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How I got a full scholarship for MBA in USA despite a big blunder during applications

Working on MBA applications can be highly stressful for the applicant and the MBA consultant. That in turn increases the likelihood of mistakes.

For Dinesh Kumar, it was very important to get an admit with scholarship. He was already worried about working in a non-feeder industry (i.e. retail) and not having big company brands that would wow the admission committee.

And then the unexpected happened. Four days before the deadlines, to his horror he realised he had made a big blunder. He had been sending his MBA consultant the wrong essays to review.

MBA in USA vs MBA in Europe

by Dinesh Kumar

full scholarship for MBA in USAHi, I am Dinesh Kumar. I have been working in Sales and Marketing since the last 8 years. I have worked in three different segments of sales: retail, international business (import and export) and B2B government / corporate sales.

Working in sales is actually is a bit complex due to the time and effort it requires. It is not 5-days-a-week and 9-to-5 job (at least it wasn’t for me).

On an average, I used to spend about 90-100 Hrs a week in office with lots of domestic travelling and back office work too.

But on the other side this situation taught me time management and communication with C level executives. After working for 8 years I knew that to take that jump, personally and professionally, I have to go for MBA.

I completed my masters degree from Hult International Business School with little prior experience, so I knew to progress further in my career I required an MBA. The change in the business scenario in past few years overall confirmed my idea of going for an MBA to fill those skills gaps I required to be where I want.

Coming from sales I knew I can totally differentiate myself from the typical Indian applicant Pool (IIM – Indian, IT, Male) but there were challenges to prove that after my Masters in Business degree, an MBA now is the right thing for me, and how my experience will make me a fit candidate for the post MBA roles I am looking for.

I needed to show proper and thorough planning. More importantly, be authentic and true to myself.

GMAT Preparation

I started preparing for GMAT in March and took the exam in May. I ended up with a score of 620.

My second attempt was in August and my score was 690, although I was expecting a 730. Verbal did not go well for me and I suffered in the end. I wanted to sit for the exam again but decided not to and use GMAT 690 Only.

I started to work on my school application. I knew my not-so-common experience will make the difference and also my high extra-curriculars will definitely play a good part in my application process.

At this point self-exploration is the key. I knew that a lot of work needed to be done. I am from a small town and no friend mine has gone through this MBA process. So either it was doing it on my own or seeking the help of a professional.

When it comes to deciding the consultant I wrote down what help do I need and how and who can help me. My focus was on two points:

  1. who can help me put together my thoughts in concise and neat manner
  2. who can tell me the truth of what is working and what is not.

I read posts and reviews of MBA Crystal Ball on GMAT Club and I also read through the whole MCB blog. I wrote an email to them including my profile details and Vibhav from MCB contacted me via call.

I was looking for someone who is not trying to tell me what I need to do to get into the school but someone who will tell me if the school I had chosen is the right one or not. OR my thought process is correct or not.

These things seem easy but actually its all about frequency. If you got a match it’s perfect.

During that first call Vibhav told me he was impressed with my conviction. When I asked him can you help me get admit, he said he’ll help me prepare the best application as he had helped others but he never made any false claim.

I signed up for 1 Application package only, covering MBA essays, recommendations and resume service.

Vibhav and I spoke on phone and discussed in details about what I was thinking, what my reasoning were, correlation of the thoughts, and how to go through the application process. Then, I sent him the MBA application essays and I started working on my first drafts.

It’s important to note that MCB will not write your essays. Its your application and you are the writer. You will drive the process they will guide you and correct you but they will not drive.

My big blunder

I sent my first draft, then second, and then third. I planned that I will write my essays during week days. On Saturday. I’d mail the same to Vibhav. On Sunday we will discuss what needs to be done now.

Although my essays were written well (as per me), but when Vibhav sent me the file and I see those red lines and guidance about what is missing I knew I am on the right path.

Then a blunder happened (totally my fault). Unfortunately I had copied wrong essays (previous year’s essay prompts) and worked on those till 4 days to deadline!

I contacted Vibhav and told him that a disaster has happened.

Vibhav has already done 4 edits for my WRONG essays and this was supposed to be the last edit. I was expecting some scolding but he stayed calm and just told me to work on the new essay prompts.

I did the same, I took break from office and for two days I just worked on my essays.

To my surprise, during this process of 4 edits of previous essays, he actually taught me how to go about it!

Just 2 days before the deadline, I sent him the final version of Essays. He mentioned some edits and the essays were good to go.

I thank Vibhav for supporting me even after the blunder I have made and also for teaching me how to think about the whole process.

I only applied to two schools in round one. Selection criteria for me was easy because I do not want to spend too much money so scholarship and graduate assistantship. Also my experience is more in business development in B2B (Sales and Marketing). So I chose WP Carey and Penn State Smeal.

The alumni and current students I contacted were very responsive. Both schools provide ample leadership opportunities in EC and Academics. I already had few things in mind in terms of learning so I went through the courses (compulsory and elective both) and found the perfect structure for my learning as I want.

While selecting the school I think this is what the secret is while selecting the school. You will spend two years there and you want to be in best of the best environment. Choose wisely.

It will also help you in Interview. If you can’t convince yourself then chances of convincing other are not that great.

My MBA interview experience

I interviewed with WP Carey on 29 November 2018. It was 45 minutes interview with one Adcom and one second-year student in panel.

I actually did not prepare for interview. I wanted to be myself and wanted to answer the question freely rather than trying to remember the bullet points or theory.

Here once again I would like to thank Vibhav. You may ask why? No, I did not prepare for interview with MCB or Vibhav but during the application process Vibhav has helped me discover the reality and forced me to think deeply about all the ‘Wh’ words are there and how to answer them.

Most of the questions were behavioral and as Vibhav always said, focus on the STAR format. Concise and structured answered.

At the end of the interview they told me that decision will be declared on 7th of December and that’s when I got the call.

I got in with 100% scholarship and Graduate Assistantship at WP Carey!

I was delighted and celebrated the same with family and friends.

I also got into Smeal also with Full Ride and Fellowship. But I have withdrawn my application there and decided to go for WP Carey.

What actually helped me differentiate are my experience and being myself throughout the process and Vibhav helped me portray the same through my essays, resume and recommendations.

You have limited space to put yourself in front of the Admission committee member and utilizing that space become of utmost important.

MCB knows how to do exactly that. They are always ready to support you so that you understand yourself better. During this process I think I have actually discovered a lot about myself. I also learned, after the blunder, that one must cross check things time to time. I always believe that “Everything happens for a reason”.

We all come from different life experiences and these experiences make us who we are. So just be you. Be true to yourself.

This application process is here to test us but we need to trust the process. Rather than taking this as a thing to do, take it as “Finding You” Project. Above all Enjoy it.

Please do not hesitate to contact me for any help. Here’s my linkedin profile.

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Manish Gupta
About Manish Gupta
Chief Consulting Officer at MBA Crystal Ball, ex-McKinsey, IIT & ISB topper. MG can help you get into the top B-schools. Read more about this top MBA admissions consultant. Connect with MG on Linkedin, Facebook or Email: mcb [at] mbacrystalball [dot] com

13 thoughts on “How I got a full scholarship for MBA in USA despite a big blunder during applications”

  1. Hello Manish,

    I am working in Japan from 4.5 years in one of world famous Japanese company with decent salary.
    In Japanese working style MBA is not so worth, and currently I am looking for Job change option with country change. Now I want to move towards management side.
    Is doing MBA in Europe worth for my carrier , I am 29yrs and Master degree from IIITDM .

  2. Hi Manish sir,
    I am a semi qualified CA having given my CA final attempt in Nov 2018 and have completed 3 years of articleship. I am 24 currently with no real work experience as such apart from my articleship. I am planning to pursue MBA in finance from abroad(US, UK, Canada or Australia). I would like to know whether there is any relevant job the business schools would consider before considering my admission or would any job experience in any field will do?

  3. Hello Sir.
    Right now I’m pursuing BCAF(Bachelors of Commerce in Accounts and Finance). I have found my interest and I know it lays in Finance. I would like take up jobs as a financial analyst, financial planner, finance director. I’m very much confused from where to start. Could you please guide me with the steps to be taken further.

  4. Hello sir ,
    Sir I had score 56%in 10 std and also same score in + 2 . Sir and Iam doing BCOM (Hons)from GGSIPU and side by side Iam doing company secretary and in future I will do CFA also after completing my graduation . Sir I just want to know that is that possible for student like me to get admission in top b school of US because Iam a AVG students and still in doubt I’ll get the admission or not . Sir please tell me as soon as possible.

  5. Hi i am raman currently working as an GST And central excise inspector feom past 2.5 years plus i have a prior work ex of 2 years in an American software company , is it possible for my to switch to management by doing an mba and will my entire work ex be counted.

  6. @Ashish: Sure, MBA can definitely help and you seem to be in the right age/experience bracket for it.

    @Nirmal: This is the type of experience MBA schools look for: Do bear in mind that most good GMAT based programs expect 4-5 years of solid professional experience. So ideally, that’s the kind of timeline you should plan for.

    @Gauri: This should help you get an overview:

    @Pratyaksh: Grades matter. However, there are ways to work around them: So work diligently and it can still be possible.

    @Raman: It is possible, but you will have to come up with a coherent story as well as motivation. Also, develop more clarity on your actual plan:

  7. Hi im Deepthi, completed my graduation in agriculture and wanted to pursue an MBA in strategy and marketing field? Am i eligible to do that with my GMAT score? Can you please tell me what are the requirements? And i don’t have a proper work experience.

  8. Hi Mr. Gupta,

    I’m Shreya. I’m a civil engineering graduate, class of 2020 from NIT AP. I am planning to join IIT Kharagpur for MTech in Structural Engineering. But, in the near future, I plan to pursue MBA in Ivy League Universities or IIMs ( I haven’t decided yet). Coming from a completely technical background in construction and planning, would I be at a disadvantage compared to the rest of the applicants? Also, which specialization would boost my career as a civil engineer? I observed that most of the applicants have a background in analytics, CA, or coding. Would I be at a disadvantage? If I plan to prepare my profile from now (to join class of ’23/’24), what steps do I need to take to make myself start apart from the crowd?

    Thanks in advance!


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