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jpain3

Got into my top program! Thank you all!

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I wanted to say THANK YOU to this great group of supportive people. I've been working on getting into a PhD program for the last two years, and I finally got in!!!!!

Last year was incredibly deflating as rejection after rejection poured in. After wallowing for a little bit (but not too long, I have a family with one small kiddo at the time and another kiddo that was born right in the middle of the rejections, so I was quickly distracted by life), I made a plan to try again. As I told one of my recommenders "As with any setback, I am taking this as an opportunity to regroup, reassess, and improve." Below is a description of what I did, in case it's helpful to anyone else out there who finds themselves in the same position this year (if so, you can still do it!).

I reached out to every school that had said no (all 13 of them), and bugged anyone who would pick up a phone or answer and email to figure out what happened. It was really two buckets: Bad fit of program with my research, or I was simply not in the top 2-5 applicants. So, I did three big things to close the gap and increase my odds:

  • First I started from scratch on defining what my research interests actually are by constructing a realistic research topic I could dive into on day one, and then sticking with that in every conversation. This helped me rapidly filter programs that didn't match, and quickly gave me new leads in conversations ("We don't do that sort of behavioral operations work here, but Professor XYZ at school ABC is an expert. Let me send her an email")
  • Next I did something very practical: I retook the GRE. And this time I really studied for it! I actually bought an online course (Magoosh if anyone is interested) and listened to every lecture and did every practice problem (all 1200+ of them). After three months of work on nights and over my lunch breaks, I went from 76th percentile in quantitative reasoning to 92nd percentile. I also improved my other scores (got a perfect verbal the second time), but that quant score came up during my interviews repeatedly. Will knowing how to quickly find the number of non-repeating diagonals in an arbitrary n-gon help me in my PhD studies? No. But I finally had a score that matched my ability to learn and it made an incredible difference this year in opening doors.
  • Finally, I did something radical. I quit my job. Technically, I formed an independent consulting firm to work on non-traditional projects, which I really did do! It just also gave me the flexibility to physically drive to campuses around the East Coast and meet faculty and students in person. I was literally checking doors to see if they were locked and wandering into offices to introduce myself. Forming that company has been a terrible financial decision (man I miss corporate healthcare), but it gave me the flexibility to become a known face when my application came up for review. Face-Time = Name-Recognition = Success

The result: Multiple acceptances, including to my absolute top choice, and incredible connections at many fine research institutions that I will be able to use in the years ahead! Plus no wallowing!

The entire time, I was looking here at The Grad Cafe and reading about other's work and experiences applying, both failures and successes. The stories here, and genuine heartfelt support and advice was one of the things that kept me going. Thank you all for your support, and good luck to those still reaching for the dream!

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Hi Jpain3! Congratulations :) You worked hard and you made it a wonderful success. I am an applicant to Business- OB PhD programs in US univs for fall 2018.

This is my first (and probably the last )attempt. I have received rejects from Kellogg, Wharton and Yale (those were my ambitious univs) and I have interviewed with UIUC. So far I haven't heard back from the following univs. Considering you have applied to some of them, can you guide me about their timelines for acceptance/rejections? Thanks a lot! 

Umichigan: Ross
Cornell Univ : Johnson
MIT : Sloan
Duke : Fuqua
Columbia University 
University of Maryland
Georgia Tech University
Tepper - Carnegie Mellon

 

Warmly

A nervous applicant :)

 

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DeepSea, would you mind supplying you test scores, gpa, experience, and the like?  When I look at your list, I see exclusively top 25 programs (according to my 'custom' ratings).

You mentioned Kellogg #12, Wharton #11, and Yale #2 as your ambition universities.

You mentioned Ross #25, Cornell #10, MIT #5, Duke #8, Columbia #9, Carnegie Mellon #14 as not heard backs.

These programs are extraordinarily competitive, and your field is perhaps the most saturated with strong applicants.

My point is, even if you get rejected from all of these schools, you should not rule out a PhD if it is what you want.  Business PhDs aren't like English Lit PhDs, we're getting good jobs immediately out of the programs (and they obviously can't all be top 25), at good schools.

Best,

~Michael

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Hi Late Bloomer,

My GRE score is 327 (165 Quant, 162 Verbal). My past GPAs have been 8.38 (on 10) for Engineering and 2.98 (on 4) for a one year diploma in Liberal Arts. I have five years of experience with four years in corporate giants. The last one year has been a shift in trajectory to a smaller firm with a significant role.

I got an admit from UIUC - Gies school of business. Any suggestions or thoughts will be helpful.

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On 2/21/2018 at 8:04 AM, jpain3 said:

The result: Multiple acceptances, including to my absolute top choice, and incredible connections at many fine research institutions that I will be able to use in the years ahead! Plus no wallowing!

The entire time, I was looking here at The Grad Cafe and reading about other's work and experiences applying, both failures and successes. The stories here, and genuine heartfelt support and advice was one of the things that kept me going. Thank you all for your support, and good luck to those still reaching for the dream!

@jpain3 This was incredibly awesome to read through! I was worried I was quickly heading down the same path, but I received an acceptance from Clemson last week for their PhD in Business Administration! I am so happy for you and seeing what all you did to reach your goals was very motivating and inspiring. A lot of prospective PhD students could really benefit from reading that!

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On 3/20/2018 at 4:33 AM, DeepSea said:

Hi Late Bloomer,

My GRE score is 327 (165 Quant, 162 Verbal). My past GPAs have been 8.38 (on 10) for Engineering and 2.98 (on 4) for a one year diploma in Liberal Arts. I have five years of experience with four years in corporate giants. The last one year has been a shift in trajectory to a smaller firm with a significant role.

I got an admit from UIUC - Gies school of business. Any suggestions or thoughts will be helpful.

Ok, so what I want to say is that your 2.98 GPA for a one year diploma in Liberal Arts is a problem, straight away.  Is there some set of circumstances that you detailed in your SOP that would explain the low grade for this program?  I assume it was a master's degree of some kind?

I mean your test scores are very solid, good enough to quality for those lofty, top-tier programs if you had a GPA above 3.5; however, I think you need to rethink your list.

Excluding Michigan, which will attract a large amount of highly qualified applicants from across the world, the programs you applied to are all top 15 or so, without question.  These universities don't really have to compromise on any of their admissions criterion.  They will get an ample supply of applications that meet or exceed their historical averages for test scores and GPA during most application cycles and have little motivation to accept students who will bring those averages down. 

image.thumb.png.436a6c34e2fd57f2b7ca099e8c405807.png

I would say that the reason you heard from UIUC is that you are an applicant they would consider, because they are in a position to evaluate applicants holistically, at least somewhat, compared to the top-tier group who are playing to public opinion regarding rankings and averages (obviously this has merit).

This next group, I have pasted below is the group where UIUC resides, any of which would be a reasonable program for you to apply. As you can see it isn't very far down the list, after all, Michigan appears at the top.

image.thumb.png.191fd6d3396484940fc77467e39be127.png

Anyway, I hope this is useful.  If you want to message me, I will send you the spreadsheet.

 

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