Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Project B-school!

Your business school application essays should be like runway models.  They should be polished, dramatic, and authentic.  The fabrics and styles must define you.  In fact, if you've got the raw material, whip up that silk charmeuse, wool knits, and seamless leather into something fabulous.   You've got the goods, now deliver!

Sunday, August 26, 2012


The GMAT is the great equalizer.  It's a standardized test, which means if it does its job, your score is more or less going to be the same the next three times you take it that week, and all test-takers will have an equivalent experience during the exam.  This means that the admissions committee can look at your score and effectively compare you to other students.  

Or does it?

Sometimes when I hear people talk about the GMAT, I get the sense that they see it as the window to the soul.  They're convinced the only way to prove that their souls are studded with gold plates is with a golden score.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Berkeley's "Song" Essay

Why do gays love Madonna? Is it because she loves the gay? Is it because she isn't afraid to be crazy? Is it because she never looks a day over 29? Or is it because she's a mother and still looks fabulous?  

I'm scared the reason is because her ways express us.  Express me.  

Express yourself!

She commanded.  And so we did...and do...again and again.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Please let me be average!

I've always been somewhat of an overachiever.  I like to be busy and I like being the best at whatever I do. Applying to business school has made me strive for something frightening but thrilling, for something out-of-character yet persuasive, for something lame yet noble: Be average. I am striving to be average, to be good enough.  This new feeling isn't to imply that I don't think I'm awesome.  Notice that I don't say I'm striving for mediocrity.  The thing to keep in mind is that those of us applying to top schools are already somewhat exceptional and grand.  But there is a huge pack of us out there and let's face it: by definition most of us have to be average within that group. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Lull before the Storm

The blogosphere is really slow these days.  I keep wondering where all the other applicants are.  Aren't they freaking out? Don't they want to read every last bit of advice on the forums?  I'm getting the sense that we're in the lull before the storm. Come mid-September, people are going to be posting hundreds of panicky questions and comments. Is it wrong that I crave the company of the storm? 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Princess and the Pea: My visit to the castle

Schools are looking for the best people for their pearly white towers.  They want someone special to live in their castles, places already rich with tales of great political battles, of grand slayings of fiduciary dragons, and of noble ventures in banking.  They're looking for delightful, charming, and beautiful princesses. Fortunately for us though, we earn keys to the castle if we prove we're truly princess material. If we can prove that we princesses are worthy of the title of MBA Queen, we'll grab ourselves a prince!

The Gays' Guide to MBA Fishing

So once you've spent time hunting for the right school, next it's time to secure your spot, hook and sinker.  That's right, you've got to fish for a coveted spot in the competitive b-school applicant pool. Some advice for the gay fisher(wo)man: don't use stinky lure.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Gays' Guide to MBA Hunting

As I've talked about in other blog posts, I'm a minority candidate because I work for a non-profit.  I've mentioned my other minority status, but I haven't yet delved into the ways it affects my business school process.  As a gay man in San Francisco, I often forget that being gay is a rarity.   I don't have a great sense of the scale of lgbt groups and membership on business school campuses, but I have learned a ton and wanted to share some advice.  In the vein of the touching, albeit oft-critiqued, short stories, The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing, my advice will come in the form a few tidbits and vignettes.  Read on for The Gays' Guide to MBA Hunting and Fishing. Today I'll chat about hunting (researching) and tomorrow about fishing (applying). 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Education or bust!

When I first began working in the field of education, I was a trooper.  I worked long hours, trucked around huge tote bags with books, papers, and notes, and practically beamed optimism everywhere I went.  What's sad is how quickly my optimism faded into frustration.   The field of education is full of do-gooders, passionate altruists who yearn for educational equity and social justice.  I have seen this yearning directed at the youth; the hope lies in them and the possibility of their success is the drive.  Now, though, I yearn to direct this passion toward dismantling and re-envisioning the infrastructure and systems that perpetuate the inequities. 

Book Review

It's hard to believe how many resources there are for business school applicants.  There are consultants, forums, information sessions, iPhone apps, and books.  And all of them are clamoring to get your attention.  Some suck and some are awesome.  I thought I would review one book in particular that helped me the most in the beginning of my progress: Great Applications for Business School.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Canadians & Twins

Canadian twins--the horror!
I'm feeling a bit off topic tonight.  Don't worry, I'll tie it in to business school eventually, so bear with me.

There are two things in the world that freak me out more than anything else: twins and Canadians.  My reason for it is quite simple: I can't tell someone is either of these things from looking at them. Take Celine Dion's adorable little twins.  When they're older, not only will they walk around with their secret twin life they'll also be surreptitious Canadians! 

Monday, August 6, 2012

A typically atypical type?

I know I'm not alone out there, but I am certainly not a typical MBA candidate.  I'm surprised by how little reference is made to non-profit candidates in blogs and on forums.  These candidates are like little diversity bunnies that hop into the classroom to add a little flavor, but no one knows where they come from. At least, the bunnies never seem to tell anyone.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Campaign Season

Yesterday I shared my calendar to date, and today I'm going to present my schedule for applications.  Campaign season is launched!  I've taken to calling the application process my campaign. It's got so many parallels--you've got to come up with a slogan and message, you need to dig up great stories that will make you human and likeable, and you need to convince people to buy what you're selling: YOU.  

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Calendaring an MBA application

I thought for this post, I would delineate the schedule for my application journey.  I'm a pretty organized person, so I'm hoping that it benefits some of you!

Calendar: prep and more prep

I was pretty regimented both in my studying and in my review of materials. I knew I needed to be organized and diligent because I had a huge learning curve to overcome.  I didn't know anything about the GMAT or business school.  Fortunately, once I decided that bschool was my next step, I was so excited that motivation to read and learn came naturally.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Choosing schools: Part II

So there you have it--easy as pie.  I settled on those four schools.  All done.

But not quite.  What's so hard about this process is how different it is from applying to undergrad.  As a senior in high school, all my friends were applying to college and it was easy to get a sense of what schools were targets and which were reaches.  I had a sense of where I stood among my classmates and it was like a little capitalistic economy of Human Personal Value (HPV).  Yes, we were like dirty, papilloma viruses eager to spread  to US colleges and universities.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Choosing schools: Part I

Choosing a school involves choosing a new city, a new home, a new culture, a new climate.  It's a big choice, and it's a huge internal battle.  What's most important to me: prestige, program specialty, culture, geography? I honestly still haven't resolved the question completely.  The things I did decide were the two most important factors were that the bschools had to have a great non-profit focus and a low douche-bag quotient (or a high awesomeness quotient).

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Bond, James Bond.

When I first started researching MBA programs, I was really excited by all the international programs with such great reputations.  I imagined myself as some kind of slick Daniel Craig traipsing around the isle of Gibraltar, scooting over to Nice, France for baguettes and chugging espressos outside the Vatican.  Oh to go to Europe for grad school!