We introduced recently the model of The Four Stages of Learning. borrowed from illuminatedleadership.co — see EssaySnark’s discussion in our recent post Today we will remind you that learning something new is hard. In the essay-writing process, Stage 2: Consciously Incompetent is very painful for many people. Why is that? It’s because you THOUGHT…
Lots of you know from firsthand experience that it’s just harder for a qualified Indian candidate to get into one of the best U.S. bschools. It’s harder because all the schools are admitting something like 35 to 40% internationals — but that’s all internationals. If you’re an Indian American (meaning, a U.S. citizen of Indian…
It’s so easy to let things slide.
One way to make sure that you advance yourself every year and get better and better as a person, and closer to your own specific goals, is to place a priority on those actions every week.
If there’s something very important to you, that keeps getting pushed off into the future, then make a point to accomplish a baby step on that project every day.
If you’re applying to bschool this Fall, then it’s too easy to say, “There’s nothing for me to do now, since deadlines aren’t till September.” And then you stay a lazy bum all spring and summer, until you go into Panic Mode in August and have a life of h3ll for two months.
Instead, you could be making progress even starting now, by making it a priority to get something small done every week.
For example, identifying your short list of schools, and being clear on the reasons why. This can only evolve through the concerted effort of school research.
There’s lots of steps you can be taking today.
However, today’s post is more general in nature. We’re not talking only about applying to bschool. We’re talking about improving yourself as a person.
Say you decide you want to learn how to program. Now that’s a big goal!
Maybe you get started on it. You take a class and learn about HTML. Or you have this great idea for a website that you actually began working on in college with a buddy, but you both let it lapse when you graduated.
Or you’re a musician, and you love writing songs, but just lately, you haven’t had the time. In fact, maybe you didn’t write one since August.
Or you want to start a blog — or you started one, but it hasn’t been updated since 2015, and you don’t think anyone ever reads it…. And now it’s become like a big downer. A huge ugh. You don’t even want to think about it since it makes you feel like a slug. One more datapoint for how you don’t get stuff done.
But every time you’ve ever made progress on this heart project you’ve got, you’ve felt SO GOOD about yourself.
But maybe it’s tough to get started.
There’s always something else pulling on your time.
Well here’s an idea: (ohnoyeswe’regonnasayit) JUST DO IT.
Meaning, do SOMETHING today – even right now if you can – to advance yourself towards this goal.
Even if it’s just SCHEDULING a time in your calendar for sometime in the next 24 hours where you CAN go do it. ‘Cuz right now, while you’re reading EssaySnark, you know that you really should be preparing for that meeting with your team in 20 minutes, and you don’t have time to do something for yourself at this very moment.
What you can do is set up a reminder in your calendar for later today or tonight (or better yet, tomorrow morning) where you will have the freedom to do it.
And then make it happen!
If there’s something that only your FUTURE SELF will benefit from, it’s all too easy for your NOW SELF to blow it off. Usually your NOW SELF is all about responding to the immediacy, the urgency, the I-just-want-to-take-a-nap-ency. Your NOW SELF is an enemy of your FUTURE SELF.
And what happens, when you live long enough, is you start to look back over the years accumulating and you realize, “Dang, if only I’d started this when I first had the idea, I’d actually be done by now.”
Instead, we blow stuff off and blow it off, and we don’t change. We stay the same.
But if you’re interested in getting an MBA, there’s something about you that’s driving you. That wants to be different.
Why not honor that self?
For many people, the most precious time of the day is the morning. If you make a commitment to yourself to do something – ANYTHING – to further your own personal project as your first task of the day, then that’s guaranteed to let you actually make real progress on it over time. You need to be vigilant. Carve out the time. If it needs to happen before you leave the house for work, then find a way to do it – even if it’s only 5 minutes at first. Even 5 minutes is valuable.
The trick is to establish that as part of your routine. If you ALWAYS take 5 minutes, every morning, for two weeks, then you should be able to easily enough expand it to 10 minutes.
If you’re working on something for 10 minutes in the morning, then you’ll be thinking about it on the commute to work, and you may get some spark of inspiration that hits you during lunchtime, and then you’re so excited to implement that idea that you go home from work and you do more on your personal project that night.
Then the next morning, your 10 minutes grows to 15 minutes, and you’re on a roll with it! And you are so jazzed by it that you actually wake up before your alarm the next morning (omg that never happens!!) and instead of going back to sleep you’re wide-eyed and bushy-tailed and you GET UP and you go to work on your big idea.
And voila, in no time at all, you’ve changed.
Now you’re someone who has energy. Who’s inspired. Who’s excited by life. Now you’re working towards something.
One of the hardest parts is GETTING STARTED.
So today is an invitation.
Make tomorrow morning your first day of 5 minutes.
How will you use the time?
In case you read yesterday’s rant post about when to time your waitlist updates to the adcom and felt like we were too much of UnsupportiveSnark and not enough of HelpfulStrategySnark, today’s post is for you. The BSer in question can totally make it into bschool – but given where we’re at in the current…
The spike of adrenaline and rush of endorphines around getting an admit.
The frantic phone calls to family, and high-fives around the office.
All of that subsiding over the course of the next few days to a happy hum of contentment: YOU DID IT!!! You got into bschool! A top MBA program actually accepted you!!
Fast-forward a week or two, or maybe a month, or maybe it doesn’t hit until you get on campus for the excitement of Welcome Weekend (or Admit Day or whatever your school calls it)… And suddenly you start to feel oddly uncomfortable.
Maybe it first hits when you meet some kind of superstar admit like an Olympic athlete who’s now going to be going to this school, and then a White House aide, and then the next woman already has her own business that’s the top seller on Etsy. And you meet like 15 people in a row who work on Wall Street or McKinsey or Google. And pretty soon, you start to not look forward to new-classmate introductions, when you have to keep telling them what your job is.
Or maybe it happens when you overhear someone casually say that their company offered them a $50,000 raise if they’d stick around at their job instead of leaving for bschool… and your entire salary is only a little more than that right now.
Then the thought pattern starts:
“Wow, they’re all so much better than me.”
“Sheesh, it seems like everyone has a 770 GMAT.”
“Dang, how am I going to keep up with them?”
“I think the adcom made a mistake.”
BSer, please don’t let this thinking sabotage you.
What you’re experiencing is super common, and it’s something you’ll want to become aware of, and not buy into.
Your own thoughts can completely derail you – and all of those thoughts are NOT TRUE.
What this is describing is a phenomenon called Imposter Syndrome and it happens to lots of really successful people. Women may be more prone to it but it’s an equal-opportunity brainf@ck. It creeps in and takes hold of you, and it can make you absolutely miserable. If you’re not careful, it can suck the life out of you, taking away all motivation and making you feel worthless.
This post is to alert you of this phenomenon so that you can be on the lookout.
It happens to lots of people.
That Olympic athlete? Oh yeah, you betchya, they’re comparing themselves to everyone else and thinking, “Oh CRAP I’ll never survive here, what was I thinking, applying for business school?!???? I DON’T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT BUSINESS! I’m doooooooomed!!!!!!!!”
That entrepreneur chick? She’s probably sweating bullets about whether she’ll be able to afford bschool at all, given that she’s been on a shoestring salary for a year already, trying to bootstrap her business, and she’s nervous about every single happy hour where she has to pull out her credit card in front of everyone, in case it might be declined. She thought that the MBA might be her salvation to take this business to the next level, and now she thinks the whole thing might be yet another colossal mistake, especially when she hears about everyone else who wants to start a company through bschool, and their ideas seem so much better than this little thing she’s been trying to make happen.
That Wall Street guy? He’s feeling paranoid that he’s never going to be able to make it out of finance – which he hates. All he can think about is the competition he’s seeing, and how much better-positioned YOU are for the type of post-MBA career jump he’s trying to make.
Everyone is dealing with their own insecurities. Everyone thinks that everyone else is better than them. We can guarantee you, lots and lots of those super impressive future classmates you’ve met have been thinking the same kind of awe-struck thoughts about YOU and your incredible story as you’re thinking about them. It happens all the time.
The bottom-line truth is, if you were accepted to bschool — ANY bschool — that means you’ve done something right. You’ve worked hard and gotten somewhere in life already. You DESERVE the spot they’ve offered you in their incoming class. The adcoms do not make mistakes.
If this imposter thinking happens to you, please don’t let it take you out. Talk to your friends and family. Simply voicing the feelings and saying them outloud often dissipates their power. Maybe you can even laugh about it.
Or maybe the school did make a mistake, and your 700 GMAT looked like a 780 when they viewed it on their computer screen, and oh sh!t anydaynowtheyregonnacallyouupandtellyouitsallovernowyoureonthestreetgetouttahereyabum and your life will be in ruins.
Nah. Prolly not. You’re prolly safe from all that happening. 🙂
If you’re headed to bschool in the Fall, Congratulations, Brave Supplicant!! The rollercoaster-ride of MBA admissions is not yet over even once you have that admit in hand.
One of the benefits to signing up for our consulting services is you can log the schools you’re applying to in My SnarkCenter (your private essaysnark.com client portal), and EssaySnark can review your strategy. We don’t always comment but we always review them. Sometimes we offer little nudges like “You may want to expand your targets” if all we see are H/S/W on the list; earlier in the season we were constantly saying “You should do at least one app in Rd 1 if you can” – and nowadays, we find ourselves saying “Don’t bother with a Rd 3 app to that school, just wait till Rd 1.” (If you need a refresher on why, check out these posts.)
This week a BSer updated her list of schools and it read something like this:
- ED app to Top School A – rejected
- Rd 1 app to Top School B that’s slow to decide – submitted
- Rd 2 app to Top School C – (just) submitted
- Rd 2 app to Top School D – (just) submitted
- Rd 3 app to midlist school Q – in progress
And the BSer included the note, “With School A rejecting me, I’m starting to feel like I won’t get in anywhere. “
So let’s look at the data:
We have one decision in hand, one pending, and two apps that were just this week submitted. From what systems input are we already concluding that all is lost???
EssaySnark knows what an emotional rollercoaster this process is. We know that you expect every school to accept you, else why would you try? and that it’s gut-wrenching when they don’t. And we understand, when coming from a competitive pool of candidate such as this BSer is, that it’s easy to assume that every school will decide the way this one school has. But now is NOT the time to give up hope.
No no m’dears. Now is the time for ACTION!
The time just after the last apps are submitted is ripe with opportunity. You’re all jacked up on the adrenaline of deadlines, and the excitement of getting them all in, but then WHOOSH, you’re left with nothing to do. If you’re not careful, those up-and-down emotions can really do a number on you now. We recommend putting together a plan for the next few weeks, to carry you through this grueling downtime phase, and to maximize the energy you’ve accumulated.
Anytime you accomplish something – and yes, simply APPLYING to bschool is a big accomplishment – you’re on a ‘high’ with the world. Your power is up. The best response to getting that thing done is not to sit back on your laurels and coast. Sure, go out one night and have drinks with your buddies who you haven’t seen for three months since you’ve been in the dungeon of your bedroom writing bschool essays. Watch a football game or two. Check out a movie, go to a concert, chill for a bit. But then FIND A NEW PROJECT. Leverage the ‘high’ that you have by applying it into something new.
- If you’ve let your regular interests fall by the wayside lately, pick them up again – whether it’s reading fiction or shooting hoops or oh yeah you got a girlfriend hanging around somewhere if only you can remember where you left her… Go get involved in the things you love.
- If writing those essays about community engagement and passion and all inspired you to dive into a new social service activity, pour all your enthusiasm for bschool and life into the cause. Go out and REALLY make a difference now.
- Find ways at work to add more value. Take it up a notch. Be noticed as the guy who’s bringing positive change.
Get BUSY being more of the awesome that you know you are. (You’ll also have more good stuff to talk about in the intereviews that will be coming your way very soon!)
As to school strategy: We do not recommend a Round 3 app to the top schools.
If you really really without a doubt undeniably want to be sitting in a bschool classroom in the Fall, there are still some options. Check out those posts we already pointed to – in particular, this one – what programs might be good for Round 3? – and this one – what situations could Round 3 work out for?
Many midlist schools will still be filling their classes into the spring.
Alrighty then. This was a long post. But we have a lot to say about the whole positivity, and taking action, and yes being realistic about your chances thing. Getting one ‘no’ from one very good school on your list is NOT saying you’re doomed to a series of rejections – especially not when you have a well-reasoned strategy. Chin up, buckos! There’s plenty of time left – this party has barely even got going yet.
We know that lots of Brave Supplicants have been getting some disappointing news recently. We want to offer you a dose of reality today.
The good kind.
The truth is, if you don’t give up, and you readjust your strategy, and you possibly look at the targets you’re aiming for, you are pretty much guaranteed to make it into a Top 20 school.
We did a review of our 2015 BSers recently and did all of them make it into Harvard? Of course not. They didn’t even all make it into their top choices. But the vast majority of them did make it into somewhere good.
If it wasn’t Wharton, maybe it was Darden.
If it wasn’t Yale, maybe it was UCLA.
If it wasn’t Chicago Booth, maybe it was McCombs.
There is ALWAYS a home for you somewhere.
You just have to not give up.
Yes, there’s a lot of applicants out there. More and more, it seems, each passing year.
But if you’re open-minded about where you are targeting, you will recognize that there are lots and lots of very good schools.
If your heart is set on getting an MBA, then let’s be realistic, shall we?
A Top 20 school is really not that much different from a Top 10 school.
Would you really be so ashamed to tell your friends and family that you’re going to USC? Or UT-Austin?
Great schools like Vanderbilt Owen and Notre Dame aren’t even included in what we’re calling the “Top 20.”
Sure, keep your aim set high. Apply to Tuck or Columbia or Booth in Round 2. But consider REALITY too and don’t get so
snobby starstruck by the brand names that you lose sight of the fact that bschool is a stepping stone.
If you have come up emptyhanded so far: It was the profile, or the pitch.
If it’s the profile, then there’s nothing you can do about it to change things for Round 2. Except adjust your targets and not aim for the skyhigh well nigh impossible schools.
If it was the pitch, then there’s plenty you can do.
In either case, the most important thing you can do is keep plugging away. Work on those essays. Then work harder on them. Throw out your first drafts and start over. Heck, sometimes we tell BSers they need to throw out their tenth drafts.
Be flexible. Recognize that this process is difficult. Be prepared to be frustrated.
This phase will be over soon enough. Choose carefully, and plan the strategy, and then execute.
You still have time to get it all done.
We’re with you, Brave Supplicant! We know you can make it. This particular marathon has a sprint ahead. Stock up on gummi worms so that you’ll survive the essay storm that’s looming on the horizon.
To all those who did in fact grab the golden ring that came around on the Round 1 merry-go-round, congratulations to you! We’re celebrating.
To all those who are getting up on that horse again: You’ll make it! We know you will.
Godspeed and good editing as you prepare for the sprint ahead.
From the ‘snarchives:
- EssaySnark’s Ranking of the Top 19 Business Schools – we’d rank them slightly differently today but you may still find that interesting
- The best schools that are “easy” to get into