My first interview invite: Yale SOM

Yale SOMI was SO excited today when I received my first bschool interview invite! And I am SO-SO-SO excited that it came from Yale SOM!!!

I was having a mini mental crisis up until today. I’m probably blowing my weirdness out of proportion, but I was really starting to doubt myself and my entire philosophy of just being honest in my apps. I was beginning to think that I had alienated the folks who were reviewing my materials, despite trying my best to demonstrate my practical and strategic side along with my idealistic one.

This interview invite means so much more to me than just a chance at admission. Even if I don’t get that ultimate offer, it is so gratifying to know that I’m being considered and not immediately tossed aside as a misfit (and that my horribly poor video performance didn’t scare them away!). I didn’t realize how stressed out I was about this whole thing until I saw that invite email on my screen. I felt like the vise squeezing my rib cage was suddenly loosened and released. I can breathe again!

Yale, in a lot of ways, seems like a perfect place for me to go to bschool. I even kind of like that it’s not a top 10 program. Not that I’m against going to a highly ranked bschool–that is completely untrue. But Yale is well known for its socially responsible program, and I doubt that those ranking systems put a fair amount of weight on that fact. And I’m not particularly interested in surrounding myself with peers who put an undue amount of importance on things like reputation, prestige and rankings. Not that everyone who goes to those schools are all like that, but it’s just more probable that I’d find more like-minded folks at a place like Yale. But I’m not going to get ahead of myself here; I haven’t even scheduled my interview yet.

And that brings me to my next set of questions. It would put a huge strain on my finances to fly around the country for on-campus interviews, and interviewing via Skype seems like an awkward and uncomfortable proposition. Luckily, it looks like Yale is sending out adcom members to certain cities to conduct in person, off campus interviews, so I’m hoping to take that route (I’m super grateful for that option, btw). Hopefully that will work out!

Which MBA Programs I’m applying to and why

Here’s my list:

  • Stanford
  • Yale
  • Berkeley
  • Cornell
  • Northwestern
  • UCLA
  • USC
Beautiful Ithaca, NY

Beautiful Ithaca, NY

Yup. Seven schools. Seven. A ton, right? It just goes to show exactly how unsure I am of what schools will admit me. There’s lots of reasons not to admit me. And lots of reasons TO admit me. I just have no idea who will think what of me, because I am a big weirdo…at least when it comes to bschool applicants.

I currently live in SoCal, so deciding to apply to UCLA and USC were no-brainers and a matter of practicality. The other schools I narrowed down to for location and financial reasons…or a combination of both. In some of these locations, I have potential access to housing from family that would save me a ton of money. And I do not want to live in a big city for business school. I know that’s totally illogical and I should be wanting to live in a big city for career opportunities and recruitment fairs and whatnot. But I am just over living in big cities for now (and paying the tons of money on rent and food and everything else that comes along with it). I know these schools are not in the boonies or anything (well, maybe Cornell), but I just did not want to be in NYC, Boston or Philadelphia. After those considerations, I moved on to evaluating the actual programs.

Stanford, Yale, Berkeley and Northwestern all stuck out to me for their well-known nonprofit programs. And, for one reason or another, I have positive associations with all of them from looking into schools for undergrad or taking extra classes/doing summer programs there in the past. Does that have anything to do with the quality of their MBA programs? Probably not much. I just like the schools overall and could picture myself on their campuses.

After talking with alumni, I especially liked how Berkeley and Yale both seemed to pride themselves on admitting nontraditional applicants. A Berkeley alum even told me that the MBAs there tend to be more “granola.” Now, I am quite sure these people are nowhere near hippies, but the mere fact that they are happy to share that fact means something.

And that brings me to Cornell. I first started thinking about applying there because I’ve always heard so much about how Ithaca is so beautiful. And I am nature-starved right now (in case you couldn’t tell), so that sounded really, really appealing. I didn’t know much about their programs until I spoke to a rep at a recent Forte Forum. The rep was from Cornell’s Office of Diversity & Inclusion. I know that schools like to make a big fuss over how diverse they are, but I actually believed Cornell after hearing the rep speak about it. I’m no minority (Well, in the business school sense. Except that I’m a woman, I guess. I can’t believe I have to say that), but I really appreciate the efforts of that office. And even though I don’t have the impression that Cornell has a full and robust nonprofit program, I really liked how the rep went about explaining options to me. Other school reps I’ve spoken with are just clearly uninterested in my nonprofit background and make minimal effort to show how their school can accommodate my interests (I’m looking at you, UCLA), so that’s how Cornell won me over.

Overall, a very scientific process, as you can see! A lot of it was gut instinct, past experiences and what I happen to feel like doing at this point in my life. Stanford, Yale and Berkeley are at the top of my “wish list,” but, honestly, I think I can get what I need out of any of the schools I’m applying to, so here’s hoping to at least one “You’re in!”.