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BSchool Forum Moderator
Joined: 04 Apr 2011
Posts: 523
Concentration: General Management, Strategy
Schools: Duke (Fuqua) - Class of 2014
Followers: 28

Kudos [?]: 163 [24] , given: 4

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Part I of V

Introduction

Back when I was in college, working my way towards becoming a banker, I knew that I would eventually go back to school as an MBA student. My plan was to accept a lucrative offer from a multinational bank immediately after graduating; be a rock star and get promoted once or twice in three or four years; and then apply and get accepted to an elite business school. It was, to me, a foolproof plan. However, during my senior year, I realized that I did not want to be in finance and that I was destined to be in sports business. And so, I went back to square one.

In 2006, three months after graduating, I packed up all of my belongings and moved from Southeast Asia all the way across the world to New York City. After almost a whole year of looking for a job in the industry, I finally got in and quickly realized that my industry does not boast of many MBA graduates. With this in mind, I opted to just keep working hard and then potentially revisit the MBA issue in a few years.

After getting two quick promotions, I started considering not going back to school at all. At this point, my parents were hounding me, asking me when I would be applying, and I kept telling them that not all industries require an MBA degree to succeed. When I was promoted for the third time in 2010, to a project management role in the department that I had set my eyes on from the very beginning, I began working mostly with MBA graduates. That was when it hit me that I would actually need to go to business school in order to continue moving up the ladder. Therefore, in June 2011, five years after graduating from college, I decided that the MBA was the logical next step to take.

With a mortifying undergrad GPA of 2.85, I knew that it was going to be an uphill battle for me. Fortunately, I had already taken an Advanced Finance class and got an A in 2007. At the very least, I figured that I would be able to use this to prove that I was capable of being a decent student at an elite school. However, I also would have to ace the GMAT in order to compensate for the laughable academic record.

I wanted to study as well as I could for the GMAT. I wanted to begin reviewing as early as possible, but I had two long international trips between June and September, and then I had to entertain guests for the whole month of November. Instead of having at least six full months of preparation, I was only able to dedicate the month of October and the week before the test to my GMAT review. In fact, I didn’t even get to schedule my GMAT until September, three months prior to my test in December.

After cramming four sample tests in one week (the week prior to the test), I took the GMAT for the first (and last) time and scored a 690. I thought I bombed the test while answering the questions, so I was initially happy with the 690. But when it dawned on me how close I was to 700, I was a little bit disappointed.

With a 690 GMAT and a 2.85 uGPA, I became a member of what I have dubbed the Third Quadrant Profile Club. I call this as such because if you plot my numbers on a chart with the GMAT as the x-axis, the uGPA as the y-axis, and (700, 3.0) as the origin, the point that would represent my profile would be located in the dreaded third quadrant. We are a rare breed here on these forums (or fora depending on how formal you want to be). If you want proof, simply check the data board in each school’s thread, and you will notice that, in this community, we represent less than 5% of every top 15 school’s applicant pool.

To be continued...
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BSchool Forum Moderator
Joined: 04 Apr 2011
Posts: 523
Concentration: General Management, Strategy
Schools: Duke (Fuqua) - Class of 2014
Followers: 28

Kudos [?]: 163 [12] , given: 4

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Part V of V

Final Words

After four parts and over 4,000 words, I have reached the finale of my five-part essay. You have probably been wondering why I wrote this incredibly long essay to begin with. In most cases, I would have started by enumerating the reasons why I decided to share such a long composition. But I wanted you to read through each part of the essay first and then decide if you wanted to come back to read the succeeding parts. To be completely transparent, I wanted to keep the purpose of the thread vague for as long as possible in order to maximize the number of people who would end up reading this story. In addition, I wanted only you, a captive audience, to get to this part, hopefully motivated enough to share your own worries and/or triumphs.

This is my debrief.

My adventure spanned from September 2010, when I scheduled my GMAT, through January 2012, the last application deadline for which I had to anxiously wait. 17 months and two application cycles later, I have come out of this with an acceptance from my #1 school and then some. It was a long and difficult journey – one that I was not sure would end well. But it all worked out in the end.

I learned a lot of things throughout this entire process.

1. You are never too old to start wanting something new so badly. I think that putting these applications together has been the hardest that I have ever worked. When I decided that it was the right time to go for my MBA, I don’t think I was totally convinced that I would actually do it. By the time I had selected all the schools to which I would apply, I was 100% dedicated to getting in. You never really know how much you want something until you take that first step and commit to doing it. It was refreshing to want something so bad again after a few years of just going through the motions at work, even though I like what I do.

2. The application process in itself is a learning experience. A lot of people say that this entire process is all about learning how to bullsh!t. At first, I felt the same way. After months of reflecting and learning more about what my real passion is, I realized that this very introspective process allows you to identify your strengths and weaknesses, priorities in life, the mistakes that you have made in the past that have helped you become a better person, the achievements that did not seem very impressive at first glance but were actually extraordinary, etc. If you go through this practice as genuinely as you can, you will learn a lot even before you go to business school. And you will be prepared for the academics, social events, and most importantly, recruiting.

3. Hard work pays off. Seeing the fruits of my labor has inspired me to never be as lazy (academically, that is) as I was in college, which is why I ended up with my GPA anyway. This experience has definitely proven to me that if you work hard enough, you can overcome major weaknesses. I hope that others have had a similar experience or will go through such a trying but rewarding process.

4. It gets harder. I remember studying for the GMAT and thinking to myself that all I needed to do was get through the test and then everything would be easy. And then I started writing my essays and decided that it would be the hardest part of the application process. And then I submitted my applications and was a nervous wreck while waiting for interview invitations. And then I had to worry about acing my interviews. And then I had to keep from pulling all my hair out while waiting for the results. Now that I have been admitted, I am glad that I know where I want to go, but I have to get all my documents submitted and start thinking about moving all of my belongings from the Northeast down to the South. And once school starts, I am sure recruiting will be like the MBA application process all over again. And so, I just need to remind myself every single day that it gets harder.

5. Being collaborative is infectious. When I decided to apply to business school, I knew that it would be very competitive. When I found GMAT Club, I questioned whether people on these boards genuinely want each other to succeed. After reading posts encouraging others to keep their heads up or giving them advice on how to successfully get off of the waitlist or what interview questions to prepare for, I decided that I wanted to be a part of this community. It has been a blast working with such competent and collaborative individuals, and I hope more people join this community.

This is an open invitation.

I would like to thank the GMATClub community for being an amazing resource as I was going through the application experience. There were certain posts that got me so nervous, but knowing that I was not the only person going through this whole experience was comforting as well.

There are a couple of low GPA/GMAT success stories threads that exist on these boards, but there is no thread that also covers the not-so successful stories, which in my opinion should offer as much value to the applicants as the success stories do. While the success stories give you confidence, the stories about the challenges that the Third Quadrant Applicants (TQA) go through keep you grounded and inform you of what to avoid doing. After all, TQA’s are already at a disadvantage, so it is crucial for them to avoid giving the AdCom any additional reasons to reject them.

If you are a Third Quadrant Applicant [or even a Second (below 700 GMAT) or Fourth (below 3.0 uGPA)], do not let the ridiculously high GMAT scores and GPA’s intimidate you. This is a support community for all MBA applicants, not just for those with already incredible stats. If anything, those who have below average stats are the ones who should be on here more than those with higher stats. Based on the kudos and the private messages that I have received, there are a lot of us who are already a part of this community. And so, I invite you to post about your experience here so that future Third Quadrant Applicants may learn a thing or two about how to successfully get into their dream schools. Please don’t be shy.

Good luck; and I hope that all of you achieve your goals!

P.S. I really hope I did not bore you with my rambling.
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Joined: 04 Apr 2011
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Schools: Duke (Fuqua) - Class of 2014
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This might be the most important part of this five-part essay... the longest one too!

Part IV of V

Five Keys to Success

690 GMAT, 2.85 uGPA, Asian and male. One might imagine that I was doomed from the very beginning. I certainly started thinking this after getting two dings from CBS and Stern before I received an interview invitation from Fuqua. After going 1.5 out of 6 in the previous cycle, I had to make sure that everything was perfect in this round. Fortunately, everything worked out in the end. And since this whole process is over for me, I have the following tips for those of you who sometimes wonder if a single school would even accept you.

Have a superstar resume.

If you think that your GMAT, GPA, etc. are weak, have a superstar resume. You already know what your uGPA is and you obviously know what your ethnicity and gender are, so if you feel that these will weigh you down, work hard so that your career progression will impress the AdCom. A low uGPA can be excused, but mediocre professional work will cause your downfall. Besides, if you rock at work, chances are, your recommendation letters will be extraordinary as well. You are effectively hitting two birds with one stone here so work your ass off.

Quantify, quantify, quantify! The best way to illustrate your impact to your company’s operations is to let them know how many people you have managed, or the dollar amount that your group earned over a certain time frame, or the percentage of increase in a certain process’s efficiency because you took the initiative to research on how to make things better. At the end of the day, a bullet point that shows the profits that the company gained because of you is worth more than three vague job description bullet points. So remember to quantify, but also remember that quality is greater than quantity. Be as precise as possible so you can add as many quantified quality achievements as possible.

Finally, when creating your resume, always remember that not everybody is privy to the kind of work that you do. Therefore, avoid jargon that only you and your colleagues will understand. Make it understandable to the regular people. Have somebody, who does not work in your industry, read your resume. If they ask you to explain too many things, then that means your resume is too technical and might confuse other reviewers. Granted the AdCom members are professionals, but it is always better to assume that they will not understand your industry’s terminologies either.

Note: Do not lie on your resume, but do not downplay your achievements either. What I learned from this whole experience is that some of my accomplishments are actually more impressive than I initially thought. Embellish, but do not fabricate.

Your resume is very important because it shows the AdCom what you have done and what you have the potential to do. When you write your essays, though, you will not have as much room to talk about all your accomplishments. Therefore, you need to be able to write a brief but effective summary, focusing only on the most important and relevant parts of your career progression.

The story that I refer to is the story that you will write (or legacy that you will leave behind) after business school. AdCom will want to know how you will represent the school after you graduate. Hence, they need to know how you intend to lead in the future. But more importantly, they need to know how you plan on executing this and how they fit in this plan. Finding the solution to poverty is an inspiring claim, but unless you can tell them about the organizations, with which you aim to work, and the various programs that you want to implement, it is really a hollow statement that will seem beyond your reach. Before making such a proclamation, you have to make sure that (1) your prior work experience or volunteer activities are relevant to this goal so that they know that you have laid the foundation for your future; and (2) this is a goal that is not out of this world. Number two sounds pretty basic, but a lot of people still struggle to come up with something that is actually realistic.

Ultimately, knowing your story well will lead to exceptional interviews. Nothing impresses an interviewer more than somebody who knows where they want to go and has a plan and the resources to get there.

Connect with the schools.

The websites provide you with plenty of information. In fact, they have more than enough for you to complete your essays. However, the best way to really learn more about the schools is to reach out to the alums and current students.

When you read about the strength of the alumni network on the websites, it’s just not as effective. Hearing the current students tell you stories about how the alums made numerous calls to their contacts to help get the students their internship offers are more likely to convince you of the network’s strength. Not only that, the websites won’t share the disappointing aspects of the schools with you, but the alums and students will.

The alumni/current students are valuable resources. Anecdotal stories from them can give you information that will allow you to identify how particular schools’ programs can be customized to really fit your goals, which could lead to you writing remarkable essays and interviewing with a fire. Take advantage of this opportunity.

On a different note, if you do not feel a connection with a particular school, do not apply there! It does not matter if the ranking is high. At the end of the day, there is a possibility that you will be spending over $150K and two years of your life at one of the schools to which you are applying. That is too big of an investment in money and time to risk going to a school that does not excite you at all. If you do not get into your dream school on your first try, but you absolutely believe that you are qualified to go there – self-awareness is necessary here – it might be better to try again than to settle for your safety school, which you might not be all that happy to attend to begin with. Note: If you have a colleague, who is an alumnus of one of the schools, to which you are applying, have them recommend you. If the school allows alums/current students to send in supplementary recommendations, ask two or three of your new contacts to send them on your behalf. Help them help you. Applicants tend to avoid asking for help because they (1) feel that they do not need the extra help because they are rock stars, (2) are too sensitive to accept constructive criticism, or (3) just do not have the time because they are in a rush. Whichever of the three it is, suck it up and ASK FOR HELP. Asking for help will enable you to fill in the gaps. By having at least one fresh set of eyes read through your essays, you increase the likelihood of catching little errors that have become invisible to your naked eye because you have read your essays far too many times. Also, there are some things about your story that are clear to you but still need to be explained to the regular reader. For this reason, you need somebody else to find these gaps for you. Asking for help will allow others to challenge you to improve your writing. If you want to have compelling essays, you need to impress your friends and family. Surely your friends and family love you, so if you ask them to be brutally honest, they would not hesitate to give you constructive criticism. Although getting back an essay with so many red marks might bruise your ego, it is not as bad as getting rejected because of unclear and uninspiring essays. Your friends and family want you to succeed so help them help you. Submit and move on. This might be the hardest thing to do. If truth be told, I am guilty of not following this. However, no matter what happens, stop re-reading your essays after you submit your applications. Chances are that your essays will have errors. And when you do find them, you will panic and start getting paranoid that these errors will cause your demise. First of all, always keep in mind that there really isn’t much that you can do about your essays after you click the submit button. Since you can do nothing else to affect these documents, it makes no sense to keep re-reading these essays and get even more stressed out. Second, a lot of the errors that you will find are very minimal. Unless you explicitly say that, “School X is my dream school,” in an essay for School Y, the Admissions Committee will understand that you are not perfect and that your essays will have some mistakes. Chill out and read a book instead of your essays. Third, you deserve a break from these essays. You have spent the last few months 100% dedicated to your MBA applications. Now that you have submitted your applications, you should think about the other things in your life that are more important than the MBA. Go out on a date with your significant other. Take a trip with your friends. Play with your children. Aside from ambushing them with endless rambles on how hard it is to articulate why you need an MBA at this point in your life or how School Z is so totally going to reject you because you misspelled a renowned professor’s last name, you have paid very little attention to your friends and family for far too long. They deserve to be rewarded for all their support. Spend quality time with them. Last, if you did your best to put together the best applications that you are capable of submitting, then there must be no regrets after you hit the submit button. Do not give yourself an excuse to question your competence by meticulously reading through your essays to find forgivable miniscule errors. It is unproductive, and you run the risk of doubting yourself even more. Note: If you really want to improve your profile, focus on the aspects that you can affect. You can take the GMAT again if you feel that a higher score will help your cause. You can also do more volunteer work to gain more experience. If you do this, my recommendation is for you to sign up for extracurricular activities that are actually relevant to your career goals. Again, quality trumps quantity. If you want to convince AdCom that you are socially responsible, you might as well demonstrate how you have the potential to contribute to society through your professional activities as well. Finally, you just have to continue working hard. You never know… you just might get a promotion or a salary increase. All these things could help you get in, provided that the school allows applicants to send updates. To be continued... _________________ Application Profile: http://gmatclub.com/forum/2012-profiles-w-admit-dings-results-no-discussion-116595-20.html#p1009999 Application Story - The Third Quadrant Applicant: http://gmatclub.com/forum/the-third-quadrant-applicant-125929.html#p1027642 GMAT Club Premium Membership - big benefits and savings BSchool Forum Moderator Joined: 04 Apr 2011 Posts: 523 Concentration: General Management, Strategy Schools: Duke (Fuqua) - Class of 2014 Followers: 28 Kudos [?]: 163 [4] , given: 4 Re: The Third Quadrant Applicant [#permalink] 12 Jan 2012, 09:29 4 This post received KUDOS Part II of V The R3 Experience After taking the GMAT, I chose the schools to which I would be applying… in Round 3! My friends, who were already doing their MBA’s, discouraged me from doing this as they told me that most classes would already be at least 95% filled by the time I hit the submit button. I told them that I would try anyway. The worst-case scenario was for me to get rejected by all schools and lose around$1,200 in application fees. But I still loved my job anyway so it wouldn’t hurt me to stay with my company for another year. They weren’t completely convinced that it was a smart idea, but there was no way that they were going to stop me. So with that settled, I proceeded by selecting my schools and working on my applications.

In selecting schools, I somehow prioritized the following criteria accordingly: location, reputation, and then fit. Why I did this, I do not know. Had I known any better, I definitely would never have chosen most of the schools to which I had applied from February 2011 through April 2011.

CBS was my first choice. Not only is it in New York, but it is also an Ivy League school with a very strong global brand. In addition, two of my closest childhood friends went to CBS. It didn’t matter to me that CBS and my goals were not exactly a good match. As far as I was concerned, CBS was #1.

I did the obligatory (because I live in New York) campus visit and even attended the weekly happy hour (got in, thanks to my buddy). For some reason, I just did not feel a connection with the school. I wasn’t overly impressed with the building, and the Admissions Committee did not particularly wow me either. Don’t get me wrong. I would have gone there in a heartbeat had they accepted me, but my experience was just not as rousing as I imagined it would be.

Because of the lack of emotional investment in the school, I was not able to write compelling essays, which I could not afford to happen considering my unimpressive profile and my very late submission to a school that administers rolling admissions.

Applied: Two days prior to the RD deadline
Result: Ding w/o interview

NYU Stern

Stern was #2 on my list just because of its location. They have one sports marketing class in the curriculum, but other than that, they struck me more as a finance school than anything else. When I visited the campus, the Student Ambassador was very nice, and having one of the professors join us for a bit was a great touch. However, the building did not appeal to me as I felt that it was too crowded in there. Just like with CBS, I did not gain the extra urge to become a member of the Stern community. I still very much wanted to go. In fact, after doing my research, Stern and Fuqua became my top two schools. Unfortunately, I still ended up writing mediocre essays.

Applied: Day of final submission deadline
Result: Ding w/o interview

Northwestern Kellogg

Kellogg was my #3 school for two reasons: (1) I love Chicago, and (2) Kellogg is the best school for Marketing. I read about Kellogg online, so I knew everything on their website. I never got in touch with any alums/current students though. After writing my CBS and Stern essays, the ones I submitted to Kellogg were significantly better… but still not up to my standards.

Applied: Three days prior to the R3 deadline
Result: Ding w/ interview (but they interview everybody anyway!)

Duke Fuqua

My brother was the one who recommended that I apply to Fuqua. Prior to doing my research, I had it ranked as my #4 school because the only thing that I really knew about Duke was its basketball team. After reading up on the school and meeting a few current students, with whom I really had a strong connection, I realized that Fuqua’s program was the perfect fit for my goals. Once I stepped foot on campus, I knew that this was the school for me.

Having been so excited about Fuqua, I spent many hours working on my essays. By the time I submitted my application, each of my essays was 100% more impactful than any of my essays for the other schools.

Applied: Two days prior to R3 deadline
Result: Waitlisted w/ interview (on campus) – Summer waitlist (visited again while waiting) – Officially dinged during Orientation Week in August

LBS was a late addition as my #5 school. I have always wanted to live in London, so I figured that this would be the best time to do so. Like with Kellogg, I was not able to meet with any alums/current students. I read through every page of their website and submitted what seemed to be competent essays, although I think I spelled the name of the campus incorrectly.

Result: Ding w/o interview

Georgetown McDonough

McDonough was my safety school. My brother went here so I knew a lot about the school. I visited him a number of times during his time at McDonough, so I got to hang out with his classmates on campus. Having gone to a Jesuit university, I was confident that McDonough would be a good fit for my goals. My essays could have been better, but they were solid.

Applied: One week prior to R3 deadline
Result: Accepted – Asked for a deferral in June but was denied

With one admit and one waitlist, I had to make a decision as to whether to go with my safety school, or wait for Duke, but potentially have to reapply in the next cycle.

To be continued...
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Part III of V

Reapplication

I consulted all of my closest friends and family as to whether to matriculate at McDonough or forgo the acceptance in order to apply to Fuqua again for Fall 2012. On the one hand, some told me that, “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” On the other hand, some encouraged me to follow my heart and reapply to Fuqua. And so, I followed my heart.

With the support of my closest friends and family, I went back into MBA Application mode the very same week that Fuqua sent me the final rejection letter. Whereas I prioritized location and reputation over fit in the previous application cycle, I made a conscious effort to focus on fit this time around.

After doing extensive research on all of the schools, I cut down the list and had the schools in the following order: Duke Fuqua, Michigan Ross, MIT Sloan, and a tie between UNC Kenan-Flagler and Georgetown McDonough. Sloan was later on dropped after interaction with the Admissions Committee proved to me that Sloan would not be a good fit. This is not a knock on the school at all. It just wasn’t the right fit. Cornell Johnson then replaced Sloan as my #3 school. Even though I would have loved to add Stanford GSB to this list, the (728, 3.69) averages intimidated me, so I never even bothered to research the school.

Duke Fuqua

I fell in love with this school in the previous cycle. I was so in love with the school that whenever I talked about Duke while I was on the waitlist, I would always unintentionally refer to the community as “we”. Worse, while on the phone with a Ross student one time, I said Fuqua when I meant to say Ross! Now that’s a Freudian slip!

I visited the campus twice during R3 in the previous cycle and initiated my interview during the open interview season. I spoke with numerous alums and current students, built relationships with them, and then asked them to recommend me to the Admissions Committee. Even though my essays from the previous cycle were already strong, I worked extra hard to make them even stronger. I made sure to let Fuqua know that it is my #1 school and that I will represent them well.

Applied: One week before the EA deadline
Result: Accepted and Matriculating

Michigan Ross

I overlooked Ross in the previous cycle since my most important criterion was location. Once I started re-evaluating the schools, I realized how similar Ross is to Fuqua. Not only does it have an incredibly versatile program, but its culture, especially its strength in sports, is also very much relevant to my goals. The current students, with whom I spoke, were all generous with their time. Some even went out of their way to meet with me when I visited the campus, which, on a different note, is an impressive edifice. The one thing that really gave Fuqua the edge was the strength of their Sports Business Club compared to Ross’s.

Result: Accepted

Cornell Johnson

I have to admit that I initially chose Johnson because I noticed that a number of those waitlisted at Fuqua and Ross last year were admitted by Johnson’s AdCom. I did not visit Johnson, and I only connected with alums/current students after being invited to interview. Nonetheless, my research proved to me that Johnson would have been a great fit for my goals as well. Their immersion learning approach would have helped me master the skills in strategic operations that I need to gain in business school. Although they do not excel in the mainstream sports, their athletics programs are remarkable. Most importantly, their collaborative culture is incredible.

Applied: Three days before the R1 deadline
Result: Accepted

After a successful round of applications, I decided to drop UNC Kenan-Flagler and Georgetown McDonough.

To be continued...
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elleesie wrote:
threestripes,

I am completely inspired by your experience!!!

I, myself, am currently in the third quadrant. I have taken the GMAT once and received a score of 610 (V31/Q44/AWA6.0). My undergraduate GPA was 2.91, with an overall upwards trend and an average GPA of about 3.6 in the last two years. As if that isn't bad enough, I am 30 years old without any significant work experience. I worked a few jobs for a few years right out of high school, then enrolled in college at the age of 25 to complete my BA in Art History. (And yes, this means I do not have classwork completed in business or finance).

I am scheduled to retake the GMAT in May. I'm hoping, praying, crossing my fingers... whatever it takes... that I will score above 700. I'm really going to focus most of my studying on the Verbal, since I did so poorly.

My dream school, at this point, is Marshall (USC) because I don't want to be too disappointed if I were to aim too high. I would even be jumping for joy if I was admitted at Merage (UCI - where I attended undergrad). Honestly though, I would love to go to Fuqua or Tepper. I am just terrified that with my low GPA, low GMAT (which won't be as low after the retake), age, and lack of substantial work experience, I'm just chasing an unattainable dream by trying to pursue an MBA degree.

I hope that next year, at this time, I will have a similar story to share!

Hi elleesie! I know I'm not threestripes, but I am an older applicant with a low GPA (2.7). I'm 31 (will be 32 at matriculation) and was admitted to Kellogg in R1. You can definitely get into the schools you are aiming for. You are on the right track by retaking the GMAT. While a 700+ GMAT will definitely help, it's not the end all and be all. Even if you got a 680 you'd still be in a much improved position.

As for your work experience, thinking quality over quantity. You graduated college later so obviously you won't have the 7-8 years of experience that other 30 year old candidates have. Depending on your employer and professional achievements you might even be stronger than a lot of candidates with more years of experience. I don't know your full story but I do think that you should aim as high as you want. You may get denied or waitlisted at Fuqua or Tepper but you'll definitely never get in if you don't apply.
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Joined: 04 Apr 2011
Posts: 523
Concentration: General Management, Strategy
Schools: Duke (Fuqua) - Class of 2014
Followers: 28

Kudos [?]: 163 [1] , given: 4

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Firebringer wrote:
threestripes,
thank you so much for sharing your experience.

I'm kind of a "third quadrant" applicant myself: low gmat, not-so-great GPA, 30 years old.

To add some impossibility to the recipe, I'm applying to just two business schools, which are the only ones I really feel "connected" to -and are into the ultra-elite category-. It roughly took me a year, that by the way was not only incredibly busy at work (average 12.5 hours workdays), but also made me witness a loss of a very dear relative and a gain of another very dear one (I got married -that required a huge preparation too, btw- )

Overall I feel I've been true to myself, because at the end of the day, either I beat the odds and get into what I really saw as the biggest opportunity of all, or I get dinged but I know that this thorough self-assessment made me understand what I wanted to become (which in my view requires business school expertise, btw). And moreover, I wouldn't put myself (and my wife) on a two-year path in the opposite side of the world -not to mention the personal financial strain- for something I don't consider to be the absolute best for me.

And you're right, once submitted, one should stop re-reading essays, as it could only add FUD to the mix. I think I've got a very good resume and clearly framed my objectives and vision, but I'm somehow I feel I haven't found an outstanding way to express my connection with the two universities (I was always afraid of, you know, looking like a bootlicker).

I'm looking forward to your next and final part, and I'd also like to know how you felt during the interview. Thanks again!

Welcome, Firebringer! I see that this is your first post, so I am glad that my posts have compelled you to become a member of this community.

I am sorry to hear about your loss, but congratulations on getting married!

I think it's a wise move to apply to just two schools. Doing your MBA is an absolutely big investment to make, so settling is not an option. You can't force yourself to like a school so only apply to those, of which you really want to be a part.

I do agree that there is a fine line between complimenting a school and kissing their ass. However, since we are burdened with such a disadvantage, we cannot afford to look like we're not excited to matriculate either. If you are really passionate about a school, you should let them know that. It absolutely helped my case when I applied to Fuqua as I explicitly stated that they are my absolute first choice. As for looking like a bootlicker, the readers are all trained to spot bullsh!t, so if you genuinely feel that these two schools are perfect for you, your passion will come through in your essays and the readers will believe you.

As I mentioned in Part IV, I made it a point to know my story. Therefore, I was not nervous at all when I had my interviews as the answers came naturally to me when I was asked each question. I knew that getting invited to interview meant that they felt my credentials were good enough for them. Therefore, even though being invited to interview does not necessarily mean that you're on even ground with all the other interviewees, I treated the interview as if they were anyway. When you believe that none of the other applicants have an advantage, you won't feel as much pressure to compensate for your shortcomings. Besides, there is nothing else that you can do about your stats and essays, so the best course of action is to just set those aside, and prepare for the interviews and ace them.
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I just wanted to say,

threestripes, you are an awesome person.

Thanks, shady. You're awesome for saying that!
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sda wrote:
Hi, can you elaborate on this a bit?
"Sloan was later on dropped after interaction with the Admissions Committee proved to me that Sloan would not be a good fit."

Like I said in Part III, my approach in selecting schools this year was mostly based on fit. the main reason why I added Sloan to my list of potential schools was because of their strength in data analytics, which is a trend in the sports industry right now. Likewise, I knew that if I could somehow get a couple of friends, who are students at Sloan, to send in supplemental recommendation letters for me, I would have a better chance of getting accepted.

When I attended a couple of MBA fairs, I got to speak with members of the Admissions Committee and a few of the other prospective students. My experience could be an exception, but based on my discussions with them, it just wasn't the right fit. The prospective students were too academic for my taste, and the brochures seemed to focus too much on the technical aspects of the program. They're great and all because I am looking for a topnotch academic experience after all. However, I just did not have an instant connection with Sloan, the same way I did with Fuqua and Ross... and Johnson later on. Sloan is an excellent school, but it just wasn't for me.
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mindstatements wrote:
Dude this is amazing and just a great story man.

ajayiitr wrote:
Your story is truly inspirational. I was waiting for you to post the part V to say that.
Thanks for writing this post.

ariz3260 wrote:
Thank you for sharing your experience I recall another thread about applicants who are 30 years or older that I thought is appropriate to share here as well:

-http://gmatclub.com/forum/mba-in-early-30s-112215.html

Depending on the result of my application (only apply to 1 school in 2nd round), I sort of feel the itch to share my story as well

Thanks for all the kind words. I look forward to reading your stories when all is said and done.
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Aximili85 wrote:
Threestripes! haha, my apologies for that!

No worries, buddy! If anything, you made me look more like a superstar with the new name.

Anasthaesium wrote:
That was a story that touched me. I think you are underplaying your exceptional story telling skills which actually might have been the clincher for you in securing the adcom's approval.
Inspiring stuff. Thanks for sharing.

Thanks, Anasthaesium. I did mention that I feel that I wrote exceptional essays, so I wouldn't go so far as to say that I underplayed it. Thanks for making me look modest though.

I am sure that there are plenty of better story tellers on these boards. And so, as much as I really do appreciate the kudos (please don't mistake this for me telling you guys to stop giving me kudos because it isn't ), it would be swell if more people started sharing their own stories.
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Awesome post threestripes. Normally when i see the post this long, I move on. But for your post, I kept coming back to read more. Really thanks for writing. Inspiring stuff.

Thanks, jamifahad. That's why I waited a couple of days in between each post. I didn't want to overwhelm the readers with all 5,000+ words at once.

highwyre237 wrote:
threestripes, thank you so much for writing this all out. After staring at the graphs on school app threads, reading the profile evaluations on poetsandquants, and just seeing countless 750/3.8/Ivy profiles, its great to see something like this. Although my gpa is 3.32, its from an unknown school, and I've been fighting with myself over weather to even apply to any top 15s, and just assume that I'm destined for a region school.

This is really coming at a perfect time, as I start to whittle down where to apply for next year, and plan where I'll be dragging the fiancée on road trips for visits. Fuqua is quickly rising up the list, and if the students I interact with on campus are as passionate about the program as you are, I have a feeling it'll also be on top of my list.

Thanks again, so many great tips!

Good luck this fall.

Thanks, highwyre237. It would be awesome if you ended up applying to Fuqua, but regardless of what list you come up with, please keep in mind that you can always come to us for advice.

Good luck!
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OjilEye wrote:
Fantastic thread threestripes. Sorry to resurrect an old thread- no, actually, I'm not sorry. It's an uplifting tale and something a lot of us can relate to and learn from, especially in the upcoming 2012-2013 application season.

This forum is definitely an amazing portal. I browse through the post history of various long-time contributing members and it's a bit surreal to see many others experiencing the same feelings of anxiety and excitement one year ago, and are now in a position to at least relish the triumphant feeling of acceptance, knowing where there short-term future is headed. But like you iterated threestripes, it'll only get harder and I'm sure you admitted folks are now preparing for new kinds of challenges (and fortunately/hopefully get to say goodbye to the yuckiness of applications forever).

I'm not exactly a Third Quadrant applicant, but a Fourth Quadrant applicant. 2.94 UGPA and a 730 GMAT (w/ a strong verbal and AWA but a not-so-strong quant score). My UGPA looms over my head like a dark cloud, and snaps me down to reality everytime I start dreaming about life @ a top b-school and what I can achieve afterwards. But I'm determined to at least give it a shot. No regrets. Will be happy to report back after the application cycles are over... but spring 2013 never felt so far away.

Duke Fuqua is actually among my top 3 choices for schools I am planning to apply to and I am scheduled to attend an upcoming Duke Information Session event. What about Fuqua drew you in the most? Any questions or areas you feel should be worth exploring/asking at the infosession?

Thanks, OjilEye! I'm glad that you bumped this thread up as I hope my story inspires those with less than stellar stats to keep aiming high.

I read through your blog entries, and it seems like you have done a great job digging up valuable information on the MBA application process as well as schools in which you are interested. It also appears that you have gone through some of the peaks and troughs that almost every applicant experiences. And so, I urge you to soldier on.

As for your first question, a lot of things about Fuqua drew me in. The strong global brand, massive alumni network, amazing campus and incredible athletics programs were key factors. The curriculum, student-run clubs and the diversity of the class impressed me as well. However, the biggest contributor to my decision to make Duke my number one choice is the Team Fuqua culture. All schools always talk about the collaborative nature of their programs, but interacting with Fuquans truly made me feel as if I was already a part of the team even before I was accepted to Duke. It is a tight-knit family where everybody absolutely goes out of their way to help each other. Duke was initially just fourth on my list of schools, but after doing my research, I realized that it is the perfect fit for me.

I hope I have sufficiently answered your questions. Let me know if you have any others.

@threestripe: That is some story dude. U have inspired me so much that i have decided to join this committee just to reply to your post.
Most of all i agree with the last para that you wrote: this is a place for competitive as well as co-operative people who want to help each other. It is good to be a part of this community.
I have some personal questions regarding Fuqua. I will pm you.

Thanks, ninads! I am glad that you have joined the community. I hope you become an active member and inspire others to join as well. In case you have already sent me a message, I would like to let you know that I have not received anything. Please re-send at your earliest convenience as I would like to help out as best I could.
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threestripes wrote:
Introduction

Back when I was in college, working my way towards becoming a banker, I knew that I would eventually go back to school as an MBA student. My plan was to accept a lucrative offer from a multinational bank immediately after graduating; be a rock star and get promoted once or twice in three or four years; and then apply and get accepted to an elite business school. It was, to me, a foolproof plan. However, during my senior year, I realized that I did not want to be in finance and that I was destined to be in sports business. And so, I went back to square one.

In 2006, three months after graduating, I packed up all of my belongings and moved from Southeast Asia all the way across the world to New York City. After almost a whole year of looking for a job in the industry, I finally got in and quickly realized that my industry does not boast of many MBA graduates. With this in mind, I opted to just keep working hard and then potentially revisit the MBA issue in a few years.

After getting two quick promotions, I started considering not going back to school at all. At this point, my parents were hounding me, asking me when I would be applying, and I kept telling them that not all industries require an MBA degree to succeed. When I was promoted for the third time in 2010, to a project management role in the department that I had set my eyes on from the very beginning, I began working mostly with MBA graduates. That was when it hit me that I would actually need to go to business school in order to continue moving up the ladder. Therefore, in June 2011, five years after graduating from college, I decided that the MBA was the logical next step to take.

With a mortifying undergrad GPA of 2.85, I knew that it was going to be an uphill battle for me. Fortunately, I had already taken an Advanced Finance class and got an A at the NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies in 2007. At the very least, I figured that I would be able to use this to prove that I was capable of being a decent student at an elite school. However, I also would have to ace the GMAT in order to compensate for the laughable academic record.

I wanted to study as well as I could for the GMAT. I wanted to begin reviewing as early as possible, but I had two long international trips between June and September, and then I had to entertain guests for the whole month of November. Instead of having at least six full months of preparation, I was only able to dedicate the month of October and the week before the test to my GMAT review. In fact, I didn’t even get to schedule my GMAT until September, three months prior to my test in December.

After cramming four sample tests in one week (the week prior to the test), I took the GMAT for the first (and last) time and scored a 690. I thought I bombed the test while answering the questions, so I was initially happy with the 690. But when it dawned on me how close I was to 700, I was a little bit disappointed.

With a 690 GMAT and a 2.85 uGPA, I became a member of what I have dubbed the Third Quadrant Profile Club. I call this as such because if you plot my numbers on a chart with the GMAT as the x-axis, the uGPA as the y-axis, and (700, 3.0) as the origin, the point that would represent my profile would be located in the dreaded third quadrant. We are a rare breed here on these forums (or fora depending on how formal you want to be). If you want proof, simply check the data board in each school’s thread, and you will notice that, in this community, we represent less than 5% of every top 15 school’s applicant pool.

To be continued...

Where in SEA are you from?
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gablaze23 wrote:
Where in SEA are you from?

I just sent you a PM.
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threestripes,
thank you so much for sharing your experience.

I'm kind of a "third quadrant" applicant myself: low gmat, not-so-great GPA, 30 years old.

To add some impossibility to the recipe, I'm applying to just two business schools, which are the only ones I really feel "connected" to -and are into the ultra-elite category-. It roughly took me a year, that by the way was not only incredibly busy at work (average 12.5 hours workdays), but also made me witness a loss of a very dear relative and a gain of another very dear one (I got married -that required a huge preparation too, btw- )

Overall I feel I've been true to myself, because at the end of the day, either I beat the odds and get into what I really saw as the biggest opportunity of all, or I get dinged but I know that this thorough self-assessment made me understand what I wanted to become (which in my view requires business school expertise, btw). And moreover, I wouldn't put myself (and my wife) on a two-year path in the opposite side of the world -not to mention the personal financial strain- for something I don't consider to be the absolute best for me.

And you're right, once submitted, one should stop re-reading essays, as it could only add FUD to the mix. I think I've got a very good resume and clearly framed my objectives and vision, but I'm somehow I feel I haven't found an outstanding way to express my connection with the two universities (I was always afraid of, you know, looking like a bootlicker).

I'm looking forward to your next and final part, and I'd also like to know how you felt during the interview. Thanks again!
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You should post your profile here, @threestripes
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gablaze23 wrote:

You should post your profile here, @threestripes

I just did, sir. This thread deviates a little bit from the quoted one, though, so I will keep posting here moving forward.
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Thank you, threestripes. I had been browsing the forums for a while, and I believe that lots of info and perspectives I found here proved to be invaluable to approach my essays.

Now that I submitted, I'm taking a week off. After all, this year has truly been an emotional rollercoaster for me, and the awareness of having very slim chances to get in (in a sea of exceptional applicants) kind of drags you down momentarily while thinking "I've got to prepare for an interview that possibly will never happen".

But one thing that never leaves me is my resilience; that, coupled with my belief that things happen for a reason, will make me dive deep into interview preparation in a few days. (Hey, I have to take care of my wife who so patiently supported me this year -I was studying for the GMAT two days before my wedding-.. she has the "exclusive" on my free time for a week now )

Over time, my consideration of a possibility of an MBA changed from "the thing that could change my life" to "the thing that could change me and that could enable me to pursue my life objective at the same time". It's not a matter of having a top-10 university entry in my resume, but rather having an ocean of possibilities and perspectives that could make me get dramatically better in what I want to do.

Overall I think the best way to look at the application process is to really consider it as a life experience in itself. Somewhat, one is forced to sit down and think responsibly about his own goals, actual possibilities, weak and strong points. You have to draw an imaginary bridge between where you are now and where you want to be. Most of the pillars have to be there already, but you need some other ones, not to mention the tie beams. And by actually reflecting on what those are, you are setting a path for yourself to walk on. An MBA will help you build your bridge much faster, but I believe that if you're really determined, at some point you could get there anyway.

Ok, enough with my metaphors. Looking forward to your part V
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I just wanted to say,

threestripes, you are an awesome person.
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