In the beginning of November, I noticed something different in the air! People were starting to get neurotic (myself included) about the application process. By this time, Early Action deadlines had passed and R1 deadlines were around this time, which meant that R2 deadlines were around the corner. We had all become project managers in our own ways. Of course I had been thinking about this a lot lately because now I'm going to have to study for the GMAT while writing essays, while getting recommendations straightened out.
I was already dreading the next 8 weeks, but come January 5th I would be at ease – or so I thought! I started making sure that none of my hours awake were wasted, so much so that I write essays on the bus during my commute. Remember, by this time I was living back at home in NJ and had an hour and a half commute to work every morning by bus. October was a pretty hectic month for me because I was traveling, and Nov/Dec won't be that bad. I wanted to get my essays done by the middle of November so I could send them off to be reviewed. I wanted to get these reviewed asap so I could move on to the next step with them.
I re-touched base with my recommenders and felt okay on that front. I just need to have a meeting with them first to debrief them and tell them "Why b-school... blah blah blah etc etc and all that jazz." Oh and then let's not forget it's HOLIDAY season and I was working for a RETAILER! Quarter 4 is what we planned for all year so I told my recommenders that the deadlines were December 31st, because I know they're going to be late and may not get them in by Jan 5.
I was starting to plan my next 2 months in order to get my applications submitted. That was the only thing that I was going to focus on and it was kind of a blessing in disguise
that I was no longer in NYC because I didn’t have the temptations of going out. One week I planned to get ALL of my 1st drafts essays done. That included:
3 Consortium Essays
1 Dartmouth Essay (video essay) 2 Michigan Essays
3 Cornell Essays
2 Berkeley Essays
Then I needed to get my life together and start s
tudying again for the amazingly fun GMAT. I did not have another test date yet but I have to take it before the Consortium deadline in December. The deadline for the Consortium GMAT was different because the scores had to be sent to the schools.
I still hadn’t heard whether or not was off the waitlist for the Tuck diversity conference but I did take those days off from work just in case. If I got off the waitlist I would have just booked the Dartmouth Coach bus up to Hanover (similar to the Cornell Campus-2- Campus bus), which left from the Yale club.
I was to also be attending the LGBT preview day at Michigan on the 19th. My friend (one of the guys I met at Yale during my visit in February) said that I could stay at his apartment even though he wouldn’t be there that weekend. It was all good though because I met many of the other LGBT Michigan students when I was at the Reaching Out conference, so I had been conversing with them giving them a heads up that I'll be visiting that weekend.
Then something weird happened. I was just OVER the whole application process. It was truly draining. I didn’t even know what to write about on my blog any more. I didn’t read the articles online that I used to read regarding business school. I didn’t talk about the GMAT any more and just tired of talking about it.
I think something clicked in my brain where I realized "Um yeah... you can talk about it all you want, but you need to actually get your applications in by January 5th or it's all for naught" I was talking to my friend who just got back from the Kellogg weekend and I started talking about the GMAT to her and she felt the same way. She said "No offense but the GMAT is the last thing I need to think about right now." Which I must admit was surprising to hear since her D-Day was soon, but I definitely understood. It was just like ok... enough is enough. We both thought that we would bang out the GMAT this time around because there's a necessary calm that has come over us. Maybe it wasn’t so much a calm as much as we knew that this time, our 3rd time, taking the GMAT had a lot riding on it.
Of course, I had planned on getting 11 first drafts completed, but that did not
happen. Life got in the way! I was able to work on two of my essays, but I didn't get all 11 done. The one good thing that came out of me writing essays back in September when everyone was telling me not to write them is that I got the skeletons of my essays completed. I knew what I was going to write about for each essay topic for each school, but I just needed to refine what I've actually written. In some documents I have random sentences from random ideas that I had. So I just needed to make it cohesive.
So as you may remember back in September I requested a bunch of days off in October and November from work, so that I could visit schools. So Wednesday the 10th came around and I was still prepared to hop on the Dartmouth Coach and head up to the conference that started today. I had the days off so why not. Around 5pm I still hadn't heard back and my manager asked if I was going to come in Thursday/Friday even though I had taken off. She knew why I had taken the days off, so it wasn't that big of a deal. I decided to take Thursday off and work on my essays but go into work on Friday. I didn't want to take Friday off and have a three-day weekend, because I would prefer to have a Thursday off and then go in on Friday and then have two more days off.
When I was working on my essays I was struggling with figure out what to include in my essays that wasn’t information available in an interview, my resume, or from my recommenders. All of the schools say "We want a holistic view of the applicant”, so I didn’t want to just regurgitate my resume or something I said in my interview.
Shortly after, I had to begin packing to head to Michigan for their LGBT preview day. My flight was at 6pm from LaGuardia to A2 (Ann Arbor). I had been emailing back and forth with my friends there and they were patiently waiting my arrival! Excuse me.. that's a lie.. they are recruiting and interviewing and symposium(ing), but with it being Thursday and all, I know that they don't have classes on Friday and some are up for showing me the town.
On Thursday, I got to A2 around 8pm and hopped in a cab from the airport to my friend’s - friend’s apartment. I stayed there for the night because my friend whose apartment I was supposed to stay at was not feeling well and he had to get up early in the morning for an interview. It all worked out in the end because I got to meet more people! You guys know how much I love to do that. So yeah we hung out at his apartment and walked over to his friend’s house in the same development. She too is a 2nd year student at Ross and was working on a very cool project. My host for the night interned at Amazon and I mentioned that I knew someone from Tuck who also interned at Amazon. Of course it turns out that they know one another.
On, Friday I woke up early, showered, shaved, blah blah...Then went to campus for a 9:30am start. There were about 15 prospectives in the room in the Ross building. The first thing on the agenda was a Q&A with current students. I knew both of the students on the panel since I met them at the Reaching Out conference. I didn’t ask any questions but rather just let others ask their questions. I did take some notes
though. After that Q&A session we went on a campus tour. I should say building tour, because I guess the only school I’ve visited that has a “campus” per se is HBS.
After the campus tour was an hour-long session with the Office of Career Development. Not much new information here given the fact that I’ve sat through so many of those sessions at each school.
After the OCD session it was time to have lunch with current students. Well one of the students was my host the prior night and the other student was someone whom I met at Reaching Out and then kept in touch with up until that point, so it was fine and dandy with me. I think lunch went for about an hour and then that was it for the day. So then I went back to my host’s apartment and we watched a movie and I fell asleep on the
couch. He had to go to a dinner and I was still waiting for my original host/friend to get back from his event for the day, so I told my host that my friend lived in the same apartment building as another guy and he immediately knew who he was and called him up to see if I could hang out there until my friend got back. Of course the other student said yes, I think he knew I was in town, and my host drove me over to his apartment. We chatted it up a bit and I worked on some essays while he did some schoolwork. Then my friend came home and I walked across the hall and plopped down on his couch.
At this point for him it wasn’t like “phew... the day is done.. what shall we do?” It was more like... “Phew... I’m home... now I have to call this person to get some information on this company I’m recruiting for.” So I didn’t want to impose so I just threw on my headphones and watched an episode of the Office on Hulu. When 1st years say that they are incredibly busy 24/7....THEY ARE NOT KIDDING! They are always doing something or emailing someone.
After my friend was done with his phone call we went to grab a bite to eat in town. At dinner I got a different feeling for my surroundings. I didn’t feel like I was in a young college town with a bunch of undergrads. It felt like a mature but young grad school/post grad school feeling. This was great for me to experience and I knew that I could leverage that feeling in my essays.
After dinner my friend and I walked over to a bar where a couple guys were hanging out drinking and then we took a cab back to his place. Since he had an early flight in the morning and I didn’t want to wake him up if I stayed out, I told him that I would stay at someone else’s apartment that night if I had his keys. Since it was Friday and I had no set agenda for the rest of the weekend, I definitely wanted to go out to a gay bar to see what that was like in Ann Arbor. I met back up with those other students and had a dirty martini at Black Pearl. Then I got a text from Jonathan whom I met at Yale back in February saying that he was around the block. Since I hadn’t seen him since that Yale visit, although we spoke on gchat quite frequently, I met up with.
It was great to see him again and hear about his business school experiences up until that point. His friend had just gotten into town so they were catching up too. It was funny because Jonathan went to Columbia and now goes to Ross and my other friend (1 of the students I had lunch with/same person I was at the bar with) went to Columbia and goes to Ross. Even though they were at Columbia two different times, I figured I should introduce them, but as I was telling my friend this his friend was like “wait what’s your friends name?” I told him his name and he said “I know him! We did a project together... etc etc” It was just random...It’s also funny because they have the same name. I thought, “how am I in Michigan visiting the b-school and making connections introducing people to one another?” But then I realized... This is how my life usually goes!! And I also realized then that Michigan is a much bigger school than some of the other schools that I was looking at because they would have already known each other if that were the case at some other schools.
In the morning I went tailgating at a Michigan football game! It was actually my first collegiate tailgating experience. Yes yes, I went to Rutgers which is a Division I-A school, but remember, I was a cheerleader in college so there was definitely no drinking before football games! We were practicing! So I figured, why not have my first tailgating experience be a big on, Michigan’s last home game! While tailgaiting I had a chance to introduce my friends who went to Columbia to one another.
In any event, yeah... hhmmm.. oh... After tailgating I went over to a 2nd years house. I actually met her the first night that I was there because she was at my first host’s friend’s house. I know that’s tough to follow, but think about it slowly and you’ll get it! So yeah it was great speaking to her because she’s very easy to talk to and was telling me about her experience with recruiting and things like that. She’s going into brand management, and since that’s something I’m considering it was good to get an insiders
perspective. She gave me a ton of great insight! a TON! Then she drove me to my friend’s house, the original persons house I was going to be staying at. Funny that I went to Michigan with the intention of staying at his place all weekend, but ended up staying there once.
I spent the whole night on the couch and got some sleep. Then in the morning I got a text message from one of the students I was hanging out with all weekend, asking if I wanted to get breakfast. He picked me up and we went to a dinner not to far from my friend’s apartment. His friend was with him so we all had a nice conversation.
I urge everyone to visit schools but more importantly reach out to current students and be their shadow as much as you can without imposing too much. I learned more about the school from simply listening to the students talk to one another than attending school events.
While we were sitting at the diner, I noticed someone else who looked familiar to me but not from this MBA process but rather from my senior year in college in
2003/2004! There was a guy sitting at a table not too far from me who looked very familiar and then I realized that he lived in my dorm at Rutgers my senior year!! I couldn’t remember his name, so I called my college roommate to ask him and he told me what the guys name was. So after we finished eating I went over to him and asking him probing questions to see if it was indeed him and low and behold...it was! Now THAT was random!
Around Thanksgiving, I didn’t have a social life and now we were in the thick of holiday season. I started thinking about what my life would be like after January 5th. One of my cousins was sick at thanksgiving and I would not sit next to her. I told her, “I have the biggest exam of my life (again) pretty soon and I cannot be sick!”