My Round Two Strategy

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:



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