Finals are over, the second half of the semester has begun, and Austin City Limits (ACL) was the most unbelievably organized, entertaining concert I think I have ever been to. What does that have to do with the rest of this blog post? Nothing, but the food at ACL was incredible.
It is, however, application season for next fall’s incoming class. I know people are thinking about applying, beginning to apply, and getting their recommendations in order, among other less-productive activities such as checking their minor-league curling fantasy team, learning bridge from their grandmother, and watching “Becker” on repeat. I can remember how stressful, time consuming, and exhilarating/soul-crushing this entire process was. If I could give you some advice on the entire process it would be the following:
1. Start early: It is obvious but true and the more time you give your recommenders, the more time you can work on your resume to build your “story,” and the more time you allow yourself for editing, re-editing, re-re-editing, starting from scratch, questioning why you are applying, writing, editing, and re-editing your application essays, the happier you will be.
2. Know about the school: It is pretty obvious, but understanding what the school is known for, researching student clubs you would find interesting, and knowing popular professors can go a long way in interviews and essays. I know it may seem annoying or time consuming, but is that extra hour of research any worse than sentence correction problem sets on the GMAT? You don’t have to answer that.
3. Do not get too obsessed with statistics: Between the Princeton Review, the Economist, the Financial Times, beatthegmat.com, and the class profile, you will probably convince yourself you are / are not getting in. Obviously there is a difference between being way below the average on everything and just below on your GMAT or GPA, but those scores are not the be all and end all. They matter, but they do not matter at the same time. If you are memorable, interesting, a leader, involved, and interview well it is not going make a difference if you were 12 points below the average on one standardized test or .05 below the average for your GPA.
4. Everything is going to be OK: Everybody who is applying to a top business school wants to get in. Not everybody will. I know plenty of people who thought they were a shoe-in with their GMAT scores or GPA’s, yet they never get an interview to this or that school. I also know other people with below average scores, but great essays and awesome personalities getting into schools some would consider a stretch. You have to know that a lot of this is your grades, GMAT and essays, but a lot of it is luck, timing, etc. If you can, kind of/maybe accept the randomness of it all, it could provide you sanity.