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.