Even though we’re still in Reapplicant Month, this guest post is from a BSer who made it through the first time. One point of clarification: They started the process much more than 9 months ago. The first contact we got from them was back in December 2011 after they’d purchased one of our essay guides (they offered a correction about a school’s admissions policies that had changed, which we appreciate). This BSer was fully engaged in the app process for ages – which is likely why they saw success the first time out. Congrats to them, and we’re hoping you’ll be in the same boat in a matter of months! Here’s the story.
Every year many Brave Supplicants (BS) kick start their application process for MBA programs across the globe. Last year, I was one of them. Almost 9 months have passed, I secured admits from two of my dream BSchools in the East Coast. Looking back, I still remember those autistic weekends when I locked myself in my apartment, writing-editing-and-rewriting my essays and meeting alums, religiously following every word Essay Snark (ES) tweeted or blahgged about.
I don’t know the real mantra for succeeding in BSchool app marathon, but through my experiences living and surviving through the process, I at least know a few ways in which you can jeopardise your candidacy (w/o even knowing it). Before we start, please understand that this post is not meant to:
- promote ES in any way, so please don’t fret over it;
- promote any school over the other.
My Profile: I come from an oversubscribed pool of applicants (read: Indian/Chinese). I never worked for Investment Banking/Consulting/Oilfield Companies. I come from a no-name (non-feeder) company with an undergraduate degree in Computer Engineering from a no-name (again non-feeder) school with below average GPA (≈3.2). However, I was an expat working for a Govt Research Agency (in Europe) for almost 4 years. I worked with Local Governments and Corporations on issues ranging from business models for telecoms to regulations in energy markets.
My Reason for MBA: After having transitioned from a purely technical background to a more techno-economic background, MBA was the logical next step in my career evolution. But I was not sure if my profile was a good match for BSchool like setting. With this dilemma, I approached to ES for assistance and profile evaluation. Unlike profile reviews in public forums, ES did a great job going through my CV, objectively assessing my candidacy, and most importantly identifying the USP (unique selling proposition) of my profile.
My School Selection: Many of my friends and online acquaintances chose their target schools based on FT/USNews/BW Rankings. By default, they started with H/S/W and two to three other M7 Schools. Academic and cultural fit was not even a criteria for many of them. Due to my experiences in Middle East and Europe as an expat, I was more concerned about fit than other quantitative indexes. Keeping this in mind, I shortlisted 2 schools (both Ivy Leagues), known globally for their close-knit culture and integration. School specific strategy guides from ES are a great source of due-diligence and can help you in identifying which school fits you best.
My Essays: As suggested many times in the ES Blahg, I started outlining my career goals and school specific essay outlines in June last year. This year many schools did change their essay questions, so my advice to BSs would be to limit their efforts to essay outlines only. Drafting work should start around August (once the deadlines and essay prompts are online). [This should actually start MUCH earlier for most schools; essay questions are usually out by June. -EssaySnark] Regarding the content of your essays, please remember not to:
- Lie: Do not make up stories you cannot defend or validate in your interviews. [Readers of the EssaySnark blahg would never do that!]
- Oversell: Don’t get carried away if you have travelled over 15 countries. No one gives a shit. Talk about the overarching lessons you have learnt during these travels. If you are a banker/MBB guy, try not to oversell the number of hours you have worked or number of miles you have collected. Again talk about that one thing that stood out in all of your travels/deals. Also, demonstrate how your classmates will benefit from your travelling and deal making experiences.
- Undersell: Don’t be under confident. Don’t think that you don’t have any stories to tell. Everyone has a story to tell. You are an Indian IT male or you are a Business Analyst or you are an Accountant, trust me you all have lived through 3 to 5 years of professional life, you all have those awesome stories/lessons to share with your AdCom.
If you fall in any of the three categories above, trust me you need an advisor who can objectively assess the road map of your essays, highlight the over/under selling part, and steer your applications holistically. Personally, I never found an advisor better than ES. [Awww shucks! **blushing**]
My Destination: After grueling months of application, coaching my recommenders , and undergoing mock interviews with fellow applicants, I was admitted to both the schools I had applied in EA/Round1. Phew! Thank you ES for your support and those snarky comments/reviews.
And thank YOU, you Soon-To-Be-Bschool-Student, for the kind words! Thanks for the great write-up, and we wish you a future of great success going forward!