The past few weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind. It happens to me every year as although the Christmas/New Year season isn’t as widely celebrated in India as it is in the Western World, there is festivity in the air. Most of my friends who are studying/working abroad come home for the holidays and hence, for the past 7 years or so, December has largely meant reunion month. Even bigger Indian festivals - Holi and Diwali - somehow aren’t as ‘fun’ for me as December. But I’m sure I am in the minority when I say that, as I find myself in the precarious situation of having 4 of my 5 closest friends living abroad.
This New Year’s eve I hopped between two parties - one at a friend’s place and another at my newly wed cousin’s house where my entire family had gathered. My parents don’t really ‘celebrate’ NYE - they stay awake watching a movie on TV until 12 AM, wish each other and their children, and are asleep by 12:10 AM. This year, as my cousin organized this party, everyone got together at her place - EVERYONE! Let me put that in context - I have 17 first cousin sisters, 15 first cousin brothers, and counting their parents and our elders, my immediate family (ONLY first cousins) numbers around 80 people. Hence, there was a good turnout at my cousin’s place - limited to my father’s side of the family though - of about 40 people. For the past many years, I have spent NYE with my friends, but this year I was determined to spend it with my family. I am not sure if I will come back this winter, like most of my friends do, and hence probably won’t spend the next two NYEs with my parents. Although they don’t really see it as that important, I do - I am basically grabbing any small festivity and looking to spend it with my parents versus my friends. Something about leaving home that gets you closer to your parents I guess …
Now that the personal update is over, let me elaborate on the title of this post. The Hangover is not meant to signal the Hangover I had on 1st Of Jan (ironic no, how most of us start our new year? :) ). Rather, it is the Hangover of the application season. Last year, at this time, I was frantic. I had applied in R1 and had seen zero success. I was thinking if I should go all out and apply in R2, or if I should accept my shortcomings (lower GMAT, lesser work ex, promise but not results to show at work etc.) and try again next year. As all of you know, I chose the latter. Having applied to 5 top schools this year, and having heard back from all of them now, it makes sense for me to give the readers a final ‘tally’
Tuck - Accepted
Kellogg - W/L, which I have given up
HBS - Ding W/O Interview
Wharton - Ding W/O Interview
MIT Sloan - Ding W/O Interview
As many on you will also know, Tuck was my #1 school choice. I haven’t written much about Tuck here as someone else noted, but that’s something I missed doing versus not wanting to do it at all. Further, as my deposit goes this week and I become an official Tuckie, there will be many many more updates here periodically. Until now, I have only joined the FB group - which now numbers 105 by the way, and that’s only the EA admits - and have received my official acceptance letter along with a Tuck backpack. I was perplexed - I though the school will show more love - but as I discovered through my research, that love starts flowing post you submit your deposit. Fair enough - love is not unconditional anymore in this world anyways :)
Having written so many essays, and having done umpteen revisions, I now feel a bit ‘unemployed’ and ‘idle’ with regards to the admissions process. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to write those essays ever again, but you must understand - for the past 15 months, I have had almost an obsessive relationship with essays and the b school admissions process. It’s like giving up a habit. Hence, my hangover. A typical hangover means pain in the head, dehydration, and sometimes regret. In those ways, this hangover is completely dissimilar. Yes, there was pain involved in the middle (all the rejections) but it is so much more satisfying today having done whatever I did over the past year and seeing it fructify into an admit at my preferred school.
Many people asked me on the forums, and in real life, why I was giving up the Kellogg W/L especially as it does move a lot. My retort - why not? Clearly, in my mind, I liked Tuck better. If we cannot take bets on our gut feel, in this case backed with a whole lot of data, then what are we? Doesn’t that mean we are hypocrites who would say X but do Y? And its not like someone’s judging me - Tuck won’t come at me all guns blazing as to why I went to Kellogg over Tuck. But something inside me, that made a commitment to me in terms of ‘You must chose X over Y - we spoke about this dude!’, makes me want to remain true to my choices.
But, at the end of it all, to each his own. For example, I see some of my fellow bloggers have a choice to make - MBAOver30 has to choose between Wharton and Booth, each having offered him some scholarship, and Sassafras has to choose between Yale SOM and Kellogg. I’m sure even they had a priority stack developed before and/or while applying to schools. Hence, all things being equal, it should be easy for them to make a choice right? But, choices can spoil you - not the ‘rich kid’ kind of spoil, but choices play around with your mind. Hence, all the best to both of them - I hope they make the right decision!
The issue of fit raised by my good friend Cheetarah (cheetarah1980.blogspot.com) should guide them and all others making a choice on where to attend b school this fall. If I look back at my essays and the whole process, somehow there was a natural order that emerged in terms of my preference for schools. For me this was Tuck -> Kellogg -> MIT -> Booth -> Darden -> Yale SOM. The only way my thinking would have been screwed would have been if I got into Harvard/Stanford/Wharton - for obvious reasons. Hence, I placed Tuck, Kellogg and MIT in R1, and if I hadn’t made it to any of my top choices in R1, would have applied to Booth, Darden and Yale in R2. In hindsight, applying to only Top 10 schools in R1 worked for me, but many people advise against it, and rightly so. All the consultants I spoke to said you should apply to atleast one Top 10-15 school - eg: Cornell, Darden, Yale etc. along with the others in R1. I highly advise all those applying next year to implement this thinking.
Until the next post …