We kinda gave away the punchline to one part of this BSer’s story a few weeks back when we complained about a certain school in a previous post…. but this person has a story worth telling and it’s worth hearing it all over again, from their perspective this time! And it does have a happy ending indeed.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my success story on the Blahg! I know that this entry comes to you a few weeks later than promised, so I hope it will still have the chance to be published on the Blahg at some point. I realize that this report is l-o-o-o-o-o-ng (I guess my essay-writing skills are a little rusty), so feel free to pare it down, post in parts or pick and choose whatever you think is of value.
Part-time or Full-time?
My MBA application journey started way back in November of 2014, when I felt that I needed to take some action to accelerate the course of my career path. I started by exploring the top-ranked part-time programs from the two schools that were within commuting distance to where I lived – Kellogg and Booth. As I visited the campuses, went to admissions events, sat in on classes and reached out to current students, I made a couple of observations:
a) The two schools were so starkly different from a culture standpoint that it crystallized how important the “cultural fit” was to me.
b) The current students frequently talked about how difficult it was to balance work and school – those who were closer to graduating often said things like, “Phew, I’m so glad I only have 2 months to go!”.
The latter gave me pause – if I were to take the plunge, it would mean balancing a considerable amount of travel (for work) with commuting 90+ miles for classes over the weekends plus managing school work.
So after giving my GMAT, I decided to test the waters of the full-time programs and the difference in the attitude of the studdents was remarkable – everyone was super excited about school; those who were close to graduation were actually sad that the 2 years were coming to an end; alums often referred to their time in BSchool as the best two years of their lives. This was an eye-opening moment. I realized that I truly wanted the full-time experience… and what’s more, I was in the very fortunate position to be able to go for it if I chose to. (Note: I understand that going part-time can be the absolute right choice under different circumstances for certain people. I luckily did not have family constraints or location constraints. Also, my company wasn’t going to pay for me to go part-time, which made my decision easier.)
Once I decided to apply to the full-time programs, I went all out with my research. After narrowing down my 3 target schools based on culture and focus on healthcare, I visited every single page of the school websites, connected with students and alums, visited the campuses and attended various admissions events. I then spoke with a handful of popular (and expensive) admissions consultants and was immensely disappointed. Some said I didn’t have a shot at any of the top 15, some recommended schools that didn’t make sense at all after I had explained my criteria and some said I was too old for my candidate pool.
Just as I was getting ready to strike out on my own, fortune struck and I stumbled across the Blahg. I started with paid access to the blahg and read hundreds of posts. I then contributed to the Crowd-Sourced Essay Review and was pleasantly surprised to receive positive comments from the Snark. So I decided to go for the Comprehensive Profile Review – when I got back the super detailed 16-page evaluation, not only was I completely sold on the EssaySnark services, I also felt my hope return and my self-doubt fade away. [Yeah! Hope was appropriate! Because like this BSer had a real shot at the best schools! Not too old! Not unqualified! Apparently some other admissions consultants aren’t offering good enough advice to help their clients with similar profiles get in???? WTF! This type of thing drives us nuts. /ESrantover]
As with every other BSer I’ve ever known, my essay-writing experience was painful. In hindsight, I am extremely glad I purchased the Complete Essay Package. It provided a solid framework for my soul-searching process so that by the time I was ready to write my essays, I had almost all my content squared away. The goals accelerator was particularly helpful in steering me toward realistic, but specific goals. I also highly recommend starting with the school guides – I diligently followed the advice in the guides (especially regarding outlining and structure) and as a result, my essays needed way fewer draft revisions to get to a decent quality. My advice for essays is pretty boring and unoriginal: start early and schedule enough time each day to get yourself in the “flow” mode. What worked for me was dragging myself and my computer to a coffee shop for a couple of hours. During these periods of intense focus and content generation, I sometimes hit a wall and experienced frustration. But I often had the best ideas after these sessions, when I was driving or in the shower and no longer agonizing over the essays. And the next time I sat down in the coffee shop, the jigsaw pieces fell beautifully in place.
TOEFL and Unexpected Hiccups
Two weeks after turning in all my applications, I received an email from Haas, saying that I needed to turn in my TOEFL score in order to be considered for Round 1. Although I am an international applicant, since I have lived, studied and worked in the US, I was exempt from writing the TOEFL at most schools. However, Haas is one of the schools that has stricter criteria for exemption. So I had called and checked with the school before turning in my application and was told that I was indeed exempt since I already had a master’s degree from a US university. When I cited this, the admissions personnel I was in contact with said that it didn’t seem plausible and asked weather I remembered the name of the person I had spoken with, as if insinuating that I was not being truthful. Apparently, my research-based masters didn’t count toward the exemption, since I didn’t have enough course credits per semester to satisfy the criteria. (This is where EssaySnark kinda spilled the beans on this story already. Darn it Haas, why you gotta make things hard on these nice people?!??)
EssaySnark was kind enough to offer advice and coached me through a follow-up email to Haas admissions. Ultimately, they were unwilling to budge on the requirement and my application was tabled for consideration in Round 2, provided I satisfied the TOEFL requirement. The whole experience left a sour taste in my mouth and I was no longer as excited about Haas as I had been. I did however end up taking TOEFL and sending them the scores, as it didn’t make sense to withdraw my application after all that work. Also, EssaySnark wisely advised against judging the school based on my experience with admissions. As reluctant as I was to accept this, I knew deep down that it was true.
As they all say, the waiting is the hardest. As we drew close to decision dates, I grew anxious and started prepping for Round 2 – something I hadn’t originally planned for, but now had to consider due to the issue with the Haas application. In the end, it proved unnecessary, as I was admitted into what I later realized had been my first choice school all along. I was waitlisted at the second school and dinged at Haas. But I couldn’t have been happier with the outcome! After all, if you do the work and only apply to schools you really want to go to, one admit is all you need.
Yes indeed! You just need one! Especially when it’s the one you landed!! This BSer proves that it’s all about hard work – and then from our perspective, we believe that it comes down to a touch of fate. Or maybe it’s like Abe Lincoln said: “I find that the harder I work, the luckier I get.”
We’re guessing that this BSer is no longer frequenting the blahg but in case you are, then congrats once again on the great success you achieved, and we’re certain you’re putting this opportunity to good use! If you want to offer any in-the-trenches updates about what your experience is like so far as a first-year on campus, we’d be eager to hear them – and we hope you’re having a blast!
Finally, a small disclaimer to anyone reading this with skepticism: When we ask clients if they want to share their story on the blahg, we do NOT request it as a testimonial – we always state that they can write about whatever they like. We are of course honored and pleased when they choose to talk about their experience with EssaySnark but it is not what we are looking for by making those requests – so this is not intended to be an advertorial! Obviously yes when we help someone along the way then it makes sense for them to mention the experience but we didn’t want people to get the wrong idea on why we’re posting these. Nobody gets compensation for writing their stories for EssaySnark (which BTW is **not** how it works with some other consultants!) – we just like sharing the positivity and we hope that it helps some of you who are in middle of this very challenging process!!!