Saturday, October 13, 2012

Helpless, hapless, and hopeless

My brain on Bozons.
I am an MBA obsessor on his way to being a true savant. Admittedly, in the grand scheme of things, I am an MBA novice. I have only been harboring this desire for a mere 8 months.  Nonetheless, I have crammed my little head with more magnets and bozons than the Hadron collider. There are millions of particles shooting around in my head, and all these little data points have amounted to what I believe is a pretty refined understanding of the MBA admissions process. So it's long in coming and here it is: a list of the most common questions on the forums.

Edit and disclaimer: this post is truly intended to give advice for some of the more typical questions people ask.  I am not trying to poke fun at people who ask these questions. Rather, here's an opportunity to get a quick overview of the questions many of us have faced (or are bound to face) during the process.

Don't get me wrong; I understand why they ask these questions. Admissions anxiety is super high, and sometimes it feels like if you can just square away this one detail, everything will work out. Well, it's probably not the case, but maybe I can help these poor souls out. Here are my responses to the helpless, hapless, and hopeless.

1) I got a 7X0, should I take the GMAT again?

If you have lots of time and you think you can do better, sure, but isn't it better to put your effort into your application? Ok, you're not applying this year, then go for it.  But why are you asking us for permission when no one knows whether you're going to improve. Do what you need to calm your nerves.  For most though, the short answer is, no, you did a good job, be happy.

2) I got a 500 on the GMAT what am I doing wrong?

The way you ask the question explains exactly what you're doing wrong.  The GMAT is not a test of "doing" it's a test of "thinking" and "evaluating".  They don't care that you memorized the formula for a trapezoid's area.  They want to know if you can handle complex problems. Approach the problems as a puzzle that can be solved through clever reasoning, not by being a computer. 

3) What kind of questions did you see on the actual test?

This one really kills me.  Hello, anyone in there? They mix up the questions so that this exact kind of "insider" scoop isn't helpful.  One person may see 6 questions on probability and 4 on geometry and another only 1 for each.  To get a good score you need to be somewhat prepared for all the areas.  And then you need to be very prepared in most.

4) I am not score very high with GMAT verbal. Why is my problems?

You just answered your own question. You need to read, talk, listen, and do more in English!

5) I'm a reapplicant, should I reuse my essays from last year?

Hell to the no!  Please feel free to revisit key content, but your essays didn't get you in last year, so what makes you think they'll get you in this year?  Whether or not the essays were great, they weren't enough, and the admissions people can and often do compare reapplicants' essays. They'll question just how into their school you are if you don't put the effort into completing a new application.  More than anything, show them you've grown!  There's a reason you can't put your ex-boyfriend in a recycling plant and expect a new one to come out. I'm not sure why (my therapist says it won't work), and the same is true of essays.  You just shouldn't.

6) Will they accept materials after the deadline?

Even if the answer is yes at some schools, my answer will always be no. It's only fair to all the candidates to adhere to one deadline.  The rare exception is for recommenders, but we need to prove that we can manage projects and people, and, well, the application is a combination of both. 

7) Should I use the optional essay to explain why I have a low GPA/GMAT?

Ok, this isn't as dumb as the others, but you need to tell us whether you should. If you have a legitimate reason then yes, but don't say, "I partied too much in school and it was awesome!  I'm more mature now as you can see by my leadership role in the weekly Beer Garden Club that I started with bros at the office."

Or for the GMAT: "I scored poorly on math because I'm not good at math."  They noticed this already.  It also doesn't fly to say, "I did poorly on the GMAT because I didn't have time to study."  Ok, great, so you mean to tell us, you don't care enough about applying to grad school? Everyone else has a job and manages to study.  

8) Who can I pay to write my essays for me?

I hope you are rejected from every school.  You and your little dog too!

Any others out there that get under your skin? Let me know how you'd answer them or if not, I'm sure my opinionated self will have an answer! 


  1. The one that gets me the most:

    "Hi, my GMAT is XXX, my GPA is X.X, I've been doing this for this amount of years. What are my chances at School A, B, and C?"

    Answer: Any answer you get on a forum is useless. The only opinion on your application that matters is from the admissions committee. Deal with it.

  2. I'm dying laughing over "I am not score very high with GMAT verbal. Why is my problems?" Good one.

    1. Laughter is generally the goal, so I'm happy to hear that! :)

  3. These are all good. The latest one I've seen is people asking about whether they should write more if they are under the word limit of the essay. How would anyone know without reading the essay?

  4. I personally can't stand this one: 'So is XYZ is reputable in finance? How are the placements?'

  5. 8) Who can I pay to write my essays for me?

    I hope you are rejected from every school. You and your little dog too!

    hahahah ...why the poor dog :D :D

  6. Perfect example:

  7. Haha, thanks for all the additional questions. I thought of another in the interim: "What GMAT score should I target?" Answer: the best you can get!

    Also, you're right, I should forgive the poor dog. :)

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