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A couple questions as I plan out my application process

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Manager
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Joined: 07 Aug 2015
Posts: 96
Location: United States
Concentration: Nonprofit
GMAT 1: 780 Q50 V48
GPA: 3.66
A couple questions as I plan out my application process  [#permalink]

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New post 07 Jul 2017, 19:26
Hi mbaMission,

I greatly appreciate your responses to my past questions. I feel pretty good about the list of schools I have in mind, but I'm still trying to figure out my future plans. I apologize for such a long post, but I wanted to present these questions together rather than create separate threads.

An overview of my background/experience:
26 y/o white American male
3.63 GPA (magna cum laude) from a top-5 LAC; graduated in 2013
Currently in a Master of Social Work program--will graduate in May 2018
780 on the GMAT (Q50, V48, AW 6.0, IR 8) (took it in November of last year)
Past work experience: 1.5 years (40 hrs/week and received a stipend to cover living expenses) as an AmeriCorps VISTA member. I researched and gave presentations on unaccompanied child migration from Central America. (Before that, I had been in a religious order for a year, and although I wouldn't really count it as work experience, I figure I should put it on my resume so schools aren't wondering what I did the year after I graduated from college)
Intern/volunteer experience: The MSW program entails about 1,000 hours of field experience. I worked at a mental health center for the first half of those hours, and for the second half, I plan to do a combination of mental health and social services work.

I am looking forward to graduating with an MSW, getting my license, and engaging in clinical social work on the 'micro' (direct practice) level. However, I am ultimately hoping to pursue an MBA and specialize in nonprofit management, as I feel that I can serve more people by being an effective administrator than I can doing one-to-one meetings with clients. Following graduation, I would like to join the administrative team of a regional branch of a social services nonprofit organization (ex. Catholic Charities, Feeding America, Habitat for Humanity, etc.). I envision myself serving as a department director or vice president of social services.

Target schools: Yale, Columbia, Harvard, Wharton, Cornell, Georgetown, Boston College


With that backdrop, here are a few questions:

1. I'd like to apply my MBA towards social services management. With that in mind, should I select a job out of the MSW program that will be more directly connected to social services, such as working with the homeless? Or could I also work in the mental health field as a counselor/therapist, or in medical social work, perhaps in a hospital? I see mental health care and medical social work as one of many 'social services' (along with emergency assistance, benefits, case management, employment counseling, housing assistance, etc.), so I don't think adcoms would take issue with a mental health/medical social work --> MBA --> social services trajectory . . . or would they?


2. I'm still a little torn between applying in the fall of 2018 (matriculating in 2019) and the fall of 2019 (matriculating in 2020). I'll graduate in May 2018, so if the Americorps year and a half counts as full-time work experience (which I think it would), I would have about 32 months of experience if I matriculate in fall 2019, and 44 months of experience if I matriculate in 2020. That wouldn't include my volunteer/intern experience, or course.

If I could submit an application in 2018 and get accepted at Yale, Columbia, Harvard, or Wharton for 2019, I would prefer matriculating earlier rather than later. I'm wondering how realistic that would be for those four schools, though. For instance, it would seem weird to ask my post-MSW employer for an MBA reference just a few months after I arrive there. (I guess I could get a reference from my spring 2018 internship instead, but it wouldn't really be the same, would it?) I also know that post-MBA employers might prefer that I have more experience when I'm applying for administrative jobs.

With all this in mind, what year would you recommend that I submit my application--2018 or 2019?

3. This is based on question 2, but would it be a bad idea to apply in 2018, then re-apply in 2019 once I have more work experience? Or would being rejected earlier lower my chances?

4. Would it be alright for me to bring up some of these questions with adcoms directly? An associate admissions director for Yale will be in town in the next two weeks, and I'd love to hear his perspectives on when I should apply.

Thank you very much for your help!
mbaMission Admissions Consultant
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Joined: 29 Feb 2016
Posts: 200
Location: United Kingdom
A couple questions as I plan out my application process  [#permalink]

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New post 12 Jul 2017, 12:10
HI U5UWZLP5

Thanks for getting in touch and apologies for the delay in response as we considered the many pieces of information you provided in this profile request. In short, you have *great* stats that will automatically make you attractive to many programs. However, you are a bit of a non-traditional candidate without a strong track record of work experience in the real world. Also, business schools want to know that they can help you get a job post-MBA, and I'm not sure if the employers you mention are hiring at the top b-schools you are targeting.

So I think you have to do a couple of things. I think you need to download the employment reports of your target programs and see who is hiring and if any of those firms are attractive to you. Then I think you need to graduate from your MSW and get some solid work experience in. Schools are a little wary of degree collectors and while I'm not saying you are, you want to make sure your profile addresses any of their concerns about this. So to your question, my gut says you will be a stronger candidate in 2019. This also gives you the advantage of lining up those crucial letters of recommendation.

Your situation is certainly very unique and I'm not sure I can do justice to all your detailed questions here. I recommend that you set up a free consult with one of our team members. See the link below in my signature to submit your details. Please when it asks "Is there a specific mbaMission consultant with whom you have already connected," just put "Krista, but she told me to take the first available consultant." This is a very busy time of year and I have limited availability and I'd want to make sure you hash some of these things out.

Thanks,
Krista
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Manager
Manager
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Joined: 07 Aug 2015
Posts: 96
Location: United States
Concentration: Nonprofit
GMAT 1: 780 Q50 V48
GPA: 3.66
Re: A couple questions as I plan out my application process  [#permalink]

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New post 18 Jul 2017, 22:48
Thank you--that is very helpful! I'll definitely apply in 2019, then. And I also appreciate the offer for a free consult--if you'd prefer to answer the below question within that consultation, just let me know and we can set one up.


I have one additional question, and it's a tricky one. I am trying to figure out if I should apply to Columbia Early Decision, and although I have a couple years to decide, I would greatly appreciate your input on this as well. I see a number of pros and cons to going ED:

1. I believe there's a good chance that applying ED will boost my chances of admission to Columbia. If I have a weak interview or some other part of my application (such as work experience) is lacking from the adcoms' perspective, the ED choice could make up for that. The Decision Tracker results for recent years indicate that your chances of admission at Columbia may be much higher in the early acceptance round, though the applicant pools may also be different.

2. I also think that Columbia could be more likely to give me some scholarship $$$ if I go ED, although I know there's a lot of debate about this.

3. Really not as important, but it would be nice to be done with MBA applications if I find out early that I got admitted there; it would make the rest of the year much less stressful!

4. Submitting the application early (in June or July 2019, for example) would give me more time to work on my other applications. Columbia would be a Round 0.5 of sorts. I know I could also apply early for ED too and just get it out of the way, even if I won't hear back for a while.

5. Columbia' Loan Assistance Program would potentially allow me to pay back much less debt in the long run. If I'm $100,000 in debt when I graduate, but work for a 501(c)(3) nonprofit (which is my plan anyway) and get approved for the program, Columbia could pay off $10,000 in loan money a year for 10 years, which would ultimately be a lot more valuable than a $20,000 scholarship. I know that some other programs offer this as well, and many of them are also on my list of prospective schools.

6. Columbia is, in my mind, tied for "first choice" along with Harvard, UPenn, and Yale. I would be overjoyed to attend any of those schools. So I can say with a straight face that Columbia is "a" first choice school for me.


The disadvantages:

1. If I'm admitted, I won't be able to compare the scholarship/aid packages that any other schools offer me. If I get a substantial scholarship (or a full ride--I can dream, right?) to another school on my list, I won't be able to accept it.

Along with Yale, Columbia, Harvard, and UPenn (my top four choices), I'm also planning to apply to Duke and Cornell in Round 1. If I don't get in to any of those schools, I would plan to apply to Michigan, UNC, Virginia, and Georgetown in Round 2. (All of these are subject to change, of course!) So if one of those schools gives me a much better deal than Columbia, it doesn't matter, and I probably wouldn't ever know anyway.

2. Columbia's Loan Assistance Program looks great, and I think I'll have a good shot at benefiting from it, but I know that it's not an entitlement--so I might not receive money from it after all, or potentially a lot less than I'd expect. If I'm making less than $80,000 (which is quite possible given that I'm most drawn to the social services sector), I could be in rough shape financially for a decade. (This will be a potential problem regardless of what round I apply in, of course.)


What are your thoughts? I know that I have a good shot at getting into Columbia during regular decision as well, but I don't want to take anything for granted, and it seems that going ED could boost my chances. Oh, and declining the ED admissions offer is not an option for me.
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A couple questions as I plan out my application process

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