Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Ah, dreams. A few weeks ago, I expected to spend this weekend putting finishing touches on my Round 1 applications to MIT, Berkeley and Kellogg. But, reality caught up with me and I have decided to put off all applications to Round 2. I don't feel good at all about this, but my applications are not ready, and will really need to push my recommenders to get theirs in on time. So, woke up this morning and made the decision. Seems the right thing to do and I'm much relaxed already. The one constant that I have heard from all adcomms & students I have met is to apply when I am ready.

And i'm not ready at all. My schedule's been unbelievably hectic of late, haven't gotten home before midnight this whole week. And I'm probably going to make my essays worse if I work on them with no time to relax and get into the zone. Started out with a completely different strategy for tackling the app process but now I have to re-adjust my plans and go for all my schools in R2. I've spent a good part of the day at my desk doing a rethink on where I am going to apply. Here's my shortlist.

My mom-knows-these Schools

Was talking with my mom who's back in India last week and she said get into Stanford, Harvard or Kellogg, in that order, so she could tell all her friends with pride ;-)

Stanford - my dream school. Really want to go here, but to me it's the roughest appliction. However, I'll apply there irrespective. I don't think I can live with not having taken a shot.
Harvard - my toughest choice. It's got THE brand name, i actually like the place, but I'm not sure if I'm the Harvard type. Need to talk with more students/alums to get a sense for that. I should maybe just apply but not sure if it's worth the time and effort when I can only do so much.
Kellogg - I am definitely going to apply. I wish I had the time to go and visit but I've gotten a good vibe talking to students. The culture at the school is very appealing to me.

Jokes apart, the fact that my mom, and her friends, who are housewives in an Indian city know of these schools is a barometer of the 'street-value' of a degree from these schools.

My i-can-belong-here schools

The focus of my application process is going to be these schools. There is something about each of them that has appealed to me on a personal level. Rankings, GMAT scores, placements etc have nothing to do with it. The question I have been trying to answer about every school I consider is simple - will I be happy here ?

Tuck - Small class size, tight-knit community, and nestled in the White mountains. I love the outdoors. A good friend of mine is a current student, and he raves about the place. I know I'll be at home there.
Sloan@MIT - I was looking at the commencement materials last year, and there was a quote - the only way to get a degree at MIT is to earn one. For some reason, I haven't been able to forget it - kinda motivating actually. The greater MIT community is awesome. And the students are very down-to-earth & cool. I somehow find the company of engineers reassuring ;-)
Haas@Berkeley - Again, strong engineering/tech connection, and close to the Valley. I'll miss the seasons of New England but hear that CA's alright ;-) I think I will also fit in the liberal, coffee-shop-bookstores culture of Berkeley.
LBS - London rocks ! Both the city and the school. Love the international focus of the program, the really diverse student body and global opportunities. The thing that students and alums seem to have in abundance is class. Got the got-to-be-here feeling at first sight.

My should-i-should-i-not schools

I think the 6-7 schools above are all I can handle. But if I do get time (or panics about any of the above) I might pick 1-2 from Wharton, Yale, Fuqua or Michigan. These are schools I like but also have reservations about.

Can't help suppress a smile that I'm not even considering #2 chicago and #7 Columbia and flip-flopping on Wharton, Michigan & Harvard. When I started down this road a few months ago, I somehow felt that it would be a no-brainer to apply to all the top 5 + a few from 6-10 schools. If everyone says they must be good, they must be good right ? Absolutely, but are they good for me ? That's the question I have tried to answer and this is where I stand.


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