A 2012-2013 Application Strategy

So it’s been exactly ten days since I unloaded a huge weight off my back by hitting the 700 GMAT mark–if only by a hair.

Though I am about 85% sure to go for a retake, my “700 Club” status has decreased the pressure of this whole process to the point that I’m actually enjoying it for a change. Even the light GMAT review that I’ve been doing lacks the constrained, edgy feeling that it had when I wondered if I’d ever be able to break into the top 10% of test takers on the ever so cryptic GMAT exam.

After close to a week of rest from ANYTHING related to business school, I jumped head first (or perhaps it was with both feet?) into essay mode several days ago.

My 2012-2013 Application Strategy: To Chicago or Not to Chicago

In my application strategy (DISCLAIMER: subject to change based on changes of heart, cash flow and/or preferred admissions status) I have the 9 schools that are currently on my list split unevenly between Round 1 and Round 2. The current version of my strategy has me applying to all non-Chicago schools in Round 1 and the Chicago schools in Round 2.

There are two reasons for this seemingly random division. The first is that while I’m intrigued by the Chicago-area business schools (Booth and Kellogg), I really need to take some time to learn more about them both. Applying during December/January will allow me that time. And should I move forward with applying to both and be fortunate enough to be offered an interview from Chicago Booth (the Kellogg interview is mandatory for all who wish to be accepted), I can accomplish both interviews on one round trip plane ticket.

The second reason is that I haven’t wrapped my head around the idea of being in Chicago just yet. Intellectually, I am pretty sure that I would like it if I ended up there based on what I have heard from friends who live and used to live there. Nevertheless, I’ve always been a beach/coast person and will really need to experience “The Chi” in person before I can realistically envision myself not living next to an ocean; an NO, Lake Michigan doesn’t count.

My Round 1 MBA Admissions Splits

The seven schools that I plan to apply to in Round 1 are broken up into two groups: Consortium schools and non-Consortium schools. My Consortium picks are Berkeley Haas, Darthmouth Tuck and Yale SOM. My non-Consortium R1 schools are MIT Sloan, Wharton, Stanford and HBS.

Since the Consortium R1 deadline is not until mid-November (you can apply to up to 6 consortium schools on one application) and some Consortium Schools (like Tuck) consider all Consortium candidates in one big block in the spring after Rounds 1 and 2 have passed, it makes the most sense to tackle my non-Consortium apps first.

The non-Consortium app deadlines break down as follows:

September 24 – HBS
October 1 – Wharton
October 3 – Stanford
October 24 – MIT

I have this crazy goal to try and get the essays for all four of these schools done by August–and by “done” I mean strong working drafts to tweak and iterate–but mostly done. We’ll see how pie in the sky that goal is (or isn’t) in a few weeks. Of course I know that each essay is likely to see many incarnations and tons of revisions, but I’d like to have the foundation–the MEAT–locked down early so that I won’t have to sweat about this part of my app at the last minute. I’ll also need plenty of time to work on my essays for the 3 Consortium schools prior to November and won’t want to be rushed on those, either.

MBA Essays in Fits and Starts

I had this delusional thought about a week ago; I thought, “hey, if i knock out my Stanford What Matters Most to You and Why essay first and get all connected with my inner purpose, that’ll make all of my other essays a shoe in for epic execution!”

Emmm…Not so Much.