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Smeal MBA Penn State Full-tuition scholarship plus stipend

When MBA education costs are spiralling out of control, a full-tuition scholarship can mean a lot to Indian candidates with pockets that aren’t as deep as their other MBA classmates.

Smeal MBA granted a full-ride (100% tuition waiver) and more, in terms of a steady income (stipend) to Pushkal Kumar.

He stands tall and confident today, as the entrepreneur in him knows very well that he’s already got his RoI even before he starts his MBA program at a top school which enjoys a respectable MBA ranking for its Supply Chain Management (SCM) specialization.

In this post, he describes how and what he did to get not only an admit but also a whole lot of free money from one of his top choice business schools.

Smeal MBA: Full scholarship + stipend from Penn State

by Kumar Pushkal

Smeal MBA Penn StateThank you almighty,” are the three words that came to my mind before I even picked up a phone call from +1 (xxx) xxx-xxxx.

I knew it was the Smeal MBA Adcom giving me the good news in less than 24 hours after my interview.

The end of a 2 year long journey was finally here!!!

Not only was I admitted but also I got a full tuition scholarship + Graduate Assistantship (GA) stipend of $700 / $1400 per month. It was the 7th of December I remember clearly.

The business school journey started way back in 2010 with my first GMAT. Then another 2 GMAT test attempts in 2011.

The GMAT preparation journey was itself very painful for me accompanied by the death of my beloved dog Ronnie 9 days before attempt 2 in July 2011.

I finally settled scores with the GMAT on the 9th of Sept 2011. By then I had already missed my R1 ISB deadline. But I had done something very good during my GMAT prep.

Working on MBA applications

This good thing was that in the entire 1 year of GMAT attempts I had built a strong network of people who would help me with the app process – family, friends, peers and professionals.

I knew at least 2-3 people from each school to which I was going to apply.

I started with Sameer Kamat on the MBA Mock Application Process (or MBA MAP as it’s called) and then worked with his teammate MG for my applications.

I must say they are very professional and up to the mark.

Sameer’s team will never write essays for you but the reviewed essays are so ripped apart that you will feel like killing yourself for having written the poor essays.

But at the end of the day you will realize that it was all for good.

I also made sure that along with the MBA application consulting team from MBA Crystal Ball, my essays were also being read by my friends and people (alumni/students) from the concerned school.

One quick pointer here – once you are done with your final draft of essays please make sure that you have taken a print out of the essays and read them 4-5 times.

I bet you will find mistakes which you will never do on the computer screen; our brain is programmed to read even the incorrect spells correctly.

This might remind you of that stupid forwarded email that your colleague sent you in your last job with all the spells jumbled and yet you were able to read the doc correctly.

Ok back to me, I put in only 4 applications – Quality above quantity.

My selection of business schools

1. Indian School of Business (ISB Hyderabad) – still waiting for an interview after having written a super strong applicatino.

By the way, I think I have a decent profile. I worked for 2 years in Accenture Mumbai, even though I was a fresher I had graver responsibilities, thanks more to my managers than to my skills for having overburdened me with tasks.

However, today I realize how thankful I am to them for the valuable (more importantly documentable) experiences gained.

Also thanks to my family business setup that I could plan and setup a small manufacturing firm with the help of my dad. I handled this company for 2 years and made it fiercely competitive with the city’s MFG giant in the sector.

2. My second app was for the Kelley MBA, again a really strong app but could not strike the chord with the interviewer.

I was taken aback by the rejection a few days back. On a positive note I am happy the Kelley ding made my Smeal decision easier.

3. Smeal MBA 🙂

4. Fourth and final app is the Tepper MBA for which I am still awaiting an interview call.

However, I would be taking up Smeal mostly because of the full tuition + stipend they have offered me.

I have a family business setup and thus I am very skeptical of money investments that we make.

Finally I am not doing an MBA to get ahead in the rat race or to earn like an investment banker.

Instead for me it’s another new academic and professional journey of bettering myself professionally and personally. At the end it’s my family business I would be coming back to in the long term.

Working with MBA admissions consultants

A final word of advice to all people reading this.

This was not my first year of applications.

In the previous admissions season, I had applied to over 10 schools with lame essays in March 2011.

I got enticed into the application process by a smooth-talking admission consultant from Mumbai (this was before I knew about MBA Crystal Ball).

I ended up wasting 1 lakh Rupees and ended with zero admits!

To add insult to injury, I was even rejected by the S.P.Jain Global MBA!!!

I was called for an interview within 1 day of applying, took a flight to Mumbai, got through first 3 rounds (I don’t know how) and I did not even have an idea of the “why MBA” jargon for the SP Jain adcom in the 4th and final interview round with the Dean (I am sorry sir for wasting your precious time :D).

Today I realize how dumb I was to apply in R3 and R4 with a 650 GMAT and poorly written apps.

But in hindsight the application process in March 2011 kind of helped me prepare for the REAL application process in October 2011 (Round 1 this time).

I had learnt a lot of tricks of the trade although at a heavy price $$$ and 2 months of my time.

So if you are planning to work with an MBA admissions consultant, do your homework really well. It can make all the difference.

So wishing all you b-school aspirants a very good luck. Here are some final words of wisdom from an old “winning” horse!

MBA application tips

1. GMAT is not everything, but be sure to get a within range score for target school.

2. Unnecessary time invested in GMAT retakes can be better invested in getting in touch with target school students and reading about the school online.

I talked to at least 5 students from Kelley/Smeal/ISB on skype/phone. What this does is that it prepares a killer mindset in you for why school X and also makes you adept with the best parts of the school which you can talk about to the interviewer.

3. Never ever wait for an interview call or walk in unprepared.

Prepare at least 5-7 times with real settings on skype/phone/live with friends or well wishers for the interviews. I used to record my responses on my webcam and then play them over and over again for improvement.

4. Be confident.
Adcoms are not dying to reject you, but trying to understand you.

This is ‘bblast’ (my forum name) signing off from the GMAT & bschool application arena, a very hearty thanks to MBA Crystal Ball team and all my friends/family/mentors from BTG, GMAT Club as well as Pagalguy.

Read my next post: Day in the life of a Smeal MBA student.

– Kumar Pushkal

As always, our friend has not been subjected to any third degree torture to include feel-good and promotional comments about us.

But I guess when a good school is actually paying you to join them (rather than the other way around), the gratitude is all natural, all organic (pretty much like the ingredients that go into herbal soaps).

Don’t miss these other success stories of Indian MBA applicants who’ve got MBA scholarships.

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Sameer Kamat
About Sameer Kamat
Founder of MBA Crystal Ball. Author of Beyond The MBA Hype & Business Doctors. Here's more about me. Follow me on: Instagram | Linkedin | Youtube

21 thoughts on “Smeal MBA Penn State Full-tuition scholarship plus stipend”

  1. Dear Sameer,

    I would seek to have ur advice on my dilema.

    I have done my MBA from a average college in INDIA and experience of almost 3 years post that.I have not seen a growth in my career as expected.I am in dilema whether it would be good to invested further 2 years in doing MBA or is there any trick which i am missing for getting a career boost.

  2. There are no ‘tricks’ here, Vineet bhai. Quite a few people go for a second MBA, if that’s what you have in mind.

    But you’d need to be absolutely sure that you go for it with the right preparation and expectations. Or else you’ll end up with other degree that won’t take your career where you want it to go.

  3. The above tagged Smeal MBA forum ain’t opening . And hence i ask the same question, what be his GMAT score. Also, what are the factors that makes a school provide financial assistance ? And which schools mostly in USA ?

  4. How do i get assistance from you Mr. sameer for my MBA application process.
    That is how do i contact you and your team

  5. Hi Sameer,

    Can u please share your academic profile as well as your gmat score so that I can have a brief idea about
    what kind of profile they are looking while giving scholarships?

  6. Hi,

    I have a query.Does any country across the world offers online MBA course with placement opportunities.If so,please guide that,i can work as well as study simultaneously.Because i am in the situation where i cant leave my job for higher studies….Looking ahead of your reply.

  7. Hi Sameer,

    This is little relevant to my profile.

    I am a 2013 B.Tech graduate. I own an event management firm here in Hyderabad

    I was an MBA aspirant always, and gave failed CAT attempt in 2013, but after that decided to plan abroad for an MBA.

    I am starting my GMAT preparation and aiming for a 2016 Fall admit.

    I started Shobha’s Entertainments in July 2013 as soon as I graduated, with zero investment. But simultaneously I was working for Google through a vendor for an Ad trafficker role as here in India people cant be idle after graduation and no longer depend financially on parents. I was able to manage both, work and my business well for an year, but after this my client’s started growing day by day thanks to my seo skills and now I was unable to handle both .So I put my papers and and had to serve two months of notice period, but it went the other way around, before serving the notice period,on July 2014 I quit my job WITHOUT TAKING MY EXPERIENCE letter as my instinct fired and I no longer wanted to do a job, because I was not at peace doing the job.My business is growing at a faster pace now.

    My academics are pretty good, as well as my extra curricular activities.

    I fear if me quitting my job without serving notice period will be a disadvantage for getting an admit from good B schools?

    Please give your feedback on this?

    Thanks in advance Mr. Sameer.

  8. Sameer, I wanted to know that does work experience in a social sector (in non-profit) hold more value than the experience in a private ltd company?

    Actually the scenario is that, I work for a non-profit but my salary comes from the sister company of that non-profit company. So what looks better on paper an experience letter from non-profit or private ltd company (which gives me my salary)?

  9. @Praveen: Can’t think of any. If you come across such a program, share it with us.

    @Bhanu: It makes it more difficult to convince the Adcom. They might have more queries when they don’t see any evidence to demonstrate that the transition happened on a good note (as opposed to being fired for mis-performance etc).

    @Pia: What you’ve done (i.e. your actual work, role, accomplishments) would matter more than where you get your salary from.

    • Thanks for the feedback Mr. Sameer.

      I was not fired or was laid off for bad performance, I quit the job myself unable to handle the growing business by spending close to 14 hours in office, so I din’t serve notice period and I quit.

      I am preparing for GMAT and once I am done with it, I would avail your services and guidance regarding applications and all.


  10. Hey samer..I’m pursuing hotel management..nd I’mwillin to study fr an ivy league business school…bt I’m nt financially gud…so cn u plz help me out..wats d procedure nd stuff fr d admission

  11. I have a average profile –
    Cgpa – 8.4
    Work experience – 3 years (pgcil)
    GMAT – 760
    The only problem i have is that i wont be able to finance my whole MBA & also i dont want to take loans . so should i take risk of applying for MBA & expecting full scholarship ?

  12. Dear Sameer,
    I have also received a similar deal from Smeal I.e. full waiver plus stipend. Also, I have 60% scholarship from Vanderbilt. I have 7 years experience in supply chain and want to pursue operations consulting post MBA. Which school should I choose. Please help short list the choice.


  13. Sir, I am pursuing my 2nd year BBA and i wish to study abroad. As I am from lower middle class family, I do not have any money for my further studies. Is there any way that I can pursue my MBA in US with 100% of scholarship. At present, I am university rank holder with 90%. So if anyway is there please do let me know. And what will be the charges if any to be paid and please tell me what is the procedure of how to get into there. And before getting there which exams should i give to qualify. Waiting for your sincerest reply.


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