Thursday, October 30, 2008

Nervous Anticipation

My UCLA application is finally complete! I guess what happened was my second recommender had mailed in a printed copy of her rec, instead of following the online instructions. So, that app is all done; now I wonder if I'm still up for R1, or if I've gotten moved to R2. Either way, it's all a waiting game now.

On the Georgetown front, the main three essays are about complete. I don't really consider the fourth required essay as an all-important one, as it's basically just a list of your extra-curriculars and community organizations from college through the present. I've got lots to write about there: founding a chapter of Alpha Kappa Psi at Wake Forest, freelance promotional and event work, and volunteering for the Humane Society. That one should be fairly easy.

My interview has been confirmed for November 3rd. The tentative plan is to drive up Sunday afternoon, stay with a friend to avoid getting a hotel, then nailing my interview with a current student! I've been studying up on the questions frequently asked on, as well as speaking with a few other people. I feel I've got a good grasp on this, it all comes down to execution. Any advice?

Now, I've heard that Georgetown is truly rolling admissions, and that once everything is complete, you can get a decision within two to four weeks. I'm not sure if this is still accurate, given the changes in MBA admissions the last year or so, but it would be amazing to have a decision before Christmas! Especially since my company was recently acquired, and no one is sure what will happen.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Mental Block

The whirlwind surrounding Georgetown continues! I've gotten good feedback on the goals and leadership essays, and am continuing to tweak them. I've also scheduled my interview: next Monday, November 3rd! It's so soon! This is such a tight deadline for me. I've gotta get my scores and transcripts sent over as soon as possible as well. I'll refrain from submitting my application before the interview, though, as I'm sure I will gain more insight from another visit. The third essay, the one about the most significant change I have made to an organization is proving to be very difficult, as I can't use the experience I wrote about in essay two. Any suggestions?

I also reached out to a current student whose blog I found on the McDonough website. He's been extremely helpful, and serves as another example of how awesome the MBA community can be! I'm pretty sure a family friend went to Georgetown as well, so I'm going to contact him as well. Hopefully I can get them to read my essays and provide feedback.

Other than that, I continue to track down my second recommender for UCLA (note: she is NOT doing any other recs for me). My status has officially been moved to On Hold. I don't know if that means I can still be considered for R1 if she gets it in, or if I'm already moved to R2. If I don't hear from her soon, I'll have to call UCLA to have her removed. I'm sure that won't look to positive!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Dreams Die Hard

I just can't shake it. The desire to get my MBA is always there, in the back of my mind. Just when I think I'm resigned to the fact that this year isn't the best option, those people who tried to talk me out of it in the first place then say I shouldn't give up and to keep going! Sure, my ambitious plan of trying to apply to eight or nine schools, all in the first round, wasn't feasible.

New plan: be choosy. What schools would I, if accepted, love to go to? UCLA is obviously there, and my portion is done (oddly enough, my second recommender STILL hasn't done it yet!). UNC and Duke were always high on my list, as was Wake Forest. My trip to DC and further research has also brought a new horse into the game: Georgetown. I've already started the app and have a draft of the career goals essay finished. I hope to have drafts of the other ones soon. That leadership essay is pretty tough!

I got an email from an admissions person from UNC regarding my application, just a sort of "hey, how is everything going" message. I responded back and said I'm having difficulty finding the time to leave work and get to Chapel Hill to interview, and if she has any suggestions. We'll see what she comes up with. I figure it'll be the standard "An interview is a very important component that allows us to get to know you better, and is required" spiel, but who knows.

That's my updates for now. Five schools: UCLA (done), Georgetown, UNC, Duke and Wake. Feasible? Absolutely. Will I get in? Wake probably, the rest, doubtful but you never know!

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Fall Season

It's my favorite season of the year! I find fall and spring to be the best times, a period of active change. Sure, summer is nice and winter has its moments, but there's something about fall, changing your wardrobe to sweaters and jackets, Halloween, college football that really matters (Go Deacs!). MLB playoffs. The weather gets cooler, the skies a bit greyer, but I love it all.

Thanks for all the comments about my recommender situation. I finally tracked her down yesterday as I had another business matter to discuss. She said she was working on it and said "I've still got time, right?" I informed her the deadline had passed, and that the constant reminders of the 10/9 due date weren't a fabrication in my head. She actually had an upset look. To reiterate my cautionary tale: choose your recommenders very, very carefully!

UCLA is done as far as I'm concerned. I did start the application for Weatherhead, and I've looked more into Georgetown. I know it's not too late for me to change things up, and I may end up still applying somewhere in the short-term. Having to prioritize my finances has really made me think of why I want those schools in particular. It's some good soul-searching, let me tell you! Rather than just saying "hey, let's apply to eight top-20 schools in the hopes that I get accepted to one of them," I can say "My money is very tight; I can only apply to those schools I would absolutely kill to be admitted to!" I'd suggest everyone does this with their list, as it will undoubtedly lead me to the right school for me. If not this year, then next. Hopefully UCLA looks past my poor recommenders, my awful undergrad GPA, and my less-than-stellar community activities and let's me come in for an interview.

My upcoming plans are pretty tame. I was scheduled to be on vacation this week (Monday was a bank holiday, so I'd only use four vacation days and get the whole week!) but I cancelled that, due to a higher than expected workload and the fact that my trip was mainly to interview at UNC/Duke/Emory. Tonight I'm going to Mansfield Prison for a Halloween thing (parts of Shawshank Redemption were filmed there), then a clam bake tomorrow night.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Cautionary Tale

Well, something told me it wouldn't be that easy. I recommend everyone sends this post to fellow applicants, as it should provide a cautionary tale about application risks.

I asked my manager and another person I work with to write my recommendations. Both were very enthusiastic, and I asked them two months in advance. As soon as the UCLA application went live, I put their names in, sent them the information, and put together packets about my goals, my essays, resume, everything. I sent follow-up reminders, put it on their Outlook schedule, called them, went over in person. Both assured me they were well on track. My manager emailed me to say he finished his several weeks ago. My second recommender said she was well on her way.

Applications were due October 9th. My manager again said he was done. My second recommender became harder to find. Monday the 6th, she said she was about done. Wednesday, she said she'd upload it that night. I wake up on the 10th, and neither of them submitted theirs. She hadn't even started. Even worse, she is now actively dodging my calls and emails. My manager said the system must have made an error, and I contacted the admissions department at UCLA to check. Their response was to wait until the 24th of October for the system to "catch up." I'll take them at their word for now, but something tells me my application will sit there until January, with me unable to further edit my essays or application.

Here's the crux of this tale: be sure to select recommenders who not only will accentuate your positives, but will also actually DO your recommendations! Needless to say, I will not be selecting her for any future applications (more to follow).

Thursday, October 9, 2008

UCLA Submitted

Wow, seems like a popular topic today! I sent off my UCLA application tonight. I feel the essays were pretty good, and I know I'm a huge long shot, but I figured I'd take a stab, otherwise who knows! One thing that has me freaking out now are my recommenders. My manager said he submitted his over a week ago, yet the ApplyYourself website doesn't mention this, just that it was started. My other reviewer told me yesterday she wasn't finished yet, and according to the website, she hasn't even started! I gave them more than a month advance warning, followed up several times (including this week, where he assured me it was done and she said it was almost done. If my application gets pushed to R2 because they let the deadline slip, I will not be a happy camper!

Right now, it's in God's hands, so there's not much I can do. Either the admissions committee sees something in my application, or they don't. There's always next year, and I'm approaching this with zero expectations. If I get dinged without an interview (the dreaded DWOI!), it won't be the end of the world and I won't be curled in the fetal position for a week. I'll be bummed, sure, but it'll be ok.

Up next for me is my other application for this year, my ultra-backup-plan school of Case Western Reserve. That one is due awhile later, so I'll get started soon. There's still an outside chance of applying to one more school (most likely Wake Forest, to give me an out-of-Ohio option). As for Emory, USC, Texas, Virginia, Duke, Chapel Hill, and NYU, you will have to wait until next year! Unless, of course, Anderson wants me!

This blog will not die, so no worries. I'll continue my updates on whatever is happening on the MBA front, including further analysis of my schools and other visits and such.

Best of luck fellow UCLA applicants!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Tough Decisions

Greetings everyone in the MBA Blogosphere. It's been a bit since I've last posted...I've been busy with work, and I took a weekend trip to DC the other weekend. It was a lot of fun, and we had an absolute blast! Three days wasn't enough, as there is so much to do. We loved exploring the National Mall, the Zoo and driving through Georgetown.

On the MBA front, things have drastically changed for me. First, the economy has officially hit me. Well, it really hit my brother and roommate, who has had some trouble in keeping up his end of rent and bills. This has caused me to cover his share of the bills, as well as help him out from time to time. The net effect of this is that my savings has dwindled to almost nothing. This hurts my MBA aspirations greatly, as I can no longer afford to visit schools, send in application fees, or heaven forbid not have enough money to pay for a deposit!

This has forced me to evaluate my options. First, see that list of schools? Forget about it. I can't possibly afford all those applications. I've already called Guizeta and Fuqua to cancel my visits and interviews. This season, I'm applying to one school: UCLA. The main reason is that my essays are essentially done, and my recommenders have already submitted their parts. It would be a great disservice to them and everyone that has helped me so far to not apply. So, ED for UCLA. I may apply to Case Western Reserve University's Weatherhead SOM later in the year, in order to have a backup plan if the markets continue to decimate my current employer.

I know it sounds like I'm giving up, but I have little other choice. I refuse to take on further debt just to have a chance at a top MBA. I'd rather wait until next season, and maybe things will have shaken out. If anything, I've had some practice in the application process, and I've made contacts at my schools of choice. This is a positive I'm focusing on. And hey, UCLA might still come through.

This extra time will provide another benefit: GMAT. For those of you who don't know, I got a 680 the first time I took it (44Q/38V). I could spend the extra time studying, refining the goals essays, and knock the GMAT out of the park. I can also continue to build my alternate transcript with further courses.

So, any words of advice? I know it's a big change, and I might be the only person cutting back on applications because the money simply isn't there, but I think it's a wise decision.