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Sail away - from the High Seas to Duke Fuqua

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Joined: 03 Jul 2013
Posts: 64
Location: India
Concentration: Operations, Strategy
GMAT 1: 720 Q50 V36
GMAT 2: 740 Q50 V40
GPA: 3.8
WE: Engineering (Hospitality and Tourism)
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Sail away - from the High Seas to Duke Fuqua  [#permalink]

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New post 27 Nov 2015, 08:33
Hello everyone,

Let me introduce myself first:
I am an Indian Marine Engineer working with a Monaco based Specialty Cruise Company, Star Clippers. I have over five years of experience on tankers and sailing vessels around the world. I gave my GMAT last year and managed a respectable 740 Q50 V 40 IR8 AWA 5.5.
An avid sportsperson (cricket & football), long time association with NGO work and a passion for dancing, I had a host of extracurricular to support my profile. Add to that a diverse profile and immense international exposure I thought the MBA journey will be a cakewalk. But unfortunately it was not as easy as I thought it would be. But as they say “All is well that ends well”. Fall 2016, I will be joining Duke Fuqua after rejecting offers from IIM B (with $$) and other reputed US/European colleges.
I would not like to tire you with details of each and everything that happened during this long journey (Believe me it was long or at least it seemed to be). Rather than a narrative about how my emotions surged up and down with each passing day and notifications I received from various colleges, I decided to summarize my key learnings from this experience (especially for us Indians).

GMAT is definitely not the defining factor for your admissions. The importance of the GMAT in your application to an MBA program is significant, yet the weight of your GMAT score as part of your overall application package will vary by school. So this means that in many cases a strong performance on the GMAT is simply an order qualifier, the element of your application that helps you get your foot in the door, and it will ultimately be somewhat irrelevant in truly determining your candidacy. Every prospective student is evaluated on multiple parameters. The admissions committee wants a holistic perspective. Therefore, each part of your application should throw light on a different dimension of your profile. Certain key areas of this assessment are stated below.
• Post MBA Goals and Employability
• Academic and Analytical Capability
• Essays and Letters of Recommendation
• Work Experience
• Fit with the School
• Diversity

If I had to choose the most important area of your application/candidacy, Post-MBA would be my pick. Quoting what a Ross current student told me “You are at point A, post MBA goals are point B and the B school is the bus that takes you from A to B”. So, it is simple, if you can prove to the college that yes the school is really important for you to make this transition, I believe half your job is done. The rest half is to prove why you think you are worthy enough to be admitted to reach those goals. There are several blogs online from experts (eg personal statement guide from MBAmission etc) to tell you what exactly the school is looking for. I would strongly advise everyone to go through these materials and get your goals bang on.

Something that we always neglect, reaching out to people: admission committee, current students, alums, MBA fairs etc. An international MBA is nothing but networking, a hub to give you opportunities to get you to place you deserve. So every school expects you to network a bit to find about them. This helps in two ways
1. Obviously, it will help you to decide if the school is worth that huge investment. It will provide you several invaluable perspectives to base your decisions on.
2. If you have concrete knowledge about the school it helps you immensely in your essays. You can connect the dots well and more importantly your research demonstrates your dedication and willingness to be part of the B school community.
Even if you do not have the curiosity to research much; irrespective of the first reason, still do your research. It leaves a really good impression on the admission committee. The admission committee wants you to know where you are heading to and if you have the maturity and intellect to understand and plan your life decisions and choices. This also portrays your dedication and passion toward your goals and the B schools. Collectively this add a lot to your chances to get in.

Differentiate yourself
There are numerous opportunities to do that. I am not going to pester you by telling each and every fundamental detail: you know it. Sell yourself, use essays, extracurriculars, LORs, CV, interviews to demonstrate what makes you different why should they take over someone. Indirectly you are telling them what you add to the class through your profession and personal experiences and skills that someone else would not. This should the first basic to keep in mind while writing any section of your application.

Profile Building
There are things you can’t change and then there are things you can: so why not. There can be several aspects to this: joining public speaking forums, writing a blog, getting professional certifications for a hobby you have or the most clichéd one, joining a social cause or an NGO. This is again comes to differentiating yourself. May be you are prolific speaker and can singlehandedly motivate your team. Miles away in US no one would believe that. Some formal accreditation adds a lot to your profile and also shows your dedication towards skill building.

Admission Consultants
Initially everyone is confused on this issue. The Simple answer to the confusion is yes, take consultants. How much you want to spend will depend on you but always keep in mind when you are planning to give something in the range of $150k to the school, their charges are nominal. The bottom line is outside guidance adds a lot to your application not just in essays but also in form invaluable advice in several application components. It bridges a big knowledge gap which eases out the intensive process for you. To simplify: when 50 % of the applicants take professional help to improve their material then why would you intentionally want to stay behind and submit something that you can be improved( even by 1 %). Why give 1% scope to your competition as the seats are fixed and the competition is immense.

Don’t Neglect Anything
One last and best advice I want to give you is don’t neglect anything. Each part of the application matters and is summed up for the final decision. Never ever neglect any part, however small it may seem. If you have a weakness try to amend it and if it is not possible to improve then clearly explain it to the admission committee (Optional essays etc). To sum up, there are points that will make your applications and then there are points that will break your application. Give due importance to both.

Hope it helps :-D
You can write to me if you have more specific doubts.

GMAT Club Bot
Sail away - from the High Seas to Duke Fuqua   [#permalink] 27 Nov 2015, 08:33
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