MBA! - What may/may not get me in

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Speeding Up

Deadlines nearing:


I haven’t been blogging off late.

Mainly because of the enormity of the applications on hand.

However, the Kellogg essays are near completion. I should be able to send those out for reviews by this weekend.


I already sent the HBS essays for review. A couple of positive comments from my GF, who is one of the reviewers.

And yeah, she is my best critic, so I don’t expect her to be nice to me J

She has lots of work too, but it’s really nice of her to take out time and review those. I am being too formal I guess.


Wharton is next in line. Contemplating having a word with Linda at or Graham at regarding

essay reviews.  However, the rates are exorbitant. If I had that much money, why would I do an MBA?


The ‘To do’ list is really long. I need to send scores to Duke and HBS, contact recommenders and work on 2 Kellogg essays. And I also need

To fill up Kellogg app-1 and submit the same. Not to mention sending hard copies of transcripts to Duke and Kellogg.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Harvard almost done:

I wonder if anyone is ever going to read all this ramble? But, someday, this blog is going to go down in history. :):)

After three days of slog, I am through with a good draft of HBS. The positioning seems good.
I am starting off with Kellogg now. And I have even thought of a wonderful opening for the first kellogg question. Showed it to a friend, and he seemed interested. I hope the adcomms are going to be like him :) The question is the same old story about career progressions, goals and why Kellogg.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

HBS Class Visit - By PowerYogi

Poweryogi mentions his HBS class visit in one of his blogs, way back in 2003. Thanks, mate for this analysis.
I am including the same blog below, and then my comments:

HBS Class Visit"Waking up at 7 on a cold monday morning better be worth it", I thought to myself as I pulled into the parking lot at Harvard Business School this morning. I was there for the class visit program. A tip for those planning to visit - there's free parking for prospective students on campus ! That was a very pleasant surprise. I forgot to bring along a map - yes, this is a real campus with 20+ buildings. I found my way to Dillon and was given a personalized letter with the names of my student host & professor, class name, section & location. There are approximately 2-3 students per host and we met our host a few minutes before class and were escorted to the class.This was a first year class, and the students use the same class room for the year. We were introduced to the professor before class, and a few other students stopped by to say hi while we were looking for empty seats. Parents of one of the students who were visiting her were also sitting in for that class. When the class started, they were introduced and given a loud ovation by the students. It was very genuine and very very cool. The prospective students were then introduced and welcomed and we got a round of applause also.The formalities done, the class got down to the business of learning. Having read so much about the merits and demerits of the case method, I was very curious to see it in action. After an hour and half of class, I am a convert ! I learnt so much just by being a passive observer on a subject I had no idea walking in. I wanted to jump in and add my own questions and opinions to the mix many times. I can only imagine how much fun it must be as a student. The professor was excellent too - there was total class participation and he stepped in at the right times to steer the conversations in certain directions so that at the end of the class every aspect he wanted discussed and learnt was. I was impressed.But there are some things I wish HBS did differently. The class visits at HBS are just that - class visits. You pretty much go home after that. My student host told me that some of them were going to meet at lunch to talk with prospective students. But that's very informal and not something that's scheduled. I would not have known about it if I hadn't talked to my student host about it. Also, their info sessions are at 3 PM, again no registration required. It would have been more convenient if all of these were blended in together.I had an 8:40 class and the students had another class following that, so there was pretty much no time to talk with anyone except my host. It was hard for me to make the trek back to the campus for lunch at 12. I work nearby so I might go back and do lunch someday to talk to the students.

Overall, a good experience, but feels incomplete. I really wanted to meet with the students to get a sense of what a HBS person is all about. Very few opportunities to do that on this visit. Great campus, smart bunch of people, the case method is awesome. I wasn't sure if I should apply to HBS, and I still am not sure. The one thing my host mentioned was that if you don't have leadership written all over you (thru your essays) expect to get dinged. I want to get some elaboration on this and other questions I have for the students. The one thing I couldn't help was compare this visit to my visit to Sloan a few weeks ago. Will blog that tomorrow and maybe a comparison.

I went through the blog, and the message that comes out of it was a class visit was not all that important. For students from Asia, is travelling all the way from their countries worth all that effort then? I was pondering about visiting the schools, but if this is all I gain from the experience, I rather devote all that time into reading the school brochures and money into something worthwhile.

Dave in his blog has posted experiences when he visited other schools. Though schools emphasize too much on visiting their school and sitting in the classes, I think the maximum I am able to gain by visiting is how the school looks like, and a feel of what my team mates would be like. Again, I am not sure I can learn much about professors or even how competitive the school is, in a day. All in all, I would not think it is worth spending money visiting schools if you are going to travel all the way to US to do that.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Getting older and wiser(!!)?

I get older by a day, as the calendar screams '1st September'. The MBA fever is gripping me now, and the heat is on. Only a month to go! Maybe, that realization would freak me out enough to put in my best. I have been pretty lousy off late. It is time to pull up the socks, and everything else, and get motivated.

Would post about my harvard essay encounters later on. Bye!

What has HBS to do with my undergrad?

Umm.... Good question, but now that they want to know, I will have to ramble.

Sandy has posted the following on businessweek

comment: kinda new question, never asked before (in past 20 years, I KNOW) , could be, along w. some newish questions an attempt to de-tune the value of books by HBS alums w. prior model answers (see, 65 Successful HBS Essays on Amazon) . Anyway, this gives low gpa'ers a chance to make the most of it, and 4.0 types a chance to say guff like how transforming it was, what your fav. courses were, why Prof. X was your hero, how you responded to learning environment, how you entered State U as cowpoke and left as ----------. I like this question, it is open ended, allows thoughtfulness, and a high level of B.S. for kids all over the gpa spectrum. Good advice is to name a couple of transforming courses and say why, and work in personal identity b.s. "AS a [male/female, black/white, Asian/American/Euro etc. ] Prof. Goobers course on "How To Be A Victim, Even If You are Not" really spoke to me for several reasons, foremost of which, is that I AM A VICTIM of so much...................... etc. etc.

I have been working on this two. The dilemma is that there are so many activities I did. A laundry list is not going to be useful. I know that for sure. Since HBS values leadership, each essay would need to be garnished with the leadership sauce. Would post more later today, hopefully, if I get some 'out of the world idea' on this one.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Exactly 40 days

Before I submit my H/W applications. Today has been a hectic day. Lots of work at office, and have been busy most of the time. An urgency has crept in, but somehow, the concentration that I had while I studied for that lousy exam known as GMAT is nowhere to be seen.

Was reading poweryogi's blog a while back. Hey, I think he was similar to me. He mentions about not so good openings in essays, and boring material. I am living in the same hell. I keep awake till 1:00 at night and write some random thoughts. When I woke up in the morning, all that seems to be some idiotic musings. I wonder what a good essay is now.

While the incidents themselves are impacting (Atleast I feel so), I am not able to put in all the passion. I am not able to state why I would choke up without Harvard and why I will stop breathing if Wharton dings me. The undergrad experience for HBS question 1 has been the most difficult of the lot. My reply seems like a list of accomplishments, with nothing being stressed upon.

Enough of rambling, meet you later now. I am to work on the HBS essays now. Am I the only fool in the world who is working on both Harvard and Wharton at the same time?

Monday, August 29, 2005

Harvard Essays & Strategy:

I have also been working on the HBS essays side by side. I have heard people complaining about the restrictive word limits set by HBS, and now I have joined the group of people screaming about the limits. Do they expect us to write complete sentences or just words?

I have about 6 accomplishments listed now, in the 3 accomplishment essay. I would show it to a few friends and ask them which ones fit the best. The ethical questoin is a bit tricky this time. It asks you for an ethical challenge you may not have faced till now; easier than what it was I presume.

Harvard Essay Questions

As I progress on my Wharton essays, I am including discussions and tips on how to tackle HBS essays.

Harvard is all about leadership. The most difficult part is the restrictive word limit (400 words even on the Why MBA and goals essay).
And you thought essay writing was easy!!

The blog tips the HBS essay questions follow:

Essay questions for the MBA class entering in the fall of 2006 are:
1. What would you like the MBA Admissions Board to know about your undergraduate academic experience? (400-word limit)

This question replaces HBS' question on leadership which has been its question #1 for years and is now #3. I think it reflects somewhat HBS' tilt towards younger applicants, but for all applicants it represents HBS' attempt to see patterns over time. What you choose to include here will obviously vary depending on your experience and the rest of your application, but my ideal answer show a leadership experience from your undergrad career to show that you are a natural leader with a history of leadership -- even if you are several years out of school. Remember: HBS wants to develop leaders, not create them.

2. What are your three most substantial accomplishments and why do you view them as such? (600-word limit)

I think HBS has been asking this question for at least the last ten years. At least one and probably two accomplishments should show leadership/and or teamwork skills, with the emphasis being on leadership. I also like to have this essay show some breadth. My ideal would be to have one professional, one community, and one personal accomplishment in this essay, but that breakdown is not set in stone and is not imperative.

3. Discuss a defining experience in your development as a leader. (400-word limit)

This is a new one and to a certain extent replaces the old #1. For this question, anecdotally describe the leadership experience showing the impact you had as a leader. Explain why it was defining and how it has influenced your leadership behavior to date. Again, show a pattern of leadership.

4. In your career, you will have to deal with many ethical issues. What are likely to be the most challenging and what is your plan for developing the competencies you will need to handle these issues effectively? (400-word limit)

Again, a new one. You will need to show knowledge of your future career path to answer this question well. The key here is research -- into ethical challenges common in your field and how you plan to develop that character strength and competency to respond to these challenges. Don't try to come up with superficial drivel and fool the committee with grandiose but empty hyperbole. The ideal response will show how HBS will help you handle such issues and also demonstrate a knowledge of the HBS program that goes well beyond the brand name and rankings.

5. What are your strengths and weaknesses as a leader? (400-word limit)

This is not about your strengths and weaknesses as a marathoner or a significant other or any other description. "Your strengths and weaknesses as a leader. " Show that you can analyze and evaluate yourself. Don't be afraid to show a real weakness, but also take the space to show that you have worked to improve yourself in that area. Make sure the qualities you describe relate to leadership. Briefly provide examples of these strengths and weaknesses. Aim for no more than 2 strengths and 1 weakness.

6. What are your career aspirations and how can an MBA help you to reach them? Why now? (400-word limit)
See "Goals in MBA Admissions: A Must." The MBA is a bridge between where you are now and where you want to go. Show how an MBA (with emphasis on HBS even if not by name) will take you where you want to go. Reveal both clearly defined post-MBA goals and interim goals for your time a b-school.

7. What do you wish the MBA Admissions Board had asked you? (400-word limit)
This is a great essay to show a side or experience not discussed elsewhere in the application. This question is a wild card gift given you to show another area in which you shine. Do not waste in on a summary or closing sales pitch.Keep in mind that as you answer these questions, even as you respond to Harvard's obvious emphasis on leadership, you want each essay to disclose a different facet of your background, experience, and interests... of you. Your application mission is to write so that each individual essay compellingly answers the given question and when combined with the other essays and information found on your application adds to the portrait of you as a up-and-coming leader and star.

The clearadmit essay tips on Harvard essays below:

1. What would you like the MBA Admissions Board to know about your undergraduate academic experience? (new question for this year)

This question seems focused purely on the applicant's educational experience while in college as opposed to part time work or extracurricular involvements (although if you excelled in the class room in spite of having numerous other commitments, this could be worth mentioning). This is your chance to go into some detail about why you chose your school and major and tell the admissions committee about your academic interests and educational milestones. A great essay will underscore an applicant's intelligence and work ethic, as well as incorporate some element of leadership angle in the event that he or she had a significant impact on the department or school as a whole. If you pursued a course of study that is in line with your work experience and/or career goals, this essay could also be a great intro to the rest of your file.

2. What are your three most substantial accomplishments and why do you view them as such?

This question isn't anything new. When selecting topics, keep in mind that the HBS adcom has a very results-oriented attitude, and that you'll want to select some examples that involve a lasting, positive impact you made on a project or organization. We would recommend that you lead with a recent professional accomplishment, and include a balanced sampling of examples from various jobs and outside activities.

3. Discuss a defining experience in your development as a leader. (slightly new question for this year)

Remember that it's best to use detailed examples whenever possible in your essays in order to make a strong impression on the reader. While one could concievable discuss his or her tenure in a certain role or position over time, the best response to this question will cover one specific event or instance. Make sure that you take care to set the scene and then fully describe your actions, as well as their results. Note that because this is a defining experience, something needs to change between the beginning and end of the story - your leadership skills. This being the case, it's likely that this essay will cover a very valuable lesson you have learned or a significant challenge you overcame. It would also be ideal to comment on the way this experience altered your perspective and has influenced your thought and actions since this time.

4. In your career, you will have to deal with many ethical issues. What are likely to be the most challenging and what is your plan for developing the competencies you will need to handle these issues effectively? (new question for this year)

In devising an answer to this question, stay focused on the importance to keep your discussion grounded in your experiences and objectives as opposed to writing generally and waxing philosophical. Unlike most ethics-oriented essay questions that focus on a dilemma you have already tackled, this one calls on applicants to be forward-looking and anticipate ones that they will encounter down the line. It seems like this could be a platform to expand upon one's career goals and comment on issues that are specific to a given function or industry. In explaining the compentencies that will equip you to handle these situations, it's possible for you to draw from past experiences dealing with such issues and comment that Harvard's specific curricular offerings and the diverse student body would be instrumental in solidifying and reinforcing your already sound principles.

5. What are your strengths and weaknesses as a leader? (slightly new question for this year)

This question is similar to last year's, except that it now focuses on the applicant's strong points and shortcomings within the context of leadership. A strong essay will introduce two or three positive qualities and provide a brief example illustrating each, and name a weakness that the applicant has taken steps to address along with an anecdote that confirms this improvement.

6. What are your career aspirations and how can an MBA help you to reach them? Why now?

This is a fairly standard career goals essay, with the added difficulty of a very restrictive word limit. You will need to summarize your career to date in a very concise manner (think just a few sentences) before moving on to a detailed discussion of your short and long-term goals and the reasons that you are applying to business school at this point in time. There's no room here for a generic discussion of the merits of a business degree in general - all of your comments should be centered on Harvard's program and the way specific classes and clubs would prepare you for your goals.

7. What do you wish the MBA Admissions Board had asked you?

This essay is another great opportunity to share some new and interesting information about your candidacy that you have not had a chance to include in response to the other questions. This is not the place to discuss your choice of recommender or that bad semester as an undergrad - save this sort of detail for the "Additional Information" section. Rather, this is your chance to go into detail about that unique hobby, detail the ways that you would contribute to the HBS community or, for reapplicants, highlight the improvements in your candidacy since your last application

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Recommendations on their way and off to the pub:

The laundry list of what I did today:

1) Went through various blogs - Axechick, techiedude and the immortal - Tad Holbie. Axechick is going great guns.
2) Talked to one of my recommenders for the first time. He is a super boss. He says he is happy to give me the reco, and is even ready to write different answers for different applications. Considering how busy he is these days, I guess he might skip night sleep to write my recos. Nevertheless, a wonderful gesture on his part.
3) Went through some of the essay websites on web. Well, most of them reiterate what I know already, I think i would stop doing this now.
4) Discussed the theme to be portrayed in the Wharton application with a friend. The essays are too bland, and need to be spiced up.

Going out to a pub with friends in the evening. Byfar the most exciting thing today :):)