Now that the sting has worn off…

I’m considering a very difficult decision. Insanity maybe? I don’t know. I’m thinking about retaking the GMAT before Round 2 deadlines with a goal of scoring at least a 750 this time. I know my weakness: I’m a very young applicant. I have a great GPA, great extracurriculars, great work experience (quality wise) but my GMAT as a consultant told me is “average”.

I’m pretty decent at taking standardised tests and I’m sure that with proper preparation I can beat the 710 I have. But I am worried about how I’m going to manage this with work, my startup, my volunteering work and actual applications. On the flip-side, having a really strong GMAT score could make me stand out and offset the damage I do to their admission statistics with my paltry work experience by increasing the average GMAT score.

Now, another sign that I’m losing my mind is that I am considering applying to Booth in Round 2. Yep. You heard me right. A school that is ranked way above Duke and practically up there with H/S/W. Why you ask? Primarily because this: Chicago Booth Early Career Candidates

…the Admissions Committee will bear in mind the applicant’s proximity to the college experience when considering factors such as leadership, supervision experience, and academic success.

I found myself checking off everything on that list. BUT, and this is a huge but, the average age is still about 28 though with 4.5 years of work experience. Does that mean I’m reading too much into this whole pitch they have for early career candidates? Well apart from this, I like the fact that the program is extremely analytical and personalized, and they have a great focus on entrepreneurship and non-conformity. I am still debating this internally, but I must admit a 750 would make me feel a little better about applying here. NaijaMBAGal, any insights? 😛

Other than that, I’m still deliberating my list. Cornell Johnson is definitely in there and I’m debating between Ross and maybe UCLA (didn’t think I’d want to be on the West Coast, but oh well). So if not this year, then what? I’m going to rethink my job situation and work towards getting into a top 10 school next year. Until then, decisions decisions.

UPDATE: A few hours after I wrote this post, thanks to some helpful feedback from gnpth and mbablackgirl, I decided what the heck and booked my date for the GMAT. 23rd December it is. It will be my third attempt (630, 710 and ?). I did absolutely no extra preparation between attempt 1 and attempt 2 so I have no idea how I managed that. Worst case, I get a score lower than 710 and I cancel it. Best case I get a 750+. Seems quite low risk to me so I took the plunge. Is it weird that I’m excited about taking the test?

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Why apply now?

As I mentioned in my last post, this isn’t probably the best time for me to apply. I have one year of full time work experience and I graduated in 2013. By the time I matriculate (if at all I do), I will have just about 2 years of work experience in total. This is on the lowest end for most applicants. I am fully aware that on paper, I don’t look very good as an applicant.

Cons:

  1. Squarely in the Indian IT engineer bracket
  2. Not from an IIT/NIT/a brand that would be instantly recognisable
  3. No full time work experience at a big brand name company
  4. Only 1 year of work experience at the time of applying
  5. Not a genius of any kind, did not invent the cure to AIDS when I was 12
  6. Indian IT engineer, yes it’s that much of a disadvantage

Pros:

  1. Female Indian IT engineer (yes! the vagina is good for something)
  2. College brand gained value by leaps and bounds thanks to a recently appointed CEO *hint* *hint*
  3. Full time work experience at a startup that is growing rapidly
  4. 1 year of full time work experience while at the same time launching my own company
  5. Not a genius, but look good enough on paper — 710 GMAT, 9.03 GPA, 94.4% 12th, 92.4% 10th
  6. Software engineer as opposed to IT engineer, gives me a slight edge as I develop products and applications directly for the end consumer

With all that said, I guess it largely comes down to how I build my application strategy, the schools I apply to and my essays. I know the top 5 are beyond my reach, so I’m not even going to go there. What I am looking at are the schools in the 10 – 20 range that I have a somewhat realistic chance of getting into.

So, why am I applying now? Why don’t I wait for a few years, get some more work experience and apply then? In an ideal world, I would. But in this world, I have issues, some of which are downright stupid.

  1. I am sick of coding. Honest to god. I’m good at it, but I can’t keep doing any more of it.
  2. All the jobs I do want to do /consulting/ need an MBA. To make the switch, I need a degree (at least the MBB firms).
  3. What good is waiting another year going to do? How much of a difference could a year make? I highly doubt that I would be able to make a drastic switch during this time.
  4. There is a clock ticking away in the back of parents’ heads for they fear I shall become an old maid by the time I get the damn MBA, and then of course no self respecting Indian man would ever look at me twice (I am seriously hoping this happens).
  5. I need to push the fast forward button on my career and I need to switch industries. I am also itching for that international work/study experience which is why I’ve given the IIMs the boot.

Good enough reasons? I’m not sure. I guess we’ll know soon enough.