Sunday, October 24, 2010

Lessons learned during MBA application process

After a long time, I have got a weekend free at home and I spent time to pause and analyse what I did so far in this entire year that took me closer or away from my plan of an MBA. I have been fully energized since the beginning of this year to pursue an  MBA degree from reputed institute and take my career in the right direction. But I took few steps that helped me and some that hurt me.

The MBA application process is a very demanding process and it can be rightly classified as a part-time job in which you have no other incentive other than a hope that a top-rank MBA institute will recruit you soon.It has that perinneal ensuing uncertainity in which no one can be easily confident that he will get exactly what he wants. As much as the reputation of the instititute matters, the entire process becomes a matter of personal ambition and whether in the end you are compromising or getting the best deal you think you deserve.

After appearing for GMAT last year I postponed the idea of applying and I had a year in my hand to plan on the process and also a chance to improve weaknesses in my profile.The initial plan went like this:
1) Work dedicatedly in improving the profile till June 2010.
2) Shortlist schools till June end
3) Start writing essays for one school since beginning of July and give each school not more than three weeks.
4) Apply to atleast three schools in Round 1

What I actially did:
1) I did improve my profile till beginning of June
2) I shortlisted schools by July end
3) I strated writing essays for Ross but was never able to complete them till two days before deadline. I started writing apps for Tuck after one month of starting Ross without finalizing even one essay for Ross.
4) I was never able to officially start Kellogg essays.In the essays I submitted I think I would have done few minor things differently.
5) I trusted my reviewers and while waiting for their responses I kept on updating my essays. All my reviewers gave me good feedback but in retrospect I think it's better to take a professional feedback which I did mere three weeks before the deadline. I say this because students and grads of the school have limited time and they cannot give proper justice to your essays on continous basis. So trust your reviewers but don't expect a lot. They will never be in frame of mind of AdCom but their review would help you to understand what's absolutely crap in your essays.

During last week, I was in tremendous pressure which is the situation one should avoid. If I had sticked to my plan then I would have been very confident of three applications I submitted. But the last week's pressure I really should have avoided. I felt I was completing few part of the apps for the purspose of completing them and even when I was reading them second time, I wasn't able to critically evaluate what I have written. i have to sleep over only to find out what stupididity I have done the previous night. thankfully, I had completed most part of the apps earlier but I still edited a lot during last days which certainly was traumatising.

I think the biggest fault was not to submit the app much ahead of the deadline. This was obviously factored by delay in right feedback. I would say that it's really very important that you make a definite target of submitting one app much ahead of its deadline.

I dont think I coluld have made apps better if I have postponed to round 2 but I did feel this process deserves much definite timeline and assured reviewers because a wrong reviewer can hurt your timeline badly and a improper time schedules can destroy your application. Also, I agree with Richard Montauk viewpoint to start with app that has longest essays and in which you have more content to cover such as that of Kellogg.

I am still in phase of waiting but now I have stopped worrying. Now I have got some time to pick few incompleted taksks again and I am not going to waste it on worrying. Que sera sera!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The real Bangalore!

Last week for me was pretty hectic. I submitted four apps – Ross on Friday, Tuck on Tuesday, Kellogg on Wednesday and Rochester on Friday – huff..huff…huff. I still dream about what I have written on my final essays - sometimes I feel good and sometimes I feel it's not up to the mark. It goes like this…for last line of third essay for Tuck, I think adcom will smile but the second example of leadership essay for Kellogg, they may say this girl looks absolutely normal. I doubt if she can bring something wonderful to Kellogg. Let's keep this app in the rejection pile. AHHHH! I am scared. No doubt… It's a matter of months and months of hard work for us and half-hour job for them. Especially for Tuck, I have that feeling that since I haven't visited campus, they might compare my profile with someone who has, and choose him instead of me.

I am not able to get over with it. I am in phase of constant worrying which I know does not make any sense. Anyways, It's a huge relief for me that I decided to shift with my sister his weekend. OK…Let me rewind it a little bit. My baby sister got a job in Bangalore but her office is in southern-most part of Bangalore while mine is in North. I was living farther North from my office in a beautiful locality, in a wonderful house and around great people. So, if she had stayed with me, it would have taken her around two and half hours every day to reach office – that makes five hours every day. We eventually decided that she stays close to office and I will move later with her. Meanwhile, I got a job opportunity in another city which I declined at last moment. During the time I decided, she shifted in a small house – smaller than mine and twice the rent - in one of the most happening part of Bangalore. This area has many PGs, many "live-in" and much more traffic jams. Honestly, I was living in suburb with families all around and now migrated to the city. The transition is not that easy. I used to open my eyes in a balcony where I could see not even a single person, just a beautiful lake, ducks, cows, birds and trees. Here are two pictures from my balcony:

And now I wake up to a concrete jungle – don't have a picture right now but I think you can easily imagine. But that disappointment is miniscule in comparison to being with family. After staying alone for around two years, it's really so full-of-warmth to stay with my sister. I want to spoil her, do shopping for her and cook food for her. I want to take her along with me wherever I go for MBA. I am not sure how will I make that possible!

I am still getting acquainted to this place but staying with my sister has given me a little time-off from constant worrying about the results for R1. It was damn difficult to hit the submit button for four apps and I am just keeping my fingers-crossed. No more worrying, I promise.



Saturday, October 9, 2010

Appmentor services: Get a sanity check for your completed essays!

After completing my essays for Tuck last week, I absolutely needed an experienced eye for verifying my essays.

As I posted earlier, the feedbacks that I was receiving for my essays were confusing me and I was losing confidence after continuous thrashing. So, I decided to research for a professional service which can give me a critical eye. While talking to a friend in Chennai who works at 4GMAT Institute I asked him if he knows any graduate student who is in admission consulting business and can give me right feedback on my essays. He redirected me to AppMentor where a group of current students and graduates from top business school provide a feedback service.

Since I was just looking for feedback on my essays and resume, and not editing, I found their service absolutely suitable and decided to hire them.

After skimming through few of the mentors on their website, I chose a mentor who was in admission consulting business for a while. She told me absolutely what's wrong in my story and even appreciated what's right. She broke my career goals essay into three halves and explained what's impressive and what's not. Following her feedback, I was quickly able to fix my essays and felt confident that my essays were not that bad after all. She even pointed out what's missing from an admission committee perspective. As an icing on the cake, I received feedback within 24 hours of my submission. After waiting for weeks for my essays from my reviewers earlier, this was absolutely delightful.

One thing I want to note here is that AppMentor will not provide you any editing service. They may point out few grammatical mistakes and let you know where to break a paragraph but their purpose is to give you the feedback on overall strategy of your essays as well as on the minute details. For example – for my challenge essay, my mentor noted that the essay is chronological and comes from the heart but told me exactly what detail is missing.

After continuous confusing feedbacks for weeks, AppMentor service was a relief for me. I found them very ethical and supportive in their approach which was exactly I was looking for.

Disclaimer : I have received 10% discount on service fee for writing review on AppMentor services on this blog. These views above however are purely from my experiences and the reader should assume that discount that I am availing does not impact my analysis above.