Thursday, January 29, 2004

It was a long day at work today. Last year, my organization laid off 10% of the staff because of a pending operating deficit. Well, this morning at 9 AM, we had a staff meeting where management told us if we don't meet certain goals then more cuts are to come. They have this file on the company server that outlines what the goals are and who will be cut if the goals aren't met. Someone asked "Now we know the negative consequences if we don't meet our goals. What incentives are there if we exceed these goals?" Management responded, "Well, you get to keep doing good work. And that's what you get paid for." Isn't that a great attitude? Very motivating. I'm sure morale shot through the roof after that statement. Basically the bosses said today, "Please quit your job." To all the future MBAs out there that want to manage people, please don't disrespect professionals by saying "that's what your peanut salary is for" when they ask about incentives. Hello - turnover costs you money!

Speaking of quitting my job, I've thinking a lot about what I'll do if I don't get into any schools this year. I think I'll quit, move to the Caribbean, and start an advice column. I think my advice would be good as some of the yahoos giving it out free. I'm highly opinionated and I constantly give out advice to family and friends (although it often goes unheeded). I can see it now: "Dear Future MBA Girl, my bosses just said I should quit my job. What should I do?" "Dear Clueless, GET THE HECK OUT OF DODGE!!! They are about to FIRE you! Even if they don't, this is not a good place to work. Get out while you still can."

Hmmm. Maybe I should learn to heed my own advice....

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

I finally tracked down a UT alum willing to interview me. UT has this database of volunteer alumni who are willing to interview applicants in their area. On my third try, I finally got a response. The database sends a pre-formatted message to the alum. Well get this - the database had this guy's first name wrong. How tacky is that? Hopefully, he'll realize it was an auto message, and he won't think I'm an idiot.

Wharton interview invites have begun to trickle out. I haven't received one, but I'm not stressed about it yet. Alex Brown said on the S2S that the bulk of the invitations will go out in February. So no worries there... yet.

I am worried about my Consortium application. They still haven't processed any of my materials. They haven't even processed my official GMAT score, which I sent in DECEMBER. I'm trying not to panic, but they aren't the most organized bunch. I was reading old consortium threads on the BW Forum and there were quite a few instances where the consortium made mistakes and didn't send applications to the appropriate schools. Based on my limited interaction with the Consortium, I totally believe those claims. There are several versions of instructions, and each says slightly different things. It's kind of annoying. I'm giving them until February 2 before I call and see what's going on.

Monday, January 26, 2004

We got a snow day today! Woo-hoo! Not sure why - there's only 3 inches of snow. But hey I'm not complaining. Any day I can spend the entire day in PJs is a good day.

I decided to fill out my FAFSA and do some research on fellowships during my unexpected day off. My taxes aren't done so I've hit a bit of a snag. I did read in the paper yesterday that the IRS has free online filing for people. Apparently the IRS is trying to cut down administrative costs of processing paper tax returns, and they finally figured out that the most effective way to get people to do that is to offer free filing (now that's a big DUH, if you ask me). This year, they're offering it through third party vendors, and some of the vendors have eligibility requirements, but the IRS seems to be working to make free filing available to everyone. Worth checking out.

Cornell has the best listing of Graduate Fellowships, by far. They have fellowships listed by area of study, and they also have lists of fellowships for women and minorities. And the fellowships aren't limited to Cornell, which is very giving, don't you think? I've also registered with FastWeb , but this search engine is full of annoying advertising, and the results it has yielded have not been all that great in my opinion.

There's a lot of talk about how much free money for school is out there. I agree that there's a lot of money, but it's a lot of restrictive money. Most the fellowships and scholarships I'm finding target very specific populations, like women who grew up in Bismarck, North Dakota speaking Creole. It's funny to hear companies and foundations complain about people not accessing their money, when they have so many restrictions on it. Oh well, off to find a fellowship for women who like puttering around in their PJs...

Friday, January 23, 2004

I did much less dawdling today on the BW and S2S forums. But alas someone posted a link to another forum, the US News Grad School Forum, and now I have a new toy to distract me. I have to say, the US News Forum seems to attract a much meaner bunch. There seems to be a lot more lambasting of GMAT scores. But you may want to check it out.

Oh, and for another activity to waste time with, try this site. It will tell you who should get your vote for president. Apparently, my vote should go to General Clark or the Reverend Sharpton. Who knew?!

Thursday, January 22, 2004

If a watched pot never boils, does a watched MBA application never result in an acceptance? Despite telling myself I would not obsess, I found myself checking my email several times today just to see if a Wharton invite awaited me. I think I need to join ECA - Email Checkers Anonymous.

And I may not be done with applications. I may apply for another scholarship, so that means more essay writing. (AND another stinkin' picture - what is with these people?!) The only good thing is this scholarship allows generic recommendations, and the essay is more topical and less "please expose your soul in 500 words or less." I'm really burnt out on the whole application thing, but I just can't let my laziness keep me from applying for free money. It's not due until April, so I could conceivably start it in a month and still have plenty of time.

Ugh - I thought I was done... Oh well!

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Time heals all wounds. It's been 4 hours since I was dinged and I feel somewhat better about it. (Although there is still a bit of sadness about what might have been.) I know that my credentials were appropriate, and that I was not underqualified. I think it comes down to my essays.

Doing my R2 applications made me realize my Stanford essay was somewhat lacking. I think the standard why MBA, why now, why bla bla bla was fine. It was the What Matters Most essay that did me in. I think what I wrote was compelling. I wrote about my faith and why service is so important to me. But I didn't tell enough stories. The R2 applications I did allowed me to tell lots of stories that revealed who I am and what makes me tick. Some of these stories could have been weaved into my What Matters Most essay. It would have produce a better more multi-dimensional picture. I would have found ways to tell lots of stories, instead of just a few. But we all know what they say about hindsight, and spilt milk, and other things you can't do anything about.

I guess I was inexperienced in the art of business school applications, and my essays reflect that. I think if I had to do it over, my essays would rock. Maybe not mini novels but I think they would have been better.

So that's the end of that. I've learned something. And I guess that's what life is about - learning something even in times of defeat. Onward and upward.

I wish I could say I'm the only member of Stanford's Class of 2006 that got in without an interview. But I can't. It's official. I was rejected by Stanford.

Rejection hurts. Even when you're ready for it. I feel sad (and it's probably exacerbated by one person's quip to me that I failed). I even cried a little.

What hurts the most is that I didn't get an interview. My application wasn't strong enough for an interview. I know there were areas I could have improved it but I didn't think it was no interview bad. But what do I know.

I'm glad this ding came after I submitted my other applications. If this had come before the Wharton due date I doubt that I would have ponied up $200 to apply there. I keep thinking that maybe I'm not as qualified as I think and I reached too far by applying to the likes of Stanford and Wharton.

And trust me, I believe in the theory that "everything happens for a reason" and "you are where you need to be." But that doesn't stop it from hurting. I accept that I wasn't meant to be at Stanford, even though it's something I really wanted.

I'm glad I don't have to pour my heart out on paper anymore. I'm glad the wait is over. I will try to be positive going forward. But today is not the day. I'll allow myself sadness for one day.

I'm sooo glad decisions didn't come out on my birthday. Congrats to all who were accepted.

(Oh and check out the Wharton Chat tonight!)

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

It's my birt-day
I'm gonna pa-rty like it's my birt-day
I'm gonna drink Bacardi like its my birt-day
And I don't give a **** (about my ding!) cuz it's my birt-day.

I hope those waiting for Stanford and Harvard get happy calls today. I'm gonna go party since it's my "birt-day." Good Luck!

Monday, January 19, 2004

Isn't it amazing how this process can make a person completely irrational. Despite the fact that I haven't been interviewed for Stanford, this fantasy keeps running through my head.

Me: "Hello"
DB: "Hello, may I please speak to FMG?"
Me: "This is she"
DB: "FMG, this is Derrick Bolton calling from Stanford."
Me: "Really?! Are you kidding me?"
DB: "No, FMG, I'm not kidding you. I'm calling you to congratulate you on your acceptance into Stanford's class of 2006."
Me: "Really?! No way! OH MY GO... Wait. I didn't interview. How could I be admitted."
DB: "Well we knew your birthday was the day before decision day, and we thought we'd surprise you. We apologize for making you wait and that we never invited you for an interview. But you had such a great profile, we felt like we didn't need to interview you. Isn't this a great birthday present?"
Me: "This is the best birthday ever!"

Okay, so I'm delusional. My goal is to stay away from the BW Forums as people get their acceptance calls tomorrow and Wednesday. It will be too depressing to know I'm getting a ding. But congratulations to everyone who is accepted to Stanford. I'm not jealous. Noooo. No sour grapes here. No way. No how.

Do I sound convincing?

Good Luck everyone!

Sunday, January 18, 2004

For reasons that even I can't explain, I was browsing in MBADiversity's resource center, which features some interesting stuff from Accepted.com on essay writing. After reading some of the examples actual MBA application essays, all I could think was "Sh&t." These essays were like the stuff novels are made of. Oh well I just hope my somewhat ordinary non-prosey essays won't bore the adcoms to tears. Maybe the fact that I didn't compose a mini-novel is the reason I have a Stanford ding coming my way.

Sh&t. Oh well. Que sera sera - c'est la vie!

Friday, January 16, 2004

Well it's unofficial. Stanford Pre-Ding Day has come and gone, and I was never invited for an interview. Oh well, I guess its time for that big ole ding. I'm lessed bummed about than I was yesterday - I feel better about my UT and Wharton apps. I believe I will be at the best business school for me this fall.

I read on the BW Forums, that Stanford admission notification won't happen until 5 PM pacific. That's 8 PM my time. It's going to be a LONG day on Wednesday. But at least I won't get dinged on my birthday. How much would THAT suck?

UT invited me to interview again. Not sure why - so I'm going to do an alum interview and hopefully this interview will be better than my first. So that's good news.

Now that I'm finished with my applications, I don't know what to do with myself! Practically every free moment I had was focused on writing essays or thinking about writing essays. I guess I can read again! It's been a while since I was able to leisurely read.

Oh the agony of the wait...

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Pass the margaritas! I am officially finished with all the essays and applications for Class of 2006! I am soooooo glad. Hopefully I'll eventually have some interview somewhere to stress about. But for now, bottoms up!

It's Stanford Pre-Ding Day!!!! Woo-hoo!!!

The end is imminent and it seems my hopes will be dashed. C'est la vie, I suppose. Everything happens for a reason, and if I get a ding from Stanford, I guess it means I was not meant to go there. I still would have liked the opportunity to interview though.

And that makes me think a little about this school fit thing. How do you really know you'll fit into a school? I mean you can visit, you can talk to students and alums, but will you really know? How can you know unless you are fully immersed in the experience of the school? I think I would fit in my top three picks, but am I in the position to judge that objectively? I guess only time will tell - if an adcom finally agrees that I fit into their school and accepts me into the Class of 2006, I guess that will be a sign that I've made the right choices.

I submitted my Consortium application this morning. It was the first application I submitted on the due date. I was up until 1 AM working on it. Oh and I got my picture and sent it off. And I'm still really pissed off about it. At the Wharton Chat last night (which was entertaining once again - you should check it out) there was some agreement about the stinkiness of the picture request. And on top of the ethical problems I have with the Consortium's request, I was having a slight bad hair day on picture day, and I don't like my picture. All I can say is, Grrrrr.

I still have to do final proofs on my Michigan and NYU essays and send them out this afternoon. And then I'll be done. And that my friends, is something to be happy about.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Stanford Pre- Ding Countdown: 1.5 days

Well until today, I had a glimmer of hope for a last minute interview invitation from Stanford. But today I've begun to prepare myself for a ding. I'm a little depressed about it. I never imagined that my application wasn't even worthy enough for an interview. Oh well, perhaps it isn't meant to be.

I'm still working on my consortium essays so I'm trying not to start to doubt the strength of my applications. I am so glad that by this time tomorrow - I'll be completely done with all my applications. I do not have the stamina to do another app. And I think my spirit is a bit deflated by my potential Stanford ding.

Tonight is the Wharton Chat - maybe "hanging out" with those folks will lift my spirits. Ya gotta love Wharton!

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Assumed Stanford Interview Ding Countdown: 3 days

This site was posted on the BW Forum this morning for those interested in who gets admitted where, with what GMAT, GPA, etc. People self report their stats, where they applied, and where they got in. It's probably COMPLETE balderdash since it's self-reported, but for the stats hounds it could be interesting. I personally think its a bit short sighted to get too hung up on stats, but that's just my opinion! There are some cool features on the site though - like you can practice writing your AWA, and others will grade it. Kind of cool...

The continuing saga of the Consortium Picture: Apparently if my picture isn't in the consortium office by January 20 (which is my birthday BTW - Happy Birthday to me!), they won't consider my application complete. I'm displeased to say the least. I have an appointment today to get a picture taken in business attire. Unfortunately it is right after work, so I had to get all gussied up today. I'm sure everyone at work will assume I'm interviewing for something. I'm so annoyed that I have to get this done.

Although I should be finalizing my essays, I've been spending a lot of time thinking about what I'll do if I don't get into school this year. If I only get bad news this year, I'll reapply next year - hopefully I'll have learned something from this process. I think I will definitely quit my job too. I feel I've plateaued - and because of budget cuts promotions will not be forthcoming. I just want to move on to a new challenge. I'm biding my time waiting out this MBA thing but if it doesn't happen, I think it's time for me to move on.

Monday, January 12, 2004

In a come-from-behind-didn't-see-it-coming way reminiscent of Seabiscuit, NYU has emerged as one of the schools I'm applying to through the consortium. I decided to do some intense research on the "other" consortium schools since I wasn't as familiar with them. While NYU does not have an exceptionally strong nonprofit program, it does have elements (like nonprofit consulting group and developing loan forgiveness program) that could help the school develop a great program. And what I'm really looking anyway for is a solid program with some focus on nonprofits. I think that desire could be satisfied at NYU. So its UT, NYU, and Michigan in the consortium. I have polish my essays, and then I'm good to go.

Well, almost good to go. I had an appointment at my local friendly Walmart to get my picture taken for my consortium application (insert snarky comment here). When I went to start my car, it was so friggin' cold (4 degrees - that's right one-two-three-four degrees) that my car wouldn't start. And mind you, this was mid morning, so I can only imagine how cold it was the night before. So I had to cancel my appointment, and the next one available is during the midday today. I'm sorry but I'm not taking off work to get a picture taken that I don't think should need to be taken in the first place. I plan on calling the consortium to see if they need the picture with the rest of the application. Hopefully they will not.

And the big countdown for the mighty Stanford ding has begun. We have four more days for interview invites to go out. This is going to be one long set of four days...

Friday, January 09, 2004

To all the R2 wannabe Whartonites wondering what's next: check out this thread on the S2S...

Do you hear that whooshing sound? It's the collective sigh of relief of the R2 applicants to Wharton, Harvard, Stanford, Tuck, and Michigan. Good Luck everyone!

All my recs and transcripts are in hand finally! I sent my supplemental info off to UT, and I am approaching the finish line for my consortium application. I have good drafts on the four main essays - I just need to proofread them in a couple days. I also need to draft two one page essays about my other two (still undetermined!) consortium schools. I don't think this will take too much time, though.

One annoying thing I have to do is trek to my local Walmart or Sears to get a portrait done so I can submit a 2X2 picture of me in business attire with my consortium application. How bizarre is that?! I may just submit a picture of Minnie Mouse to protest this practice. I think it's kind of unethical to ask for a picture before admissions decisions - but hey, that's just me. In the guise to Public Enemy, I feel I must "Fight the Power!!!" I mean WHY do they need my picture? What does what I look like have to do with the quality of my application? I mean, the nerve!

But since I know we have to submit pictures for school IDs, I guess I'll give into the demands of "the system." I'll save my dismay and horror for another day.

Thursday, January 08, 2004

I think the S2S Board needs a sticky FAQ. I am continually amazed how many times people ask, "If my recommender doesn't submit their rec by 5 PM eastern can I still be considered for R2?" As if Alex and the crew will suddenly have a revelation, change their collective minds and say "well, since you put it that way - we'll suspend the deadline just for you. But, shhh - don't tell anybody."

It's called ADVANCED SEARCH. Try it. It works.

OK done with my rant...

Round Two deadlines approacheth!

Stanford's R2 deadline was Tuesday and Wharton's is today at 5 PM eastern time. Good Luck everyone applying! T minus 9 hours....

I popped into the Wharton chat last night. Wharton hosts a chat every Wednesday night at 6 PM eastern time. It's usually very lighthearted, and a great place to ask questions too.

My parents have logged their votes about my consortium apps: "You better apply to other schools." Got to love the parental units for their unfaltering "waste not, want not" mantra. While they both agree with my reasons for deciding not to apply to Tuck ("That's a lot of snow..."), my dad balked at my concern about UM. "Well if 50% are placed in the Midwest, then 50% are placed outside of the Midwest. Apply to Michigan." He has a valid "glass is half full" kind of point.

On a side note: I got a call from the company I interviewed with a couple of weeks back. Like the Soup Nazi on Seinfield, the recruiter said "No job for you!!" They hired someone internally, which makes me believe external interviewing was just a legal formality. Drat and double drat! At least I got a chance to practice my interviewing skills. C'est la vie!

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

I'm facing a bit of a dilemma with my consortium essays. For those unfamiliar with the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management, its a organization that provides full ride fellowships for underrepresented minorities. One of the cool things about the consortium, is you can use your app to apply to multiple schools (up to 6) at once. The first tier of application fees allows you to apply to three schools. My dilemma is I don't really want to apply to three schools, but I don't want to miss an opportunity to apply to some more "safety" schools.

If I decide to use this opportunity I would probably apply to UM and Tuck - but see here's the rub; I don't really think I want to go to either of those schools. I have an aversion to obscene amounts of snow (been there done that in undergrad) so I really don't think I'd like Hanover. I know that's a silly reason to reject an awesome top ten program but I really can't see my self freezing my butt off for two years. And UM places close to 50% of its students in the Midwest. And frankly, no offense to all y'all living in the heartland, but I do NOT want to live in the Midwest.

I could apply to two more of the other ten schools in the consortium (UT is my #1 for the consortium), but none of the other programs really appeal to me. Darden is too "case focused" and none of the other schools have significant nonprofit programs. I just feel like I might be throwing away an opportunity by not using the consortium app to apply to other schools. But I really don't want to apply any school that I'm not all that interested in.

But what if I don't get into any of three schools I applied to? I guess I'll just have to have faith. Decisions, decisions...

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

One of my consortium essays is an absolute piece of crap. I can't believe I'm the one who wrote it. It sounds like a fifth grader wrote it. "I want a red truck. A red truck is cool because it has wheels on it. Wheels are important because then the truck can move..." and so on. It's an absolute (embarrassing) disaster. I might need another story for this essay topic.

On my Wharton app package, I had one essay that wasn't as good as the others (although not nearly as horrific as the most recent monstrosity I've authored!) - it was kind of like the black sheep of the essay family. Luckily it was one of the essays in the middle. It's not that its badly written - it just doesn't stir the soul like the others. I think the package starts and ends strong... assuming it's read in order. The more I think about the Wharton app, the more naked I feel! I suppose that's a good thing, since that means the admissions committee will get a good feel for who I am. But how much will it suck if I don't get in? I've laid my soul out on paper and Wharton may just say "ding - not good enough!" I suppose its pointless to worry - but after months (yes it's been months) with no word from Stanford, I'm starting to have my doubts. Oh well back to editing essays...

Monday, January 05, 2004

My UT (hook 'em!) application is in the can. UT uses this online system that lets you apply to multiple Texas schools at once (because Texas is a world unto itself!), and the system is somewhat archaic, clunky, and awkward. So, unlike every other online application on the planet, I have to compile my supplemental info (resume, recs, transcript, etc), attach a tracking piece of paper to each item and mail the package in. I've been done with this application for sometime, but I had to wait for my recs.

I'm in the final stretch. I have two consortium essays and some edits, and then basically I'll be finished. I'm tired of writing essays so after my consortium package is complete, I think I'm done for this year.

It's very weird being almost done with the application process - I won't have anything to obsess about that's in my control. Most of my spare time was spent on crafting essays and learning about schools. It's strange to be reaching a point where I've done all I can do. It will be completely out of my hands in a few days. I feel like I'm going through introspection withdrawal.

But then again there's the interview. AND I might have to do the whole thing again if I don't get in somewhere. Ugh...

Sunday, January 04, 2004

Well my Wharton app is DONE. I’m pretty happy with the final result. I’m 75% done with the whole Class of 2006 application process.

I have to say, I think Wharton’s set of essays lend themselves better to creating a more multidimensional picture of applicants than Stanford’s essays do. Don’t get me wrong. I love the touchy-feelyness of Stanford’s essays. I just think my Wharton essays reflect a more complete picture of who I am and what’s important to me. Maybe I feel this way because I did a better job on my Wharton app… things that make you go hmmmm….

Speaking of bad Stanford Apps. Invitation invites for R1 will go out until January 15. So there’s 10 days until pre D-day -D-day….

BTW, I am thrilled to be done early with my Wharton app. I’ve never submitted something completely so early in my life. It’s somewhat surreal. I don’t have to stress about getting anything in on time. All of my recs are in. I could not be happier! I can focus this week on my consortium essays, which are close to done. And once I’m done with my consortium app, I think I’m done with the 2003-2004 application season. I have been to the mountaintop of essays and I have seen the other side. I cannot wait until I am done with applications.

Good Luck everyone with your applications. As Graham from Clear Admit pointed out on his site, there are a plethora of deadlines coming up in the next couple of days. Several of the other bloggers (Joey, Techie, PowerYogi) are working on MANY applications at once. I don’t know how they do it. If I had to do anymore applications I’d have to quit my day job…

Thursday, January 01, 2004

Hey- who is that person who just walked into the room? Why it's 2004! Happy New Year, everyone!! I am very excited to start a new year. This year could be a year of major change - and I look forward to what the year brings. I feel like its Christmas morning, and I've run down the stairs to be greeted by dozens of presents. I just don't know what's in the presents yet. Right now the anticipation is a good thing. I may feel differently as decision days get closer.

So I'm working on finalizing my essays. They seem to be coming along well. And I just realized that I have a little bit more time for my consortium essays. This application only needs to be postmarked by January 15th so I can probably submit it on the 13th or 14th and still be okay. Because of the extra time, I'll most likely complete a Michigan essay and I might apply to Tuck via the consortium.

I started to think about the schools I was less sure of. I realized that I'm in love with the schools I've visited and I'm less enamored with the schools I've never been to. It's made me realize how important it is to visit the schools before the application process. Nothing beats experiencing the school first hand.

So because of this revelation and because its New Years, I've written a list of 10 resolutions for other applicants (because writing other people's resolutions is really what its all about) who are just beginning the process.

1) Do not try to compact your application process into a 6 month process. Applying to business school is meant to take at least two years.
2) Do not do the lame thing of starting community service activities with the beginning of the application process. That is just tacky (and obvious to the adcoms!).
3) Do take time to study for the GMAT. I don't care how awesome you did on the SAT - that was so seven years ago.
4) Do not get sucked in by the bullsh*t propogated by some of the posters on the BW Forums. I truly believe that some of the people post there with the sole purpose of discouraging people from applying to school. And some of them don't know what the heck they are talking about. Plus its amazing how easy it is to waste an entire day of work reading the forum... not that I would know anything about that...
5) AND Do not post your credentials on the BW Forum to ask if you have a chance at X school. Why you ask? Because I get annoyed reading those post. (Yes, you have a chance. Now grow some cajones, stop looking for external approval, and apply, gosh darnit!)
6) Send people who take the time to write recommendations for you thank you notes and thank you gifts.
7) Send people who interview you for schools thank you notes. Hand written or email are both fine. (No gifts though - that might be seen as an attempt at bribery and could result in an automatic ding).
8) Answer your essays from your heart. Answer truthfully and honestly, not what you think people want to hear.
9) Be open to attending a school outside of the top three (and you know which ones I'm talking about). There are some really great schools out there, and they aren't always located in Boston, Philly, or Palo Alto.
10) Oh and visit the schools if you can - it can really help you get a feeling for the school and if you fit in there.

Not sure if those are really resolutions now that I think about it. Maybe if you say "I resolve to" before each one, then they would be resolutions? Then again maybe not... Oh well. Happy New Year, Y'all!

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