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! 🙂