While applying to MBA colleges, Santosh Rai’s objective was pretty clear. He wanted to minimize not only his admissions costs, but also the cost of attending the MBA program. His strategy paid off.
The Carlson MBA offered by the Carlson School of Management offered him a 100% scholarship (full tuition waiver). The Simon MBA program at the University of Rochester gave him a 45 percent MBA scholarship.
Out of the 14 bschools he applied to (too many, and he admits it), he paid the application fee only for three. We had no clue how he did it. So we asked him to write a post and share his strategies.
After a long unnerving process, I am happy to say that I cracked it! My priorities before starting the app process were to minimize the cost in every possible way or maximize the brand (at any cost!). And when I say minimizing the cost, it also meant to minimize cost of applications and minimize the tuition cost later.
So I applied to 14 schools including:
– INSEAD, Wharton, Tuck, Haas (result still awaited), Kellogg – maximize brand at any cost.
– Carlson MBA, Simon, Olin, Rice and few more – minimize cost and yet maintain the nice MBA experience
My results so far:
Carlson MBA, University of Minnesota (Carlson School of Business) – Full tuition waiver
Simon MBA, University of Rochester – 45 percent scholarship
A few more awaited.
And to minmize the cost of applications: I paid the application fees to only 3 of the 14 schools I applied to. I got fee waivers from Wharton, INSEAD and several others. How I got them is an interesting story for I really needed that. I won twitter competitions, attended MBA information sessions, or just wrote to the schools about my need. What I can say is that ‘if there is a will, there is a way‘.
In fact, I so wished to ask for a free admission essay package from Sameer (MBA Crystal Ball), but then I thought it would be so cheap and I should do my homework myself.
I would advise people to work on their applications themselves because it is an indeed an experience to discover yourself. MBA consultants can polish your stories but it will beat the purpose of why these questions were there at first place – sorry Sameer, nothing against your business but I hope you agree on the advantages of doing homework yourself with the help of friends and cold calls to alumni.
So here’s my profile:
Engineer – Biotech, Tier 1 college
Work experience 5.5 years: 4 years in KPO (market research in healthcare – decent progression) and then 1.5 years of entrepreneurial exploration where I used to sell ladies garments at our family shop, worked with two healthcare startups, did freelancing, and also led a large volunteer entrepreneurial support community of India.
Extra curriculars: Have been really good.
Post MBA goal: My MBA application in some business schools says consulting in short term and venture capital in the long term. In others, it says entreprenurship in the short-term and venture capital in the long-term.
Actual Goals: They are ‘gol‘ (i.e. zero). The reason I want to do MBA is to find my foot in the global business and see where I head. I want to make money, make an impact and be global. It doesn’t matter if it happens through doing admissions consulting, business consulting or through selling clothes. MBA has to be the opportunity to explore those next moves and opportunities.
I have never travelled abroad so even an int’l business exposure.
This is the reason for minimizing the cost, for I might end up joining an NGO post MBA if that excites me more than investment banking.
Feasible goal: Consulting or General Management job in healthcare organizations.
I was able to weave all the above to get a 100 percent scholarship from the Carlson MBA which is an amazing school for those looking for career in healthcare – especially biomedical industry. The school is ranked lower in FT (as it is not a finance school), but ranked decent in US News and Businessweek: 31 something. It is ranked Number 1 for ROI in public schools, enjoys the reputation of the University of Minnesota, strong international class, ranked among top healthcare programs and consumer goods job. So it was a good choice for me!
Why I did not hear from those top 7: I applied to way too many schools and the quality of applications went down due to this. Secondly, despite having a diverse experience I failed to polish my essays to reflect that and most of them sounded confused on career goals. Here some more brainstorming with friends and mentors could have helped.
Tips for all Indian MBA applicants:
– Apply to a few schools, but apply well.
– Don’t panic if you get dinged in the early ones – take control of situation and write well for other schools but don’t start applying to many.
– Even if you don’t get an admit, please remember, it is not a do-or-die situation. You will eventually be successful and struggle in whatever you do : MBA or Job – just do the things well and keep trying.
– DNROOC: Do not run out of cash – I have spoken to many friends studying at the top 5 schools. All of them share that it is okay to study at a school ranked lower if it ensures a significant saving – if you need that i.e don’t mortgage your house to pay for Harvard. If you have it in you then you will rich and famous from anywhere or may be without MBA too. If you have deep pockets then don’t save, please! Enjoy the best you can buy.
Remember that an MBA is a business proposition and it should be taken like that. Neither too hard nor too personal.
The last few months of editing and proofreading has been exhausting, so I am not taking any pains to edit this post. Sharing it at one go and hoping that I make my point well to help my brethren in the MBA jungle to navigate the MBA hype!
Guest bloggers bring in new and diverse perspectives. We may not agree with all the ideas listed in there (especially about changing the goals for each school), but we do agree that you don’t necessarily need to hire an MBA consultant for your application. (yup, you are reading this on an MBA consultant’s site)
If you are confident about your application strategy, the best option is to manage it on your own. There are plenty of free how-to articles and success stories (like Santosh’s) that we’ve shared on our blog that should help you tackle it independently. So, keep reading and adapting them to suit your profile.
Any questions for Santosh related to the Carlson MBA, or about his unconventional approach to selecting schools, career planning, winning scholarships (and yes, Twitter contests)?