the trials and tribs of an MBA hopeful!

Come join me in coffee shops, hiding in conference rooms at work, and generally giving up my entire social life as I work on my MBA applications!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

happy halloween!

Happy Halloween!! This was my Halloween costume (well, clothed, but you get the point) My hair was sticking straight up in the air thanks to a whole bottle of hairspray and was bright green...thank goodness it came out!! I think I may have single-handedly contributed to global warming with all that aerosol - oops.

I actually didn't go out for Halloween tonite, but dressed up and went out and about Fri and Sat which may explain why I pressed the snooze button about 4 times this morning. I had a tight schedule since I was getting a ride to work, and convinced myself that I needed only 8 minutes to get ready (eight?!?! bye-bye, shower). Hope the ponytail and headband look wasn't a dead give-away. That voice in my head is just so damn convincing sometimes.

So, according to HBS's last cryptic message, tomorrow is when the invitation invites begin...YIKES! Not going to lie, I have checked my email a few times tonight just in case they decided to jump the gun. <-- just re-read...that is kinda sick, huh? :)

Monday, October 30, 2006

Everything in moderation?

My life has taken an all or nothing type quality lately. The last six months have been insanely busy, and I feel like I choose one thing in my life to grasp onto, leaving everything else to fall to the wayside. Obviously the past two months it has been essays, essays, essays, and more essays. Oh, and did I mention essays? Saturday from noon till night (or wee hours of morning depending on the activity - haha) were free time, then back to essays. Before that were a few too many nights out and about, and before THAT was every day at the gym actually staying in shape. Moderation? I think not...

The week Kellogg was due I felt myself start to slip... there was a Sunday movie night, dinner w/ an ex, and a happy hour gone awry. Then I took this past week off and suddenly it is so hard to get back into writing. I made plans for every night this week, and this weekend seems to be rapidly filling up too. What happened to the 3 apps I have due in the next 2 months? I tasted the real life again...forgot how fun it could be!

So, my new goal is to write the remaining essays without it completely consuming my life. Is this possible?? If you have achieved it, let me know. You are officially my new hero.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

West Coast Girl Goes East

Ah, feels good to be home! I just got back from a week long trip to New York and Boston. It was so fun to see friends and family, although living in Cali has turned me into a was freeeezing!!!! I also visited Columbia and Harvard while I was out there, and spent a lot of time listening to my friends/family explain respectively why New York/Boston are the greatest cities ever. (i'm sure this input was purely objective, right?)

First stop: Columbia
I planned my New York trip mainly around visiting friends, not Columbia. Had I looked a little closer, I would have realized that Columbia had their midterms last week so unfortunately I couldn't sit in on a class. oops! However, I did get a chance to walk around campus and sit in on an information session. I really liked the atmosphere of Columbia - although it's in NYC, it's not really in the heart of the city and campus felt like, well, a campus (as opposed to NYU). The info session felt like a bit of deja vu...not only was it the same presentation as I saw in SF, but it was also the same presenter! The big difference was that there were only about 15 of us, compared to about 200 in SF! Felt waaay more personal, and totally renewed my interest in Columbia. Although it's not my first choice, I would be more than happy to end up there!

One other interesting tidbit - they give on-campus housing based solely on distance. Basically all international students and Cali residents (woo hoo!) are guaranteed on-campus housing. Always a good thing in super-expensive NYC.

Next stop: Harvard
My experience at Harvard was incredible. All of the stigmas I harbor about Harvard were completely obliterated after visiting. I felt like they took the time to really sell the program, which is always impressive from a top tier school. Also, the whole day was completely organized and I felt totally welcome on campus.

In the morning, I sat in on a class - yes, I got to see the famed case study method in action! They assigned me to a marketing class, and I was picked up by a student in the admissions office. The professor came up to me outside of class and introduced himself - apparently he is one of the young hot-shot profs there. There were two of us visiting the class and we were given a HUGE welcome - we were introduced by name, undergrad school, and company. And we got a huge round of applause (esp huge due to the 90 person section). The first thing that amazed me was just the sheer energy in the room...all the hands were up waving in the air (which I guess shouldn't be too surprising since your grade is 50% participation, but still). Students seemed very prepared for the case, and debated among themselves on which solution would be best. Truthfully, I was hoping to sit in on a finance or accounting class to see how the case study method worked in those types of classes, but marketing was very fun. A couple of times, a student would have a particularly innovative answer, and - NO JOKE - the class broke into applause and some people gave a standing ovation!! Not sure if this was representative of all classes, but I walked out feeling pretty inspired.

There was a lunch with some first year students, and it was a great opportunity to ask questions and find out just how insane the first year gets. They were very open and honest - seemed to like the program a lot, but also seemed stressed trying to balance class and life (to be expected, i'm sure!) The other prospective students in the room were applying next year - so much more ahead of the game than me!!! :) In the afternoon was an information session run by some 2nd year students - it was more of a q&a than standard presentation. Again, I liked their candidness and willingness to share their experiences, give pros/cons, etc. The other cool thing was, they all seemed very normal - in a good way! I guess I just picture Harvard students as these amazingly smart super-humans ... don't get me wrong, they all seemed amazingly smart, but I guess it just humanized the whole experience for me. The one downside for me is still the HUGE class size (900!!), but hey, i think I could deal! Now I just keep my fingers crossed for that interview invitation...

Anyway, that's all for now...gotta get ready for the first day back at work post-vacation - yuck. I know this was a long post, but wanted to give a taste for anyone who hasn't had a chance to visit. Lemme know if you have any other questions!

Oh yeah, and why isn't it January yet???????? :)

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Two down!

Yay! I just submitted Kellogg today. Unfortunately, one of my recommenders STILL hasn't submitted. She sent an email that said "in case you are getting nervous, don't worry, i'm submitting tonite." And still - nothing. I'll just have to keep my fingers crossed. Worst part is, I can't even check tomorrow - taking off to the East Coast bright and early!

I'm checking out Columbia on Monday, then going to sit in on a class at Harvard on Wednesday. And in between I'm doing a lot of sightseeing, and visiting friends and family - can't wait! And now, i should stop blogging and actually pack. I leave for the airport in 6 hours...yuck.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Ode to my essay reader

Essay readers: to love them or to hate them - that is the question (of the day).

So, I have been feeling pretty darn good about my Kellogg essays. I like that they are creative, light-hearted, and informative. And so did my two readers (and my mom, who i guess doesn't really count as an editor b/c "i love you, honey - these are just great" is just not constructive feedback) :)

Anyway, i was talking online to a close friend who insisted he was totally bored at work and wanted to read my essays. "The more, the merrier," i foolishly thought to myself. (I'm sure you can guess where this one is going.) He didn't like the theme in essay #1 and especially thought i wasted my "i wish the admissions committee had asked me..." on something trivial. (it talks about why my GPA dipped in my senior year.)

Him: "Is this really the last thing you want them to read about you???"
Me: "yes, definitely... well, i think so.... hmmm - i guess it is kinda negative.... OMG - i was going to turn that in?!?!?!"

ARGHHH! The 48 hour deadline until I'm submitting Kellogg has started to feel a little shorter...yikes! But, a big thank you to my essay reader who, though i may have hated him just *a little* today, will be my favorite person if i get accepted :) hee hee

(oh, and yes, this blog counts as total and utter procrastination from the inevitable re-write)

Monday, October 16, 2006

A Minor Case of the Jitters

I went Halloween shopping tonite with a friend (look at me being all social!), and we started talking about how much we love living in San Francisco. I love the big city life, the huge hills I walk up towards my apartment, the crowds at Fisherman's wharf, my friends who all live so close to me, and sometimes even the notorious fog. Through this whole application process, I have been so focused on writing essays that I had momentarily forgotten that in less than a year my life is going to be completely turned upside down. No more job, no more San Francisco, all new friends.

Exciting, but really really scary at the same time. I already started over once already when I moved across the country - am I ready to do it all again?

Since I had turned in Part I of Kellogg a couple weeks ago, it shouldn't be a surprise that today I got the official interview email. For some reason though, it just made this whole process seems so real! In less than a few weeks, Kellogg could be completely out of my hands. Essays, apps, interview all done. Then I will just wait. and wait. and wait.

And then maybe move to Chicago? or Boston? or NY? or stay west coast (fingers crossed)?

I guess since I am not stressed about essays today (Kellogg is 95% done), I had some time to reflect. I know I really want to go back to school; there is no question there. But, it does make me a little sad to leave the life I have here...

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Kellogg essays: a breakthrough in the 11th hour

I received some advice from a Ross alum the other day: "Remember, be yourself." A simple suggestion, but after reading through my Kellogg materials, I realize the value of her words. I couldn't see myself in any of the long essays I had written. My content was too generic, addressing everything I imagined Kellogg wanted to hear, nothing that reflects my true character.

Huddled in my local coffee shop surrounded by the 'regulars' playing competitive chess (seriously), I took a good hard look at my long essays . Then, though it pained me, I started over again. From scratch. I rewrote Essays 1 and 2 tonite, and when I re-read them, these first drafts were much better than the version I was preparing to submit. My essays were more light-hearted and lively, which is a much more accurate reflection of my personality. With enough motivation, I still think the R1 deadline on Friday is possible.

I feel inspired for the first time in awhile.

The other thing I was thinking about today is how critical I have become of myself. Just 3 months ago, I was proud of my GMAT, my GPA, and my experiences. Reading through the BW forums (a seemingly cruel and unusual form of torture) and comparing myself to other applicants, I forget why a program would even want me! I think from now on I will stick to blogs - it make me feel better to see others out there who are just making a good old honest attempt to get accepted to school.

I'm still brand new to the MBA applicant blogging community - but thanks for reading my thoughts and keeping up your blogs despite the impending R1 deadlines.

Anyway, off to watch Grey's (finally - i hear she makes a decision - hooray!)

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Random thoughts

finally finally home - long night essay-ing and trying to find a parking spot (damn you, SF!)

Some random thoughts:

1. There is nothing more satisfying after a long night at starbucks than a grilled cheese animal style at In n Out burger

2. With fries.

3. And a diet coke. (yeah, yeah i know. diet coke + fries don't balance each other out - i just like it better)

4. arghhh - i can't catch tonite's grey's anatomy until 9pm tomorrow night. how am i supposed to wait that long?

5. i work from home on fridays. I've been doing it for over 3 years, and it never fails to make me happy.

ok, that's all the random thoughts for now. i decided my kellogg essays need to be re-written, and i've changed my 3 out of 6. But that's fun i'm saving until tomorrow.

night night

Feeling retrospective...

...or perhaps just procrastinating from what is sure to be a long night of essay writing!

If only I had known how much work these applications were going to take, I think I would have approached things a bit differently. Luckily, I have a few more applications to go about things the right way. Some things I wished I had realized along the way:

1) It takes longer than you think! Sure, in college, I could whip out a 10 page paper - in Spanish nonetheless! - over the course of 24 hours. (thank you, red bull and diet dr pepper). However, to really weave all of your essays together and paint a cohesive picture, you need to do something called a rough draft. and draft 2. and 3. and 10. Yeah, that takes time.

2) If you are applying to 3 schools that have the same R1 deadline, you best be finishing your first one at least a month before it's due. (refer to point #1) I did not do that.

3) Choose your proofreaders carefully. I consider myself pretty apt when it comes to grammar, so I picked my readers and gave them specific things to look for. ie - natural leadership, real voice, themes. 2 of them came back with grammar changes. Only 1 came back with content.

4) Don't forget about the data portion of the application! Filling this in last-minute will surely be obvious to the reader.

5) Have a goodbye party. You will not be seeing your friends for awhile. (what? that sounded bitter? no...)

And before I go edit my awful kellogg's essays - one bright spot of the day: did you know on you can watch the shows you missed?? Grey's anatomy will not be lost to me forever... :)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Off to Application La-La Land

Again, I find myself being incapable of normal social conversation. Any question from any person ties into b-school and my application's like having a child! I can't stop talking about it. I might start sending out cute pictures of me studying and drinking non-fat lattes. Somebody please help me!

My friend was going off on a huge blind date tonite - she wanted to discuss the usual: what to wear, what to say, what if he's not cute, quick exit strategies, your normal girl stuff. I think I was responding, but in my head all I could think about was Kellogg Essay #1 and #2 and how they do not flow together... sad, i know.

tonite was Kellogg's information session held downtown. It kind of intimidates me to know all of those people are applying like me, come from the same place as me, and might even - gulp - have higher gmats than me. And I look around and there are waaay more girls than guys - doesn't help with the 'girl card' i was hoping would work to my advantage.

Anyway, the session was fairly helpful. I have been to a range, and can appreciate ones that actually cut to the chase, don't spent 2 hours telling you why their top - 10 school is the best, and tell ya what we're all here for. They talked a lot of leadership, presenting yourself and making your essays interesting, extracurriculars, and having a diverse class. For me, I really need my personality to come through in my essays which it's not. Right now I sound like a business school robot, when in reality I'm a friendly, outgoing person! Don't want to bore the readers to death with my babble...

Also of note today: i decided to hold off on stanford until round 2. this was a HUGE-O decision b/c it's my first choice and i want to know in january if i will get in. but, i don't want to sit around wondering if i didn't get in b/c i didn't spent enough time on the essay. oh well - april will come eventually, i guess... right?

Monday, October 09, 2006


Today at work I submitted HARVARD!!! Woo hoo!!!! 1 down, 4 to go.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Alrighty Kellogg, you're up to bat

Today i started a new chapter in my life called Kellogg. I know Kellogg is a wonderful school, but for some reason I can't get as excited about it. Maybe it's the prospect of returning back to the Midwest sooner than I ever thought possible, or maybe it's just that I'm sad to think i'll be leaving San Francisco. Actually, I'll go with the combo.

I think I did the whole coffee shop/cafe thing for a combined total of 8 hours. Seriously, I do not understand where the time goes...just kind of flies by and nothing actually gets done. But, i did draft part of Kellogg today - unfortunately a lot of it was cut and paste from harvard. but hey - i really liked my harvard app!

Reading it over, I have the same problems I did with Harvard at first - it just doesn't flow together and paint a cohesive picture of me. There is definitely a lot of re-writing to be done. And i want to finish it THIS WEEK so I have time to work on Stanford!

My biggest problem right now is question #2 - i just don't know where to start. Now it's just random thoughts splattered on the page...exactly what my new best friend, richard montauk, said not to do. Ugh. (btw - expect a blog soon on richard montauk and his hefty book i carry about like a bible...)

Saturday, October 07, 2006


Ah, nothing like Friday night in a coffee shop. It's me, and some old men playing chess. Yes, my life has come down to this.

But, secretly i LOVE staying in on Friday nights. I have never been so productive - feels like the glory days of all-nighters in college! Plus, I wake up on Saturday mornings refreshed and ready to go...nothing wrong with that.

I did some MAJOR revisions on harvard today. My problem at first was that they didn't flow together, there were no common themes. But after tonite, they really seem to get all of my points across - i am so happy with how they turned out.

In fact, I am, dare i say it?? DONE WITH HARVARD ESSAYS!! woo hoo. I had to re-write essay #6, the 'additional information.' what more could harvard want to know after i poured my heart and soul out in the first 5? Anyway, it is a little random but i talked about my jewish heritage and where my inspiration comes from. But, it seemed to tie the entire package together so I am not looking at it any longer!

The hardest part at first was figuring out my 'story.' Up until a month ago, i really wasn't exactly sure what i wanted to do. But using my experiences, I feel like I have drawn a realistic path between where i am today, and where i strive to be down the road. (besides, i can change my mind once i get there) ;)

Ok - night night!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Tick, tick, tick...

OK - one week and one day until Harvard deadline. I am actually starting to like my essays. Actually, i have read them so many times i could probably recite them by memory. (any volunteers?) :)

So, a bit more background as i take a breather from microsoft word. I am currently a finance analyst working for a big tech company in silicon valley (no points for originality there, huh). I have a pretty decent GMAT, although a little low on the quant. GPA 3.7 from a good school, and some decent extracurriculars to talk about it. In addition - i also have 3 months of working in Asia.

Overall, I feel like I am competitive with the people who are applying, but I need my essays and recommendations to push me over the edge. No pressure there.

Ok - all for now! Happy essay-ing!

Monday, October 02, 2006

A little overwhelmed

Uh oh...the clock keeps ticking. How is it already October???

So, somehow I am expected to write a total of 17 essays in less than 3 weeks? I know I should push some of my apps to round 2, but the prospect of finding out where I will spend the next two years in JAN instead of APR is too good to give up!

Harvard round 1: oct 11
Kellogg round 1: oct 20
Stanford round 1: oct 25

And I am still on Harvard. My only consolation is that I already took the GMAT back in December. It's possibly the best thing i've ever done EVER!

Oh yes, and I am taking the night OFF tonite. Huge farewell par-tay for one of my friends. A little brutal for a Monday, but hey... I rested all weekend and worked on apps.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

It's the world versus the MBA-applicant

So, I'm hoping it's not just me. My world has become focused solely on the MBA application process. Does this sound like a familiar conversation?:

Friend: "Hey, what's up?"
Me: "Omg - i am under complete stress trying to write all of these essays. i can't believe how long they are all taking! I have spent the last couple months holed up in a coffee shop! What do you think - should I apply to stanford in round 1 or round 2? I mean, i heard round 2 is a little more competitive, but ..."
Friend: {stares blankly}

BLAH BLAH BLAH - you get the point. The sad, but honest truth, is NO ONE really cares. Sure, they care about you as a person...but at least to everyone around me, the bschool talk is getting really old really fast!

(hello, i have no life b/c of applications hence nothing else to talk about!)

So, instead of venting all of my b-school woes (and lack of social life) to friends and family, I figured I'd start blogging. I know there's more of you out there just like me :)

More later on my progress to date and background. I just had to get all of that off my chest.