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The evolution of your B-school pursuit

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The evolution of your B-school pursuit [#permalink] New post 07 Dec 2007, 06:28
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So after reading the thread on R2 application and seeing the indecisiveness of some of the applicants on where to apply I figure this will be an interesting thread. It would be great to get current students on this too, they could even expand this to their internship hunt. Hopefully we get some interesting tales for next years applicants to look at this spring.

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?

My saga…and how it evolved. I am sure for everyone that knew the 5 schools they wanted years ago there will be a few like me that had no clue and kind of blindly stumbled to where they are now.

When: I thought about an MS in engineering a couple years ago but didn’t decide on an MBA until last year when I really learned what the degree would do for me.

What: Same thing, I want to stay in the nuclear power field. I find it fascinating and feel that it can benefit the world in a great way if implemented properly. This was where my easy decisions ended and so did my having a clue on everything else.

Where: This is where it gets screwy…Started at U of New Hampshire, its right near my house. My work would pay for a PT degree, I could keep my house and job, and I was confident I could probably get in. Soon realized that a FT program was much better and the name of the school and its rep is very very important. Started to think BC/BU/Babson, commute from my house to Boston, if I could pull a 650 I stood a decent chance of getting in. After practice testing very well (730-770) on the GMAT I began to think maybe, just maybe, I could get into a top 20 program or even a top 10.

Where continued: End of July I took the GMAT and I sent my score to MIT, Kellogg, Tuck, NYU, and CMU. Figured R3 to BC or BU would be a safety if I must but hoped to have an acceptance before then. MIT an easy choice at first for a dream school (I am an Engineer and grew up in Mass…it is like the school of gods to people like me), then Kellogg became my top choice when I learned more about their programs and majors, and the culture of the school, my wife also said Chicago would be fine with her. Then Chicago GSB after Rhyme brainwashed me some (had to spend some more money to send my score there). After the Chicago visit, I definitely decided to apply, so I had to send out another GMAT score to them...the school was amazing and the people seemed great (minus a bad class Rhyme invited me to sit through but figured that was due to material and wasn’t a good rep for the school). Then my MIT visit, the class was way better (factor in much better material), crumby facilities, overall great students with some nerdy individuals thrown in as expected…once again remains the Mrs. top choice???mine...not so sure???

Where, NOT: Iinitially I loved Tuck, the alumni event I went to was by far the best (I believe I posted that in the Tuck thread)…but that changed after a visit. On the drive home I called my wife and said I wasn’t really sure about even applying anymore. A few days later had decided that it wasn’t a fit for me and wasn’t worth the energy to apply there. After the visit I just couldn’t picture myself there and my wife would have had a hard time finding a good job.

Maybe where: Took several weeks off and started thinking about R2 schools. Duke magically became top billing after never being considered before really, job market for the Mrs was great and it was a great school. Ross was added but the wife was very iffy about moving outside Detroit. CMU was the only school to stay in my R2 field. Began researching these schools, but all the info sessions had gone by and had no time to visit before the deadlines. My cousin’s bf whose pursuit of an MBA is really what got me thinking is a 1st year at Ross now so I talked to her all thanksgiving and was going to start quizzing him after the holiday when he returned from interviewing at banks in London. Also was preparing a nice long email questionnaire for AAU, our resident Duke expert.

The decision: I got the Kellogg admit and it all stopped, no need for R2. Now the wait for an MIT interview invite and the soon to be released Chicago decision. It will be great to get multiple acceptances but a potential decision is going to be tough. I prefer Kellogg but the wifey wants to stay in Boston if possible. So if I get into all three I think without money it will be a debate of my wife's desire to be in Boston and my desire to go to Kellogg. I love things about each school and have imagined myself at each...That’s why I applied to all three. If I only get into Kellogg that’s an easy decision but if I get into the others its going to be tough. Unless someone wants to throw me 45K a year worth of which point that would be a no brainer.
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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.


  • 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



Why Yale | My Advice For Younger Applicants

Note: I do not complete individual profile reviews. Please use the Admissions Consultant or Peer Review forums to get feedback on your profile.

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Re: The evolution of your B-school pursuit [#permalink] New post 01 Apr 2008, 08:51
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I'm done.

Yesterday I turned in my pager and moved out of my office at the hospital. No more rounding at 5:00 AM. No more 30-36 hour shifts. No more driving to the hospital at 2 AM to see a patient in the ER.

I had promised a few months ago that I'd write a post detailing my decision to attend B-school. Now seems like a good time. Before I start, though, I want to thank everyone here. I don't come from a "normal" pre-MBA background. I knew a few physicians who'd gone into industry, but I certainly didn't know anyone from medicine who was applying with me. If it weren't for gmatclub, this entire experience would've been a very lonely (and likely far less successful) endeavor. So thank you.


I first really considered business/industry in college. I double-majored in biology and economics and loved 'em both. At the time, combining both areas by pursuing something like healthcare-focused consulting, banking, or entrepreneurship never occurred to me. So I had to pick one area. I dipped my toe in the medical waters by volunteering at local hospitals and doing some biomedical research. I really liked the experiences and decided on medicine. Went through medical school and residency and started fellowship (additional subspecialty training beyond residency) without any problems. I was working hard but having a lot of fun. As fellowship went along, though, a sense of dissatisfaction began to gnaw at me. It developed for a lot of reasons... frustrating interactions with HMOs/insurance companies and the somewhat repetitive nature of the invasive procedures I was performing were certainly significant factors.

What could I do instead, though? I'd kept up with business throughout medical training and that seemed a reasonable route. I looked preliminarily into available options. I could get a position as a medical director, running clinical trials for a biotech/pharma or medical device company. That didn't seem like a whole lot of fun... I'd be taking orders from upper level management, carrying out trials at their behest. Alternatively, I could enter consulting via a program like McKinsey APD. Consulting didn't enthrall me either, though. I then spoke to a couple physicians who'd gone to HBS and gone on to entrepreneurship/startups. These conversations made me realize two things: 1) Entrepreneurship/early-stage development really excited me, and would hopefully allow me to continue to positively impact the patients I cared for (via medical devices or biotech/pharma); 2) I would need an MBA to gain the credibility necessary to really get anywhere in the business world.


I didn't make the above realization until the very end of June last summer. When I realized how much effort and time would be required for the GMAT and applications, I panicked. When I calmed down a bit, I made a preliminary list of schools based on my interests (thankfully the list didn't change... they were the five schools I ended up applying to). I started studying for the GMAT as well, using the Official Guide as well as a few Manhattan GMAT guides (I hadn't taken a math class since DiffEq... in 1993!). I signed up for an early September GMAT sitting. While working on the GMAT, I started to work on essays as well. In retrosepct, working on the GMAT and essays at the same time was an incredibly stupid move. I wanted to get my applications out in R1, though, so I plowed ahead. Thankfully, the GMAT went OK.

I was then able to fully commit to the essays. As with everything else in this process, I seriously underestimated the effort required to write effective essays. Thankfully a friend let me look at some of his essays and lent me a copy of Montauk's book. A lot of people still didn't know I was leaving medicine, so I wanted to keep my online presence to a minimum until I actually had an acceptance (paranoid, I know). So I lurked on gmatclub a fair amount :). Using all of these resources, I understood that I had to explain precisely what my goals were and how they had developed from my clinical experiences. I also had to be completely open and honest. A difficult process (I nearly threw my computer at a wall during Stanford's essays), but a good learning experience.


I think preparation for interviews varies substantially. Some people like to prepare for every conceivable question, others like to go in feeling fresh and spontaneous. I fall squarely in the former group. I prepped by reading the databases on and Clearadmit and practiced my responses in front of a mirror (and looked ridiculous in doing so). The interviews themselves ran across a broad spectrum. Kellogg and Wharton interviews were on-campus with Adcom members (a student in the case of Wharton), and corresponded pretty closely with the existing databases. Sloan was on-campus with an Adcom member... they use that funky BEI/STAR technique. I thought it went pretty poorly, but things worked out. The Stanford interview was literally a conversation with a really enthusiastic alum at a Starbucks. I came out of the Stanford interview knowing the SGSB was my first choice.


- I think my Sloan interview went so poorly that it killed the enthusiasm I had for the school. Besides, I've been in Boston for a while and would like to try a different part of the country.
- I absolutely loved Wharton. The Health Care Management program there is incredible and I really liked the people. For a long time I thought I would end up at Wharton, and I know I would've been very happy there.
- Well, I liked Stanford even more. For what I want to do (entrepreneurship/early-stage/VC), it's a great place to be. And the Bay Area's not a bad place to spend some time :)
- I'll attend DAK II and see how it goes. I really like Kellogg and the money from the Austin thing's pretty cool.


Wow, I can't believe this process only started nine months ago. I just want to reiterate how grateful I am to everyone here. I have every intention of sticking around and helping out. And if I end up at Stanford, I'll do my best to partner up with Kryzak (assuming he ends up at Haas) and entice people to the West Coast :-D
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Re: The evolution of your B-school pursuit [#permalink] New post 18 Mar 2010, 18:46
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What a terrific thread, inspiring, captivating and insightful. I'll try to do this thread justice by providing equally poignant comments and experiences. Don't judge me if I can't.

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 graduated from high school highly decorated, really, without tooting my own horn, the prototypical high school student. I was cocky in my belief that I'd be able to get in anywhere and my lack of effort and focus on my applications back then had their effect. I was denied from all my top choices and had to ultimately go to my safety school of UW-Madison. I was crushed. Fortunately my time at UW was unbelievable and life changing (proving that everything does work out for a reason). However, for how amazing it was I didn't give the effort I needed to and ultimately graduated with a mundane 3.2 GPA and without a clear focus. I took a job with Accenture because I was blinded by the perceived glamor of the consulting industry (read, platinum status at everything from airlines to hotels to Applebees). Having spent two years at the company my perceived sparckle of the job began to wear off and I was looking for an out. I had considered everything from entering into an industry job to taking my LSAT and pursuing what everyone told me was the career I was born for, law. Looking at my GPA, however, I realized I had no chance at a top tier law school and I figured without that there was no point. I had pondered an MBA but figured I'd have to wait 4-5 years before I'd be eligible to apply to an MBA program (that was me being naive).

It was a random Sunday trip to Barnes & Noble that changed the course of my life and brought me to this point. I picked up the book "Ahead of the Curve" and we set off for a quick lunch at Panera. Sitting outside, my girlfriend asked what the book was about so I began reading the summary and first few chapters to her. I was captivated and motivated to go home and begin looking into the MBA application process and began to realize that not only did it provide the out that I was looking for but that the timing (age) was right and that the opportunities it opened for me were perfect for what I was looking to accomplish.

I immediately signed up for a GMAT course and for the first month half-a### it thinking that by simply doing the material I'd be fine. It was halfway through it I began getting nervous that maybe this "work" wasn't going to pay off until I really poored my heart and soul into it. I did, staying up late nights, working around go-lives and project deadlines and burning the midnight oil practicing every question type imagineable. The test day came and I went in scared to death, sweating bullets and not able to hold down food. With my GPA I realized this was important, if not vital. My girlfriend was hugely supportive, showering me with compliments of my brilliance, yada yada yada, and other things girlfriends say all the time. I took the test and thought I did terribly, but couldn't live with the prospect of cancelling my score and having to do this all again. I hit the button to accept the test and display my score and voila, a 710. Happy? You're damn right. Could have I done better? I think so but who cares, I was over 700 and now I was on my way to having that first benchmark that would lead me to the next phase...choosing where...

Where This is where my research and interaction with all of you really had it's greatest influence. I began the search thinking that with what I perceived as a mediocre history would limit my prospects for top schools. I began thinking in the 30-something range by targeting the University of Minnesota (basically in my backyard), Notre Dame 1Y and UW-Madison. I posted the standard forum posts of "Where am I competitive" and the support was tremendous. I was told those schools are safeties at best and I needed to set my sights higher.

I took this advice a little too much to heart thinking great, H/S/W it is and then I'll throw 6 other apps out there. Again, naive. Everyone told me that's WAY too many applications and that you'll either submit crap or die trying to put together all of them. I then began to recognize that everyone else was right, and that maybe I was crazy. I decided that going to school in 2010 was important to me and thus decided to remove the ones that I felt I had zero chance at and focus on schools that were both a little lower in the rankings but nonetheless still exhilirated me. Much of my choices were a combination of schools I applied to for undergrad (possible seeking redemption) and schools that upon researching seemed to have everything I wanted. So I finalized a list around August of the following schools:

Kellogg: Easily my top choice. Love Chicago, love how close and accessible it is to Minneapolis (where my GF lives and will be living while I'm in school) and loved everything about the school. I won't go into great detail because upon reading the previous posts they've been well documented already. The schools placements with the MCs and access to clubs/organizations around the Airline/Transportation industry reaffirmed my feelings that it was a perfect fit. Unfortunately it was also my first application, first interview and first recommendations. I was proud of it all at the time. Looking back it was horrendous and I'm slightly ashamed, saddened and bitter that I didn't take everyones' advice and wait to apply to my first choice in R2. As you may have guessed I was dinged quite early.

Chicago: I applied to this school soley based on location. I went to a reception and was turned off by the alumni at the event. Now, I'm not saying all alumni are like this and in fact my interactions with the students and alumni on this site have been truly spectacular. But, I went to this reception with my GF and upon leaving, without saying anything she turned to me and said "You would not fit in there." I felt the exact same way and after being dinged there as well I have to say I was slightly relieved because had I gotten in I probably would have gone based solely on location and prestige.

Fuqua: This was my first visit that I was really blown away. This was one of those schools that I applied to for undergrad and going in I was probably motivated to redeem my previous performance. But upon getting there I fell in love. What a campus, what great people, everything. I went down for the open interview session and had every intention of submitting during R1 but after the visit I felt strongly I wanted to ace my essays and really put my best foot forward. I applied R2 and with the thanks of soon to be Fuqua student, Kidd38s, I put together great essays...for me. I ended up getting waitlisted but I was extremely satisfied with everything I submitted and have no regrets. I'm still on the waitlist as I write this but as you'll soon find out I'm 99% sure on where I'll be in August.

Ross: Midwest, prestige, etc motivated this choice. Never visited the school, had an awful interview with an alumni in Minneapolis that I didn't relate to well at all. I was pleasantly surprised by my waitlist but that's all I've got to say about that.

Darden: For some reason, through this entire process, I've had a particular fondness for this school. Before fully researching schools I just assumed I'd apply here because the thought of UVA just makes me happy. The late R1 date helped as well. I had the opportunity to attend a reception in Minneapolis before submitting the application and met the most unbelievable alumni I've had the opportunity to speak with. Down to Earth, personable, seemingly brilliant and reserved. I left that reception, again with my GF, and without saying anything she said "That's where you belong" (Note: This was the night after the Booth reception. I guess my GF's opinion resonates with me because as you've read she's been pretty important in all aspects of this process). I couldn't have agreed more. I went home that night and began working feaverishly on those essays and fine tuned the heck out of them. I submitted it early and then began the excruciatingly long wait. I swear, Darden makes you sweat it out: 1.25 months after the due date the first IV invites come out, then you have to wait nearly 2 more months before decisions are released. Ridiculous, but I was undaunted. I was among the first batch of invites and I immediately began fist pumping at my work computer with one arm while booking my flight, hotel, rental car with the other. I got there the day after a HUGE snow storm and was shocked to find emails in my inbox asking us to re-schedule if we weren't already there. I was thinking "Great, now they're going to be upset if we show because they don't want to be there." I couldn't have been more wrong. Similar to my reception experience the people were tremendous, the facilities gorgeous (despite the 20 inches of snow) and the culture perfectly aligned with my personality. It instantly shot to #1. I had my interview and because of the insight of this forum knew exactly what was coming. I aced the interview, got along terrificly with my interview (a 2Y) and couldn't wait for the final decision date. It came, calls were being reported and I was waiting, waiting, waiting. Finally I was interrupted by a meeting I had to lead in front of some client executives. I set up my laptop in the conference room and began the meeting thinking I'd been dinged and was thus thoroughly disappointed. Then, literally 15 seconds after I began speaking my phone went off with an "Unknown" number. I knew what it was and I said to hell with my meeting I'm taking this call. I quickly said "Sorry, I have to take this call, important personal stuff I'm waiting on." They were perplexed, who is this 25 year old kid blowing off directors, VPs and EVPs. I figured to hell with them, this is my moment. I removed myself, took the call and began gushing to the caller, a student rep. Pretty sure I freaked her out and a restraining order is probably pending because I was a little too excited. I immediately went back to my desk afterwards and began my meeting but needed to write an email to my GF and family letting them know the good news. Forgot I was displaying my screen on the projector so immediately everyone figured out what the "personal stuff" was. Needless to say, after all this I'm pumped to head to Charlottesville. I'm buying my UVA golf bag this weekend and look forward to using it and representing the school well on the links.

Through this whole process, as others have mentioned I learned a ton about myself but also have learned the benefits of having a wonderful support group around. My GF, my parents, ALL OF YOU have been unbelievable and I'm extremely indebted to all of you. I hope, going forward, I can pay it back as much as possible. I look forward to the relationships I've made on here playing out in the future as we will undoubtedly run into each other. You are the most remarkable collection of young people I've ever "met" and having just had this casual interaction with you has definitely made me a better person and again I thank you all!

Ok, so that was an EXTREMELY long post, sorry if I bored you. I didn't think I would write that much but I guess that just goes to show how great this process has been. Hopefully there are a few nuggets sandwiched between the garbage prose up there that someone can take away and utilize as they begin this process.
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Re: The evolution of your B-school pursuit [#permalink] New post 14 Jan 2008, 00:02
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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 first gave a serious thought to a possibility to obtain an MBA degree back in early 2004, when a friend happily informed me of his acceptance to the Chicago GSB. Back then, I decided that I had neither resources, no reason to follow his steps. A year and a half later I changed my mind. I saw that my career was not evolving in a direction and at a pace I would like it to. I started craving changes in my life and I thought that an MBA would bring those changes. But that time I knew enough about the possibilities to finance an MBA not to worry about this part. However, I was yet unsure of my capabilities. I signed into GMAT prep courses and from Jan ’06 to Jun’06 prepared for the tests. 730 I scored from the first attempt were a lucky breakthrough, which boosted my self-confidence. I began preparing my applications for Class 2009.

What: I want to challenge my interpersonal and business skills as a management consultant. I have an extensive but niche experience - supply chain management. I want to go back to school to receive a comprehensive world-class business education. My MBA goals: get knowledge, get a great job, get lifetime friends.

Where (Class of 2009):
Chicago GSB was the obvious choice, since I learned so much from my friend and other Russian students and alumni who I met. I was deeply impressed with the level of support from the Moscow based alumni, the caliber of the people and their “down-to-earthness”. Very welcoming and no-BS people. I was waitlisted in R1 and dinged in R3 (May 2007)
The second big choice was Wharton – I felt great reverence for the academic reputation of this fine institution and for its alumni. Waitlisted R1 through Summer Waitlist, dinged mid-July 2007.
The third big choice was Kellogg. I was looking forward to its “teamwork” approach. I was very motivated by a meeting with two of K alumni in Moscow (however it turned out, they were not representative enough – but more of that later on…)
Then there was Tuck… Last year I applied there in R2 after being waitlisted by both Chicago and Wharton in R1. I considered it my back-up school. What a self-confident fool I was! I was dinged, for sure, but the more I learned about the school, the better I liked its unique sense of closeness and the desire to re-apply grew.

Major reason for the application disaster last year was that I underestimated the importance of “Why our school?” question. Really, when I re-read my essays, I blush like a tomato! THIS is my “Why Wharton” part of a 1000-word last-year’s essay:
“The Wharton School is the ideal place where my background and my vision can fuse to bring about my MBA dream. Wharton’s rigorous curriculum is internationally praised for its focus on the development of innovative thinking, deep knowledge of business processes and leadership, all integral features of a successful consultant. And the strong emphasis on general management fundamentals will provide me with the excellent foundation for my future professional growth.

Wharton’s impeccable reputation brings on campus world’s largest consulting companies, many of which have offices in Russia, so I will have many exciting opportunities for finding summer internship and future employment.

Finally, Wharton’s culture supports the growth of leaders with orientation on social aspects of the business, which is something that I have learned to value during my work in XYZ.”

Reading this I find it a miracle they even put me on a WL!
The other weakness in my last-year’s applications was my failure to demonstrate significant community involvement. This I addressed in my re-applications by putting my last years to a close scrutiny for any meaningful extracurricular activities and also by taking some additional steps to augment my role in the organizations I was part of.

Where continued (Class of 2010): To increase my chances with Tuck I applied during ED… and was dinged. Without an interview invite even! Quite a disaster. Was it because I failed to show them my love by visiting Hanover? I will never know now…
For R1 I set myself quite an ambitious goal: Wharton, Chicago GSB and HBS (better try and fail, than not try and regret!). However, 3 days into Chicago GSB deadline I had to admit that I had absolutely no ideas about how to approach ppt essay, so I decided to postpone my app till R2. But I was already in a berserker-applicant state and craved bloo… more applications. So I checked the R1 deadlines and saw that I still had two weeks to put together a nice bundle of essays for Ross. I planned to apply there already for Class 2009 but somehow didn’t. So, I corrected this mistake and applied for Class of 2010. That was my lucky call!!!
I didn’t abandon my GSB dream however, and applied there in R2.
If I were rejected by Ross I had a back-up plan though – I planned to apply for a one-year MBA program at IMD in Swiss Lausanne. I find their class profile extremely impressive.

Where, NOT: Kellogg. Funny, of the two great K persons I met, neither was from full-time MBA – one was 1-year MBA, another – Exec-MBA. The actual full-time K MBA’s I met were… ambiguous. That’s only me of course, but I didn’t feel rapport with these people, they were clearly “not my soulmates”. Moreover, it were only K people who explicitly stressed lack of teamspirit in the U.S. business school environment!!! I guess they had too high initial hopes, expected everyone to be buddy-buddy. When they didn’t get it, they became frustrated. One way or another, I decided not to re-apply to Kellogg.

The decision: I love the $40K offer Ross gave me and would gladly become a part of Ross community. I find Ross people (including my alum interviewer) great and the action-based learning approach very motivating. However, I am too passionate about Chicago GSB to trade a chance to go there for money.
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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 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

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Re: The evolution of your B-school pursuit [#permalink] New post 04 May 2009, 18:52
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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 began to consider bschool in early Spring 2008. At the time, I just completed my Master's degree in MIS a couple of months earlier and I was promoted to a manager position at my firm. At my firm, most people spend about 5 years (give and take) before they get promoted to a manager position. However, I achieved this feat after 3 years and I was one of the youngest managers in the entire firm. I was making little over six figures and I was generally very happy with my professional career.

However, my promotion happened mainly because the firm decided to downsize in our consulting practice, meaning getting rid of experienced (and expensive) managers as part of downsizing and promoting from within. Also, most people in my industry tend to go work for corporate finance depts of Fortune 500 companies. Very few stay on and make partner.

I was also getting tired of constant travels, long hours into early mornings, and hotel-stays. I wanted more stability in my life, and wanted a change of scenery. As a result, I ended up visiting and researching business schools. The more I researched and the more I visited various information sessions, I got excited about attending business school. I finally made a decision to apply to select few schools around May of 2008.

What: I always wanted to do something in the tech sector. I grew up watching the glamour/debacle of internet bubble of late 90's. I knew I wasn't smart enough to build platform for next hot Silicon Valley/Alley start-up. However, I thought I could run one of them. During my undergraduate years at NYU, I chose to study accounting because understanding numbers is crucial to running any business. In the last few years at a Big 4 firm, I went through various stints in real estate taxation, IT audit, and tech consulting. I equipped myself with enough technical skills, but I decided that my education in management science must continue/improve. MBA made a lot of sense to me at that point.

Where: Starting in March 2008, I started visiting bschools that included - Wharton, Tuck, Kellogg, Booth, Stanford, Haas, NYU, Yale, Cornell, Tepper, Emory, Fordham, and Columbia. Yes, the list is long - but I traveled all over US for my job. That made the visits easier because I just happened to be in that city.... :-D

From those visits, I chose to apply to my top 6 picks for R1 - Tuck, Kellogg, Booth, Yale, NYU, and Haas.

Tuck was my top choice mainly because - 1) I wanted to attend Dartmouth since highschool, 2) I wanted to attend a school with small class size, 3) I wanted to attend a school in the country side, 4) I was looking for a great GM school because I have zero interest in IB/MC jobs.

I chose Haas because my fiancee was applying there and it had strong ties to the Silicon Valley companies. Kellogg was chosen for its strong GM reputation and diversified recruiting base. Booth was chosen because of the "fit" factor. I really enjoyed my visit to Booth and the entire experience.

NYU was chosen because it was my alma mater and I thought they might go lenient with the whole admissions process with me.... :-D Yale SOM won me over with its revised/innovative CORE.

Where, NOT: I knocked out Stanford right away because I thought i really didn't think i had a shot at h/s/w/m. Wharton was knocked out for similar reason, although I was close to applying anyway. However, I got off at the wrong trolley stop while visiting Wharton and walked through a shady neighborhood that surrounds Wharton campus. As a result, I chose not to apply.

Cornell, Emory, and Tepper were on my R2 list in case I went 0 for 6 in R1.

Fordham was really a R3 option for PT. I attended their info session and realized that their graduate business program is nothing like their undergrad or law program. It just was horrible.

The decision: My first admit was from Kellogg. (Either late November or early December). Few days later, I was admitted to Booth as well. Then came Tuck WL, and then Yale SOM admit with huge scholarship offer. (I withdrew my applications to NYU and Haas around this time) Until the Yale SOM call, I was fully committed to attending Kellogg. After Tuck, I really had no preference among my other options. However, Kellogg's strong GM reputation and stellar employment prospects excited me.

But Yale SOM call changed everything. The very first thing that I realized was the fact that I would graduate with zero debt if I combined Yale's scholarship ($70k over 2 years) with what was in my savings account. Especially in this economy, that idea appealed significantly. The rest of the story was told in my long Yale post ( calling-all-yale-som-2009-applicants-75332-160.html#p556529 ). I just knew that unlike many others, I already have a business undergrad degree + professional experience + master's degree + professional certifications (CPA, CMA, CIA, etc etc) - and therefore, I had enough faith in myself to find a great job even if I was giving up admits to higher ranked schools. Now, I don't recommend every single person to give up admits to higher ranked schools and take the money to a lower ranked school (although it sure helps!), because a degree from schools like Kellogg and Chicago can take you far. These schools have amazing faculty, career services and alumni networks. They are worth every penny that you will be taking out loans for.

But I spent countless hours researching schools based on my own criteria and selected 6 schools for R1. If I was only admitted to 1 school in R1, I would have (happily) attended any one of the six schools that I applied to. I invested too much time and effort in selecting these schools to just waste an application on a school that I wasn't willing to attend.

Even though many published rankings disagreed with me, Yale SOM was right up there with 5 other schools in my own ranking. If Yale SOM was happy with me (and throw me money to show how much they loved me), I don't think I am in any position to tell a school like Yale SOM to say, "No thanks. I am too good for you." I convinced myself back in January and am still convinced now that Yale SOM is a great choice for MYSELF. The most important thing is - this is my bschool education and I should make the decision based on what's important to me. If choosing Yale backfires on me later on, then I think I can live with those consequences because this is a decision I made for myself. I don't want to rely on other factors and blame someone else later on for a decision that I couldn't make for myself.

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Re: The evolution of your B-school pursuit [#permalink] New post 15 Jan 2008, 14:04
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Just found the GMAT club board and thought I'd share my story.

When: Since about my 2nd year of college. I decided I didn't want an undergraduate business degree when I determined business was the way I wanted to go with my life (not Physics research or law). Thus, I decided to stay in liberal arts and round out my thinking style rather than jump into a Comm School education (at UVa). I knew then that I'd be going back for my MBA eventually. About a year and a half into work (Feb 2007) I knew that I'd be applying in the Fall to start 3 years out.

What: I know I want to start my own business within a few years after leaving b-school. Before that I want to be in a strategy role at at Tech or Telecom company or focus on those industries under a strategy consulting role. I'm fairly open though, being early in my career, and imagine I'll pursue a lot of paths during my time at school.

Where: I started my list at 8 schools in three tiers: 1 (Dreams): Kellogg, MIT Sloan, Harvard 2: (Like a lots) UChicago, Columbia 3: (Reasonably sure I could get in to and would like to go to) Yale, UVa, NYU. I decided to apply to Kellogg and Sloan first round - liking them the most out of all the schools - and then saved the rest of the decision making until I finished those two apps. I really like Kellogg and Sloan because of the innovative programs that each have (both having a fairly neat Entrepreneurship and Innovation program and both having fantastic international programming and classes - I have an avid interest in International Business, and international everything). After submitting for Kellogg and Sloan, I narrowed the R2 list to Harvard, Columbia, Yale, and UVa.

Where, NOT: I wanted to be in or near a mega-city (NYC, Chicago, Boston). Thus, my selection of schools (with UVa being on there because its my alma mater). Thus, I tossed Tuck, Michigan, and Duke. I also determined the West Coast isn't the place for me - so out with Stanford, Berkeley, and UCLA (tossing Stanford was a tough one, but I don't want to leave 70% of my network out west). In dropping Chicago and NYU, I just decided the cultures and programs didn't fit well with me.

The decision: Similar to riverripper, I got the Kellogg admit during the first week of December. This made R2 a TON easier - I dropped everything but Harvard (I'd hate myself in 20 years if I didn't atleast try). However, I don't value Harvard above Kellogg or MIT. In fact, I think they're all neck and neck at this point (assuming I got into all - which is stretch anyway). I'm anxiously waiting the MIT Sloan decision date of Jan 28 and will start my heavy decision-making process should I be lucky enough to get an admit.
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Re: The evolution of your B-school pursuit [#permalink] New post 18 Jan 2008, 22:43
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Hi All,

Okay it's time for me to post here too. I've been a lurker for quite awhile here. I believe more than a year already. I really like the tightknit community here, and, well.. it's very different than "the-forum-that-should-not-be-named". LOL.

When: I've known that I wanna do an MBA ever since I graduated out of college (4 years ago). Right after graduation, I don't really know what I wanted to do and begin to start looking for going back to grad school. So I was looking for the right school, the right program, etc. Then on my quest, a cousin of mine whose husband is a Chicago GSBer told me about the MBA degree. She told me to do more research on it, etc. And, I did. I bumped into an MBA community mailing list in my country, which really opened my eyes about the degree, etc. They also pointed me to the infamous BW forum. Then my quest for an MBA begun..

What Part I: I studied on the GMAT and took it the first time 4 years ago.. it was not a good score (low 600s), but since I was running out of time (yeah.. I thought so).. I just go with that score and decided to apply to a school that I think would be quite a reach, because I don't have any work experience, except for a couple of internships & part time work..

Where Part I: I applied to Yale SOM Round 2.. and of course, with no experience, limited prep, and the fastest essay writing ever (1 day), I get a straight ding! No surprise there. So, after months of traveling and soul searching, I embarked my career to the corporate world..

What Part II: Over the next 4 years, I kept my b-school pursuit alive. I tried to tackle the GMAT as early as possible, started a GMAT study group.. but I procrastinated alot.. so, I only managed to took the GMAT in June 2007. I know, this is so dumb, considering I have known for years that I wanted to apply for Class of 2010. But oh well, I guess panicking near deadlines work better for me. Also, for years I have been meeting, chatting, networking with almost every MBA student/alum from my country (we don't really have that many MBAs). I bet people in the mailing list was so confused at me, I've been in the group for so long, they thought I was an alum. Lol.
In 2007, after retaking the GMAT twice (and still didn't get the score I wanted), I tried to let it go and focus on the apps. However, in July 07, I started a new job and I guess I really undermined this factor. I thought I would still have time to do my apps, but I didn't. 3 months in the job required adaptation, acquiring new skills, traveling, etc.. I'm lagging behind my apps.. so.. bye-bye Round I. With round 2 coming up, I think I almost killed myself by doing my essays until 4AM, everyday, and woke up at 8AM to go to work. LOL. Luckily, I managed to submit all my apps in Round 2.

Where Part II: Originally planning to apply to HBS (always my dream school), Stanford, Wharton, Kellogg & Columbia. Then in the middle decided to drop Stanford, because I honestly don't know what to write on their essays. This is sad, considering that Stanford is the only school I actually visited.

The decision: Well, still waiting.. praying every single day to get in :-D

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Re: The evolution of your B-school pursuit [#permalink] New post 03 Apr 2008, 19:12
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kryzak wrote:
oh yeah, kudos from me too! +10

What I start this genius thread and haven't gotten a single kudo for it but Terry gets 20 for his post. I see the stanford bias already :wink:

Just kidding...Terry great post. I have a feeling if you are still kicking around here next fall you are going to be one of the most popular people on board.

Kellogg Class of 2010...still active and willing to help. However, I do not do profile reviews, don't offer predictions on chances and am far to busy to review essays, so save the energy of writing me a PM seeking help for these. If I don't respond to a PM that is not one of the previously mentioned trash can destined messages, please don't take it personally I get so many messages I have a hard to responding to most. The more interesting, compelling, or humorous you message the more likely I am to respond.
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Re: The evolution of your B-school pursuit [#permalink] New post 05 May 2009, 06:15
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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: In my family we go to school. I come from a long line of professional students. You know the type…..undergrad, then masters, then phd, then finally start your life at age 35 with 12 degrees under your belt. For that reason, I knew I would go back for my MBA at some point or risk alienation amongst my family. Who needs that?

2005- Right when I graduated college I went on a crazy backpacking trip around the world. Upon my return I took the GMAT without really trying (Im not that cocky, just stupid) and got a 620. Kinda disappointing so I put off retaking the GMAT until I could focus.

2008- Fast forward: I just returned from my honeymoon and realized that my wife is kinda an expensive trophy so I need a better job (and I was unhappy in marketing so I wanted to switch to something a tad more analytical). I really should retake that GMAT. After a couple months of studying I got a 700. Although I was hitting 720-740 on practices I figured that the 700 would do the trick and now it was time to get the ball rolling.

What: My first two jobs out of college were both marketing. Its not that marketing sucks or anything, I just know it is not for me. My mind works in a much more detailed and analytical way. Instead of focusing on the marketing problems/campaigns, my mind always wandered and I constantly became preoccupied with the internal operational/tactical/managerial problems at my companies. Since I was just the “marketer”, my opinion on these matters was meaningless to the powers that be.

If I wanted to help fix problems, it seemed that consulting would be the right path. However, I started to travel for work (domestically and internationally) and my wife did not like it. Even though consulting was my chosen path, and what I used in applications, I decided that if my wife wouldn’t be happy with me travelling, I wouldn’t be happy. BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD! Maybe operations management? :)

Where: Since starting in Fall 2009 was a must, I knew I had to be smart with my choices. I could not wait for another application season if I got dings across the board.

What I wanted was a small program. 800-900 students would be OK, 300-600 would be optimal.

I also wanted to avoid huge cities. Boston, New York, Chicago, Philly…..NO THANKS.
I started my campus visits in September 2008. I visited Tuck, Darden, Tepper, Yale, Johnson, Goizueta, and Fuqua. At every school I attended I could see myself there. All the programs excited me. Score. I applied to all of them.

Since I had the energy and stamina, coupled with the fact I am a psycho-path, I applied to some more “just for the hell of it programs”. I applied to WashU Olin as a “just for the hell of it” safety. I applied to UCLA as a “just for the hell of it / I have good friends in LA” target. And I applied to Oxbridge because I visited Oxford during a business trip to UK and loved their program and Cambridge’s application was free. At times I forget I even applied to Oxbridge because I put in ZERO effort into those apps. Sorry recommenders……

Of all the programs, Cornell Johnson was my favorite. If anybody here followed my posts, it was obvious by my participation in the Johnson 09 thread. Johnson had it all: small class, rural location, friendly staff/students, cool curriculum (immersion), and an awesome red building (Sage Hall w00t w00t!!!!!!!!!).

Where, NOT: Because of my requirements (small class, no huge city) all the biggies were out. Wharton, Harvard, Chicago, Kellogg……sorry guys, I know you want me but you cant have me.

Stanford and Haas would both be awesome BUT I am not a gambling man and my effort should be focused on reality. No regrets. Plus the Berkeley hippies freak me out.

Devry, Strayer, and U of Phoenix were all tempting but my carpal tunnel syndrome ruled them out.

The decision: As expected I was first admitted to WashU Olin with a hefty scholarship. It felt really great to know that Fall 09 would definitely happen. I also knew that if I were admitted to any other program I would choose it over WashU. If only Olin compared to WashU undergrad or their medical school…..

Suddenly December rolled around and I was sitting on three decisions all within 3 days. Tuck DING (ouch), Fuqua waitlist, and Johnson waitlist (this really hurt…..BUT Im a fighter).

Shortly after the December onslaught I received the call from Goizueta. I was in with an amazing scholarship. ROCK ON. I really loved Goizueta, loved the ATL (not your typical big city), and my wife’s best friend was across the border in Alabama (I know, why would somebody choose to live in Alabama?).

To make a long story short, I fought and fought to get off of Cornell’s waitlist and I finally succeeded. Getting the call made me sooooooo happy and I felt like all my effort paid off.

I withdrew from Duke’s waitlist, withdrew from Darden & UCLA with interview invites, declined WashU and Goizueta, and withdrew from Tepper ---- or so I thought. For some reason my Tepper withdrawal never went through and they accepted me with a scholarship. I felt horrible because I knew some waitlisters would love that spot. OY VEY. Oh well, I declined their offer.

I held out for the off chance that Yale would give me some good money and my life with nink could move forward. However, Yale threw me a big fat Ding. I guess I was just way too cool for their program.

When it comes down to it, I got my wish. Cornell. It was my destiny. Slumdog Millionaire style: It was written.

I know that Cornell’s ranking has slipped a little in the latest ranking. I keep telling myself it has nothing to do with them letting me into their program. You know what, if it is because of me or it isn’t…..I am going to single handedly push their program into the top 10. Watch Harvard, Cornell Johnson-Raabend School of Business is on your heels. Boo ya!

P.S. I was also dinged from Oxbridge. I dont even even remember getting the Ding emails. I bet they went into SPAM. What the heck is "" anyway????? I am proud of my SPAM filter for flagging that.

"George is getting upset!"

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Re: The evolution of your B-school pursuit [#permalink] New post 14 Jan 2008, 02:35
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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 started thinking about MBA around May 2004. My company has a program through which it sends some employees to Top MBA programs and by that time my manager said he would indicate me if I could get the min GMAT the company asks for. I studied for the GMAT and got 670 (which would be fine by that time, right now they ask for 700), but during the process another opportunity came and I preferred by that time to postpone the MBA. In the beginning of 2007 I realized that it was time to re-start.

What: Finance, Finance, and Finance, with a General Management perspective. Although an engineering undergrad, I've always worked in Banking, passing through several different areas. However, I considered - and sometimes consider - switch to consulting, but related to finance industry.

Where: Here things get complicated, originally, as I am already an AD, I though about doing an EMBA, and I researched in Europe: LBS, Chicago, INSEAD, IESE and IMD, during my research I came across to LBS’s MiF program, and almost decided to go for it. Later, talking to my bank's CFO, he persuaded me to attend a FT program, he believed that at part time one, I wouldn't get 100% from work and from the program; I decided to follow his suggestion, and decided that I wanted to improve my “soft skills” and not only the analytical ones, so it would be a FT program.
I made an initial list to research:
Europe: LBS, Oxford, Cambridge, IESE, and INSEAD;
Uncle Sam’s land: Chicago, Kellogg, MIT, HBS, Wharton, Cornell, Columbia, NYU, Ross, Tuck, Darden, Duke, UCLA, Stanford, Haas.

Later talking to my wife, we decided that I'd only try on metropolitan region. Thus, because of location I crossed out: Oxford, Cambridge, Cornell, Ross, Tuck, Darden and Duke. INSEAD was still "surviving" as it was very close to Paris, and as my wife is an artist, I don't need to explain you anymore, hehehe.

So 2nd list: LBS, IESE, INSEAD, Chicago, Kellogg, MIT, HBS, Wharton, Columbia, NYU, UCLA, Stanford, and Haas. INSEAD here doesn’t fit, right, and so I thought, I wanted a 2 years program, not because I’m a slowly learner, but because I wanted to get a 2 years experience. So INSEAD crossed.

After some more research UCLA and Kellogg were out. So I got as my final initial list: LBS, Chicago, MIT, HBS, Wharton, CBS, NYU, Stanford and Haas – 9 schools, but I would apply to 7 at most.

I decided that I’d take the GMAT before and think more about this list later. After the GMAT, I went to as many info sessions and talked to as many Alumni I could. I decided not to apply to HBS, as I felt I didn’t belong there. Also I decided that I would go for GSB and MIT R1, as I thought R2 for GSB would be extremely competitive and MIT has only 2 rounds, so better on Round 1. As I don’t know if CBS is my first option I decided Columbia RD. Wharton and Stanford would be my R2 schools, because I didn’t have time to prepare good essays for R1 as I spent much time with GSB’s slide question. I decided that if not accepted at GSB – which by previous years the outcome would be before Xmas, I’d try NYU, and LBS, completing my 7 schools. But after the effort I put on my GMAT – fortunately the outcome was good - I decided that 5 would be maximum shots, and after working on GSB essays, and viewing that this year “copy & paste” wasn’t an option, I started seeing that I’d be exhausted if I got to 7 applications. It was very hard and demanding to conciliate the whole application process with my work, especially after July when Subprime started to spread the panic.

The decision: After GSB admittance, I decided to drop my application to Wharton, and that my last application would be Stanford. GSB has always been on “my lists”, no matter what the criteria, so it’s one of my dream schools. For the other schools I am still in the process, MIT I think it’s a perfect fit in terms of school’s philosophy; faculty is extraordinary, also the brand is as good as it gets for ex-engineering students. CBS is a great school, within a great location, I was just afraid with costs of living in NYC, I have some friends who graduated there and all of them loved their time. Stanford: a long shot; if I get an interview there I’d be happy. But with its <7% admittance rate, my perspectives are as everyone else’s.

Summary: Mission accomplished, I’ve already gotten into one of my dream schools, the process was very demanding, from the time I started studying for IELTS and TOEFL (Jan to March 2007), re-studying for the GMAT (April to September 2007) to writing the essays. I really think that those who can make more than 4 applications are heroes, after Stanford, I was exhausted, perhaps because I still need to improve my English skills, perhaps because Stanford is the hardest application package. One thing that in my process was very hard to handle, was the Letters of Reference, my manager is a very busy man, and I think I got really close to piss him of, for those who are planning to apply next year: take care of your recommenders. My whole process took more than 1 year, and fortunately I was admitted before 2008, otherwise I’d still be writing many more essays.


I was after interview admitted to MIT. and at CBS, I got the interview but was dinged afterwards, perhaps my honesty wasn't enough for them as I mentioned during the interview "if I get all schools I'm applying to I'm going to Stanford" - they thought I was a Stanford material, though Stanford didn't even give me an interview...

I had a trip planned to USA, to visit MIT, SF, NYC and Chicago, 3 days before taking off I received CBS's denial, so I really went to visit the other 3 schools. I loved my time in Boston with plenty of snow, students were amazing and I could see me living there, I was pretty confused, as before I was 60/40 to Chicago. After AdMIT weekend I was kind of 50/50 again.

Then I visit the Bay area. San Francisco is a very charming city and the weather is very similar to that here in Lisbon, I really liked the city, and Stanford Campus is amazing.

NYC is NYC, nothing else to say! Even though dinged by CBS, I decided that my application fee would turn into a class (actually a friend of mine who's attending Columbia did), and I went there to get to know the University, and attended a class.

Then Chicago. I was completely thrilled by GSB, by the city, by the people. During GSB's events we heard so many times: "if you're deciding among top 10 schools, go with your gut, it doesn't matter too much where you end up, all these schools are strong, amazing, and will lead you to where you want as long as you work for that". And my gut told me to go there. Off course that If have gotten into Stanford I would have rethought this, and probably would have decided for Stanford; however, after my visit to Chicago I was 95% certain that Chicago was the place I wanted to be.

Later with Stanford's denial, talking to some more friends and especially to my wife, I decided to attend GSB. Now with my VISA settled, leaving work in a week, all I want is to get some sleep in July, I know that when things start it will get pretty hectic.

I'd like to thank everybody here for inputs, helps, criticisms, jokes, etc. You guys are amazing.

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Re: The evolution of your B-school pursuit [#permalink] New post 14 Jan 2008, 09:13
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Lol this was so great I had to add my version...

When: Biomedical Research just wasn't kicking it for me. Besides the low pay, I felt that it wasn't fulfilling me (long hours at a bench concentrating hard all alone day in day out) given my super high energy and being an individual who likes to do anything and about adult ADD. So early this year, I started thinking about my other love, economics.

What: I told my boyfriend, a Columbia alumna and quant guy. He did not understand why anyone would want to do econ when MBA in his eyes opened so many more options. And thus my journey begun of finding out more about MBA and my sketchy affair with the GMAT. I started prepping in April with the Princeton Review and finished it. However, I could not do the exam any time soon because I had surrendered my passport for reissuing (it was expired) and as an international student I could not take GMAT without a passport. Believing the GMAT to be a walk in the park from my Princeton Review outlook, and with no possibility of even booking the exam until I got my passport, I studied sketchily in May and June. News in June that my country had run out of passport books did not help my motivation. Finally, I got my passport end of July and barely made it to apply for visas for a pre-planned vacation trip to Italy. Lol I come back from Rome end of August all glowing and ready to tackle the GMAT "I had been studying for for 4 months." I decided to polish my studies by doing a few practice tests (GMAT PREP etc) before finally jumping in. Rude first real practice test (forget my previous Princeton Review ones), I got a 550. Next one 590. This is September mind you. I got well acquainted with panic attacks as I frantically tried to figure out how to improve my score. At that point even a 601 would have been a gift from the gods..just anything above 600. In my frenzied madness, I found GMAT club and the rest has been almost happily ever after...crossing my fingers for the last part: ADMITTED

Where: Started out thinking ultra-elite. This was before my GMAT prep reality test. Then dissillusionment as I realised demographics or no demographics there was no way I was getting anywhere with a 550. Then my first GMAT which gave me hope to my 2nd GMAT which increased my hope. I think I could have tested better with more practice but I ran out of time. Essays weren't going to be any easier and I had learnt my lesson trivializing this whole B-School application process. So final decision with my GMAT and background: Harvard - hey why pass up my only chance at giving Harvard a try, MIT - my science backround might help, Columbia, My boyfie's alma mater and who can resist the charms of New York, Wharton - it's in my backyard and with a lot of good going on in there, Cornell, same environment as my undergrad and so major familiarity. Bottom line all are great finance schools with great career prospects for finance grads.

The decision: Still waiting...hoping my rants and raves about galavanting in East Africa as a child and young adult will pay off.
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Re: The evolution of your B-school pursuit [#permalink] New post 01 May 2009, 23:19
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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?

I started writing and writing and now it's an extremely long post...lots of random thoughts but I decided against culling it so hope you don't mind!

When: Similar to JB, I knew I wanted to get my MBA pretty much when I first started work. I started my career at a big 4 accounting firm but I knew I didn't want to do accounting for the rest of my life. I wanted to do consulting because it was interesting but those jobs are far, few and beyond in the country that I was in. You pretty much had to be on the Dean's List to land one of the two undergraduate positions at M/B/B etc. Working at a Big 4 firm was a great experience, the people are intelligent and the training was fantastic. Whilst the content was accounting driven, I did develop a solid business knowledge foundation and more importantly, I knew I could develop some soft skills which were transferable to consulting. Thinking of obtaining MBA at this point was to allow me to transition into strategy consulting....

What Goals: I worked at the Big 4 accounting firm for two years before I decided I had enough and I wanted to take on a more hands-on advisory role. For me, the logical move from a big 4 firm was either 1/ Financial Analyst / Business Analyst at a Corporate or 2/ Operations consulting with a consulting firm. I knew I still could not have gotten into any top tier strategy firm with my experience and undergraduate results so it was a matter of taking it step-by-step to get closer to what I want to do...

Fortunately, there was an entry level position at a full-service consulting firm where I was lucky enough to land a position within their so-called 'strategy' team. (I had interviewed with a few other jobs but either I was rejected or it didn't excite me). Even though it was an entry level position, the money was comparable to the Big 4 even after two years work experience so I decided to take a leap. The work was more interesting and I knew this was closer to moving into pure strategy work later on.

I worked for two years and I learnt alot - predominantly about project management, consulting frameworks and further developed my communication and relationship management skills. However, the long-term nature of some of the projects eventually got to me. The truth of the matter is, even if you are in the 'strategy' team of a full-service consulting firm, you are still bound to work on projects that last for 6 - 9 mths, sometimes shorter but generally because the aim of the strategy work is to eventually sell process / IT consulting and keep the consultants utilized, it's hard for a junior consultant to negotiate his way to another project.

2 years later, I decided to move to Asia for work, because that's where I want to be in the future. Whilst I was holidaying in Shanghai, through a friend's friend's friend (who coincidentally was a headhunter), I landed myself an interview with a top-tier strategy firm. I interviewed with 5 different people and found myself working with them since. I feel lucky that I have reached where I want to be in my career (and I didn't even need to goto bschool)! But the work isn't as glamorous as I expected it to be....the work was challenging and intellectually stimulating but I felt lost because I was never involved in the real action. It was alot of research, modeling, presentations and slide writing but I didn't feel like I created alot of impact. The people that I worked with, were extremely intelligent but they don't know much about change management and making things happen at a client. However, it was also at this point where I had the opportunity to work across the world, Europe, Middle East and Africa, something that I will never forget.

So after a year, bschool came up as an option again. Coming from a strategy firm, I could transition into a corporate role relatively easily but I wanted to learn more about consumer behavior, organizational behavior, develop some new perspectives, meet lots of new people and learn from their experiences.

Where: So originally (around early 2008), I wanted to study at a 1Y program, I thought I wanted to come back to consulting so I specifically targeted schools like Insead, Columbia (18mths), and Kellogg 1Y program. The cost would be lower and I thought the experience would be just as great. So around Jun 08, I started studying for my GMAT (now realizing that it is already quite late compared to other applicants). I took my GMAT in Aug 08 (thoroughly stressed out because my practice test results were NOT good at all, I kept making careless mistakes and always landing in the 600s. The highest I ever gotten during my practice test was like 690...and I knew that wouldn't cut it).

However, I guess I do perform better under pressure because I landed a 710 on the first go decided that it's good enough that I did not bother re-taking the exam (I did not want to take it again at all!). It killed my social life and was actually quite stressful...haha

After my GMAT, I did an extremely thorough DD on all the programs out there. I realized that my GMAT wasn't half bad, it was at least avg for most of the top schools but more importantly, I realized that if I was to goto school again, I should try for the top schools. My thinking was pretty much based on the following factors:

1/ Location - I knew I wanted to be in a metropolitan city. I wanted to study but I also wanted to have fun.

2/ Brand / Career Prospects - I wanted to go to a top school, most people in my firm went to top schools so I thought I would also have a good chance. I honestly believed that any of the top 10 schools would open similar doors for me, it's more about how I develop my skills at schools and how well I do in interviews.

3/ Length of Program - I decided to go for a 2Y program. The main reason for going to school is to expand my network, meet friends, learn about the cutting edge thinking and expand my perspectives. It was more of a life experience. A 2Y program will allow me to meet students in my year, the year above and the year below. Internship would be nice too, I just wanted the full bschool experience. 1Y program would be too intense and I was not sure how strong the bonds would be with people at school.

4/ Career Interests - At this point in my career, I was more interesting in marketing, brand management and consumer behavior. I've done projects ranging from pure strategy to supply chain to branding. I wanted to go to a program with a strong marketing bent. That was simple.

5/ Personal Fit - Some people question the reality of 'fit'. I think it's so important. Surely, the way the school markets itself (and through people posting forums etc) has an impact on the type of people who apply to that school. One thing that I've definitely realized is how much I have changed (and my friends) depending on their career paths after college. Bankers are much more direct, Lawyers are more argumentative and Consultants - well they do like to BS...haha. Sure, this is a generalization but overall, it's the feeling that I get meeting people in different careers. I wanted to goto a school where people are down-to-earth, fun and easygoing.

So at this point, I narrowed it down to Columbia (Brand Leadership Centre) , Wharton (Strong retailing focus and great marketing program), London Business School (one of the best in Europe) and Kellogg (need I say anything? haha).

Honestly, I have to admit, I was a bit of a brand whore so I thought, why not throw in HBS and Stanford - I wasnt that excited about their programs (for me, their programs doesn't seem that tailored and kinda vague, so it's a general management program but what are they really good at? Everything? or does the brand / alumni network rule all?) but I really just wanted to see what happens....and decide if I get in...

Schedule: I applied to 3 schools during R1, HBS, Stanford and Wharton. Wharton was my first choice originally (being close to NYC without the expenses was really appealing), I was waitlisted in R1 which means I need to wait til R2 to see what happens. I was rejected at HBS and Stanford, no considerations required. Now I think about it, I don't know why I applied to those three schools in R1...but I think it worked out for the better because I did write better essays for R2 schools.

After being WLed at Wharton, I decided to apply to Columbia and Kellogg. I scrapped LBS because I didnt really want to live in London after working there already. I decided to pick up on UChicago (because of their quant marketing focus) but later decided to scrap that too because I didn't have time to finish the essays and come up with a proper presentation about myself as I was overseas working crazy hours at that time.

I interviewed at Columbia and Kellogg (obviously!). So out of the three schools that I interviewed with, the Wharton alumni gave me the most 'professional' interview. The interview questions (and the interviewer) was sharp, direct and she really drilled me on my career path and goals. I was really challenged. Columbia alumni was very laid back and honest. He was not the most friendly one but he is a finance guy (generalizing here). There's no BS, give me the answer and let's move on. The interview lasted for like 20 mins. The Kellogg alumni impressed me though, he was so friendly and he took time to listen. The questions were similar to the Wharton interview but it was more in depth. The interview lasted for an hour and he took me to the elevators and said a proper goodbye. The other two alumni's kinda just left after the interview. It was interesting to note though, all three alumnis looooved their own schools and met their best friends at school, I thought that was quite interesting.

Result: My first bschool offer came from Kellogg. I was holidaying at that time and I was absolutely ecstatic. After R1, I was seriously thinking that I might not receive any offers and that I overestimated my candidacy. I also didn't apply to other 'safety' schools in R2 since I didn't have much time during those two months. I feel very fortunate to receive an offer. I received my information pack and I went crazy learning about the program, the clubs, the subjects I want to study, the events, GIM, KWEST etc etc. I really liked the fact that Kellogg focuses so much on teamwork. It was at this point that Kellogg became my first choice of school. Bschool for me is a life experience and I want to goto schools with a variety of people who actually do love their school. I decided I didn't want to wait and withdrew apps from the other two schools.

Reflection: So obviously my post seems a bit biased, since I am attending Kellogg this fall but this was just my personal experience. I do wonder whether if I had been admitted to HBS / Stanford, whether I would choose those schools. (After I told my dad (who isn't an university graduate) about being accepted at Kellogg, he immediately asked, oh, how bout Harvard or Stanford? Sigh...). I think everything worked out for the best, Kellogg is a really good fit with my career goals, my personality and my lifestyle (Everyone I know who's visited or lived in Chicago loooooves the place! - apart from the weather maybe). I was probably better off applying to Kellogg in R2 than R1 because I did write better essays. I am really excited about going to Kellogg.

But I guess more importantly, I now believe that everything is possible. Bschool is a long time coming for me but the reason for going to school changed over time. If I applied a couple of years earlier, without the international experience or working for a strategy firm, maybe I wouldn't even have gotten into Kellogg. Things always work out in the end for some reason, but maybe that's because I choose to maintain optimism and am proactive about doing things that I enjoy.

So what is the next step for me after bschool? I'm not sure yet. I know what I like doing but I do get tired of thinking so far ahead sometimes. I am going to keep an open mind at school and have some fun!

Don't Worry, Be Happy!

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Re: The evolution of your B-school pursuit [#permalink] New post 03 Jun 2010, 07:35
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This post will cover the basics: when, what, where, etc but I've decided to put more emphasis on tips and things I learned along the way. Things that if I had known ahead of time, would have made life a lot easier.

When and What: I've always liked business, even growing up. Being born behind the iron curtain in Eastern Europe I remember wondering when I was a kid, hey how come some economies thrive and are able to produce huge conglomerates, while others aren't? I always wondered if it was sheer luck or if there was something some people were getting right while others weren't. So when I was a kid, I became determined to get an education in business and economics at a "Western school". Well little did I know something as simple as obtaining a college degree would turn out to be one of the most challenging experiences of my life. Relying only on myself in a different country forced me to become more mature and responsible that other kids I met. I knew that I had to learn quickly or would be sent home packing. My whole UG experience was really painful, but I felt an immense sense of accomplishment when I finally did it.

So then degree in hand, I found a job at one of the biggest advisory shops in Canada. I wanted to learn from the best even if that meant that I wouldn't make as much as money as I would have had I gone somewhere else. I knew that long-term I wanted to be in finance. Initially, I was interested in asset management for one of the big institutional investors in Canada (there aren't that many), then as I started to do more networking, went through a bunch of the Vault career guides, I realized that PE/VC is more the career that I wanted. Intellectually challenging, rewarding and with great exit opps. Perfect I thought. Along the way I also realized that the way we conduct business today, the whole incentive system is flawed. Regardless of what you believe the impact of business on human life (especially in poor counties), the environment, etc is, we all know there is one, the question is do you care enough to change anything. I began thinking about a new way to view margins and to give everyone an incentive to internalize the costs they incur, since we currently only internalize direct costs. It’s always bothered me that there's no internalization of livelihood of anyone or any social environment costs that businesses incur. I knew that an MBA was the best way to get me there - I knew I needed the knowledge, the contacts and the exposure to opinions different than my own. I decided to not take the social enterprise angle to my applications as this was somewhat of an add-on that I wanted to work on initially. I needed the fundamentals first.

Where: I firmly believe that school selection is one of the most important factors especially for applicants that have a pronounced weakness in their profile or have very unique post-MBA aspirations.
Another lesson I learned, and possibly one of the most important ones, was to not sell yourself short. You're from an overrepresented demographic? You can do it! You have a really low GPA? You can do it! You're a career switcher and your background to date doesn't have much to do with your post-MBA goals? You can do it! Be realistic but always dream big.

I also decided to focus on 3-5 schools tops but really put together compelling applications. For those of you who don't know my story, just look to the left of this post and notice I'm rocking an awesome GPA of 1.87 (yes that is on a scale of 4.0). For more info on how I overcame this, take a look at this thread: profiles-admitted-to-top-b-schools-w-low-gmat-or-low-gpa-73999-60.html

So I realized that not spreading myself thin was important. I ended up applying to only 4 schools, and got into all of them. I put my heart and soul into every application and genuinely saw myself at every school whose application I was working on at the time. I really think that shows. As you start working on an app, you start liking a school more because you get to know what it's really about. So go to that happy place in your mind and then start writing - be genuine and enthusiastic.

I ended up applying to Ross, UNC, Cornell and INSEAD. Here's what I did for every school:

- I reached out to people on this forum who were current students at the schools I was interested in and also found MBA ambassadors on each school's website. By then I already had an idea of what shape my story was going to take - it's really all about how you present things. I knew I had to highlight the skills I could transport to my chosen post-MBA field and I knew I had to emphasize things I could contribute to the class. I'm very fortunate to have traveled extensively, so I wanted to draw on that experience. When I reached out to students, I asked about: 1) classes with cases that discussed international conglomerates. Ideally I was hoping to hit one about a company or a country I knew a lot about. I asked what the course was, who taught it and the gist of the case discussed. 2) clubs - this is a big one for US schools. Schools in Europe don't care nearly as much. But if you're applying to a school in the US, understand that clubs play an instrumental role in providing industry-specific intelligence and an extensive network of contacts. Most clubs have a website, just email the president and say that you're an aspiring student, give them a 1-2 sentence background on yourself and see if you could ask a couple of questions. Chances are that the folks you come across will be friendly and willing to help. I learned that if you're truly passionate about something and are able to communicate that passion, people will do whatever they can to help you (key for interviews as well). I asked about the future direction of the club, how the most recent recruiting season shook out, and what qualities/background they think an officer of their club should possess.

- I read blogs, the school website, employment reports, memos and press releases. I wanted to know specific facts that were pertinent to the industry I was interested in as well as the broad direction of the school. All schools are somewhat different, but there're a lot of similarities at the core. I'd even argue that beyond a certain point (yes they all have a somewhat unique culture), they're all pretty much the same. Capturing those nuances however, is what’s going to make you stand out. Most people don't bother to do that much research though, so great potential to be realized there.

- Went to MBA conferences and fairs. Tried to get face time with someone from admissions at the schools I was interested in. They won't remember you later, so don't try to impress them - just ask questions you genuinely want to know the answer to, and also don't forget to take their card. Voila, now you have a contact at the school (only use as needed, stating the obvious here but being pesky won't get you far). Also a lot of the apps ask for people you've talked to at their school. Now you have this cool card in your back pocket. Add that to the list of students and alumni you've already reached out to.

- Scheduled school visits. Those are a bit overrated. Yes, it's the only way to know how you truly feel about a school and there's so much those glossy brochures, which by now are flooding your mailbox, would never be able to convey. So by all means, if you don't live too far, try to visit the school, but don't expect to learn anything too earth-shattering for the most part. Those emails you've been exchanging with current students are likely to give you more fodder for your essays/interviews than a school presentation ever would. Prior to visiting, I also emailed a couple of the current students I had been exchanging emails with and asked if they'd have time to chat over a quick cup of coffee. That's how I met in person a whole bunch of current students. By then I knew a lot about the school, but I always knew there's more to learn so every time I went with an open mind and an open heart hoping that someone would teach me something new, give me a new perspective I never thought about.

- last but not least: use this forum early and use it often – it’s free and its members are some of the most driven, intelligent and friendly folks you’ll meet in any online community. Become a regular, let us get to know you and don’t be afraid to ask questions. There’s a huge wealth of information out there that’s taken years to compile, take advantage of it!

None of the above advice is particularly earth-shattering and it’s stuff you encounter on multiple posts on this forum, but if you do the above, I guarantee you your essays and your whole story will stand out from the rest of the pack. That’s a HUGE leg up right there.

I'm not going to go into much detail about every school I applied to (there're a few items in my INSEAD vs Ross vs Cornell thread), but in the end it came down to location and post-MBA goals for me. Since after this whole ordeal (and now that I know myself a lot better - which might just be the biggest benefit of this whole experience), I have finally decided that I'll be pursuing a GM rotational program.

Anyway, I’m going to wrap up before I put you all to sleep, but seriously this whole process has been incredible. I learned a lot about myself, met some wonderful people and now have a shot at a life I never had before. I want to thank everyone on here who has helped me along the way. The least I can do is pass along the knowledge and help others offered when I needed it. I hope this helps someone out there and best of luck as you embark on this journey of a lifetime.

~ If it is to be, it is up to me ~
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Re: The evolution of your B-school pursuit [#permalink] New post 04 Mar 2008, 17:59
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I only just discovered this forum a few days ago, but I have to say I quite like the vibe here! Humorous and introspective -- a far cry from the other mainstream MBA forum...

Anyway, sharing my story since I think it'll be fun to write it. It's almost like writing my application essays anew, which I had a great time doing. What about the rest of you?

The Prequel
I'm sitting in an undergrad finance class utterly captivated by the 30-minute mathematical proof of Black Scholes that my professor is writing out by memory. By the time she had filled 4 chalkboards worth of numbers and formulas, I was committed: finance was the perfect marriage between mathematical theory and a baffling market that's often regarded as random and unpredictable.

Then I looked around me. I think everyone else in the class had fallen asleep 25 minutes ago...

Parental Paranoia
Fast forward to the February before graduation; my parents are getting antsy that I don't have a job offer lined up for post-graduation. After hearing about so many students receiving offers before Christmas, they thought for sure I was doomed to be unemployed. Their solution? "You still have time to apply for an MBA! Go write your GMAT!" Despite my objections, they book me a time slot 2 weeks from that very day. Did I take the test seriously? Hell no. I was quite resolved to prioritize my own life as I saw fit, and show no support for their rash decision-making. During those 2 weeks, I continued with my regular classes, doing assignments and studying for exams. On the day before the GMAT, I finally acquiesced and spent a couple of hours doing some practice problems.

Elsewhere in the household, my dad is panicking about the following day "It'll be a miracle if you get over 500."

Such little faith. ;) I scored 700+.
(I admit though, I got lucky and probably couldn't duplicate the result.)

But enough about overbearing parents. I did end up with a job a few months later, and I shelved the MBA question for when I'd have more work experience to benefit from it.

MBA Where?
It's four years from that time now, and the 5-year expiry on my GMAT score draws near. Let's get cracking on school selection! No surprise, Chicago topped my list given my love of financial theory. They have an incredible roster of Nobel Prize Laureates, and this young lady once spent an entire summer internship with a picture of Harry Markowitz stretched across her computer desktop! (Done half out of admiration, and half out of amusement for the funny looks it draws from passers-by.) Anyhow, I very much admired the school's culture and dedication to academic achievement. The furtherance of human knowledge is a goal I respect a great deal.

I also put London Business School on my list. What I liked about the people I've met from there is that there was an actual person behind the three-letter acronym, and they didn't simply treat the degree as a notch in their belt. When it comes to my own leadership style, I don't believe in leading by fear or intimidation. I expect to earn that respect by being genuinely excellent. Hence, London struck me as a good fit, as they seem to select well-rounded students coupled with the strong business acumen you'd expect to get from any top school.

So Long Finance!
In the end, I only applied to LBS. As much as I love finance, I came to the realization that I only love it academically. I couldn't picture myself working in the typical finance job today where I might be passing off P/E ratios as a sound investment strategy to a public who can barely manage their credit cards, or convincing company directors that taking on more debt to raise dividends is the best idea since sliced bread. It's not these aren't the right things to do, but I couldn't see myself happy in a role that... practically thrives on an obscene amount of financial illiteracy from the very people I'm supposed to add value for.

Anyhow, I don't mean to bash the career goals of those who do want to enter finance. As I mentioned, I was that kid in class who was spellbound when I first learned about derivatives pricing. So I mean it sincerely when I wish you guys all the best in landing that finance job which lives up to your enthusiasm for it.

So, once I realized I'd be sufficiently happy running simplistic NPVs on whether to buy a new TV, or playing armchair analyst on the weekends, I struck Chicago off my list and went full-force with my LBS application--in pursuit of goals that would take another 4 chalkboards to describe (so I won't). In the end, I couldn't divorce the fact that I still have a life to live despite being a full-time student. And, since I've never been to Europe before, I figured it'd be a great place to spend two years exploring. :)

Concluding Update March 27, 2008
Got the nod from admissions--accepted!

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Re: The evolution of your B-school pursuit [#permalink] New post 05 May 2009, 10:52
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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?

My bschool application journey has more in common to a Bollywood blockbuster with lot of twists and turns over the years. There was the handsome young man (yours truly :roll:) who strayed from the chosen path, the beautiful heroine (my missus) who brought him back (or literally knocked some sense into him), their adorable son, sacrifices, villains (recommenders). Throw in a couple of songs (sung by me in the shower - sorry for the visual :twisted:) you have the followup to Slumdog Millionaire. Though the appropriate title might be "BSchool and Bankrupt".

A BSchool education was always in my plans as an undergrad. My initial approach was to join an IIM or an XLRI straight after my undergrad in India. But then I realized that an education straight out of my undergrad may not help me out in the longer term (and I wanted to live without worrying about exams and assignments for a couple of years). So I joined an IT firm in India and a couple of years later arrived to USA. This is where my plan got side tracked - instead of spending the next few years solidifying my credentials I put my life on auto pilot and coasted through the next 3 years. It was basically work, play, party and sightseeing.

Fast forward a couple of years. I was now married (both to my wife :-D and my green card application :evil:). Finally, I decided that I had played around for too long and need to get back into my dream of completing an MBA. In December 2005 I completed my GMAT (scored-700-q46-v40-long-post-25115.html). All the while I was contemplating whether I wanted to do a full time MBA (meaning abandon the green card) or do it part time (work, school and GC). My target schools at that time were:

FT - Kellogg, Booth, Ross, Duke, Cornell
PT - Booth, NYU
Also considered - NYU, Emory, LBS and a smaller school called Cranfield on the outskirts of London.

After talking to a few of my colleagues I finally decided to roll the dice with the PT program. In Jan 2006 I started preparing my applications for Booth and NYU.

The twist :-D in the plot came in May 2006 - a few weeks before I was supposed to turn in my apps. My wife and I found out that we were going to be parents. After talking it over for a few days I decided to put a hold on my plans for the time being.

Fast forward - July 2007 - My son was six months old. I dusted up my apps from the previous year and decided to put it through for NYU. In november / december - I heard back that I was dinged.

Fast forward one more year - Dec 2008 - After a stressful but successful year at work I finally decided on applying for a full time program. The change in approach was due to the fact that it had been 7 years since I applied for my green card and I did not see any end in sight for the wait. So I decided that I could not put my life and my families life on hold. Also, a PT education meant sticking with IT for a longer period of time and I felt that I had finally hit the end of the road in that career. It also meant that I would need to reassess my options due to the fact that it was late in the application process, I was an International student and I was well into the wrong side of the 30s. I finally decided on Ross, Emory and Notre Dame (safety) in US. Casting my net a bit wider I decided to apply to INSEAD (reach) and to Cranfield (fit).

Then came the next twist. I was hoping for a recommendation from a client with whom I had worked from 2006 - 2008. But she never returned my call or replied to my email. This setback along with the fact that my other recommender took a week to respond to my call put me in quite a bad mood around Christmas. Then finally I got the call from my second recommender (ex-colleague) who suggested that I contact our ex-supervisor. That was someone who I hadn't talked to in almost a year. So one awkward phone call later I had both my recommenders. But by then it was too close to the Ross deadline and I decided to sacrifice that app.

I visited Notre Dame in January and came back ambivalent about the program. I liked the class, I liked my conversations with the adcom and most of the students but I had one student in particular who was hinting strongly that I may not fit in the environment (too much course load etc etc). But after thinking it through I decided to submit the application.

I was supposed to visit Emory towards the end of January - but had to cancel as I came down with the flu for a week. Finally, after scrambling to shore up my essays I submitted the application on the deadline.

The next in line was Cranfield. I came across Cranfield back in 2005 - 2006 as a smaller but well respected school in UK. After talking to alumni I decided that from a fit perspective Cranfield had everything that I was looking for (small class size, strong alumni, strong GM program, age and experience match, tremendous support system for family). The other thing about the Cranfield process is that they respond back within 3 days of the initial app with a decision on whetehr you are selected for an interview. Once the interview is done they try to get back to you with a decision within a week. I send in my application on Feb 18th. On 20th I was offered an interview choice of Feb 24th as they had a cancellation or late march. I went ahead with the 24th and heard back the positive decision on 26th.

Finally, I submitted my application to INSEAD as I wanted to see if my profile would hold up over there. As expected, i got the ding.

I also got waitlisted at Notre Dame (send an email asking to be removed once Cranfield confirmed receipt of my intial deposit) and dinged at Emory.

Why did I choose Cranfield - I briefly thought about working with the ND waitlist to see if I could convert that into an admit. Finally I decided to go with Cranfield. Apart from the reasons mentioned above I want to possibly work in Europe or Australia to enhance my work / cultural experience. An MBA from Europe would help me with that goal. Also, being an international student I faced more hurdles with an education in US - like non availability of no-cosigner loans, tighter visa regulations etc.

As for my goals - I would say that they crystallized through the process. When I started off in 2005 my goal was basically use my IT experience to move into consulting / GM. But by the time I put in my ND app - my goals were specfic - use my knowledge of the Health Insurance industry to move into a rotational development program within health insurance. I hope to eventually move into a product development role to make health insurance more affordable.

Thats my story and I am sticking to it.
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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 11 May 2009, 03:55
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I actually had typed out a long post for this thread a few days ago, but thanks to an untimely computer crash (thank you Dell!) lost it all. So now, trusty Lenovo in hand I present you with take 2:

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 first thought about an MBA as a junior/senior in high school. The undegrad school I attended offered a 5 year BS/MBA program for accounting majors, to provide us with the 150 credits needed to obtain a CPA license. I didn't know anything about MBAs at that point other than they made a lot of money, and so I thought about doing this program. Thankfully, greed got the better of me and when a Big 4 firm offered me $48k a year (huge money to a poor college student) I decided to stop school after 4 years and start collecting paychecks.

Fast forward to 2003. After working for 2 years I was not happy as an auditor and realized that perhaps accounting was not the career for me. I looked around at other opportunities both inside my firm and outside, and since they were all accounting related, nothing really got me excited. I started thinking about an MBA as an opportunity to get out of the accounting department and into bigger and (in my mind) better things. Before I started any serious work preparing for GMAT or researching schools, I was selected for a very attractive leadership development program in my firm. It would give me the opportunity to work with people from around the world, and work closely with my firm's top leadership. It also, I hoped, would give me an opportunity to switch out of the firm's audit group into something more interesting. B-school went back on the back burner.

Fast forward again to 2007. Following the leadership program and a near-disastrous dip back into the audit practice, I had used the relationship I developed with a senior partner to get a job doing HR strategy on a global basis for the firm. Great job, was learning a lot, but it was also a 2-3 year rotational assignment and I was facing the prospect of what to do next. I didn't want to be in HR for the rest of my career, nor did I want to go back into accounting, so again I starting thinking about an MBA to help me change careers. Took the GMAT in July 2007, did much better than I ever imagined, probably got a little cocky about admissions, applied to 3 schools for fall 2008 intake, and was rejected by all three. Was humbled by admissions. Much soul searching ensued. Decided MBA was still the right path for me, applied again for fall 2009 intake and the rest, as they say, is history.

What: I've run pretty much the entire spectrum of 'what' over the 7 or so years I've considered doing an MBA. Way back in 2002 I was thinking banking or IM, since I always found investing interesting. However, learning about the banking culture made me see that it wasn't the right career path for me. During the time I spent doing HR strategy for my company, I realized that I really enjoyed this work - the intellectual challenge of it, the big-picture thinking, the creativity and innovation - and so started to focus in on MC. All of my application essays have MC as my first post-MBA plan. However, as I spent the last few months working with my firm's consulting practice, I realized I didn't want to be a consultant anymore. After almost 8 years serving clients, I wanted to actually be part of running a business myself rather than just telling other people how to run their business. At this point, I had been accepted to Kellogg and decided I was going to enroll there, and solely because of the school's strength in marketing I decided to check out the Vault guide on marketing and brand management careers. As I read the guide, I realized that this was exactly what I wanted to do. I liked the fact that you work with all the different functional areas - R&D, production, sales, finance - and are responsible for all aspects of how your product performs. It seemed to have many of the same big picture challenges of strategy: how to grow sales, how to improve profits, - but was also grounded with the tactical details. And so, my focus became marketing.

In terms of healthcare, as soon as I gave up my dream of being an astronaut at about age 8, I decided I wanted to be a doctor. For most of my childhood this was my career plan. It wasn't until high school when I started volunteering at my local hospital, got to know doctors and talked to them about what practicing medicine was actually like as a career that I decided I didn't want to practice medicine. However, I still found healthcare very interesting - my inner nerd liked the science of it and, after dealing with several health issues in my own family, I liked the prospect of helping other people deal with illness. Over time though I migrated more towards the business end of healthcare. I spent my time in auditing working with pharma and biotech companies, and found the best parts of my job were talking with my clients about their business and their industry - what new products they were developing, what general trends were emerging in human health, etc. I had clients in a few other industries - engineering & construction, retail, technology - and no other industry excited me the way healthcare did.

Where: I'll focus here on where I applied this year. I was basically looking for programs that were good in general management or consulting, and had some sort of program or curriculum tailored to healthcare. In the end, my list was Harvard, Chicago, Kellogg, Duke, Columbia and MIT.

Harvard: I could say it's because of its strong general management reputation, or it's proximity to biotech in Boston, but I'd be lying. I applied to Harvard because it's Harvard. I didn't want to face the prospect of 30 years from now wondering whether I could've gotten in to HBS. After 2 rejection letters from Dee, I'm pretty certain of the answer to that.

Chicago: I fell in love with Chicago after I visted it. I mean it's hard not to be impressed with the facilities, and the students I met were all incredible. The all-star faculty certainly doesn't hurt either. Plus, I really like Chicago as a city. Really the only negative was that the healthcare program just didn't seem as well put together as some of the other schools on my list. It would have been a tough decision choosing between Kellogg and Chicago, and I still probably would've chosen Kellogg, but thankfully Rose made that decision easy for me.

Kellogg: On paper this was my favorite school. Very good in general management, very well liked by consulting firms, great healthcare program, culture that fits with my overall personality, check. Only nagging doubt I had was my visit was only so-so. Everything seemed a little disorganized (there was a lot of time I spent waiting pretty much by myself in the admissions office in between events), and I couldn't help feeling a little let down by the facilities after having just been at Booth. However, the class I visited was great, and the students were incredibly welcoming, friendly and helpful. I can't say students at other schools weren't helpful or friendly, and I can't put my finger on what exactly the Kellogg students did differently, but it just felt different. Still, despite the so-so visit, going into the decision season it was tied with Chicago as #2 on my list.

Duke: Duke started out pretty low on my list, but made a strong showing after I visited. In many ways I think Duke is very similar to Kellogg, especially in the healthcare arena. But the Duke brand name just isn't as strong in the northeast, and in the current job market that makes a lot of difference I think. In the end, I would've been very happy at Duke, but wasn't ready to pass up an offer from Kellogg to go there.

Columbia: Um, well I was kinda talked into going to Columbia by a few alums. I wasn't really impressed with the school when I visited, it doesn't really have a healthcare program to speak of, and after pretty much living my entire life in the greater NY metropolitan area, I was kinda looking forward to a few years away from NYC. So, to sum up, great school but I wasted $250 to apply there and withdrew as soon as I got admitted to Kellogg.

MIT: Probably my second least favorite after Columbia. Good consulting track, and unlike HBS I actually was attracted to MIT because of the proximity to biotech industry in Boston. In the end I never applied because I was planning it for R2 and stopped working on it when I got admitted to Kellogg in December.

Where, NOT: Well there are literally hundreds if not thousands of schools I didn't apply to, but I'll only focus on a few here:

INSEAD, LBS: Good schools, but since I want to work in the US post-MBA I decided pretty early in the process to focus on US schools. Plus, the language requirement at INSEAD would've been a problem since I haven't spoken a second language since high school Spanish class.

Wharton: Great school, great healthcare program, but just never really felt a good vibe here. Plus, I really, really don't like Philadelphia and the thought of living there for 2 years makes me shudder.

Stanford: I applied here for fall 2008 and was rejected. Great school, but I didn't think I had a realistic shot so I gave up on it.

UCLA, Haas: I don't want to work on the West Coast after MBA, and so didn't consider going to school there either.

Ross: I came close to applying here. In the end it was bumped by Columbia. I probably should've stuck with Ross given my feelings towards Columbia.

The decision: I got the call from Kellogg on December 4, 2008 (at roughly 3:30pm EST, not that I remember the details or anything). After going 0 for 3 last year, getting an early admit was incredible. I can't put into words how excited I was. Extra bonus that it was one of my top schools. At that point, I hadn't been called for an interview at HBS, so I was pretty sure I would be at Kellogg. I think I told my family and friends that I would definitely be in Chicago next year since the only other school I thought I had a shot at and would consider going to over Kellogg was Booth. I stopped all work on MIT's application, and emailed Columbia to withdraw my application.

Exactly two weeks later, my decision became a lot easier when I got the ding from Booth. Any sadness was tempered a few hours later when I got admitted to Duke (kudos for the Flash animation btw). I know it's purely ego, but now I knew I could say I 'chose' to attend my school rather than it being the only school I was admitted to.

A few weeks later, Duke made things interesting by offering me a 50% tuition scholarship. I wrestled with whether I wanted to pass up that money for a few days, before re-affirming that I wanted to go to Kellogg. In the end, I wasn't ready to let money overrule my reasons for choosing Kellogg in the first place: reputation (esp. in healthcare), culture and location. After attending DAK I was 100% certain that Kellogg was the right school for me, and I sent in the deposit. In the end, Kellogg has offered me just about as much money as Duke, so I'm glad I didn't make the decision to go to Duke for the money.

Edits: fixed proofreading errors

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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?


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.


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.


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.
Re: The evolution of your B-school pursuit   [#permalink] 15 Mar 2013, 08:52

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