by Jonathan McEuen, guest blogger
Jonathan McEueun is a Manhattan GMAT grad who is off to Wharton this fall. We asked him to share his application process with us. What follows is Part 2 of 5 posts in a series about his experiences. You can read Part 1 here.
Deciding to apply was the easy part.
Once you weigh the pros and cons (the bird “ or paycheck “ in the hand, the uncertainty but immense potential of an MBA program that is right for you and that suits your goals), you start to see the hurdles ahead. Application season is an expensive and stressful marathon no matter what school you apply to. My road was looking no different.
I was going into what felt at the time like a particularly hard journey, especially considering my work situation, slightly atypical background, the amount of change going on in my life, etc. etc. etc. But at the end of the day, everyone has that. (This process isn’t easy, and everyone stands to benefit from a system of supporters who help to relieve stress, brainstorm ideas, learn material for the GMAT and otherwise catalyze their full potential.) I needed a plan to do that in spite of the challenges.
Divide and conquer:
I split the road ahead into three major hurdles: the GMAT, application essays, and interview preparation. Even though I wasn’t sure that I would pull the trigger on an application or 2011 matriculation, I set a hypothetical target of Round II. That meant I had about 12 months before my earliest potential submission, including a few months before starting at my new consulting job.
I decided to try and get the GMAT done first, before starting work, and make the most of the 5 year score lifespan. I hadn’t so much as looked at prep guides in a bookstore, let alone thought about the other pieces of my eventual application. Still, in light of all the work ahead of me, I wanted to take the GMAT as quickly as I could, and to enroll in an in-person night class to help accelerate the process.
The other two pieces of my application were just as important “ I had more years under my belt in academia than in business, and I wanted to make sure the value of those years, however unconventional, came through clearly. I thought then, as I do now, that an applicant’s narrative (both in written essays and as delivered during interviews) is the single most powerful asset to their application. It can be a serious liability or a powerful punch.
Looking back, there was a lot of uncertainty in my plan: I didn’t know thing one about the GMAT, but I wanted to take it in a few months, and to only take it once; I didn’t know which year I would apply. Most importantly, I didn’t know how my story would change between then and now. Read Part III here.
Jonathan McEuen, PhD is a Senior Associate at The Frankel Group, a life sciences strategy consultancy in New York and Cambridge, MA. He will be attending Wharton in the fall as a member of the Healthcare Management MBA Program.