Here’s an inspiring story of resilience with an unwillingness to give up! Congratulations to this former BSer who veritably cleaned up with his apps in Round 1 2015!
Thank you EssaySnark for the invitation to blahg. I am honored to be able to write about my reapplication experience.
A quick summary of my background: I am an international, with five years of work experience in finance, and my GMAT score is 710. Round One has been a fantastic experience for me, and I am fortunate to have received admit decisions at Kellogg, Fuqua, Darden and Johnson. I have also been waitlisted at Tuck (tough luck) and denied at Yale (oh well!)
I am absolutely thrilled to be matriculating at Kellogg in Fall 2016.
My post-MBA goal is to return to banking in NYC, where I will tap into deeper institutional knowledge and greater client complexity to further develop my technical and interpersonal expertise. Despite growing into regional responsibilities at work, my experiences have been confined to Asia. The MBA would be my opportunity to build out my international exposure.
Things were definitely less rosy with my applications a year ago. I was denied without interview at Wharton, Columbia and Sloan. I was also waitlisted, and eventually denied at Kellogg and Tuck. Tuck provided feedback to raise my GMAT score, and I took the GMAT for a third time post receipt of their feedback. However, my score remained stubbornly at 710.
I felt a lot of uncertainty being on the waitlist. I was diligent with my bi-monthly updates to both schools, but knew that admission off the waitlist was going to be a long shot. The online forums were teeming with high caliber waitlisted candidates with astronomical test scores, quality work experience, and strong extracurriculars. I had to get realistic, and deal with the very real possibility that I would have to reapply.
With that possibility in mind, I started working to uncover the weaknesses in my applications. After speaking with several admissions consulting firms in the market, I managed to uncover three areas of improvement: my school strategy was poorly thought out, my applications lacked focus, and my recommendations were not personal. My only saving grace was my strength at interviewing, which was probably why I got waitlisted at schools which I interviewed at.
I knew that I needed to get help to overcome those weaknesses. For starters, I needed a road map for my reapplication, and a no-holds barred rundown of my candidate profile. I signed up for EssaySnark’s Comprehensive Profile Review. It was 19 pages of brutal truth, truth that I needed to start working on my reapplicant profile.
Last year, I made the fatal error of going with rankings. This year, I followed my gut, decided against applying to big city schools. I felt that a “commuter” culture prevailed in those big city schools, and I definitely wanted none of it. EssaySnark gave fair warning about my school choices in relation to my goals, but I was comfortable with the risks, and stood firm on my choices.
I must note here that EssaySnark accurately predicted the outcomes this season. They were uncomfortable about my decision to apply to Yale, and it turned out that Yale gave me my only deny decision this season. With EssaySnark’s blessing around my school strategy, I decided to press on with the essays and recommendations.
It has been said many times on this blagh, but I must reiterate that essay writing is very hard work! I spent an extraordinary amount of time determining what it was that I truly wanted out of business school, how I would contribute to the school’s community, and thinking about how I knew I would succeed at my post-MBA goal. Then there was the constant grappling with whether I was really answering the question posed. Fortunately, I gradually became more self-aware, and it became much easier to write about myself with each school.
I stopped speculating about what the Admissions Committees wanted to hear, and got really personal with my essays. If EssaySnark said my profile was good to go, it was. I stopped trying to be the ideal candidate which I was not.
When it came to the recommendations, I ordered EssaySnark’s instruction sets to help guide my recommenders. My recommendations last season were not ideal, covering my qualities and accomplishments in broad strokes. This season, I invested a lot more time sitting down with my recommenders, encouraging them to write in a very personal manner, and guiding them towards highlighting qualities which added to my overall candidate profile.
During the course of my reapplication, I was able to earn a promotion at work. This was the positive delta I needed. I also increased my participation in HR-related projects within my company, organizing internal mobility events, leading attrition studies, and conducting campus recruitment.
Interviewing was my strength, so I made the most of it by initiating campus interviews at Tuck and Fuqua. Most of the other international admits that I met recently did not interview on campus, so this is not a necessity. [Yeah, but it sure can make a huge difference at both of those schools – for everyone, domestic and ESPECIALLY international BSers! -ES] However, I felt that it made for a great conversation starter, and it created a strongly positive first impression on my interviewers.
The results truly exceeded my expectations. I hope my story will provide inspiration to waitlisted BSers out there. It has been a fantastic journey. The success factors have all been written about before: start early, get professional help discerningly, listen to the feedback given, keep writing, and enjoy the ride.
Good luck BSers!
And good luck to you! You ended up in a fabulous place. Congratulations, especially on using such a great attitude and focusing on improving what needed to be improved, and turning it into a win!