Insights from a Current MBA Applicant: Rocky

by on October 14th, 2009

The following is a guest post written by Rocky Balboa, who runs the business school applicant blog: Rocky’s Journey to an MBA.  Rocky is in the process of submitting applications to various top North American MBA programs as an international applicant.  He’s agreed to take time out of his busy schedule to roll up some of his takeaways about the application process.  Here’s Rocky:

This post is aimed towards people looking to apply to business schools. It aims to give some insights into the application process. I write this based on my own experiences and perspectives and all are welcome to share in with their thoughts.

Introduction

A simple fact: As part of entering a top business school and earning an MBA, one has to apply to the school to be accepted. Different schools have different intake methodologies, but the uniform standard amongst US schools is the presence of an application, which includes submitting your:

  • Test scores (GMAT, TOEFL/IELTS)
  • Data sheets (Personal Information, Background information)
  • Educational History
  • Professional Resume
  • Recommendations
  • Essays to questions put up by the school

This information is used to pick candidates suitable to the school and call them for interviews (sometimes optional), and if selected, an offer of admission is made to the candidate.

My strategy in the application process

I started with a list of 7 schools and decided on applying to a maximum of 4-5 schools out of them. The order of schools I applied to was decided by the school’s R1 deadlines and chances of scholarships.

I started out by writing my mission statement. This was a personal statement capturing my career progress, my reasons for wanting to do an MBA, schools I want to apply to and timelines. I keep returning to this document to re-read it and frame my responses to different questions by schools and to keep track of where I am in the app cycle.

What I’ve learned about myself from the process

The process is gruelling. Make no mistake about it. But it is also effective, since it has made me question the next step for my career and helped me find reasons to make choices. My way of approaching my career has changed as I question my goals objectively and set realistic timelines on goals I hope to achieve in the next few years using the MBA education and networks.

Recommendations to tackle the app process

  • Applications are harder than they look. And expensive! Hence a good choice of schools needs to be in place by the end of July if starting with R1 apps (especially for internationals).
  • Do not be too harsh with yourself for not having all the answers in place at all times. Yours is an evolving story and you will keep re-aligning yourself as you keep getting to know your goals better.
  • Take help from and contribute back to the online community. It isn’t a one-man journey and there are times when you will feel down and out. The online community comes to your aid here. And when you are the Ninja Master of school selections, essay writing and application advice, please share it back with the people just starting out.

Best surprises for me through this process

  • I have been able to form new friends from around the world, some of whom are taking a lot of time in helping me with essay reviews and advice.
  • Through my research on schools, I have been able to appreciate the fact that whether a top 5 school or top 25 school, since my school choices have been carefully researched, I will end up going to a school where I get a good education and be able to take my career forward from there.

Things I would do if I started over

Nothing! Im happy to be learning as I go.

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