Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Now let me talk about the grueling business school application process. OK you got a 750 and now you are thinking Harvard, Stanford here I come. BIG MISTAKE !!!! The real thing starts after the GMAT. GMAT is important but it is just a part of the whole equation. First let me tell you how much score is enough. The answer is not even 800 and may be 650 is enough. It all depends on the profile of the person and the target schools. But it is observed that Indian IT male need around 30 points more than the mean score of the target school. Why? Volume of applicants and almost everybody have the same profile.

Before you start writing the applications and once you have a "good" score in hand, I will suggest following:
1. Take a week or two of vacation after the GMAT. You deserve it and you need it to start the next step.
2. Based on your goals, aspirations and other constraints and requirements, narrow down the list of schools.
3. Start writing your essays.

Food for thought while narrowing down the list of schools:
1. Location - US, Europe, India, China etc.
2. Duration - 1 year or 2 year
3. Strength - Is school good at what you want to achieve. For example Chicago GSB is good in Finance
4. Job Prospects - Look at the career reports of last few years and see if that school is the right fit for you. Don't just look at the the average/mean salaries. Look the the companies and industries that recruited there.
5. School Visits - Visit the schools if possible. If not possible then talk to the admissions people, current students, alumni, professors. Attend the information sessions in your area. This is VERY VERY IMPORTANT. This will not only give you the insight into that schools but also great material for your essays. In my case I found 2 alumni from INSEAD, one from Oxford and one from Wharton. I attended the information sessions of Wharton, Oxford, INSEAD and many times called the admissions office to clarify the issues.
6. Last but not the least that be in touch with current applicants through online forums at www.gmatclub.com and www.businessweek.com. This will help you in getting to know more about school and also in writing essays. This is extremely important.

MAKE SURE YOU APPLY TO YOUR FIRST TWO PREFERENCE SCHOOLS IN ROUND 1. SAFETY SCHOOL(S) IN ROUND 2 IN CASE YOU DON'T GET ANY POSITIVE RESPONSES IN ROUND 1.
Caution: Don't apply to more than 5-6 schools otherwise your applications will be diluted. (This is just my opinion). One stretch school (long shot), one safety school and four with in reach schools.

OK now you have spent around 3-4 weeks and hundreds of dollars in narrowing down the list. What a relief. Isn't it? Now go get some books:
1. Great Application Essays for Business School by Paul Bodine
2. Your MBA Game Plan: Proven Strategies for Getting into the Top Business Schools by Omari Bouknight and Scott Shrum
3. How to Get Into the Top MBA Programs by Richard Montauk

These books will be great starting point in starting writing the essays. As I mentioned in my previous post that you must be crystal clear about your goals before you start thinking about MBA. This will help you in writing the essays.
I will not go in detail but I will touch a little about the essays topics, how to start, what not to do and what to do. The above books will give you detailed stuff.

Typical business school essays topics are
1. Why MBA? i.e your short term and long term goals
2. Why now?
3. Why this school?
4. Your career progression.
5. Job Responsibilities.
6. Your 2-3 great achievements (mix of work and outside work).
7. Your community service and extracurricular (This is very important in top schools and many people ignore it).

How to start:
The worst thing is just thinking. Start writing down your life story (in bullet points) on the paper as and when points come to your mind. Then organize these points in a manner that the essay topic requires. I know that you will be needing at least 10-15 editing. Devote around 3-4 weeks for the essays of first school and then after that 1-2 weeks will be enough for next schools. You need to sell yourself but be cautious that lies will be caught easily. People in the admissions office read thousands of applications each year and they can sniff such stuff. Exaggeration is OK but to some extent.

Do's and Don't's:
The above books have all this stuff. Also download the excellent applications tips using the link in the LINKS section of this blog.

Good luck!!!

Here is my list and results:
Wharton, USA - Ding without interview - Stretch School
INSEAD, France - Ding after interview
Oxford, UK - Admitted
Cambridge, UK - Ding without interview
Cranfield, UK - Admitted with 10,000 GBP scholarship - Safety School

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3 Comments:

  1. Utkarsh Guleri said...
    Hey Parminder..any specific reason for choosing oxford over cranfield?

    -Utkarsh(Ur to be classmate in ox)
    Parmender Dahiya said...
    Two reasons: 1. International brand name because my long term goal is to come back to India 2. I talked to two people from Cranfield. I was not at all impressed by them in terms of their learning and career prospects.
    Utkarsh Guleri said...
    Hey Parmender...i was just curious to know ur target role and company after ox..

    -Utkarsh

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