In case you’re just tuning in, we started this adventure with Part 1: The GMAT three weeks ago, and then went to Part 2: The First Year (yes it was a multi-year experience). Today, we pick up the story again to bring you Part 3, where our intrepid traveler shares with us the events that unfolded after applying to three schools in Round 1 last year – where they didn’t begin working on the first one with us, via the Complete Essay Package, until September 17th (yes really – this BSer did three apps in about three weeks’ time). If you don’t recall any of this, you may want to go back to the beginning before you continue with today’s installment.
Journey to the Center of America
Part 3: Punched in the Gut → Giggling like a School Girl
While on a project in South Africa, I received my first bit of good news: an interview invite from the school I applied to in a week. Sadly, the interview invite for one school never came, and the third round 1 school was an applicant initiated interview. I scheduled three interviews for one week in November (Two round 1 school interviews, and one round 2 school applicant initiated interview).
My first interview was on a Monday, and I thought it went OK. My second interview was on a Wednesday and I thought it went well. My third interview was on a Friday and I thought it went great. I was ok with this, because the Friday interview was for my top target school. I eagerly awaited decision day (this may have been the longest month of my life).
On decision day I had my phone next to me constantly, and did not do an ounce of work. As each hour went by, I got more and more nervous. Then the fateful email came: your application status has been updated. Rejection. I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. Gut wrenching really is the most appropriate description of how it felt, and it took a day or two to get over. Eventually though, I picked myself up and decided to do some round 2 applications.
Before doing my round two applications I spoke to some current MBA students entering my target industry, as well as some MBA grads already there. I ran my story by them, and they helped me identify weakness and strengths. I adjusted my goals by shifting my short term goal to the medium term, and by creating an adjusted short term goal. My round two applications were much stronger for this, and I can’t stress how important these discussions were. I highly recommend this to anyone embarking on the MBA journey. If you don’t know anyone in your target industry, reach out to people in clubs at your target schools. They will be willing to talk to you because they went through the same application process and know how challenging it can be.
After getting two rejections and a waitlist during round 1, I was nervous about what would happen round 2. Then the first call came in February. I got into the “Monday Interview” school. After I stopped giggling like a school girl, the admissions representative told me she had more good news: I received a scholarship! She said the interviewer very much enjoyed talking to me, which is more anecdotal evidence that if you think your interview went only OK, it may very well have went great! The best part about all of this was that this school was by far my favorite after having completed my visits. The culture was unique, the class size small, and the location perfect.
About a month later, I received the next call. Another acceptance, and this time an even bigger scholarship in the form of a prestigious fellowship. The following day I received my third acceptance. The results were in, and come June 2015, I would be an MBA graduate.
Well let’s not get ahead of ourselves pardner. You made it IN to bschool; the graduation thing is not automatic! There’s still lots of work to do between then and now – as you perhaps right now are discovering! But we get the sentiment, and we assume that yes indeed, you’ll be walking across a stage with a diploma in a few years’ time.
Some takeaways from today’s story?
- Your interviewing skills will improve the more you use them. First off, PRACTICE for your interviews. Next, if at all possible, schedule them in order of least-important first, in terms of which schools are your favorite.
- After you get Round 1 apps in, start working on Round 2 immediately – even if you’re invited to interview at Round 1 schools. This is the kind of thing where you have to keep playing the game until you actually win it. This BSer did it exactly right (once he got started, at least!) Until you have an acceptance in hand, do NOT stop your efforts in putting together your applications and working on your process. The only exception is if you’re in love with one and only one school and you don’t intend to get an MBA if you can’t go there. (Which is sort of a silly position, but sometimes people feel that way.) For most people, you need to keep the game in motion straight through to the end.
- Did we mention that you should start early? In the short time we had with him before Rd 1 apps were due, we gave this BSer lots of feedback that the goals being pitched in the essays had potential holes, that they could raise some questions for the adcoms. The process of talking to people in the target industry is critically important and it clearly helped this person a lot in figuring out exactly what is reasonable for their future career path. But if this BSer had begun working on apps earlier… who knows, all that maybe could’ve happened sooner, and the first apps maybe could’ve been the winners. Not fair to do the Monday morning quarterbacking, but for all BSers coming after, please note the cycle that occurred here, and recognize that the punched-in-the-stomach part maybe could have been avoided.
Believe it or not, this actually isn’t the end of the story! We have one final installment of this BSer’s getting-in tale. Stay tuned!