Success Story! “Fit > Rankings” Part 2

Last we left our military Brave Supplicant, they had just finished the GMAT (750 on the retake – whoohoo!) and had shortlisted some schools, including Duke EA, plus Kellogg and Darden for Round 1. (You can read all of Part 1 here if you missed it.) Here’s the end of the story.


I interviewed at both Kellogg and Fuqua during my visits (I was invited to interview at Darden, but declined once I had my Fuqua admit). I can’t stress how important preparation is (especially for me, since I had never even interviewed for a job). I spent countless hours researching each school, which I think impressed my interviewers. I was able to discuss individual classes and professors, placement statistics, clubs, etc. I also made spreadsheets of potential questions and typed out full answers to them, which really helped me develop thoughtful answers and give them a good glimpse into my personality. Both ended up being very relaxed and conversational, which was a big plus.


Basically, read everything that EssaySnark has written about essays. That was really helpful. I submitted my first essay to ES for a free review on their blog, which was subsequently torn apart and I felt like the worst MBA essay writer ever. For the better though! I always felt confident in my writing abilities, but I realized that I was completely missing the mark on my essays. I came back with essays that better answered the question and (for better or worse) let my personality shine through. I highly recommend getting brutally honest feedback on your essays, from people who understand the application process. [Here’s where you can submit your own essay for consideration for the freebie review. -ES]

Another thing I realized after my profile review — the importance of your professional goals cannot be underestimated. I initially said…entrepreneurship. It seemed edgy and exciting, but it was actually boring and generic. I did not have a business plan, I did not have a background in business, and I guess saying “I’ll figure it out after I graduate” doesn’t fly (allegedly). I did some more reflecting and decided which aspects of entrepreneurship I was interested in, which aspects I thought my background had prepared me for, and which aspects I knew I needed work on. I ended up settling on [redacted]. For my long term goal, I talked about [redacted]. I felt like those goals were realistic, meaningful, and, most importantly, true to myself. [We deleted the details because we just don’t want to tempt any of you well-meaning BSers… What worked for this person is not necessarily going to work for anyone else – your goals need to be your own! -ES]

So, here I am. I got that call from Durham (and a scholarship, which confirms they do give scholarships during EA [what, you didn’t believe it when the adcom confirmed it straight to us? -ES]). If anything, I think this whole process confirmed that I was making the right decision. I felt more and more comfortable about heading back to school as it dragged on. Basically, if I could pass along any advice, I would say make sure to get honest feedback (again, EssaySnark!), do some reflection, figure out where you fit and what you want out of the experience, and get to work!

Well said!

Congrats again to this Success Story! Great advice here and we very much appreciate that you shared your journey and key decision-points and the process of it all with the next crop of BSers.

Duke is lucky to have you!!!

To continue our “Just do it”-ish theme from a few weeks ago…

After Round 2 deadlines were past, we exhorted everybody to dive in with life. To get out of their comfort zone and step up to the plate and embark on all kinds of other annoying rah-rah cliches.

Today we’ve got a few links to articles we’ve come across to hopefully keep you motivated!

First: 6 Ways to Prove You’re a Genuine Superstar at Work

Next – we’re cheating a bit since this is actually linked from the first article (by the same author): The 8 Qualities of Remarkable Employees

Finally: Regardless of where you are in the process of applying to bschool – submitted in Round 2, getting started on next season, or gloating that you’ve been accepted already – it doesn’t hurt to do some reflection on leadership. Having a good idea of what this means for you – a working hypothesis, so to speak – can serve you well, not just in writing about your own accomplishment stories, and telling them to an interviewer when you are called for that important MBA interview opportunity, but just in general, as a means to figure out what that is to you, and how you can be more of that.

Then, apply it in your life.

Instead of using a Gandhi quote at the top of an essay, why don’t you take this opportunity to go be that change you claim you want to see in the world?
Bonus article, for anyone who’s not planning to resign in a few months to head off to bschool: How to Ask for a Raise

The third quiz has been up for awhile today and some people are breaking out of the pack!

Out of 9 possible points, we’ve got a few people at 4 and others at 3 – though some of them have not completed all three quizzes yet! It’s anybody’s game. The 4-point scorers are:


Right behind them with 3 points are:

Remember, if you take the test more than once, only your first score counts – and you have to enter a real email address to play.

To pass the time… a quiz!

Just call us CourtesySnark – anything we can do to make the wait more bearable!!

Here’s your quiz for the day. If you missed the previous ones, you can get caught up here with #1 and here for #2. Remember, scores from individual quizzes are being aggregated and the BSers who do the best may win some sort of small prizes from Snarkville!!! Stay tuned!

For now… here’s our MBA quiz – The Waiting for HBS edition!

Your Score:  


A reminder of what to expect with Harvard interview invites tomorrow

Yes indeed, it’s here. Tomorrow is the first of the days unofficially known as The Day You Will Get No Work Done.

AKA Harvard Interview Invite Day.

Part One.

Part Two is of course next week.

The bulk of people who will end up with a Golden Ticket at Harvard will be receiving those invitations this week. During the first wave of invites. That’s traditionally how its gone and we have no reason to believe it will go any different this time.

Of course, we have to be Debbie Downer and remind you that the bulk of people simply won’t be getting ANY invite at all.

But that’s a little premature.

Instead of walking you through all of this for the upmteenth time, we are instead going to just give you a list of the relevant posts about Harvard interviews, for you to read up and learn about it … ‘cuz we’ve said it all before:

We’ve probably written even more than that about this, but those should keep you busy for now.

To all the Brave Supplicants who are trying for Harvard in Round 2: GOOD LUCK!!!

Does it matter who the dean is?

Three top schools had/will have a changing of the guard in the corner office this year:

  • Wharton’s Dean Robertson stepped aside and Geoffrey Garrett took over last July
  • Darden’s Bob Bruner will be handing the reins to Scott Beardsley in August
  • Tuck’s longest-tenured dean Paul Damos will be turning things over to Matthew Slaughter in July

Does any of this matter to you, an intrepid wanna-be MBA student?

Yes and no.

“No” in the sense that nobody should be choosing their business school based on who’s running the place. There are many many other valid criteria to be using in selecting your school.

“Yes” in that the person running the place is going to have a dramatic effect on many aspects of your two years attending that school – whether it’s immediately obvious or not.

The best analogy that we can come up with for the role of an elite bschool dean from the student’s perspective is the experience of going to a fancy hotel.

Have you ever been to like a Four Seasons or a Ritz Carlton? Or an Oberoi, or a Taj, depending on where you are in the world? It’s the General Manager of the hotel who’s responsible for your experience there. A good GM sweats the details on everything. Not only does the GM handle the financials of the hotel but they pay attention to all that adds up to your perception of being on property – the vibe or “mood” of the hotel, the amenities offered, how guests are greeted. It’s many many things that in a well-run hotel are actually invisible to the guest.

That’s how it works with a good dean.

A good dean knows what his (or her) school is – and what it can become. A good dean puts systems and processes in place to ensure that the school reaches its potential. A good dean has a blend of the tactical and the day-to-day combined with the vision for the future that is unique to the school – and he (or she) communicates that vision and empowers everyone else to strive for it.

Deans have many constituents that they need to please – and you may be surprised to discover that students are not often the most important on the list. Deans need to keep their faculty happy. They need to keep their big-ticket donors happy. They need to keep the overall school administration happy. They need to make a positive first impression on those applicants who are interested in attending. All of this means that deans have to answer to many – and education is not always their primary focus. Marketing, branding, prestige – and yes, rankings – these things matter just as much. Bschools are political institutions, after all.

The deans taking over at these three schools have wildly varying backgrounds. Tuck’s selection of an internal candidate makes complete sense for that school. The Tuck culture is unique and we can see how it could be more difficult for an outsider to come in and be successful there. We’ve never interacted with Dean Slaughter (or any of these deans) however on paper he looks like a very good choice.

Ditto for Darden: Dean Beardsley is impressive for sure and we believe that Darden scored a major win with him.

What about Wharton? Well not to be snarky or anything but the jury is still out on Dean Garrett. We just don’t know what he stands for or what his agenda will be – and he’s been around long enough to have some of those priorities made public.

Whenever someone takes over a high-profile role they need to be careful on navigating the institution – they don’t want to be announcing big changes just for big-changes’ sake. Yet the arrival of a new dean is a huge opportunity for the school to do SOMETHING.

What we’re seeing out of Wharton is that this new dean seems to be more a figurehead. He’s very good at PR and makes lots of appearances. That’s great – one role of the dean is to be the face of the school – but we also would expect to see some substance. Wharton is a school that has been just sort of hanging out in the bschool ecosystem for the past few years. Like Kellogg, this is a school that can ride its reputation for like forever… but it’s not showing itself to be nimble and quick. We’re not seeing anything but the same as ever before. It’s early days still, sure… but when other deans took over at big bschools we were more impressed with the fresh energy that they brought in. It was obvious what their priorities were. To not get even a preliminary announcement of strategy and focus after six months on board at Wharton just makes us wonder where that ship is headed.

Mostly what’s important, in our opinion, about this whole dean ascension thing is that it gives you a glimpse of what’s REALLY going on at the school. Selection of a new dean is an incredibly political process. Seeing who the school chooses gives you insight into what the ADMINISTRATION is doing and what they value, and how they see their own school and the overall business education landscape – something you only rarely get to glimpse. Looking at who they choose can help you understand a little bit of the long-term game that the school is trying to play.

For Tuck, our takeaway opinion of the selection of Dean Slaughter is that Tuck is very self-confident. Dean Damos has done a great job there for many years, and Tuck is telling us that their current direction is sound. While we expect to see changes coming with Dean Slaughter we’d be surprised if they were anything too radical. It’s more of a keep-going type strategy, which to us, as complete outsiders, makes sense.

The Darden announcement of a McKinsey alum taking over was also received well in Snarkville and we believe that (along with Yale) Darden may now be one to watch. Those are the two schools that are highest on our radar in terms of being agile and flexible and willing to change. We have equal respect for Dean Bruner as we do for Dean Damos and it’s not like Darden needs to be shaken up – UVA has had a tough year or so but the bschool is on decent footing. Still, we can see that they’re hungry, based on who they landed for this appointment. So we’re very interested to see where Dean Beardsley takes things.

Will a new dean impact your experience in attending a bschool this fall? No. Highly unlikely. Except for some pomp and circumstance when they officially arrive on campus, but most of you won’t be physically at school when that happens. The changes, if any, that these individuals may be lining up will more directly have an impact on future cohorts.

We are very excited to see what all these deans bring forth at their respective schools. Watching a leader implement change on a large scale can be interesting. We’ve got plenty of popcorn at the ready.

Here’s where things stand across two quiz results this week:

Out of a possible total score of 6, the highest scorers have only managed to earn 2 points! Apparently we had more trick questions than we realized. Tied for first place are:


Notes: If you take the test more than once, only your first score counts. Also you have to enter a real email address if you want to be considered for prizes! None of this “” nonsense.