My Round Two Strategy

by Sassafras on

So here I am in the middle of the waiting game, wondering to myself: “What’s a girl* to do?” Many people are probably in this boat right now, trying to decide whether or not it’s necessary to apply in the second round.  I am feeling two (conflicting) driving forces at the moment in making my decision: horror and exhaustion of having to write more essays; fear and trepidation of being rejected from every school this round.  So again, I ask, “What’s a girl to do?”
Like any good neurotic human being, I have considered all the possible scenarios (rejection, waitlist, acceptance, and yes, even “no response we lost your application”).  So in anticipation of these events, I have planned out my Round 2 engagement plan.  My strategy for Round 1 was to apply to all my top choices so that I didn’t have to apply to Round 2 unless things don’t go my way.  I feel really positive and excited about all my R1 choices, so I would, without a doubt, accept an offer.  In some ways it might be a risk since I won’t be able to regroup and learn from my mistakes on any of my favorite schools, but fortunately there are plenty of amazing schools out there.  Sadly, I am also not patient enough for that.

For R2, well…before we get there, let’s first review where we’re at.

A recap:

  1. No word from Stanford.  Not only does this not surprise me, it also surprisingly hasn’t fazed me.  Yes, I would absolutely love a spot there, but put simply: Stanford is a reach for EVERYONE.  I haven’t given up hope, nor do I have unfettered illusions.  Que será, será.
  2. No word from Berkeley.  At the risk of sounding entitled, I have a strong feeling that I will get an invite from Berkeley.  These essays were some of my best, and being nearby, I had lots of opportunities to meet current students, professors, and admissions officers. These experiences gave me great fodder for my essays.  TRUE fodder (which should be the point of these visits!).  In any event, their d-day isn’t until January.  So I’m putting off my anxiety until mid-December.
  3. Interviewed at Kellogg last week.  The interview felt pretty good.  I need to polish up the “walk me through your resume” question, but otherwise I was happy with the tone and feeling of the interview.  Having 7 years of experience means this part lasts longer than it should if not practiced. Otherwise though, the unscripted parts were definitely enjoyable.  We connected when we just got a chance to dialogue, which I really appreciated.
  4. Interviewing at Yale next week.  We’ll see how it goes.
So I guess the moral of the story is that I don’t have a lot to go on: Kellogg interviews everyone who requests it (if able) and Stanford and Berkeley are mute. Yale’s invite definitely boosted my confidence, but I also know I need to be realistic. I’ve decided that I am giving myself until Dec. 2.  If I don’t get an invite from Berkeley or Stanford, I will begin outlining for my R2 schools.  I want to be able to throw my hat into the ringer at other schools if need be, and I know how much time it takes to draft compelling essays. Since I will hear from Kellogg and Yale by mid-December, I hopefully won’t need to draft anything. (But, knowing me, I will draft something. I promise I won’t edit it though!…too much.)
Round 2 plan
I am looking into 5 schools for R2 (I’m not sure I will want to apply to them all or that I’ll even have time for that matter):
  • Duke: This school has a great culture and I like their entrepreneurial spirit.  I just wish their website wasn’t so horrible since I don’t see myself getting to NC over the holidays.
  • Booth: one word: Chicago. I love Chicago and would love to live there.  Another couple words: my friend from undergrad goes there and is really happy.
  • NYU: My boyfriend wants to live in NYC, and Columbia has had a few too many ethics scandals for my taste.  NYU has a strong program and I like the artsy flair to their application – it bodes well for a fun and diverse student demographic.
  • Tuck: Their school culture rocks.  As someone who went to school in the middle of nowhere, I’m drawn to places where the people are everything.  Tuck does a great job of getting people who are everything.
  • Michigan: They offer a great dual MBA/Masters in Education degree, and their grads are so happy!  Ann Arbor is a great college town.  Most of all though, I think I stand a strong chance of being admitted.
The thing you may have noticed is that I am still looking at applying to super competitive programs.  Although getting rejected from all my R1 schools could indicate that I don’t have the candidacy to get into a top school, I know that one of these schools will like my story. I’ve just gotta find the one where our moons align.
In the meantime, I’m happy to report that my spirits are high, and I’m really looking forward to my visit to New Haven next Wednesday.

(*Yes, gays do in fact use the word “girl” to describe themselves and other [mostly gay] men.  The term “girl” is one of our “in-group-only” nicknames though. Sorry, girl!)

Sassafras is a 29-year-old MBA applicant who works for a San Francisco-based non-profit organization with a primary focus on youth development and education. With a 730 GMAT and a 3.4 grade point average from a highly ranked liberal arts college, he currently blogs at MBA: My Break Away? His previous posts for Poets&Quants:

  • FY @ Fuqua

    I’m currently a first year at Fuqua…sorry to hear that you find the site difficult to use. I encourage you to reach out to current students to learn more about the school nonetheless…Good luck.

  • Palma

    why fuqua offers so many MBAs? daytime, executive, cc, global, and so on… you know this can distract the attention from the flagship full time program and might be harmful for the reputation?

  • FY @ Fuqua

    As with everything, there are pros and cons. I can’t speak for the administration here at Fuqua, but in my opinion, one benefit I see is a greater global network (especially with executives and senior leaders). Also, on what basis is it harmful to the reputation?

  • Palma

    as you know, the admission requirements for many forms of duke mba (except full time) are easy and don’t require things like gmat. the competition is much less. This will affect the quality of the graduates. just my thought though!

  • BlueDevil11

    That’s not true. These programs are highly self-selective to being with. Moreover, the cross continent program is designed for working professionals and has several residency programs across the globe. The weekend executive program is also for working professionals and has gained a stellar reputation in the Triange; several executives and professionals from the area that work in firms such as IBM, GSK, etc. are enrolled in the program. The global executive program’s curriculum is specifically designed for senior executives with roles
    that are increasingly international. It is 15 months and has 5 terms
    during which you will complete at 11 courses. There is no question of cannibalization because each program is unique and addresses a specific segment or target market. It might be easier to get into a global executive program — but think about this — how many would even be qualified / interested to apply to that program? It’s for working professionals with several years of experience — and the curriculum is designed such that it addresses more of leadership development needs. I think it’s a gross oversimplification from folks that say that too many MBA programs cannibalize the degree. Choices are not a bad thing.

  • InterestedParty

    @BlueDevil11,
    I agree fully with your post. It is common to try and compare MBA programs for executives to traditional full time programs. As you rightly point out, each respective type of program serves an entirely different set of consumers and together, all of the programs, end up enriching the entire business school in a multitude of ways, including with respect to networking and job placement. Each program has its own admissions standards and each is highly selective and self-selective in its applicant selection. Many top executive MBA programs (Duke, Kellogg, NYU, Cornell, UMichigan, Chicago by waiver, and Darden by waiver,as examples) have determined that GMATs are not very predictive of success for their applicant pools of 35-45 year olds who may already have a C-Suite job and are 20 +/- years out of undergrad. For Full time programs, the opposite is true.
    For example, a senior executive with say 12 years of management experience, who never pursued an MBA for whatever reasons earlier in their career, would not gain much or contribute meaningfully in a traditional full time program with younger professionals 2-5 years out of undergrad. In this case, most of the full time, and less experienced professionals, may actually hope or aspire to one day have the job that this more experienced professional already has – not a great match-up. Conversely, a less experienced professional/rising star would equally be a fish out of water and not have a meaningful contribution when placed in a program with senior executioves with 10-15 years of average management experience.
    A common thread exists though between both examples – a need/desire to gain a better business tool kit and skill set through education. For senior executives, many are leaving a micro area that they have specialized in over their career for many years and are beginning a move into a more General Management role that requires new skills never learned or needed before. For less experienced professionals, a wish/want/desire for a change in career direction, or a desire to beef up credentials to distinguish oneself to be firmly on the best track possible within their respective organization is called for…
    Duke (and many other schools) have done a terrific job offering a menu of options that do not cannibalize at all, but serve very specific and different segments, as you point out. All programs offered lead to and earn the same MBA degree – there is no such thing as an executive MBA degree – it is only the format of the program, catering to different groups.
    In the end, I believe having senior executives from great companies, and less experienced professionals/rising stars together at one school creates opportunities for hiring and the exhange of ideas that can be very beneficial to all types of sudents involved and the BSchool.
    Thx

  • http://twitter.com/SassafrasMBA Sassafras

    I definitely will! If there’s one thing you can say about Duke, it’s that the MBA students are so helpful!

  • Steven

    “choices are not a bad thing”….OK.. neither the elitism!

  • Palma

    why Harvard (the inventor of the MBA) does not offer executive MBA?!

  • InterestedParty

    HBS has a hugely successful and prestigious exec Ed program that offers three certificate programs (AMP, GMP, and PLD). HBS bills it PLD program as their version of an exec MBA. It is a great program and highly regarded. HBS is also building a new building (Tata Hall – sp?) to house its burgeoning executive programs. Many execs prefer though an MBA to a certificate – it is a personal choice. Wharton, Booth, Kellogg, Cornell, Columbia, Duke, MIT Sloan have all elected full MBAs for execs – why? Schools decide for themselves but HBS is def in the exec market and sees the benefits as well. To each their own . Choices and options are a good thing. No one righ or corrects choice – just the right choice for the individual or school in question. Thx!

  • Palma

    Harvard PLD is NOT a degree it is a certificate. It is not only Harvard, Dartmouth’s Tuck school also doesn’t offer ex MBA. I have asked about this, and they say it is all about the exclusiveness and elitism of their flagship degree programs, the MBA. They do not want to affect the value of the full time degree with another backdoor ways. I can accept one form for ex, but more than two ways to get the degree with same designation is somewhat taking from the value of the full time degree. Maximum two types with clear mention, either in the transcript or in the diploma itself. But with duke case, It seems they wanted to offer as many people as possible the degree of MBA regardless of the elitism. It is like to say to someone, don’t worry, you have many ways to get the Duke MBA degree, !!

  • InterestedParty

    Then we agree fully that HBS offers certificates and not degrees for their exec Ed programs. We also agree that Dartmouth does not offer an executive MBA program. In think we disagree on whether or not it enhances or diminishes the value of a BSchool. If Dartmouth and HBS are your barometers than one would conclude one thing. Conversely, if Wharton, MIT Sloan, Columbia, Chicago Booth, Kellogg, Duke, Darden, Michigan, Cornell and many other top schools are a good barometer than one would conclude quite another. To each their own. Many great options out their for all different folks. Thanks for the dialogue!

  • rami

    stanford does not offer an ex mba too. It seems that the best b schools kept themselves away from the ex mba!

  • http://twitter.com/SassafrasMBA Sassafras

    Kellogg, Wharton, Columbia, and Berkeley all offer them. I wouldn’t jump to any conclusions based on Stanford and Harvard alone. InterestedParty already pointed this out though.

  • BlueDevil11

    I’m afraid I don’t quite follow what you are saying. If my reply was elitist, then I can assure you that it was not my intention.

  • BlueDevil11

    Thank you for your post! You nailed every single point; extremely well written as well. Best to you,

  • salin

    BTW, duke kunshan experience wasn’t that good! this why people are pointing out to the duke multiforms of mba!

  • Palma

    I see fuqua marketing team style ;)

  • BlueDevil11

    The school has been quite candid and open about some of the issues with regard to getting the Kunshan operation underway. If anything, it’s going to be a real asset to the program to have a strong presence in Asia. Moreover, it will help us understand and create programs / courses that are more relevant / targeted at Asian interests. Fuqua has also made a major push to expand our involvement in Latin America and we have strong presence of Latin American students as well. Fuqua prides itself on being a truly global school and all these are steps in the right direction. Of course, some steps will be harder to climb. The important thing is that we learn from that experience and make sure that we do even better.

  • InterestedParty

    Then we both agree that Stanford does not offer an eMBA. Stanford does offer a one year master in management – kind of an accelerated MBA in my mind – but it is not an actual MBA.
    I think as I pointed out in an earlier post, we likely disagree on whether such programs enhance or diminish BSchool value. If one thinks HBS, Stanford, and Dartmouth best define this topic than one would conclude as you may have – which is absolutely fine – no issue on my end. However, those three schools, while admittedly 3 of the best, and I think HBS and Stanford are indisputably the best, reflect a very small group, and they and others have no actual proof of such claim, aside fom a clever marketing piece – about brand dilution. It may or may not be true – and I really do not have issue with whatever such proof would conclude.
    It is interesting to note though that so many other top and world class bschools have concluded something so different than these other 3 – again with no proof of what they say either. However, and repeating again what I posted earlier; if one believes that Wharton, Berkeley Haas, Chicago Booth, Kellogg, Columbia, Cornell, Duke, Darden, Michigan, MIT Sloan, UCLA, and globally, INSEAD, IE, IMD, LBS, Oxford, Cambridge, CEIBs, and HEC Paris are also gigolo good barometers than one would conclude the opposite. To each their own! This is getting repetitive…everyone can grandstand with great examples. In the end, I believe that it is great to have a variety of choices that fit a variety of needs. Thx!

  • simone

    Look if you want prestige and brand, both institutions, Harvard and stanford, offer another degree programs that are easy to get in, MPA at harvard and sloan ms at stanford.

  • Guest

    Stanford has a Sloan Masters program (so does MIT) for experienced professionals. Its basically an EMBA program.

  • poplehand

    MIT offer the sloan as MBA if you wish or as MS degree. But stanford offer only MS.

  • roger

    PLD is HBS’s EMBA: http://www.exed.hbs.edu/landing/Pages/executivemba.aspx
    Its extremely prestigious and far better to go there than to attend its MPA mid-career degree.

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