The Road to B-School: Part 3

If you are still reading it, then probably you want to get to the part where Frodo manages to destroy the ring. Every story deserves a happy ending and I will give you one. End of part 2 was worse than end of part 1 on so many levels. Because that’s when hope starts to waver and confidence starts to shake. At such a time choices are costly. For me it was apply to schools where I didn’t want to go but where I had a better chance of getting in or wait for another year and apply to “my school” with the little hope still left, but risk everything. I am a hard-ass. What do you think I would choose?

This time I decided to change my strategy. First change was to take it easy on the applications. What you feel is what you project in your essays. I did not want to sound desperate; I wanted to sound confident and valuable. And most importantly I had to find THE school which valued me for what I am. I had a very unconventional work profile and had a different career path planned ahead of me. This should be valued in your application, not frowned upon. But make no mistake, was still looking at the top schools. It had to be the best and worth every penny I spent and time I will devote for my education. The research took me back to 2006 when I had first applied to Tuck: Ivy League school, Beautiful place, highly diverse class, strong focus on general management and a big chunk of class from non-traditional (non-profit, etc.) backgrounds. This seemed to be the one for me. I wonder why you don’t get to hear about Tuck so often, at least in India.

Lesson learnt: Street word is not always true. Sometimes prejudices can be very harmful. Do your own research and decide for yourself.

Even though I had my entire story chalked out in the form of essays from last year, I still had lots of work ahead of me. I wanted to write fresh essays as much as possible. One thing which was lost in my essays the last year was personal touch. By that I mean writing about the quirky things about me. Not many people know I am an avid Rubik’s cube solver. I was sure there is a place to write that which I am not using. Because we are so intent on telling about our professional experiences, our rags to riches story, our community work and how we have meticulously planned each semester even before coming to the school, that we often forget how BS it can sound to them if you leave out your day-to-day life events, frustrations, constraints from your story. In general my writing is very casual and informal, but essay writing can stifle the style to the order where it becomes boring and insipid. I said to myself: I am a blogger for a long time, I can certainly write better!

Lesson learnt: Be yourself in the essays, it really helps.

I decided to write about my plans in life, and how I am going to get married and move with my wife. How all this fits into the grand design of things. I told them about so many things on a personal level which I guess struck a chord with the school’s personality. The small ‘insignificant’ things are what make life interesting and that’s what makes an essay interesting too. For example, earlier in the year I had finished an endurance race, biking for 110 kms and hiking/running for another 40 kms in a day. Now this may sound irrelevant but it is not. This is interesting stuff. If your friends think of you as a fun person, ask them what makes you so. Your friends don’t know shit about how you managed to increase the revenue in your company, but they do like you, because of your quirky little things. Try to bring that flavor in your application.

Lesson learnt: What you write is what you are to them. Find interesting things about yourself. Never be shy to put them at relevant places.

I was preparing my applications in the midst of my engagement’s arrangements. I had to research diamond rings and optimize carat/clarity/color vs cost equations! And finally that interview invite from Tuck came! I did NOT jump in joy because this has happened to me a lot and every time I was left hurt. So this time I took it easy on me. I said silently to myself: You have screwed this up a bit too many times and may be this is the time you bring some changes. First thing was make sure I don’t end up giving a phonic interview. I suck at phone conversations. No alum interviews, if possible. I had a bad time with one of the alum interviews from a top school. They can throw odd balls and they generally tend to talk more about themselves than the candidate. And anything you know about the school is not going to satisfy them, which is natural. Luckily for me, I was to be interviewed by an Adcom member, in person.

I did not prepare for the interview at all. And this was the best strategy. And I strongly feel that if you have done enough research about the school while deciding on it and then while writing the essays, you do not need this. I like the Pune-Mumbai Expressway a lot. And so while I was driving to Mumbai from Pune, for the interview, I found the best time to ‘prepare’. In my mind I imagined how the interview will go and what will I talk about. The good thing about making mental notes is that you don’t sound rehearsed as opposed to if you practice by writing them down.

I arrived to Mumbai at my mother’s place; changed into a business suit and a tie. Funny fact: the diamond ring had burnt such a big hole that I wore the suit I had bought for my engagement, for which I intentionally got a business suit. Poor yet clever me J Anyway, so I touched my mother’s feet and with her blessings with me left for the interview. There I was in the beautiful Gateway Taj hotel, all sharp and confident. I started to feel I am going to rock this time and that helped my confidence a lot. The interviewer was a nice lady, who sat through the entire interview listening to my rants and encouraged me to talk very candidly. The interview went very well.  I could sense it. If I was getting to a B-school, this was it. After the interview I gulped down a pitcher of beer at The Pizzeria on the Marine Drive J with my school friend. What a day!

Lesson learnt: What you feel is what you project. The best mindset to have when going for such a thing is to be confident and happy.

In a week I got engaged in the same business suit and eventually the D-day came. The results were going to be out 3 o ‘clock in the morning India time. But I got a call from a US number, starting with +1-203, in the evening. And I knew I had done it. I couldn’t say anything other than “thank you”, but that was more than enough. This was a time to just feel it, to sink in. The next morning I woke up and felt as if I had lost 10 kgs. Just for this feeling, everything is worth it. I cannot really write much after this point, as these things are best left to be experienced. I wish everyone who dares to dream, all the best. Always remember, no goal is unachievable and the best choices are the ones that you make. Hard work, sincerity, perseverance and good wishes will always fructify. Be relentless.

Road to B-School: Part 2

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32 Comments

  1. SO HAPPY and in a way proud for you !!

    PS:You are insane(in a good way)

    Regards,
    Mayank
    Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/thepotenza

    • Thank You 😀

      I take that compliment with utmost pride 🙂

  2. Hearty congratulations….

    Your story definitely is a confidence booster to every aspirant………..

    • That was my intention. I am glad it works. Lemme know if I can improve this in any way.

      M

  3. Nice and inspiring story..good luck…

  4. A really inspiring story with a lot of takeaway tips on both GMAT and life. Thanks Mukul, and all the best in your future endeavors

  5. Hi Mukul,
    You story really inspired me. On one sudden day I decided to do MBA in abroad. Now I am working on that with lot of Ups and Downs. 🙁

    Finally ” Never Give Up… Fight On….” this is the strategy

    Thanks a lot for your story.

    Sreeny

    • Glad it helped you! All the very best for your future.

      M

  6. Hi Mukul

    Thank you for a such an encouraging account.
    The last few years have been a series of screw ups ..complete with rejects & an accident on the way to the GMAT centre 🙂
    I am trying to pick up the pieces & start it all over again. This account has been inspiring. Let me know if you make it to Pune sometime. Would be glad to meet you. Of course, I would be very interested in taking useful bits of guidance from you. Please let me know if there is some free time to respond to my mails.

    Regards
    Shuv

    • Glad it inspired you!

      you can post your queries here too!

  7. Hi Mukul

    I got only one sentence for you sir, “You are an inspiration to me!”

    Thanks for sharing your story.

    Regards,
    Harsimran Singh

    • Thanks buddy! That is the whole idea. Otherwise its no use putting so much effort to build this website.

      Thanks!

      M

  8. Hi Mukul,

    Congrats buddy for your overall stellar performance..

    Have sent u a mail using the “Contact me” link at the end of the page. Would really appreciate if you can help me out with my query..

    Regards,
    Brahmjot

  9. This sounds so much like my situation right now. 1 yr+ of boring IT work ex and preparing for GMAT. I just hope things turn out well for me like they did for you!!!

  10. First time I’ve ever spent so much time reading somebody’s blog… somebody I do not know personally and I must say– I loved your story. The essence of your success gives it a ‘larger than life’ picture mainly because of the n number of failures u had!!!
    Gr8 job brudder! I’ll be applying for TUCK this year.. wish me luck 🙂
    Have a splendid time… TUCK is an amazing school!!! More than worth all your failures put together– nevertheless,u certainly deserved it!

  11. Hey, Read all the 3 parts of road to B-School……. Wow you have strength, and courage and persistence. Thank you for sharing this story. Give me and am sure many people like me, the most needed courage that it takes to set a goal and go for it.

    Thank you for your site
    Cheers
    Akshayata

  12. Dude,

    You rock man, the simplicity and openess in your writing matches with Chetan Bhagat. Its about not caring what others think – not trying to create a false impression – in short its humility. Its a common trait in most of the IIT Grads

  13. Headstrong! I will keep it short. Thank you.

  14. Hi Mukul,

    My name is Rajiv. I am from Mumbai. I am a Graduate in Management (BMS) from Mumbai University. Having around 6+ years of work exp, I have decided to pursue higher edu (MBA).
    Congratulations on this great feat!!! Truly inspiring and motivating 🙂 Nothing is impossible if one truly works hard with utmost sincerity and passion.

    Thanks again!!!

    Rajiv

  15. Hi Mukul,

    I followed your blog very religiously last year and I’ve finally gathered myself to apply to Tuck for the fall 2013 intake. I had a question for you. Would you recommend approaching an admissions consultant to help out with the apps? I don’t know anyone with experience of the US admission process to help me out here. Moreover most US consultants are quite expensive to hire (I’m in Bangalore by the way). What would you suggest?
    Thanks a bunch and congratulations!

  16. Hi Mukul,
    Your blog came across admidst my shattered confidence while scoring low on my practice sets and this helps BIG TIME!
    Your story is truly inspiring. THANK YOU!
    Reading on…

  17. your story is really, really very inspiring. never to give up, i really admire that quality a lot. plus the fact that for once i got to read the story of hard work and true perseverance 🙂

    I’ve started my GMAT preps this year and your story (though scares me a bit :P) is very motivating.

    thanks a lot!

    • request you to please delete my above submitted comment as I’m unable to do so.

      Thanks in advance.

  18. Hi Mukul,

    Great Story! Really inspiring.
    Since a lot of the posts here were quite old, just wanted to check if I can message (or email) you regarding any queries that I have regarding the application process.

    Best regards,
    Sanchit

  19. I am glad to read your inspirations story about GMAT. I would be glad to read about yourexperience about studying at Tuck and US. Hope you will share this exp.for the benefit of future aspirants.

  20. This is an awesome and amazing story – a real inspiration! you deserve the best – also your blog is AMAZING 🙂

  21. Hi Mukul,
    I steped into your artical unintentionally. I am glad I came. Its worth a readng,what I liked most is the simplicity and honesty with your ownself. After this I realised that I really dont know who I am as I have never been tested so deeply. Now I am ready to take risks and ready to be bared to my bones.

    Thanks a lot

  22. Hi Mukul,
    I steped into your artical unintentionally. I am glad I came. Its worth a readng,what I liked most is the simplicity and honesty with your ownself. After this I realised I really dont know who I am as I have never been tested so deeply. Now I am ready to take risks and ready to be bared to my bones.

    Thanks a lot

  23. Hey Mukul,

    Thanks for your story, its very inspiring and motivating.
    Well it’s really a great read but moreover it seems as I am read a story of my friend / neighbour and not a MBA grad who is making others feel small and invisible because of the achievements. Thanks for being so grounded and sharing the experience.

    I am in the prep phase and will surely be looking for more guidance in future.

    Thanks,
    Kartik

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