A new year with new schools to add to my applications

new year 2014Happy new year everyone!

It was a crazy winter holiday–a real emotional rollercoaster. I think my mind flip-flopped a zillion times during the last two weeks of December…one second I was imagining life in Evanston…the next second I was imagining life at the same exact spot I am now, sans MBA…and the next second I was imagining life in LA as a student. A big “thank you” to everyone who gave me their two cents about what schools to add to my list. After some thinking, I decided to add Fuqua and Ross to my round 2 applications. And actually, that decision was not a difficult one to make. I’m going to say something weird, now: There really aren’t that many business schools to pick from!

If you’re going for some level of prestige/recognition (which I am; it’s a hard habit to break), there isn’t much beyond the top 20 or maybe 25 schools to look at. At this point, I also know that my chances for a top 5 school are basically zero, and my chances for the top 10 are slim. Stanford and Berkeley were the two reaches I included in round 1, and seeing that I was denied without interview from GSB and it’s looking VERY likely that I’m going to be denied without interview from Haas, too, I really needed to focus on schools with higher admit rates (at least solidly in the mid-20% range). After I sprinkled in my geographic limitations, it really came down to Tuck, Fuqua and Ross. Darden was another possibility, but I didn’t really consider them mostly because I don’t know a single thing about Virginia and Charlottesville…and I didn’t have the time to find out.

Tuck was really calling out to me (especially its location), but I ultimately decided it would be a waste of effort, time and money to apply. As I mentioned previously, Tuck all but says out loud that interviewing on campus is mandatory, and I don’t have that ability. Also, its 21% admit rate didn’t bode well for me. My round 1 apps included all my dream schools: GSB, Haas, SOM. For me, the point of adding apps to round 2 was to get more actual admission offers, not to keep hoping for a dream. So, I’m thinking along similar lines to what Kris2332 said about Ross–“I also like that it’s a top program, but you feel like you may actually have a chance to get in ya know.” I need solid chances of admission. Or, at least as solid as I’m willing to get. Ross has a 34% admit rate and Fuqua has a 26% admit rate, so they seem possible. Possible.

I submitted my Michigan app yesterday. One of my longtime friends got his MBA there, so fodder for essays was easy to come by. I still need to polish up my Duke essays, though, especially the massive “Why Duke?” one. There’s lots of reasons why, but it’s tough to not make it sound like a disjointed laundry list instead of a cohesive essay.

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Clear Admit’s Yale SOM Interview Guide [REVIEW]

Clear Admit Interview GuideClear Admit was kind enough to offer me their Yale SOM interview guide for free in exchange for a review on this blog. My interview with Yale is coming up in about a week, so I was more than happy to take a look.

Clear Admit’s 30-page guide helpfully points out how Yale’s interview model recently changed from resume-based to behavior-based (“Tell me about a time when…”). I think this will pose a challenge for me; I tend to feel that behavioral questions can be “trick” questions. With resume-based questions, I have single straightforward answers. I’m not the kind of person who just finds herself in situations; I always have a reason behind each choice I make. So it’s easy for me to explain my professional history, my career trajectory and my goals. But with behavioral questions, I have to grasp for one example among many from my past and choose one on the spot, and I sometimes regret the choice I made afterward (“Shoot, I should have talked about THAT leadership example, not THIS one!”). So I have a lot of preparation ahead of me in terms of pre-determining  answers to typical behavioral questions.

And I’m in luck, because Clear Admit’s guide supplies almost 50 questions that Yale has consistently asked applicants in recent years. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get through all of them, but they do give me a solid sense of what to expect. And, for me, personally, knowing what to expect is invaluable because it really eases my nerves and increases my confidence . The guide also gives helpful tips on how to prepare yourself along with in-depth analyses of very common questions (“Why MBA?”, “Why Yale?”).

Their guide also highlights the benefits of interviewing on campus in New Haven. I am definitely sad that I’m unable to be there in person for this interview, but I’ve decided to believe Yale adcom members when they say an on-campus interview does not give you a better chance for admission than on off-campus one. But, really, I don’t have much choice in this matter. I just bought plane tickets to see family for Christmas, and that set me back almost $700! That might not be a large sum for some, but it is for me. I’ve decided to do as many interviews locally as I can, and see if I can possibly visit campuses after I’ve received decisions.

Altogether, the guide is a great summary of what to expect and how to prepare for an interview with Yale SOM. I definitely learned information that I did not know, despite my Google-fu. I’ve been able to compile past Yale SOM interview questions myself from various forums and boards, but having them all in one place is a HUGE time saver (and I haven’t been able to compile even close to the number of questions the guide has). If you have $20 to spare, and ESPECIALLY if you’re short on time, I’d say the guide is totally worth it. You can purchase the guide online at Clear Admit’s website for $19.99.

Life back to normal (kind of)

ImageThis entire business school application process–studying for/taking the GMAT, choosing schools to apply to, completing applications–has basically taken over my life for the past six months, and I have been unable to do anything else. I’ve neglected dirty dishes, laundry grew in piles and the floors went way too long between vacuuming sessions. But now that all my round 1 apps have been submitted, life has been (somewhat) returning to normal! I’m finally able to empty the dishwasher, catch up on my volunteer work and have some fun. I’m bringing the car in for an overdue repair this weekend along with checking out a couple movies at the AFI Film Festival. And unlike many of my fellow applicants, it seems, I’m not feeling stressed about my already-submitted apps. I was super stressed out before I got my Yale SOM interview invite, but now that I know I have *some* chance of attending business school next year, I’ve completely relaxed. It’s actually tempting to just put the entire thing out of my head…I have to remind myself that I still need to do work, like prepare for my interviews (and, oh yeah, I still have two more apps to go!).

No word from Stanford or Berkeley re: interviews yet. I’ll definitely be disappointed if I don’t get an invite from Berkeley. Of all the applications I completed, I thought the way Berkeley’s essays were structured and the ample opportunities they gave to share additional info really provided the most comprehensive view of me as an applicant. So if I don’t hear from them, I can’t blame an annoying application structure for it! I guess I’d take it a bit personally if I don’t get an interview invite. Haas’ four defining principles really speak to me, too, and I think the school could be a fantastic fit for me. And I’ve always had a thing for Berkeley. I almost decided to attend Berkeley for undergrad, but decided to go with a traditional Ivy instead. I don’t regret making that decision, but I still love Berkeley.

Next week I’ll have my Kellogg interview first followed by Anderson. My interview with Yale should be done the week after. I’m generally excited to put a face on this whole process–everything has felt pretty cold and impersonal so far, so it will be satisfying to interact with someone directly!