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A couple questions as I plan out my application process

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A couple questions as I plan out my application process  [#permalink]

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New post 07 Jul 2017, 19:37
Hi Stratus,

I greatly appreciate the responses I've gotten from admissions consultants 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!
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Re: A couple questions as I plan out my application process  [#permalink]

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New post 13 Jul 2017, 20:06
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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?
PURSUE A CAREER PATH WILL ULTIMATELY MOVE YOU CLOSER TO YOUR CAREER GOALS, CAREER ALIGNMENT IS WHAT THE AD COMM WILL VALUE

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.
YOU WANT TO WORK ENOUGH UNTIL YOU HAVE THE REQUISITE EXPERIENCE WHERE YOU CAN NOT ONLY ADD VALUE TO A CLASSROOM ENVIRONMENT AS WELL AS BE PREPARED FOR YOUR POST-MBA LIFE. YOU WILL HAVE TO JUDGE THIS ON A YEARLY BASIS I CAN'T TELL YOU HOW YOU WILL DEVELOP. BUT I WILL SAY LOOK AT THE AVG WORK EXPERIENCE OF YOUR SCHOOLS AND EVALUATE AGAINST THAT, 3-4 YEARS WHICH YOU WOULD HAVE WOULD PROBABLY BE ON THE LOWER END

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?
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?
I WOULD SAY GETTING REJECTED EARLIER PUTS AN ADDITIONAL ONUS ON YOUR SUBSEQUENT APPLICATION TO OFFER SOMETHING IMPROVED TO YOUR CANDIDACY, AND A YEAR CAN BE TOUGH TO DO THAT
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.
THEY WILL MOST LIKELY JUST SAY APPLY WHEN YOU FEEL YOU ARE READY BUT YOU CAN GET SOME INSIGHT IF YOU CAN POSE THE QUESTION INA ROUNDABOUT WAY
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A couple questions as I plan out my application process  [#permalink]

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New post 18 Jul 2017, 22:47
Thank you--that is very helpful! I'll definitely apply in 2019, then.

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.

And I suppose I have one more question: if applying ED makes sense, what might my chances be at getting in if I apply in 2018? (As you can see, part of me is still inclined in that direction--perhaps out of impulsivity.)
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Re: A couple questions as I plan out my application process  [#permalink]

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New post 19 Jul 2017, 18:20
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I tend to think if CBS is tied for your #1 school then applying ED seems like a no-brainer, especially given all of the other pros you described given your development goals. You could maybe get in RD but who knows nothing is guaranteed in this process, especially given the competitive nature of the top 4 schools you are applying to, I would try to boost your odds any way you can
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Re: A couple questions as I plan out my application process  [#permalink]

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New post 19 Jul 2017, 18:55
Thanks for the quick response! You're absolutely right that my candidacy will be stronger in 2019, but do you think I stand a fair chance at getting into Columbia ED if I apply in 2018--enough to make applying worthwhile? (It would be the only MBA program I applied to that year.) It seems like Columbia welcomes reapplicants, especially if they applied ED the next year.
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Re: A couple questions as I plan out my application process  [#permalink]

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New post 19 Jul 2017, 19:00
A fair chance...but the ad comm will see you as an applicant who won't bring much to the table outside of great scores which don't really affect the classroom environment for others. So that will be a major red flag. Also, as a re-applicant you will have to prove to the ad comm how you have grown since your application, since you will have more experience you have a natural story, but I do think getting some work experience will help you as an applicant and also as a student when you are looking for employment post-MBA
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Re: A couple questions as I plan out my application process  [#permalink]

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New post 19 Jul 2017, 19:04
Yeah, those are good points, and I especially need to think about the effects of matriculating too early on post-MBA employment. There's really no need for me to rush my applications. Thanks for the advice! I'm sure I will have more questions as 2019 approaches.
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Re: A couple questions as I plan out my application process  [#permalink]

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New post 19 Jul 2017, 19:15
No problem, feel free to keep them coming in the Ask Veritas Forum as the quetions come. Good luck!
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