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.