Sunday, April 03, 2005

Application Process

[Note: This is a back-post, to catch-up this blog, since it was started after the whole MBA application process had begun.]

Well, let's see... The application process was fairly smooth for both ASU and IU. I won't do the whole recounting of preparing for and taking the GMAT, etc - it goes without saying that you need to leave plenty of time to study for and take the GMAT to get your score where you need it to be. My only other advice is that if you are thinking about applying to an MBA program within the next year - now is the time to be studying for and taking it.

Both required a "Program" application that was Business-school specific, in addition to a fairly general university application. Expectedly, both program applications wanted to know such things as how adept you are at certain technologies (spreadsheets, the web, etc) - nothing hard-core; just a demonstration that you are reasonably computationally proficient, it being - y'know - an online program and all. They also required the usual essays, resumes, test scores, transcripts, and the like.

Indiana's application could be completed entirely online, right down to recommendations. Indiana uses a stock form for recommendations (no free-form). However, my recommender - who is a pretty big technophile for a manager - had some issues with the online recommendation form. Apparently the it is generic through the university, and doesn't have corresponding information that the Kelley School asks for in their form. So, in the end, he just printed out their form, and faxed and mailed it in.

Arizona's application has two main parts - one online, and one offline. I found the fact that an online program required a part of the application to be completed offline to be a bit odd, but I suppose they're just making their own lives easier, which I can hardly argue with. The online part is the usual stuff - grades, scores, work history, essay, resume, etc. The "hard-copy" is just really you gathering disparate external requirements, like your transcript, letters of recommendation (they require two, free-form), and a copy of your GMAT scores (yes, they required you to have scores submitted directly to them, as well). You just get all those together and drop them in the mail as a single mailing - Not too hard.

I never liked writing essays about how wonderful I am. To make it worse, both schools did not have the required (maximum or minimum) length of the essays very easy to find on their websites. I managed to stumble across them after I'd already written, oh, about twice the max length of both schools. So it goes, though. You'd think that anytime you reference "Essay" (or "Personal Statement" or "Statement of Purpose" or "Statement on Why I'm Such a Swell Guy"), that you would also include the requisite length in that reference. Minor, in the scheme of things, but something to watch out for before you go banging away at your own personal version of The Odyssey.

My only other advice out there is to make sure and give your recommenders plenty of notice; the more notice the more "big" or "important" they are. Between people being out of the country, on vacation, off sick, or just generally busy with meetings and work, it took me more than I'd planned to get my letters acquired. I'd follow the normal project planning credo - take your original lead-time estimate and double it.

Both schools were great about contacting me before my application was even complete and after it was submitted - high marks for that. The were quick to advise any questions I had, timing on when it would be reviewed, when I should have a decision, and so forth.

All in all, it was a fairly painless process. Each school has a few minor things they could work on in the application process, but no major deal-breakers to be seen at this stage in the game.


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