Sunday, October 23, 2011

Admissions Consulting

Admissions consulting companies are a result of the immensely convoluted MBA admissions process that schools have set up. While admissions officers say they want to hear about the real 'You', they don't mention that they also want to read an impressive application - i.e. the structure, flow etc. should be very different and surprising. how do you anticipate a student will do that now - I don't really buy their BS about writing in your own unique voice etc. Come on - would you really want to admit an Indian applicant who can't write well? The GMAT is coachable, you could do well on your verbal without really being good in English. And the applicant, assuming he is aware of what aspects of his application he falters in - such as essay writing - will definitely seek external help. Anyways, I too spoke with 3-4 admissions consultants for an initial review of my candidature. What follows is my experience and what I thought of the consultant in particular

- Stacy Blackman - I spoke with Bill Chonis. He was an awesome person to speak with, very courteous and knew his stuff. Said I had shots at the schools I intended to apply to. I agreed with his assessment (not of schools but generally) and he would have been my #2 choice if I did pay a consultant to help me

- Amerasia - Spoke with Paul. he's plain awesome. Amazing insights, means business - won't give you BS around well I have seen XYZ type of people getting in so you have a chance too - says what he wants to upfront and these end up being effective candid views. Would have definitely hired him if I had the money

- Adam Makus - he's too stuck up - I think he is only good for Japanese clients maybe or those who have immaculate stats and will get in for sure, thereby making it safe for himself in terms of acceptance rates

- Aringo - Spoke with Karin, their CEO. She was alright, gave me a good rate but am not sure whether I want to use their hourly rate or no

- Accepted - Spoke with someone I dont remember her name. She also said I could be competent basis my atypical profile, and was very nice to speak to. Her experience showed in the way she spoke to me and what all she recommended

- Clear Admit - I was supposed to speak with one of their consultants who's ex Columbia Business Scool (forgot her name) but she was a bit unprofessional - she never called, and always had issues in fixing up a time to spk. I think she's one of their busiest consultants so maybe thats the case. I did speak to someone else (again dont remember the name - its been long) but she was good

Essay editing - haven;t paid anyone as of yet but I think Essay Snark is really good - humourous guy/team that gives great insights. Also heard decent things about Essay Critique

All in all - Indian applicants do have some disadvantages - from an applicant pool perspective and also from the fact that they can't afford to get consultants to help them. I think there are 2 types of Indians who use these consulting services

1. They come from filthy rich backgrounds such as my friend who hired a personal consultant (single man service, one of the best) and paid him $6,000 for 2-3 schools. He got into 1 which was in the top 10 and matriculated. $6,000 is Rs. 300,000 or half of the total yearly compensation of an Analyst at Bain & Co.

2. They are consultants/IT folks who go abroad on client projects, save on their per diem and use that money (as they get it in $s) for such things

Anyways, I am firmly continuing in my own journey, consultant-less

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Story Thus Far ...

Background: I am an Indian Applicant. I grew up in a city called Chandigarh and graduated with a degree in Computer Engineering from Panjab University - that's right, that's how you spell it. I scored in the 99.8th percentile in my CAT exam and 99.92 percentile in my XAT. I successfully converted admissions calls at IIM Lucknow and XLRI, but chose to work instead (indians - I know you may be gasping at this!) Have almost 3 years of work ex now, first in the research captive of a major consulting firm, working across HR, internal strategy and operations. Now with a leading executive search firm, helping clients face complexities in evolving organziational models and also aiding them in inducting new leadership as they grow organically/inorganically.

GMAT history - taken 2 times, and got identical scores - 690 - even split across Math and Verbal. GMAT is a weak point in my profile I think - Indian students always score high on the test, and I would have too. First time, i wasn't well prepared actually but the second time, I came down with a 103 fever for 2 days, right upto the day before the actual test. The gap between the two attempts was 2.5 years.

Applications - reasoning that it would be better to spend $250 on a solid MBA app this year than retake the exam, i am applying to Columbia Business School, Tuck @ Dartmouth, Duke Fuqua and Kellogg - all round 1. I actually applied ED to Columbia and was rejected, wanted to apply EA to Tuck but my recommender had some issues and I am pushing this to Round 1.

Post MBA Goal and reason I need an MBA - Grow into the CHRO role at a major corporation such as P&G or GE. Need to go to business school and learn about management and leadership. The role as I have seen it as a consultant (through exec. search experience) today needs a strong connect to business and strategic foresight, unlike previously when HR was just another support function and getting an MBA for your HR leader wasn't really a big issue. basically, I am preparing for the future. NOW - because the earlier I switch to a line role in HR, the better as it is more to do with learning on the job. however, I do need to equip myself with the business and management intelligence to be effective and ready, which I am seeking to do by becoming a part of the class of 2014

Previous applications: Had applied to 2 masters courses - MILR at Cornell and MSc Management at LSE. Got accepted to both but thought it would make more sense for me to invest in a solid business degree recognized globally, than a selected program, too narrow in focus. Plus wouldn't have been able to go then anyways given financial issues.

Backup Plan - I wont apply anywhere else this year. If I don't make it, I intend to retake the GMAT in the summer of 2012, before the format changes. WilL ENSURE that I don't mess up this time, neither let anything else like health let me down, get a 720+ and apply to Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Kellogg and Tuck

The Prospective's Guide to an MBA: The Setup and the Name Choice

The Prospective's Guide to an MBA: The Setup and the Name Choice: Well, as I sit in my room wondering how I can kill time, I think why not start a blog? Maybe thats how (great) blogs are born - out of bored...

The Setup and the Name Choice

Well, as I sit in my room wondering how I can kill time, I think why not start a blog? Maybe thats how (great) blogs are born - out of boredom. That, and an intent to share with the world one's thoughts and views on various topics. I also think a key driver to setup a blog is when you have something you want to write about, just so you get feedback and help from those around you, on subjects you are currently confused about. It is this last reason that is most compelling in my case to setup this blog.

I am currently in hot pursuit of an MBA in the US, and having gone through many blogs of others which have helped me along the way, I hope I can be regular enough to hopefully help others around me some day, well atleast those who somehow stumble upon this blog.

The choice of name "UnClearAdmit" is a play on words on the infamous admissions consulting company - Clear Admit. No offense to them, in fact they are an inspiration with their insights into the complicated process of applying to B schools and the baggage that comes along with. However, as I sit at home today and reflect on what has transpired thus far, it is all the more clear to me that I am really ... an unClear Admit. There is NO visibility whatsoever as to what the outcome of this admissions season will be. And hence, I chose the name. I initially checked for Zazzles - please dont get me wrong. It has nothing to do with my fascination with such words. I am a big fan of the Big Bang Theory, and the way Sheldon Cooper (real life - Jim parsons), uses this word, its hillarious. It wasn't available - I guess many 'nerds' in the cyberspace blogging based on The Big Bang Theory names - however as I was brainstorming, suddenly UnClear Admit came to mind. i checked, and Voila! the name was available.

I do understand that if and when this blog becomes famous, although that is not the intent as I write tonight, I may receive an email from the ClearAdmit team. But until then, here's to what I hope will be regular blogging! Cheers and godspeed to all applicants this fall