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# Application best practices for each B-school

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Director
Affiliations: FRM Charter holder
Joined: 02 Dec 2006
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Schools: Stanford, Chicago Booth, Babson College
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09 Jun 2007, 04:07
Thank you so much rhyme, lepium, johnnyx, pelihu, aaudetat !!!

we hope to pass on what we learn from you (with some of our own realizations) to 2011 ers..

NC, great Idea.
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18 Jul 2007, 17:29
Nice post.
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23 Jul 2007, 12:56
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Hi,
a few people have summarized their experience very well, but I will put in my two cents too:

School Name: I applied to Haas and UCLA, was accepted at both, and chose to attend Haas.

What do you think worked for you in the application? What was the X-factor in this application which wasn't present in your unsuccessful ones? How did you show that you fit with your admit school? Did you visit the school?

I am in the supposedly-ultracompetitive category of Indian/male/software engr, most of whom have gone to top-5 engg schools. My career profile and growth, though good, wasn't extraordinary compared to those of the usual candidates at both schools.

In general, I did everything I could to make my application balanced. Since I am not a manager, I gave ample leadership examples outside of work. I also emphasized that my group was distributed around the world and how this gave me real 'team-player' points. I provided very clear goals, leaving no room for ambiguity. If the adcom wanted to summarize my application into a single line, I wanted them to come up with something like: "software engr with good experience in a truly multinational company, has clear goals for the MBA, decent career progression, and strong extracurriculars". This can be different for you: for example, my friend aimed for a one-line summary of 'quant god with clear MBA goals' -- but then again, he has a BS + MS from MIT (both with full scholarships), more than a dozen patents in his field, many publications, and a GMAT of 780 (he applied to H/S/W/MIT and was accepted at all). The aim is to create an overall impression of you that makes you a unique candidate and beyond a statistic. This impression has to be bolstered by all the individual parts of your application.

I took a lot of time to research schools. I went to Haas + UCLA multiple times, attended a couple of classes at each, and spoke with a few adcom members + faculty too. I believe this helped me immensely in my essays and interviews -- I was able to convey a sense of deep interest and knew exactly how the programs would help me.

Was your GMAT ever mentioned as a specific plus point during the admissions process,by ad-com or interviewer?

My GMAT score was 760 and wasn't mentioned at all. All schools say that GMAT scores are looked at in the context of the entire application. While I am sure this is true (for e.g., a combination of GMAT 790 + weak essays will ding you) I do think that GMAT scores of >750 are relatively rare and can work out in your favor. They can give you some leeway with the other parts of your application.

If you got a positive note from your interviewer or ad-com, what was it?

The UCLA interviewer emailed me that my background and work experience was very strong, and she hoped to see me at Anderson. I didn't hear from the Haas interviewer at all. Note that at UCLA, students carry out the interviews, while at Haas, by admissions officers.

Did you take care to emphasize certain aspects of your profile? If yes, what were they? Why did you choose to emphasize them?

I underplayed my technical skills (didn't mention databases/I.T./programming anywhere in my essays), and generally stressed on my soft skills (communication, leadership, teamwork, etc.). I dare say that compared to other applications, my essays were less serious and made me look more likeable (through my teamwork examples) and would perhaps make the adcom think that I would be a nice guy to have in their program. I now know of many applicants with stellar experience/GMATs who were dinged at Haas. The only explanation I can think of is that I stayed away from the 'me me me' essays and projected a humble, well-rounded candidate.

Application DO's:
Take the GMAT early.

Be organized -- even though I applied to only two schools, there were times when my essays were getting the better of me and it was taking a lot of time to keep them organized (at one time, I had fifteen drafts of my essays!!). Do take regular backups of your essays (to a USB stick, for e.g.). Give at least two months to your recommenders and tell them to TAKE THEIR OWN SWEET TIME to write them, and not rush it. Give your recommenders plenty of information about what you've done in the past few years. You will be surprised at the stuff they forget!

DON'Ts: None that I can think of.

Hope this helps, and good luck!
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23 Jul 2007, 13:00
Good one Drucker

All the best
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25 Jul 2007, 20:12
drucker_fan wrote:
Hi,
a few people have summarized their experience very well, but I will put in my two cents too:

Thanks drucker_fan - that was very helpful. I am also in the category of Indian/Male/Software Engineer so your experience with the application process is particularly relevant to me.

My biggest concern about my application is that I've been working for a tech company for about 5 years (in the US) but due to a very flat structure of our organization, I am not yet at a formal managerial position. This is not to say that my performance has not been good or that I've not shown leadership potential or that I have not made a difference to the teams that I've worked with - I have; but the bottom line is that my designation has been the same for the last 5 years - so how do I portray career growth on my application?
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25 Jul 2007, 21:58
english_august,
I had the same problem -- my software company is extremely flat and its not unusual for a first-level manager to have fifty direct reports. I really couldn't come up with good examples of leadership at work. There were times when I led small groups for small projects, but they weren't all that great and I didn't write about them in my essays (I made sure that my recommenders knew about these, however )

I have heard that adcoms do realize that many of the 'new economy' software companies have very flat structures, and therefore, not being a formal manager after a few years of experience is ok. However, I showed progression at work -- I got a promotion last year, and when I changed jobs some years ago, I had a significant increase in responsibilities. In fact, at both interviews, I was asked exactly why I was promoted. I would advise you to wait for a year or two before applying so that you can show a promotion. This is just my opinion -- perhaps other people here think differently. If you can't wait, then at least show a steady addition/progression in your duties. If applicable, perhaps a recommender can write that you are going to get promoted soon? Have you mentored any colleagues at work?

I believe that one's application really depends on how one positions and markets oneself. Fortunately, I have good experience (> 10 years) as a leader/organizer in hiking and environmental clubs, and wrote about leadership in those roles. I think this is fine -- it also shows adcoms that one has a life outside of work, and goes beyond the casual 'member of XYZ club' extracurricular activities mentioned by many. Think about all the experiences you had since college -- I'm sure that you can come up with a few activities that can be presented as examples of leadership potential. But explore these experiences in detail and don't make them superficial or glib. Good luck!
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How does age factor in? [#permalink]

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26 Jul 2007, 16:27
I am sure many non-residents on this forum must have grappled with this issue so I am hoping to benefit from their experience.

I am planning to apply for Fall 08; my green card application has been pending for almost 4 years now and though there is no certainty in the entire process, I am sure that I should have it in less than 2 years. I would prefer to start my B school after I get my green card so that I don't have to deal with the issues of getting onto the student visa and then try to get the work visa after graduation. But my concern is age. I'd be 33 in Fall 08 and I feel that I am already late by a couple of years and if I delay until Fall 09 to wait for my green card, that would be even worse.

What do folks think about it? Should I wait until to start until 09? Or will it be too late by then? I know that it is my decision to make but I am sure your advice will be very helpful.
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01 Aug 2007, 22:39
drucker_fan wrote:
..................progression, and strong extracurriculars". This can be different for you: for example, my friend aimed for a one-line summary of 'quant god with clear MBA goals' -- but then again, he has a BS + MS from MIT (both with full scholarships), more than a dozen patents in his field, many publications, and a GMAT of 780 (he applied to H/S/W/MIT and was accepted at all). The aim is to create an overall impression of you that makes you a unique candidate and beyond a statistic. This impression has to be bolstered by all the individual parts of your application.
............!

Respect to drucker_fan for this awesome post.....but I am curious as to where your super achiever friend joined?? As in if I were in his shoes (hey that can be my U-Chic essay 2 - who's shoes do I wanna be in)........then I would personally pick MIT........

And congrats to you too for Berk. Applying to only 2 schools must have taken guts
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02 Aug 2007, 10:29
Quote:
Respect to drucker_fan for this awesome post.....but I am curious as to where your super achiever friend joined?? As in if I were in his shoes (hey that can be my U-Chic essay 2 - who's shoes do I wanna be in)........then I would personally pick MIT........

And congrats to you too for Berk. Applying to only 2 schools must have taken guts

Thanks! No guts required, just a mixture of foolishness + pig-headedness in the right ratio Good luck to you at Chicago.

My friend went to Wharton, where he received a substantial scholarship.
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03 Aug 2007, 11:29
thanks drucker_fan! i'm applying to UCLA and Haas, and many people have said that it's crazy to not have a backup school (also applying to Stanford, but that doesn't help my situation at all). I have similar backgrounds as you (except I'm Chinese American) in terms of work experience, extracurricular leadership, and a well-roundedness of my personality. I'll definitely follow your advice and really be aggressive with all three schools I'm applying to, visiting, getting to know students and adcom, and portraying myself as a good person to have around. Your post is invaluable to me! Thank you!
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04 Aug 2007, 09:53
School Name : Applied to Columbia ED and HBS, Stanford, Wharton, and Kellogg R1, Admits: Columbia (attending), Wharton (after W/L), DWIs: HBS, Stanford, Withdrew: Kellogg

What do you think worked for you in the application?

Being well rounded, I had only been working two years at the time I applied so I didn't manage a team or anything but was able to show leadership through my many activities.

What was the X-factor in this application which wasn't present in your unsuccessful ones?

Honestly I'm proud of all of my applications. I think I represented myself well, but the schools that dinged me are the hardest ones to crack. I think given my goals and interests I had the best fit with Columbia.

How did you show that you fit with your admit school? Did you visit the school?

Yes, I visited the school. Interestingly enough Wharton and Columbia were the only schools that I visited out of the ones I applied to and that's where I got in. Coincidence? Maybe not. I'm going into media and the program at Columbia is great plus being in either NYC or LA is a huge advantage, so I was able to convince them that they're my #1 choice. The key is to link the school's advantages to things that'll help you get ahead when it comes to your career goals. Also, I mentioned a lot of specific classes and programs at each of the schools and how they would help me get where I'm going. Show that you've truly researched the program and that you know how you're going to take advantage of the resources once you are there.

Was your GMAT ever mentioned as a specific plus point during the admissions process,by ad-com or interviewer?

No, I got right around the class average so while my co-workers were impressed I doubt it was anything special to the adcom

If you got a positive note from your interviewer or ad-com, what was it?

I got positive feedback at the end of my Columbia interview. That interview went really really well. If you do an alumni interview don't just pick someone randomly. Do your due diligence. When given a list of potential interviewers I Googled each one and used that info to determine who will be most sympathetic to your candidacy. My interviewer ended up being a perfect match but only because I had done my homework. Also, it's important to have a game plan for someone who may not be your ideal match. For Wharton I had to e-mail nine people before one responsed and agreed to interview me. This person was not at the top of my list otherwise.

Did you take care to emphasize certain aspects of your profile?If yes, what were they? Why did you choose to emphasize them?

Yes, my extracurriculars are what really help me stand out in a good way. I have lots, some that are related to my career goals, so it helped me develop my path more clearly.

Did you deliberately choose to omit certain aspects of your profile, specific to your admit school? What were they and why did you omit? Did you include these data points in other applications?

Yes, I avoided talking about my undergrad wherever possible. I really did not have a great experience there so I just didn't bring up the subject. Also, my grades while not terrible really do not reflect my potential, so while I reported them I didn't bring them anywhere else so as not to draw too much attention to my spotty transcript.

Application DO's:

Start early. Get together a list of stories that you can write about. What helps is going through your life and pulling out all of the interesting things that happened to you or that you did and describe the experience, describe the action you took, describe the effect on others, and describe what you learned from it. Have a good career goal story planned out. If you don't know what you wanna do be good at faking it, IB or consulting always works because they're so broad and the ultra-elites and elites know you can get a job doing that if you want one coming out of their school and you need an MBA to get into those fields at the associate level. I used consulting in a media & entertainment group as my goal because although I know I want to go into media & entertainment, I don't know what I specifically want to do functionally speaking. An industry on its own does not a career goal make. Schools want to admit people who will be able to reach their career goals, so be realistic. Your career goal should also be something that you need an MBA for. This means you have to know your target industry, don't say you want an MBA so you can switch careers and be a movie director, that's what an MFA is for, but if you want to be a producer and then open a production company then an MBA may very well be for you. I think reflection and self-awareness is very important in the application process. Research, research, research the programs that you apply to. Make each school know that it's your #1. Apply only to schools that you would be excited to attend, the investment of time and money is too great for you to fall in the "woulda been a contender" mind trap. Also apply to a school or two that you think might be a stretch.

Applicant DONT's:

If you decide to do Columbia ED apply as early as possible so that you get your result before December (they guarantee a 10 week turn around so plan accordingly) and apply to other schools in R2. I could've saved myself a lot of time and money! Also, don't open a browser for each school's application page every morning after you've applied and keep hitting F5
04 Aug 2007, 09:53

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