Chances are you’ve taken the CAT exam much before you started thinking about its international brother-from-another-mother – GMAT. Chances are you’ve taken the CAT exam twice.
Rarely will you come across someone as persistent as Mukund (name changed) who made 4 attempts at the CAT exam, and failed despite cracking the 99 percentile barrier (damn the technicalities!).
What do you do when you’ve been digging for too long and in the wrong location? You change your strategy and start digging again.
And if your new strategy is good, its only a matter of time before you discover oil (or the fishbones your pet cat hid…or whatever else you were digging for).
It is all about striking the right balance.
When I started preparing for an MBA… I was still in my late teens (19), recession was unheard of, dollar value touched high 30s, Facebook was unknown, there was no IPL, people had just started using gmail, and dating a girl was a distant dream for me.
A lot of things changed in the next 7 years but 2 things did not – the Undertaker fighting for the WWE championship and myself fighting to get into a business school. Both of us did not know what exactly we were fighting for and the people around us got too bored. Much to the chagrin of others, we guys kept continuing.
Jokes apart, I did my B-tech ECE in NIT Trichy (2004-2008), saw my seniors get into IIMs and wanted to join them. To be honest, I had no clue why I wanted an MBA. 4 attempts at CAT – the first 2 (paper based) fetched 99, 98 percentiles with no IIM calls because of my verbal scores and the next 2 (online) gave me just 95, 94 percentiles. Finally, a JMET rank of 200 got me into IIT Bombay in 2011. I almost enrolled for the course but then came a twist.
I was working in Bangalore as a business analyst in finance for Misys, a firm specializing in Trading and Risk Management applications. Just before my IIT Bombay results came out, I was sent on a one month trip to the U.S. I got opportunities to visit a few universities and students who were doing their MBA. After the interactions, I instantly decided to pursue an MBA in the U.S.
I started preparing for the GMAT. After multiple attempts, I secured a 750 (Q-51, V-40). According to many, the game was over with a 750 but I realized that the game had just started. By now, I had a decent idea of why I wanted an MBA. With 5 years of professional experience as an analyst in Finance, I decided to enhance my career in finance/consulting.
When I started my application process, there was a lot I knew about but there was plenty more I did not know about. This is the case with most applicants and the sooner one accepts it the better. The problem is not with the lack of information but the abundance of incorrect information.
You need an expert’s advice to guide you further and the MBA MAP is probably the best you can get.
Just as a resultant force has both magnitude and direction, in this case, an applicant’s hard work is the magnitude and the guidance of Sameer is the direction. For the individual’s hard work and dedication to be effective, one should head in the right direction.
During my application process, I just focused on getting into the highest ranked business school. I did not weigh in other factors such as career path, return on investment etc. The need to strike a balance was clearly highlighted during my interactions with Sameer.
I followed a simple strategy of being simple and straight forward in what I wanted to convey to the admissions committee. I attended business school admission sessions in Chennai and Bangalore. This is the best strategy and the easiest way to make the ad-com members remember you during interviews.
I started my application process with the top 30 in mind. Yale (SOM), Virginia (Darden) rejected me. Cornell was still on wait-list. UNC (Kenan-Flagler) admitted me with a 30% scholarship. Emory (Goizueta) wait-listed me and later admitted me with 50% scholarship. Washington University (Olin), University of Minnesota (Carlson), University of Maryland (Smith) offered me more than 50 % scholarship.
Though I started with the idea of getting into the highest ranked business school, my perspectives changed in due course of time and now I am happily headed to OLIN on a whopping 80% MBA scholarship. For me, this is the right balance between brand value, debt and what I wish to do in my career. I can afford to be a little relaxed about the H1B problems in the U.S. I am also free to experiment with a new sector or a different role in another location. These are the advantages that I wish to capitalize on.
My 2 cents for future applicants
1. A high GMAT score is the easiest way to get a huge scholarship. Though a GMAT score of 750 did not carry me through to the top 15 b-schools, it definitely helped a lot with getting scholarships. You can also circumvent the problems associated with a low undergraduate GPA.
2. Take up the MBA MAP unless you want to be penny wise-pound foolish. A few thousands here can save you more lakhs.