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The evolution of your B-school pursuit

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Joined: 04 Jan 2005
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Schools: Wharton, LBS, UChicago, Kellogg MMM (Donald Jacobs Scholarship), Stanford, HBS
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Re: The evolution of your B-school pursuit [#permalink] New post 10 May 2009, 09:34
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I have made my choice regarding which B-school to attend (I waited isa's coming out so I could claim to be the last). You already know because you glanced to the left, did not you?

I thought about starting a thread explaining my decision process and thanking everyone who gave her/his input, but I realized it was all part of a greater discourse: hence, I am posting here about my b-school pursuit.

As for how much this is a leaning process, consider that if there was a school i'd swear I would never going to apply to, let alone get in or matriculating, it whas Wharton. I will be attending The Wharton School in less than 3 months.

Why do I want an MBA? When did I first think about it? Two processes in play, gross exemplifications follow:

1- Simply put, I don't subscribe to Continental Europe's values. Work-life balance means little to me as I'd dread event 15-minute workdays if I found them boring (that's not to say I don't find IB hours insane). Hence, the European model of low-ceiling, high-security jobs don't appeal to me. I have seen it incentivates not working hard both in others and me. This brings my worst side as I have to find satisfaction in my job as otherwise I am not able to focus on having the seaside, the snow and a wonderful fiancée at hand. I am just not the person 80% of Europeans are. I needed to be able to transition to another environment to realize my potential. Since college, I have become more and more exposed to the Anglosaxon value system and found it better for me, for how much it could be improved as well.

2- Having said that, I am a full-blown European. It would be childish to pretend you could not accomplish great things if in Italy or France. It's actually me who can't, it's my bad. I believe the whole world has a crush on the concept of talent. We all like Will Hunting, we all love effortlessness. It provides us excuses for not being that good, for not doing what we wanted to. But Europe, and Italy first, has really fallen in love with this way of thinking: as a result, Italy is now into Second World, Europe's influence is dwindling by the day. I have been told I was smart since I was 3 (I began reading that age out of bore, being a single child). That put me in a bucket where my role was one of not making efforts and to entertain the crowd with captivating displays of per-se knowledge (like all the capitals in the world or something). The underlying assumption is:"You are smart, you are going to have it easy following a model that less smart people are routinely able to follow". I thrive on others' approval and enjoyed that at first, as I could not see that the byproduct of cultivating my slackness and despise for hard work would be harming me. I went into college as a child, life-wise. I was not asked to show up at classes nor was I going to take exams where I could not score up to my standards: deadly mix which procuced some of the worst moments of my life. I graduated first class almost two years late. I saw hordes of more determined people graduate first class much earlier. It took me six months to get my first job as I was deeply unwilling to ask someone to hire me.

1 plus 2: I realized I had to chase my own dreams (actually make something useful) and that I was not going to find like-minded people around the corner. I wanted to get an MBA in the US.

I managed to join a boutique consultancy and was relieved to see that I could perform well in a working environment. At the same time, I know that was not what I was going to do with my career, and that "the European curse" extended to the workplace as well (why shouldn't it?!). I began devising a plan to get to a top MBA, not knowing how high I could aim. I joined a Big 3 consulting and did well there as well. I also realized that I did not want to work in a big company. It's not that I was not able to do small talk (now I am), it's that I don't want to. I wanted to be able to afford not to do it.

I looked at schools: Harvard was nice because its saying could stun even my badly educated parents. Stanford was what I truly wanted. Also Kellogg and Tuck hit me as good schools. As the usual slacker I went long with GMAT/TOEFL and completed a rushed Harvard and Kellogg application. For Stanford I maxed out my efforts. I did not apply to Tuck for reasons similar to the ones of Riverripper: I understood that if I was to change industry, I needed the wider brand I could.

Results in, I did not get an interview at H/S. Resting on laurels hit me, and rightly so. Those spots went to achievers, not simply smart people. I observed that the Harvard deny did not hurt me, but the Stanford fiasco did. I learnt I should completely disregard what uniformed others expected of me: it was out of tune with myself.

Kellogg accepted me, that felt good. In the meantime, thanks to GmatClub, I learned about many people and many schools, discovering the shallowness of clichés. I put out another batch of three applications round 2: Chicago, for its spirit resonated highly with me; Wharton, for offering everything and then some; LBS, as an hedge against US (visa problems, financing problems, family issues, whatever).

It would have been too easy to get satisfied with Kellogg and move on, so the adcoms conjured and admitted me to all three R2 schools. Kellogg gave me a named scholarship and 20% off total cost of attendance too. So April 1, it was down to: Kellogg, Chicago, LBS and Wharton. I paused a moment to congratulate my luck as I saw (mostly on here) how many deserving people had those names in red.
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Re: The evolution of your B-school pursuit [#permalink] New post 10 May 2009, 09:35
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First, I ruled out London. It's a great school, but it's more European in values that I thought it would. I want to work in the US, and I wonder how many non-Americans wind up there after LBS. Gone.

I ruled out Chicago. Even greater school, but all the non-Americans I spoke to were finance-oriented. Looking at employment reports and talking to people showed lagging behing Kellogg in my target industry (technology/VC). Not a dime in fellowships. So gone it was, for how much I cherished the prospect of living in downtown Chicago. Italy-wise, 7 out of 8 admits are matriculating.

Wharton-Kellogg showdown:

Academics: both plain great. Yes, Wharton has more electives, but the MMM was closer to my view of design as a competitive edge. Tie here.

Money: Wharton gave me about 70% of what Kellogg does. Both arranged a loan package. Slight pro for Kellogg (5k and a great name attached to the money), but nothing to decide based upon.

Location: loved the idea of a tight-knit community. Also realized I could probably hate it in a few months' time. I am voluble. Evanston has a stunning scenery. They told me Philadelphia is crap. I am discovering it definitely isn't. Another tie here.

People: this is the first deciding point. Kellogg started off with a huge advantage: famously friendly and lots of great gmatclub people. I took the time to know Wharton people too. In the end, I have found I am more likely to find like-minded spirit at Wharton.

Let's face that 50% of the people at Kellogg are looking to go in an industry I am getting out of and trying to talk people out of, frankly. It's true I could just hang with the other people (no one from GC is chasing consulting I guess), but the consulting focus is going to influence the experience anyway. Consulting is for very risk-averse people. I have found I crave risk. Had I wanted to play it safe, I should have stayed at Bain where everyone was telling me I was going to make manager in a few years.

Wharton people had backgrounds and post-career goals much similar to mine (may be partly influenced by the finance fiasco). They were not pretending or aloof at all and just as great as the Kellogg people. In the end, I had a better fit with the Wharton people than with the Kellogg ones (I am leaving out GmatClub since the split is like 20/3 and I know the Kellogg crowd much better, plus zoinnk and Audio are douches*).

Brand That's where the picture is clearer. Kellogg and Wharton are great, check. There's no tech company that recruits at one and not the other, check. Paired in US News rankings, check. Same average starting salary, check. But consider this fact: each and every non-American person I have talked to ended up saying:"It looks like an easy Wharton for me". Wharton has a definite edge outside the US. For how much I want to stay there, internationals are getting killed these days, both for internships and H1Bs. I have to consider the possibility of working outside the US and I believe many companies/funds that could once bloom only in the US will do so abroad. Would I be discontent working for DFJ Esprit in London? Not at all. So Wharton wins. Plus there are 4-5 very interesting realities in Philadelphia, DreamIt Ventures and First Round Capital among those. The startup scene is flourishing, even if it still is a bit healthcare-skewed.

So Wharton it was. I am signing a lease at 1835 Arch and have to thank zoinnk for his useful review. Now it's on for an ever-important part of the journey: how to make the most of my MBA. The outcome of this will have an impact an order of magnitude greater than choosing between Kellogg or Wharton, or complaining if Chicago continues its meteoric rise.

One last thought: if someone would tell me tomorrow I would not be able to attend any MBA, this would remain worthwhile. It's amazing how muche one learns of himself at the various stages of this pursuit, from essays to loan-related cold feet. The best part of this has been GmatClub and its people. My regrets, if any, are not to be able to be in class with the people on here who are going to other schools I was accepted to. I actually feel guilty to current students like Riverripper, rhyme, Steel, MGOBLUE, who have been immesely helpful to and far beyond me. Trust me when I say that all you have helped me with stands as timeless advice. Your kindness has made a difference.

On GmatClub, I hope to do the same for people looking at Wharton in the following seasons.

* see you in August, bitches**
** (for moderators) kidding
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Re: The evolution of your B-school pursuit [#permalink] New post 24 Mar 2010, 11:01
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my-road-to-oxford-sbs-and-insead-89413.html#p704543

my story's pretty much summed up here. i had sort of an unclear path during undergrad and afterwards as well. considered law for a while. also had a low gpa issue. and i guess at the end of it all, after all these yrs...everything worked out.
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Re: The evolution of your B-school pursuit [#permalink] New post 11 Jun 2011, 02:54
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Background: Always wanted to be in business. I started studying it at the age of 14 which was when it was first offered as an elective in my school. After high school I attended Manchester Business School, a very well recognized business school in the UK. I went on exchange for a year to the University of Massachusetts where I met my girlfriend (6 years ago!). After completing my degree I went back to Boston and worked as a general manager for a Boston based engineering firm. I was then offered a job as the head of marketing in the EMEA region for a Japanese software firm which I took. Turned out to be a bad decision, I hated the job and the company was poorly run to say the least. I stuck it out for 18 months and then decided to leave. I have spent the last two years running my own business importing magnetic products from China.

Why: I have always wanted to take my academic career to a very high level and my interest in business meant that the MBA was always my postgrad degree of choice.

Why Now: My own company was providing a decent income but was unlikely to grow much more. It was also very easy and I was getting bored (oh how I yearn to be bored again!), I decided that it was the right time because I had no responsibilities and no real financial commitments, I also wanted to move back to the states and be with my girlfriend (we are lucky enough to see each other a lot but not enough). I figured an MBA would give me the ability to pursue an international career.

Where: I had taken the GMAT during my final year of my undergraduate degree so I knew roughly where I should be applying. I enjoyed my time at Manchester Business School immensely and I know the professors and staff really well. I (arrogantly) assumed that I would walk into the school without any difficulty and, (really arrogantly) assumed that I would be given a scholarship as well. I used Manchester as my starting point and, after extensive research, chose four more schools evenly spaced throughout the FT rankings above Manchester. I opted for Judge in the UK as I love the campus and the city, (I nearly added Oxford to the list but I decided I didn't like the school), and then in the states I chose HBS, Tuck, and Yale. HBS for me was just a case of throwing in an application just in case someone read it and I got a place. Tuck was always my dream school, I'm quite outdoorsy and I didn't really want to be in a big city. Yale has a great fit with my desire to be socially responsible (yeah I know that sounds a bit corny). Also all three schools were within two hours driving distance from my girlfriend and after two years of long distance I really wanted to be close again!

GMAT: I took the GMAT again after I had decided on the schools I wanted to attend. I set myself the target of not applying to any school without being within ten points of that schools average. I got a 660 on my second attempt (4 years after the first). Decided I could do better, studied for another 6 weeks and then ended up with a 710. Unfortunately my decision to retake the GMAT meant that I missed the first two application deadlines for each school and ended up submitting my application in the April round, making life hard for myself.

Outcome: I think my desire to go to Tuck came through in all my applications, explicitly in the Tuck form, but at the other schools I found it hard to really emotionally invest in their programs to the same level and in retrospect I'm sure that came through in my essays. Judge was the first application I sent in and I actually felt good about the application. My essays were good and my GMAT was 20 points higher than their average. Someone their must have not like something in my application because I was quickly dinged, quite rudely actually. I was a bit pissed off with them really, I felt I was worth an interview, and that their ranking wasn't high enough to justify their attitude. The three US schools came next and again I felt pretty good about the apps. I had spent approx 60 hours on each and I had extensively researched all of the schools. HBS dinged me, which I was not too concerned with as although I felt my app was good I know that I was just one in a sea of great apps. Yale interviewed then dinged, again I was ok with it, I hadn't got a great feeling from the adcom while I was there and I didn't like the town at all. My applicant initiated interview at Tuck was amazing. I was at the school for about 8 hours, I attended two lectures, had lunch and dinner with two sets of students who were all incredibly friendly and who I'm still in contact with, and my interview was awesome. I really clicked with my interviewer who was a member of the adcom and I believe that this was instrumental in my final acceptance. Before I heard back from Tuck Manchester offered me a place with a significant scholarship which was a weight off my mind as at least I would be somewhere come fall. After several very tense weeks I got the decision from Tuck... Waitlisted. Aaghh limbo! I didn't know what to do with myself. A few days later I was informed that I had been put on a reduced waitlist which made me feel much better. Over the next few weeks I went through a roller coaster of emotion. Sometimes convincing myself that because I was waitlisted from the April round I must be top of the waitlist and of course I would get in, other times accepting that I wouldn't and starting to plan how to fund Manchester. Then on Tuesday last week I had a missed call from Tuck while I was in the gym. Over the following hour I must have called them back 15 times! No answer! After an eon (read 45 mins later), Tuck called me again and gave me a double whammy of good news. Accepted and a scholarship. I nearly cried.

What Now: I'm still a bit lost at the moment. There's a lot to do and a lot to take on board. I called Manchester and let them know I had to decline their offer, which I felt bad about because their adcom had been excellent. Now I'm waiting for my financial aid package to come through so I know how much I have to get in private loans, trying to sort out housing and a visa, and introducing myself to my classmates... Happy as a pig in sh**!

Takeaways: The connections I made at Tuck were key to my success, and the friends I made in such a short visit were incredibly supportive and really helped me through. I should mention that I reached out to these guys prior to submitting my application. I identified some clubs that I was interested in and got in touch through them. I would recommend everybody try to do the same at their target schools. MBA applications are about understanding yourself more than understanding the school. If you know yourself well then the school that fits you best will be obvious to you and to the adcom. I seem to see a lot of people trying to game the system and who believe that if they do certain things in a certain way that they will be admitted. I would suggest that they spend a little more time soul searching and understanding themselves.

I don't think I've done a very good job describing just how stressful this process was. The GMAT made me sick just thinking about a retake and I have missed so many nights sleep over the last six months it's not even funny. The essays were a real bitch both in terms of time and worrying about getting it just right. At times the process made me feel stupid, and to be honest this website added to that, how is everybody scoring 760?!?!?! Funding is a nightmare in the UK at the moment, credit crunch and all that. And finally I have nobody around me who has any clue about MBA's or Schools, GMATClub has been my support network. Not having anyone to talk to has definitely made this journey harder.

Anywho, all worth it in the end eh?
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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.

Last edited by jxcho on 25 Dec 2013, 11:05, 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 10 Jan 2008, 11:38
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Praetorian wrote:
love it - wonderful wonderful thread. +10 to everyone who contributed.


Only like 300 more to catch up to Rhyme haha.
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Re: The evolution of your B-school pursuit [#permalink] New post 02 Apr 2008, 03:46
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Thanks guys!
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Re: The evolution of your B-school pursuit [#permalink] New post 13 Aug 2010, 06:44
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When: While I was finishing up my Bachelor's Degree, I had all intentions of getting my MBA in Sports Administration from Univ of Oregon. After a job/career change, first child, and a cross country relocation (Portland, OR to Charlotte, NC), my wife didn't want me to spend time away from her and my daughter. I continuously mentioned it about once a month, just to get her take on it. Out of the blue, she mentioned that she wanted me to, so I started the research process, and here I am.

What: Instead of Sports Administration, I am planning on going back in either finance or General Mgmt.

Where: Given my current location and time commitments, I need to get my MBA via an online program. By looking at the Top MBA programs with an online program, I am considering Indiana, Penn Stat, Florida, & Arizona State. South Carolina is an option as well, since they have a program based in Charlotte.

Where continued: After researching and doing some soul searching, Penn State and Indiana have emerged as the front runners.

Where, NOT: After much thought, it will be extremely difficult to take two nights a week and every 3rd Saturday away from my daughter. So USC is out. The trip to Florida, 4 times a year, is going to be very strenuous on my career. Would mean missing month ends and closing which are essential to any accounting career.

Maybe where: That leaves Arizona State, which is a good possibility, but the admission requirements are almost identical to those at Penn State, my #1 school. The problem is that the application deadline is before Penn State's.

The decision: I have decided to go all in with Penn State, and apply early enough so that I can maybe apply to Arizona State if needed. Indiana has the "home school" feel to it, since I went to Louisville for 4 years and most of my family is from Indiana. With my work paying for the program, it is a simple solution to help all involved. Now it is just a matter of time to improve my GMAT, and finish the appllication process.
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Re: The evolution of your B-school pursuit [#permalink] New post 13 Jun 2011, 08:08
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Ooh, fun thread! I can’t believe I missed this one when I was going through the application process this past year! Here’s my LONG response. :-D

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 always thought I wanted to go back for my MBA… at least that’s what I told my parents when I graduated from college with an undergraduate degree in business back in 2003. I moved up to middle-of-nowhere Wisconsin (which I loved) and began working for a great CPG firm in supply chain management. I considered starting a part-time MBA at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh but I was loving being out in the working world and couldn’t get myself to so quickly go back to school although I did take classes at a local community college to work on a supply chain certification. After 3.5 years, I was recruited away by another great CPG company located in Minneapolis.

To my parents, who had never stopped asking me about my MBA, I told them that now I’d have the opportunity to enroll part-time at the University of Minnesota (Carlson) which is a top 20ish program. However, during this time, I was starting to really get into supply chain management and I knew that if I wanted to devote my career to this field, an MBA was not something that was particularly valued. I put the MBA aside and went on with life. I met a girl, fell in love, and in a blink of an eye, three more years had disappeared.

Ironically, it was my last promotion that tipped the balance for me about returning to school. I was a middle manager in supply chain and designated as a high potential employee on track for a very successful career. Throughout my life, I’ve always felt the need to be uncomfortable or slightly on edge in order for me to grow and not become complacent. The idea of settling down in Minnesota, starting a family in the suburbs, and having a great career working for a great company was extremely tempting but it also felt safe and… easy. I wanted to do something more impactful with my life.

Still uncertain about the MBA, I signed up for a GMAT prep course and I decided to let the GMAT determine my fate. I told myself that if I got a 700 or higher on the GMAT, I would apply full time to a top 10 program and if I did not get that score, I would either go part-time at the University of Minnesota or not at all. I think subconsciously, I really wanted to go back to school full time as I spent nearly every waking moment outside of work for two months studying for the test and I was fortunate to get a 750.

Where:

Being surrounded by high achieving friends (graduates of MBA programs from Harvard, Stanford, Kellogg, Booth, etc.), they gave me to confidence to believe that I had a reasonable shot at a top school. I knew that I needed to attend a top school since I was already making a decent living and I knew that I needed a well recognized program to make the investment worthwhile from a salary standpoint as well as the jobs that I would be looking to recruit into after school. Initially for my GMAT, I submitted my scores to Harvard, Stanford, MIT Sloan, Northwestern Kellogg, and Dartmouth Tuck. While I was enamored with the idea of attending Tuck and I enjoyed the information session that I attended locally, I knew that finding a meaningful job in Hanover as well as living in a small city would be challenging for my wife so I ended up adding Chicago Booth to my list in place of Tuck. I didn’t apply to Wharton because of the cities I was deciding on, Philly just didn’t make the cut. I am originally Chicagoan, I had friends in Boston, and the west coast… was warm. I figured that as a fairly competitive applicant (biggest red flag being my age – 30 years old at matriculation), if I applied to 5 schools in round 1, would have a decent shot of getting into one school.

Stanford: To be honest, this was my dream school. I was enduring one of the harshest winters ever in Minnesota and the idea of studying amongst the palm trees was endlessly appealing. I also liked the small size of the class and as someone who was interested in tech product management and startups, I knew that Stanford was the Mecca for those areas. While I think I submitted a pretty good application, I was dinged without an interview from Stanford.

MIT Sloan: Okay, I didn’t know that MIT had a business school until I began researching MBA programs let alone a world class program. As someone who once considered engineering in high school (before falling in love with English), MIT was a powerful name for me. A good friend of mine worked closely with the MIT MBA program and with strong encouragement, I applied. I even made the trip over the Boston to visit MIT during one of their Ambassadors events. However, I think the strange timing of MIT’s applications really was my downfall there. After spending countless hours working on the first 4 applications, I put together by far my weakest application for MIT and I submitted it rather carelessly. It was hard to have much emotionally invested in MIT because at the same time I was waiting for an interview call from MIT, I had already received decisions from other schools higher on my list. They saved me from having to withdraw my application by dinging me. I feel that with the application I submitted, I deserved it.

Kellogg: Having grown up in the Chicago suburbs, I was well acquainted with Evanston, knew the Northwestern campus, and held Northwestern in high regard. We always considered it the “Harvard of the Midwest”. I never visited the school but I did attend an information session locally and interviewed locally with an alumni as well. I wasn’t thrilled with the heavy emphasis on teamwork but I loved the Kellogg community spirit and particularly I liked the strength of their network for partners (JVs). I was thrilled to be accepted into Kellogg.

Booth: Booth was never on my radar because 1. it’s located in a neighborhood that used to be rather notorious when I lived in Chicago and 2. because I associated the University of Chicago with pure academics. However, on the encouragement of a close friend, I signed up for Booth Live – Marketing and I fell in love with the Harper Center and the Booth program. The school inspired me and it quickly shot up to the top of my list. I again interviewed locally with an alumni since I had previously visited the school. I was happy beyond words to receive a significant scholarship upon acceptance and later on I interviewed and was offered the coveted Kilts Fellowship in Marketing which came with the opportunity to be mentored by a marketing executive for two years. It was a tremendous honor and I loved Booth for their transparency and helpfulness throughout the application process.

Harvard: What can you say about HBS? I applied because it was Harvard. As an older candidate, I didn’t give myself a real chance to attend and I had tons of negative stereotypes in my head about Harvard despite having tons of wonderful friends around me who had attended that school. I didn’t particularly like the campus (the neo-Georgian architecture reminded me of my undergrad) and it seemed really big and institutional (required curriculum for the entire first year). I wasn’t really that high on my list except for the fact that I knew that my company (and many others that I was interested in) considered it the top MBA program in the world. I interviewed on campus and it was an amazing feeling to be accepted at a school that I had previously placed on an untouchable pedestal.

What Now:

Well, as many of you know, after agonizing between Booth and HBS, I ultimately chose HBS after attending both admitted students weekends. I found the HBS students and faculty to be accessible, friendly, generous, smart, and whatever other nice adjectives I can think of. Every misconception of that school was smashed (I drank the Koolaid and it was delicious) and I’m proud to a part of the HBS class of 2013. I’ve written a few more words about this on my blog… http://www.shoescount.com/?p=42
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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.
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Re: The evolution of your B-school pursuit [#permalink] New post 07 Jan 2008, 16:44
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I'm not completely done with the process (even though the apps are done) yet, but I'll give it a shot here. I plan on writing the tale of my entire process after all the R1 acceptances/dings are done, which is in a few weeks.

I'll update this as I can in the next few weeks.

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?

I don't think my plan evolved as much as others here, since I've always firmly knew I wanted to stay on the West Coast and do work in Asia, so that limited my choices.

When: I have a BS and MS in Electrical Engineering already, and thought my education days were long over. Never even considered an MBA for the first 5 years of my career, thinking it's a waste of money and time, as well as something I can just learn from books and community college classes. Boy was I wrong! A friend of mine pretty much changed my mind in one dinner conversation, and after doing business development for a year, I thought it was a good idea to get an MBA. (more on this in my detailed story)

What: My goals have always been to work in the commercial market in high-tech. I may be interested in entertainment or energy, but entrepreneurship has been my goal since day 1.

Where:

Well, I flipped open the US News and Business Week rankings, and then found this site. With all the rankings, I made a list with reasons to go or not go:

Harvard - NOT my personality or culture at all. Not somewhere I want to spend 2 years. I don't like Boston (sorry) after 2 visits.
Stanford - DEFINITELY applying, even if it's easier to win the state lottery. One of my alma maters, perfect fit of culture, entrepreneurship/hi-tech strengths, and location advantage.
Wharton - NOT a city I want to live in, nor do I want to do finance or GM.
Kellogg - Could be a possibility, but Chicago is cold, and Kellogg isn't known for its entrepreneurship or high-tech, but it's working in those areas and the brand name could go far. The people there are wonderful and the culture is a perfect fit. Plus, many Stanford alums recommended I take a look at it.
Chicago - Considered it, visited it, been convinced by Rhyme to look at it. But in the end, didn't feel that I had a perfect fit, wasn't too thrilled by the area, and to be honest, I was just plain lazy and didn't want to write another application (and my recommenders would have killed me anyways).
MIT - Didn't like the campus, Boston, nor the East Coast focus of their entrepreneurship/hi-tech. Never wanted to go there even for BS or MS in Engineering.
Columbia - Wanted to go, but the program didn't fit what I wanted to do.
Haas - DEFINITELY applying. Alma mater, perfect fit, and allows me to work closer with the engineering society I mentor. Top choice with Stanford.
Tuck - Location, location, location.
Ross - Location, Location, Location.
Anderson - Good fit, great programs (though the worst at marketing itself), and probably the closest to what I have as a "safety" school.
Stern - I really wanted to go there, but the brand name doesn't carry out on the West Coast (had a friend who's a recent alum who had problems finding a job out here in the West). Otherwise NYC would have been fun.
Darden - Location.
Fuqua - Location.
Yale - Location
Cornell - Location.

Throughout this process, I pretty much narrowed my list of potential schools down to 5, Stanford, Haas, Anderson, Kellogg and Chicago. Stanford was ranked #1, Haas a close second, Anderson/Kellogg/Chicago were tied for 3rd.

After some more research, and two amazing Haas infosessions (and a tepid Stanford one), Haas vaults almost tied to Stanford, and would have been my top choice if the brand name equity difference weren't so huge.

Anderson gains my respect with its strong program and support, and Kellogg inches over Chicago for my 4th and final application.

The Decision: The order stayed like that till today. I will most likely pick Stanford over all schools if I get in. but since I most likely will not get in, Haas is my top choice (if I get in), unless I get some amazing package from Kellogg (if I get in). Anderson and Kellogg will be a brawl, depending on who gives me money and the admit weekend visits. So the saga goes on.
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Re: The evolution of your B-school pursuit [#permalink] New post 09 Jan 2008, 12:00
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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: June of '07. I had been a career switcher for the previous year, moving from an Engineering role in the Petrochemical Industry, into a Business Development role in the Engineering Staffing Industry. With this new exposure, and the numerous pitfalls of my current company, I realized that there had to be a better way to run a business, treat people, etc. So, while learning what not to do in running a company, I decided I wanted to pursue my MBA to help guide me towards the right way.

What: I've always loved figuring out the best way to do it, with what you're given. To me, that is why I became an engineer, a problem solver. I was a stickler for detail, procedures, and optimization. Getting into Business Development helped me realize how important strategy was in attaining my optimum goal. Then, with how poorly our leadership treated its employees, I realized how I didn't want to be a worker bee treated like crap, but wanted to be a leader who could encourage change and improve morale amongst people that I work with. Hence, Strategy and Leadership.

Where: Simple. I moved to Atlanta for my soon to be wife and fell in love with the city. I wanted to go to the top school in the Southeast because this is where I want to live. Well, the top schools to me were Duke, UNC, and Emory. Emory was my number one because of location, and their stress on leadership and community, which I really liked. Also, I didn't really want to move, so UNC fell first, then Duke second. I only applied to Emory. The only other place I considered was Georgia Tech, but never seriously.

The decision: Simple, again. I only applied to one school. I had done a ton of research on Emory. Visited campus a couple of times. Sat in on classes. Visited with alumni and current students. I loved it there. I got my admit on December 10th, 2007. Without a doubt I will be going to Emory and I will champion their program all the way.

Summary: I guess their wasn't much evolution in my decision making process. When I made up my mind I wanted an MBA, Emory was my top choice then and still is. I never would have even thought of other programs had I not feared putting all my eggs in one basket. Once I got over that fear, and knew I put together a good application, I stuck with my guns and never doubted myself. I guess you can call me the Sniper of the '08 applicants.
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Re: The evolution of your B-school pursuit [#permalink] New post 10 Jan 2008, 11:47
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riverripper wrote:
Only like 300 more to catch up to Rhyme haha.



haha, that was my "fault"... :P
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Re: The evolution of your B-school pursuit [#permalink] New post 14 Jan 2008, 05:48
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Travel09

There's nothing "wrong", but there's nothing outstanding either. He wrote what TONS of other applicants write, and this is not enough, right helg?

When I see my first drafts it's just like: "Chicago GSB and it's finance recognition...". Hey stop! Am I giving the WoW factor here: NOT!

You need to bring that differently, showing them that you really KNOW thee school, you fit there as the school fits for you. Telling that Columbia, Wharton and Chicago are Finance Powerhouses, that Harvard and Stanford have brilliant alumni is nothing new - and for that I thank you River, as I was writing something like that on my Stanford essay - everybody knows that.

Sorry if I sound harsh.
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Re: The evolution of your B-school pursuit [#permalink] New post 14 Jan 2008, 05:51
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Travel09 wrote:
kryzak wrote:



I'm new to this application process. May be my ignorance, I think its not as bad as eperts here make it sound. Can you explain what was wrong with "Why Wharton" essay in Helg's last year's essay. Is it English or lot of keywords/jargon or is the focus on what Wharton could do for an applicant instead of how he can contribute to Wharton.


I think Helg (sorry if I'm being presumptuous here, Helg) was pointing out that his earlier effort at "Why Wharton?" lacked an answer that was Wharton-specific. The things he mentioned (innovative thinking, impeccable reputation, etc.) could be said of most of the top B-schools.
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Re: The evolution of your B-school pursuit [#permalink] New post 14 Jan 2008, 05:54
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Right, kwam & terry12! :)

See, Travel09, what you find in my earlier essay is lots of generic phrases that in no way allow me to distinguish myself from other applicants. They are all true, but they are are true in a sense "sky is blue, sun is shining". :)
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Re: The evolution of your B-school pursuit [#permalink] New post 14 Jan 2008, 06:01
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Yes, if you think about what helg wrote... replace Wharton with any other school name, and its still applies. i.e. it is very generic, not specific enough to Wharton and there will be lots of applicants who will write similar essays. If there are lots of similar essays, there is no way that adcom will remember it.

For example, Using Kellogg. They use the 360 Feedback assessment tool and in my essay for Kellogg, I mentioned this and tied it into my experiences of using the same assessment tool (It's used at my company), and how that can be used to develop inter-personal skills from both a supervisor and peer point of view.
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Re: The evolution of your B-school pursuit [#permalink] New post 20 Jan 2008, 14:32
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Just gave you +5 to all of you.

Such inspiring stories ladies and gentlemen. I envy the employers who get to hire you.
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Re: The evolution of your B-school pursuit [#permalink] New post 07 Mar 2008, 11:16
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Helg, my essays probably aren't as fun to read as my original post. I made a conscious decision not to get too "storytell-y" -- adcoms might have regarded it as an insincere gimmick to make my application stand out.

What I didn't shy away from however was making my essays extremely values-focused, and positioning myself as a catalyst for change and progress. Oh you know, the usual stuff like breaking traditions, kicking past-precedence to the curb, or outright telling company executives where they haven't got their act together. ;) (In retrospect, a potentially disastrous career killer, but it was a risk worth taking.)

In effect, I used my essays to communicate those leadership qualities which I have a great respect for: taking initiative, effectively facing adversity (how many of you have dealt with people who perpetually work in denial and hope reality never catches up to them?) ...and most importantly always being backed by a genuine desire to improve the status quo.

***

Anyway, for anyone out there struggling with application essays either this year or next: Don't Dread It. It's not every day that you have the pleasure of examining yourself in a good light--so enjoy it!

Certainly, you each consider yourselves an excellent person by your own right. And by extension, this means you must have numerous examples from your lifetime to support why you are. Perhaps you're sitting there racking your brain to come up with work experience examples that will sound great on paper... Just stop; you don't need to fabricate anything. Maybe you haven't saved the company X-million of dollars, or transformed that drug-addled homeless kid on the street into a productive member of society--whatever. Every school is asking for you to demonstrate leadership, but leadership is underscored by your values. So if you're at a loss as to what to write about, maybe write about those pocket aces you silently carry around with you... they are, after all, what make you excellent.

Last edited by FairPlay on 27 Mar 2008, 11:17, edited 1 time in total.
Re: The evolution of your B-school pursuit   [#permalink] 07 Mar 2008, 11:16
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