Changing plans..

Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety. ~ Proverbs 11:14

I had finished filling the online form for the Columbia MBA, and polished the second draft of the essays when I met a Columbia graduate. It was fortuitous that I did and I had to squeeze out all the information that I could get from him. Graduates from top business schools are scarce commodities in this part of the world. He had coached many Nigerians to a few business schools in the US. I was lucky.

He made me understand that American and European business schools don’t usually like Africans applying in the last application rounds because of visa issues. It was possible to scale through but the chances were slim to none. When I raised my age issue, he objected that my age had very little, if any, to do with the dings I got. He liked my resume but he did not like my essays. That was a shocking revelation. He pointed out a few things, and everything came altogether. My post MBA goals were a stretch, and there was no clear cut plan between my short term goals and long term goals. While they played to the strength of my experience, they were not that convincing enough.

At that point I was grateful to have even been considered for the INSEAD wait list. I have been able to correct this weakness and updated the changes in my circumstances in the last correspondence with INSEAD.

So, to cut long story short, I have come to the end of the application season for American schools. No more Columbia, no more Booth. However, I went on the London Business School website, and it was stated there that getting visa to study at LBS is “a straightforward process”, and it takes about 3 – 4 weeks to fully process. Yes, I know that there is only one round left, Round 4, and it is going to be highly competitive. But I will try.

My new plan is to stay on the INSEAD wait list, and then apply to LBS as a back up. After submitting my LBS application, I will start preparing for one last shot at the GMAT. But if INSEAD calls at anytime between now and the day I chose to re-write the GMAT, for the fourth time, everything application process comes to a halt, and I prepare myself for Fonty or Singy.

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INSEAD Update Sent… Now considering Columbia

No, I am not a masochist.

A lot has happened between January and now. After settling down into my new role, and getting involved in a few other activities, my application has changed dramatically. I am glad to be able to send this update to INSEAD, and at the prompting of my Consultant, I have decided to throw my hat into the ring for a seat in Columbia.

I don’t know how it will go yet, but I am not one for shying away from challenges. I don’t believe in failure. You can only fail forward, and not backward. You have only failed when you fall and you stay down. I don’t know how to stay down.

To keep myself going I have just ordered for two books from Amazon: The Upside of Down by Megan McArdle and Pitch Perfect by Bill McGowan. (Pitch Perfect is actually a pre-order since the book will only be published and made available in April 1, 2014.)I should get the books next week. How the heck I am going to read those books while working an 80 hour week and writing applications and nudging recommenders (yikes! those pesky recommenders thing again) and getting a visa to attend the CFA Annual Conference in Seattle in May, I have no idea.

Maybe I am a masochist…

Wait list Strategy for INSEAD

After a week of accepting the fact that I am not going to Stanford, Harvard or Wharton, at least not this year, I have cleared the cobwebs off my head and put on my thinking cap. Time to dust myself and move on. My priority now is to try to get off the INSEAD Wait list as soon as possible. If that happens, that will put a screeching halt to all other alternative options and the attendant heartaches and e-mail obsessive refreshes.

So I have decided to approach the wait list like a real application by itself. A wait list is a lifeline, and I don’t have time to faff around like it does not matter. So many things have happened between the time I submitted my application and the time I received the decision, and it is time to let the INSEAD Admission Committee know that my profile has changed. There were some things that I could not work into the application because of space, and I felt this might just be a golden opportunity to let them catch a glimpse of these other aspects of me.

I called my consultant and told her we are on again.

Another ding from Stanford… and way forward.

It was not quite unexpected.

When Harvard and Wharton ding you without an interview, then you know your chances at Stanford are slim to none. I hold nothing against them because I am pretty sure there are many great applicants to pick from. I had to take a cold hard look at myself after the Wharton ding, and I came to the realization that there was really nothing I could do about who I am. I made good use of all the opportunities that came my way, but the fact that I came from a poorly understood culture did not really help matters. The Admission Committees simply did not understand me.

I make investment decisions that potentially impact the Nigerian financial markets almost on a daily basis, and I am involved in activities that have changed the actions of the managements of some listed companies in Nigeria. I am pretty sure that if these schools were Nigerian schools, they would have understood the context of candidacy and I would have stood a better chance.

Enough of the whining.

Now I know that I might have to look towards more internationally focused schools, schools that are more likely to understand the context of my candidacy. American schools have exposure to 35 – 40% international applicants. Americans with a population of about 300 million have slots for 60 – 65% of the seats while the remaining 6.7 billion of the World population fight for the remaining seats.

Now, I have to work out a strategy to get off the INSEAD waiting list. And I have a month to apply to London Business School and IESE Business School. If I have the time, I may throw in Chicago Booth into the mix, just for the fun of it.

No, the MBA dreams of the African Doctor is not dead.

I may be bruised and battered but like King Leonidas and his 300 men, my chin is up in the sky, and I will fight on.

Meanwhile, the views on my blog have almost touched 2,000. I am humbled by your belief in me, and I am grateful to those who have encouraged me all along.

I am sorry I do not have better news for you.