Urgent, Please Advise Me on Round Selection

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Hey everyone,

I was on here about 2 years ago as I began my journey to get into a good business school. I went back to school to finish my bachelors degree and I'll be graduating at 33 this year. I'm finishing with a > 4.0 GPA (ASU allows professors to assign a 4.33 for grades where you get a 100) currently and then it's on to the GMAT. I'm having a crisis here and I was interested in some feedback. Any opinion/advice you can give me would be greatly appreciated.

The question is, "How much of a statistical advantage is it choosing round 1 over round 2?"

TLDR: I have a couple days to take a cumulative final for Pre-Calc that will leave me with a B in the class (at best) and then a month to study for the GMAT and get apps started. Is it worth continuing to kill myself to make Round 1 or should I just shift my timeline to Round 2?

FYI: I plan on applying to Stanford and MIT for sure (yes I know these are a super reach) and then up to four other schools. I'm considering UT Austin, UC Berkeley, Foster, Northwestern, and Duke. I have a very unique back story and my main concern is getting interviews so I can tell it.


Longer Version of this Story:

Here's the deal. I killed myself to finish three years worth of school in two years. This spring and summer I'll have completed 36 credit hours alone. This summer session accounts for 21 of those credit hours. This has all been while working full time in the investment/finance industry and attempting to have a good relationship with my girlfriend and stay in touch with friends. To say that I'm at the end of my sanity is putting it mildly. I haven't slept more than 5 hours in a night in three years and haven't taken a real vacation (all days used were due to sickness from running myself ragged or for doing long non-stop study sessions) in almost five years (completed several high-profile financial certifications prior to school).

My program required I complete Pre-Calculus which I saved for last. I'm trying to finish two 14 week session classes in 10 weeks to make sure they transfer in time to be included in the review for my degree conveyance in the second week of August. Pre-Calculus is one of these. I did a month's worth of Pre-Calc in a week and as such for the final I'm struggling with a lot of the Trig. If I'm not worried about the credits transferring in time (which might not make it anyways) I could have another two weeks to study and get an A in the class.

I also will only have 1 month to study for the GMAT. If I go round 2 that adds a lot of time to get the best score possible.

Is Round 2 that much of a disadvantage compared to Round 1? Do I lose out on the possibility for financial aid/scholarships from the schools for that?

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by Personal MBA Coach » Wed Jul 29, 2015 3:35 am
LongShotBen,

Thank you for the post and the brief background. There is a minor difference between round one and round two, so I recommend applying when you are fully prepared and not rushing the application process. If you haven't started studying for the GMAT then waiting until round two makes sense for you.

In terms of your school selection, in order to give you more specific guidance on your school choices, it would be good to know more information about your background.

1) What is your academic history? What will your GPA be and why was finishing school delayed until now?

2) Work experience? Company / position history? Performance relative to peers?

3) Extra-curriculars: What do you do outside of work? Leadership roles?

4) Post-MBA goals?

If you are interested in hearing about how I can help you with your unique profile, send me a note to discuss further! It sounds like you would benefit from a personal approach given your specific situation. [email protected]

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by LongShotBen » Wed Jul 29, 2015 8:32 am
Hey Scott,

Thanks so much for the reply. The lack of action regarding my transcripts and having to wait until the fall to receive my diploma was a bit of a blow after what I've put myself through, but knowing that I can wait without it being too detrimental is very helpful and puts my mind more at ease. So thanks again.

1-2) This is where my story gets somewhat unique. I grew up as a latch-key kid in an abusive (physical/mental/emotional) household as an only child with a single mother who was a recreational drug user. From about 4th grade on I took care of myself (i.e. doing my own laundry, making my own meals). At 12 she was diagnosed terminal with cancer. Right before I turned 15 she passed away. I was emancipated and my grandparents became custodian of the small amount of money that was left behind. I worked part time through high school and had my own apartment (with roomates) at 17. I was in survival mode most of those years and so I didn't really care about school. I honestly didn't expect to live past my early 20s. As such I had a lot of "W" grades interspersed in my transcripts and didn't really complete anything. Just to clarify though, I was heavily involved in charity work, never got into any trouble with the law, never did drugs, and never got into financial trouble/declared bankruptcy or anything like that. I was also a touring solo musician for around 8 years and was a shown artist through the various city galleries in my home area of Hampton Roads, VA.

At 21 I got a job with a financial services company (Fortune 200 but they don't actively recruit from MBAs) and I've worked here ever since, 13 years as of the end of this year. I've worked in every sector of the personal financial industry. I'm currently an internal product expert as a licensed investment broker. I do a lot of teaching/training for current and new employees and act as an expert on investment taxation, trusts, and estates. I'm basically a problem solver and it's a lot of fun and very engaging. I've also traveled for the company to stand up contracting teams for tax season for our firm. I also am "the education guy" now and I can proudly state that I'm responsible for over 25 people being enrolled in undergraduate programs and 6 more in master's programs.

In 2012 I earned a prestigious industry certification that required I have a bachelor's degree. I've always loved education and I have a voracious appetite for reading, but I didn't see the value in college at the time. It seemed like a waste of money for things I could learn (and often did) for free. Since I needed to get a degree I started thinking about what I really wanted to do, who I really wanted to be. I love thinking creatively and solving problems. My current industry also doesn't have enough soul for me. So after a lot of deliberation and research I resolved to go back, get done quickly, get an MBA, and get myself to a position where I could do what I want to do on a large scale. I chose Arizona State as I'm currently in Phoenix and they have an awesome innovative engineering management degree with a concentration on entrepreneurship. I've gone greater than full time and I'm graduating with a 4.16 GPA currently. If you factor in my educational "indiscretions" from when I was 17-20 my GPA for all classes taken should be around a 3.6. I wanted to show the schools that I can not only survive in their curriculum but be in the top of my class in any MBA program.

I'll also be the first one in my family since my great grandfather to have a college diploma. My family comes from a very prestigious history including direct lineage down from Abraham Lincoln and the first governor of Rhode Island. My great grandfather was a double masters in Architecture and Engineering and built several of our military bases on our territories and possessions. He was also a top level mason/shriner. I grew up in government subsidized housing if that shows you how a can fall over generations. I want to reverse that trend.

3) This is a tough one for me. As you can imagine, working 40-50 hours a week and then adding industry licenses, certifications, and often a 150% of full time workload in school while maintaining the GPA I have means I haven't had a good night's sleep in several years. I used to be very active in charity work and extracurriculars like music and art. I will be again in a couple of weeks when I'm done with school. I have done sporadic work with charities over the last 3 years but not on a consistent level.

I am currently working on creating my first startup and it is a for-profit business with a socially conscious outlook. I don't want to go into too much detail on here but it's a unique take on children's book publishing with a focus on stories that help at risk children.

4) Post-MBA: I'm very interested in working in silicon valley. Apple and Google are amazing companies to me. I want to work in a collaborative environment that recognizes that I'm quirky and takes advantage of my unique strengths. I'm also interested in consulting for the problem solving aspect. I would eventually like to become a business professor on the college level after I have enough unique experiences to make me a worthwhile contributor. I also wouldn't mind seeing my startup turn into something great. :)

I know that's a lot. I'd love to chat some time Scott. I am considering a MBA consultant as I know that you all can help quite a bit. Money is tight right now so I'm trying to figure out what I can spend on that considering the amount of apps I would like to send.

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by Personal MBA Coach » Wed Jul 29, 2015 9:01 am
LongShotBen wrote:Hey Scott,

Thanks so much for the reply. The lack of action regarding my transcripts and having to wait until the fall to receive my diploma was a bit of a blow after what I've put myself through, but knowing that I can wait without it being too detrimental is very helpful and puts my mind more at ease. So thanks again.

1-2) This is where my story gets somewhat unique. I grew up as a latch-key kid in an abusive (physical/mental/emotional) household as an only child with a single mother who was a recreational drug user. From about 4th grade on I took care of myself (i.e. doing my own laundry, making my own meals). At 12 she was diagnosed terminal with cancer. Right before I turned 15 she passed away. I was emancipated and my grandparents became custodian of the small amount of money that was left behind. I worked part time through high school and had my own apartment (with roomates) at 17. I was in survival mode most of those years and so I didn't really care about school. I honestly didn't expect to live past my early 20s. As such I had a lot of "W" grades interspersed in my transcripts and didn't really complete anything. Just to clarify though, I was heavily involved in charity work, never got into any trouble with the law, never did drugs, and never got into financial trouble/declared bankruptcy or anything like that. I was also a touring solo musician for around 8 years and was a shown artist through the various city galleries in my home area of Hampton Roads, VA.

At 21 I got a job with a financial services company (Fortune 200 but they don't actively recruit from MBAs) and I've worked here ever since, 13 years as of the end of this year. I've worked in every sector of the personal financial industry. I'm currently an internal product expert as a licensed investment broker. I do a lot of teaching/training for current and new employees and act as an expert on investment taxation, trusts, and estates. I'm basically a problem solver and it's a lot of fun and very engaging. I've also traveled for the company to stand up contracting teams for tax season for our firm. I also am "the education guy" now and I can proudly state that I'm responsible for over 25 people being enrolled in undergraduate programs and 6 more in master's programs.

In 2012 I earned a prestigious industry certification that required I have a bachelor's degree. I've always loved education and I have a voracious appetite for reading, but I didn't see the value in college at the time. It seemed like a waste of money for things I could learn (and often did) for free. Since I needed to get a degree I started thinking about what I really wanted to do, who I really wanted to be. I love thinking creatively and solving problems. My current industry also doesn't have enough soul for me. So after a lot of deliberation and research I resolved to go back, get done quickly, get an MBA, and get myself to a position where I could do what I want to do on a large scale. I chose Arizona State as I'm currently in Phoenix and they have an awesome innovative engineering management degree with a concentration on entrepreneurship. I've gone greater than full time and I'm graduating with a 4.16 GPA currently. If you factor in my educational "indiscretions" from when I was 17-20 my GPA for all classes taken should be around a 3.6. I wanted to show the schools that I can not only survive in their curriculum but be in the top of my class in any MBA program.

I'll also be the first one in my family since my great grandfather to have a college diploma. My family comes from a very prestigious history including direct lineage down from Abraham Lincoln and the first governor of Rhode Island. My great grandfather was a double masters in Architecture and Engineering and built several of our military bases on our territories and possessions. He was also a top level mason/shriner. I grew up in government subsidized housing if that shows you how a can fall over generations. I want to reverse that trend.

3) This is a tough one for me. As you can imagine, working 40-50 hours a week and then adding industry licenses, certifications, and often a 150% of full time workload in school while maintaining the GPA I have means I haven't had a good night's sleep in several years. I used to be very active in charity work and extracurriculars like music and art. I will be again in a couple of weeks when I'm done with school. I have done sporadic work with charities over the last 3 years but not on a consistent level.

I am currently working on creating my first startup and it is a for-profit business with a socially conscious outlook. I don't want to go into too much detail on here but it's a unique take on children's book publishing with a focus on stories that help at risk children.

4) Post-MBA: I'm very interested in working in silicon valley. Apple and Google are amazing companies to me. I want to work in a collaborative environment that recognizes that I'm quirky and takes advantage of my unique strengths. I'm also interested in consulting for the problem solving aspect. I would eventually like to become a business professor on the college level after I have enough unique experiences to make me a worthwhile contributor. I also wouldn't mind seeing my startup turn into something great. :)

I know that's a lot. I'd love to chat some time Scott. I am considering a MBA consultant as I know that you all can help quite a bit. Money is tight right now so I'm trying to figure out what I can spend on that considering the amount of apps I would like to send.
Ben,

Thank you for taking the time to give a detailed description of your background. This is very helpful as I think about your profile and how to best position you for these schools. Your publishing startup sounds really interesting! I used to run strategy for a publishing company and I would love to talk about this further with you.

Let's connect via email and set up a time to discuss. We can talk about support models and budgets in more detail.

I look forward to talking further. [email protected]

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by MargaretStrother » Thu Jul 30, 2015 12:30 am
Hi Ben,
The difference between Round 1 and Round 2 isn't so great that it is worth submitting an under-prepared GMAT score. It sounds like you have built a habit of studying that has been very effective for you, so you may be able to earn a strong score, if you give yourself enough time. Expect to take it at least twice. Strong, if you're looking at Stanford, would mean ~720 -- in my experience, having a strong GMAT is even more important when you're over 30.

One thing I am wondering about as I read your powerful background narrative, is"fit": how many of these schools have you visited, and where did you feel that you fit in with the group? This is a challenge I often see for over-30s in top business schools, the social/community culture. These schools, especially the smaller and more intimate ones, will be interested in knowing what you bring to the group, how you function socially, how you will adjust to being the "old guy" (I know this is ludicrous in any context other than b-school) in a class full of 25 - 28 year olds. Be thinking about that.

Top MBA programs will also be interested in hearing about how you have harnessed your difficult childhood as an adult to help others in similar conditions, so your community service record will again be an important asset. Be sure you make the most of this in your applications.

Good luck!

Margaret Strother
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by manyaabroadtpr » Thu Jul 30, 2015 6:08 am
In case that you are interested in scholarships it is advisable to apply to apply in R1 than R2. The benefit in applying to R1 is that you compete with less number of applicants and therefore increasing your chances of admit. Its not that students do not get admit in R2 but yes scholarship chances become competitive.
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by [email protected] » Mon Feb 15, 2016 10:21 pm
I would suggest you apply when you are ready with the strongest possible application. Yes, there are more scholarship dollars available in round 1, but if you are good enough to get a scholarship in round 1, there is a strong chance you'll find something in round 2 as well. You have a bit of an untraditional background, so I would make sure you don't wait until round 3. Good luck!
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