Here’s what i have figured out about MBA application process. I am in no way shape or form, the authority figure hell i haven’t even applied yet. So it’s my opinion and you’re entitled to disagree.
- Safety School – They don’t exist. There are students who got accepted at HBS and rejected by Duke. You’re single piece of a jig saw puzzle and you’ll get into the school that requires this piece to complete their picture, regardless how mediocre your stats are. ( Excluding non ranked schools who want to lift their Avg. Gmat scores by admitting students with great stats).
- Different Story for each School – It won’t work. You have on dream, one purpose and one goal. If you try multiple story lines, they will catch you lying. It’s hard to keep up one lie let alone a dozen.
- Big Applicant Pool – Stop worrying about the Indian IT Male applicant pool. If Adcoms. only cared about your GPA and GMAT they would’ve picked candidates with top marks. Its all about personality- who you are, what you want and why you want it ? Its about your experience – what have you done, why have you done it and how did you do it and also impact you had.
- Acceptance Rate – Acceptance rate at HBS < 10%, Stanford 9% etc… It doesn’t matter. You either get in or you don’t. Even if you get waitlisted , either you get in or you don’t. Its 50% not 20% not 10% not 9%.
- Fit – Ok this one is kinda tricky. You only end up doing MBA at one school, so technically nobody can definitively compare two schools and it’s fit. Your experience talking to alumni and current students isn’t same as one you will get from talking to your peers. You can’t predict the future so let destiny decide this one for you.
- Rankings – Employers don’t check yearly MBA rankings before hiring interns or handing out full time job offers. Only the prospective applicants check the rankings. Harvard/Stanford/Wharton are league apart PERIOD !!!. Ivey league schools are different league. Booth, Kellogg, Haas are unbeatable in their own way. You are not your school’s ranking.
Passion wears out, motivation runs out, its Obsession that lasts till the end. Admit or Reject put your heart into it and you’ll succeed in life.
There’s something in Pacific North West that you cannot find anywhere else. The atmosphere and scenic nature are next to none, with mountains on one side and ocean on the other. I always wanted to check out Foster School of Business as it’s close to Vancouver and also because of it’s in heart of Seattle with easier access to Microsoft, Amazon, Boeing and other major Fortune 50 companies. So i decided to visit Foster on our long weekend and attend a class. I reached out to MBA ambassador Stephan Tomick and he set me up with Elaine for coffee chat. As it turns out my cousin also goes to U-Dub (University of Washington). So he showed me around the campus and i got much more candid tour than i expected. After that we met up with Elaine and asked her gazillion questions. From class size to diverse backgrounds of students to helpful community everything checks out. My Why MBA response ranges from Fin-tech to Management Consulting to Climb corporate ladder in Tech. Though Fin-tech will always be my reason to go for MBA, but i have to be realistic as to what if it doesn’t workout. By Indian standards i should’ve grand children by now but grad school is holding my mom back from creating an account for me on e-harmony & shaadi.com. Failed career transition + pressure from parents won’t do me any good, so i have to have some backup plan. Talking to Elaine, i found out that Foster can help with Tech placement, Fin-tech and also help me land a consulting gig (might not be at top 4) though it’ll require lot of effort from my side. Her complete honesty won more brownie points for Foster than their online MBA brochure. She also got me in touch with another first year student who got Consulting gig at McKinsey. Now this is where crazy stuff happens, i literally shook hands with Chrsitian (McKinsey intern) as he was on his way out of the classroom for a meeting. He gave me his card and told me contact him if i need help, which i did. I have never seen anyone respond so quickly to my message on LinkedIn not even the forever nagging recruiting consultants. All the three students that i talked to at Foster were more welcoming than any other MBA student i talked to since i started this journey.
Honest confession, i didn’t think of Foster as a top tier B-school and was under the impression that i’ll keep it as my Safety school. Boy i was so wrong but i am glad i decided to take time out to visit Foster. It might not be on top of B-school rankings but it has surely made it to my list of schools.
This post is bit off topic. I have started to jolt down personal experiences, beliefs, view points and concerns. One thing that has resonated over the years with me is passion. Everything i have achieved or accomplished , its largely because i was so passionate about it. MBA is next item on the list. MBA itself isn’t a thing that i want to tick off my bucket list, it’s the MBA experience and transformation that i am after. Challenge that i’m facing lately is way too many distractions. I am passionate about lot of causes and i am invested in quite a few of them. So it all boils down to my priorities and GMAT obviously trumps the list or at least it should. So i have decided to change my passion into obsession and try to ace GMAT and give myself better odds come the application season. Obsession might not be the right attribute but win or lose i want to give it my all and then some.
Passion is when you see the results, passion is when there’s joy and excitement. Obsession is when there’s no end in sight but you’re keeping a promise you made to yourself.
Spending two weeks in States, travelling coast to coast, visiting all the exceptional B-Schools. It reinvigorated the desire to go all in this MBA process. Before visiting Haas (first school on schedule), I thought I’ll check out the campus, gather as much detail as possible and use that in my applications later. But I was so wrong, you don’t really get material for your essays. Yes you do attend classes and it gives you better context but you can find same information online if you dig deep enough. Visiting the schools is more of realizing who you are and where you fit, instead of what the school is about. Now I may be wrong but it depends on each individual. Some of the schools I visited were instant click while others were complete dud.
One thing that I can say with certainty is self reflection is so crucial to application process and it’s naive to delay it till last minute. I don’t have a stellar background, I am right up there in academics but financial and personal circumstances held me back and I was never really able to utilize my potential to its maximum. So I have to stand out and I have to let my guard down. I have to write down who am I , what I want to accomplish and why I feel I can accomplish it. Just the thought of opening up to my recommenders and sharing my life story with them scares the crap out of me. Everyone walks around with aura of invincibility and this could have potential negative impact on me. Worst case scenario is I don’t get admitted and end up staying at my current job, seeing my recommenders on daily basis. Best case scenario, they are genuinely nice and understanding people and I do get into B-school.
Either way, to get the most passionate and personal recommendation from them i have to share my story. So I have started opening up, writing on weekly basis – my background, my accomplishments, my interactions with my recommenders. I am talking to them more openly about career focus and future plans. So when the time comes, they are all ready and excited. Another benefit of doing this now is I can compile a package for them, stuff I might have done for them, things that have made huge impact but they might have forgotten about me. Also to show them why I am applying to a particular school, so they can communicate my ambitions and strengths through their writings as well.
Last one on this trip – Wharton.
I somehow booked the hotel with best view and most expensive internet ever. Wharton’s class visit was the most jam packed event out of all b-schools. From coffee with current students to class visit to lunch and campus tour to second class visit and then an information session.Getting to Wharton was fairly easy. I stayed in Centre city and Wharton’s surrounding area is called U-city (roughly 10 min drive & $10-15 taxi). Campus is a centre walk called locust walk where buildings on either side are different departments or schools. Admissions office is in a building called Vance Hall. I got there bit early and signed up for my first class – Business Analytics by Sergei Savin. Current students showed up and talked about their experience so far. Wharton has second biggest MBA class so it has lot of diversity in terms of demographics, industry, ethnicity of students. Students answered few questions and took us to our first class.
Sergei is a really funny professor, one you can easily get used to. He emphasized that Wharton does one thing better than anyone else is connecting data/numbers with people. Being a BI analyst i understand how important it is to have Technical skill set but also a business mindset to answer the questions more effectively and help make informed business decisions. Wharton is quant focused and it shows. For lunch and campus tour, current first year student was assigned to our group (myself and 4 other students). He had just gotten back from japan last night, but lack of sleep or jet lag didn’t affect his enthusiasm about the campus tour which is a positive sign. Keep in mind my sleep was all over the place and i only had 3 hour difference, he was coming from other side of the globe. So i had more appreciation for his effort. After the campus tour we were sent to our second class, this time i chose Venture capital and the finance of innovation. Boy o boy, my sleep deprived brain couldn’t handle all the numbers thrown at him. Valuation by DCF is an interesting topic and i learned a LOT. I think if i had read some introduction about it, or read the chapter assigned it would’ve been a different story but still i was able to hang in there and get most out of it.
Wharton class visit was exceptionally pleasant experience. I had strong affinity towards Wharton and i feel like its justified. I still have few more schools on my radar that i want to check out but this 2 week trip has come to an end.
I never really believed in love at first sight but HBS is a different case. I knew about its reputation and all but never felt like i would want to go there for my MBA. It was sunny for last couple days in Cambridge and when i woke up on friday, it was snowing outside. Not a good sign. So i quickly got ready and called/hailed/summoned uber (don’t know the right terminology – but you get the idea). Driver dropped me off right at HBS but outside wrong building. I decided to walk around n find my way as i still had 20 mins before the class visit. Enter the building and i felt like i was in the White house. I kid you not, like imagine Scarlett Johansson comes up to you and asks for your number. I was giggling, excited and was in awe of my surroundings. HBS Class visit pool is by far the biggest of all the schools i have visited. There were about 12 of us and another group of students was waiting for class right after us. Our class was BGIE and topic of Case study was India : Inclusive Growth taught by Alberto Cavallo. One of the students who escorted us from Dillon house to Class, introduced us to Alberto and to entire class. It was a great experience. Class was phenomenal. I wanted to participate so badly as i have been through secondary and primary schooling in India and felt like i was the best person in class to talk about it but i had to restrain myself. Class started at weird time like 9.10 – 9.15 and ended at 10.30. It was only hour n 20 mins long but amount of issues that prof touched was insane. It was like attending standup comedy but even the audience was participating and i ended up learning so much. Upon returning to hotel, i started watching webinars and contacted a fellow Canadian who’s in his first year at HBS. He responded right away but unluckily he was flying out to Toronto otherwise would’ve met him in person and asked more questions. There’s a reason HBS is a league apart and it shows. When the application season comes, i’ll surely be right swiping on HBS.
Cambridge is a different beast altogether. It has MIT and Harvard. The architecture around town is vintage and more welcoming than i felt at Chicago. I always had special place for MIT having aspired to become an astronaut growing up. Walking around the campus rekindled the fire once again but alas it’s bit late. If way to man’s heart is through his stomach, then MIT built express lane for me. I am a big fan of healthy nutritious food. Oatmeal and coffee are my go to meal anytime, anyplace (even if it’s not breakfast time).
MIT cafe serves gourmet oatmeal with variety of granola, cranberry, brown sugar etc. MIT and I totally hit it off. It started off with Coffee chat with current first year students and a class visit after. Jim Rohn says “You’re the Average of the five people you spend the most time with “. And pretty much everyone i met at MIT, i would love them to be my classmates. MIT is pretty quant focused and it shows the way students communicate. We were taken to Paul Osterman’s Managing and Leading People and Organizations’ class after coffee chat. Myself and other 4 students were asked to introduce ourselves, it wouldn’t have mattered if we weren’t. But these small things do add up, it’s the minimalist things that add up to become a major factor. I liked the vibe of class, it’s inter-activeness and right blend of case study with lecture style. Following the case, there was an information session and lunch with current students. Dynamics of American politics and its impact on International students applying was brought up and one of the students mentioned that Student body president wrote to Trump personally regarding the issue showing his displeasure on the topic. All in all, it was great experience. If there’s one thing i have learnt so far, is that rankings don’t matter or atleast not if it’s one of the top 5-7 school. The opportunities are pretty much the same, it all boils down to what your personal preference is. Next on the list is HBS. 🙂