Brave Supplicant Soon-To-Be-Bschool-Student shared her story of falling and getting up (read Part 1 and Part 2). We leave you with some words of wisdom to help those following in her footsteps. Really great stuff here!
My advice to current and future applicants:
- Never ask anyone to select schools for you: Instead, the question you should be asking is ‘I’m new to the admission process. Could you point me in a direction where I can start my research?’ Then go on and do your research and come up with a list of schools based on your qualifications and your fit with that school. Be open minded about schools i.e don’t go by rankings alone. I would also advise against using location as one of your primary filters unless you visit the school.
- Plan ahead: Start at least year ahead of your deadlines. Allow sufficient time for the GMAT and possible retakes, school visits and research. Also, factor in time for introspection and essay topic generation. This last point is overlooked by many applicants, including me.
- Never ask for a recommendation from someone you can’t trust.
- Your target school list can change and that’s ok: It’s ok because it means that you are fine tuning your selection process and are closer to identifying your best fit. Don’t feel bad that school X which you dreamed about doesn’t suit your goals anymore. Better to apply only to schools that you would 100% attend, sans money.
- Be strategic with your applications: Give equal importance to every piece, whether that’s the resume, the application form, the optional essays, the font, the spelling everything. The one mistake I made in my Tuck application was to go on and on about how I loved the school without showing how I was a good fit for them. Your choice of essay topics, recommenders, writing style and tone says a lot about you.
- Have a support system: B school applications are hard. It always helps to have supportive spouses, friends or pets around. If all else fails like it did for me, blog!
- Listen to the essay questions: Admissions folks put a lot of thought into their essay questions. It helps to spend time analyzing the underlying motive behind the question. Furthermore, you will answer the question that they ask, not answer a question you wished they’d asked.
- Remember that you chose to do this: Remember this fact whenever you feel the urge to complain about how hard your life is, or when you toss another draft in the bin, or when you can’t crack that ratio question. If this is not for you, you can always get out. However, there are great rewards for those who persist: a great network, wonderful new opportunities and friends, and a chance to start your life afresh. So do whatever it (ethically) takes to get an acceptance. GPA not good? Take up some classes. Retake that GMAT. Redo your essays. Build on your work profile. Don’t whine about how you’re just an IT or finance person.
- Please listen to the adcom: This is especially true of schools like HBS, Stanford, Darden, Booth and Ross to name a few where the adcom takes pains to reach out to its applicants. If they say it’s holistic, believe them. I wouldn’t have gotten into Booth had the process not been holistic.