You know we love to post these: Today’s a celebratory tale of what one of our friends admitted in Round 1 this past season went through to get it done. (And thank you to all you military types who piped up with notes of gratitude after our Miss-Manners-esque chastizing post last week.)
Here’s the latest great success story – in multiple parts!
My Route to Business School
After completing some of my early career goals (becoming a commissioned officer in the military, deploying on operational tours), I aspired to move on to business school to build on my engineering and leadership experience. An MBA appeared to be the best way to transition from the military to private sector, but with lacklustre undergraduate grades I knew I had my work cut out for me if I was going to get a place on a highly competitive MBA program.
Testing the Water
I found opportunities to informally chat with people who had earned MBAs. I looked at the MBA rankings pages in some of the popular newspapers and journals, and eventually contacted the vets club at the school in which I felt the strongest connection. Within a couple of weeks I was having coffee with one of their first year students, discussing the course, life in the USA, and the amount of preparation that was needed for an admit at a top school. Their advice left me with the following to-do list:
- Volunteer for a cause you feel strongly about
- Make the most of the GMAT (>700)
- Reflect on leadership experiences (if there are none, get some)
With one eye on the 2013/2014 application window, and having signed up to volunteer with a great organisation, I booked my GMAT for December 2012. Getting the test done early would not only open up a 5 year window to apply, but my score would be a good indicator of whether I could hack it at one of the top schools. I signed up for a [Kaplan] prep course that would finish the week before my test, hoping it would increase my score for my first attempt
All told, I put in about 100 hours of study into the prep course and practice tests (the threshold recommended by the instructors) but was still nervous on test day. The test centre was a 2 hour train ride away, but I had already visited for a practice test, planning the routine in advance (what time to make each connection, the quickest route to walk, what time to arrive, the location of a coffee shop to make sure I got a caffeine hit before walking into the centre etc). Extensive practice had drilled into me the right pacing, and I completed all questions in good time. The final click revealed a score of 740 – well above my target score and made sweeter with a 5.5 AWA and 8.0 IR score. The study had paid off and I wouldn’t have to look at another GMAT question again!
My final hurdle was to determine whether an application would be successful. Looking at online forums revealed the existence of admissions consultants and their profile evaluations. I submitted my details for a free evaluation on one of the popular sites and got a percentage breakdown of my chances at my choice of schools. This helped me to calculate my probability of getting into at least one of my top choices. I then stumbled across EssaySnark who was offering a comprehensive profile review free of charge to military personnel. With nothing to lose, and wary of the ‘free’ 30min consultations offered by other consultants, I filled in the profile and submitted it to the Snark. I expected a few lines back going through my weak and strong areas and offering expensive services if I wanted to go further. What I got was 14 pages of a detailed profile breakdown, covering a lot more than my GMAT and academic history. Snark suggested a revised, more logical, strategy to follow, and threw a few other schools into the mix that I hadn’t considered up to that point. Perhaps the most refreshing part was that I received prompt replies to my questions, and there wasn’t a sales pitch in sight!