Judgement Cometh

by on December 12th, 2012

During the next 10 days, I’ll know the final decisions for 4 out of the 5 programs that I applied to during R1. HBS graciously gave me my walking papers back in October; and Stanford’s silence has spoken volumes. I expect a ding notice from there this Wednesday.  That completes the list of schools where I am either certain or nearly certain about the outcome. The other 3 aren’t so straightforward.

U of Chicago Booth

I had a decent, but not stellar interview with a Booth alum several weeks ago. Nothing bad happened; I just didn’t feel the love from my interviewer. I can’t even say that my interviewer gave me any overtly negative signs or vibes; the air was just…a bit stale.

The upside is that the interviewer flat out told me that they felt that I was a fit for Booth…but they didn’t necessarily offer that assessment up. My inner (former) account executive couldn’t stand the energetic ambiguity and dove in to close the deal–it was a reflex. So basically, I put the interviewer on the spot. That isn’t exactly the best environment for getting honest answers out of people.

My eerie interview notwithstanding, I still feel really good about Booth. I put a lot of work into that application and felt calm and confident that I had painted a well-rounded and interesting picture of myself for the admissions committee.

Throughout the process, what impressed me most about Booth was the openness and helpfulness of both the admissions staff and the students who attend. Envisioning myself among smart, hospitable people like that is easy. Booth is a fantastic school, and an admit call would certainly be good news.

Wharton

I started my essay-writing process with Wharton. Initially, I did so because their questions were the most straight forward.  By the time I submitted, however, I knew that it was my strongest application. It had gotten the most feedback–and the harshest–because I was so green on writing essays for top MBA programs when I began. The lessons I learned during those critiques stuck–hard ; they made every subsequent application much better than it would have been. Still, there was something about this app. Each essay just had this ring to it.

Then there was my group interview in San Francisco. I arrived under what I felt were horrible  circumstances at the time: an all day turnaround trip (I was literally at Long Beach airport by 6am in a full suit and did not return to my home until after 11pm that night–still in that suit) to a densely populated, traffic heavy city in uncomfortable clothing (I hate wearing suits). Yet, I experienced multiple confirmations that day that Wharton was also a community that I could see myself being a part of.

From the great group of people who I interviewed with, to how well both my group and individual interview conversations evolved, to the engaged admissions officer who put me in contact with a professor that I had been trying to contact. Everything flowed effortlessly.

MIT Sloan

As a former engineer, I have been an ardent fan of this institution for quite some time. I was overjoyed to discover that it was also home to one of the world’s best and most well respected business schools. Any place that exists at the intersection of technological  and operational innovation and business is a place where I can easily fit in.

Sloan’s app was my last. I was tired, my ideas were blurry and my eyes crossed on my computer screen as I first began to write that app. I ended up taking a couple weeks off just to recover from the haze of what had been two straight months of business school apps and essays.  And after some rest, I got a burst of clarity and energy that led to me turning in what was perhaps the most unique of all of my apps.

Since MIT seemed to take special care in differentiating their app from others, I was not able to use so much as a singular idea from my other apps. And while I wrote  unique essay decks for each institution, none was as unique as Sloan, where I literally had to start from scratch with each writing–not even able to carry over a simple idea or theme.

Much like Stanford, MIT strings its applicants along right up unto to the last minute. Their deadline is 1/29/13–5 weeks after Booth and Wharton and 6 weeks after H/S. All that I can do at this point is sit back, relax and wait. I also need not think about the fact that a certain number of seats in their (already small) class have been reserved by last year’s overflow who took home up to $20k to defer a year when the school exceeded its yield projections.

Ain’t it Funny

“They” always say that you tend to end up in the exact MBA program that you’re supposed to be in. And while I think that at least some of that statement is an opiate for the thousands who do not get what they want, I also must look at the fact that I’m playing the waiting game with the 3 most quant- and numbers-oriented business schools on the globe and consider that it wasn’t accidental.

It also wasn’t an accident that I never bothered to complete Step 1 of Kellogg’s application in time (12/4) to apply there round two.  While it is no doubt a phenomenal school, I just never felt a congruent wavelength or vibe. I could literally feel myself trying to like it at times. And we all know that when you force yourself to like something/someone, only rarely does it end happily.

Well, I guess we’ll just have to see. Waiting is almost over, and I’ve been busy putting together the building blocks for my Consortium app for Tuck, Berkeley and Yale. Here’s to hoping that I get to submit that app already knowing that I have strong, viable options.

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