Returning to my cell block

To say that the last two months have been stressful would be putting it lightly. I received admissions decisions for 50% of my submitted applications and I’m essentially stuck in the same mudpit as I was back in December. This is not an ideal scenario by any stretch of the imagination.

Believe me when I tell you how thrilled I was to see many of my fellow MBA prospective applicants receiving admittance offers to various top business schools – I know how many hours of hard work and focus that were poured into the process! But I wouldn’t be honest with you or myself if I said that watching my fellow applicants jump off the sinking ship into their respective lifeboats wasn’t a tad bittersweet (okayy… a biiiitt of an overdramatic analogy there, I know). It’s just that I badly wished to be joining my brothas and sistas to MBALand, not watching them leave for it without me.

I imagine it’s akin to warming up to your cellmate in prison (oh herro fellow MBA applicant!), befriending him over the years (infosessions & forums), fending off the crazies (GMAT) cornering you in the showers, working out a deal with the gang members (recommenders) together, overcoming the interview with the warden (admissions committee), and then finally learning of his release date (acceptance offer) and congratulating him – you’re genuinely happy and elated for him, but the fact remains you’re still returning to your cell block (ding-land). Wouldn’t it be a hundred times more awesome if, say, the two of you were released together? Alas, I have some more waiting to do.

I wrote “50% of my submitted applications” to highlight the reality of my situation; putting it differently however, it was really only 2 schools that I heard from: Yale SOM in December and Duke Fuqua in January. Waitlisted at both. Zero dings. So 2 decisions… 50% of applications… ah yes, simple math.

Yes, this means that I did not end up applying to NYU Stern for my 5th application. I had to question whether I honestly wanted to attend business school full-time in Manhattan, after having worked and lived here in the city for over 4 years.

Personally, if I join a FT MBA program I would want this significant phase in my life to represent a new chapter in my life. I am not sure how this new chapter would unfold if I remain in the same setting with all of my current friends and past connections just a stone’s throw away. I’ve heard stories of some Stern students flocking to their respective areas of New York City at the end of the day, or how the community is not as tight-knit as some other schools because of the fact that many Stern students do have those existing social network of friends in the city to revert to. Throw in the fact that I wasn’t entirely feeling the school from my visit and there you go – 4 applications total it is.

Returning to the outcome of my R1 decisions: I got waitlisted at Fuqua and SOM. Was I on the cusp of acceptance, inches from being on the other side of the bubble? Was I qualified but waitlisted because there was an abundance of applicants within my demographic or job function? Most importantly, what can I do between now and May (which feels like an eternity away) to convince the admissions committee how badly I want to be taken off the waitlist?

In retrospect, I do regret splitting my apps across R1 and R2 and perhaps not applying to at least 2 more schools, such as UVA Darden or Berkeley Haas. It at least would have provided me with additional looks. The uncertainty of not knowing what lies in store for 2013 is pretty excruciating. I feel limited in my options due to the uncertainty – not knowing how long of a lease I should be pursuing for my next apartment, not being able to pursue pre-MBA job opportunities just yet, hesitating on RSVP’s to friends’ weddings in the spring and summer, etc.

Still, there is some weight lifted off of the shoulders. First of all, I’m completely done with the rest of my applications. I wrapped up my 4th and final interview in Ithaca, New York this week (hurray for a Cornell invite!!!) at S.C. Johnson Graduate School of Management. After I sent my interview follow-up thank-you letter I flopped on my bed and exhaled deeply. It’s all in the hands of the Johnson Admissions Committee now, just as it is with my other application (Kellogg).

Normally, I’d be spending a good deal of my free time in the gym but I sustained a pretty severe ankle injury over a month ago and it still isn’t at 100%. We all know life has its ups and downs; I’ve definitely been riding a “down” stretch. So how do I intend to respond to this period and the next couple weeks? I mean, really, there is no sense in beating myself up or counting the hours and dollars spent on this process with potentially no acceptances to show for it. Life goes on. I have no choice but to move on. Move on I shall.

I really am proud to have given business school my best shot and know that in the years to come, I won’t have to kick myself wondering what could have been by not even trying to apply at all. I’ve always thought (in the past year anyway) that an MBA would be just the jump-start I needed to move ahead in life but the hell if I know what that truly means. I’m currently debt-free, offspring-free, in good health and make a pretty decent annual wage. Maybe the application process, not the outcome, will be my true jump-start to my next big thing. After two waitlists, I’m mentally prepared for the next two decision notifications – ding or no ding. Fear of rejection is worse than rejection.

In the meantime, I plan to stay busy by exploring my company’s job postings for a potential internal transfer, ramping up my interaction with both my mentee (volunteering) and my own new mentor (through work), looking for potential course offerings in economics or accounting, and getting ready for Super Bowl Sunday (hosting a group of friends). Life goes on!

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2 Responses to Returning to my cell block

  1. Hang in there…being on the WL is a good sign that your apps will convert with at least one of your schools. You’re definitely on the right path.

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