the results are in

well, i’ve finally got all my decisions for all the programs i’ve applied to…just today, actually.  i was trying to save some space so the table would fit into my stupid blog template so i apologize for some of the confusion.  “%” indicates how selective the school is; the percentage of applicants the schools gives acceptances to out of its entire applicant pool.  the 5 most selective schools in order: stanford, hbs, mit, haas, stern, and cbs.  “int.” is whether i was invited to interview…this may not seem like much but most schools don’t interview everyone (see *** below); typically your chance of admission after receiving an invite is 40-60% so they probably invite about twice as many as they accept.  for example, stern accepts 13.2% of its applicant pool so they might interview about 26% of them. ok, enough explanation…here we go:

School Round Rank* % Int.? Result? Aid?
CBS ED** 5 15.3% Y N N/A
HBS 1 Top 11.2% N N N/A
Ross 1 10 / 15 25.4% Y Y $$
Stern 1 10 / 15 13.2% Y Y $$$$
Wharton 2 Top / 5 16.8% N N N/A
Booth 2 Top / 5 22.3% Y Y $
Kellogg 2 5 19.9% Y*** WL**** N/A
Anderson 2 15 29% Y Y

* – rank changes every year and with every publication (businessweek, us news, etc.) so i’m just going by the general consensus on its prestige.  people often say you need to go to an m7 (magnificent seven: harvard, stanford, chicago booth, mit sloan, northwestern kellogg, and columbia) or a8 (awesome eight: m7 + dartmouth tuck) school.  while those are the super-elite / elite schools…i think you’ll  do very well with the top tier (top 25?), and reasonably well from second tier.

** – most schools have application cycles in 3 rounds for each class year.  some even have 4 (berkeley haas), or some, like columbia, are either early decision or regular decision and on a rolling basis.

*** – kellogg is one of the few (only?) schools that doesn’t extend interview invites; they interview every single applicant so getting an invite bears no indication of how well you’re doing (unless you’re an international student whose interview was initially waived).

**** – wait list.  doesn’t hurt as much as a ding, but you’re still not in…you’re in limbo.  some people can get off the wait list; it can be really difficult if you’re at a school with a high yield (people who actually decide to matriculate).

and how does this compare to my undergraduate institution?  let’s see, my school was ranked #31 according to u.s. news at the time i started (#37 now, geez guess we slipped) and one of my majors (based on how my school did in the graduate school rankings since i couldn’t find an undergrad one) is top 7…not that i think anyone in the world would know that.  a very unique major that was impacted when i was still in school…it required an application and portfolio.  i was lucky enough to be accepted my first time.  anyways, back to my school…accepts 38.2% of its applicant pool.  not too dissimilar from my undergrad performance if you consider top tier for colleges is the top 100 whereas top tier for mba programs is anywhere from the top 15-25.

as i might’ve posted about previously…i originally only intended to apply to 4 schools in r1 but when i was rejected from hbs and cbs, i also applied to 4 more.  overall, i think i did pretty well.  i was rejected at 3 schools but i have 4 options to choose from with significant scholarships from 2.

some highlights and thoughts:

  • the entire admissions process is a crap shoot.  you can’t really tell how well you’ll do at each school precisely because the admissions process is so holistic (you’ll hear this often).  all components of your application are important (work experience, undergrad gpa, gmat, etc.) and considered differently at each school.  you might get rejected at a school that was lower ranked, or even less selective, than a school you were accepted at.  i didn’t get any scholarship money from ucla even though it’s less selective and not as prestigious as any of the other schools on my list.
  •  also, the adcoms at each school know their programs really well and there are more than enough qualified applicants to fill the class seat so a lot of times, it comes down to fit.  if you don’t get in, don’t feel too down…it isn’t necessarily something you did wrong, or that you aren’t good enough…you just might not have been a good fit at the program, even if you want it or think you would be.
  • it’s really easy to be swayed by the rankings/prestige.  for me, i was turned off by cbs in a lot of ways, but still held onto it because of the prestige.  in a way, i’m relieved that the decision was made for me.  and tying into my last bullet, it’s interesting to note that the schools i didn’t get into were the ones i felt the least connected to.  i didn’t like cbs, never visited hbs or really talked to any of the students, didn’t connect at wharton but was only there for like 30 min, and was a little disappointed with kellogg.  this goes back to the fit thing i guess (bullet 2).
  • the ding that stings: it’s never easy to be rejected by anything.  while i certainly didn’t enjoy being dinged by those schools, cbs’ ding stung by far the most.  it was my first ding, first decision, and one i really thought i would get into.  i mean, my chances of being accepted were higher (~50%) than even getting the invite (~30%).  kellogg was pretty brutal too since i was one of the last people to be notified over a 5-day period…maybe they were really on the fence about me or something?  but it’s not a ding, i already had other great schools, was my last decision, and was expecting it by that point.
  • the acceptance i was most happy about: ross.  maybe because it was my first acceptance + it came with a scholarship…or maybe it was because it might be my favorite program.  but i was happy enough to jump up and down after the call.  (stern doesn’t tell you about scholarships until you receive the mailed acceptance package, so you don’t know at the time you hear your decision.)
  • the next step: i have the very tough decision of figuring out where to matriculate.  i’ve already ruled out ucla but i have 3 other great programs to choose from.  i’ll post on that once it happens…because i haven’t decided yet.

the best of militarytobusiness blog’s admissions advice

i read this post last week on poets & quants.  it’s the “best of” admissions advice from the blog, militarytobusiness, which chronicles a us military officer’s journey to the business world as he attends harvard business school.

hbs is the second most selective (hardest) mba program to get into so i think i could learn a thing or two from this person.  especially since he/she started his/her own admissions consulting!

these tips are really valuable and a really different approach than what i had planned on doing for my applications this fall.

i won’t copy/paste the entire story…i’ll just include the main points and you can read the details and the reasoning behind them from the original post.

  1. begin your dream school application first, but turn it in last
  2. submit your applications in reverse order of priority
  3. apply to your safety school in round one; dream school in round two
  4. interview in reverse order of priority
  5. never apply to a school you are not willing to attend
  6. consider your business school interview the 30 most consequential minutes of your life
  7. mitigate perceived weaknesses by playing up presumed strengths
    • consultant: strength – organization and presentation; weakness – lack of leadership or vision
    • engineer: strength – technical and analytical; weakness – lack of people skills
    • military: strength – leadership and ethics; weakness – working in ambiguously defined environments, working without a clear chain of command
    • non-traditionalist (artist, social sector, etc.): strength – unique experiences and fresh perspectives; weakness – lack of business and math ability
    • investment banker: strength – business and computational skills; weakness – lack of leadership ability, lack of interest outside of work.
    • international: strength – strong global viewpoint, language skills; weakness – poor (english) presentation skills, challenges adapting to western business
    • younger applicant: strength – academic rigor, vitality; weakness – lack of experience, immature
    • older applicant: strength – experience, maturity; weakness – lack of career focus, reluctance to change or to adapt

a lot of the reasoning he/she provided made sense to me and i think i may incorporate it into my strategy.  submitting my applications in reverse order of priority is something i hadn’t considered and may be a little difficult if i decide to apply to columbia since they have rolling admissions (so it’s generally better to turn this one in asap).

rajat gupta vs. haruka nishimatsu

another day, another white collar criminal charge.

so there’s been much criticism the past few years on the role of greed and lack of ethics in business in causing the financial crisis.  and today, yet another distinguished harvard business school alumnus has cast scrutiny on the mba world.  rajat gupta, one of hbs’ most distinguished alumni and a major adviser to 5 top business schools, was charged with insider trading by the securities & exchange commission.  the former director of goldman sachs and procter & gamble is accused of leaking information to a friend who illegally gained $18 million.

gupta has an impressive resume and is considered to be one of the most successful indian-born businessmen of his generation.  at only the age of 45, he became the first non-westerner to hold a top leadership position at consulting powerhouse mckinsey & co.–managing director.  not only has he been instrumental in the founding of the indian school of business, he has served on advisory boards for harvard, northwestern’s kellogg school of management, mit’s sloan school, and university of pennsylvania wharton’s lauder institute of management & international studies.

this news comes less than a month after another hbs alum, samir barai, was charged with insider trading.

but there are also business leaders who have ethics and morality.  there’s haruka nishimatsu, ceo of japan airlines.  when jal hit hard times in 2009 and laid off its staff and was forced to cut pay, he also cut his own.  not only did he eliminate his perks, but the ceo of the 10th largest airline in the world isn’t making millions.  in fact, as low as $90,000–less than some of his pilots.

“if management is distant, up in the clouds, people just wait for orders,” nishimatsu told cbs news through a translator. “I want my people to think for themselves.”  nishimatsu says a ceo doesn’t motivate by how many millions he makes, but by convincing employees you’re all together in the same boat.

some other examples of good management executed by nishimatsu:

  • knocked down his office walls so anyone can walk in
  • buys his suits from a discount store (because a boss who wears an armani suit puts himself at arms’ length from his people)
  • dines in the company cafeteria for lunch
  • takes the city bus to work

jal filed for bankruptcy january 2009.