How am I a weird bschool applicant? Let me count the ways…

500px-Numbers.svg 1. My nonprofit professional background.

After I graduated from college, I only wanted to do nonprofit work, and that’s all I have been done so far. I hear that there is growing interest from folks in the nonprofit sector to get MBAs, but it’s still nowhere near common. And on top of that, my nonprofit experience is not in education. It seems like the majority of MBA candidates who are from the NP sector are in education…either in administration or people who want to start their own charter schools (or something like that). I didn’t even know that whole phenomenon existed until I went to a Forte Forum and saw that Teach for America was one of its main sponsors. I was pretty confused by that, to be honest. But by now I’ve heard everything about how running a charter school is like running a business, which is interesting, but not what I am looking for.

2. My career goals.

I’m really afraid of coming off like some kind of PETA-ish militant or a softie “omggggg that puppy is sooooo cuuuuuuuuuute,” but I am so not. I eat meat! I’m brains over heart! I’m really pragmatic! I just really think we need to treat animals with decency and not be jerks about it.

3. I am old.

Not that old, but definitely old when compared with the average ages/years of work experience of most bschool student bodies. I never think about this (who’s old??? not ME!), but now that I’m filling out apps and calculating the number of months/years of work experience I’ll have by fall 2014, the numbers looks staggering. I’ll have 96 months of work experience by then. Ninety-six. Yale’s latest class profile has an average of 68 months of experience. Stanford’s average years of work experience for their 2014 class is 4.2. I’m going to have eight. I’ll be 31 years old when most everyone around me will be 27. In my mind, this is all not a big deal since I don’t think my age should be counted against me. And four years ago, I was not ready for business school, so it’s not even like I have something to regret. But I guess all that really matters is what the schools think, and they seem to not like older people.

4. I lean creative and have little to no quantitative work on my applications.

I actually *do* have a lot of quant experience–I lived and breathed math and science from ages 0-18, but the second I got to college and was free of those shackles I dove straight into creative work. I’ve published poetry and have done a lot of visual art. But I also can’t escape my super practical and numbers-focused childhood. Even when I’m writing a poem, I have this nagging question in the back of my head: “What is the purpose of this?? How does this help anyone??” I’m no free spirit.

5. I don’t want money. 

OK–I’m not being literal here. Of course I both want and need money. But wanting  money is definitely NOT one of the reasons why I’m applying for bschool. What I do want, though, is more power. (And although money = power for some people, it doesn’t for me.) I want the power to do the following things:

  • Come up with BIG IDEAS that WILL BE IMPLEMENTED. That kind of reminds me of a recent Dilbert comic strip. I swear I won’t be that bad, though. I actually enjoy implementing a project just as much as coming up with the vision beforehand. I just want the power to make things actually happen. 
  • Be able to provide opportunities to other people. I really like mentoring. The thing is…I barely have anything to offer right now. I rarely hire people. I barely manage one other person as it is. I ‘m basically at the bottom of the ladder, and that doesn’t really lend itself to being able to give chances to other people.
  • I want to work for a well known brand/organization with a wide audience so I can really, truly make a worldwide impact.

I’m sure there are lots more ways that I’m weird than these five reasons, and I’m not saying they are detriments to my applications. Well, of course, I personally don’t believe they are detriments at all…but I guess that’s up to the admissions committees.

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Rounds, rounds, rounds

merry-go-round

round ‘n round we go

My initial plan was to submit all seven of my applications during Round 1. But my best laid plans were thwarted by Cornell. Then they were thwarted again by USC. But I’m still doing round 1 for the other five, even though my schedule was crazy tight for Round 1 deadlines (I just took the GMAT for the first and only time less than two months ago!). My reasons are as follows:

First, and most important of all, I wanted to get this whole thing OVER WITH. I knew if I drew out the application process a couple months longer I’d just agonize over small details and drive myself crazy. Plus, I’d probably just sit around on my ass for the first few weeks and not really work on my apps until there wasn’t much time left anyway.

Secondly, the appeal of possibly knowing where my life was heading by the end of the calendar year was too much to resist. I want to know where I’ll be in 2014 NOW.

And then there’s the whole your-chances-are-better-in-the-first-round thing. Even though some of my schools explicitly say that there is no difference in competition between Rounds 1 and 2, I still don’t quite believe them. And, for me, this is a no-brainer. If you know your chances are better now, just do it now!! Yeah, there’s that whole “submit your application when its strongest” thing, but I don’t think another two months will make that much of a difference for me.

So I charted out my deadlines on a spreadsheet a few weeks ago and realized–with horror–that Cornell has an insanely early deposit deadline for Round 1 decisions. They give you literally less than one month to decide whether to commit your MBA future to them or not. And that Round 1 deposit deadline is earlier than some other schools’ Round 1 decision release dates. So if I did Round 1 at Cornell and if I got admitted, I’d have to pony up a $1,500 deposit fee to save my space while I waited for Berkeley and UCLA to release their decisions. And while I’d probably pick Cornell over UCLA at this current moment (and I might totally change my mind later), I don’t want to be in that kind of sticky situation. So Cornell got pushed to Round 2.

Then USC raised its ugly head (No no, your head isn’t ugly, USC. Your head is really pretty! Can I be admitted now?). It’s probably my fault, though. When I was creating my spreadsheet in mid-August, USC hadn’t updated its deadlines for the 2013-14 application cycle yet. Its website still had 2012-2013 deadlines on it. I figured that the dates would probably be the same this year, and typed down what the deadline was for round 1 in 2012: November 1. I happened to check in on the site again just a few days ago and saw that Round 1 does not end on November 1st this year, but October 15 instead. A two-week difference isn’t that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things, but it does make a huge difference in my insanely tight schedule. Northwestern and Berkeley both have October 16 deadlines, and I couldn’t fathom the idea of squeezing in another entire application at the same time. I also saw that USC’s website now says the second round is when “Priority consideration for merit-based scholarships [is] given to both international and domestic students with completed applications“, so I’m probably better off anyway.

So here are my deadlines, in all their glory:

  • Yale, round 1: Was due on Sept 25. I submitted everything already except for those damned video interview questions, which I will do this weekend and write about later.
  • Stanford, round 1: Due Oct 2. Their website explicitly says applying in round 1 is advantageous. I’ll be submitting this app this weekend, also.
  • Berkeley, round 1: Oct 16
  • Northwestern, round 1: Oct 16
  • UCLA Anderson, round 1: Oct 22
  • Cornell, round 2: December 4
  • USC, round 2: January 10, 2014