Final Judgement Cometh for R1


During the next 10 days, I’ll know the final decisions for 4 out of the 5 programs that I applied to during R1. HBS graciously gave me my walking papers back in October; and Stanford’s silence has spoken volumes. I expect a ding notice from there this Wednesday.  That completes the list of schools where I am either certain or nearly certain about the outcome. The other 3 aren’t so straightforward.

U of Chicago Booth

I had a decent, but not stellar interview with a Booth alum several weeks ago. Nothing bad happened; I just didn’t feel the love from my interviewer. I can’t even say that my interviewer gave me any overtly negative signs or vibes; the air was just…a bit stale.

The upside is that the interviewer flat out told me that they felt that I was a fit for Booth…but they didn’t necessarily offer that assessment up. My inner (former) account executive couldn’t stand the energetic ambiguity and dove in to close the deal–it was a reflex. So basically, I put the interviewer on the spot. That isn’t exactly the best environment for getting honest answers out of people.

My eerie interview notwithstanding, I still feel really good about Booth. I put a lot of work into that application and felt calm and confident that I had painted a well-rounded and interesting picture of myself for the admissions committee.

Throughout the process, what impressed me most about Booth was the openness and helpfulness of both the admissions staff and the students who attend. Envisioning myself among smart, hospitable people like that is easy. Booth is a fantastic school, and an admit call would certainly be good news.


I started my essay-writing process with Wharton. Initially, I did so because their questions were the most straight forward.  By the time I submitted, however, I knew that it was my strongest application. It had gotten the most feedback–and the harshest–because I was so green on writing essays for top MBA programs when I began. The lessons I learned during those critiques stuck–hard ; they made every subsequent application much better than it would have been. Still, there was something about this app. Each essay just had this ring to it.

Then there was my group interview in San Francisco. I arrived under what I felt were horrible  circumstances at the time: an all day turnaround trip (I was literally at Long Beach airport by 6am in a full suit and did not return to my home until after 11pm that night–still in that suit) to a densely populated, traffic heavy city in uncomfortable clothing (I hate wearing suits). Yet, I experienced multiple confirmations that day that Wharton was also a community that I could see myself being a part of.

From the great group of people who I interviewed with, to how well both my group and individual interview conversations evolved, to the engaged admissions officer who put me in contact with a professor that I had been trying to contact. Everything flowed effortlessly.

MIT Sloan

As a former engineer, I have been an ardent fan of this institution for quite some time. I was overjoyed to discover that it was also home to one of the world’s best and most well respected business schools. Any place that exists at the intersection of technological  and operational innovation and business is a place where I can easily fit in.

Sloan’s app was my last. I was tired, my ideas were blurry and my eyes crossed on my computer screen as I first began to write that app. I ended up taking a couple weeks off just to recover from the haze of what had been two straight months of business school apps and essays.  And after some rest, I got a burst of clarity and energy that led to me turning in what was perhaps the most unique of all of my apps.

Since MIT seemed to take special care in differentiating their app from others, I was not able to use so much as a singular idea from my other apps. And while I wrote  unique essay decks for each institution, none was as unique as Sloan, where I literally had to start from scratch with each writing–not even able to carry over a simple idea or theme.

Much like Stanford, MIT strings its applicants along right up unto to the last minute. Their deadline is 1/29/13–5 weeks after Booth and Wharton and 6 weeks after H/S. All that I can do at this point is sit back, relax and wait. I also need not think about the fact that a certain number of seats in their (already small) class have been reserved by last year’s overflow who took home up to $20k to defer a year when the school exceeded its yield projections.

Ain’t it Funny

“They” always say that you tend to end up in the exact MBA program that you’re supposed to be in. And while I think that at least some of that statement is an opiate for the thousands who do not get what they want, I also must look at the fact that I’m playing the waiting game with the 3 most quant- and numbers-oriented business schools on the globe and consider that it wasn’t accidental.

It also wasn’t an accident that I never bothered to complete Step 1 of Kellogg’s application in time (12/4) to apply there round two.  While it is no doubt a phenomenal school, I just never felt a congruent wavelength or vibe. I could literally feel myself trying to like it at times. And we all know that when you force yourself to like something/someone, only rarely does it end happily.

Well, I guess we’ll just have to see. Waiting is almost over, and I’ve been busy putting together the building blocks for my Consortium app for Tuck, Berkeley and Yale. Here’s to hoping that I get to submit that app already knowing that I have strong, viable options.


Would you like my help getting into your dream b-school? Well, there are two starting points for that:

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

2. Get Help Now (If you already know that you want help and what you want help on, then just skip to here)

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

About mbaover30

Wharton MBA and admissions expert

View all posts by mbaover30

Subscribe to the MBA Over 30 Blog

Subscribe to our RSS feed and social profiles to receive updates.

28 Comments on “Final Judgement Cometh for R1”

  1. Ob1 Says:

    The waiting is killing me! I’ve applied to Fuqua, Kellogg and Tuck and been interviewed by all three. With Kellogg and Tuck, I’ll find out by next week. Then almost a month till I hear back from Fuqua. At this stage, I jump every time my phone rings! 😀


  2. Angie Says:

    Good luck! Any school would be very fortunate to have you.


  3. gracerx Says:

    Long time reader, first time commenter.

    Best of luck to you dude! I’ve loved reading your blog. I must admit… I’m anxious/excited for you!

    I won’t begin my admissions process until at least next year, but thought it was a good idea to begin my research/gmat process this year – and so I’m living vicariously through everyone who is applying currently – knowing I have plenty of nail biting days in my future.

    Quick question: I’m thinking out what my R1/R2 strategy will be next year (I know it’s a ways away, and lots can change!), but I am curious about your strategy. You mentioned that even if you are accepted to Booth/Wharton/Sloan you will still turn in your R2/Consortium apps? I know the deadlines are close enough together that you’ll need to have gotten a fair amount done on your R2 apps prior to the R1 decision… but I’d sort of thought that I’d abandon R2 if I discovered I’d been a R1 admit. It seems however that many people don’t do that – wondering if you could shed some light!

    Anyway, all the best!


    • mbaover30 Says:

      You’re doing the right thing by starting so early–ESPECIALLY if you are 1) Taking the GMAT and 2) visiting schools/doing school research. Getting those two things out of the way early takes a lot of stress off of you and will really allow you to FOCUS come essay time.

      Submitting R2 apps when you’ve already been accepted during R1 depends on whether 1 or more of your R2 schools are institutions that you really want to get a verdict on regardless of who else has accepted you. If you get accepted during R1 and know full well that none of your R2 schools are programs that you would even consider choosing over your R1 admit, then don’t submit anymore. If the opposite is the case, then submit. If you read Cheetarah1980’s blog, you’ll see that she got into Kellogg R1, but ended up at Booth, which she was admitted to during R2. She felt that both Booth and Kellogg were comparable based on her fit with the schools to still submit applications after she had had some success during R1 in getting into a really good school.


      • gracerx Says:

        Thanks for the reply! I’m GMATing on the 22nd, wanted to give myself plenty of time for retakes if necessary! I’m living abroad at the moment, so school visits are a bit tougher… but hope to start chipping away at a few of the easier-to-get-to campuses while I’m home visiting over Christmas.

        My question sounds a bit silly upon reading it back. Of course you’ll still apply if you think you may want to attend those schools even given a R1 acceptance. I guess I’d been assuming that I (and by extension, everyone else) would apply to all of my top choices in R1, and use R2 as a “backup” (seems a silly word to use for the elite programs that don’t happen to be currently among my top 3 or so choices). I have read Cheetarah1980’s blog, and had wondered the same thing about her R1/R2 strategy (though she got $ out of R2… perhaps a good reason in itself).

        I suppose I was just wondering if there’s some conventional wisdom about this that I have missed. I’m probably massively over-thinking it.

        Regardless – thanks for the reply… best of luck during the next 1.5 weeks of holding your breath.

      • mbaover30 Says:

        The best conventional wisdom one could have in this process is to do your best and leave nothing to chance. Whatever that looks like for YOUR unique story/situation/career/strengths/weaknesses/goals/budget/dreams—do it.

      • cheetarah1980 Says:

        Since we are talking about me I think I should chime in. Last year my R1/R2 app strategy turned out to be less strategic and more circumstantial. I went into Fall 2011 with 9 schools on my list. That got cut to 8 in October, but that’s still a lot of schools. There was no way I could do all of that in one round so I knew I had to divide it. Also, I refused to pick a first choice. I divvied schools up based on application deadlines and how I saw my chances of getting in. I’d heard that applications get better with time so I decided to save most of the schools I thought would be the biggest reach to R2. I put Kellogg in R1 because I thought it would be a good litmus test. Then I was also going to do 3 Consortium schools R1 and CBS RD in December.
        This is what I planned. Obviously, this is not what happened. I did submit Kellogg R1, but afterwards I got really lazy and didn’t finish my Consortium apps in time for the November deadline. I was planning to move those apps to R2 (along with Stanford, Wharton, and Booth…stupid, I know) and still do CBS in Dec. When I got into Kellogg in Dec (and still was no closer to finishing the CBS or Consortium apps) I started weighing schools against each other more. Going forward I decided to only apply to schools that I would consider choosing over Kellogg. CBS and Consortium schools didn’t make the list.
        It’s not that I wanted to go to Booth, Wharton, or Stanford MORE than I wanted to go to Kellogg. It’s just that I wanted to go to them just as much as Kellogg so I didn’t want to regret not trying. Obviously, it worked out well for me. However, I was NOT expecting things to unfold the way they did. I could not have planned for my outcomes from the beginning.
        All of this to say your app strategy is likely to change as things unfold. I did what made sense for me at each step in the process. Some people use R1 for their safer/lower priority schools just to make sure they have some place to go. Others use R2 for their safer/lower priority schools because they didn’t make it into their top choices in R1. And folks like me just throw stuff against the wall and see what sticks. Who’s to say which way is right or wrong.

      • mbaover30 Says:

        Exactly. Its all about what works for you. I started this process ONLY wanting to get into USC, UCLA, Stanford or Berkeley because those are the schools that run ish in California. Before I could even get started, I had cut half those schools form the list and added 7 more, which got me up to 9. Thus far, I’ve applied to 5 and cut one of those, which is 8…and I can easily see more unexpected turns in the near future. This process has a way of cutting through alot of the BS that comes from a lack of clarity, a lack of research, playing it safe, and other bad business habits. It forces you to choose. It forces you to prioritize. It forces you to plan and make tough decisions quickly that you then must live with indefinitely.

      • gracerx Says:

        Thank you both so much for those very helpful (and detailed!) replies. Your app deadline/ chances of getting in methodology is very interesting. Definitely food for thought. Thanks for sharing. I’m only a couple of months into even thinking about this process, and have already changed my own internal rank ordering of programs what seems like innumerable times. Glad to know I can expect more of the same!

        Honestly though, thanks to both of you for taking time to write about this experience. I’m learning lots from from those who have gone before me…

        First thing’s first though – hoping to stick it to the GMAT next week 🙂

      • mbaover30 Says:

        Good luck on the GMAT. BLOCK OUT EVERYTHING ELSE until you get that right. While there are many pieces of your application, your GMAT is one of the most important 5 (along with GPA, career progression, goals clarity and recommendation). Get as high of a score as you can so that you can check the box of not being automatically relegated to a “maybe” pile before the rest of your profile has even had a chance to shine.

  4. tzeentch99 Says:

    Did you get an MIT interview invite? Do you know what dates they are sending them?


    • mbaover30 Says:

      No word from MIT yet. They started last week and will continue through mid to late January or so. They are admittedly releasing a small number at a time. Last I checked, only a few easy coast people had received them; but that info is 3-5 days old.


  5. Sassafras (@SassafrasMBA) Says:

    I’m amazed you can write anything coherent at the moment. I may just post sounds of myself blarghing and ughing…


  6. Rache Says:

    The waiting is killing me! 5 more hours for Harvard, and just had an interview for Sloan earlier this week. Best of luck. I am sure many people going through this are grateful to you!


  7. visitor Says:

    I am praying for your success! I got into HBS today – you have been an inspiration throughout, my friend! You will go places!


  8. guest Says:

    Rooting for you too man. Been coming to your blog everyday for inspiration. Older applicant of color as well. Got into Stanford. Am keeping my fingers crossed for Wharton, Chicago and Sloan for you. Take care bro


    • mbaover30 Says:

      Congrats on the GSB! It’s an enchanting place.


      • Sky Says:

        Hey MBAove30,
        You mention you were an account executive as well as an engineer. I’ve noticed you’ve done pretty well in gaining interviews from M7 schools. Would you be willing to fill me in on your background education and work-ex wise.

      • mbaover30 Says:

        Sure Sky. I did my undergrad in electrical engineering. I started my career as a programmer for a (then) Fortune e-50, got laid off after the dot com bust and went into sales for a Fortune 50. In that company, I rotated from entry level sales to operations to facilities engineering/mgmt and back into a higher level sales position. I left that position to work in marketing and operations for an internet company. I’ve started/owned 2 internet-based companies, none of which I run anymore. I’ll be doing the background work to start a new company while in school. I hope this helps.

  9. MK80 Says:

    Good morning MBAover30, How long does it take on an average for you to hear back from current students? I emailed a bunch of them from a particular club a couple of days back and have not heard back from any of them. I think it is finals week, but I am now concerned if the tone of my email was not correct. Feeling super anxious this morning!



  1. Fridays From The Frontline - Clear Admit Blog - April 15, 2013

    […] midst of final exams and preparing for travel and holiday plans. MBA Over 30 expected to hear from four different R1 schools in the coming days. UnclearAdmit happily reported that he had received word that he was accepted at […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: