Five Years to B-School: Do you really need to spend 5 years before getting into b school? V/s Are 5 years enough to get ready for b school?

Recently I came across the article series from Business Week titled as “Five Years to B-School”. Being in Business School right now and seen the fellow students around me I ponder on this question.  “Do you really need to spend 5 years before getting into b school? V/s Are 5 years enough to get ready for b school?” The article interestingly summerize the journey as below:

By the end of Year One, you had launched your career and found a mentor. In Year Two, you began taking on more responsibility at the office and in your extracurricular activities. Year Three brought a promotion or a move to another company. You made your mark on the job and started preparing for the application process in Year Four. Wrap things up at work in a way that leaves you in the good graces of your former employer, find a way to explain why you’re a good fit for the schools on your short list and completed your applications and start to live—and feel—like a student again by Year Five.

For me the last sentence is most close to the truth – live like a student on a thin budget and spend every week to “strategize” how you will find your next “dream” job. 🙂 Although I may or may not agree to many points suggested in this series this series is still very informative to those who are planning to apply over next few years.

Here’s summary each year’s plan from the article.

By the End of Year One…

You should have:

• Begun developing your skill set

• Found a few mentors who have given you a better idea about the jobs you might like to do in the future

• Found a way to translate your passions into a couple of activities in which you’d really liked to get involved

• Decided how you can make an impact at the office and in those extracurricular activities and start implementing a plan of action to do just that

• Kept your mind on business by reading relevant books and articles

• Made a decision about when you’d like to take the GMAT

• Started building a satisfying, well-rounded life and career.

By the End of Year Two…

You should have:

• Shown progress in your career

• Received a promotion or taken on a project or assignment that had you in a leadership role

• Started thinking about your next career move

• Taken on more responsibility for your relationship with your mentors and built an even larger network of professional contacts

• Demonstrated initiative in one of your extracurricular activities and continued to pursue your passions whatever they may be

• Worked on any weaknesses in your academic record

• Gained either exposure or experience internationally

• Begun to save money to finance your education


You should have:

• Either been promoted where you’ve been working or moved to another company to reach the next level in your profession.

• Found someone to mentor while still maintaining relationships with your own mentors and continuing to make contact with superiors who can better inform you about the MBA and various business schools.

• Narrowed down the list of things you’d like to be doing after you complete your MBA.

• Made contact with business schools that interest you.

• Discussed your future with your loved ones and listened to their thoughts about your plans.

• Tightened your finances even more than before in anticipation of paying tuition and going without an income for two years.


You should have:

•Earned recognition on the job and broadened your experiences by taking on new roles or projects

•Narrowed your list of top business schools and thoroughly researched them

•Chosen your recommenders and either talked with them about the MBA in general or your desire to apply, depending on your relationship with each

•Begun taking note of your achievements and demonstrations of leadership in preparation for the essays and the interviews

•Researched the regions of the schools that interest you most to determine the types of jobs available, the cost of living, and the culture for you and your family if you have one

•Started applying for scholarships and any other free money to fund your MBA


You should have:

• Wrapped things up at work in a way that leaves you in the good graces of your former employer

• Become an insider at the MBA programs at the top of your list

• Come up with a clear-cut career path to share with the admissions committees

• Addressed your weaknesses as an applicant in the application

• Found a way to explain why you’re a good fit for the schools on your short list and completed your applications

• Started to live—and feel—like a student again. The MBA is, after all, just around the corner

Having looked at the fellow students around I believe the time period to be ready for a B School vary significantly from candidates to candidate as well as what you need to do (or can do) in each of those five years also vary significantly depending on the industry you’re coming from. I am sure many of you who have already passed out from B School or are currently in B School have different thoughts. I would welcome any comments!


Article Source: BusinessWeek


Back to blogging…


I can’t believe it’s been over 6 months that I havent returned to my blog. I guess I was too busy with getting adjusted to new country, new culture, new people (and add few more words with a prefix new!). However I think it’s time to be back here and shout out some thoughts! For those who might be wondering which new world I am referring to I would restate that I am currently at UCLA Anderson pursuing my full time MBA.

Every year, many students from India work hard to get into US business school and I just went through the process. (It almost looks like yesterday when I think of my application process) So, I would love to answer any questions/concerns regarding application, interview, essays, visas, finance, student loan that prospective applicants/students have. Please feel free to post your questions here and I would try to get back to them as soon as I can.

Until next time…


A long debrief – UCLA Anderson it is finally!

How are you all doing?

I received a few emails asking about updates however I didn’t have any exciting update to share so I didn’t reply. Here’s my update:

Dec 19th, 2007, 3:00pm IST – last chatted with Shirish (a fellow applicant from this Google group(GMAT_May2007). We were “hoping” for an admit from either Chicago or Wharton. We left on an optimistic note!

Dec 19th, 2007, 8:00 pm IST – received a ding from Chicago

Dec 20th, 2007, 8:00 pm IST – waitlisted from Wharton

I hadn’t received invitation from any other schools that I applied in Round 1(or in some cases November round) till that point of time. I never thought I would be applying to any school in January round and I was not prepared at all. I was quite anxious. I was very short of time if I had to apply in Round 2 because the deadlines were around January 2nd/3rd. So I had less than 2 weeks to prepare apps from scratch.

I went through all the remaining schools and zeroed on 4 schools: UCLA (Jan 2), Ross (Jan 3), NYU (Jan 15) and Haas (Jan 31). I had done some basic research done for all except NYU but nothing in depth to create winning essays. Someone how I managed to submit my essays for UCLA Anderson & Ross

On January 3rd I received interview invitation from Cornell. I was excited and tried to do my best for preparation for an alumni interview in Mumbai. Among all this I dropped idea to apply for NYU as it was getting too difficult to concentrate on an interview plus 2 applications (NYU & Haas).

Cornell interview was not less than a horrible experience. The guy was into FMCG sector and had no clue (or appreciation) about what I do/or have done. I pretty much knew the outcome and that’s what I received after a week – a ding. Cornell system doesn’t even notify you by email that you’re rejected!

I focused on Haas app. According to me it is/was my best application of the year. I submitted the app on Jan 31st and then completely focused on my current job lowering my expectations to “nothing” from B schools.

I didn’t receive any notification or invitation from any of the 3 schools (Anderson, Ross, Haas) by March 10th. On March 15th I received the very familiar ding from Ross without interview! Now I had almost lost all hopes as UCLA decision deadline was March 28th. With less than 2 weeks to go another ding was expected.

On March 17th after a really busy day I saw an email inbox stating from UCLA Anderson. I told myself – “here it comes, another ding”. Now I had become very indifferent to dings so I just opened the email. It said “we liked your application on paper and want to one of our representative to meet you!” In all this negative feeling I forgot I could have seen the subject which read “UCLA Anderson MBA interview invitation”. I didn’t know whether to be happy or not because I had 3 interviews prior without any fruitful results.

I contacted admission office asking when I can schedule the interview since the decision deadline was March 28th. They said “you can schedule interview by 31st March. In this case you will receive your decision a ‘little’ late”. I scheduled my interview on March 31st in Mumbai. Till now I didn’t count how much I had spent in my aspirations for MBA in terms of application fees and flight expense. But now I had started counting. But just as an impulsive gambler can not stop himself from gambling I decided to spend another few thousands for flight to Mumbai.

March 26th: Wharton decided to release its decisions a day in advance. For some it brought good news. For some it didn’t. I belonged to the 2nd category – another ding.

March 31st went in a flash. My flight reached Mumbai on 4:30pm. I was in my interviewer’s office by 5:15pm; interview started on 5:30pm and by 6:00pm I was out. The interviewer asked all the questions which created doubts – “why UCLA over Haas/Stan/MIT”, “+ves of UCLA & -ves of UCLA”, “What subjects!”. Overall conversation didn’t last too long because my interviewer had another meeting to attend. But he was very courteous enough to apologize for a “rushed” job. I told myself “a rushed job is going decide how tough I would be in future!”

Just before interview I had received an email from UCLA that they never received my transcript & certificate copy which I had already sent in January. This time I sent the copy with one of my friend who was returning to CA on March 31st. I got an acknowledgement on April 3rd that they received my docs.

Another wait had begun – this time it was for outcome of UCLA & hoping for an interview invite from Haas. I scheduled a family vacation from April 11 to April 16. On April 11 early morning (4:30am) just before sitting in car I checked my emails. To my surprise I had received an invitation from Haas. I couldn’t believe myself as Haas deadline was on April 30 and getting invite from Haas was next to impossible because they declared openly that their spots were almost filled…

I was going on vacation so I can’t schedule my interview anytime soon. I was given the deadline to complete the interview by April 26th. My interviewer was a “busy” person in his business (later on I found out that he joined his family business just 8 months back and was still finding out what his role would/could be!). So the only date available for him to interview was April 26th. I confirmed with Haas and they said they will give me decision as soon as they receive my interview feedback. I again, with a lot of hesitation, booked my flight to Mumbai. Now I was counting how much I would spend on coffee and sandwiches during my journey to Mumbai – Managing Finance you know!

Things went horribly wrong on April 26th . My scheduled flight of 12:15pm got delayed to 3:15pm and my interview had to be rescheduled from 4pm to 6pm. I travelled through whole Mumbai and reached Hilton Hotel by 5:30pm. The interview lasted for about 1 hour 15 minutes. The length of the interview was encouraging. But the questions were unexpected. The first question was “forget about work, resume, goals; tell me what do you in you free time because that’s the most important thing”. At the end of the interview I had no clue what to expect.

April 29 – still I didn’t hear back from UCLA.

April 30, Wednesday: (A) I didn’t hear back from Haas. (B) In response to my one week old email to UCLA I was informed that “A decision is reached and you will be informed later in the day or latest by Friday”

May 1st – no news from Haas.

May 2nd (late Friday night)– (A) I didn’t receive any email from UCLA (B) Haas informed me that they didn’t receive my interview feedback so they will be late.

That was the longest weekend for me. I was in May and I had no clue whether I am going to Bschool or not.

May 5th, Monday: It was exactly 5weeks post my interview with UCLA and more than 2 weeks after my Haas interview. I was on visit to our office in another city. On my way back in company car I checked my personal emails after midnight (I use wireless data card so I can use the internet on the move! I told myself – “what move? I don’t know what will be my next move”). There was an email from UCLA.

This time I didn’t make the mistake to ignore the subject and it helped too. The subject said “Congratulation from UCLA”. The hard work and wait was finally paid off. I had received an ‘admit’. I didn’t know how to express joy, who to call as there were other people in the car. For the next 2 hours I waited endlessly to reach my home and break the news to my parents. I reached home 4am. Mom opened the doors. I just hugged her and told her “I am going”. She immediately understood. Moms always seem to know what their children want to say! That night I was very tired but I couldn’t sleep.

May 15th: I was still waiting on Haas to reply. They still didn’t have any decision for me. May 16th: Late night just before I went to bed I received an email from I was waitlisted from Haas as they didn’t have enough spots for this year. I was very disappointed because I really liked that school

May 17th: Early morning, still coming out from Disappointment of last night, I received an email from UCLA. It said “Based on your merit you’re awarded $35,000 fellowship for total 2 years” This amounts to almost half of my tuition fees! I was elated.

May 23rd: I waited for almost a week for Haas but still no decision.

May 30th: Decided to forget about Haas.

So, here are the updates from me till now. I am now waiting for my I20. I received an email a couple of days back from UCLA that my I20 is ready and they will send it very soon. Twists and turns of some of the events in my life in last few months again reminded and reinstated my faith into the famous Rocky lines “It ain’t over till it’s over”

Sincere apologies for such a long email, but it wasn’t easy to comprehend updates over 6 months in just a few sentences. And since it’s not a b school essay I don’t need to worry about its length! I look forward to hearing from others.

Next updates when I get my I20 and Visa date! 🙂

Spoke to recommenders

Hey all,

I finally told my boss that I am planning to go back to school. It was a shock to him as he would have never thought me going back to school or for that matter even leaving the company. But I had to tell him as I need a RECO from him. Despite of being shocked he gave me a patient hearing and in fact showed interest in knowing which school I am applying to or the specialization I am looking for and how I will manage finance. This discussion went on for 2 hours and he looked very positive about writing recommendation letters for me. I had to warn him that he would have to spend a lot of hours in doing so as I am planning to apply to almost 10 schools!

The other recommender is my Mentor and former boss. My current boss told him about me before I could inform him. So he was not much shocked. But he was very happy. He has been my inspiration since last 4 years so hearing encouraging words from him was quite satisfying. He was also ready to spend any number of hours for my letters! Infact he told me that if I need any financial help once I am in US I can count on him! Such a positive attitude!

I am yet to tell my 3rd recommender. He is a peer but plan to tell him around early next week. I think he would be a cake walk after speaking to the first 2. He will be shocked for sure!

I have almost finalized my resume and have now started working on HBS essays and RECO. I have rough points ready but need to work on putting on paper and mercilessly edit it. But before that I have to crack TOEFL this weekend. So, I will write more once I am done with my TOEFL. 

TOEFL or Resume or Reco?

As the first round deadline OF HBS (Oct-2nd) coming nearer day by day, I am getting more anxious on what all I should include in my resume, essays, reco, cover letter,etc… I have my TOEFL scheduled next week but somehow I cant concentrate on it.

People say if you have done well on GMAT and have good English skills then scoring 110+ is easy. Well I do have good GMAT score and (I believe) have good oral and written english skills but then a standardized exam like TOEFL is also important part of your app. I am going to give 2 TOEFL tests tomorrow to build up my stamina to and hope to do well. That will boost my confidence.

App Process – I have been working on my resume since last 4 days. I didn’t touch at it for last 4 years as I grew to higher designations every 12-18 months and have been with same company. But it presents a new set of challenges. WHAT and HOW MUCH I should include in resume. Some schools say it should be only 1 page (like MIT) whereas some says 2 are fine. I just can’t understand how to include your profile, edu, work history, extras in single page. But do I have an option of not following it? NO. So, will have to cut down my “achievements”.

What I am currently doing is put all that I can recall from my last 4 years at this company in a document and then trying to make bullet points out of it. As they say, I have to mercilessly edit my resume to make it less wordy, concise and to-the-point.

More on resume and other parts later… I have still not told recommenders but I am confident that they will write good recommendation letters for me. I may tell them today itself. Well, once I tell them I am sure I am not going to get that next promotion (which was very near to me!) but will not mind if I get in to my dream school. Let’s see how it goes!  

Too many MBA Rankings – which one to follow?

I have been reading, re-reading and again visiting school websites and resources to finalize the schools I want to apply. Like many others, I take help of different rankings available online. But each one shows different schools in top 5. So, I researched to find out what each ranking is based on and below is what I found out. I hope this becomes useful to many others like me! [Check out my new blog post on this]

BusinessWeek MBA Rankings

BusinessWeek bases its MBA rankings on:

  • 45% on student satisfaction surveys of recent MBA Program graduates
  • 45% on surveys of corporate recruiters based on their experiences with a school’s graduates
  • 10% on “intellectual capital” calculated by BusinessWeek, which tallies points for appearance of the faculty’s research in 18 specific publications

Detailed MBA Rankings Methodology

BusinessWeek surveys MBA graduates and corporate recruiters, and measures faculty publications.

Every two years, BusinessWeek asks the graduating MBA classes at schools to complete an online survey. MBAs evaluate “everything from the quality of teaching to the efficacy of career placement offices” using a scale of 1-10 for each question. Responses from the graduating class account for half of a school’s student satisfaction score. The other half of the MBA program rankings comes from the responses of the two previous BusinessWeek rankings classes, which carry a weight of 25% each. The resulting student satisfaction score receives a 45% weighting in the overall MBA program ranking.

BusinessWeek also asks corporate recruiters who hire MBAs to complete an online MBA ratings survey. Recruiters rate their top 20 schools based on their company’s experiences with a school’s graduates. Each school’s total score is divided by the number of responding companies that recruit from that school. BusinessWeek reported that there tend to be greater differences among schools in the corporate survey, so recruiter opinion can have a greater impact on the overall ranking. In 2006, BusinessWeek no longer based each school’s recruiter score on a single survey and, instead, combined the three most recent polls, as it does with the student surveys. The 2006 recruiter survey counts for 50% of the recruiter score, while the 2004 and 2002 surveys contribute 25% each. Combined, the three recruiter polls accounted for 45% of the final ranking. The recruiter score accounts for 45% of any MBA program’s ranking score.

Finally, BusinessWeek calculates each school’s “intellectual capital” rating by tallying faculty’s publications in 18 publications, and adds points if The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal or BusinessWeek reviewed a professor’s book. Tallies are adjusted for faculty size. The intellectual capital score accounts for 10% of a school’s MBA ranking.

Financial Times MBA Rankings

The Financial Times bases its MBA rankings:

  • 55% on career progression by surveys of alumni, with salary data as the largest measure
  • 25% on diversity of faculty, students and board members and the international experience of students, by surveys completed by the schools themselves
  • 20% on research, calculated by the Financial Times

Detailed MBA Ranking Methodology

The Financial Times measures three areas in its annual MBA ranking:

  • Career progression
  • Diversity of faculty, students and board members, and the international experience of MBA students
  • Research

The Financial Times sends a questionnaire to alumni three years after graduation to chart their progress from pre-MBA program, through graduation and into the workplace. Their “career progress,” for which the salary data is the largest measure, accounts for 55% of the MBA ranking.

Each school completes a survey, which measures diversity of faculty, advisory board members and students, and international experiences of the MBA students. These diversity and international measures account for 25% of the overall MBA program ranking.

Finally, the Financial Times rates each school for “ideas generation,” which accounts for 20% of the weighting of the overall Financial Times ranking. This research ranking is based on a rating of faculty publications in 40 international academic and practitioner journals (10%); the percentage of faculty with doctoral degrees (5%); and the number of doctoral graduates from the last three academic years with additional weighting for graduates who took faculty positions at one of the top 50 schools in the most recent FT ranking (5%).

Forbes MBA Rankings

Forbes ranks return on investment of MBA programs based on:

  • Average 5-year increase in compensation compared to pre-MBA salary for each school’s graduates
  • Cost of each MBA program, including estimated foregone salary

Detailed MBA Rankings Methodology

Forbes ranks “return on investment” for MBA programs. For its most recent MBA program ranking, which was released in 2007, Forbes surveyed 2002 graduates of 102 MBA programs around the world.

To determine the five-year MBA gain, Forbes asked alumni for their pre-M.B.A. salaries as well as compensation figures for three of the first five years after getting their degrees. Forbes compared their post-M.B.A. compensation with their opportunity cost (tuition and forgone salary while in school) and what they would have made had they stayed in their old jobs. Forbes adjusted for cost-of-living expenses and discounted the earnings gains, using a rate tied to money market yields.

U.S. News & World Report MBA Rankings

U.S. News & World Report bases its MBA rankings:

  • 25% on ratings by business school deans and MBA program directors
  • 15% on ratings by recruiters of the schools at which they recruit
  • 35% on placement statistics provided by each school
  • 25% on school-reported “selectivity”, the percentage of applicants the school accepts for admission

Detailed MBA Rankings Methodology U.S. News & World Report sends surveys to all accredited MBA programs. The annual MBA ranking includes:

  • Surveys of deans and MBA program directors who rate programs (25% of the overall ranking)
  • Corporate recruiters rate the programs where they recruit (15% of the overall MBA ranking)
  • “Statistical indicators,” which include placement success (35% of the overall MBA ranking) and student selectivity (25% of the overall MBA ranking)

Specialty MBA rankings are based solely on ratings by deans and program directors, who can list up to 10 MBA programs for excellence in each area listed. The 10 schools receiving the most votes appear in the ranking.

The Wall Street Journal MBA Rankings

  • The Wall Street Journal bases its MBA program rankings 100% on surveys of recruiters’ perceptions of the MBA programs from which they recruit.

Detailed MBA Rankings Methodology

The ranking components for all schools measured in the 2006 survey include three elements: perception of the school and its students (21 attributes); intended future supportive behavior toward that school; and mass appeal. For national and regional schools, mass appeal is defined as the total number of respondents who recruit MBA graduates from that school. For international schools, mass appeal is defined as the number of countries in which the school’s recruiters are based.

Each of these three components – perception, supportive behavior and mass appeal – accounts for one-third of the overall 2006 rank. The 2006 ranking of schools that were ranked in 2005 and remained within the same cluster is based on an average of the 2006 and 2005 rank. For schools that are new to the MBA program ranking survey or moved between clusters, the ranking is based on 2006 results only.