In the beginning of September I still had a myriad of practice test available at my disposal. I was still working with my tutor and he told me that I should take a practice exam but ONLY do the Quant section. At one point it became a joke between us because I actually had more GMAT prep books than he did! He was able to tell me, “Ok, I want you to take a practice exam.” without having to worry if I had any that I hadn’t taken before. He could tell me to do x, y, and z and just assumed, correctly I might add, that I had the books or resources.
When I took the exam, I shocked myself by scoring a 45 on the Quant section. If you’re wondering, yes, I took my own advice and also did the AWA essays before hand. I immediately posted on BeatTheGMAT.com to see how that company’s practice CAT exam related to the real exam. Then I texted OSIRUS to see what his highest Veritas practice score was. Then I emailed Eric Bahn, the founder of BeatTheGMAT to see what he thought. Then I emailed Brian from Veritas prep to see if he thought that a 45 was a good score. Then I emailed my tutor to see what he thought. I was just so excited that I had scored a 45, which had been my highest score to date. Although I was quite ecstatic about the score, I knew that I still had room to improve so I went back through the exam to see what I was I did incorrectly.
In the midst of this GMAT Quant score high, I had to shift my focus to essays. I know what you’re saying to yourself, “I thought you weren’t going to write essays until after the GMAT.” Well, two things, first that was definitely the plan. But as Labor Day came and went and it was now the beginning of September, it was officially “Fall” in my mind and it was time to kick things into high gear. Secondly, the essays that I had to write were not for my business school applications but rather for the diversity conferences that I had to apply too. For some of the applications I had to submit my GMAT score and my GPA, which again, were my two major application weaknesses. I mean at that point I had a 590 GMAT score and my undergrad GPA was a 2.56.
One of the days in the beginning of September, I went to a Tuck reception at the Yale Club in Midtown Manhattan by Grand Central Station. Now some of you may be asking why the reception was at the Yale Club. Well let me back up a little bit. Most of the Ivy league schools have clubs within a one block radius of each other in Midtown Manhttan. These “clubs” are clubs in a sense that they require a membership fee to be a part of them. No, one’s tuition does not cover the cost of admissions. It’s mainly for alumni although current students can pay the fee. I’m not sure if Columbia has one seeing as though they are in NYC but I do know that Cornell, Harvard, UPenn, Princeton, and Yale all have one. The two smallest Ivy League schools do not have their own but those alums can become members of the club that the school has a relationship with. So, Dartmouth has a relationship with Yale and I believe Brown has a relationship with Cornell. These buildings aren’t just reception spaces. They’re usually hotels, have bars and restaurants, reception spaces, gyms, and many other amenities.
Anyway, I digress, so yes, this reception for Tuck was at the Yale Club. When I got there, I immediately ran into one of the gentleman that was at the Kaplan Destination Business School event. He was also an applicant and we chatted for a bit and then rode the elevator up to the 20th floor. When we got to the ballroom, I was greeted by an Admissions Officers. I knew who she was and I wanted to believe that she knew who I was. I remember her saying "seems like you've done your homework... have you ever heard of the website Poets and Quants?" I think I cracked a smile and said "yeah... John Bryne right? I love that site because it offers insight into the whole pre-mba process which is a needed resources, at least I think." She said "yeah I just found out about it today." Then she asked if I had any questions about Tuck and I said that I didn't at that moment, but I'm sure I would later.
To be honest, I could have asked my questions then, but I didn't want to be THAT guy and I knew she would want to meet and greet other people. So I took her business card and went on my merry little way to get a soda - coke to be more specific. I went to the front of the room and placed my bag on a chair and then went to the bathroom. Post- bathroom break I went back to my seat because I was waiting for a friend.
As I was sitting waiting for my friend, Ben, to arrive I was eavesdropping on the two pre- mba's sitting behind me. They were talking about schools they've visited and how one was not impressed with HBS. Darden seemed to be on the top of his list though. The person he was sitting with was talking about how no matter how much he likes Tuck and he said it was the best for him, if he got into a school in a city, he would go to that school. It was definitely interesting to hear other people’s perspectives.
Then Ben came. We were debating over whether we should each the hor d'oeuvres
coming around. We finally gave in. Before the event started we chatted about everything under the sun from his applications...to my applications.... to the GMAT... to his boyfriend and my lack of boyfriend...we're old time friends at this point. And to think that this is someone I met at the HBS LGBT event back in April. He lived 10 blocks from me so we're very close to one another.
The admissions officers went through their whole spiel and then we broke for a break. Some prospective students left and went back to work. Others just left and went home. I had time to kill so I just went for a walk. I knew that at this point in the night the alums and admissions officers would disperse to answer individual questions. By this time I had been to enough of those types of events to know that most people asking questions are asking generic questions that quite frankly irritated me at this point.
Since I didn't want the admissions officers seeing me roll my eyes or huffing and puffing at "What's the mean gmat score?" type questions I take a break to let the lines and crop circles die down. Sometimes I wanted to blurt out the answers when I hear questions like that. "What's the mean GMAT score?" then I would respond from behind -
"717"... "What teaching methodology do you guys use?" then me from behind "It varies by professor..." I had to refrain myself though.
When I got back from my break, I went to talk to the first admissions officer that I had seen in the beginning of the night. I said to her "Hello _____, I have some questions for you now..." So I asked her everything I had questions about. These questions ranged from recruiting to the diversity conference. No, nothing pertaining to recruiting that I could find on the website. I've learned from another Tuckie that given my background, I would be considered a non-traditional applicant. When I learned that I would be considered a non-traditional applicant, I knew that it was something that I shouldn’t forget. So after my questions I said "ok well it was nice meeting you _____ those are all of the questions I have right now."
Then I was just listening to the admissions officer, whom I've had contact with on a couple of occasions. 1.) When I visited I sat with her one on one and she gave me great advice on how to apply. 2.) She was the Tuck rep at the Kaplan Destination Business School event. and then now tonight. So as she was speaking with a couple other prospective students, this guy came up and stood beside her and started listening intently. To me it seemed as though he knew her, while to others it seemed like he was the eager beaver prospective. When she finally saw who it was she gave him a big hug and then I noticed he looked familiar to me.
Then it clicked to me. I knew who he was! I went over to him and said hi are you _________? He looked at my nametag and said "Omg Richard how are you... I was thinking about you today because I met with so and so." So who is this mystery character?
Ok follow this story - prior to my visit to Tuck I reached out to students who were in the club I would want to join. Well the LGBT club is a must for me. So I reached out to one of the club officers. He was an officer at the time, but was doing his study abroad in France, so I couldn't meet with him when I visited. He forwarded my initial email on to another officer with whom I still speak with to this day. She had giving me great advice re: my essays and is the one who reminded me about the Diversity Conference.
So when he said that he was thinking about me it's because a couple weeks ago I emailed him – non-Tuck related. I saw that he got a job here in NYC in the Luxury Retail industry. Since I work for Bloomingdales.com he and I are now brethren and I wanted to meet up for drinks. So he remembered that. So we talked for about 15 minutes as if we were old friends. Now when I say he gave me great insight into something at Tuck... HE REALLY GAVE ME GREAT INSIGHT!
So as we spoke I saw that the other admissions officer was free, and I had a question specific to something she told me previously. So when I went up to her we joked that I kept running into her. Obviously, it was by no accident and maybe to the detriment of potentially looking like the prospective students that I kept making fun of. In hindsight, I think that move was definitely transparent, but I felt that if I'm myself when I speak to these people it will seem genuine. I mean I'm too old to be putting up a front and acting fake for anyone. It was too time consuming.
The night was great but when I got home I knew that I still had the GMAT looming over my head. Ironically enough however, I needed to submit my applications to the diversity conferences. The next day at work something funny happened. We were going through the our schedules for October since that’s the beginning of the holiday season for retail. When it was my turn, I said, “Yeah every Thursday & Friday for 4 weeks straight, I’ll be out of the office.” Everyone laughed and looked as me as if I was joking, and I said, “no, I’m serious.” Then my director, the one who graduated from Kellogg said to the other folks on my team, “Well you guys can work that out right?” and he just shrugged. He was already on his way out mentally (ended up leaving after Q4). He was a pretty easy going guy anyway.
Around this time, my friends were beginning to hear back from NYU about their candidacy for the Diversity Conference. I had not heard back yet even though my friends were accepted. I documented the time of day when they heard. I relegated to the fact that my GMAT and/or GPA was/were just simply not high enough for NYU or I wasn’t diverse enough, but realized that could not be the case. I was glad that I hadn’t been outright rejected so I was slightly hopeful.
I couldn’t dwell on that looming decision too much because I STILL had to study for the GMAT and complete my essay for the diversity conferences at Cornell and at Tuck. I was beginning to think of these pauses to study for the GMAT as hiccups. I knew that this was a bad sign because I was losing focus. In attempt to regain focus I changed my Tuck interview from 9/24 to 10/26. I had to move it back a month and I planned to take the whole last week of October off. On that Monday afternoon during the last week of October I would take my 2nd official GMAT retake. Then Monday night, I would rent a car and head up to Hanover, NH. Tuesday would be my interview, and then Wednesday morning I would be on my way home. If accepted to the diversity conference at Cornell, I would head up there on Thursday and come back on Saturday. I knew that the week would be very hectic with a lot of travel and a lot of money spent. I also knew that it HAD to be done this way.
How did I have an interview at Tuck already even though I hadn’t applied? Well, this is a great time for me to explain HOW I would be applying. I was applying through the Consortium for Graduate Studies in Management (CGSM), more easily known as The Consortium. The Consortium is the nation’s largest diversity network, linking top-tier students, leading MBA programs and corporate partners, including Fortune 500
companies. The missing is to reduce the underrepresentation of African Americans, Native Americans and Hispanic Americans in education and business. With this comes a special application which you will hear about later.
After speaking with so many people who are embarking upon this GMAT journey this season I realized something. As much as we all wanted to be done with applications, we just couldn’t seem to stay on track and submit our applications. It seemed as though I had been working on my Tuck and Cornell diversity conference essays for 900 years years or so it seemed. My Tuck essay was ready to submit along with my resume, but every time I went to submit it I chicken out. I want to keep checking it over and over and over again until it's perfect. The interesting point was that I wasn’t changing anything.
Then amidst this minor depression I thought back to the long road that I had been on.
By getting what some would consider a head start, I was able to form relationships at these events with people who were NOT ONLY getting a headstart, BUT ALSO applying the previous season. While the people I met who were also getting a headstart were still my friends the year I was applying, it was the people who were applying the previous season that have put me in the headspace that I currently found myself in.
There were two groups of students who were giving me an insiders look into b-school that I never would have access too.
1.) Witnessing them go through the trials and tribulations of the application process was very educational. Now, the four people I was referring too were in business school. One friend is at Duke Fuqua - two others whom I met during my visit to Yale are at Michigan Ross - a friend I met at NYU Stern’s LGBT event last year is now at NYU Stern.
2.) Having visited so many schools Yale, HBS and Tuck, I have a myriad of then first year students, who were currently second year students. I have followed these students from the end of their first years through their internships and now into their 2nd years.
So everyone is in or back in school when I was still going through the process. I was beginning to feel like the lone solder left on the outside while they were all in this business school environment, embarking upon this new chapter in their lives, as I peer through a window yearning to be inside with them. While the barriers to entry for business school are very high, I was finally beginning to see the reason for it and not just hear about it. Everyone I has spoken with has echoed each other’s comments that their 2 years at business school was the best time of their lives and they wish they could go back.
I wanted to see how true this was, so I sent those four friends messages. Here are the conversations that we had.
I sent my friend at Duke a message on Facebook and we had this discussion:
Me: i hope you're having fun... although i'm 100% sure you are
Him: Fun is relative my friend...B-school is hard work. It's crazy moving in 100 different
directions and still not having any idea what the hell you are actually doing.
Then I decided to email my two friends at Ross just to say Hi and here is the email
that I had with one of them.
Me: Just wanted to say that I miss our conversations online! Hope you and _______ are enjoying yourselves! I've been looking at your Football Game pictures on FB and I'll admit that I'm semi-jealous!”
Him: It is very true that I have been on a serious gchat sabbatical. We are BUSY!!! So busy that although I see _______ almost every day, we still haven't been able to coordinate a time to sit down for dinner together. You would've loved my classes today - - there was some intense employment of the Socratic method by our strategy professor.
The students who are second years who I rarely hear from now and I understand that yeah everyone is just as busy as I am, albeit a different kind of busy. It was very odd to witness people doing the very thing I wish to be doing 12 months from now. It’s a little surreal.
So in order to get there I had been taking a look at the similarities among these people and even those who have just graduated from business school. I noticed that there was a common language with which they spoke. Had I not immersed myself in the process so much to get a sense for what I needed to know, I would not be able to notice AND attempt to adopt these minor language and thought differences between MBA’s and NON-MBA’s. Now I’m sure the same could be said for anyone with a Masters degree, but I’m only speaking about my experience with MBAs.
Being twice removed from the world of the MBA because I haven’t had the luxury of growing up around these subtle differences, has me in a different place than someone who may have worked in I-banking and began adopting the necessary skills or someone who may have grown up in a household with parents who had MBA’s.
There definitely has to be something there if I can listen to someone think and hear the common attributes of an MBA student - to then only ask them if they have their MBA and they say yes. It is these skills that separate them from those who have not received their MBAs. Now does this make it necessary to get an MBA to acquire this toolbox? Well that's up to the individual, but I can't see that as being a negative effect.
I feel that because I became a student of the process, I had started to adopt some of these characteristics I saw consistent among MBA students. I noticed it a lot with my language and the way I interpret things. It is for this reason that I see what the GMAT is trying to accomplish. Sure was a bunch of numbers and paragraphs that we all hated, but in studying for the GMAT I found myself at work now - “Well what is the assumption behind what this person is saying about this data? I was an analyst, so I dealt with a lot of numbers.”
With this being said, it’s ironic that business schools want candidates who have a diversity of thought, but what I thought they really meant to say is, to an extent! This commonality of thought is different for each business school, but I did think one
existed. I realized that the whole “researching b-school” and “fit” is to find out if I shared this commonality. I felt that if I could convey that commonality then I would have the best opportunity for admission. Whether it was true was a different story. In September, that’s what I had to tell myself to keep my dream alive. The more I went through this process and think that I am beginning to see what it really takes for
admissions the more I THINK I’m beginning to see that it’s not as much as a black box as people make it out to be. Again, I hoped that I was correct, but knew that only time would tell!
Let me say here, that this is when the light bulb went off and it’s ironic that now I’m writing a book titled, “It’s Not Rocket Science.”
I started really thinking about which Consortium schools I wanted to apply too. At the time, the Consortium was made up of 17 schools. In the middle of September I figured that I would only apply to four of them (the maximum is 6). The more I went through the process and learned about each school the more I realize that I fit better with some more than others.
After doing this introspection I had to again be derailed and heartbroken over my own GMAT progress but yet had to congratulate a friend of mine who got a 730 on her GMAT the 3rd time that she took it. Studying for the GMAT had no longer become a dreadful thing. It was actually quite fun trying to figure out the intricacies of this exam. I no longer study for 5/6/7 hours a day reading through material doing 1 problem here and 1 problem there. Working with my tutor has been very beneficial, albeit expensive, but given the opportunity cost it was worth it. Let’s say that from August – December I went tohimonceaweekfor2hours. (4weeksinamonth*5months=20weeks*$180= $3,600)
I remember one night I did another practice exam Quant section from Veritas and scored a 44! When I saw the score I think I did a fist pump (I'm from Jersey so it comes naturally!). I pressed B for every verbal question so my final score was a 460, but when I found where the Quant score was I was very pleased.
My Quant was improving but my Verbal was not. I thought I was on the verge of an epiphany but I was getting anxious waiting for that EUREKA moment to arrive. I think I dialed in to what I need to focus on. My problem was not that I don't understand the premises but rather that before in my prep I was so focused on figure out what the questions were asking and not so much the premises, but now I need to go back to looking into what the questions are exactly looking for. One Saturday night I had just completed a set of 20 Critical Reasoning questions when I received a text message from my friends who were at a house party. I had a friend ask me when the next time I would be available because he wanted to plan something. I told him "The 3rd week of November and no I’m not kidding.” At this point all my friends understood what was at stake. I still got invitations to go out and I simply said, "I'm studying." The 3rd week of November was right after the Consortium R1 deadline and that was where my focus was.
When I finally heard back from NYU regarding the diversity conference, I found out that I was waitlisted. While I was happy that I wasn’t rejected, I was distraught because I figured that if I was waitlisted to the diversity conference then my prospect of being admitted was also slim. Because of this waitlist I beat myself up over my GMAT score and GPA. Again, knowing that these were my weaknesses I was sure that this was the reason why I was waitlisted. Nope, I didn’t think that it had anything to do with the fact that I had been to other NYU events and that maybe they needed to give other people a shot at learning about the school. I mean, I lived in NYC and could visit Stern at any time.
At first I was bummed about this. I found out at about 6:30pm on a Thursday while I was on the crosstown bus going home. I was immediately disappointed upon hearing and then naturally went to that place in my head saying to myself "Well if I can't get into the diversity conference then there's no hope for admissions." Of course everyone says that they are mutually exclusive, but it's natural for one to think that. Then I texted OSIRUS and he made a great point that turned my mood around. He made a great point. He said "Well that's a good sign if you were waitlisted with your GPA and GMAT." I responded with "...you know I didn't think of it that way. So the way I decided to interpret my waitlisted status is that NYU finds my profile interesting, but with the combination of my GMAT and GPA, there's no real way they could justify openly accepting me to the diversity conference, since there wasn't an essay."
The good thing about all of this is that I think I hit my Quant threshold. After almost a year of studying and having my highest Quant score be a 39 back in March, I’ve consistently done better on Quant. Towards the end of September I had only been taking the Quant sections of the practice CAT exams and here are the results:
45Q - Veritas
39Q - Veritas (I was very tired) 44Q - Veritas
45Q - MGMAT
So the question I posed to myself was - how do I get to that 47/48 level? I needed to start getting more 700-800 level questions correct. In order to do this, I needed to get better at a couple of topics. Some of the topics my tutor and I had not covered yet, but they were on the upcoming agenda. Some of you may be saying, “Yeah, but you took 2 GMAT classes so those questions shouldn’t be new to you.” To that I say, that while it’s true that I had taken 2 GMAT classes, I was not ready to tackle the 700-800 level questions because I hadn’t mastered the easier questions yet. Now that I was consistently getting in the mid-40 range, I was ready to tackle the harder questions. The GMAT is all about trends and repetition. The better you do, the more times you see the hard questions. I could easily take a practice CAT exam that I had taken back in March and not see any of the same Quant problems because I was simply at a different level than before.
Around this time, I attended The MBA Tour MBA fair in NYC at the Grand Hyatt. It was a Saturday and I was planning on waking up early and going to all of the events, but I realized that I’ve heard the school pitches before and it wasn’t necessary for me to put myself through that any more. I texted my friend Jessica to see what time she would arrive and we planned to arrive at the same time.
I was really on a mission. I only wanted to speak to the admissions director from Cornell. When I got into the conference hall I didn't see him so I was kind of bummed, so I went over with my friend to the NYU table to get our badges scanned, in order to “sign in”. NYU always has a large crowd and I didn't need to ask any questions so I just stood there and listened to the responses that my friend was getting from someone from admissions. I wasn't going to try to throw in a question here or there because it would be fruitless. I personally just didn’t want to hear the stock answers anymore.
The Cornell rep did show up at the Cornell table and I went over to speak with him. I had a couple questions for him regarding Johnson Means Business, the Diversity
Conference. I had already taken the days off from work so I hoped that I was accepted.
After visiting the Cornell table I was walking around looking for Michigan, but soon realized that it was Michigan State that was in attendance and not the University of Michigan. Then I got trapped at the Rutgers table. Yeah I know what you're saying "Where did Rutgers come from?" Well.. it IS my alma mater, so I wanted to see what they had going on. When I look back on that experience that day, I got up – showered – put on a suit, shirt, and tie, all to go have a 10-minute conversation with the Cornell representative. I just had a feeling that it would pay off though.
The following week at work, I had "lunch" with my friend who just aced the GMAT. She's also someone who first reached out to me back in May when she read my blog after I posted a write up about a Tuck information session. She had just gotten a new job and works a couple of blocks for me so we met up at an equidistant location today after chatting on GCHAT for a bit. I actually think we met at the base of the building that Boston Consulting Group is in.
Neither one of us was particularly hungry so we just found a place to sit in the sun so we could work on our “tans” which was ironic because we're both African American! We had a 45-minute discussion about all things business school application related. It was refreshing to speak with someone in person who echoed my thoughts not to mention she cracks me up! We have the same sense of humor and hopefully we'll get to spend a lot of time together if we attend the same school.
We realized that the actions we have taken to get to this point are incredible! At one point I said to her "Shoot! (that’s not the word that I used. It was another word that begins with SH!) if we don't get into business school, who else will?" Don't get the wrong idea I didn't mean it in a manner like "Oh... we're the best people out there so if we don't get in then no one else will." But it was more like we've done everything that we're supposed to have done. Who has done more research on schools than us? Who has the stories we have?” It was a conversation that put us both at ease a little bit more.
By this time I had come to terms with the process itself. I no longer worried about anything in my past that I could not change. I began to tell myself that if I submit the best application possible and the school decides to ding me because of a certain element, then that school is not one that I would fit with for two years. I became confident in that I believe that the application process is not simply about trying to prove yourself to these schools. If done correctly, I thought every applicant should get to a point where they are confident enough to “say” to the school “If you don’t like me from the application I’ve submitted and the interaction you’ve had with me, then I’ve misjudged your school and am not upset about being denied the opportunity to
attend.” That peace of mind has me smiling all day everyday!
Then after those nice thoughts, I had a frustrating night of studying Number Properties which I thought to be the most important topic on the GMAT, because it can be tested so many different ways. It was giving me so much trouble and I was near a breakdown with my GMAT date looming.
Here is the dialogue I have with myself as I approach each type of question (no lie): Geometry - Sweet this is going to be fun!
Rates - Ok what rate am I looking for? Ok...got it... time to solve
Algebra - make sure you don't make stupid calculation errors dumbass and be sure to check your work.
Exponents - count your blessings because you got this!
Combinations - try it out but do not spend more than a minute trying to solve it...just move on
Percents - read this shit carefully and when you think you have the answer read the question again to make sure you have what they're looking for
Variables in Choices - choose numbers and do not make calculation errors stupid ass! Easy number properties - you can figure it out
Hard Number Properties (usually w/ primes) - Oh fuck fuck fuck I don't know how to do this. Ugh I'm going to get it wrong and then the next question will be easier. Why do they put this on this damn test? When was the last time anyone ever asked you to solve something and said "Oh but I just want to know the prime number?" Ugh I hate this shit... Fuck I wasted 45 seconds... Ok lets try to solve this... Oh shit I set it up wrong... damn it. Oh! Let me try using numbers! Ok so if I use 2 and 3 then the outcome is X but wait... no maybe I need to use negatives.. ok so if I use -2 and 3...Hhmm but maybe the test makers know that people are going to choose 2 and 3.. so let me try other
numbers. Fuck... now I only have 20 seconds left... Let me choose 8 and -9... hhmm yeah now I can't do all those calculations that quickly... Shit I'm over time by 10
seconds! Let me try to think it through... Well all of the answer choices work
WTF?!? Fuck it let me just choose C and move on.... then the next question is like 1+1=2!
As deadlines approached I noticed that everyone around me in the pre-MBA bubble had his or her head down and is barreling through the process. It was interesting to take a step back and see where people are in the process - people I now consider friends!
I just read through my google reader, where I see everyone else’s updates about their journey's and we're all either juggling GMAT prep and essays, or just essays, tracking down recommenders, visiting schools, reaching out to everyone we know at each school.
It was definitely nice to see that I was not the only one going through this. Even though I would be neglecting my friends for another month and a half, at least I could seek refuge and solace in other people’s stories. It's like we're all in it together albeit competing against one another, but there's a bond we share going through this process.
Everyone who has gone to a top business school has endured the same process. I thought to myself that if they could do it then I could too. It's funny because after I did a round of studying or took an exam, there were two people I usually called and one that I email. I always call or text OSIRUS and I text my friend Jessica! The fact that I now had a support system meant that I had people to keep me sane. I had people that I could vent to when my friends were out partying on the weekends or when I was feeling down. People who UNDERSTOOD. Usually the conversation would go something like this:
Me - "this damn exam is going to be the bane of my existence!"
Other person - "OMG I KNOW... I just did ______ and _____ and scored a ___ but I'm not too worried because last night when I did _____ I realized that I just need to ______!"
Me - "Yeah... when I did _____ it was so easy! But then I got to ______ and I had no
idea what to do!"
Other person - "Did you hear about _____ they scored a _____ and they used ____ Tutor at $X/hour"
Me - "Wow that's great! My tutor said ______... so it'll be interesting to see what happens to ______"
Other person - "Are you going to the ______ event on Saturday?"
Me - "Yeah I registered for it a while ago.. do you need the link? I'll send it to you!"
Other person - "Yeah I do thanks! I was too busy doing my essay for ______ and totally forgot about the ______ event this Saturday!"
Me - "Ok I'll talk to you tomorrow on gchat we both need to go study some more!"
It was still September but I was beginning to think of what life would be like the week that admissions decisions started going out.
One day I walked into my colleagues office. She graduated from the McCombs School of Business. I walked into her office and said "APPLYING TO BUSINESS SCHOOL IS A TOUGH PROCESS" and she just started laughing. She agreed with me but said that it was the best two years of her life! I couldn’t wait until I could say that. We talked for about 10 minutes and she walked me through the day she got the call from McCombs informing her of her acceptance. She said she jumped up and down on her couch! At that point I could only imagine what that felt like. It was another good motivator!
The follow day at work I was on gchat with a friend and we were talking about Johnson Means Business at Cornell and then all of a sudden my gmail updated with an email from someone at Tuck with the subject line: TUCK DIVERSITY CONFERENCE WAITLIST. My heart sank when I saw this and subsequently read the email.
So then of course my conversation with my friend took a turn to speculating as to why I may have been waitlisted. I don't believe it was my essay because I believe that was solid. So with that being said I couldn’t help but think that it had to do with my GPA/GMAT combination. I didn't want to write that last sentence because I don't want to keep bring it up because it depresses me, but for full disclosure purposes for potential applicants, I think it's important for people to think about it.
As an applicant I couldn’t help but think "What else could I have done?" For starters, yeah I could have scored higher on the GMAT than I did. That's the only other piece of information that I can change right now going forward until my application is submitted. Then as I was speculating about the decision with my friend she said that her friend just told her that he was accepted to the conference. I just thought - "LUCKY!"
I was still struggling with the GMAT but now it was a struggle with certain sections. I was beginning to become more confident than ever about Reading Comprehension and Critical Reasoning. There was one type of CR question that I couldn’t seem to crack. Sometimes the two answer choices seem exactly the same to me. This was something I needed to work on so that I would go into my exam confident about my answer choices
and not debating on whether I should choose the answer opposite from the one that I want to choose! It had gotten to THAT point for this type of question.
I had also done that during a practice set. One time, I wrote on a separate piece of paper the answers I would have chosen for a select few problems where I couldn't pick 1 answer on, and I said to myself "I'm choosing B but I think C is the better answer but I just don't know why and can't justify it." Then I wrote C on another piece of paper and I got it "right" lmao. Hey gotta make yourself laugh sometimes right? I obviously knew that I couldn’t do that on the real exam. Or could I? Yes, it got to that point for sure!
At work one day, I was thinking about attending the Reaching Out Conference in LA in a couple of weeks out. Just to get you caught up it's a conference for LGBT MBA Students and Professionals with some pre-MBA students (me and 10 others) sprinkled in there. Let me not forget that there will be LGBT Allies there as well!
So back in August when I was writing my first drafts for my Tuck application I was answering the question "What's the hardest thing you've had to overcome and how did you overcome it?" Something to that effect. So for that initial essay I wrote about how the hardest thing for me was coming out to my mother. I thought it was a great first draft for that essay. Then my consultant responded with very good constructive criticism essentially saying "What separates your story from all of the other coming out
stories? Was this really the toughest thing you've had to overcome?" I don't think she meant it as "yeah right this is not the hardest thing you've had to overcome." but more along the lines of..."this is a common story!"
So then I will admit I got defensive internally thinking to myself "of course it was the hardest thing! who cares if it's a common story? it's MY story and it was hard!!!" lol... yeah that's how I talk to myself in my head. I learned a lot in the short weeks since that essay review discussion. I now know that the hardest thing for me was not coming out to my mom it was something else to that effect though.
Then I had a friend ask me, "Why are you doing so much research into the LGBT climate at these schools? Everyone at the schools is an adult and will treat you just fine." For me, it wasn’t necessarily about being treated fine, but in order to understand why I take the LGBT culture so seriously is because living in NYC, it's a part of my everyday life. The reason I looked into the LGBT cultures at each school is simple. While I could bond with anyone it's just nice to have some people you can turn to or talk to or just give a glance too and they understand what you're thinking and have been through what you've been through. Don't get me wrong I haven't been through anything that I know a lot of other people have. I don't think it's tough to explain, but I think people understand what I'm trying to say.
Think of it this way... let's say you played football your whole life from Pop Warner up until College. Then you go to business school. When you watch the Superbowl, you just want at least one other person in the room who also played football and knows why you may be yelling at the TV when the referee blows the whistle! Sure, there will be some people in the room who played soccer or basketball their whole lives and love sports too, but they may not get IT. Of course you'll still have a great time but it may have been better with that other football player in the room. That's the best analogy I can make.
Also, a big part of it was my thinking/concern that B-school was a bunch of type A I- bankers, and having that stereotype becoming a factor in determining where to go to school. But, had I not had that mentality when I started researching schools, I would have never gotten to the place I am in now where I know that my thoughts were NOT the case. B-school has a myriad of people most of whom don't even care about ones sexuality. I got that sense when I visited certain schools.
Also, at any school I ended up at, I planned to have an active role in the LGBT club on campus. If there isn't one then it's not so much that I couldn't start one, because I could, but not having one would have given me a sense of the types of students that are at the school. I didn’t think (I could be proven wrong) that a school with no LGBT club would be the right school for me. I have also heard stories about people not feeling comfortable in b-school being out, which hey to each his or her own, but I can't fathom being in an environment like that. Don't get me wrong. I don't go around carrying a purse and dressing in drag although I have friends who do!
In looking at business schools, I was not asking for there to be 40 LGBT club members all wearing rainbow flags on their backpacks, because A) that's overwhelming...too many colors all over the place B) it's not sincere. But, an LGBT presence on campus says a lot to me about the school itself and the students.