Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A New Blog

Well, this blog has served me well over the past 2 years as an applicant, but as I continue my transition to a student I thought I'd start a new blog. Please come visit me at existentialnudge.wordpress.com.

Friday, May 8, 2009

So many KWEST trips, so little time

A little while ago, Kellogg posted the list of KWEST trips on the website, and announced that signups would be May 20. From the KWEST fair at DAK, I had an idea of a few trips that I could be interested in. Now since the trips went up on the web I've been spending time going through all the descriptions and that list got even longer. For signups, we have to rank our top 10 choices and while I've been able to pick my top 10, ranking them has been hard. I think I've gotten at least my top 5 picked out of the top 10, but the order changes almost every day. Right now I'm focused on Egypt or Morocco, but some of the trips to Mexico and the Carribean look incredible too. In talking with other admitted students, they're also having a hard time picking trips. In the end, I know that any of the trips would be an incredible time, but I'll have to give some more thought over these next two weeks.

In hockey news, my team had its second game last night and this time we won 5-4 in overtime, after giving up the tying goal in the last minute of the game. I got an assist for my first point of the season, and it felt good to contribute on the scoreboard. It's a shame this will be my only season since I move to Evanston shortly after the season ends.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Good news from Kellogg

That was the subject of the email from Beth Flye I saw sitting in my inbox. I had just come from a happy hour with other Kellogg admits (which was a lot of fun) and one of the things we talked about was that we thought Kellogg didn't send as many emails to its admitted students as other schools. So when I saw the email from Beth I thought the timing was ironic, and thought it would be some sort of update on something the school had done.

I was wrong, but in a good way. Beth's email was to let me know I had been selected to receive a named scholarship! I was shocked, I didn't think scholarships were still being awarded at this point so it definitely came out of the blue. It's funny how things work out some times. When I was deciding Duke vs. Kellogg, the main driving force for Duke quickly became the half tuition scholarship they had offerred me. Now, between this named scholarship and the merit/need scholarship Kellogg offerred me as part of my financial aid package, the difference between Kellogg and Duke's scholarship offers would be about $4,000 over the two years.

Friday, May 1, 2009


Ah, spring. The weather is warmer, the days longer, and I move one season closer to school. Nothing too much school-related to report, though. Someone described this process like a car trip, where you do a lot of activity to pack the car but then have to wait a while until you actually leave. I think that's pretty accurate to describe my current feeling of waiting to quit my job and start school.

Still not a lot of progress on selling my apartment. A few weeks back I got an email from a former coworker, who had heard I was selling and said his sister was looking to buy in this area. So, hoping to avoid paying the 6% realtor commission I held off hiring a realtor and focused on this opportunity. Unfortunately, that now fell through and so I'm going the traditional route. My new realtor tells me that similar apartments in my area typically only are staying on the market 3-4 months, even with the current market conditions, so there's still a good chance it'll be sold either before or soon after I move to Evanston.

In other news, I joined a Dek hockey league, and our first game was last night. Unfortunately we lost 5-2, but the score was close until the end of the game and the team we played has gone undefeated each of the last two seasons so I don't feel too bad about the loss. Definitely a lot of fun, but also definitely a wake-up call that I need to get back to the gym more regularly.

Friday, April 17, 2009

I'd like to thank the Academy (aka Clear Admit)

I've been nominated for Clear Admit's Best of Blogging award! I really should check the email account linked to this blog more often, since the email came almost a week ago. Congratulations to all the other nominees - I'm up against some pretty impressive competition so it's an honor just to be included in the same list.

In school news, I've signed my lease on an apartment in Evanston, so that's all set. I'll be at 1500 Chicago next year, which is a pretty popular building among Kellogg students. The building is in a great location - just across the street from a small park and a few blocks from all the downtown bars and restaurants. Kellogg will be about a 15-20 minute walk. I'm pretty excited to get out there. A few other admitted students I know are moving at the start of August, and it'll be great to be able to enjoy Evanston/Chicago without any work or school to worry about. Unfortunately still no progress on selling my current condo.

I also ordered and received my new laptop (I'm assuming my work will want their laptop back when I resign). I decided not to go with the Kellogg Laptop Program. While the prospect of having Kellogg IT repair any potential problem or replace the laptop was attractive, I just didn't like the laptop model they were offering (a Lenovo ThinkPad T500). I'm sure it's a great laptop, but it's a full-size model so it's kinda big and heavy. In the end, I chose a Lenovo ThinkPad X200, which is smaller and about 60% of the weight of the KLP laptop. I did spring for a 3 year onsite warranty and laptop protection plan (covers just about any damage that can occur, even drops and spilling liquid on the laptop) to replace the KLP repair service. I had a few ThinkPads at work, and they held up very well despite the abuse of a heavy travel schedule, so I don't think repairs will be much of an issue though. So far, I love the X200. It feels very light and while it's a compact laptop, the screen is still a good size and the keyboard is comfortable to use.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Reflections on the past 2 application seasons

As my preparations to move to Evanston and start school move into full swing, I started to think about the difference a year could make. Last year at this time, I was still stinging from the 3 rejections I had received, and was questioning whether to reapply this year. Now, I'm heading to a great MBA program at a school that I love, and am very excited about this next step in my life. So it got me thinking: what exactly made this year that much more successful? So for anyone interested, here's what I think.

Last year I applied to Booth, HBS and Stanford, and got 0 admits. This year I applied to 5 schools (Kellogg, Duke, Booth, HBS, Columbia), with 2 admits (Kellogg and Duke), 2 rejections (Booth and HBS) and withdrew from CBS before the RD review period started. I think there were a few things that helped me be a lot more successful this year than last:

1) Choice of schools. I completely underestimated last year the importance of fit. I applied to HBS, Stanford and Booth primarily because of their ranking and reputation, then tried to back into why those schools were good matches with me and my career goals. Obviously it didn't work. This year, I spent a lot more time researching schools and thinking about which schools were the best match for my career goals. I also paid a lot more attention to culture, and thought about which school cultures fit best with my personality. I think that this year, the schools I applied to were a much better fit.
2) Better essays. After decisions were released last year I showed my essays to pretty much anyone willing to give me feedback on them - a much bigger group than the reviewers I used. A lot of the feedback came back that my essays were not specific enough..they just barely scratched the surface of what my goals were, why I wanted an MBA, and what I had accomplished at work. In short, they were kind of bland and didn't really paint a dynamic picture of me. In the time I had before this year's application season, I spent a lot of time thinking through the deeper why's and how's of my career goals, why I wanted the MBA and why I specifically wanted each school I was applying to. This year, I was able to be a lot more detailed in my essays, to provide that next deeper layer of the onion, and I think this had a great impact on my applications this year.
3) New work & EC experience. In the year between applications, I also took on a lot more project leader roles at work and in one of my extracurricular activities. There were 3 projects in particular that were pretty high profile, and had easily quantifiable benefits as outcomes. This also helped me in writing better essays and gave me better examples to use in interviews.

I think those 3 things were the main difference makers. For anyone out there with 0 admits, keep your heads up. I know in March last year, after having just gone 0 for 3, I was ready to give up on my MBA plans. I felt like a complete failure, and couldn't imagine going through the admissions process again. After a month or so, after the initial shock and hurt passed, I realized that an MBA still was the best path for me, and started thinking about how I would be more successful the next year. I'll also say that for me the feeling of the admissions process the second time through is different. The waiting certainly isn't any easier, but overall I felt a lot less stressed by the process this year than I was last year because I went into it knowing what to expect.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Rainy day update

I'm in sort of a lazy mood today, and the gray rainy weather isn't helping anything. It's a good thing I don't have much to do other than some laundry and grocery shopping. On the business school front, I've been thinking a lot lately about what recruiting will hold in store for me and others in the class of 2011. There's been a pretty steady stream of bad news on MBA employment lately (see here and here as examples). But at the same time most of the students I talk to say that while recruiting is definitely harder than in the past, and some industries, especially finance, are especially hard hit, most of their classmates are still successfully finding internships and full-time offers, many having more than one offer to choose from. So I don't know what to think. I'm hopeful that the employment market will improve somewhat next year, and think that the sorts of healthcare jobs I'm interest in are still available, but guess I won't know for certain until recruiting starts this fall.

I talked to my future landlord, and he said my credit checks and everything were ok so he's putting a lease in the mail for me to sign. I'm pretty excited, I liked this building the most of the ones I saw in Evanston, and it'll be good to get this off the to-do list. I was talking with a few other R1 Kellogg admits the other day and they all had signed leases already in a building just down the street. I had thought I was getting housing done very early, but I guess not.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Financial Aid

I got my provisional financial aid award late last week and I am very happy with it. I got a bit of merit/need based scholarship and subsidized Stafford loans in addition to the unsubsized Stafford and GradPLUS loans I was expecting. This was just the provisional award though, it won't be finalized until the 2009-2010 student budget is finalized in a few months. That's when I'll actually apply for loans and sign all the paperwork that will let me pay for all this.

Next up on the to-do list: finalizing a lease with my future landlord (when he responds to my lease application) and digging up my old medical records for immunizations.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Wow it's been a while since I updated, but to be honest things have been pretty routine. A few odds and ends:

I sent in a rental application for an apartment in Evanston. It's for one of the buildings I visited at DAK so I have a general idea of what the apartment will look like, but it's a little weird to sign a lease on an apartment I've never seen. Not weird enough though to justify another trip to Evanston. The landlord said I would get one of two apartments (the first option may not work because the current resident is trying to renegotiate his lease ending date) both of which are on one of the top floors (6 or 7) and have a nice view of Chicago, so that would be nice. As soon as they receive my application fees later this week, they'll process the application so hopefully I'll have a signed lease within the next few weeks and I can cross that off my to-do list. Now I can shift my focus to getting my current condo sold. (If anyone is interested in buying a very nice 2 bedroom, 2 bath condo in central NJ send me an email.)

I'm still waiting on my Kellogg financial aid information. I got an email earlier this week from the financial aid office with some follow up questions on what I submitted to them, so I'm planning to follow up with them today to make sure they have everything they need. I'm not expecting much, but I'd like to know what my package will look like.

I think that's about it for now. The NYC Kellogg admits are planning another happy hour in a few weeks. I'm excited to see the R1 admits again, and to meet the R2 admits.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

It's official

During lunch today I went to the post office and put two envelopes in the mail. One was a thin envelope heading to Duke, letting them know I will not be enrolling in their program. The other was a thicker envelope sending my official transcripts and tuition deposit to Kellogg. Hard to believe that my application adventure, which started in July 2007, is now officially done. I am a member of the Kellogg 2Y MBA Class of 2011. I'm excited...only 192 days until KWEST trips start!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Post-DAK thoughts

After an intense weekend at Kellogg ("drinking from the firehose" is the term many students and admin used), it's a little strange to be back at home and at work. It absolutely was a great experience. From Day 1 of my application journey I had heard about the teamwork culture at Kellogg, but until this weekend I hadn't really known exactly what that meant. The people I met were incredible - they were all very smart and successful, but also very down to earth and friendly. In the opening session on Friday, Beth Flye (Asst. Dean for admissions) gave an overview of the R1 admits. The average GMAT and GPA were 719 and 3.62. There were entrepreneurs, teachers, military people, people from non-profits and government, and of course the bankers and consultants. For nearly 10 minutes she read accomplishments people had written about in their essays, and I found myself wondering how exactly I had managed to get admitted since I had never started my own company or NGO or launched a multimillion dollar product line.

I was curious before this weekend what it would look like to take 200 or so Type-A MBA aspirants from a variety of backgrounds and stick them together for a weekend. Well, what happened was that as soon as the admitted students started meeting each other Thursday night at the welcome receptions, people started becoming friends - and it continued throughout the weekend. I really hope that everyone I met decides to come to Kellogg (most had already decided that they will be back in the fall, but a few were still considering other offers). Based on this weekend, I know that Kellogg is the right fit for me and will be sending in my deposit and breaking up with Duke this week. I can't wait for KWEST trips and the start of school in August. Somehow I need to find a way to concentrate on work for a few more months, because my mind has already moved to Evanston.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Another item off the to-do list

Guess what? It's snowing again. I'll be so glad to escape this climate in a few months and move to, er...Chicago. Nevermind. I guess I better get used to this weather.

I got to cross another item off my Kellogg to-do list. Over the weekend I finished my taxes, filed my FAFSA and completed the online Kellogg financial aid application. Yesterday I mailed Kellogg the other financial aid paperwork they requested (tax forms, resume and a 2 page application that looked suspiciously like the form I filled out at my interview). So now I just sit back and wait to see what Kellogg is offering. According to their website, I should hear back in early March. With financial aid out of the way, I've started doing some early looking at housing. Some of the places I've found look pretty nice and are reasonably priced, and I'm hoping that I can leave DAK with a good short list of buildings I'm interested in.

I met a few more admitted students who were all really great, and I'm really looking forward to getting to meet more of my future classmates this weekend at DAK. I also got a call from a current student in the Healthcare and Biotech Club, and we had a really good discussion about healthcare at Kellogg. With all this Kellogg excitement, it's getting harder and harder to focus on work. I can't wait to get these next few months behind me and move on to being a Kellogg student.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Only 51 days until spring

Well we're supposed to get another snow storm today and tomorrow. Have I mentioned before that I've had just about enough of the cold and snow? This may be the biggest storm yet this year; they're forecasting between 6-8 inches of snow. I guess on the plus side it gives me an excuse to work from home.

Still not much news on the school front. Last week I was officially denied by HBS, which I expected since I hadn't gotten an interview invite. It really didn't bother me at all. By this point I had already gotten so used to the idea that I'll be at Kellogg next year that the denial from HBS was almost just another item on my to-do list for heading to Evanston. I've started focusing a bit more on financial aid and loans, but there's not much I can do until I finish my taxes. Hopefully I'll get my W-2s this week, so I can file my taxes and start working on the FAFSA and Kellogg financial aid application.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Winter doldrums

I do not like January and February. Maybe it's just a holdover from my days as an auditor, when January and February were by far the busiest months of the year. Or maybe it's that while the cold and snow in December is full of holiday cheer, the cold and snow in January and February are just cold and miserable. The past week and a half have lived up to that. Temperatures got down into single digits, we've gotten a few snow storms, and I am sick of winter. I don't have a whole lot to do in terms of preparing for school, other than doing the small fix-it tasks around my apartment and just generally getting it ready to go on the market next month. I am excited for DAK in a few weeks, and enjoyed meeting some of my future classmates at a reception Kellogg had in the city last week. But overall, I just feel like I'm in a holding pattern.

On a separate note, today is a pretty historic day. Regardless of your political views, it will be special to see President-elect Obama stand - facing the Lincoln Memorial, facing where MLK gave his "I Have a Dream" speech - take the oath of office and become President of the United States.