We got an uh-maz-ing contribution from a soon-to-be-bschool-student recently and we’re just gonna share it with you in all its excitement and glory.
‘Snark… I’m not really sure how I stumbled across this goldmine of a website but when I did it completely changed my MBA application strategy. I can attest that without the ‘Snark’s help I would not be going to a top business school.
It was Memorial Day 2013 and I had decided that I needed to start studying for the GMAT if I wanted to get my applications in for the class of 2016. After doing extensive research and self-analysis I quickly realized that the GRE was a better testing option for me. I started a grueling 10-hour/10-week self-study program and aimed to take my GRE in the beginning of August. I viewed studying like the main course of dinner. It was decent; it was substantive and filling. But researching schools? That was like dessert; interesting and exciting. The problem, however, with dessert is that there is so many sweet options and no real way to narrow it down. With the GRE I had a target score but with selecting schools to apply to I had no real direction. I was a military officer who had no mentors or friends who were applying to business school and it was challenging for me to grasp how competitive I was at the top schools. Thankfully I met the ‘Snark.
The single greatest purchase that I made throughout the application process was the Comprehensive Profile Review. (Full Disclosure: I didn’t actually pay for it. ‘Snark is awesome and comp’ed me a pro bono profile review.) The Comprehensive Profile Review gave me objective insight into where I should be applying and what my chances were at those schools. This focus and direction was priceless.
My original plan was to use the fall of 2013 for my application window but that window was instantly shattered in early July when I was told that I was going to deploy in late August. I now had to take the GRE, finalize my resume, write my essays, and complete my applications within 7 weeks. My leisurely plan of Round 2 applications was no longer an option and I was now a Round 1 workaholic.
With my summer being ruined by business school applications and my deployment beginning, I can honestly say that August was a mess. But by the time the calendar turned over to September my applications were complete. Again I cannot reiterate this enough. The only way that I was able to accomplish this monumental task was because ‘Snark caged me into the 4-5 schools that I needed to apply to.
The good news started trickling in by late October, when I was invited to interview by all 5 schools that I applied to. But because of my wonderful situation of being deployed (sarcasm) I had very little time, resources, or flexibility to prepare for interviews. So who did I dial up for help…? You guessed it. ‘Snark.
I purchased several of the ‘Snark’s interview guides. These were extremely helpful in that they explained what principles and tenets are important to each school and (again) gave me focus on what elements of my profile that I needed to highlight. These guides saved me a ton of time and were the key to me crushing my interviews.
In late December I got the great news. I went 5 for 5. I applied to 5 schools and got into 5 schools. I was batting 1000% and looked like I was heading to Cooperstown but after a full-tuition scholarship, I decided to head west of Cooperstown to Ithaca.
From start to finish my MBA application process took about 8 months. 8 months of 5:00 AM study sessions, Summer Saturdays in SoCal doing practice exams, writing admission essays on the back of newspapers in transport helicopters, and making awkward eye contact with my computer camera during Skype interviews. Throughout the journey, however, I knew that I had the support of the ‘Snark.
A few words of wisdom…
- Start early.
- Use the ‘Snark to provide clarity and to focus your application strategy.
- Network. This was one area that really helped me throughout the process. Reach out to current students and alumni in order to learn about the school. I would highly recommend emailing a club that you are interested in. This is a great way to connect with complete strangers over a common interest.
- Develop a study and application routine. (Ex. Study on weekday mornings. Work on applications on weekday nights. Practice exams on Saturdays. Admission essays on Sundays.)
- Use your friends. They can help you network, they can proofread your essays, they can help translate your industry jargon on your resume, and most of all they can help you celebrate when you get into your dream school.
Wow what a great story – particularly since it’s so clear that there was lots of WORK involved – and no whining! This makes for a great combination in a Brave Supplicant and points to success in all things. We also dig it that this person went it alone – we of course always enjoy helping people one-on-one yet at the same time, we have produced a bunch of resources designed specifically for the do-it-yourselfer type, and it’s very gratifying when people are able to make use of those to such a great extent and see outcomes like this.
Thank you, Military Success Story! And congratulations. You’re going to be in very good company in Ithaca.