Applying to a school

First of all, you need to do a GMAT. I did the Kaplan prep course – it cost me two weeks and three grand. It was good, but probably wasn’t worth the money. If you’re a hardass, you can study and take the test while you’re working. If not, take some time off (2 to 3 weeks) and get it done. Don’t get to prissy about the score – some 800s get rejected, some sub 600s get in. Generally, if you’re over about 670, you’re okay. Bear in mind that a great GMAT will go some way to mitigate a rubbish GPA.

People usually pick between 4 to 6 schools to apply to. Applying is the biggest pain in the ass, so prepare yourself. You’ll need:

  • Transcripts – get these from your college
  • References – get these from 2 – 3 people who like you
  • Essays

Some people write their own references, and get someone else to sign them. Some people work with their referees on it, like they’re essays. Some just get the referees to do it. For me, it’s probably worth involving yourself in the process, but not actually doing them yourself. Firstly, it’s goddamn obvious if you write it, and secondly it’s not very honest. Figure out what the important parts are you want to get across, and talk to your referee about them. Don’t ask the big boss who don’t really know you to do it – that’s just dumb. The admissions people are trying to find out what other people think of you, so pick someone who knows you well in a work setting, and preferably someone who likes you.

The essays are the biggest pain in the backside, and the most important part of the admissions process as a whole. Some of the questions will floor you. Write something – anything – then rewrite it again and again, stripping out the dross and keeping in the awesome. Get your friends (& maybe your referees) to read them and comment. Don’t take what they say at face value – some of them will be wrong, and all of them will be looking at it from their own point of view. Most of all, be yourself. I know that sounds like bullshit, but if you make yourself out to be someone you’re not, and you get into a college with loads of other people just like the mythical you, you’re basically screwed.

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