Doubts…And Then A Phone Call From An Unrecognizable Area Code
A great deal of time has passed since I last updated this blog. There are many excuses that I will attempt to offer, amongst which include being caught up in work (just got assigned to help out a new region and have been traveling to New England recently), un-pausing my social life, and the inevitable writer’s block on new blog posts since I was now playing the waiting game. But the biggest deterrent? The fear that I wouldn’t get into any program and conceding that this whole blog was just an experiment to see how much introspection and neurosis I could record – apparently 16 entries worth!
Let me back up. After I hit submit on my final application (Haas) in mid-January, I was feeling pretty great. I had just finished the most time-consuming, potentially life-changing post-college process and applied to four full-time, two-year MBA programs that I knew well and felt very passionate about.
But then I made the mistake of re-reading my applications after submitting (we all do that, right?). I discovered small bits I could have said better, inconsistencies in formatting, and lurked periodically on the forums, boards and blogs, scrutinizing over stats of admitted applicants. I had to face it: with the caliber of the programs I had selected, as with much of B-school applications, there was no guarantee that I’d get into any of the programs. I was filled with a fear that I had made some minor mistake, or worse, said something awful that I didn’t realize. In my quest to be truly “authentic” and by not having an admissions consultant or MBA student/grad read through my application, I could have blindly submitted something that would be a red flag.
Was I too humorous in my essays? Did I spend too long on long-term goals without tying in my short-term goals, even though that’s not what the question asked? While I felt my applications gave a full and vibrant picture of who I am, what if who I am is not what they are looking for? These questions plagued me and made playing the waiting game even more excruciating. Ironically, I watched the Bachelor to keep my sanity in check. There, I observed otherwise intelligent and emotionally stable women grapple with similar doubts of not knowing what the other was thinking and being cautious of building themselves up, just to be let down. I felt thankful that I was not being filmed during this time or locked up in a mansion devoid of phones, the Internet, and normal human contact. I assured myself that the Adcoms held better judgment than a 28-year old man-boy with unkempt hair and a penchant for kissing the contestants when he was at a loss for words, knowing they were on the chopping block for the next rose ceremony (I’d prefer the ding letter, thanks!)
In a sense, I was like Jenna from the Bachelor: Overanalyzing? I’m not alone.
Fast forward a couple of weeks and I receive my Valentines Day greeting…in the form of a ding letter from HBS letting me know that since I had not been invited to interview, I was released. That was the only communication I had heard from a program other than confirmation of receipt of materials, and instructions to schedule an off-campus interview through Kellogg (standard procedure for all applicants). I started to panic that I wouldn’t get into a program. What if I didn’t apply to enough programs? Frantically, I started researching Round 3 deadlines.
After visiting my best friend in NYC twice in a month and reminiscing with some of my closest college friends there, I started having second thoughts of judging Columbia too harshly. They had rolling admissions right? And Tuck… a few friends of mine had recently applied to Tuck and raved about the program, but I couldn’t imagine living so far removed from a major city. To be realistic, these were all amazing schools and if I wasn’t getting in somewhere R2, I sure as heck wasn’t going to slide by in R3.
So that’s when I learned to stop worrying and love the process. I reminded myself that applying R3 for schools I felt lukewarm about was ridiculous and I already had my heart set on these four schools. If anything, I learned so much about myself during these past months, and that in and of itself, was a good reason to go through the application process. (Or so I try to tell myself…) Despite the sense of uncertainty I was left with – now what?, I knew that there wasn’t anything more I could do. I certainly didn’t want to contact the admission office or obsessively check my status, as much as I wished I could do something to help increase my chances.
So in mid-February, I decided to put off thinking about admission decisions, and filled that time with kickboxing classes, joined a Body Pump weightlifting class, and bought way too many Groupons/Living Social Deals/Tipprs/Goldstar Events to be able to use. Glass Blowing and Trapeze Classes? Cirque Soleil OVO for 50% off? Sign me up! I rejoined my church small group and rejoiced in being able to spend a Wednesday night on my couch watching Modern Family, Happy Endings and Revenge without feeling obligated to work on apps or the GMAT.
This past weekend, I went out to one of my favorite Peruvian restaurants with a friend and their friends, and started chatting to another girl in the group that I had not yet met. She mentioned applying to Northwestern’s PA Program, and I excitedly told her I had also applied to the business school – how crazy would it be if we ended up there together! She told me she’d find out within a few days, and I let her know my decision deadline was not for another whole week.
So this Monday morning rolls around, and I go back to my desk to check my cell phone after our regularly scheduled team meeting. I see that I had a missed call from an unrecognizable (847) number at 9:06am PST. To confuse matters more, I had recently gotten Google Voice after a friend told me that I would only need one number the rest of my life and could easily screen and direct calls. I saw it as the perfect number to give out to work clients, potential dates and Vegas promoters alike I was still getting used to it and worried a client had called and gone to a generic voicemail in cyberspace.
Out of habit, I Googled the number to see if it was on a telemarketer list. Illinois area….hmm. I had a voicemail too! Bracing myself for a recording from a confused curriculum director, I was surprised to hear the voice of an admissions director and called her back right away, about an hour after she called.
After her introductions and letting me know that the admissions committee had reviewed my file, which she said they enjoyed reading…I heard the words that I’ve been hoping for and anticipating these last few months: “We’d like to extend an offer to our class of 2014” (or something to that effect…I was overwhelmed with emotions and couldn’t think straight!)
I got accepted into Kellogg….and I could not be more excited!! I thanked her profusely and as she explained that I would be soon receiving admit materials and could access the site, all I could think of was, I’m in! Despite a packed morning of scheduled calls, I managed to text my closest friends, tell a handful of my closest co-workers, and call my mom to tell her the good news. Oh, and a Facebook status might have made its way up there, too.
In retrospect, it was a culmination of a few months of hard work. I struggled with the Kellogg essay questions, more so than the other schools, though I felt I was the closest to this school personality-wise. After a wonderful interview in late January with a local alum (was told off-the-record that I was one of his favorites that he’s spoken with and that I’d be a great fit) I was giddy and could barely stand the thought of waiting another 2 months to find out. Well it was definitely worth the wait, and I emailed my interviewer an update as well as my recommenders.
While I’m still reserving a shred of hope for Stanford (next Monday is decision date) and Berkeley Haas (April 15th), I’m also realistic in that I haven’t yet received interview invites from either. Each day, I am finding new things to get excited about for Kellogg, including hearing of friends moving to the Chicago area, Northwestern football games (to compensate for my not-so-renowned undergrad football program), my future potential classmates in the admitted students Facebook group, and of course, Days at Kellogg in late April!
Now that I know that I did something right…I’m determined to post in greater detail over the next few days of my application “strategy” (if you can call it that), including the resources and books used. Right now, I’m still marinating in the reality that, I very well might be going to business school after all.
Mango is a consultant in the Pacific Northwest who is applying to business schools so she would graduate in the Class of 2014. This report is adapted from her blog posts at Por qué MBA? One Girl’s MBA Application Journey!
Her previous posts on Poets&Quants: