I think I've finally made up my mind and narrowed my choices down to three business schools. At the moment, it's Harvard, Chicago, and Stanford. Harvard and Chicago were pretty certain from the start, but then it came down to Stanford or Columbia for #3. A colleague of mine gave me some good perspective yesterday on making this decision. We were talking about my plans, and she said what if the only schools you were accepted at were Stanford or Columbia, which would you attend? At the time I didn't have a definite answer, since I saw positives and negatives at each school. But as I thought about it the rest of the day, I realized that if faced with that decision, my choice would be Stanford. That said, I haven't written off Columbia 100%. I'm still going to visit the school next week - one of the benefits of working in NYC is that I can do this for only $4 in subway fares - to make sure I'm not missing anything, but I'm 99% sure that I'll apply to Stanford rather than Columbia.
Update on the application front, I have lined up one recommender (my current boss, with whom I had a really good discussion about my plans and he is 100% supportive), and have arranged to speak next week to 2 more potential recommenders. Other than my current boss, I'm trying to spread the recommendations out among people so that they would have to write, at most, two recommendations. Stanford has an interesting twist in that one recommender needs to a peer, so I'll need to think about who to ask for that recommendation. Hopefully, I'll have all the recommenders lined up and entered into the respective applications by the end of next week. That would give them between 6-8 weeks to complete the recommendation, depending on which school I am using the recommendation for.
I'm still stuck on the final HBS essay - the one about a mistake. I am going back and forth between two mistakes I made. The first mistake is easier to demonstrate I learned from it because it happened further in the past and I have examples of how I've behaved differently since then. However, it doesn't fit as well into the overall "theme" of my application. The other example fits better, but it's harder to show how I've grown from it since it only happened about a month ago. Realizing this is a false dilemma since I've made more than 2 mistakes in my life, I'm trying to think of a third option that both fits into my application and also is easy to show how I've grown from making the mistake. In the meantime, I've started putting my thoughts together for the Chicago essays and have some preliminary thoughts on what I'm going to write about for Stanford.
This weekend will be busy, with a family barbeque today and a friend who I haven't seen in months coming to visit tomorrow. Hopefully neither will mind if I am a bit distant at times - it's nothing against you I'm just trying to think of essay responses.