Monday, December 10, 2007

Essay Creation and the Interview

As I ponder how to prepare for my interview, I think about the admissions process. By no means would I consider it fun, however on its own, its a bit life changing - even with the acceptances and dings. I am not the same person I was when I first started writing business school admission essays three months ago. Each question from each school has given me new perspective on how to approach the next essay as well as a new perspective on myself. When I hear about the adcom reading essays that have the wrong school name, I wonder how these applicants did it. No two essays of mine are alike and although they may share some of the same ideas, they were each written from scratch and tailored to the specific school to which I applied. Please don't miss interpret this, at times, short paragraphs referring to my background could be copied and pasted. I wrote essays based on deadlines, but in a way, that order actually help me. Kellogg was a good start because with a defined page length instead of word limit, I cultivated more ideas (of course, in retrospect, I could have been more concise). The next essays I tackled as one set instead of two, alternating days between the two schools - Virginia and Michigan. There was almost no question overlap and minimal idea overlap, but working on the essays concurrently kept me interested and created a solid picture for each school. Plus, I finally understood the word limit issue. Finally, I tackled my Georgetown essays, which proved to be quite difficult initially. After being used to a 300-500 word limit per essay, 750 words seemed like an eternity. What more did I want to say without simply adding filler words and BS? Somehow, I figured it out. This set of essays is where I think I discovered my idea and definition of Leadership. Not to mention, they ask you to specifically define it in your own words. It look me a lot of hours to fully wrap my head around the concept, the story, and the articulation, but after writing this set of essays, I feel I am a better candidate and can hopefully articulate it in my next interview.

The interviews I have had to date have been...interesting. I felt that I was under prepared for the first interview, but particularly because I did not analyze the Georgetown questions as I should have. Additionally, I didn't write my essays for those questions until 2 months after my interview. The thoughts were better constructed by then. My Kellogg interview with a local alum was more interview and less conversation than I anticipated. A slight miscommunication had me thinking we were meeting for brunch, when in fact, it was simply an interview at a restaurant at brunch time. Overall, the interview had flow and I was more confident when he related his experience to my own. Next up is Virginia. This will be the first campus I visit. At times, I see people attending sessions and campuses a year or two before they intend to apply. In some ways, I envy them and contemplate what I would change about my personal process, but then reality hits, I DO NOT want to do this again next year. The sole action I would change through the entire process is I would have visited campuses. Although I have the funds, the time was not there by the time I narrowed the schools and realized the Round 1 deadlines.

ClearAdmit Wiki has some good comments on interviews. For the most part, I don't feel interview preparation is anything more than knowing your personal story, preparing for the generic questions, and knowing the school. And as a wise adcom rep once told me, remember, it's ok to pause (and in that pause, have silence).

Upcoming decision deadlines:
Kellogg - January 7th
Ross - January 15th
Georgetown - January 25th
Virginia - February 1st

Application Deadlines:
LBS - January 4th

Also, one last end note - because this is primarily a personal blog, you will see posts about all sorts of subjects, I apologize in advance to those who primarily want MBA applicant information.

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