I am getting an anxiety attack this morning when I discovered that Wharton’s (UPenn) MBA Application is out. Is it just me? Or is it that most applications make people feel inadequate?
First of all, I confess, part of it is because I have been procrastinating on studying for my GMAT retake. I got a 640 last time, which is really low for the schools that I am looking at. Part of me knows that I can probably do much better if I study hard, but part of me doesn’t really want to touch it, because I might find out that maybe I am the kind of person who will score 640-ish again. Okay, by now you must be thinking, shouldn’t one think like a winner if one intends to be admitted to a top b-school? Yes, most of the time succeeding has to do with winning the mental game. One have to be strong and confident. There are times when I truly feel like that, but hey we are all humans, sometimes I just don’t have my game face on.
In addition, GMAT is really a small part of the equation when it comes to my anxiety. I still firmly believe that ETS evaluated me wrong the first time, and I believe I can score over 700 next time around. But let’s move on to the other parts of the application. First of all, let’s talk about evaluations, I seriously don’t know how my manager will react if I ask him to recommend me. I mean will he be supportive of my leaving the company? Will he write me off as a good candidate or just an average one? When I say I don’t know, I mean literally that, I don’t even have a ballpark or clue how he will react. And as far as academic recommendations go, I am not sure if I should ask a teacher who I know better personally or one that I perform extremely well in class. And if I studied in a technical field, is it’s better to go for a recommendation from a humanities class or from a technical class?
Evaluations aside, am I the only person who didn’t really care for extracurricular activities in college? I am not a nerd or anything, I do a lot of social stuff back in school, but just not in the formal definition. I was never into joining clubs and stuff back in school. And furthermore, a lot of the volunteer work and extracurricular activities I do, I do for the satisfaction of it, not for MBA application, which means I don’t always necessarily recall the organization name and all that paper work stuff. Like for instance, back when I worked as a co-op in Austin, Texas, I would take breaks off work volunteer teaching at local elementary school, but for the life of me, I can’t remember what that organization was called. I am sure you all know what I am talking about. Some people are better at coloring their lives on paper, while others are better at coloring their lives in their actual lives. I am sure that we all remember that one kid back in school who could fill their college application or resume with tons of stuff, but if you know the kid personally, there’s really not that much to write home about. Not to say I am an expert at coloring my actual life, but I am just never really good at coloring my life on paper.
Another part that really bugs me is that they have this Award section. I am sure I received some awards in my life, but usually I don’t take notice of them. I mean I am the kind of person that reads the semester honor letter that the school sends out, and junk it afterwards going, “Ah, big deal. Plenty of people get semester honors.” And some awards I hardly consider them achievements, such as the Ship-It award that I got from Microsoft for shipping Windows Server 2003. For those of you who know what a Ship-It award is, they give it to everyone who ever worked on the product. I mean it might sound cool if you don’t know what it is, but it’s never really that cool. And what if you are consistently 80-percentile your whole life in everything? You probably rarely get awards, but that can’t be too bad, can it?
Okay, don’t get me even started on the essay section. Seems like all schools have this “Why MBA?” question. Are there really people out there who know for certain that it’s a right choice to pursue two years of MBA? And if I know how the MBA experience will benefit me on both professional and personal level, I probably don’t need to go to MBA. With all life choices, how do you really know if it’s for you until you experience it? I don’t know, and I am not going to pretend like I know. I liked college, I liked academic stimulation, I liked hanging out with people my own age, I liked meeting people in the same shoes I am in, I liked exposure to a variety of knowledge. I want to go back to school, I want to laugh about staying up studying finals with other fellow students. And I am betting that MBA will give me all that. Is that good enough of an answer? My guess would be no. I might be wrong, but they are probably looking for people who can say with determination that MBA will change their lives for good, people who know where their lives is heading, people who knew they wanted a MBA ever since they were a kid.
And here is my last thought on the whole idea of marketing yourself on applications. What if you want to specialize in marketing for your MBA? Why do you need to go to MBA if you are already so good at marketing yourself to the top MBA school? I mean considering the highly competitive nature of top MBA schools, if you can market yourself so well that you get into one, aren’t you a marketing guru already? Hahaha. Just a thought.
Here are some quotes from the movie Paycheck:
“Michael, I don’t know what you saw in your machine, but I remember, a few weeks ago, you came back from your lab, pale. You asked me the strangest question.”
“If I knew it wouldn’t work out for you and I, before we were together, would I have done it?”
“What did you say?”
“That I wouldn’t trade our time for anything. That’s all we are, the sum of our experiences. Besides, some of the best things in life are total mistakes.”
That pretty much sums it up for me. Am I really certain that it will help me personally or professionally? No. But here’s my philosophy: there are no bad experiences, I am just a traveler in life, trying to pack up some good memories along the way. There are no such thing as bad places to travel, but only places I have never been to.