David A. Kitcho
Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business
Hometown: Windber, PA
Undergraduate School and Major: United States Military Academy, B.S. in Management
Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation: United States Army, Logistics Officer
Recalling your own experience, what advice do you have for applicants who are preparing for either the GMAT or the GRE? There is not one standard blueprint that everyone can follow to prepare for the GMAT so, in my opinion, the first step begins with a very honest self-assessment. Using multiple practice tests, business school peers, blogs, and self-awareness, figure out where one’s ability is at right now. Next, based on one’s target schools, set a target score. Now, create a plan to reach that target score. Some people can reach that target score with self-study, while others need outside help such as classes or tutors. Personally, I wish I had received one-on-one tutoring.
Furthermore, the GMAT is a very hard test; it is supposed to be difficult to score very high so you must really dedicate yourself to improving your score. It takes time, hard work, and a well-thought out plan that focuses on your weaknesses. Simply doing problem-after-problem will most likely not improve your score. One must truly understand the concepts behind the problem. Most importantly, remember the GMAT, although significant, is just one part of a comprehensive application process.
Based on your own selection process, what advice do you have for applicants who are trying to draw up a list of target schools to which to apply? Almost everybody wants to go to a top business school, but do not get bogged down in the rankings game. Based on the strength of one’s application, there should be a range of schools possible for each individual. Within that range, focus on what is really important to one’s self (e.g. school core competencies, school reputation, class size, and geography). Most importantly, remember that the ultimate goal is not to get accepted to business school. Business school is just part of the journey to reach one’s own career and life goals, which should be possible regardless of the school one attends.
What advice do you have for applicants in actually applying to a school, writing essays, doing admission interviews, and getting recommenders to write letters on your behalf? I took a different approach than most people whom I know applied to business school. I limited my search to four schools and only applied to three. I did a more focused approach to each school – emailing admissions, contacting alumni, interviewing in-person, and generally showing intense interest in each school. From my experience, most people apply to five to twelve schools. My approach worked for me as I was accepted into my top choice. For others, applying to more schools may be a better option. Either way, be prepared for a time-intensive process. It may be beneficial to look into hiring a service to help proofread the essays, prepare one for the interview, and answer any general questions that arise through the whole process.
What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? I love Pittsburgh. The Army has afforded me opportunities to travel all around the world, but the City of Bridges will always hold a special place in my heart – it has to be the best secret in the world. Thus, from the very beginning, Carnegie Mellon had an advantage over any other school. Every step of the application process, they increased in distance from my other choices. From the amazing admissions team to the small class size to the overall team-oriented, friendly atmosphere that permeates through every student, I was consistently affirming my top choice with every discovery I made about Tepper. Furthermore, during my visit, I was blown away by how focused Tepper is on the future of business. Their cutting edge technology and forward thinking puts them at the forefront of a continually changing business environment. While West Point and the Army have provided me with many opportunities to enhance my leadership and teamwork skills, Tepper’s focus on business analytics was the best option for me to focus on another set of skills that will help me be successful after B-school.
What would you ultimately like to achieve before you graduate? I have the same goals as most people in that I’d like to land the right job in the right field at the right company. One goal where I probably differ is that I would like to drastically improve my technological skills. Carnegie Mellon’s robotics and technology reputation, along with Tepper’s innovative business analytics program, was a big part of my decision to attend Tepper. I think it’s a no-brainer that technological improvements are continually going to re-define how the world does business. Thus, on a daily basis, I want to take myself out of my comfort zone and immerse myself in Carnegie Mellon’s tech culture.