In from Yale SOM’s waitlist [admit #4]

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I started out last fall with my heart set on Yale SOM. When I first started exploring business schools, SOM called out to me…even before I found out that it was “the” bschool for nonprofit folks. And once I discovered that fact, I felt like my mind was all made up. I didn’t know what kind of chances I had at admission, but if Yale let me in, I would GO. I was that sure that SOM was The School for Me.

Then I found out I was waitlisted. It was the first bschool decision I received of all my apps (well, except for GSB, but that didn’t ever really register with me), and I was crushed. I thought that if I had a chance anywhere, it would be SOM…and even they weren’t sure if they wanted me. I started to think I had little to no chance of admission at all my other schools.

But then things started looking up. Way up. Not only did I receive admission from Anderson, I also received a scholarship. I was floored. I started out this process thinking mayyyybe I’d have a shot at scholarship money, but in no way did I expect it. But I got some, and suddenly my expectations shot upward. I started to need more than an admit to consider enrollment.

In the meanwhile, I was learning more and more about Johnson, my dark horse candidate. And I liked what I learned. I liked it a lot. SOM started to look very far away, and Johnson looked more and more within reach.

And that’s what brings me to where I am today. I found a little over a week ago that I was admitted with all the other round 2 admits at SOM. I was really happy, of course, but I also did not receive any funding from them. And even though Yale has an outstanding loan forgiveness program…I’m sticking with Johnson. For all those of you who have been going following the SOM saga with me (machichi, AG, tinkered, everyone else out there), I have truly appreciated swapping stories and going through all of it with you, and I’m sad we won’t be classmates next year. But I’m sure you’re all destined for greatness, and I’ll always have a special place in my heart for SOM 🙂

And that, ladies and gentlemen, concludes my bschool application drama. I hope you enjoyed the show!

I’ll still be blogging when inspiration hits me, probably mostly complaint-filled posts about the relocation process. (Did I mention I hate moving? Yes, I think I did, but I’ll say it again. I hate moving.) No promises once the fall semester starts at Johnson, though. From what I hear, I’ll barely have time to breathe, much less blog…though I do love blogging.

I want to thank all of you out there who have been reading my posts and virtually traveling the bschool application journey with me. This blog is well on its way toward its 30,000th view since my first post this past September! I’ve tried to be as transparent as possible, and I hope you guys have gleaned something from it all, whether it was a smile, a nod or a muttered “god I hate her she is so annoying.” I’ll take it all.

For those of you asking, “How did you get off the Yale waitlist?“, I honestly don’t think I did anything special. I was kind of lazy about the whole thing because I was hedging my bets. I didn’t visit campus or reach out to more students/alumni. I’m pretty sure my case was “Pretty good, but not awesome. Let’s put her off until round 2 and reevaluate her within the context of that group.” And maybe yield was lower than they expected for round 1. But here’s what I did:

  • Asked for feedback: SOM will give you feedback on your application if you ask for it (other schools won’t). I asked, and their feedback was that they had no specific feedback, so that didn’t really help me much. But they might give you something actionable that you could work on.
  • Demonstrated interest: When I received an offer from another school, I let SOM know about it and said that I’d still pick them if they let me in.
  • Submitted another rec: I had another previous supervisor submit a character-driven rec for me. I never saw the rec, so I don’t know what it really said. Maybe it was crazy fantastic and that’s what got me in (?) But I also hear recs from current students and alumni can help a lot.

I also submitted a two-sentence update saying that I had completed a pre-MBA math course and received an A+ in it, but I doubt this had anything to do with my admission. I don’t think quant was a real concern on my app.

I’ve heard stories of people putting together pages and pages of supporting content and sending it to admissions. I didn’t do any of that. I probably sent SOM three or four short (3-4 sentences each) emails total during the four-month waiting period. And I didn’t really get a response to the messages I sent, so I don’t even know if they read them, really. I actually wonder if what I contributed had any influence at all on my admission. I mean, it was probably better than staying completely silent, but in and of itself I don’t believe the content was that compelling.

Watch out, Johnson, here I come! [Johnson 2016]

Johnson-Cornell-Logo_webI’m sure exactly none of you will be surprised to hear that I’ve put my deposit down for Cornell Johnson!

Even though it was painfully obvious from my recent posts that I had fallen hard for Johnson, the decision was not an easy one to make. As I was considering all the pros and cons, I was also reaping the benefits of living close to UCLA and being able to attend every yield event Anderson offered. I had lunch with Dean Rob Weiler and coffee with my first year buddy. I also attended the Anderson Women’s Business Connection conference, a reception for fellowship recipients and Admit Preview Day. I was especially taken with Dean Judy Olian’s comments at the women’s conference. She was very frank about the challenges women face in business and went as far to say that women can have it all–but not at the same time. Basically, she said that a woman can’t be aggressively furthering her career and having kids simultaneously–one or the other has to take priority. She tried to underline this by pointing out that Julia Stewart (the keynote speaker) had her first child at age 42. It was all very intriguing and I admired Dean Olian for speaking a hard truth, even if it was a debatable one.

What I’m trying to say is that my decision was very personal . It was more about cultural fit and long term plans beyond my two years of business school and less about reputation, the quality of career services and trying to determine which school was “better.” I know it gets really old hearing this over and over again throughout the entire bschool application process, but I really tried to determine what was “better” for me than what was objectively “better.” Okay, now the word “better” sounds and looks really weird. I’m going to stop.

I did receive a Forte Fellowship from Johnson, which was FANTASTIC news. I was so excited! I am really looking forward to getting more involved in the Forte Foundation.

I thought applying and waiting for decisions was hard, but now comes the really terrible part: moving. (Moving–how do I loathe thee? Let me count the ways.) I’ve done it many times throughout my years, including a couple cross-country ones, and no matter how much I try to plan and prepare (and, yes, I do a LOT of planning and preparing), it always ends up being an excruciating process. And this time I’m moving with a car, which I’ve never done before. I’ve got about 3-4 months to prep everything, which sounds like enough time, but also seems like not enough at all. Here’s to hoping for a relatively smooth transition to Ithaca!

Waiting. Painful, painful waiting.

time-warpThe bschool application process is full of starts and stops. One second you’re frantically trying to finish your application the day before it’s due, the next second you’re doing…nothing. Just sitting around and waiting to see if you’ll get an interview invite. When that invite (hopefully) comes, you jump back to life. You schedule your appointment, research the school, look into your interviewer’s background, polish your resume walk-through. Then the interview is over, and it’s back to waiting.

Then it’s the day before decisions are released, and your heart rate increases a little. You sleep poorly the night before. The morning of, you’re suddenly aware of your phone in a way you’ve never experienced before. It’s like you’ve gained a very specific kind of spidey sense–one whose sole purpose is to connect you to your phone. Your phantom vibration syndrome reaches an inhuman level of intensity, and you think, “This is it. I’m officially losing it!”

Now that I’ve submitted all my applications and have completed all the interviews I was invited for, I’ve reached the ultimate phase of waiting. I mean, I’m really waiting now. I thought I was waiting before, but nope. Apparently, there is an even worse kind of waiting, and this is it.

I think things are supposed to get better once you have at least one offer of admission (I’m lucky enough to have two at this point), but I haven’t experienced it that way. It’s true that the playing field has extremely narrowed, but at the same time , it’s also become much more real. And with reality comes expectations. And when there’s expectations, there’s always a possibility of disappointment.

I’m still waiting to hear if Johnson will offer me any scholarship money. I’m also waiting to hear if I will be admitted to Ross. I’m also waiting to see if I will get off the Kellogg and Yale SOM waitlists. And in the meanwhile, deposit deadlines are coming up fast. Cornell’s deposit deadline is in just a couple weeks, and UCLA Anderson’s deposit deadline is a week after that (which is also when I should hear from Ross).

The only real solace I have is that everything could potentially be settled in mid-March, which is actually not that far away. But until then, things feel more up in the air and unpredictable than ever.

Ross interview recap

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I recently completed my interview with a really fantastic Ross alumnus in my city. We met at a local coffee house and the interview was very relaxed and conversational without any odd-ball questions. I lucked out big time because the person I was randomly matched with actually wanted to do nonprofit work with her MBA…and she is currently working in the sector! I was itching to get the interview-y part of the meeting done because I had a ton of questions I wanted to ask. We had a really great conversation and I learned a LOT, including summer internship possibilities.

One of the notable things she told me about Ross was that the people there are pretty open minded and I wouldn’t be considered too much of an outlier. That stood out to me because I now understand that (what is being perceived as) the weak aspect of my application is my career goals, and it’s considered “weak” because some admissions committees just…don’t get it. And although animals and MBAs might not be the first two things one would pair together, I’ve been slightly disappointed with how some schools are resisting the idea. Marketing management jobs everywhere–even in the nonprofit, animal welfare sector–prefer MBAs, and it’s frustrating to have to convince admissions committees members of this fact. (The Best Friends Animal Society is currently hiring a Communications Manager. The first line of the job description says, “MBA with concentration in Marketing/Communications is desired.”)

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. No matter where I actually end up enrolling for business school, I have a feeling I’ll be crossing paths with my Ross interviewer again in the future. It’s amazing how the bschool application process is already offering me great networking contacts for my career even though I’m not even a student yet! I also now fully realize why people advise applicants to apply for your dream schools last–I think with this final interview, I finally hit my resume walk through out of the park. I’m a future-oriented person, not past-oriented. I don’t spend much of my time lingering on what’s already happened and thinking about what I might have done right or wrong in the past, so I’m just not personally inclined to do a great job at a resume walk through. But after doing four interviews, I can finally say that I think I figured out what my interviewers wanted to hear from me and that it all made sense.

What impresses me most about Ross’ nonprofit support is their Domestic Corps program. Domestic Corps is a fully funded and fleshed out summer internship placement program for opportunities in the nonprofit sector. TheNonprofit and Public Management Center at Michigan gathers together a few nonprofit summer internships and organizes the application process for them–if you decide to apply, the Center reviews all Ross applicants first, then passes on their chosen candidates to the organizations themselves to do final interviewing/selection. Each internship is paid $10,000 for 10 weeks of work, and the opportunities cover a good range of functional areas. The summer internship has been kind of a black hole to me when I think about doing nonprofit work with my MBA–sure, I can understand doing the job search on my own, but the internship aspect seems a bit daunting. Although nonprofits want MBAs, very few have internship programs for bschool students. Domestic Corps is pretty awesome in that it offers specific support in that area.

In other news, I was not invited to interview at Fuqua. I have to admit that I was somewhat surprised. I’ve been invited to interview at all the schools I applied to except GSB and Haas, whose selectivity and competitiveness are in a league of their own. I didn’t think Fuqua was in that same category, but who knows what they are thinking? Not being invited to interview is not technically a ding–I guess applicants in the past have been invited to interview in the subsequent round and ultimately admitted–but it’s certainly not a good sign. But I’m also pretty distracted right now and will be through the rest of this week, at least. I’m still waiting to find out if I will get any financial support from Johnson, which will play a huge role in my MBA future.

Johnson said YES!! [admit #2]

Thanks to a blog post by Christine Sneva, all us R2-ers knew to look for calls a little earlier than originally expected. When my phone rang (well, vibrated–I never have my ringer on. Actually, I don’t even know what my default ringtone is), my heart promptly wedged itself into a very awkward angle in my throat. A very friendly voice said she was calling from the Johnson Graduate School of Management, at which point I let out what sounded like a combination laugh/squeal/choking sound, but I let her go on. I really can’t remember what her actual words were, but I already knew what she was going to say. And I was crazy happy about it [insert many smiley faces here]!!!

I was told to expect an email and an admit packet to be mailed via FedEx. (I appreciated this little detail, because FedEx never delivers successfully to my building. I don’t know what it is, but they just refuse to enter and leave packages. Knowing to expect the delivery will help a lot.) Johnson’s admit weekend, Destination Johnson, is scheduled for April 11-13. And, perhaps most importantly of all, all scholarship notifications will happen within the next ten days.

Which brings me to my next conundrum. Like I’ve said before, it would be very, very hard for me to seriously consider enrolling at other schools and paying full price when I have a 40k Forte Fellowship offer from UCLA Anderson. I don’t have much in savings and am not expecting to make a ton of money in the nonprofit sector even with an MBA, so financial aid must play a huge role in my decision. Although I want to throw the biggest party in the world to celebrate my admission to Cornell, I’m a bit hesitant. I still don’t really know what my situation is… and I probably won’t know for another several days. I don’t want to get all worked up and excited for something that may not be able to pan out in the end 😦 (I hope that’s the last sad face I ever publish on this blog!)

Meanwhile, interview invites from Fuqua should come out tomorrow, so I’ll be somewhat distracted by that. I also have my Ross interview coming up very soon that I will be prepping for. I wish I could take a little break at this point, but time moves on!

Johnson interview [Hello, Ithaca!]

Johnson AtriumI completed my interview at Johnson, and it was an overall wonderful experience. Maybe it’s because Ithaca is in the middle of nowhere and basically everyone is traveling a good distance in order to interview on campus, but I felt very much cared for (almost coddled) during the entire time I was there by both adcom and the students, which was very nice 🙂

It hit a low of 12 degrees during my stay, but it wasn’t too bad. I grew up in super cold weather, so I wasn’t too put off by it. But this trip did have at least one “first-ever” for me: I brushed snow off my car for the first time in my life. I did brush snow off my parents’ cars when I was a kid, but I did it for fun (why is everything fun when you’re a kid??). When I woke up after my first night in Ithaca and went to my car in the morning, I stopped in my tracks when I saw it. I seriously had a moment of real confusion: “What? Is that snow on my car? Where did it come from???” The rental didn’t come with an ice scraper, so I ended up using my gloved hand to clear my windows…and I laughed at myself the entire time.

Anyway, January is probably the worst time to visit Ithaca, but I could still see the charm of the town. I did not get nearly as much stuff done as I wanted to, but that’s okay. I did get to check out Ithaca Falls, which was so very cool to see all frozen and full of huge icicles. And I was wrong–there is immediate access to pho in Ithaca at Saigon Kitchen, and it was pretty damn good!

Johnson students continued to impress me during my visit. I was able to form (what I felt were) actual bonds with some I spoke with, which is much more than I’ve experienced with students at other schools. I think my interview went fine–the questions were all pretty typical and expected. Regular prep (resume walk through, career goals, why MBA, why Johnson, leadership experiences) will help you with this one. My interview was with yet another amazing and sincere second year student. Altogether, and maybe for the first time, I experienced what all adcom members love to talk about: Fit. The fit was there.

It’s pretty nerve-racking to say (write) that out loud, really. I haven’t even been admitted yet…and with my scholarship offer from Anderson, I’d need more than just an admit to make enrolling a viable option. And competition is fierce. Decisions are scheduled to come out next Wednesday (Feb 5), but from what adcom folks have been saying it seems like it’s not a 100% guarantee they’ll make that deadline. It seems like the insane cold created a bit of delay in the process. I think they probably will make Feb 5, though, and if not, it will be pretty close.

I also sat in on a Sustainable Global Enterprise course while I was there, and it was amazing. It totally took me back to my college liberal arts days with a lot of theoretical discussion, critical thinking and weighing various social impact factors. The professor also struck me as both enthusiastic and entertaining.

I’m kind of sad that I need to stay anonymous right now, actually, because I’d love to publicly thank the Johnson students I talked to in person, on the phone and over email. I’m not sure if I just lucked out with those of you I ended up meeting, but you guys are pretty great.

Things I want to do in Ithaca

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Camo pant suits: The Next Big Thing

My trip to Ithaca to interview for admission to Johnson is coming up fast. I’m suddenly being faced with a lot of new questions, like:

  • My one pair of winter gloves are now 8 years old and have a big hole in the thumb. It’s basically a thumb-less mitten. Should I buy a new pair just for this trip? Is it worth it? My hands won’t get that cold, right? Right?
  • What kind of business clothes do women wear in 12 degree weather? Pumps and skirts are out of the question…does someone make all-terrain business wear? Should I start a company that specializes in that? Camo pantsuits…hmm. Damn, Stephen Colbert and Brooks Brothers already beat me to it. There goes my million dollar idea.
  • Are farmers markets held in winter in Ithaca? (The answer is yes).
  • Is there a way I can see waterfalls and gorges in January without freezing my ass off? (The answer to this one is also “yes”–TripAdvisor says I can view Ithaca Falls from the safety of my car.)
  • Will my cheap hotel room be haunted by a ghost? Just kidding, I don’t believe in ghosts. Or do I…

Aside from visiting the Ithaca farmers market and waterfalls (which I’m told are an absolute must), a few other items I’m thinking about doing are:

  • Explore the Cornell campus as much as possible (I’ve never been, but I’ve always heard that it’s crazy beautiful)
  • The Johnson Museum of Art has also been strongly suggested to me. I’m not a big museum person, but if I can’t take the cold I might find myself wandering through here to relax and recuperate (free admission!)
  • Eat somewhere in the Commons (Moosewood, maybe?).

In the end, though, I might just be too anxious about my interview and/or too wussy to brave the cold to get these things done. I won’t be there for very long, so we’ll see what I’ll be able to fit in!

I’ve been contacting Johnson student ambassadors to learn more about the program, and, hands down, they have given me the best impression all around compared to student ambassadors I’ve spoken with at other schools. First of all, they all responded to me (and promptly), and second, they all gave me very thoughtful, thorough and honest responses. And by “honest” responses, I mean their messages did not solely consist of, “Johnson is the BEST! It’s perfect for you! Whatever your desires are, Johnson can fulfill them better than all the other business schools out there!” I mean, I completely understand why they sound like this (they are ambassadors, after all), but it was actually nice to hear a student share some challenges s/he was facing. Paradoxically, it made me feel better about Cornell.