Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

It's hard to believe another year has gone by, and even harder to believe that tomorrow starts 2009. It has been quite a year too. As I look back a year, I had just gotten denied by Chicago and was looking at an 0 for 3 application season. I had 6 months remaining on my 2 year assignment at work, so I was concerned about finding a new project/role at work. I was questioning my career goals and my viability as an MBA candidate, and just generally felt lost. Needless to say I was a bit down. Fast forward to today. I have 2 admits in hand and my work situation has been pretty well least until I resign this summer. My career goals once again seem realistic and achievable. I am in a much happier place. Overall, 2008 was an interesting year, and 2009 promises to be even more exciting as I start my preparations to leave for bschool in earnest.

I've been giving a lot of thought to Kellogg vs. Duke ever since I got the scholarship offer from Duke, and I think I've made up my mind. As I thought about attending DAK, possible KWEST trips, moving to Chicago and "the Kellogg experience", I was excited about the idea of attending Kellogg. When I thought about Blue Devil Weekend, moving to Durham and "Team Fuqua", I just wasn't nearly as excited. I realized that the reasons I had in favor of Kellogg were related to the school and program itself, while the only reason I was seriously considering Duke over Kellogg was the money. Sure, the money is nice, but 25 years from now I think I'd regret passing on the opportunity of attending Kellogg because of money. So, as hard as it will be to walk away from $46,000, once my official transcripts arrive from my undergrad school, I'll be sending in my deposit and transcripts to Kellogg.

I hope everyone has a great 2009, and that the new year brings good news to everyone still waiting to hear decisions.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Another surprise from Duke

Well I received my admissions package from Duke today. There was a business card holder, a Duke Fuqua sticker, some information about Blue Devil Weekend (and a magnet to remind me of the date) and my official admissions letter. Then at the bottom of the box I saw an envelope marked "MERIT SCHOLARSHIP INFORMATION". I figure it's a letter from the financial aid office with information about the scholarship process, since the online admission letter scholarship info would be sent in 2 weeks and it's only been a week. However, as I started reading the second paragraph of the letter, I quickly realized it's an award letter: Duke is offering me a half-tuition scholarship! I have to say, I'm a bit surprised. I thought I had a shot at some money from Duke, but didn't think it would be this much. I'm still leaning very much towards Kellogg - I don't know that I would be happy passing up the chance to go there - but this is going to make the decision a lot tougher.

Monday, December 22, 2008

An early Christmas gift from Kellogg

I received my admissions package this morning from a none-too-merry UPS guy. I can't imagine how busy those guys are this week. But anyway, the admissions package. It contained my official admissions letter from Beth Flye, some information from student affairs, a letter from IT about the admitted student website/email/etc., a Kellogg-branded laptop sleeve, and Kellogg-branded wireless mouse. Oh, and the remittance form for sending in the $1500 tuition deposit. I think I'm about ready to make my commitment to Kellogg. I've pretty much decided that regardless of the financial package Duke may or may not give me, I just can't pass up the opportunity to go to Kellogg. I'll give HBS the opportunity for formally reject me in a few weeks (although I did contemplate the "quit-before-you're-fired" move of withdrawing my HBS application), then send in the deposit to Kellogg.

This will probably be my last post before I take some time off for the holidays, so I hope everyone's holidays are happy, and good luck to everyone still waiting to hear R1 decisions.

Saturday, December 20, 2008


Took the time to register for DAK yesterday, which will be Feb. 6-8. I guess it'll be a good introduction to what I should expect from the Chicago winters. Nonetheless, I'm really excited to go. I had a great visit to the school when I applied, so I think I'm more excited about meeting my potential classmates than about seeing what the school has to offer. The schedule looks like it'll provide a lot of time for socializing and getting to know both the current students and the incoming students, which will be nice. A few current students have said it's a good idea to try and get housing somewhat organized during DAK weekend, so I'll be trying to do that as well - if only to save me another trip to Evanston later in the spring/summer to find housing.

My plan is to relax through the holidays and not think about bschool at all. After New Year's though, I'll have to start on the to-do list...and pretty close to the top of that list is to meet with a realtor about the possibility of selling my apartment in NJ. I can't wait to hear what they have to say.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

...and a surprise from Duke!

So I wasn't expecting a decision from Duke until 9am tomorrow. Nowhere had anyone even hinted at the possibility of decisions being released before 9am tomorrow. Yet I checked my email this afternoon and there it was: a note from Duke Admissions. Nope - not a survey or info session or any of the other crazy things that Admissions Offices send out in the midst of the application season. It was an email saying my decision was available.

I log into the application system, click on the decision link, and up pops this flash animation about the Duke MBA. After a second or so, it says "Congratulations!". Well, top marks to Duke for creativity. The admit letter was hidden behind the animation, and I am in! Definitely a nice pick-me-up after the disappointment from Chicago earlier today. Info on scholarships will be sent in about 2 weeks, so now I get to look forward to my official admit package from Kellogg and Duke scholarship info. All in all, not a bad way to head into the holidays.

No news was not good news

Dear Mike,

Thank you for your interest in Chicago Booth...Unfortunately we are not able to offer you admission into the Class of 2011. Again.

Ok, I get it Chicago. We're just not right for each other. The chemistry isn't there. It's not you it's me. There's plenty of fish in the sea. Yada, yada, yada.

I am disappointed in not getting an admit at Chicago. I really thought I had put together a better application than last year, but I guess it just didn't cut it. However, since I already have an admit from one of my dream schools, the disappointment is mild. I guess it's really just ego at this point to want to be in a position to have to choose between top-tier business schools. Well with my decision of whether to enroll in Kellogg or Chicago conveniently made for me by Rose & the Adcom, I can say I'm 99% sure I'll be in Evanston next fall. The 1% is really only if something extraordinarily unlikely happens - something on the order of HBS admitting me even though I haven't even been invited to interview yet, or Duke admitting me and offering some massive scholarship $$.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Nothing from Chicago

Well, it's pretty late in the day and I haven't received a call from Chicago. Last year this was a pretty bad sign, so I'm thinking I'm getting the dear John letter tomorrow morning. If I don't get in, it'll be disappointing, but also on the bright side it'll make my enrollment decision a heck of a lot easier. Only 15 more hours and I'll know for sure.

Pre-holiday push

It never seems to fail that the week before Christmas is one of the busiest of the year at work. I guess everyone's trying to get things wrapped up before they go on vacation for the holidays. This year sure isn't an exception - this week has been crazy at work. I have back-to-back-to-back meetings and conference calls all day (and sometimes even am double booked in simultaneous meetings and conference calls). Then at about 6:30 or so the meetings all stop and I can finally start doing the work I actually need to accomplish that day. The upside of this is that it's made it easier to wait for decisions from Chicago and Duke, since I don't have much time to think about waiting. Hopefully I'll be one of the lucky ones to get a call from Chicago when they start contacting the admits today. Of course, the odds are pretty good that I'll be in a meeting so I'm actually looking forward to the voicemail. I guess this is good practice for the kind of time management skills I'll need at school.

Friday, December 12, 2008


Or more accurately, the lack of motivation. Ever since getting the admit call to Kellogg, I have not been able to focus on work. My productivity has dropped dramatically, and I spend more time than ever checking out the BW and GMATClub forums. Part of it is the fact that I know that I'll be resigning from my job in 6 months so I really have the mindset that I'm just marking time at work, and also unfortunately the work I'm doing at the moment isn't all that exciting.

I can't wait for next week to be over. First, I'll have my decisions from Chicago and Duke, and can start more seriously thinking about where to enroll. Also, it means the beginning of a 2 week vacation for the holidays. It can't come soon enough.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Still waiting

So, you ask, what's it like to be a newly admitted MBA student? Well it's much less stressful, to be sure, than to not have an admit yet. But it still involves quite a bit of waiting. I've already read through the entirety of the Kellogg admitted students portal, but it's still too early to make an enrollment decision. I like Kellogg a lot, but also like Chicago a lot so at a minimum I am going to wait until next week's Chicago decision. If I do get accepted to Chicago, then I probably won't be making a decision until after both schools' admitted students weekend. If I don't get into Chicago, then my decision becomes easier since I haven't gotten an interview invite from HBS.

What about Duke and Columbia? Well, this week I'm going to withdraw my application to Columbia. I just never got as excited about Columbia as I did about the other schools I applied to. I was really impressed by Duke when I visited. It's got a solid healthcare program, the students were incredibly friendly, everything seemed very well run, and the facilities were very impressive. But, I wasn't excited about the possibility of living in Durham, NC, and while the quality of the program is very high, it doesn't match Kellogg. But with the decision date so close, and with the impressive campus visit, I plan to see what the outcome is before making any final decisions on Duke.

I know it's premature to start weighing Kellogg vs. Chicago vs. Duke since I've only actually been admitted to one school. Quite possibly, I won't have a decision to make. But with nothing else to do for admissions, I can only wait, and think about what if's?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

I'm Back!

Wow it's been a while, and a lot has happened since the last time I posted. The weather has turned wintery cold (there was even a dusting of snow on the ground when I woke up this morning). After two years of dominating the news, the Presidential Election finally ended. There were holidays and vacations. The New York Giants are off to their best start in franchise history. I applied to 5 schools in round 1 (not exactly the list I wrote about in my last post). Oh, yeah, and I WAS ADMITTED TO KELLOGG!

So why have I decided to restart this blog now? Well, I think I lost the inspiration to blog through my application experience because I had been here before, last year. But now, with the admit call, my excitement is back. The experience is new again. My ambitious plan is to blog right through until I graduate, both to keep a journal of sorts for myself, but also to share the experience with my family and friends. Of course, any other interested people who care to read about my experiences are more than welcome here.

So welcome back, and stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

It's time...

After much deliberation, I've narrowed down my list of target schools to the 6 that I plan to apply to. MIT and Columbia dropped off my short list - MIT because even though it's very strong in consulting, the technology focus just wasn't aligned with my career goals; and Columbia because I just didn't feel the fit with the culture of the school. I think part of this is because I've lived and worked in NYC or the surrounding suburbs just about my entire life, and while I do love NY, part of me wants my MBA experience to include living somewhere else for a few years. So now that that's settled, it's time to focus on preparing for essays and applications.

Not that I haven't focused at all on essays. In some way, ever since I got the bad news from Chicago last December I've been thinking about where I went wrong and how I could improve my essays. Every new project I've been involved with since last fall has given me more material (and one project in particular that I've led will be great essay fodder). And in the past month or so I've been doing a lot of reflection on my career goals, and "why MBA/why now?" for the career essays I'll soon be writing.

So now it's just a matter of getting down to the hard work. HBS and Kellogg have already released essay questions for Fall '09 applications, so those will be the first I work on. It's a bit strange getting started on the application process as a re-applicant, knowing full well the emotional ups and downs that will certainly come. On the plus side, as a re-applicant I don't have the GMAT to worry about (I'm pretty certain none of my dings were because of my GMAT score so no desire to re-take that test), so I'm able to focus 100% on essays much earlier in the process than last year when I wasn't finished with the GMAT until July.

Friday, May 23, 2008

The travel gods smile on me.

Well, sort of. I am in Singapore, and what should have been a nonstop flight from Newark to Sinagpore was diverted to Bangkok for fuel because we got rerouted over China. But other than arriving in Singapore 2 hours late, recently the travel gods have been nice to me. Last month my travel schedule resulted in weekends in Malta and the Dominican Republic, and now this weekend I am at the very nice Amara Sanctuary Resort in Sentosa, Singapore. These are certainly some of the perks I will miss when I give up my current role in the next few months. So this weekend, besides enjoying the tropical weather (current temp 86F, although with the humidity it feels much, much hotter than that), I will be giving some serious thought to positioning and themes for my essays, as well as how to best frame my career goals/aspirations/vision.

In the meantime, as promised in my last post, here are my initial pros/cons on schools. I'll start with the two schools I am considering re-applying to this year. Please recognize that these are my own subjective views, and that the characteristics that I've noted as pro or con are based on what I personally am looking for in a school and not any objective criteria.

Chicago GSB
Pros: academic powerhouse and intellectually rigorous program, high degree of flexibility of curriculum, very strong brand (though not quite as strong as Harvard or Stanford), nice location (I like Chicago) and facilities are top-notch and contribute to a strong sense of community.
Cons: despite efforts to build capabilities and reputation in other areas, still very much known for people looking to go into quantitative fields (I am not); student housing spread out between different neighborhoods (Hyde Park, downtown and northern areas).
Overall impression: I really like Chicago. I liked it when I first started school research last year, and liked it even more after I visited. The students I met and talked to were all very friendly and happy with the school (even the students that didn't work for the Admissions Office), the academics are incredibly strong (even though somewhat tilted towards quant) and professors are easily available to students, and job prospects (even non-quant) are very good.

Harvard Business School
Pros: It's Harvard - the brand name is second to none. Very strong academics and professors that seem to enjoy interacting with students. Best general management focus in the world, which fits with my non-quant career goals. Very large, very influential alumni network. Sections help build community within a large class. Great location (after NYC, Boston is my favorite US city) and facilities.
Cons: Very inflexible curriculum. I'm not entirely sold on the benefit of 100% case study as a teaching approach. Culture is more competitive than many business schools.
Overall impression: Last year, Harvard was my top choice (big surprise there). I do have my concerns about the rigid curriculum and teaching approach, and about the culture (I can be just as competitive as the next guy, but find I learn better in a collaborative environment), but these are minor concerns since the students tend to be positive about use of the case method and the curriculum. While they acknowledge that each class does have people that live up to the HBS stereotype (interviewing people for study groups, ultra-competitive, etc.), they stress that these people are a small minority of the overall class. As I said in my last post, I would still love to go to HBS - the only reason I'm on the fence about applying is whether I think I have a realistic chance of being accepted.

So there you have it. As I continue my research on the rest of my list, I will post my thoughts. Also, since I have another 19 hour flight ahead of me this week, I'll try and put up a post about GMAT prep for all you first time applicants out there.

Friday, May 16, 2008

It's application season again

In case you haven't seen this, HBS released their application calendar and essays for fall 2009 entrance. Not many changes, although there's one less essay needed and less options for the optional essays. And so it begins again.

Over the past month, work has kept me pretty busy, which means not a ton of time to focus on getting ready for application season. Although, I have been asked to lead a project at work that will be great essay fodder, and am also leading a solid project in one of my extracurricular activities, so I guess I could say I'm working on essay content...

You may notice that I've now included the current list of schools I'm considering applying/reapplying to. It's still longer than I'd like; the plan is to apply to 5-6 schools so I'll need to cut 4-5 schools off the list. At this point, based on my research, the most likely candidates for cutting are MIT, Wharton, Duke and INSEAD (the school is great, but the 2nd language requirement will be difficult). I'm also on the fence about HBS. I mean it's an absolutely stellar school and it would be a dream to go there, but after the DWI last year I need to consider how realistic my chances are. I'll post with more detailed pros/cons on the schools once I'm a bit further through my research.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A pleasant surprise

I have to admit I haven't been spending much time on the MBA blogs recently. Work has been pretty busy (it's budget time since our fiscal year end is June 30) and I've been feeling a little under the weather lately (hopefully nothing more serious than allergies), so it's been a while since I checked in. I was pleasantly surprised to see when I went over to the Clear Admit blog that I've been nominated for a Best of Blogging award for this year! Seeing that certainly picked up my spirits today, and made me feel good that perhaps sharing my experiences has helped other applicants out there. Good luck to all my fellow BoB nominees, and to anyone out there waiting for news in R3 or on waitlist status.

I promise that in the next month or so, as I start my reapplication cycle in earnest, I will start to post more frequently again.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Done...until next year

Well it's certainly been a while since I posted. Since then, I've decided not to rush an application into Columbia before their deadline, as I didn't think I could really put something of quality together given the time constraints and my work commitments. So, I've decided to call it a day and start looking ahead to the next cycle of admissions. My boss has continued to be great and completely supportive, and we are in the process of finding a new 1-year long project I can take on when my current job's rotation ends this July.

I've certainly learned a lot from the process this year and am certain I can use my experience to prepare better apps next year. I'll also be re-thinking school choice for this next attempt. I'll probably only post from time to time until the next app season heats up, since without MBA admissions my life can get a bit dull to read about. (Sample post: "Hey, I went to work again today, then came home, and will probably go back to work tomorrow.")

A big Thank You to all my fellow applicants and bloggers out there who have commented on my blog and lent their support. For those of you who were accepted in R1 - congrats! and good luck as you prepare for class this fall, and for those waiting for R2 decisions I'll keep my fingers crossed.

Friday, February 15, 2008

I'm still here

Just a quick post with some updates. As you can see from my sidebar, my applications did not go nearly as well as I had hoped. I've been spending the past few weeks thinking about options, and while there are some interesting opportunities in my firm's consulting practice that I could get into, I don't think I'm quite ready to give up on this year's application cycle. Columbia was my fourth choice and, while it's certainly late in the game, I'm pretty sure I can put together a good application by their deadline. I'll have to give it some thought over the weekend and talk to some people early next week to decide whether to give this year one last shot, or just hold off and try again for the class of 2011.