Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Application Progress

Last weekend, I decided that Columbia should be on my list of schools for Fall and started scoping out my essays for the same. I'm going to apply in the regular round and not ED, but starting on this app first. Why ? From experience, the first application is not usually the greatest and needs a lot of refinement. So, I'm going to start with C so that I can kick off the process, get my thoughts onto paper, get them to a decent shape and then set them aside. After I work on my R1 apps that are due in Oct-Nov timeframe I'll get back to the C essays and polish them from the experience with the other applications in time for the January deadline.

The BIG mistake I made with my first app last time around, Tuck, was that I started with the essays I thought I had the best stories for. While this was good in the sense that I could re-use these well thought-out essays, I postponed the all-important 'why why why' essay to be pencilled in at a later stage. And I ended up with very little time for the one essay that has the most impact relative to the others.

So, I started sunday with C's first essay. The wording of the question is very different from Wharton's, which I was using as a reference. It asks right out what my short/long-term goals and how C will help me get there versus W's approach of asking for what has shaped my career upto this point leading into why I want to go where I want to go and why via W. So, after an unsuccessful attempt at trying to fit this square peg into the round hole, I started off with a clean slate and have an interesting opening and a transition into talking about the motivations etc. of the goals I aspire toward. The latter half of the essay is going to be fuzzy at this point because I will need to meet with some students/alumni, maybe attend a class etc to form more exact opinions about why C.

The second question - about a time when you identified and captured an opportunity - is incidentally the first Tuck question I worked on last time around. I think I have a solid response almost in place. Needs more adaptation for C.

The third question - what personal value means most to you - was something I was struggling to get a grip on. I believe most of us live by a set of values, without necessarily have any single dominant one. At least I do. Any one of those values could be the answer. However, the criteria for making the choice from the list inevitably led to the trap of thinking about 'what the adcom wants to hear'. bad detour. This afternoon at work, I was reading something online that sent some bells ringing, and after going for a walk at lunchtime to ponder, I have my answer. This is a 250 word-limit essay so needs some careful work.

Q4 is a choice between (a) what do you feel most passionate about in life & (b) if you had a free day and could spend it anywhere, where would you. In thinking about my 'themes' for my applications, I laid out a number of things that I know represent ME, and then eliminated ones that weren't relevant, or duplicated and ended up with 5. The one I couldn't find a reason to remove from the list was my sense of adventure, of the outdoorsy kind. I really feel passionate about some of the things I do in that sphere and I'm going to talk about them. For columbia, this question is where it will be. Haven't yet decided which of the two options to pick.

Q5 is the optional question about information you wish to provide. I think I am going to use this too - there aren't many glaring issues to talk about in my background, but if there's anything not covered by the essays and I feel I have to let them know, I'll try to find a way to use this essay.

This week is designated C week. I hoped to have good drafts done, and the online application filled by the end of the week. But a sudden outage of DSL at home which will last into next week throws a spanner in the works, but I'll try to find a wi-fi hotspot or something. It's an easy excuse to wuss out of filling out the online app and pushing it out to next week, but now's not the time for these games. It's starting to get busy.

Woo Hoo.
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