Hear that? That’s my ego deflating.

27 08 2007

I got a bit of a dent in my ego today. I sent an email to my undergrad registrar to ask about class rank so I could enter that in the application. Up until this point I hadn’t bothered to ask. I accepted a job offer before graduation so by the time graduation rolled around I wasn’t too focused on class rank. Within an hour I got a response: I was 167th in my class (the class was close to 900). Ouch. I was 12th in my high school class. I understand the idea of competing against a tougher crowd once you get to university, but still for someone as competitive as I am coming in 167th didn’t feel so good. Now I don’t think this will hurt too badly with regard to my chances of getting accepted, since my GPA is at or just above the average for the schools I’m applying to and my GMAT is above their averages, so this was just a matter of ego. Even as I confidently say this though, the devil on my shoulder is starting to whisper in my ear: “167th? HAHAHA there’s no way someone who was 167th in their class will get admitted to Harvard/Stanford/Chicago!” *sigh*

Now that you’re probably all thinking I’m some egomaniac (I’m really not, I swear), on to the update: I finished the draft of Chicago’s career goals essay and revised my HBS essays – but didn’t get as much accomplished as I had originally hoped. I was surprised at how hard it was to write the Chicago 1,500 word career goal essay. Not because I don’t have enough content for the space, but more in trying to make the essay flow without seeming like I’m meandering around different topics or copying and pasting from other essays (I’ll admit I borrowed some material from my HBS essays).

Overall I’m pretty happy with where I am though. I still have over a month until the HBS deadline and 7-8 weeks until Chicago and Stanford. Plus there’s the long Labor Day weekend coming up, and over the next 2 weeks I’ll be spending about 30 hours on planes so I’ll have plenty of time to put in some work on essays. Overall though, I’m happy with my progress so far, and I think my HBS essays are starting to be in pretty good shape.


My first visit from Mr. Procrastination

26 08 2007

I don’t know why, but I’m finding it really hard to concentrate on my essays this weekend. The weather isn’t nice so it should be extra incentive to stay inside and do this, but I’m just not feeling inspired. So I thought I’d update the blog. Not all that much to write about though. I’m about halfway through the first draft of Chicago’s long career goals essay, and about halfway done with the powerpoint. I’ve also changed my idea for the 2nd Chicago essay since I didn’t like the way my first idea played out on paper and came up with a new outline.

The applications themselves are in pretty decent shape. I have to put my resume into the format Chicago uses and upload my undergrad transcript for Stanford, but otherwise the apps themselves are all complete.

So now I can basically focus on essays (and making sure my recommenders get their rec’s in on time).

If only I could focus…


24 08 2007

I am so glad that it’s Friday. It’s been a crazy busy week at work. I’ve just picked up a new project, which is a great project and I’m excited about it, but it’s just a tremendous amount of work so it hasn’t left much time to spend writing essays. On the plus side, my trip to Europe at the end of September has been cancelled, so I’ll get to spend the last 2 weeks before the HBS deadline in NY. A quick update:

  • I got feedback from a good friend on my HBS essays, so I’m all set for the first re-write this weekend
  • I’ve got outlines for all three of my Chicago essays and plan to have a first draft of those by the end of the weekend
  • I sent recommender packets to 5 out of the 6 recommenders I’m using, and entered them into the online application systems. I’m seeing the 6th next week and will talk to him then
  • I signed up for the HBS event in NY on September 19, after missing out on the August events. Keep your eyes here for a full post-game analysis.

That’s about all that’s going on. I’m afraid my life isn’t too exciting at the moment: get up, go to work, go home, work on essays and applications, rinse, repeat.

Michael Vick update

22 08 2007

Oh, I almost forgot. Michael Vick is pleading guity, so you can ignore all those “allegedly”s in my earlier post about him. He did it. Well, maybe not the stuff about Al Qaeda and Iran and all that, but he’s admitting to the whole dog thing. If the NFL doesn’t have the guts to ban him for life from the league for this, then I for one will never watch another game, live or on TV, that he is part of.

Update to the M.V. update: On the train this morning, I happened to stand next to a guy from the NFL’s legal dept. He was talking to his friend about Vick and said he thought Vick would never play again. Even ignoring possible league sanctions for the dogfighting, and even if a team would be willing to endure the PR nightmare that would accompany signing him, there’s still the small fact that Vick was involved in gambling on the dog fights, and running an illegal gambling ring results in a ban from the league.

6 weeks to go

22 08 2007

Well yesterday marked 6 weeks until the deadline for the HBS R1 applications. While 6 weeks is a good amount of time, I am starting to feel a bit pressured. There’s a lot going on at work, and I have three business trips to Europe next month, with a fourth unfortunately scheduled for the week of the deadline, so I’ll need to submit before I leave (even though I’ve never had a problem connecting to the internet from hotels when I’m in Europe, I’d much rather not take the chance). So I know these next six weeks are going to go by incredibly fast.

I am making good progress on the recommender front. I sent out a packet last night to my current boss (who has the unfortunate distinction of being the only person who I’ve asked to write multiple recommendations) and to a partner I used to work closely with in the past, and who is writing a recommendation for my HBS application. I speak today to a partner I currently work closely with, and who I’d like to use as a recommendation to HBS, so hopefully by the end of the day all 3 of my HBS recommenders will be in the system and have the info they need to write me a rec. I’m still not sure who to ask for a peer rec for Stanford. Because of the nature of my current job, I work most closely with partners and directors (who, even though I don’t report to them, technically aren’t my peers since they are more senior). In my past life as an auditor, our teams didn’t have a lot of people at the same level, so everyone on the team either reported to me or was my supervisor directly or indirectly. I was part of a leadership program where I was part of a team and was considering asking one of my team mates from that (our team has kept close since the end of the program) but that was 3 years ago so I don’t know if it’s current enough. I’m leaning towards asking one of the partners I’ve recently worked closely with (but don’t report to), but would appreciate anyone’s thoughts on this.

I’m making less good progress on essays, and am falling behind in my goal to have a draft of Chicago’s essays by the weekend. The first essay on career goals is coming along nicely – and the 1,500 word limit seems ginormous after working with the much smaller HBS word counts – and my powerpoint seems to be shaping up, but I haven’t come up with an outline I really like for the putting myself in someone’s shoes essay. I have ideas, but when I begin to put pen to paper they all start sounding like I’m writing what the adcom wants to hear rather than showcasing who I am. While part of me wants these next 2 months to go really slowly so I have time to complete all the applications, part of me just wants to get the applications behind me so I can start the next phase of nervous anticipation.

Slow and steady

20 08 2007

Well today was a productive day on the recommender front. I spoke with two partners I used to work with and both happily agreed to write me letters of recommendation. One even offered to write a recommendation as soon as I explained I was applying to MBA programs, but before I even had the chance to ask if he would write one. I took that as a good sign. Over the weekend I finished the first draft of my final HBS essay, so I now have a complete set of first drafts for HBS. Tonight my mom gave me her feedback on the HBS essays she read and she brought up some good points. As funny as it sounds I’m actually excited about some of the changes I’m going to be making to the essays, since I think they’ll be a lot better and more impactful with the changes. My plan is to focus on the Chicago essays this week, then do some revisions to my HBS essays over the weekend, taking into consideration the feedback I’ve received on them. I’m still not 100% sure what I’m going to do with the Chicago powerpoint essay. I have some ideas, but I don’t think I’ll really be sure what is going to work until I put the slides together and see how it looks.

On a completely random note, the weather’s been rainy for two days now, and it’s supposed to stay like this at least through tomorrow night. I’m sick of the rain.

And then there were three…

18 08 2007

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.