Monday, January 31, 2011

UCLA Outreach

Unexpectedly I was contacted by an UCLA alumni tonight. I wasn't able to answer at the time but it completely caught me off guard. She also knew about my aspirations, consulting. I guess it's not that difficult to put it all together but I was still impressed. Has anyone else experienced similar situations with other schools? It's a nice personal tough. At this point, I've had this alum, a current student, and another alum (who also interviewed me) reach out to me to see if I have any questions or they could persuade me about going to UCLA. It's just getting me more and more excited that I have a great option in UCLA.

It'll be interesting to see how UCLA and Haas stack up as I'll be visiting both this month, Haas for an interview and visit and UCLA for A Days, they're version of admitted students weekend. After more than two years of persistence and dedication, things are finally starting to look up.

I've also connected with several Haas alum over the past few days...all good stuff and very exciting.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Saturdays are for practice tests

As I mentioned earlier, I'm not sure how I'm feeling about this whole GMAT part 2. Yesterday was a particularly rough day. The week before I had pushed myself hard to relearn the material and strategies from ManhattanGMAT. I took their course initially and can confidently say they were a big part of why I was able to achieve a 700 on the test. So I went back to them. Instead of retaking the 9 week course, which wouldn't help me complete my studying and the test before Haas' round 2 deadline, I am retaking it online. That means watching the class recordings and following along with the strategy books. I've also done some additional problems, but given the grueling schedule I've set for myself, that's the piece I'm neglecting a bit until I get through all the strategy/class material. So after just 1 calendar week, I've reached my goal of getting through roughly 4 weeks of the 9 week course. Yup, that's right. It was a bit overwhelming but I made it. This culminated in a practice test on Saturday morning.

Going into it, I felt pretty confident. Coming out of it, not so much. Though my score increased ~20 percentile points, it only improved by 20 points. The verbal went up a bit; the quant saw a dramatic improvement. However, it was enough to vault me close to my initial 700 and way off the map for my goal of the mid700s.

It was a bit defeating. However, now is the time to double down on my bet. Really push myself. I'm still confident in my strategy. The last time I studied, the most impactful piece was actually doing and learning practice problems. Therefore the classes and content are just the precursor to success. At least that's what I'm trying to tell myself....

Saturday, January 22, 2011

2 Years Later...GMAT Again?

Two years ago in February I took the GMAT. I had studied obsessively, waking up at 5am to put my time in before heading to the office. Yup, that's right a couple hours most mornings to ensure I would get it in. Like most aspiring MBA applicants, my work involves a lot of unpredictability and long hours. I walked out of that little room with almost an even split between quant and verbal, each over that notorious 80th percentile. My face illuminated as I thought to myself, I'm done with the GMAT forever. One and done! At the time, I was thrilled by my 700. I thought it enable me to apply, competitively, to any school in the world. I buried my GMAT books, note cards and anything other reference to that damn test.

Well 1 year and 11 months later, I'm unearthing everything. With a spot on the Haas waitlist, which of course is now my top choice, I am debating whether to retaking the test. In the Haas decision email, the adcom spelled out 6 things to do to potentially improve your candidacy. The first is to interview on campus, which I will do shortly (more to come on that one). Right below that at number 2, yup, you guessed the GMAT.

2) If your GMAT or TOEFL scores fall below our averages, you may wish to retake the test and forward an unofficial score (followed by your official score) to the admissions office.

So at 700, I must be close to the average at Haas, right? Maybe a few points below? Nope, the entering class of 2010 (per their class profile) is 718. Since the GMAT reports scores in 10 points denominations, that means I must go from the 90th percentile, at 700, to the 95th percentile, 720. And that's the class from a couple years ago!

Now the questioning begins. Do I retake the test to achieve a higher score? Could I achieve a higher score than 700? If I end with, say, a 680 would that demonstrate that I tried and thought I could do better? Or would that hurt my already below average GMAT standing? Of course, I realize no one piece is going to make or break my candidacy at this point. I could end up with a 750 and still not be offered a place at Haas. But that's no longer my question. The question is do I put myself through it for the next few weeks or not.

One additional constraint: I must take the test by the end of February. With Haas' round 2 deadline in early March, any additions to my candidacy must be completed before then to be considered when they re-review the waitlist which I'm told will be at that time.

With all of this in mind, I started by taking a practice test. No sense in diving in if it's too far out of reach. While the total was not good at all, there was one promising feature of the split. My verbal score only went down by a single-digit percentile. Theoretically this means I could do minimal work and still end up roughly around where I was last time. However, this means my quant was MUCH lower than my actual test. Some of the questions about rate/work and geometric questions weren't too difficult, that is, if I had remembered the formulas. Since I didn't they were complete guesses.

So now I have to decide whether to invest the time and energy or not. I'm hesitant to begin, knowing how much effort and time it will require. But I have to ask: if I don't get into Haas, will I regret not retaking the GMAT?

Anyone else in a similar spot? Any thoughts or advice?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Taking Stock

Now that I've had a couple of days to digest last week, I've come to one conclusion. Although I'm thrilled with the acceptance to UCLA, I'm ready to press Haas for an acceptance. Don't get me wrong, I feel fortunate to be in this position with an admit to a great program that I am excited to attend. However, for my career aspirations and expectations for MY MBA program, Haas is my top choice. With that said, it's time to be extra critical on myself. Now only must I question all the minute details of my application and why I was close but not quite thrust over that threshold, but also, I must be realistic in what I can do to make a difference. It's not difficult to be critical of oneself during this process. I find it's much more difficult to be confident in what to do next, or more importantly, what I can do to make a difference. The email from Haas outlines a number of potential improvements to anyone's candidacy. I'm now in the process of defining which ones to emphatically attack. When I know a bit more, I'll be sure to test my theories here. In the mean time, if anyone else has experience with this, I welcome your input!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

And it continues!

Haas waitlisted me. I'm actually really excited by it, especially since I have the admit from UCLA. It's going to be along, uphill slog but at least I'm's reassuring to some degree that I'm close enough. Of course now the question is whether I can get off the wait list, how best to handle that, and what I can improve my chances. For now, I'm going to bask in the glory of being accepted and waitlisted to a couple top schools (that plus the few beers in celebration tonight). I'll post more when I learn more.

Topics for later:

A Days
Wait list
Haas visit/interview

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


I woke up this morning to the cryptic, check your status email from UCLA. As I rolled over and realized the decision was released, I was still not awake enough to panic. When it hit me I pulled up my computer which was conveniently beside my bed of course. Opened the link and I was accepted! It took a minute to realize but this incredibly long, tiring journey is coming to close. Finally. And, more importantly, I'm about to embark on the next one! An even more exciting one. I can't wait to learn more about UCLA and get things in motion.

In other news, I'm snowed in trying to work from home. It's becoming increasingly difficult with all the info now at my fingertips thanks to UCLA.

Hope others received good news from their schools this week. For those still waiting or on the other end, I've been there. It's painful but hang in there.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Anxiously waiting

Well with 2 deadlines in the next couple of days I am anxiously awaiting the response. As a result, I am doing whatever I can to keep my mind off the process. It’s so easy to be consumed by the thoughts and wonder what to do next. How and when the results will come. What the outcome will be. As you can see, I quickly fall into this trap. With that, I’m going to try to take my mind off this. I’ll come out of my hole shortly…or retreat further depending on the results…either way, more to come.

Monday, January 3, 2011


This is going to be a relatively short post but I wanted to say: I'M DONE!!!!

I just submitted two more applications to Michigan and Duke. I've had them "complete" for about a week now but I couldn't seem to let go. Although I only tweaked a couple of words between last week and now, I just wasn't ready to hit the button. As the deadlines drew near, I finally gave in and hit submit.

At this point, I'm exhausted. Who knows what the next step is or where it'll be. I just hope I hear positive news in the next week or so. I really can't take all this pressure and indecision. I certainly don't want to think about next steps that aren't going back to school this fall.