Kellogg and Tepper – Ding #2 and Ding #3 + Updates

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!

The lull before the storm

So things have been quite dull ever since I submitted my applications. I wrote the TOEFL yesterday and it was such a breeze – I actually enjoyed the exam! It’s scheduled to be about 4h 30m long but I finished it in about 3h 15m, following which I got the stink-eye from the remaining test takers. All in all, I think I’m going to manage a respectable score and I’m glad it’s out of the way. I hope the scores are sent to UCLA asap because my application is going to be put “on hold” until they receive my TOEFL score.

I’ve also been featured in this US News article which is pretty cool! When I get into a school of choice (power of positive thinking), I’m definitely going to talk about how I focused on bringing out my strengths as a female candidate. This was actually the main fodder for my essays, particularly Kellogg and UCLA.

The waiting game is still on… I haven’t heard back from any school yet but I’m trying not to read too much into it. The end of this month/the beginning of the next is going to be nuts but I’m excited! Here’s to good things coming all the Round 2’ers way!

Recommendations and some surprising insights!

I had a lot of things planned for my day off, since I work 6 long days every week. Yes, including Saturdays. I have it rough. But I went out Saturday night and I spent most of Sunday sleeping it off. Yeah, 22 and I already feel like I’m too old for this scene. This is not good! Anyway, I’ve been working on the outlines for my essays and I think I have a good story. I’m going to be working on it more this week. I also balled up this Saturday and told my boss about my plans for an MBA. I was nervous about his reaction, because I do work for a startup and every single person here is a pretty valuable resource. But I was pleasantly surprised by his reaction, he seemed genuinely pleased for me and we even discussed my choice of schools and my future career plans. He offered to put me in touch with some connections of his that are alumni of my chosen schools. That was well beyond the call of duty. Oh, and most importantly, he said he would be more than happy to be one of my recommenders. I am so happy (and grateful) that he seems excited by this whole process, because god only knows I need some strong recommendations to get past the hurdles in my application. He also agreed to speak to a client about being my second recommender! Seeing as my client is American, I think this could add a lot of value to my application and prove that I can successfully fit into the American business landscape. I did manage to get my recommenders packet done though, it turned out to be much longer than I expected (3 pages!), so I hope they have the patience to read it through.

I also had a few calls with the alumni from the schools I’m applying to, a few of them were actually productive and the rest I learnt nothing new. But one of the people I spoke to worked in the admissions committee of the school and currently has his own career services startup and he had some excellent insights to share. The thing that shocked me the most was the fact that he told me to be wary about using the services of admissions consultants. Apparently, after reading thousands of applications each year, the adcoms have learnt to recognise which company has worked with which applicant based on the essays alone. He said he can differentiate an Alex Chu from a Stacy Blackman and an Accepted from an mbaMission. Wow. Even if you write the essays on your own, I guess each company has a ‘template’ per se, which leaves a unique signature on your essays. I’m not sure how much of a bad thing this is, but I think it’s best to be careful.

This guy is (was?) also on a first name basis with the entire admissions team and he stressed on how friendly and approachable they were. He urged me to meet them if they were at any events in India and he even said that they would let you know right away if they felt you weren’t a right ‘fit’ for their school. I think that’s a pretty great way to look at it, since applicants wouldn’t need to waste their time and energy on a school they probably wouldn’t get accepted to. He also spoke to me about the options available if I wanted to go into consulting and he encouraged me to have a closer look at Kellogg. Although it is known for its reputation of having the best marketing program around, they place about 100 – 150 students into the largest consulting firms (MBB), which is still a significantly larger percentage than the schools I’m looking at. I personally felt that it would be a long shot for me, but he thinks I have a competitive chance and that I should give it a go.

I have to say I’m a little confused now, but I think I’m going to do some more research and decide whether it would be a good decision to add one more to the list. Must sleep on that thought.