Wednesday, November 25, 2009

it's graceful to be thankful

Given that I am sick and sitting on the couch all day watching top chef, hoping that my painful throat and low fever would go away soon so that I can start being productive again, I decided to write this post in the spirit of Thanksgiving.

Since Thanksgiving is an American holiday, and I had never celebrated it for the first 17 years of my life, I do not have the sentimental attachment some of my American friends might have to the mash potato, cranberry source and the football game on TV in a buzzing Thursday afternoon. However, I always thought that it was nice to be thankful (although the European settlers did kill the Indians after all), to be with family (mine is too far away, but will be thinking of them), to be with people you love.

I came across the ClearAdmit's poll (which was always a fun distraction from all the tough application work) about "What are you thankful in regards to your admissions process". I have too many people to thank honest speaking. My boss and my boss' boss who tailored 6 recommendation for me, each carefully written and long (according to one of them); my boyfriend, who is my editor in chief, my psychiatrist, my cheer-leader, my care taker, my best best supporter in all ways; my dearest mom and dad, who do not understand the process that much but still sent me ideas on how to put my best foot forward and who would without a word, donate all their life time savings towards my bschool account; my friends, old or new, familiar or just acquainted, who took in my essays despite their super busy schedules and edit them without any complains; my co-workers, who would check on me from time to time and give me those supportive words to brighten my days....the list goes on.

But then here I am, totally surprised by the result of the Clear Admit poll. Close to half (42%!) of the poll takers actually answered "I'll only be thankful when I know the results." That is just not right! As an applicant, I know fully how stressful this process is and how one might want to pull one's hair out when waiting for the results from schools. But dear applicants, are you so absorbed in yourself that you cannot be thankful for all the work others have put in for you only because you haven't heard back from the schools? For one thing, I would still feel thankful towards all those who helped me throughout the process EVEN IF I didn't get into any school. And honestly, as an applicant, I knew, nobody, nobody, can achieve b-school acceptance alone. You have someone to be thankful for.

Maybe I am over-reacting, after all, it's just a 52 people poll and those applicants who are enjoying family and friends time probably don't even check blogs these days. But still, it's dis-heartening to think that b-school applicants MIGHT just be a group of typical type-A and only care about self people.

One certain part of my brain, however, does sympathize with that mentality. I myself, almost lost it through the process. It's so easy to only be thinking about yourself, your application, your interviews, your essays, you, you, you in this highly competitive process. When you focused too much on yourself, that's when you lose others, and in a sense that you lose the real you, who cares about other human beings.

So to those 12 people who read my blog, please, please, don't lose perspective in this process. After all, an acceptance or a deny does not define you. And you are much much more than just an application.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, be thankful. Sending a thank you note to your interviewer or to your host at school visit is not just tactics to kiss up but to show you really felt thankful for their time. It's graceful to be thankful. And grace, is such a rarely seen but highly needed quality, especially in today's world.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday Night Essay Writing~~~

So it's Friday, and I just finished my Wharton interview two days ago~ I should be going out and doing something fun~ but I am in front of my computer pondering over my Haas essay ideas....didn't I tell you this is a lonnng journey?

Anyway, just want to share a few thoughts on my essay writing process, which, I believe it's a scientific process (that's the scientist in me speaking). Before I start drawing outlines for any essays, I look at the set as a whole and try to jot down hints about what the key qualities the school are looking for in their programs. True, a lot of times these qualities overlap for different schools, but what distinguish different schools are sometimes their emphasis on certain values/believes (Kellogg-teamwork, Haas-innovation, ect). Btw, this should be something you pay particular attention to when researching and selecting schools PRIOR to applying. The next thing I do, is actually going over to all the admission consultants websites and read their essay tips. This is especially useful at the beginning of the application cycle when you don't know where to start. After doing 3 R1 applications, I felt that essays tips became less helpful since sometimes I can predict what consultants tend to say now, but it's still a good exercise to get some different opinions on how to tackle the questions. A couple of sites provide particularly good advice.

Ask Precision Essay
Adam Markus: Graduate Admissions Guru

Then it's the selection of stories. I tend to map out the topics for each essay then start delving into the writing. This helps you put the pieces together and have an overall picture of your candidacy. The actual writing part...well, let's say it ain't easy and requires a lot of time and commitment. But if you got your themes right and overall strategy in-place, good essay is just a matter of time.

hope that helps~

back to topic mapping for Haas!

oh, and here is a fun car analogy of top MBA programs for your amusement.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Kellogg Interview, KPW and Wharton Interview

A lot has happened since last blog entry. Last week I went to Evaston for the Kellogg Preview Weekend for minority students, during which I had my first interview. Then this week, I had my Wharton Interview with a local alumni, marking the mid-point of my application season. Although now sitting in front of my computer, I don't feel relaxed because I still yet have 3 more applications to prepare. However, I do feel proud of myself for making it this far, without totally losing my mind. If I have advice for future MBA applicants, it would be to get organized and mentally prepared for a LONNNG journey, for it's definitely a test of your stamina.

Anyway, time to reflect on my trip to Kellogg and my interview. My Kellogg visit, by far, has surpassed my expectation for any school organized event. It was an awesome experience in terms of the caliber of students, professors and the level of organization, even the food! Come on, they served custom made omelette for breakfast and lamb for lunch! My "buddy" who reached out to me before the event specially came over during lunch to answer my questions. I saw way more students during this event than any events that I went to at other schools and everyone was genuinely nice! What impressed me the most, was actually the professors at the event. The legendary Prof. Steven Rogers was truly legendary, so were Prof. Harry Kraemer (former CEO of Baxter) and Prof. Katherine Phillips. It was not just their intellects but their passion for teaching management and educating the next generations of leaders really impressed me. I felt lucky to be able to experience this level of professorship and would see myself fighting over points to take their classes while at Kellogg. During one of the lunches, another group of professors and program directors sat with us and shared with us their Kellogg experience. That I thought, was an extra nice touch. I truly recommend anyone considering Kellogg to attend KPW. Here is a picture of the atrium in the Allen Center where the Marketing Competition TG (Thank God it's Friday) took place. Picture was taken by the end of the event, it was WAY more packed during the whole thing.

Now on to the juicy stuff, the interview. Well, it was much more relaxed than I had imagined. I couldn't remember the last time I interviewed for a job or something else, so I was quite nervous and prepared a lot before the interview. It turns out the interview was very conversational, and the admissions officer who interviewed me was very friendly and nice, so that helped too. The adcom seemed very experienced at interviewing and followed up quite a few points I made throughout the interviews. No surprise questions though, even the most difficult/interesting one I have seen it before on's interview report. So do prepare those. It's always better to be over-prepared than under-prepared. Just don't memorize your answers.

Comparing to Kellogg interview with the Adcom, my Wharton interview with the alumni in LA was actually quite different. I thought an interview with alumni would be even more conversational. Turned out that my interviewer mainly asked questions from a list of questions and didn't follow up on my answers much. I guess that's how interviewer are trained. Adcom are just simply more experienced at this so they can follow up with your answers to weed out the nonsenses. Because Wharton gave you a list of alumni to choose from, I particularly avoided alumni with pure finance/PE field because my unconventional goal. In the end I interviewed with an alumni in the non-profit world and I am pretty happy with how the interview went.

I will write interview reports for and clearadmit wiki once I hear back from these schools (hopefully in December for Kellogg!) since other people's interview reports really helped me prepare for my interview. Just don't want to jinx it at this point :)

Now it's time to start R2~ more essay writing~ yay....

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Wharton Interview Invite!

My watched pot finally boiled!

I actually debated this morning sitting on the toilet with my iPod Touch in hand~ I have developed the habit of checking email first thing in the morning on Touch to see if my Wharton invite came in. But after weeks of disappointed mornings, I decided to take a different approach, that is deliberately ignoring the issue, not checking my email every 10mins and logging into the application site 5 times a day. Most importantly, I resisted checking those online forums where all the anxious b-school applicants go and speculate.

Then, it came. It almost caught me by surprise as I was expecting another disappointed morning. Although this invite only means I am among the top 40~50% of the applicants and by no means indicate admission, it got me just a little closer to my dream. I think what I really needed was the re-assurance, sort of an outside validation of your application quality. As my boss brutally put it, "your application is at least worthy of a Wharton interview~".

So the journey continues, R2 time frame is tighter, with more essays to write and interviews to prep. I am confident though, that I will be worthy of an admit, somewhere :)

oh, and today turned out to be even better, I got into the Biotech Women's Career development program in bay area in December, all expenses paid for and guaranteed a great time! I will use this opportunity to visit Haas too, it's been awhile, last time I visited the school was October 2006. I signed up to sit in one of its "Innovation, Creativity & Entrepreneurship" class, given the focus on innovation at Haas, this should be very interesting. (certainly will beat the unfortunate Wharton class I've visited...that's a story for another post...)

Also got an email from MIT confirming my application status. it feels like MIT's process is not as defined as Wharton's, well, don't need to stare at the calender then, less stress for me.

So much has happened today! I hope good news keep coming :)

Charging forward, girl!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

still no invite from Wharton, but at least Kellogg app is confirmed

All the required elements of your application are complete.

If your interview has been completed, the application has been submitted for review to the admissions committee. If your interview has not been conducted, the application will be submitted to the admissions committee upon completion of the interview. The next status check update will be the admission decision (Admit, Waitlist or Deny). When a decision has been rendered, the Office of Admissions will send you an email notifying you to check your status for your decision. Decisions will be released throughout the round, but the majority of decisions will be released during the last several weeks of the round.

Oh, now the dreadful interview and endless waiting period~