Today’s Success Story reminds us of a more extreme version of this… Hopefully none of you active BSers will need either gummi worms nor a new Costco membership to get where you want to go!
It’s the middle of the application season and if you find yourself stressed out by completely unexpected rejections, I feel your pain. I was there same time last year and it wasn’t pretty. But take it from me, even though it seems like the world is about to end (or maybe you want it to), things will start looking up. In the words of Dan Savage – it gets better!
I started off the process in early 2011 in the same way that many of you probably did. I attended MBA fairs and information sessions, visited schools, read Richard Montauk’s book from cover to cover and spent hours poring over forums and blogs like this one (side note: online discussion forums can be a huge time sink with some gems of advice hidden in mountains of useless and sometimes potentially harmful information. Tread with caution.). Anyway, despite all the research and preparation, my applications that year yielded a series of disappointing outcomes. So I did what any self-respecting BSer would do in this situation and took to binge drinking (relax, I’m joking… kind of).
I knew my application strategy had holes in it and I needed to find them. After a short vacation, I came back to read my previously submitted applications with a fresh mind. One thing was immediately clear to me. The last set of essays I submitted read much better than my essays from Round 1. And guess which schools I applied to in Round 1? Yup, my top choice ones. In fact, those first essays actually sounded quite embarrassing. Your writing is likely to get better with each essay so definitely take that into account while planning your strategy.
You’ve probably heard by now that you should only submit your application when you’re ready. But the problem is that there is no easy way to know when that is. I mean, I thought I was ready when I submitted but looking back now, I clearly wasn’t. I think one way of “knowing” is by vetting it through someone who is a) knowledgeable in the process and b) you trust. If I could go back and change it, I would have at least done the Sanity Check offered by EssaySnark. I know now that my essays would have been ripped to shreds and I would have actually saved money by not needing to buy all those industrial size vodka bottles from Costco. If you are not very well versed in the intricacies of the MBA application process and don’t know anyone who is, then don’t be afraid to get professional help. I think of it like hiring a tax accountant.
I also started to investigate my career goals more closely. I don’t come from a typical b-school feeder industry and don’t really interact with MBAs in my daily life. I have found this to be both a blessing and a disadvantage. While on the one hand, it was probably a little easier to have my application noticed by the Admissions committee, I also did not have the luxury of knowing in advance what it takes to get into these top schools. I have friends in consulting companies that have been discussing their b-school strategy ever since graduating college. I only started slightly over a year ago…and I’m one of those “older” BSers.
Again, I realized I needed help. I contacted everyone I knew that had an MBA and they gave me more contacts and before long I was speaking directly to people in charge of hiring in my target companies. Their insight was crucial and helped me realize how vague my goals seemed in my submitted essays. There’s that situation again – My goals seemed clear and logical to me at the time but they really weren’t. You can avoid this by making sure you have your goals reviewed by someone (preferably a hiring manager) in your target industry in advance. [Or by EssaySnark! The Career Goals App Accelerator is designed just for this. -End Shameless Plug] Waiting for rejection letters before you do so is not the way to go.
Finally, I went back to the drawing board to pick schools. As an “older” candidate, the one-year programs were starting to look pretty promising. I could have a top-ranked MBA faster and cheaper and my peers would have a similar level of work experience. Sure, I would miss out on a few things like gaining additional depth in my field in interest (in terms of electives and involvement in clubs) and those glorious last six months of senioritis that every second year MBA student remembers for the rest of their life. But for my particular situation, I found the benefits of a one-year MBA program outweighed the downsides and so I decided to focus on them. This time, I also used EssaySnark’s Comprehensive Profile Review and Essay Decimator service to get feedback from a professional. They agreed that my revised application strategy made sense and gave me the green light. I must mention that they also recommended a school that I had not previously considered and I decided to apply there as well.
So, how did things turn out? Well I’m happy to report that I was accepted at both the top ranked one-year MBA programs that I applied to in Round 1, one with a generous scholarship! [The scholarship money came from the school that yours truly suggested the author at apply at! — OwnHornTootingSnark] The jump from a zero to a 100% acceptance rate in my applications has been that much sweeter because of how much heartbreak it entailed. Since you’re reading blogs like this, you’re already on your way to hopefully reach your goal without the many “opportunities to learn” I had to suffer through :). Good luck!
And good luck to you, STBBS!! Once again, we’re super impressed by the hard work and resilience we see in some of you (former) BSers. You ended up at a great school, you’re gonna love it!
And for the rest of you: Wanna read more Success Stories? Here”s some from this admissions season:
There’s a whole slew of them having a perennial party over there in the Success Stories section.