Kellogg is a No-Go!

When an email from Kellogg hit my mailbox, without a prior congratulatory call, I knew the news couldn’t be good. And true to expectations, Kellogg cut me loose. I thought Kellogg was my strongest application, but their decision proves otherwise.

I loved writing essays for them, really enjoyed visiting Evanston and connecting with the students. I was hoping that KSM would come through for me.

Another kick in the pants, but more reason to focus on R2 applications.

Good luck everyone!

Update on Application Volumes

Earlier this year, I had speculated that b-school application volumes will be impacted by external trends and the economic environment (Lower MBA Application Volumes in 2009-2010?) and discussed how I had factored this into my plans while selecting schools for R1 and R2.

My interactions with adcoms at MIT, Stanford and HBS revealed that R1 applications for those schools remained flat or marginally up from last year. UWBadger2005 wrote on BW forums that a Kellogg adcom member had indicated that R1 applications at Kellogg weren’t significantly higher or lower than last year – implying that application numbers remained flat.

Typically, R2 is the largest round in most schools followed by R1 and R3. The statistic of interest is the % increase in application volume in each round. While  % rise or fall in the application volume for R1 isn’t a prediction of how application volumes will turn out in R2, I believe that like last year, R1 will be the most competitive application round for most top schools this year too.  Those folks who  apply in R2 may have a slight advantage over their R1 peers because flat or lower R2 application volumes will compel adcoms to look more favorably on candidates who would under normal circumstances not make the cut.

Time to chew my nails a little and wait for word from Kellogg.

The Party’s Started…

Yes! Kellogg and MIT have begun notifying candidates about admits and interviews respectively. The first few rounds of MIT interview invites went to Boston and NYC candidates while Kellogg released its first admission decisions to a few people in Chicago on Friday, December 4th.

It’s hard to stay upbeat and focused on R2 applications right now. I’m using music as a crutch to stay positive and get my mind off the “what-if” scenarios.

Here’s a video that I play to myself when negativity begins to creep in. Don’t know what it is but something about swimming through an underground tunnel just gets my spirits up. Disclaimer: The lyrics are a bit uncouth.

Would love to hear what your coping strategies are. Just leave a comment!

MBAPodcaster on Stanford GSB

As you may recall, a few weeks ago I accompanied my girlfriend to Palo Alto for her interview at the Stanford GSB. It was a great experience and I loved the school. However, the “save the world” hippiness and naive positivity sometimes got to me. No one can be that nice, can they? But they were.

And that’s the Stanford GSB for you. A b-school for the smart softies who want to change the world. I respect and admire them immensely. However, a school that has a tad bit more personality and panache is better suited for me. That wont keep me from applying to Stanford GSB though, which is my girlfriend’s top pick. To tell you the truth, one of the reasons I am applying there is because my girlfriend is making me. (And you are not allowed to chuckle. We all know that women rule men, and by extension rule the world. The sooner you accept it, the smarter man you are.)

So I was delighted when I came across this video from MBAPodcaster, which not only summarized my own take on Stanford GSB quite well but has a lot of great tips. Watching it will give you great insight into what the GSB wants from a candidate and how you can tee everything up in your application to impress them.

MIT Interview Invite and Windows 7 Woes

MIT sent out it’s first round of invites today. But you’re probably wondering why I’m complaining about Windows 7 suddenly?

Well. It’s a long story. And you’ll enjoy it. I just got a new laptop from work. A ThinkPad T500 with Windows 7. Raj, our resident tech guru, and my go to guy for all questions relating to technology assured me that its the best thing that our hardware budget would allow. I wanted a Macbook Air, but even a company like mine that makes a killing by selling financial products to gullible investors cant afford such luxuries.

Anyways, I am in Los Angeles for work this week. I fired up my computer at a investor conference that I am attending. The speaker wasn’t really keeping my attention, so I logged on to Gmail and hit up my girlfriend on IM.

GF: When are you scheduling your interview?
LB: What are you talking about?
GF: MIT just sent out invites. Check GMATClub
LB (sh*tting melons): lemme check, don’t see it on my iphone
LB: i got nothing… F#$K!
GF: i gotta run. conf call in 5. im sure you’ll get an invite. :*

As you can understand, this was a double whammy. Not only did I not get an invite, but I had to swallow my masculine pride that too while I was IMing my woman. Sexting would have been nice (to soften the blow), but she went cold the moment she realized that I didn’t make the cut.

So what does Windows 7 have to do with this? Aren’t PCs the root of every problem known to humanity. I am a centrist kind of guy, but after today I do agree that Microsoft – no good.

I hadn’t setup my outlook email on the machine and the web client I used all day to check my email was slow. So I called Raj and asked him to walk me through the process. Why so sad? he asked me. I told him about the tragic events that had transpired earlier.

Well, check your junk filter. Your Kellogg invite was sitting there too, he reminded me. What genius I thought… Between the boring seminars, the work that my boss was making me do (despite sending me to a conference) and the melancholy mood I was in, I had overlooked that fact.

I have all my b-schools on the safe list in Outlook – you moved those over to this one didn't you? I asked Raj. He confirmed that he had migrated all my data and settings. Check anyway, he asked.

I looked. And indeed there it was. My golden and shiny interview invite.

So the takeaway for the day is – Windows 7 causes pain, suffering and agony. Any lawyers want to jump in and help me sue them for emotional distress?

Oh! The Wait…

I thought I’d enjoy my thanksgiving if I stayed away from the forums, but my anxiety has only multiplied. With only a few days to go until Kellogg starts releasing decisions and MIT begins sending out interview invites, I’ve been draining my iphone battery checking for updates on the internet. I am almost mentally paralyzed and unable to focus on anything. Hopefully, not for long.

Last year Kellogg’s first R1 admit was reported on Dec 3, 08 and the first MIT interview invite went out on Dec 8, 08. So it’s only a couple more days until the fate of MBA applications is disclosed.

Good luck!

The Application Review Process at MIT Sloan

WARNING: Information in this write up was provided by Sloan alumni and has not been verified for correctness.

Before heading out to the airport, I had lunch with some Sloanies. It was refreshing to do something other than writing essays or obsessing getting in. At some point the conversation went in the direction of how MBA applications are evaluated at Sloan.

Here’s the info they shared with me. I thought you guys might like to know.

After you application is submitted, it is reviewed for completeness. You should have received an email telling you either that your application is complete or that it is missing certain materials.

Lets say your application is complete, it will be printed and filed. Here are the steps that ensue hereon.

1: Applicants are sorted into buckets: finance, consulting, IT, non traditional etc.

2: Rod Garcia then does a quick review of your application materials and stats. I am told he pays close attention to your cover letter, recommendations, GPA and GMAT. At this point you receive a thumbs up or down.

3: Another member of the adcom committee will read your application next. They will look through your entire application and provide a thumbs up or down. I am told that if Rod Garcia didn’t like your application and one of the readers was a temp reader, you could be in trouble because sometimes they get influenced by Rod’s verdict. It’s usually a good thing if both readers are fulltime adcom members because this reduces the chance of groupthink.

4: If you’ve received two thumbs down, you can be certain you’re out of the running. You can be very certain that you will be interviewed if both readers liked your application. If your application was given a thumbs up by one reader and down by another, a third reader will look at your application. If they like your application, you go into the maybe pile.

5: Next the committee sits down to decide who to invite for the interview. A lot of things go into how this decision is made. They look at macro trends such as application numbers, the make up of the class, employability of applicants across all buckets etc to decide how many interviews to allocate to each bucket.

The applications that have two thumbs up are non-issues. The applications that were read by a third reader are the ones that are discussed and filtered.

6: At this point interview invites are sent out to the applicants who make the cut, while others are dinged.

I had to run to BOS, so I told my friends that we’ll have to pick up the conversation another time, but wanted to share what I heard from them with the community.

Just remember, the process may have changed, and/or might be totally different from what I was told. These guys graduated in ‘08 and ‘09. Take it with a grain of salt and make the most of your weekend!

Tips for Round 2 Applicants

Admits 0, Dings 1. That’s the score so far. I’ve spent the last few days revisiting my essays, thinking about my application and trying to figure out what more I can do to ace my Round 2 applications.

Linda Abraham, the founder of wrote an article for BeatTheGMAT which may be of particular interest to folks in a similar spot as me.  I have exchanged a few tweets with Linda and hope to touch base with her in the next couple of days to get her thoughts on what I can do to kick some adcom butt.

I’ve also reached out to my friends, some of whom used MBA coaches, for feedback about their experience to understand the value that an MBA coach can add to your application. The epithet I have heard being used again and again is that MBA coaches act as your “mock adcom” who can really help you polish your application. But they don’t come cheap. I’ll be sharing a detailed note about what I’ve learned in a few days. Stay tuned!

International Enrollment Down at US Grad Schools

International first-time graduate enrollment remained flat in three broad fields in 2009—in business and engineering, two of the three largest broad fields for international students, and also in life sciences.

You can download the report here. I found my way to this report from BusinessWeek’s Getting In blog. Just skimming through the report the following table caught my eye.image

Last year international enrollment in business programs was flat. This could be in large part due to the credit crisis that made Citibank shut down its loan program for international students leaving many without a way to finance their education. The recession, visa reductions and TARP restrictions on hiring foreign students certainly also had an impact. The economy hasn’t exactly recovered and these fears may continue to haunt international students.

It will be really interesting to see how things shape up this year. I am going to bet my money that we will see a further decline in international enrollment and an uptick in veteran enrollment due to the yellow ribbon program.

I hope this will leave more spots for US applicants, but only time will tell.

Gone Interviewin’

My girlfriend has interviews with H/S next week. I’ll be  be travelling to Palo Alto and back to Boston with her.

This weekend I’ll be catching some sunshine, enjoying great California cuisine and helping the woman prep for her interviews on Monday.

Check back next week, when I’ll share my thoughts on how to crack the Fuqua essays. Take it easy everyone!

Direct Your Destiny. Really?

Check out the latest GMAT ad campaign. They’re telling us that if you’re not an MBA, the only jobs you qualify for are those of a server or a poop scooper.

Wow! If this doesn’t scare me to register for the GMAT, I don’t know what will. Perhaps they need to hire an MBA with some advertising and marketing experience.

Really distasteful.


Au Revoir! Chicago-Booth

It was very disappointing. This morning Chicago-Booth sent out an email, informing me that my status had changed. I knew that it meant I had been denied.

The many hours spent studying for the GMAT, writing essays, preparing materials for recommenders, putting together a presentation had yielded no result. Why didn’t they pick me, choose me, invite me to interview?

I’ve been asking myself this question all day. Here are some of my thoughts on it.

Application Essays

For most of us who apply to b-school, we know that writing good essays is important. But something is definitely to be said of the kind of essays schools ask you to write. Personally, I LOVED writing Kellogg and MIT-Sloan essays because they gave me an opportunity to paint a full picture of who I am. Yes, the approaches might differ, where Kellogg wanted to hear more about leadership and teamwork while MIT-Sloan was more behavioral, but I feel someone who reads my application at these schools will get a fairly deep understanding of who I am.

Chicago-Booth’s essays on the other hand purely focused on career goals and a mistake. The PowerPoint is one place where you can differentiate yourself by demonstrating other aspects of your personality, however I wonder if this is the optimal way of getting this information. Those four pages could be better used if Chicago asked specific essays about accomplishments, leadership, volunteer work and community involvement. Just my two cents.

The Numbers

Chicago-Booth has approximately 595 spots, about 40-50% of which will get filled up in R1. If you do the numbers, you realize that they probably sent out 475-600 invites. Given the small number of invites, not everyone can expect to receive an invite.

The Economy

The Midwest, especially states around IL have seen many layoffs due to the recession. Chicago-Booth apparently received 20% more applications than last R1 of 2008 and I’m betting this is one factor that explains this trend at Chicago-Booth when overall applications have remained flat or declined. A lack of geographic and cultural ties to Chicago-Booth and the Midwest may have worked to the disadvantage of those candidates who are applying to many schools and live on the coasts or abroad.

Chicago-Booth may have also been somewhat hesitant to take folks who work in finance or financial services (aka me) for fear of impacting their hiring numbers as finance jobs are few and far between.

Qualitative Factors

On some level, applying to b-school is a gamble. As Derrick Bolton, the Director of Admissions at Stanford’s GSB said, an application requires a candidate to establish that he/she is not only qualified but also unique.

The GPA, GMAT, recommendations can establish that you are indeed qualified, but demonstrating that you are unique is fuzzy science.

It depends on you and your ability to write good essays but it also depends a lot on who is reading your application, their bias and preferences, their mood that day, and the set of applications they get to read on a particular day. If they’ve read about someone who rescued chimps, built a windmill in an African country or acted in an Oscar winning movie at 19, the profile of an ordinary guy trying to do extraordinary things might be refreshing and could get two thumbs up. Switch things around a bit, and you begin to get the picture.

I believe that not having richer essay prompts in the Chicago-Booth application increase the randomness that qualitative factors can add to the entire process.

The Weakest Link

After all the applications are read, at some point a pool of qualified, impressive candidates is created. The problem that faces adcoms at that point is that they cant invite all these wonderful people for an interview and so they start playing “the weakest link.” (Quirky show that used to be on British TV, which I saw with my English homies.)

At this stage the adcom is probably looking for a reason, a good enough reason to send your application to the “Deny” pile. It could be anything really, but you can be pretty sure you get ranked or rated based on these reasons before being eliminated.

Final Thoughts

Why am I spending the time to share this? It is because I know there are many like me who are a little down today because they’ve not made the cut. Hopefully, after reading this post, they will be able to understand that it’s not worth beating yourself about it and constantly asking yourself whether you’re “good enough.”

We’ve all got to continue persevering and trying and hopefully we will all be admitted to a b-school where we will be happy and able to thrive. I truly believe that everyone’s worth it.

Good luck fellow b-schoolers!

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Gone Booth Gone

Perhaps its premature, but I believe it is time to bow out gracefully. Chicago-Booth turned out to be a disappointment. I am yet to receive an invite, but the writing on the wall seems fairly clear. This calls for introspection and analysis and also more committed effort for the applications that I am yet to submit.

Recently I had dinner with a couple of my friends who are also applying to MBA programs. We worked closely on applications - we helped each other with positioning, recommender prep and proof reading.Given my stats, work experience and GMAT score, they still believe that good news may be on the horizon, I am not going to pin my hopes on it any longer.

Among some trends being reported on the forums (GMATClub, BW Forums), some of the more interesting ones are:

  • Monday, November 9, 2009 was silent. No invites were reported on any forum. Perhaps this was the day when all the remaining applications, especially the weaker ones were analysed and sorted for dings and interviews. My assumption, and hence caveat emptor.

  • R1 applications for Chicago-Booth are up 20% YOY (per current Booth students) -- Interesting statistic, probably has something to do with high unemployment in the midwestern states that surround IL. Does that mean that R2 applications will see a rise as well. Hard to predict, but I definitely believe that R2 will be a more favorable time to apply to top schools. Perhaps I should have waited to submit Chicago-Booth in R2.

  • Application response times have become 20 days  for later applications instead of 14 days for earlier ones. Applications submitted later which went complete after 10/21 were being read at a slower pace than those which were submitted early. If you're applying in R2, getting all your materials in early might be beneficial.

Good luck to everyone. I'll be spending my evening working on Fuqua essays.

Still Waiting on Chicago-Booth

The past few days have been really busy at work. Add the stress of not having heard anything from Chicago-Booth, anyone would give up constantly checking for updates on the internet.

Yep, tried that, didnt work, the addiction was too great. So here I am, back again on the www trolling for any scraps of info about Chicago-Booth interview invites. Here's what I've gathered so far for you me hearties!

Based on reports today, applications that went complete on 10/24 have been issued invites. My application went complete on 10/24 too, and gloom and doom is beginning to set in, slowly.

GMATClub is also reporting that some candidates have already been dinged and their status has changed to "Deny" on the online application. I am always fearful of this happening to me when I log in each morning to check my status.

Three more days to November 11. The day Chicago-Booth will have run out of interview invites and all of us who are hoping for news will finally have an answer. Praying for some good news and wishing y'all good luck!

Lower MBA Application Volumes in 2009-2010?

I posted an article that suggests 2009-2010 might see lower application volumes on the BW Forums a few days ago. At lunch today, a couple of people from work (most of whom are applying to MBAs this fall) took the time to think through it.

Here's what most essay consultants will tell you to get you to spend money:

Higher GMAT volume: You will often hear that more people are taking the GMAT, so more people will apply for MBAs, implying competition's tough and that you need to get help from the so called pros. Everyone at the lunch table had taken the GMAT more than once. The maximum being 3 times. So you can see, an increase in the number of GMAT tests administered doesn't necessarily mean more applicants, it just means people are taking the test more than once to get better scores. (Still not convinced whether it will be more competitive?)

Higher MBA application volume in 2008-2009: Data from last year's application numbers (as reported by Sandy/HBSGuru and many others)suggests that R1 numbers went up considerably due to layoffs in the financial industry, after which R2 numbers were flat or down. Most people who applied in R1, applied to many more schools than usual. My co-workers will submit applications for 6 schools (on average, compared to the standard of 3 schools pre-recession) during R1 and R2. Does it mean more people want an MBA? Not really. Does it mean competition is up? Not really. What it does mean though is that backup schools are in a soup. They are going to find it hard to recruit people who wont pay the big bucks for an MBA unless its at a top 10 school.

Here's what my co-workers and I are betting on will happen in 2009-2010:

R1 will be favorable for backup and Tier-2 schools: If you're considering a back-up school, it might be a good idea to get an application in before the R1 deadline. Your application will be viewed in positive light and probably have higher chances of admission, as schools want to admit students and get their deposits as soon as possible. It also helps back-up schools plan better for later rounds. Our consensus was that weaker candidates will especially benefit from this.

R2 will be favorable for top schools: Applying R2 will accord you two benefits. First, if you have submitted an R1 application (or two) you've gotten better at telling your story. Second, you're not going to be competing in a shark pool with Type-A's and overachievers. Non traditional candidates may receive positive consideration in R2 purely because the bulk of finance, consulting and technology spots will be at 50-60% capacity when decisions go out for R1.

"B-Schools are desperate" Schools are accepting the GRE, taking college seniors, reducing application fees and introducing early decision/action deadlines. If this isn't a signal that schools foresee trouble in recruiting MBAs, I don't know what is.

I'm not saying getting in will be a cake walk, but definitely if you play your cards right there is no reason to doubt that you can make it to a good school.

Keep your hopes up folks and keep plugging away, there will be a b-school where you'll be happy at the end of it all.

Waiting on Chicago-Booth

Its been 2.5 weeks since the application deadline and roughly a little over 1.5 weeks since my application became "complete" -- the question on my mind, and undoubtedly on the mind of many other Chicago-Booth applicants is how long must one wait before giving up hope.

The data provided by BW forum posters is too sparse. I also checked the GMATClub Chicago-Booth page. And to make sense of it all I called the admissions office today.

Based on my analysis and the conversation I had, I gathered that it takes about 10-14 days for your application to run through the hands of student members of the adcom and the director of admissions before a final determination is made whether to invite, waitlist for R2 (without interview) or reject your application.

Thought I'd share this nugget of information with other folks who are probably wearing out their F5 key waiting for an invite like myself.

On to Fuqua

I am working on my applications for Duke-Fuqua now. I wasn’t sure if I would apply to Duke – I hadn’t visited the campus or had much interaction with the alumni. Most of the people I interact with who have MBAs are M7 alums.

I thought of Fuqua as a school where most of the people were ex-military or from the south. Being a big city person, living in Durham didn’t appeal much to me either. But my impressions have changed.

After attending an info session, reading some student blogs and generally getting to know the school, I am kicking myself in the foot for not looking at Fuqua earlier. At least I have time to cobble together an application for submission in R1.

So here it goes. Another wild goose chase begins!

Chicago-Booth on my mind

I was curious to see if I was getting any traffic and Raj, our office’s resident tech guru recommended I install a web traffic gadget. I did (ok, I just logged Raj in and he did his magic) and it sent me my first summary by email.

I jumped off my chair when I noticed that I’ve had visitors from the University of Chicago. Even if it was for 0 seconds, I at least got their attention. Well, whoever you are, my good friend, I compliment you on your excellent choice of operating system. Macs rule, PCs suck.

And if you’re on the adcom, I just want to tell you that I <3 Chicago-Booth.

PS: I’m a better suck up in person, than on a blog. So invite me to interview!! :)


btw: mad props to Raj for helping me set up this blog site – he did all the fancy graphics for it too.

Kellogg Interview

I submitted my part 1 sometime in late September and followed up with part 2 on the deadline on October 14th.

I was perplexed that I hadn’t received an invite from the admissions committee until someone mentioned on the BW Forum that his invite was buried in spam. Sure enough, Kellogg sent me an interview assignment a 4 days after I submitted part 1.

We scheduled the interview for Oct 26 at 6pm at a coffee shop. Before arriving on a final time, my interviewer rescheduled a couple of times. I’m guessing he was really busy. In retrospect, I probably should have pushed the interview until after the MIT deadline, but I decided to take the first available slot.

He arrived, 45 minutes late. I was quite furious and nervous at the same time. To his credit he did send me a text message, but I didn't get it until he actually showed up. Damn Verizon!

He was a KSM’09, worked in management consulting and now that he had his coffee, we got to business right way. He pulled out a sheet, probably a cheat sheet that the Kellogg adcom provided him and looked at it a couple of times during the interview. He asked me for a copy of my resume, which I remembered to bring.

I’ll give you the list of questions he asked, and then share my take about what I felt he was probing for.


  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Why did you study [particular major] and how has it helped you advance in your career?
  • I see that you were very active in student government. What did it teach you?
  • Tell me two things you loved and hated about your major?
  • What do you like about your current role?
  • What do you want to do after your MBA, 5 years after your MBA, 20 years after you MBA?
  • How will Kellogg help you get there?
  • Kellogg places a lot of emphasis on team-work. What would a person who has been on a team with you say about you?
  • Kellogg is committed to both learning inside and outside of class. Share some experiences from college or work where you have contributed to the learning of others. How do you plan to do this at Kellogg?
  • You were actively involved in student government and volunteer activities. How would you translate that experience to benefit your peers?
  • Share some of your strengths and weaknesses with me. What are you doing to address them?
  • Tell me about a time when you contributed to someone else’s success. Why and how did you do it.
  • How will you use Kellogg’s resources to become successful?
  • Have you visited Kellogg? Attended any info sessions?
  • How did you like visiting Chicago and Evanston?
  • Which schools are you applying to? Why?
  • Do you have any questions for me?

Our interview lasted 70 minutes. I enjoyed it and thought it was rather conversational and laid back. The interviewer had a flight to SFO the next day so left in a hurry, but told me that he would submit his feedback that night.

The things I think (caveat emptor) he was probing for were:

Self awareness and maturity – Had I researched what I wanted to do, my reasons for my choice and how Kellogg would help me get there. Did I have a clear idea of who I was a person.

Kellogg (school and culture) –  Had I researched the resources that would help me move closer to my career goals. Was I specific in citing those resources.Was I aware of Kellogg’s focus on contributing to peer development. Had I taken the time to engage with the Kellogg community to determine fit. Did I have a clear idea of how I would contribute to the growth of my peers? Was I committed to attending Kellogg if I was admitted. Who was the competition. 

Legacy – How what I did in the past predicts (or doesn't) future success. Have I been intelligent about the choices that I have made. What were my reasons for these choices. Do they demonstrate a consistency in purpose and mission.

I hope this helps. If you have any questions, post a comment and I’ll get to them when I have a few minutes to spare. Good luck everyone!

Done with MIT

It’s a surreal feeling. For weeks leading up to this moment, I have been a nervous wreck. But now that I am here, hours of essay writing, painstaking research and schmoozing alumni to share the secret sauce are over and it’s such a relief. I just need to hit that shiny submit button.

Over dinner, my friends compared applying to MBA akin to giving birth. Yes, I agree but the only difference is that you go through the trauma several times during the 9-month period from the R1 deadline to the time that all the waitlisters hear about their fate.

Sloan is done. Everything is locked and loaded. I’ll submit tomorrow after I’ve had one last look to make sure that there are no typos or formatting errors. Having read and re-read my essays and cover letter a zillion times, I doubt I’ll fine anything new.

Fingers crossed!

UPDATE (10/27): Submitted MIT. The wait begins.

Advice from a MIT Sloan Veteran: Cover letter, essays and beyond!

I wanted to share my take on MIT Sloan essays for 2009-2010. So, if you’re applying later in the year, read away!

Career Vision

Unlike most traditional MBA applications, MIT Sloan does not ask you to discuss your career vision. This makes the task of the applicant that much more difficult. If you don't get a chance to tell the adcom what you want to do with your life, how will your essays and cover letter add up to support your reasons for wanting an MBA.

There are two strategies to attack this problem: if you have little time, slice and dice your career vision essay and add it in the supplemental essay section. Many people who I have spoken consider this sneaky and renegade, but worth considering. The recommended strategy, is to use a narrative of an accomplishment has some logical connection to your long term and short term goals. Use this narrative as the main fabric of the cover letter and include information about your goals, motivations, timing and contributions as a seeker of an MBA from MIT-Sloan to add color.

Attending an information session or visiting Cambridge really helps distill this information. Even attending an online chat from the MBA adcom (which they cap at 100 attendees, so don't be tardy) is a good way of getting a sense for the program. (Just a quick aside, attending a chat will make you feel way more prepared than most people – there are a bunch of nutty people there who ask bizarre and outright stupid questions. Needless to say if you do get into MIT Sloan, your peer group will be way smarter.)

Cover Letter

The cover letter should follow the rules of standard business correspondence. What does this mean? It means that just like a cover letter for a job, you need to ask Rod Garcia to admit you. Your story and reasons for going to an MBA should make a compelling case, but you need to ask him in one way or another to “Pick you, Choose You, Admit You.” (Blame my girlfriend for the reference, that’s what happens when your SO is catching up on Grey’s Anatomy while you’re trying to convey your life story in 4 pages or less.)


Lets also chat a little bit about the essays. I really enjoyed doing MIT Sloan essays. The recommended formula for most b-school essays, especially for behavioral essay prompts is to pick one example each that demonstrates personal, professional and extracurricular success. I am not going to discuss what you should write for each prompt, there are a  ton of resources such as the ClearAdmit blog which can be a good start. But I will tell you what are some themes to touch upon in your essays.

The reason why MBA schools ask you to write essays is to understand  how good you are at self evaluation. Next, they match up what you say with your recommenders. So it’s very very (I repeat very very) important that you present yourself as a human being. What do I mean by that? Help the reader (a tired, caffeinated, irritable adcom member who has probably ready 20 essays from applicants, all of whom claim to be the next best thing since Jesus) connect with you.

Help him go “Hmm… This guy/gal sounds like a genuine person. And their work experience, goals, accomplishments and recommender evaluations all add up.” Get him to become your supporter  and fight for you when you application goes to committee.This is difficult but not impossible.

Second, be authentic aka you better make sure that you don’t sound like a car salesman. Don't manufacture a personality on paper that is completely different from who you are in real life. Adcoms are very good at spotting this and if you do get an interview (very unlikely), you would have lost your chance at getting in (ever) once they figure out that you’ve been deceptive.

Third, demonstrate humility. Yes, you broke the bank with your billion dollar bonus, or saved the dodo from extinction, but instead of focusing on numbers, awards and what others thought of you, focus on yourself. Why you did what you did, what you got out of it and why you will continue (or not) doing it in the future. We are good at the things we love to do, tell them why you love doing what you’re good at.

If you forget everything else I’ve said, just remember that being yourself will pay off.

Good luck!

Booth begins sending interview invites

Forums are reporting this morning that Chicago-Booth has begun to send out invites. The first wave has gone out to international students (as reported by GMATClub) and early applicants (as reported by BW Forums.)

The number of invites being reported so far is fairly small, so I am expecting that over the next few days invites will start trickling out in greater numbers. Nov 7 is smack dab in the middle of the two weeks (Oct  26-Nov 11) during which Chicago-Booth will be sending invites, so if I haven't received an invite by Nov 7, I’d be a little heart broken.

Good luck everyone and remember to share your take on Chicago-Booth or anything else for that matter. =)

Two down, many more to go

I’m a little late to the MBA blogging scene, but there’s no reason I can’t join the band wagon now.

Just like the most of you, I have been uber busy for the last five months. The rigors of managing a job that steals 10-12 hours every day, and even weekends sometimes, in addition to the GMAT, recommendations, essays has simultaneously been a WOW! and UGH! experience.

Hopefully, there will be one school which will have me, cause it would be really unfortunate if I have to go through this process all over again.

As soon as my MIT-Sloan application is done, I will write more about my Booth, Kellogg and MIT experience.

Stay tuned and good luck to y’all on your b-school adventure.