Saturday, February 07, 2004

It occurred to me today that someone reading this might think that I was some sort of amazing applicant and that’s why I was accepted into both Harvard and Stanford. In reality, I am shocked that I was admitted to both schools. When I first decided what schools to apply to, I thought that I had about a 1 in 4 chance of being accepted at one of Harvard, Stanford, or Kellogg. I never imagined that I would be accepted to two of the three, and I thought Stanford was way out of my league. I even applied to Wharton round 2 (I later withdrew after I heard from S/H), because I wanted to take another shot in case I wasn’t accepted to H/S/K. I think that’s why I am having so much trouble deciding where to go, I never imagined I would wind up with this decision to make.

Anyway, I am not an unbelievable applicant. Here is my relevant info: 740 GMAT, 3.8 UGPA in engineering at a very good state school, 3 years w.e. in operations as a manager, and very average extra-curricular activities. The things that really worked for me are things that anyone can do. I had very strong recommendations, but from very normal people. None had been to business school or even any grad school. I also passed the CFA level one examination, and I worked pretty hard on my essays.

These are the main reasons I think I was accepted:
- My operations and management work experience differentiates me from other candidates.
- I had strong essays and did a very good job of explaining why I need an MBA now – I want to transition into finance and I need an MBA to supplement my engineering education. Also, my essays were tailored to each school, i.e. my Stanford essays were very personal and my HBS essays were all business.
- I was able to show that I was already doing things to move towards my goals. I think taking and passing the CFA exam showed a level of commitment and understanding and really reinforced what I said in my essays.

My advice to anyone who is thinking about applying to b-school or reapplying is to start by reading How to Get Into the Top MBA Programs by Richard Montauk. It is the bible of B-school applications, and it was the number 1 reason I put together such strong applications. From there, you will know what you need to do to put together a really good application. Let me know if you have any questions.

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