So March 25th was D-day for both Kellogg and Tepper, but since I pretty much knew what the outcome was going to be, I didn’t really care that much to be honest. Kellogg waived my interview and anecdotal evidence showed quite early on that once you’re waived, it’s pretty much over for you. At least, that’s how it was this admissions cycle, particularly if you’re Indian.
I’d like to say I was surprised that Tepper dinged me, but I’m not. My essays for Tepper were hastily edited versions of my essays from other schools, and trust me, it showed. In hindsight, it was dumb of me to apply just for the heck of it. I hadn’t spoken to any current students, I had no real connection with the school and I applied anyway because I thought it was ‘safe’. Don’t make the same mistake I did! I don’t know exactly how, but your interest (or lack thereof) in a school’s program can be clearly gauged by the admissions committee. They can see right through a last minute application, so even if your stats look good on paper, you will have a tough time of it. I also noticed a typo in my essay a week or so ago. This is what happens when you blearily try to mishmash content from three other essays at 3 a.m, two hours before the deadline. I repeat, don’t do this!
To prove the point I made above, I interviewed at Anderson, which for all intents and purposes is more ‘difficult’ to get into than Tepper and the only reason I made it this far is because I worked my butt off on that one essay and I spoke to at least 5 different students throughout the process. The result will be out on April 2nd, not too far away now.
How am I dealing? Well, mentally I’m prepared for a ding. With five other dings already, it’s not that much of a stretch. I’ve been trying to shift out of my engineering function into product management, which was basically my post MBA goal anyway. I figure if I have to reapply next year, it might be good to show that I’ve already made that shift. Besides, it’s where my true interests lie so I’m going to be much happier there. I’m also going to be heading to South Africa for about 10 days in May. It will be my second trip to this gorgeous country and I can’t wait to take a break from all this madness and come back refreshed to do it all over again.
Also, congratulations to everyone who’s made it to their target schools… looking at you Scott and My Life of Bliss!
I finally submitted all four apps in the past two days and let me tell you, it was exhausting. Here are my thoughts on each application:
- Booth: I absolutely loved the Booth application. It gave me enough space to talk about everything (and I mean everything!). The prompts within the app allowed for enough detail and I even used the optional essay to fill in some gaps. I was terrified of the presentation/essay but it turned out to be one of the most rewarding things I’ve made this application season. Everyone who read it seems to have enjoyed it, so I can only hope the adcoms will too. I’d say this was my favourite (and my best).
- Kellogg: The application for Kellogg and Booth was actually pretty similar, but I had to be much more succinct in my Kellogg app. There were three essays I had to answer (2 required + 1 for the MMM) and I think I did a pretty decent job at all of them, although some were better than the others. Hopefully, my video essay goes well and I make enough of an impact on the adcom. It would suck if my interview was waived.
- Anderson: The Anderson application was painless (just one essay and one recommendation) until I realized that they require a TOEFL score 2 days before the deadline for Round 2. I was this close to breaking something. Luckily, I got in my app before the deadline and put in the date I’m planning to take the damn test but until they get my official scores, my application is going to be “on hold”. Anyone know what this means?
- Tepper: Tepper was sort of a last-ditch effort on my part. I was also exhausted from a long night the day before, so I’m not sure how my essays were. I think I did okay, hopefully that’s enough. For the first time ever, my essays were under the word count rather than being a few over. Weird.
Things that changed from Round 1 in Round 2:
- I had one solid recommendation in Round 1 and the other, was to put it mildly, just fluff. I know because the recommender (head of volunteers) decided to show it to me once I’d submitted all my Round 1 apps. I’m not even sure how I got invited to interview at Duke with that one. It was a huge wake-up call. This time, my client (from my startup) agreed to be my second recommender and I know he’s going to do a killer job because I did some killer work for him.
- I paid a lot more attention to the short answers and little entry fields in the application. Last time, I’d pretty much copy+pasted bullets from my resume into these fields, but this time I made sure to bring up things that had never been mentioned before. My apps this time covered every single aspect of my profile.
- I had help every single step of the way from Vandana and NaijaMBAGal (a shoutout to FinanceFurry here as well). I absolutely could not have done it without them. They were my supporters, critics and confidantes throughout this round and their feedback on my essays was always genius. Every time I second-guessed something on my app (which was pretty much all the time), I knew I had these guys on my side. Thank you so much you two!
What lies ahead? I’m going to finish up my Kellogg Video essays, get in a short vacation in Bangkok this weekend, come back and get the TOEFL over with and then just wait! I have a good feeling about Round 2 🙂 I also feel like this time I won’t be so anal about it… some exciting things have been happening at work and I caught myself thinking “Oh crap, if I get into an MBA program, I’m going to miss all this”. Yup, instant realization. MBA this year or no MBA this year, I’m gonna be okay!