, talks with alumni, current students, and other fellow applicants, I’ve decided to attend Yale SOM this fall. So, why Yale SOM? What specifically set it apart from the other options I had?

  • Focus on creating leaders for business and society. I want to attend a school where I’m not just focused in marketing or finance or another area. I want to be surrounded by people with diverse interests and career aspirations, and I want to be able to influence change in all aspects of my life – not just within a gigantic corporation

  • Integrated curriculum. Business today is all about making connections between various groups of people. No longer can we work in silos separate from everywhere else. For a number of personal and professional reasons Yale’s approach to management really resonated with me, and I’m looking forward to taking part in those classes

  • Welcoming community. I was blown away by how eager everyone was to help and offer advice, including fellow members here on GMATClub. From handwritten letters from admissions in my welcome packet to emails, phone calls, and meetups with current students and alumni in my career choice, I really felt like Yale wanted me when they accepted me – that they actually cared if I matriculated or not

  • Having two years to focus on me. I want to spend my two years refining myself as person. SOM's Leadership Development Program lets me improve my soft skills, which I will take with me long after graduation. Ultimately, I want to find a balance between the quant and the qual, the hard and the soft. I don't want to spend two years just focusing on recruiting 24/7. Yes, the job search is important and will be something I devote many hours to, but I want to lead a balanced life too

  • It felt right. Yes, this is a rather fluffy reason, but ultimately, when I was on-campus for my interview and at other events interacting with current students, alumni, and other admits, I really felt at home. I was impressed with everyone I met, and I could see myself in those classrooms and in New Haven. That’s all the reassurance I needed to know what choice was right for me

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aerien

Why Yale | My Advice For Younger Applicants

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Re: The evolution of your B-school pursuit [#permalink] New post 16 Feb 2013, 16:24
aerien wrote:
Yale SOM


Congrats on making your decision. Good luck in New Haven!
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Re: The evolution of your B-school pursuit [#permalink] New post 15 Mar 2013, 08:52
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How has your B-school plan evolved? When did you decide to pursue this, what were you goals and have those changed, and of course the rotating decision on what schools and which is your top?

When

I took a little bit of a different approach to deciding to pursue an MBA.

Back in my undergrad I had a job at a liquor store. It was a very easy job and during the year I completed homework while there. When summer between Junior and Senior year rolled around, I decided that I should make good use of this time. I knew I wanted to go to grad school and eventually figured probably an MBA, so I decided to take the GMAT.

At this time, I had done very little research on MBA programs but studied for the GMAT wholeheartedly. I figured I would go to a school in Canada and wasn’t too worried about which.

But when I finished my test a 750 showed up on screen. I realized I had a score that could get me into any school with the right execution.

I landed a job out of school in Commercial Banking, but had my sights set on pursuing an MBA in the future if the opportunity arose. The next few years went great, I was very successful at work and was granted a few promotions. Eventually I got to a spot where I was very young for my job and was hitting a bit of a ceiling, so I knew it was time to apply.

What

I had wanted to go into Management Consulting for some time, but my undergraduate degree didn’t lend itself well to this pursuit. I knew an MBA would be the way to pursue this.

My profile is light on work experience, but have good promotions, recs, GMAT, GPA, and okay extracurriculars.



Where

I started out pursuing the M7, which I narrowed down to Sloan, Booth, and Stanford. My biggest regret was pursuing all these in R1.

Assuming my best app was a 10/10, my app to Booth was a 4/10 and Stanford a 5/10. Sloan was a few weeks later and got up to 7.5/10.

I got dinged at all 3, but got a Ding Analysis completed for Booth, which was the best thing I did. I then set my sites a bit lower on the Elite schools. Narrowed down to Ross, Stern, and Yale. Different programs certainly but all of them attracted me for various reasons.

My Stern and Ross apps were 9/10, and my Yale app was 10/10. I improved substantially the execution and quality of my applications. It paid off as I got two interview invites.

I interviewed in person at Stern and got accepted with a scholarship covering first year tuition. At Ross I interviewed via Skype, had a terrible interview and got dinged. Yale I was surprised I did not even get an interview. Goes to show that the process can really seem random at times.

I will be matriculating at Stern in Fall 2013.








Advice for Future Applicants:

-Take the GMAT early, right after undergrad if possible when you are still in an academic frame of mind.

-Hire a consultant for at least one school. They will help you execute your goals and the Why X school?. These are vital questions to answer properly.
Full disclosue: I never hired a consultant but got a Ding Analysis done and it helped me drastically improve my applications.
-Coach your recommenders, give them stories you want them to tell.
-DO NOT list responsibilities/tasks on you resume. You need to list accomplishments and use metrics to back them up.

If you’ve found a site like GMAT Club, you are on the right track. Just remember to work hard at this process. You are competing against others who are also “great”, so you better give a full effort if you want to get in to your dream school.
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Re: The evolution of your B-school pursuit [#permalink] New post 17 Mar 2013, 11:20
zaffro13 wrote:

-Hire a consultant for at least one school. They will help you execute your goals and the Why X school?. These are vital questions to answer properly.
Full disclosue: I never hired a consultant but got a Ding Analysis done and it helped me drastically improve my applications.


I applied to only Duke and Darden for Fall 2012 and got dinged, was thinking about ding analysis, can you expand a little more on why it was helpful and how it helped you improve?
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Re: The evolution of your B-school pursuit [#permalink] New post 29 Mar 2013, 02:13
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When:


Being a non-traditional student for my undergrad, I had some exposure to distance education... and loved the flexibility of being able to study wherever I happened to be. Originally, I wanted to get an MBA to help fast-track a career in the private sector coming from a mainly public sector background so I began my business school pursuit by searching for cheap American online AACSB-accredited programmes. However, I quickly realised that an unranked MBA would have very little utility so I began to consider more expensive online options. Soon after that though, I realised that because of my age, (23 but with ~40 months f/t work experience) an online MBA would be of little use to my career and that it'd be best to look for a full-time programme. It was during my research for a full-time MBA and thinking about the applications process that my social sector career goals really crystallised. After getting a 720 on the GMAT and reading various sources of MBA information on the internet, I had all the encouragement I needed to pull the trigger and get on with the applications process.

Where:


Kelley: I tried a few of those "admissions predictors" on the web and while I wasn't quite sure how reliable they were, they all told me I had a great chance at Kelley, something which couldn't be said about any other top 25 school. I was originally unsure about the "unfashionable" location but the more I researched, the more I fell in love with the school, especially the culture. Nowhere else have I seen the level of personal care throughout the applications process as I've seen at Kelley and I think anyone who's seriously looked into the Kelley community was similarly impressed as I was.

Stern: Oh, Stern... why did I apply to Stern? To be totally honest, I have no interest in any of Stern's core industries or a particular fascination with any part of its curriculum/culture. My application to Stern was largely the result of trying to find the latest R1 deadline at a top school and applying then. It probably showed on my application.

Johnson: The second school I applied to... only a couple of weeks after I applied to Stern. (Parts of) Upstate New York is idyllic, Ithaca is near Toronto if I want to visit some friends up there for a weekend, I'd have the chance of taking courses at the ILR school and Cornell's status as sort of the odd Ivy out drew me to the school. I wish I had applied to Johnson in R3 instead of rushing to apply in R2 by writing terribly shoddy essays.

Fuqua: Team Fuqua. A business school ethos in the mould of Duke itself and one JB Fuqua would be proud of. What can I say? They're a fantastic school with a great brand, strong students and Research Triangle location which put it at the top of the typical 3-pack of Fuqua/Ross/Darden for me. I don't work in a traditional MBA industry but one of the few MBAs I know well is a Fuqua alum and only has positive things to say about the school. Of all the schools I applied to, Fuqua was probably my #1 choice.

Yale: Wherever I went, I wanted to feel like I was part of a bigger university, rather than just a business school. I also wanted a school which believed in social impact and ethics to its very core. SOM was the only school which defined itself by those values and gave me access to one of the world's most celebrated educational institutions where I could cross-register at other schools and absorb the magical atmosphere. I was very impressed by them throughout the entire admissions process and I wish I spent a little bit more time on my essays to "sell" myself better to the school.

Goizueta: I wanted to apply to one Southern (like... further south than Durham) school to cast a bigger net and Emory's overall reputation and big city location were attractive to me. Plus, the small program size made the program was a big draw.

McDonough: I never really even considered this school until I started asking around for advice and many people recommended I take a look at them. At first, I applied because I liked the DC location, Georgetown brand and favourable admissions stats but after visiting McDonough I was very impressed by the student quality, professors and facilities and became much more serious about the school.

Where Not:


Kellogg: For me, there were target schools, there were reach schools, there were dream schools and then there was Kellogg. For me, Kellogg takes everything I love so much about Kelley's "nice guy" culture and super-sizes it to a global scale. These are not just people you'd want to go to class with, they're people you'd want to hang out with, people you'd want to date, people you'd want to work for/with. I had to be realistic though, so I didn't apply or do an open interview at Kellogg but there will always be a little piece of my heart which bleeds purple and one day perhaps I'll do some sort of degree at Northwestern to get my fix.

Haas: Another "nice guy" kind of school, but in a completely different way than Kellogg. I really love Berkeley (the town and the school) but ultimately, Haas was always going to be almost as much of a reach as Kellogg so I didn't apply.

Tuck: I was never quite sold on the isolationist culture that Tuckies seem to have in relation to their other Dartmouth brethren but there is no denying the power of the legendary Tuck network. In many ways I feel that Haas and Tuck are similar, with Tuck definitely having more of an East Coast culture, which I prefer. I really toiled over whether to apply to Tuck as every deadline came and went but ultimately I didn't apply.

Decision/Remarks:


After much soul searching, I decided to attend Kelley this year instead of waiting a few years to attend, which was a big consideration for me. I feel that I would only be totally satisfied at Kellogg, and I'm not at all confident that I could get into Kellogg with my academic background and work experience, even a few years down the road. When I consider that Kelley was the first programme I looked into and the only one which gave me money to attend, it seems almost like destiny that I attend Kelley this August. Of course, it's not like I applied to any schools I wouldn't attend in the first place, so I would have been happy at any school.

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Re: The evolution of your B-school pursuit [#permalink] New post 30 Mar 2013, 02:16
Quote:
I don’t want to be you. I’ll be friends with you, but we are different people, from a different mold.


i very much appreciate this attitude esp. for such a major decision.
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Re: The evolution of your B-school pursuit [#permalink] New post 09 Apr 2013, 06:47
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Hey all, I just got into HBS and got dinged by Stanford, MIT and Columbia :-) (Got an interview to INSEAD still to be scheduled).

I'd like to tell you my story so that you can learn from my long journey, and make the best possible decisions for yourself and your future.

To paraphrase the rest of this post: the application process was one hell of a ride.

I started with research. After a lot of reading, I decided to apply to HBS, MIT and Stanford. When you make reading about top schools a habit (their programs, cultures and unique features), you begin to get "gut" feelings about certain schools and not others.

I especially liked what I read, saw and heard about those three schools, so I decided to apply to them and not to anywhere else. My friends thought I was crazy not to apply to Wharton, Columbia, Booth, LBS and INSEAD. But I just felt something different about HBS, Stanford and MIT. "At the end of the day, it's a very personal decision" I kept telling my friends. And I still maintain that it is. If you're not going to be subjective and opinionated about where you're going to spend two years of your life, you might was well just throw your whole life away and replace it with a non-biased feasibility study! :-D

That being said, my ultimate preference was HBS and the very very very distant second was Stanford, and then MIT. I was just so impressed with everything I knew about HBS. The diversity, the students, the program, the facilities, and last but definitely not least, the inexplicable grandeur of the brand. I thought Stanford was great, but wasn't as moved as most people about the value of having a small class size or the entrepreneurial culture.

So I got to work. With the GMAT out of the way, the first thing I did was form a network of people around me who were either graduates of top schools, admits, or in any other way knew what it took to get in. Through asking for some favors, pushing for some introductions and in some cases running into lucky coincidences, I managed to form my "advice pool". Most of them were consultants (duh!), and I was surprised by how helpful they were. Throughout the 1-hour coffee chats I usually had with them, I found that they presented sharp, balanced and objective feedback. As a matter of fact, it was one of these people whose advice significantly contributed to my decision to retake the GMAT :-D But that was over 1 year ago when I wasn't even thinking about forming my advice pool...now THAT was a lucky coincidence. Go figure!

All members of my advice pool agreed that my profile was full of interesting things to say about myself. Perhaps from the way I talked about HBS, or maybe from how much they knew about the school, they all advocated my inclination to give HBS everything I've got. "You definitely give out a Harvard vibe", they kept saying. I didn't know if they were saying this just to motivate me, or if they really meant it. But I decided that not giving a shit about that for the moment would save me a lot of useless pondering. Instead, I started focusing a huge amount of effort on the 2 HBS essays. I decided to use all of the feedback and expertise gained from writing and perfecting the HBS essays to later write the Stanford and MIT essays.

With the help of my advice pool, I went through about 10 drafts for each HBS essay. The difference between each draft and the next one gets smaller as you progress. At first, our back-and-forth attachment-littered emails were about topic selection and content...and starting the 6th or 7th draft they evolved to small changes in sentence structure and vocabulary. At last, I felt satisfied about the quality of the essays. They were down to earth, action-packed, unboastful, and to-the-point.

Around that same time, my parents -who were extremely excited about the possibility of my receiving a top MBA- starting exerting...ahem...formidable amounts of pressure on me to apply to more schools to "increase the probability of getting in to a top program". I kept telling them that it wasn't about how many schools you apply to, but rather about how diligently you devote yourself to the application(s) you're writing. I argued that all of the deadlines were in the same month, and that it was far better to focus on just 2 or 3 applications and perfect them than to distract yourself with 5 or 6 applications and end up hurrying all of them. My parents, bless them, would have none of it :-D Eventually I got tired and agreed to apply to Columbia and INSEAD as well, just to get them off my back. Doing this was both good and bad. It was bad because I suddenly had a huge amount of essays to write, all at the same time, and all with similar deadlines. But it was also good because since I was still convinced that focusing hard on any application is what makes it great, I decided to invest about 90% of my effort on the HBS application. I was just so sure that the investment would pay off, and that I wouldn’t give a damn if I didn’t get in to any other school.

One of the members of my advice pool recommended that I run the 2 HBS essays by an admissions consultant just for a quick spice-up of sentences and a few interesting word changes here or there. I got in touch with the consultant and made it very clear that I did not want any help with the content or the ideas; I just wanted to polish the wording. After going through both essays, she got back to me with almost meaningless changes and informed me that the essays, from her experience, were in very good condition for submission.

At that point, I started scouting for recommenders, and quickly got my boss and ex-boss on board. I sat down with each one of them alone and we had quick chats on what they can mention in their recommendations. I mostly agreed with what they wanted to write, and I asked one of them to make it a point to refer to a significant achievement of mine that I had wrote about in one of my essays. For the third recommendation, I called up an older friend of mine who knows me quite well and is running a very successful business. I asked her to just write what she thought about me, and I knew that she would have good things to say -with a wealth of examples to back them up.

At last, when I had made sure that my HBS application was coherent, told a strong story, contained everything I wanted the adcom to know, and thoroughly revised, I submitted it. And then I turned to the other 4 applications. I found that writing essays was becoming a much simpler issue than before, since I kept drawing from the advice and feedback I received throughout my rollercoaster ride with the HBS essays. Perhaps because I subconsciously could not see myself anywhere but at HBS, I did not give the other applications as much focus. I even remember not feeling that anxious about their deadlines approaching.

I was done with everything by the time the deadlines came rushing, and I submitted everything (I decided to apply to INSEAD in Round 3, since all 3 of its rounds have equal probability of acceptance, unlike most US schools). I felt so relieved that I was now done with all the work, and then resigned myself to checking when HBS would get back to applicants for interviews...every single day :-D

On the day they specified, I got the interview invitation and was absolutely over the moon! 3 days later, I got a rejection from Columbia and (frankly) could not care less. “It’s an incredibly great school, but I just don’t think it’s for me”, I kept saying. I know you’re probably thinking now that I’m so arrogant to only want HBS, but trust me it’s not about pride at all. It’s about finding your perfect fit. If you were in love with someone, and for some reason she wasn’t available, would you just go ahead and marry her twin sister? Even if she was just as smart/pretty/adorable? If things should be like that, then God help us all :-D

After consulting with my advice pool, I decided to fly to Boston and interview on campus. In the week leading up to the flight, I scheduled and sat for 4 mock interviews with different people, some in person and some on skype. After the 4th mock interview, I felt that I was very anxious but ready. I kept reminding myself that the fear was good, because it would keep me alert and prevent me from being reckless and overconfident.

And so I flew to Boston. Needless to say, I loved every single thing about the campus and student life there. I scheduled a class visit, and during the class I actually wanted to raise my hand and say what I thought about the case being discussed…that’s how engaged I was.

The interview was extremely friendly. I had it with 2 members of the adcom, with one mostly doing the writing and the other mostly doing the talking. I was very impressed with the balance they struck between friendliness, professionalism, and time management (the interview lasts for EXACTLY 30 minutes, and they’re very precise about that). They mostly asked me about my job, my achievements, how I viewed leadership, what it took to inspire other people, and how challenging it is for a business to thrive in Egypt in the midst of everything happening. I tried my best to stick to answering what they asked in structured, meaningful and non-repetitive statements, and felt I did fine on the whole.

I wrote my post-interview reflection essay the next day, and mostly wrote about questions I would have loved to have been asked and my answers to them. One of the members of my advice pool did a quick edit of the essay and introduced minor comments. I submitted it and decided to wander around Boston for the rest of the day before heading to the airport. In the middle of a delicious steak meal I was having, I got an email from MIT saying that the decision was available on the online application…which essentially meant that I was rejected without an interview (they send you an “interview invitation” email if they want to interview you). I went back to the hotel, opened my laptop and was not at all surprised at the MIT rejection staring back at me from the computer screen. I did not feel quite as indifferent as after the Columbia decision. I was a bit disappointed, but acknowledged that there is nothing I can do about it now.

When I got back to Egypt, I decided to prepare the INSEAD application. I reasoned that if I was also rejected by Stanford and Harvard, I would not be able do an MBA this year at all. Yes, I wanted HBS, but I wouldn’t wait another year just because I got accepted somewhere else and not at HBS. The fact that I felt I was now ready to start this new chapter in my career superseded the fact that I wanted a specific MBA program and not others. In other words, the ultimate priority was that I do an MBA in a world class program. And THEN, the second priority was that I go to HBS, and I had to be very harsh with myself about that.

So I started and finished the INSEAD application, and felt I had done a very good job on it since my full attention was directed towards it.

On the 27th of March, the HBS decision notification date, I did not even attempt to concentrate at work. The decision would come at 6:00pm Egypt Time, and I kept looking at my watch every 5 minutes starting 11am :-D

When the day finally rolled by -excruciatingly slowly, I might add- and 6pm approached, I headed to my desk at work, opened my laptop and simply stared at the computer’s clock until 5:59pm showed up. At that point, I couldn’t take it anymore. Without yet getting the email saying that the decision was now available on my online application, I opened the application fully predisposed to see the usual layout of submission verifications and other info on the front page. But then I noticed a new item, a link, at the very bottom of the page: “Your application decision is now available online”. I clicked on it, and up popped a small window with a lot of words in it. The very first sentence told me everything I needed to know, and before I knew it I was punching the air, shouting out in triumph, slapping the desk, and making a hell of a lot of noise :-D

An hour later, I checked my unread emails and found that Stanford had also sent me an email saying that their decision was now available online. Since I hadn’t got invited to an interview, I knew what the decision was and didn’t even bother to open it. I was ecstatic, and I couldn’t believe that I got into HBS. Nothing else mattered, and nothing else would ruin it for me.

Later, as I reflected on my whole experience with the application process, I arrived to a very simple conclusion: If you give an application everything you’ve got, there is no way in hell you won’t, at the very least, get invited to an interview. But in order to do that, you have to allocate your time wisely. Don’t get tempted to apply to dozens of schools! Apply to the schools you absolutely love, and give them EVERYTHING. Give them your time, your effort, your resources, and your devotion. Look at me, for heaven’s sake: dinged at Columbia, dinged at MIT, dinged at Stanford, and accepted to Harvard...definitely not because it’s the easiest to get into, but because it’s the one to which I gave my sweat, heart and soul.

Just this week, I got an interview invitation to INSEAD. I’m not sure whether I should go to the interview or not. On the one hand, it’s definitely a very cool experience to meet an alumnus and have a casual chat with them. But on the other, if I am accepted, I don’t want to be the reason that someone else who might need this acceptance more than I do didn’t get in (because I took his/her place). I’m still trying to decide.

To conclude, I’d say that fighting through these grueling applications is one hell of a ride. It teaches you patience, networking, stamina, responsibility, tolerance, and dedication. I think that the entire experience is something that I will always remember with pride. It’s the sort of thing you look back on and say “Remember that effing time when you had to do this, this and that? Nice work. Now go make a difference in the world.”

I hope this covers your inquiries and concerns. If you have any other questions, ask away :-)

---------------

Small update: I decided to do the INSEAD interviews, and got into INSEAD. But I decided on Harvard in the end. For me, it was the right decision to make...not because of Harvard's brand name, but again because I really do feel it's my best fit. Good luck and wish you the best!
_________________

Nabil Ahmed Nabil


Last edited by Bombol on 07 Jul 2013, 17:05, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The evolution of your B-school pursuit [#permalink] New post 08 May 2013, 20:45
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Hey there,

Thought I'd post because I think my process was a bit unique...

Going back a few years, I went to an Ivy undergrad and majored in both fine arts (painting and graphic design) and political science (comparative and developmental politics), with a minor in French. I initially thought I'd go to an MFA program post-grad, but I was a bit disillusioned by the lack of intellectualism among the MFA students I saw at my particular undergrad school (which is NOT AT ALL to say that that's the case everywhere), so -- after many tears and tantrums and clenched fists -- I ultimately decided to go to law school instead. Within two weeks (post-graduation in June), I withdrew from the MFA program I'd committed to attend, practiced for and took the LSAT, and focused on law school (mainly because I thought it was "challenging" and would provide a satisfying intellectual workout).

I ended up at Harvard Law School, which was, well, A LOT of things, including: really lovely, challenging, worthwhile, interesting, and "not me at all."

I recently decided to go to business school because I've decided that I need to do something with myself that's "me" -- media and entertainment management. In preparation, I actually quit my job as a corporate lawyer and focused on freelance and pro bono assignments in the field I aspired to...

The difficult thing is/was that I tend to do pretty well as school and on standardized tests... and my (very wonderful and highly accomplished) friends tend to have high expectations of me... so when I announced that I planned to go to business school, I was hit with a ton of wonderful and helpful (and a bit stressful) advice.

This advice (along with my pretty good grades and GMAT score) meant that I was told to / expected to apply to "all the best" b-schools...

To make a long story short, I ultimately broke free from these expectations and only applied to places that I REALLY wanted to go to, despite their rankings... Want an example? I went to Penn undergrad and I didn't apply to Wharton. I mean, I'm sure Wharton can be amazing and lovely and perfect, but I didn't think it was for me, so I did the radical thing of NOT APPLYING. Same with HBS (despite the fact that I went to HLS)...

Ultimately, I chose to apply to a select few schools that are (1) said to be "unconventional" (like me!) and (2) said to be good for media / entertainment / etc. ... and I got into all of those places ... and I chose Yale... and I'm super super super happy. Briefly, I love the emphasis on the connection with the rest of Yale University (include the art school!), the broad and well-rounded and non-"major"-focused curriculum, etc....
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Re: The evolution of your B-school pursuit [#permalink] New post 14 Jul 2013, 17:12
My journey towards applying for MBA programs over 2012-2013 application period was what I will dub as the 3 hr MBA app. The approach I took was a steady one that was focused on progressing and learning each week.

Through the course of the year I got accepted into some of my top choices including Cornell, Berkeley, and Carnegie Mellon. I also got waitlisted or rejected from other top choices such as Dartmouth and Yale.

Overall, I document my year long journey here on my weebly blog 3hrMBAapp.weebly. It just provides one more perspective for those applying to MBA programs. Have fun!
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Re: The evolution of your B-school pursuit [#permalink] New post 04 Jan 2014, 08:08
These are all awesome replies, it's nice for anyone starting the process to see how what the end looks like for other people. It's also great to hear other's perspectives on schools and the application process. This is definitely a thread that needs more posts! Can't wait to post mine when I am at the end of this process!!
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Re: The evolution of your B-school pursuit [#permalink] New post 07 Jan 2014, 09:37
It is really great to see how people back 5-6 years ago were so doubtful at first, but in the end all got to great schools and exceeded their own expectations... a great motivator for us who are just beginning!
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Re: The evolution of your B-school pursuit [#permalink] New post 05 Mar 2014, 07:41
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Locking this thread. Please create a new thread in this sub-forum - share-your-application-experience-332/ to share your application experience. Looking forward to read more awesome debriefs.
Re: The evolution of your B-school pursuit   [#permalink] 05 Mar 2014, 07:41
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