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Thursday, November 18, 2004

No more studying for the GMAT, no more logging onto Embark, no more writing MBA essays, no more asking for recommendations, no more buying gifts for my recommenders, no more paying applications fees, no more telling people I'm applying to b-school, no more ranting about b-school, no more waiting for a decision, and no more getting dinged. I finally got into b-school.

I'm going to HEC in January. It's not exactly a dream school that people drool all over, but boy am I happy I'm going there. I get to live close to Paris, pay much lower tuition fees, meet great people, get a wonderful education, travel all over Europe, and graduate in 2006. I even get to live in Asia for three months and improve my Mandarin. I'm definitely smiling.

Another way to look at this is with fantasy football. It's as if I wanted a top WR -- T.Owens, R.Moss, M.Harrison, T.Holt -- early in the draft but ended up with Javon Walker in the latter round because everyone else was taken. Javon Who? The Javon Walker who is second in the NFL in receiving yards and TD catches.

I'll admit that the HEC MBA is not well known outside of Europe. If you pronounce it "heck" then you prove my point. The correct pronounication is by reading the letters individually in French. In other words, ash-er-say. The school, however, has great potential.

The MBA program in English is fairly new and the makeup of the class has changed considerably over the past few years. Over 80% of students come from outside of France. Since HEC moved its campus out of Paris, there's also room for expansion if the administration decides to move in that direction. The program will only get better.

If HBS, Wharton and Stanford students can be considered as big fishes swimming in a big pond, then I'd like to think that HEC students are big fishes who are making a medium pond into a bigger one. In the end, it doesn't matter which pond is bigger. We'll all be caught and served as food.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Yog, here's how not to answer the Chicago essay.

3. If you could step into any celebrity’s shoe for a day, who would it be and why?
I would step into Tom Cruise's shoes because our feet are the same size and he has better shoes than me.

BTW folks, there's a mistake on the question. Can you find it?
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They used "who" to refer to "celebrity's shoe". The question should have been phrased as "If you could be any celebrity for a day, who would it be and why?". The GMAT is useful after all!

ps: my question is poorly written. Does "it" in "Can you find it?" refer to mistake or question. Should be intuitive, but sometimes it isn't. Here's some good advice.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Earlier, I said that I'd choose HBS over Stanford. I want to take back that comment. It was a slip. What I meant to say was that I'd pick Stanford but would admit that Harvard is the preferred choice of most.

Anyway, I'm mentioning Stanford again because, recently, Clear Admit offered some tips on the application. He made some excellent points, but I think I need to elaborate on them in case people misinterpret them (assuming, of course, that I understood them correctly!).

What I am about to write shouldn't be taken as advice - I hate using that word especially considering my credentials - but rather as my perspectives on the Stanford application. Or if you prefer, how I would've approached the WMM essay if I were to reapply. I hope R2 applicants will find this useful.

1) How would you answer the WMM essay?
I would simply rephrase the question into multiple ones: "What are your values?", "What experiences have led you to believe in these values?", "What have you done to adhere to these values?" and answer them honestly.

2) What do you mean by "honestly"?
I would tell things as they are, even if they seem to portray me negatively (but not too negatively). For instance, if "treating people with respect" is what matters most to me, there might be many instances in which I treated people very poorly. I would admit it, talk about why I behaved that way, try to see things from the other person's perspective, and show what I've learned from it.

3) What does Stanford mean by "accounting exercise"?
This "accounting exercise" concept has me sometimes confused because an "accounting exercise" can be at the same time a "marketing exercise". B-schools (except for maybe Wharton) are certainly guilty of that.

Take the average GMAT score for example. Schools can't disclose the individual scores of their students because it's not practical and they don't want to give out too much info to the competition. Instead, some schools report only the median while others only the mean. How do they choose which one to disclose? I'm sure most of them simply report the higher of the two to make themselves look better.

The same can be said in the business world, where companies can't disclose their financial information on a per client basis, but will disclose some additional info if it makes them look better and withhold other if it makes them look worse.

What this means for the WMM essay is that I can't tell everything about myself on paper. I have to glean a sample of experiences that depict how I really am - good and bad (accounting) - and not how I am on my best days only (accounting turned marketing). Am I making any sense?

4) How many words would you write for the WMM essay?
I wrote about 1,400 words last year. This time around, I'd write about 2,000 words, no less than 1,500 words and no more than 2,500. Struggling to write 1,500 words is a sign to me that I didn't reflect enough on the topic and that I didn't develop my stories enough.

5) Would you try to show why you're a good fit for Stanford or why Stanford appeals to you on this essay?
Absolutely not. It's just not me and would sound so phony in this context. I'll leave the marketing aspect to my recommenders. As long as I discuss the questions thoroughly with them, I'll be ok.

6) What books would you find useful for the essay?
I'll make sure I stay away from books about business and management. I definitely don't want to see the words 'framework', 'maximize' or 'silos' in my WWM essay. I'd re-read William Zinsser's "On Writing Well" to refresh myself on the rules of writing, (although I wouldn't follow them strictly - I'll still say "I came up with an idea" because it sounds more natural) and especially "The Catcher in the Rye" to learn how to write about events as I observed them.

I wonder if things would've been different if I had read "The Catcher in the Rye" before submitting my app last year. What am I kidding. My writing was terrible and, besides, I didn't spend enough time with my recommenders.

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That's all I can think of for now.


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