Friday, April 9, 2010

Application Life Cycle

I came across a brilliant and funny article recently that i feel captures the roller coaster ride that is the application process....all rights reserved to the author!

Let's say you are 2 or 3 years out of college and the thought of an MBA starts lingering in your mind. Either you've heard some stories of former colleagues going for it and are curious about it or you think the name sounds cool.
You can talk to MBA alumni (if you have access to them) to start your research, or maybe to some friends. But this initial conversations can be biased (name 1 alumni who "officially" thinks his/her school sucked and you'll get a bonus!) for all you know.
So you decide you need some "objective data" to continue your research and you go pick up the latest issue of US news/ B-week, or whichever one is available at newsstands. You browse through their pages and start wondering:

1st phase (the MBA honeymoon):
- Wait, wasn't Kellogg a cereal brand?
- What's with the GMAT scores? why 700? over 1000? that's weird. What's GMAT btw?
- Ah, finally, I know Yale, I know Harvard, I know Stanford, MIT and UCLA. But where's Princeton? And Brown?
- I like International Business, so as per these rankings I should better be attending Thunderbird. But why are the starting salaries from there so much lower than from other schools?
- I loved Miami when I visited on spring break. Lemme see what their school's like.

2nd phase (Delussional optimism):
- I'm a wise person, so GMAT shouldn't be a problem for me. Maybe I'll take one of these intensive 1-week courses and go for it! Why would anybody spend months studying? That doesn't make any sense. I mean it's high school level math and English for crying out loud. Heck, I can speak English, I've taken Calculus classes.
- I'm a clear admit at Havard, plus I'll get a full scholarship. After all I'll get a top GMAT, I do speak four languages and have made steady progress at work so far.

3rd phase (Depression while taming the beast):
- GMAT sucks. My friends no longer talk to me. My girlfriend broke up with me and spending 150k for an MBA doesn't make much sense to me anymore (nor does it make sense to my family, my former friends nor my girlfriend). Do I really, really want to do this? Otherwise I could go back to having a life right now.
- Ok, so I'm headed for a 600 score, if I'm lucky. Let's see what that would do for me. Hmm, I'd better score at least 650. Wait, 650 ain't that bad! Oh boy, I'd kill for a 650.
- "So Johnny (an acquaintance of yours), how did your GMAT go?"
Johnny: "Oh man, I'm so depressed. I bombed my 7th attempt. I just can't get past 550. I'm about giving up"
You: "Crap, Johnny, after all the effort you've put into this, I can't believe what you are telling me. I mean, I'm still a zillion hours away from your study record to date. By the way, I'll better be heading home and attack those Sentence Corrections again!"
- (at 4am in the morning on a working day): I suck, I suck, I suck! I can't believe the silly mistakes I'm making. Sigh, I wish I'd remember more about Statistics...

4th phase (post GMAT preliminary research)
- Ok, so I got a pretty decent GMAT. Now let me write sth and send my app right away so we can finally bring this "I'll pretend I read your app." game to an end. Let's check the instructions.
1st question) What matters most to you an why? [3 to 5 pages]
Hmm. Maybe I'll leave this one for tomorrow. Or let me brainstorm and write a shortlist:
1st shortlist (prior to any research):
a) Money.
b) Success.
c) Beer.
d) Getting my ticket stamped to land an IB job.
2nd shortlist (after some research):
a) Being mother Theresa.
b) Saving humanity.
c) Saving the environment.
d) "Changing the world".
- I'll apply to 147 schools. That way, I'd maximize my chances of getting a scholarship.
- What's with the letter of recommendation? Should I tell my boss about my plans? It looks like the point of no return to me.

5th phase (applying, AKA the emotional roller-coaster)
[staring at essay#1 version # 84]: This sucks! I can't believe how boring I sound. I should re-start from scratch!
- I should write about the snooker tournament I won when I was 16. That'd be original, plus I can spin it to show how I used my leadership, analytical and teamwork skills.
- Beh, I can apply in Round 2 as well.
- Crap! my recommenders haven't even accessed the website yet and it's only 2 days left! I'll send them "friendly reminder #27". No, wait, I sent #26 just 5 minutes ago. Maybe I'll wait another half hour.
- Wait, was Kellogg's deadline on the 5th? Or was that MIT? Maybe I should drop Wharton. I can't make deadlines on the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 7th. OK, I'll just drop Wharton from my list and have it as "fresh" backup for next year just in case.
- I wish I had applied to more schools in Round 1. Look at all these people getting interviews and admits!

6th phase (post application blues)
- Shoot, I won't get in anywhere. I mean look at the profiles of applicants! I should retake GMAT. My 700 is not enough. I should aim for 790+.
- Crap! Yale dinged me without interview! Ohmigod! If they did it, ANYONE can do it! THEY COULD ALL DO IT!
- I have an idea! I'll check which schools have rolling admissions and apply to those. I still have time!
- Suddenly University of Phoenix Online doesn't sound that bad.
- Why? Why? Why didn't apply to more backups? Why did I have to shake my interviewer's hand so firmly? Why didn't I coach my recommenders more thoroughly? I wonder what they've written. Probably nothing good. I wish I had submitted my app. a day earlier, that way I would have looked as a well organized person. I read that Kellogg dings all applicants above 28 years old who haven't made directors positions. Wait, is that a typo on my MIT essays? That's one school less, buddy. I'm soo doomed.

7th phase (endless joy)
- Hell yeah! I've made it! I've been admitted [dream school X] next year! I rule! I can't wait to get recruited by [dream employer]. When is admitted students weekend?
- 2nd admit! I rule!
- Should I go to [School X] with a 7k scholarship or to [School Y] with a 25 k scholarship?
- Work? What's work? Ah, right, that thing I'm supposed to be doing daily on weekdays from 9 to 5...
- I wonder whether spending this 150k makes sense after all...
- I'm so gonna get grilled at B-school! What if I mess up? I'd better start brushing up on some skills....where's my excel for dummies book??????'

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

First of many....hopefully!

Who am i? Well, my name is Bayo Babalola, a 26 year old finance professional based in Nigeria. I currently work with a Private equity firm in Nigeria after spending two years as a portfolio manager with an investment boutique. I am also enrolled in the CFA program and scheduled to take (retake...insert red face) the level 2 exam in June.A blog? Why? Well, to tell the truth, i've been exploring the option of going to business school for a couple of years now, spending a lot of time reading student and alumni blogs of various schools. They have been quite helpful and i feel that i should contribute as well by documenting my experiences prior to, during and after business school.

Okay, so where am i now in the admissions process? Well, i have taken the GMAT and scored an almost miserable 670. I have however decided to take my chances with it. I don't feel the gains of a higher score would be worth the additional three months of study time to take the bloody exam again! Not to mention the additional $250! My time would probably be better spent trying to learn french or something.....not sure i can get away with yoruba as a second language in these bi-language schools! I have pretty much looked at every school from Thunderbird to St Gallen ( and have finally decided that LBS (London Business School) would probably be the right fit for me. So hopefully, this time next year, i would be celebrating an admit with my loyal readers (or my girlfriend, if as i expect, the former < 1!)

My greatest worry? Money! Money! Money! Let me break down my financial situation. Tution at LBS is currently about £50,000 (i expect this to be up to 55k by next year when i apply), throw in another 30k for living expenses. Moving to the right side of the balance sheet, i currently have a miserable £5k in savings, hopefully, i can miraculously increase that to £15k by the time i'm off to school, Throw in another 15k from my family, that leaves me with a £50k shortfall! Can i get enough in scholarships and loans to finance this? Do i want to leave the MBA with a £50k loan book especially if i have to come back to Nigeria to work? Why do i have to go to LBS? Why not the Thunderbird School of Global Management? After all, they are the best in International Business (or so i hear)! These are some of the questions i hope to have answered over the next year......