A Halloween Treat: Invited to Interview at Chicago Booth

Since I felt the “sting of the ding” from Harvard a week ago (I chose not to blog about it), I’ve done a fairly good job of keeping my sanity while in this wasteland of waiting for interview invites results.

Blocking Out the Noise

I’ve read half of Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, advanced 9 ranking levels and earned over $12 million in fighting prize money on Tekken 6 with MARSHALL LAW (The Bruce Lee replica), my favorite character, and gotten my squat back up above 315lbs (that used to be a warm up for me before this MBA bonanza began).

I’ve also had to stay away from GMAT communities, and yes, even my beloved Poets and Quants. Even though I know people mean well, the constant requests for updates (“Did you hear from HBS? What’s up with Wharton? Did you make the cut?  Will you die an old fart on welfare eating dog food?” –et al) were driving me out of my mind.

Like Day Old Bread

In truth, I had gotten over the Harvard ding fairly quickly. While HBS is a dream school for almost any of us,  I was not completely certain as to whether it was the best fit. At the same time, I could not within good conscience not apply to see if I’d get an opportunity to find out.

What REALLY had me down was something different. It wasn’t related to any particular school; yet, it felt as intense as acid on my bones.

As an applicant, interview invites are more than simply a chance to get one step closer to a dream school like Booth, Sloan, Stanford, Wharton, Tuck, Haas, Yale, Kellogg, HBS or any of the others. They validate that there are no serious, damning flaws in your profile, your goals or your approach to your essays. They also validate that there were no secret haters among your recommenders who rated you low on something or went overboard on the constructive feedback questions.

If any of that goes on, you’re likely to receive such a ding from every school. And until you hear otherwise, you simply don’t know for sure (however, hearing of someone with an 800 GMAT and a 3.98 GPA in my major who also got dinged outright by HBS sobered me to the fact of how I shouldn’t take it too personally.).

So, to be outright dinged by ANY school (no interview; no waitlist–nuthin) can be thwarting. Even though I knew that dings from Stanford and HBS in particular–but really any of the schools I’m applying to–can’t be taken too seriously due to the ridiculous applicant pool quality, I was still very worried because I had no clue whether this was just a regular “you were good but just didn’t fit into the class we were putting together this year” or “there is something wrong with your profile that turns us off and will likely turn off other elite programs as well”. Whew; thank God that the former now seems the likely case.

Trick or Treat

Generally, I see it as kind that schools like HBS, Booth and Wharton have published specific dates after which you will know your fate if you did not make it. On the flip side, however, the relative ambiguity of the selection processes of schools like MIT and Stanford make it easier to put those schools out of your mind until you hear something; or don’t.

I use to have a bias toward the former. Now, I’m not so certain. The HBS and Booth interview dates have caused me more than a little bit of stress; however, I did a much better job staying away from the hype with the latter.

Yesterday, October 30th, was a long day at work. I had a new hire get started,  a positive background check come back for a marketing intern candidate that I am excited to work with (she’s an entrepreneurship major) and began proceedings of letting go of  a tech support contractor who hasn’t been up to snuff on his job on top of a full day of meetings and some marketing copy that needed to be written. It was a lot.

I got two good games of ping pong in just before leaving, and walked off the elevator to a text from Cheetarah1980 (Booth ’14 and has a new blog theme BTW; check out its coolness) . She was bragging about how she was at Booth’s new venture challenge kick off and how Booth students had raised over $200M within the last 3 years blah blah blah.

That was the LAST thing I needed the day before status update day: more pressure.

This morning, I got up at 4am; then 5:35am; then 6:30am–all after waking from dreams of getting interview invites, only to realize that none of what I had just experienced had happened.

As I walked out of the shower at 6:59, I followed a wretched little OCD ritual of checking my iPhone’s inbox for updates. I’ve done this at least 1,000 t imes over the past 2 weeks to no avail; but this time, it was different.

“Chicago Booth Status Change”, read the subject line. “So what”, I thought. “My ding from HBS was a ‘status change’ as well”.

Then I read further: “Congratulations! We have evaluated your application and are extending an invitation for you to interview with us in the next phase of our admissions process.”

Now that’s what I”m talkin ’bout.

Someone is having a cocktail at lunch today.


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1. Get a Free Profile Analysis (after receiving your information, I’ll let you know whether or not I think I can help you)

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About mbaover30

Wharton MBA and admissions expert

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38 Comments on “A Halloween Treat: Invited to Interview at Chicago Booth”

  1. Kofi Kankam Says:

    Yessir – glad to hear the good news. Hopefully, it starts a bit of a flood. And even if it doesn’t, who cares? Take care of business in your Booth interview. Awesome city and school.



  2. Alison (mrsjonstewart) Says:

    Awesome! I had a dream about b-school interviews last night, it was SO real. I thought the chaos that Hurricane Sandy is causing in NYC was taking my mind off the application process, but somehow it manages to sneak in…


  3. cheetarah1980 Says:

    Woot Woot!! I knew Booth would be interested. Honestly (and I swear this is totally unbiased), I always thought that Booth was the right place for you given your goals and the school’s culture. My guess is that Booth’s adcom is seeing the same thing. You’re coming to campus to interview, right?


  4. smbasileo Says:

    Good stuff!!! Congratulations!!


  5. bschool2013 Says:

    CONGRATS! There’s no shame in an outright ding from Harvard or Stanford. You mentioned the quality of the applicant pool, but you also can’t igore the quantity as well. Harvard has about 9,000 applications for 900 seats, and Stanford has even worse odds at 6,500 applications for 400 seats.

    For comparison, Wharton had about 6,400 applications last year for ~850 seats. While H/S/W is considered the holy trinity, it’s pretty clear to me that Harvard and Stanford are in a league of their own.


  6. Hunter Says:



  7. Morian Says:

    (First time, long time)
    Congrats, I can totally relate to the rough morning ordeal. I woke up at 3:30 and 5:00, before having to wake up at 6:15, worrying about the Booth invite, but also found a welcomed invitation email! Cheers to both of us 🙂


  8. Jude Florido Says:

    CONGRATS MBAOVER30! It is great to hear that all that hard work has finally paid off.


  9. OhDenny Says:



  10. SuzyC Says:

    Just came across your blog…wish I would have read it sooner! Congratulations on your interview invite. That’s very exciting. I went through a very similar process this morning. Maybe we’ll be in the same Booth class!?


  11. gaurav Says:

    Hey Bud, didn’t I tell you (remember my back-of-the-envelope calculations!)


  12. myvitality Says:

    congrats! cheering for you 🙂


  13. AnotherMBAover30 Says:

    Congrats on your Booth invite. I wish I would have reached your blog sooner. A question: Do you think that the age was the kill factor for your admission to HBS? Do you have any information about ANY admitted applicant over 33?. What is your suggestion for applicant like you ( in terms of their age) on applying to HBS?


    • mbaover30 Says:

      I think my age was probably a negative for HBS, but not a kill factor. If I had been an Olympian with a 770 and an early stage start up that had been featured in Disrupt 2011, I’d probably have been extended an interview. The oldest HBS person I’ve come across was around 32/33 @ matric; haven’t met any 36’s (that’s what I’ll be next year this time). My suggestion for over 30 applicants is to be clear on why now, show that you are yet a productive and rising star and not a 30something loser looking for a restart, do a lot of school research, position yourself to show fit (hard to do at HBS because their brand is based around prestige and resources, not entrepreneurship or finance or student culture et al), cast a wide net and go for this just like you’ve gone for anything else you’ve really wanted in life.


      • AnotherMBAover30 Says:

        Thanks for your feedback. I bet you never find such an applicant having all the (Oly, 770+, enlisted Distrust 11. Even if you find, he/she is not interested in doing MBA!. It is really annoying that there is a factor(age) that you can not control yet you do not know how it plays a role in your admission. Thus, no matter how you present yourself to the Adcom , there is ALWAYS a factor against you. I am just wondering how even it is possible to do that effectively having a negative factor in your file right at the beginning.
        Good luck and I think you deserved to be invited to HBS and they lost a rising 30+ star AGAIN.

      • mbaover30 Says:

        No worries. Such is life. HBS’ adcom has a very difficult job. 70% of applicants are qualified. They have room for 10%; therefore, 6/7 of qualified applicants will be going elsewhere. And there is similar math for all of the top 10 schools; though some are more (i.e. Stanford) or less (i.e. everyone else) severe than others. I haven’t applied to any school that would not be a dream for me to go to. I’m happy about any positive results that I get out of this very competitive process.

  14. pyaari Says:

    Congrats! I’m sure you’ll nail them both.



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