From the Trenches: Insights from Successful Applicants

As one group of nervous applicants transitions to being enrolled students, another group gets ready to apply. Why not learn from the successes, failures and decisions of the group before you? For the next several weeks we will be publishing interviews that we conducted with some of last year’s clients. We gave them a list of questions and asked that they be brutally honest and try to provide any insights that could help future applicants.

Biggest mistake you made or almost made in this process?
Not retaking the GMAT when I believe that my score does not accurately reflect my ability.

Some keys to your success?
Endlessly working and reworking my essays with the help of my consultant.

What did you find most challenging?

What was an exercise you went through that was helpful?
A mock interview session with my consultant. This was a great preparatory aid for the real thing. When it came down to it, I already had all of my answers rehearsed, since they asked the same questions that you had.

How did you put together the following important aspects of your story?
– why MBA?

My consultant was great with this one. My past experiences, current situation, and future goals, perfectly justified the decision to pursue an MBA. I tried to do this on my own before, and though the reason was my own, my consultant helped me to look inside myself and find the answer to convey to others (the admissions committees). Making a career transition and wanting to advance my own personal skill set came at the perfect time.

What was most helpful in your interview prep?
That the questions my consultant asked me were near mirrors of those asked during my real interviews. This allowed me to perfect my answers before delivering them officially.

How did you select your recommenders?
Based on who I thought would write the best recommendation ”“ and accept guidance from me ”“ and share insights that no one else could provide through their personal and professional experience with me.

How did you prep your recommenders?
Via the guides that my consultant gave me, which were great guidance for me. What I mean by this is that my recommenders are too busy to read through these documents, so rather than prepare them, the guides prepared me. I now knew exactly what to tell the recommenders to write for me. Having my consultant go over their recommendations was, of course, very helpful.

What were you most nervous about in your profile?
The quantitative score on my GMAT. Second would be not visiting some of the schools that I applied to, wondering if I should have (not knowing is what almost makes people nervous). Third would be selecting recommenders since I am an entrepreneur.

How did you overcome this potential stumbling block?
I guess I never did. I just went with it by making all other parts of my application as strong as they could be.

How did you select your list of schools?
I opened up US News and chose the top 20 that were still realistic possibilities, with a couple of lower ranked schools as safeties. I did this because I believe that business school only makes sense if one of the top ranked schools.

What was helpful when you hit writer’s block?
Suggestions from my consultant. It always helps to get an outside perspective. Other perspectives came from my friends and family. I purposely never once looked through bookstores or on the Internet for past essay winners and losers because I felt that my own, unbiased view, would wind up the most creative and thus impressive.

How did you stay motivated?
That was not a problem. Once I dedicate myself to something, nothing gets in the way of my drive and focus.

What was the best GMAT resource?
Practice books. I was scoring in the mid 700s after going through Kaplan (the Kaplan 800 was a good one) and Princeton books. Then, I made the mistake of enrolling the Kaplan course, which slowly lowered my performance by teaching me theories that I was to use almost mechanically, forgetting my strengths in logic and common sense, which I believe the GMAT most requires in the end.

For other Anderson insights, visit: Days of Whine and Neurosis

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