Friday, December 23, 2011

Just invited to interview at Columbia

Just got an interview invite at CBS! I wouldn't have been surprised with the outcome either way, but it's definitely relieving to get that status change email.

Partial text of the e-mail is below.
Dear Applicationist,
As part of the continuing evaluation of your application, the Admissions Committee is pleased to invite you to interview with a Columbia Business School Ambassador. Ambassadors are alumni of the program who volunteer to conduct interviews and can answer your questions about their experiences at Columbia Business School. We strongly suggest that you arrange your interview within two weeks of this invitation. 
Now I need to worry about my other apps. They're due in 2-3 weeks, and I haven't completed a single application package. I also have to start hounding my recommendation writers.

More later.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Columbia application submitted

I just submitted my application for Columbia Business School, regular decision. I feel like a huge weight has come off my shoulders, but now begins the waiting game. My application won't be reviewed until December at the very earliest, so we'll see how that goes.

Now on to Chicago, Wharton, Stanford, and Harvard...

More later.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Why do today what you can do tomorrow?

Been in kind of a dry spell lately with my essays. I feel completely "tapped out" of ideas, and even a lot of the unformed concepts/stories I want to write about, I just don't feel the inspiration to do so. With Columbia at rolling admissions, I want to submit a complete application by early November. That's in three weeks, and by that time I'll really need to book it with the essays for the other four b-schools I'm applying to in R2.

I will get to recommendations eventually.

More later.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Essays, essays, essays

Writing MBA application essays is one of the most grueling tasks I've ever undertaken. From the brainstorming to the drafting to the merciless editing, it's all just one big, daunting exercise. My friends tell me that it doesn't seem that hard, and that I should just "recycle" the same essays for different schools. Wouldn't that be nice? But the huge problem with recycling your essays is (1) the questions bare worded just slightly differently between schools, and (2) the word counts are just different enough so that you have to do some large restructuring. Now don't get me wrong, I definitely think you should have a good 6-7 stories off the top of your head that you can recycle. But in terms of just copy-pasting entire paragraphs, or even entire sentences, it's just not going to happen.

For example, one of Wharton's essays is "Discuss a challenging interpersonal experience (600 words)." I had a great story that I thought I could also use for Harvard's "Tell us about three setbacks you have faced (600 words)." The problem is, for the Wharton app it's phrased as an interpersonal question where I have to emphasize how I dealt with people, while for Harvard it's phrased as a setback where I have to emphasize how I dealt with failure. Not to mention, the word counts between the two are way off (600 words for W vs. ~200 for H). Even though I'm using exactly the same story for both essays, the work effort is still two essays' worth. I didn't even save time in the brainstorming phase, since I still have to realign the essay focus (Wharton --> people, Harvard --> setback).

It's an interesting process, but the amount of introspection, writing, re-writing, and re-re-writing required can be a bit much at times, and I'm hard pressed to find a man who enjoys it.

Next I want to talk a bit about my recommendations.

More later.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Recommendation letters

The other week, I got the support of the last of six people who will be writing recommendations for my applications. It was unnecessarily nerve wracking for me - I kept on asking myself what would happen if they didn't feel comfortable doing it or didn't have enough time. But all in all, everyone I asked seemed enthusiastic to help out, and it was flattering and humbling to know that so many people are willing to put their word on my application.

I asked six people to write my recommendations, even though the maximum number of letters is 3 (Harvard and Stanford). I did this because I'm applying to 5 schools in one round, and didn't want to overburden any one person with more than 1 or 2 recommendations. That being said, my current manager will be writing a recommendation for all 5, but everyone else is only doing 1 or 2.

All in all, I think a strong recommendation will help you a bit, and a poorly written recommendation won't hurt you necessarily. But it's best to be strategic about it and get your letters emphasizing the best parts of your profile.

I'm starting to think a little about essays, and I'd like to write a little on that as well.

More later.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

My thoughts on the GMAT

I took the GMAT early last year. For the record, I scored a 770 and a 6.0 AWA. I don't think I could give a full-on "debrief" since it's been so long since I took the test, but below are some of the most striking tips I remember from my preparation. These are broken down section by section.

  • Sentence completion: Don't read the first choice. It's completely redundant with what's in the stimulus.
  • Logical reasoning: Don't just figure out why the choice you picked is right; also look through the other answer choices and figure out why they were all wrong.
  • Reading comprehension: Read the entire passage before answering any questions. Your patience will be rewarded.
  • Read each question three times. Twice before you actually begin solving, and once after you select your choice and you're ready to click the "next" button. This last one has saved my ass so many times, it's not even funny.
  • If you're the kind who solves problems quickly but makes mistakes easily (I'm looking at you, engineering majors), consider doing each problem twice.
  • This next one isn't anything to take any direct action against, but keep in your head the fact that almost every question has a "trick" answer, one that many people will pick but is actually wrong. As you get to the harder questions, be attuned to the possibility of that trick answer.
  • Read this guide from the GMATClub Forums.
  • There's an unintended correlation between length and score; try to write at least 5 paragraphs for both essays (an introduction, 3+ body paragraphs, and a clear conclusion).
  • Typo's don't matter as much as you think. I knowingly had several in both of my essays and didn't have enough time to fix them, and I got a 6.0.

Following the above tips definitely helped me get my 770. But to be honest, you can't really internalize these tips unless you devote yourself to effective, focused practice. Practice is the best way to improve your score.

I want to post my thoughts on recommendation letters pretty soon.

More later.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A bit about me

Let's start with some basics:
  • Who are you?
    I'm a 25 year old guy in the northeastern United States working in management consulting. Originally grew up on the west coast.
  • So you want an MBA, huh?
    Yeah, I want to transition from consulting into the industry, and an MBA will help me hone my management skills/build my network/access recruiters/other.
  • Why a blog?
    It's going to be a fun/excruciating 8 month application process, and I want to make sure I log and share my thought processes through the whole thing. Also, I'm extremely bored. It's mostly that.
  • Okay, so where are you applying?
    Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Chicago, and Columbia
  • Are you crazy? Do you actually think you'll get into any of those places?
    Call me crazy, but I've always been something of a dreamer.
  • Well, what are your stats at least?
    For the curious, I have a 3.4-3.6 GPA in science/engineering from a snobby/pretentious school, along with a 750+ GMAT. I know, I know, most of you are probably saying "get in line, kid."

Well, that's the 6-bullet-point summary, as they say. I'd like to post some of my views on the GMAT at some point.

More later.

    First post

    So after a few years in consulting, I've finally made the decision to apply to MBA programs for the Fall of 2012. I'm using this blog to chronicle my MBA application process, as well as my thoughts around management education and my decision to get an MBA. Hopefully it'll be useful to some of you!

    More later.