Ding and no more

March 8, 2010

It’s not quite a month yet since Feb. 12 2010. Some one referred to it as “Bitter Friday” on one of the forums. That perfectly summarises that day. Thousands of us have now been stranded without an interview invite. The flurry of hitting the F5 key on the 12th gave away gradually to despair, and then [smash!] the dreams broke into a million pieces. For some of us, who have spent well over a year preparing for GMAT and applications, it came as a sad reminder of where we truly stand. For internationals like me trying to make it to a good US school only two things can lead us there – a very strong academic past and dad’s moolah. Sadly I have none. For those who are relying on their ECs and WEs and GMATs to get into HBS, go back to your college transcripts and see if you have a 3.7+ GPA. If not, bury your application and let it rot there.

The saddest thing is to say goodbye to the forums, the blogs, the newsletters, the twitter-feeds, the connections that one has grown used to. There’s no more dreaming of Boston, or New York. No more dreaming of plum consultancy/ finance jobs, no more dreaming of Wall Street/ Manhattan, no more thinking of Porsches, or fine dining at The Pierre. It’s back to the grimy life we’ve been leading before we learnt to dream.

This will be my last post here. This will also be the last post to carry the HBS tag. And I shall bid yet another goodbye – this time to my own blog and twitter feed.


Miracles & Calculations

November 16, 2009

What does it take to be selected to a quality B-school? Forums would have me believe in success stories that are truly inspiring. Forums would want me to believe in numbers that make a difference. Forums would want me to believe that miracles do happen. Do they?

It’s often that I find applicants working out intense calculations on the number of applicants in a particular round, the number of admits, the waitlisted, the ratio of admitted to dinged, the ratio of applicants to those called for interview, the ratio of those interviewed to those dinged. In all, a labyrinth of calculations — done much like a professional gambler — done to determine their chances of getting that coveted call. I’ve read entries of people with sub-700 or even sub-600 GMAT calculating their chances of getting in based on their pool or their WE or their community experiences. I read blogs by sub-600 applicants applying to HBS and disappointed at not receiving an interview invite.

Do miracles happen? Perhaps they do. But it seems to me that the only minor advantage that can make or break an application is not of numbers, but of luck. And luck is not in our hands. I like to tell myself that getting into HBS is 80% luck, 20% hard work and 10% magic. It comes to a 110% and that is what HBS requires. Anything less than that 110% and I can kiss my dreams goodbye. And by the way, the last 10% is what I have to create. It’s a very individual thing.

Calculations can give hope, not results. If one has a sub-par application, he’s not getting in. I would advise myself, and others, not to leave anything to chance. If something can be improved upon, do it. Low GMAT? Retake. Low GPA? There’s nothing you can do; but try to push up the WE and GMAT. Low WE? Don’t apply. It’s that simple.


Just a hunch.

July 6, 2009

The following is merely a hunch:

I’m an international applicant, and coming from a media/legal background means that I’m not part of the mainstream IT/Engineering pool which dominates the total applicant pool from India. In such a scenario, how do I judge the competitiveness of my profile? A few thoughts:

[Note: Profile excludes GPA and GMAT scores, but includes work experience, industry and country]

For those applying from within the US, international exposure, among other things, is of high importance. Is international experience as important for an international applicant? I think that international experience is necessary for bringing a diverse range of opinion to the table. An international applicant already brings with him that ‘other’ viewpoint, so the necessity is diluted.

As far as applicant pool is concerned, who are my real competitors? I doubt if it is the entire pool of applicants. My hunch is that the adcoms look at sub-pools – Total Applicants > Indian Applicants > Male/Female > Resident/Non-resident > Engineering/IT /Consultancy/Legal/Media/etc. – to determine their choices. So my real competitors will be the Indian applicants, and further in that group, the non-Engineering/IT pool.

I cannot not point out the differences in work culture that exists between the US and India, or for that matter any two countries (or even industry). As such, what would be the factor that would equate us to one another? How would the adcoms create the ‘level-playing-field’ to judge the applicants? Honestly, I don’t think there is such a thing called the ‘universal-level-playing-field’ in the minds of the adcoms. They are obviously (and hopefully) aware of the glaring differences within the pools and know that a one-size-fits-all policy will not work. This is where (and why) I believe the adcoms will create the sub-fields – small level-playing-fields for small groups of applicants who are relatively similarly profiled.

      So, the rarer one is, the better his chances?


      A quick word about shifting grains from chaff.

      June 17, 2009

      A quick word about shifting grains from chaff. The Internet, I’ve come to notice, is flooded with mostly well-meaning individuals and associations who advise and opine on issues plaguing most MBA applicants — the GMAT, the essays, the LoRs. I must thank them for their time and their inputs, but it appears that the challenge I face is having to differentiate advice from opinion. The flood of suggestions is a queer mix of those coming from admits, applicants and consultants. Out of the three sets, the first and the last are usually advices; the middle set is almost always opinion. All applicants are really in the same boat with or without the leak. Of course, sometimes it does occur that an applicant has a good idea — a way to proceed, but more often it is an opinion which does not have any value for me.

      An admit can say what worked for him/her; a consultant is usually only cryptic, and forums are littered with people tossing in their 2 cents which are usually worth just as much. In such a scenario, it pays to listen carefully to what’s been said and determine if the inputs are advices or opinions. I think it was Aristotle who said, “It is a sign of an educated mind that can entertain a thought, but without actually accepting it.”