EssaySnark held onto this guest post for much longer than we should’ve… and the reason we did, which is revealed at the bottom of this post, is likely to miff off some stressed-out BSers. Apologies in advance if you’re one of them and hopefully the reason for the delay of this post will be self-redemptive, and you will forgive us!
And to the STBBS who wrote this: CONGRATULATIONS! A great story well told is always appreciated here on the blahg, particularly when it’s got such a happy ending.
The Story of my MBA App (It’s complicated..)
Jul 08: About to start my first job (in consulting), decided I would work for 3 years and then apply to a top b school
Dec 08: Decided behavioral psychology was my calling and spent the next 6 months researching PhD programs. Vehemently argued that an MBA was a superficial degree that gave you a little bit of everything instead a lot of one thing. Higher education was about building depth, not breadth. MBAs were BS.
Jul 09 – Dec 10: Scoffed at my friends/colleagues writing GMAT and applying to bschool. Meanwhile also found out that outside of academia, career opportunities were limited for behavioral psychologists. Also realized that I loved consulting. Hmmmm.
Jan – Jun 11: Began to think about an MBA again. Meanwhile, friends and colleagues started leaving for b school and other grad programs.
Jul 11: By the process of elimination, finally decided I was going to do it. The whole MBA thing. Would write GMAT in Sep, which would give me 3 months to apply to Harvard, Wharton, Stanford and INSEAD in Round 2. School selection driven largely by an overwhelming desire to one-up annoying colleague who was at [a certain top bschool]. As an afterthought, threw in ISB as a safety school.
Sep 11: Wrote GMAT. Surprised myself with a score of 760.
Oct 11: Started the ISB app as it had the earliest deadline. 3 essays of ~300 words each. How hard could it be? Turns out, VERY hard. Stumbled upon the ES blahg while googling ‘sample MBA essays’. Was hooked. So snarkolicious, couldn’t help myself. In 3 days, read every single post. Had a glimmering of what an essay needed to look like, but no idea how to actually do it.
Nov 11: After nights of staring at a blank word doc and wringing my hands, cobbled together a first draft, in response to a recommender’s request for my WIP essays. Till then, had not managed to put words on paper. By late November had put together reasonable drafts for two essays, but nothing good for the career goals essay. Because I DIDN’T KNOW what I wanted to do. Everyone I showed my goals essay to raised their eyebrows and said, iffy, very very iffy. Went ahead and submitted it anyway, mostly because the alternative involved explaining to my recommenders why their recommendations were no longer needed.
Dec 11: Worn down by the ISB app process, decided not to even attempt the remaining apps I had planned. Got the ISB interview call bang in the middle of my X’mas break. Caught the interviewers at the tail end of a very long day and they wrapped up my interview in 10 minutes. Was quite certain that was not a good sign. Meanwhile, accompanied a friend to an INSEAD info session. Was blown away by the stories alumni shared and by the inimitable Dipak Jain. For the first time, began to think that an MBA would be valuable in terms of what I would learn and not just for the brand value.
Jan 12: Spent some time researching INSEAD. The more I read, the more I liked. Was convinced that this was the school for me.
Feb 12: Surprise, surprise! I got into ISB. After two weeks of going back and forth, decided to decline the admit and give INSEAD a serious shot. I knew I’d regret it if I never did.
Apr 12: Missed the Round 1 deadline. There were 7 essays and I couldn’t seem to make any headway at all. Never mind, there was still Round 2.
May 12: Missed the Round 2 deadline. Sigh..
Aug 12: Took some time off for personal reasons. While travelling, met a friend of a friend who was headed to INSEAD. He was insanely helpful. Shared all kinds of material with me, even loaned me his laptop for a few days so that I could ‘start writing NOW.’ He inspired me into pulling an all-nighter and incredibly, the next morning, I had written two and a half essays. After 7 months of procrastination, this felt like a minor miracle.
Sep 12: Made good progress on most of the essays, but was still stuck on the goals essay. Wrote to ES asking for help and she suggested the Haas strategy guide. (This stuff is GOLD, people. I had an INSEAD essay guide from another adcon, but ES’ Haas guide was waaay more helpful. Indians, do not be put off by the $ price tag. This is VERY reasonably priced and distills the whole complicated process into very clear guiding principles. I just wish I’d invested in them at the beginning of the process, instead of at the very end.) Because of ES’ emphasis on research, reached out to a few people. One of them casually mentioned developmental consulting, a field I’d never even heard of. Researched it some more, with a growing feeling of THIS IS WHAT I WANT TO DO!! After that, the goals essay pretty much wrote itself. At that point was hugely invested in INSEAD and didn’t want to take any chances. ES also had this great deal on the Sanity Check, so I snapped it up and sent her my essays. Got some really great feedback on them, which was exactly what I needed for the final set of rewrites.
Oct 12: Submitted INSEAD app. Whew.
Nov 12: Two interviews. The first was a breeze, got me terribly overconfident and I think I botched up the second one, because I breezed in expecting it to be as chilled out as the first. The second interviewer cross-examined me and I got out of it feeling I had screwed up in multiple ways.
Dec 12: Got into INSEAD!!!
We actually have a very useful follow-on from this former Brave Supplicant as well which we’ll offer up in a day or so. But first, the reason why we hung onto this well-written and humorous story: We wanted to post it with this:
Announcing the QuickSnark guidelette for INSEAD!
Yes it’s true, we’ve finally gotten an essay guide written for INSEAD. The problem is … well, it’s complicated. 😉 There were many problems along the way that prevented us from getting this thing done in a timely manner. And that resulted in this main problem, that now here we are with less than a week before the INSEAD deadline. And likely there are BSers out there who are applying right now, who are currently giving their screens the evil eye, reading this and asking, “Damn, EssaySnark, why couldn’t you have got this out a couple weeks ago? When I could’ve actually used it??”
To those BSers, our mighty apologies. And to the STBBS who got into INSEAD, our congratulations again. And to anyone else considering INSEAD: The most excellent news about this place is that there’s always an upcoming deadline. Plus they’re a most excellent bschool (truly!). Plus if you do a good job on your app, you have a real shot at getting in. They are exceptionally fair in their admissions process (provided you come through on your end of the bargain).