Saturday, September 30, 2006

Kellogg Part 1 - Submitted

I was only waiting for my TOEFL scores to come. Once i "heard" my scores yesterday, I included those scores, filled up all other information and hit the Submit button. I must agree one thing here - the Kellogg application is the most succint of all that i have filled up till now. After filling up marathon applications for Harvard and Wharton, this is was so cool. Actually Part 2 has nothing but the essays. So i am all set to submit my Kellogg application now - once i finalize my essays.

The status with Chicago is quite the opposite. My essays are done. I have to fill in the online apps, which i am gonna do now. There is a change in plan, i am planning to apply four schools by Monday. I am planning to submit Chicago and Kellogg by tomorrow night. Wharton and HBS will be submitted by Monday night. That's the plan as of now. Let's see how it goes.

On the Reco front - my mentor has submitted HBS and Wharton recos and my lead has also submitted his reco. My manager has his HBS reco ready and he must submit it over the weekend i guess. His Wharton reco must also get submitted sometime next week. So some progress there too.

Gosh - It feels so very good to be on time!!!

Friday, September 29, 2006

TOEFL Scores

I called up the ETS guys to know my TOEFL scores. As expected - it is a perfect 300.
Another $150 (test fee of $140 + the call-to-get-ur-scores fee of $10) spent well.

Formality sakes (okay - I agree I wanna boast), this is how I fared in the dreaded TOEFL

Listening: 30
Structure/Writing: 30
Reading: 30
Total: 300
Essay: 6.0

Yippppeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee :)

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Chicago essays complete

Everything from now on will speak about my weekend targets and how far i have traveled. Since i have been writing application essays for well over 2 months now, i need to quantify everything :)

  • Wharton - 95% (as i still want to visit them one final time before i submit)
  • Harvard - 90% (as there is one essay to finalized and the final revisit policy applies here as well)
  • Chicago - 75% (Now here is news that just came in. I have finished all Chicago essays and i don't think they will change a lot anymore. I still have to finish work on the online application)
  • Kellogg - 40% (Essays are in first draft + few post review modifications. I have to work on the essays and finalize them and finish filling up the online app. Also, i need to get hold of paper transcripts and mail them to Kellogg. Yeah - they want paper transcripts!!! The school needs some serious waking up. I must also call up the ETS guys to know my final TOEFL scores, update my part 1 and submit the same. Loads to be done for Kellogg. I have time till 20th anyway. No hurry whatsoever.)
An applicant friend visited the Stanford meet @ Bangalore today and later called me to provide some really good stuff she got to hear at the meet. Looks like we have to change some portions of the "what matters most essay" and we have done well with the remaining essays. We have our concerns reg the AdComm guy's comments on the entire process, but the underlying principles reg the entire Stanford admission process (not to mention the school itself) seems so warm and nice :) It is selective, but the school really if worth a damn good try. The home stretch with Stanford will start once these 4 schools are done with. You guys can be prepared for some more rambling on "what matters most to me and why?" :)

One more day @ work and then i hit the weekend mode. Hope i get to use it well and realize my aspirations (LOL - that was from my career goals essay ;) )

Harvard Application is almost complete

Sorry I was off the radar for some time :) Too much of work and the fasting routines have screwed up the daily routine I had stuck to. So now I am almost always in a sleepy state :( But I'm getting work done too. So no complaints. I can always catch up with sleep during the weekends.

On the essay front, I am what the title says. The online app, necessary other docs (read resume and transcript) and five of the six essays are ready. This time, the culprit is not the usual ethics essay. That's been finalized. The one essay I haven't finished is the career goals essay. Not for lack of content, but actually the opposite :) After all my essay writing, this essay had to change considerably. Once I made all the changes, I am finding it difficult to fit all the content into 400 words or even 440 (110%). The current draft stands at 500 words, which is a result of my ruthless chopping effort on a 650 word essay. Having to write all that I want is obviously not gonna be possible. Once this is done, I can say HBS app is ready. I'll revisit this essay during the weekend.

I made some progress on the Chicago essays too. The long ones are ready. Two of the three short ones are ready as well. I had a less satisfactory answer for the "what most ppl don't know abt u?" essay. I found a perfectly satisfying answer to it when I was sending a report on my "life outside academics/profession" to my mentor. So once I rewrite this essay all my Chicago essay will be complete too. The beauty of these little essays is that u can change them even on the n'th hour if u find a better reply :) But for all that I see, I don't think I will change them anymore.

I also checked with the Chicago online application and found that I have some work to do there. The good thing is that I had made primitive entries in all these sections, like all points I want to elaborate on. So all I have to do is to elaborate on them and add new points if required. I think every one must do this with the online apps. Create the apps and make primitive entries in all the descriptive sections, come back to essays and finish them, and then go back to the online apps and finish them. This way we know what goes into the apps and what goes into the essays when we start writing the essays and we can update the online apps with the new self-discoveries we made during the essay writing process. We wont forget the earlier points coz we already noted them down in the apps :)

Okie - I guess I have covered good ground here. I am feeling all the more excited as by next week I will be all set to hit the all important "submit" button for many schools. The plan is to get the entire application packet of HBS, Wharton, Chicago and Kellogg ready by the end of the long weekend. From what I see now, it is absolutely possible.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Wharton Application is complete

Yeah folks - i am finally complete with one entire application packet. All four of Wharton's essays, the entire online application, self reported transcript - everything is done. Resume??? Nope - Wharton does not ask for a resume! "Why haven't you submitted?", you might ask, fully knowing what the answer would be. I need some private time with the essays :) But for now, i have pushed them aside and moved onto my Harvard application packet.

Speaking of HBS, i am almost complete there. The entire online application, self reported transcript and the two page resume are all ready. I am working on the essays now. These were the first set of essays i wrote and hence there are changes to be done in many places. I am also thinking about a bit of shuffling and changes in presentation. Things like moving something in "achievements" section to the "leadership" section, emphasizing factor X rather than factor Y in an achievement - things like that. I have worked on two of the six essays, so four more to go. Once that is done, my HBS packet will be ready too. Early next week, i am planning to finalize all these and submit my HBS and Wharton applications. One week before the official deadlines to try beat the traffic.

I am hoping to finish working on the Chicago essays also before the weekend begins. I have already finished a major portion of these essays, especially the huge 1500 word one is done :) So i am hoping i have very less to do here. So in all probability, i must be ready with W and H apps and Ch essays before the weekend begins. The weekend is to finish the remaining portion of Chicago (the online apps especially) and the entire Kellogg packet.

Now - off to the remaining HBS essays :)

PS: The holy month of Ramadan has begun today and with it the fasting. Ramadan Mubarak to all brothers and sisters! This one month has been a special time in my life for more than a decade now. This time around, I also have a secret plan to shed some more weight ;)

Saturday, September 23, 2006

A jam-packed weekend

I have loads stacked up to be done this weekend. In short, i am planning to finish the entire application packets of HBS and Wharton. That means i have to finalize the essays, get the resume done and finish the online apps. I also have to work on the recommendations as two of my recommenders needed further information. I can make them submit the recos next week only if i can provide them this info by Monday. This means i am not moving anywhere out of my computer table over the entire weekend. I guess that the entire application process is a preview into the Bschool life that is waiting ahead :)

So how much of it has been done already???

I have finished the Wharton essays and started working on the Harvard essays. The Harvard Online application has lot of info filled up. Very little yet to be done. So it may appear that i have less to do, but i have recently discovered that however hard i try, i am not able to satisfy myself with the essays. Let's see....

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The last lap officially begins

Now that i am done with my TOEFL, i am back to writing my essays. Not writing brand new ones, but going through the painful job of reviewing and modifying the essays to a state at which they satisfy me. Then i will send them out to my reviewers to try satisfy them. Once this is done, they get uploaded and voila!

As i mentioned earlier, i am following a strict schedule I've agreed to follow. I just finished finalizing my Wharton essays and at this moment, i think i like them. It is upto my reviewers to show my mistakes now. I have started working on the Harvard essays next and this is when someone pointed out the stuff i cud mention in their online application. So now i have to modify my essays to not do this repetition business. This means i have to change most of my essays and this is actually a boon coz i was just beginning to worry at this stage about the lack of space to introduce new stuff in my essays. Now i can do this conveniently.

A really busy weekend begins today evening. I have to finish filling up online applications of HBS and Wharton, work on some recommendations, get my resume ready and also review some essays. Come what may, i have to make sure that i have ticked every item on my To-Do list when i check it on Monday morning. As the last lap begins, there is just so much work to be done.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Essay rewriting

Today marks the official beginning of my essay rewriting and application submission lap. I have been running this marathon race over the past 6 or 7 weeks now and i am in a position where i have to finish the following work in the next few weeks. Well, quite a lot. Now lemme see where i am in each of them.

Make my recommenders submit their recommendations

All my recommenders have started working on their recos, apart from my friend who's doing the peer reco. I will speak to her and make her submit the reco this weekend. My 3rd recommender My mentor is a no-issue guy. So he'll finish his recos in time. I need not ping him that often. My manager is the biggest pain - he has loads of work to handle. I am not even able to meet him in his seat as he's in one conference room or the other. Should push him.

finalize my resume

This i have finished to around 75%. I have a one-page resume ready. Must check with schools and create school specific resumes and also verify if there are school specific templates to use.

Fill in online applications

This is like 25% done. I have filled in all basic info. Should fill in information in all places where i had to provide descriptive answers. I am planning to spend the weekends for this job.

Finish essays and upload them

All essays have first drafts. I have worked on one essay from Chicago and Kellogg. I just finished finalizing two essays of Wharton. Will finish the remaining Wharton essays tomorrow. There is a plan to work on the essays in an organized way over the next one month. Hope it works out well. Planning to upload essays by around 1 week before the deadline of each school so that i don't have to fight with other applicants for net-space :)

Pay the fees and submit applications

Hope i can reach this stage ASAP. This will be done once i am done with the essay uploading and online app filling work. I am applying the Deadline-minus-one-week timeline for this process too.

Looks like i have a decent plan to tackle the work load over the next one month. Work is kind of cool at office - so i should be able to get to home pretty soon everyday and give quality time for the essays. From here on, it all depends upon how i execute this plan. Hope things remain as smooth as they have been all this time...

Done with TOEFL

Will I???
Wont I???

What is this about? This is the recurrent question running in my mind! One side keeps saying that the answer will be a "Yes you will". But the other side says "No - it might not happen". So, what really am I worried about. Whether I will get a Perfect 300 in TOEFL :)

Yeah folks! Got done with TOEFL CBT and this is what I got

Listening: 30
Structure/Writing: 14 - 30
Reading: 30
Total: 243 - 300

So here we go again "Will I???" ;)

A very long PS: I need to particularly complain about the total lack of professionalism in the Prometric center I visited today. When I compare this with my GMAT test center, today was way below expectations.

To begin with, the whole setting is like a fish market. The place is so cramped for space. They gave me a locker key with a diff code (they handle 3 tests and hence have three test centre codes) and I actually belonged to a test center with a diff code. I was actually sent to a different ID proof verifier and was sent to the right person later. While Pearson check finger prints each time I come out, here I just need to sign a white paper. Nothing to complain about w.r.t the testing equipment - fast paced HP (Pearson had machines from DELL) machines.

The real pain began when the time to report scores came. I just wasn't able to locate Harvard from the long list the software threw out. I called up the "support" staff and she came back and said "We don't know sir. We will not be able to help you with this. You will have to fill it out somehow!" Within the Harvard University, there were like 15 different schools. The shortened version of Harvard occupied almost the entire allowed limit, allowing for only 2 characters for the school type. Ar, Bu, Ce, Dn are some of the shortened versions I remember. And to add to my problem, there were two "Bu"s :) I hope I reported my scores to the right place.

I also wrote the school names in the Report Request Doc they gave. Hope that helps :)

Monday, September 18, 2006

My experiments with TOEFL - D-Day minus 1

I never knew using the headfones wud be such a huge improvement. What was difficult to decipher in my speakers (why?!?!) was pretty clear on my headfones. And hence the improvement in the score. I took the PowerPrep second test today and this is how the scores came.

Listening: 27 (now that's better)
Structure/Writing: 13 - 29 (dint write the essay)
Reading: 10 (gave random answers as i was curious to see the scores of the Listening Section)
Total: 167 - 220 (who cares anymore...)

Verdict - I am doing good. I am feeling good. I couldn't concentrate on the listening today coz my dad was irritatingly insistent on seeing evening news. I don't understand why the news readers have to shout at the top of their voices in a bid to dramatise the news presentation. I don't understand why they have to even dramatize the news show. Heck - not my day.

But I am satisfied with the 27 in Listening. When I started the test, I wanted to finish it and see the entire score. But I was tired to proceed. I'll see the full score tomorrow :)

Good to see I scored well in the two sections i finished completely. Reading is anyway only about concentration. So - I jus wanna get this done now and start concentrating on my essays again.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

My experiments with TOEFL - Day 5

I really dint do anything with regard to TOEFL today. Two reasons:
1. I'm really doing well, apart from the listening part
2. I am sure I'd get somewhere around the same score in Listening if i take the second test without my headfones.

So i plan to bring the headfones from office tomorrow night and take the second test. And then it will be off to the test center. Hoping another good show.

I started working on my essays. Started with Chicago, as they are my most complete essays since they were written last. All the essay writing wisdom i had gained over the last 1 month or so had gone into these last set of essays and i really like the Career Progressions essay i had written for Chicago. So i worked on this essay and boy it was tough. Stuff like word counts and bigger picture and the complete profile and everything else comes around to haunt the essay writer at this point. I had a first hand experience of all this today.

I finished working on the Chicago first essay right on time when my reviewer sent me the entire Chicago packet - reviewed. I then incorporated all her comments and modified my new essay based on that. I guess i am done with this essay atleast. But still - this is gonna go through two more reviews before i finalize it. Once the Chicago essay was done, i moved on to Kellogg Career progression essay. While Chicago is 1500 words, Kellogg says 2 pages, which is around 1000 words. Spent some time to recollect the Kellogg complete picture and then got finished with this. Then i moved onto the Wharton Career progress essay which is the same 1000 words as Kellogg is. But the entire Wharton essay packet is so compact that it had to have one incident more than my Kellogg career progression essay.

This was pain - i still haven't been able to shrink the Wharton essay to a reasonable number of words. The Chicago and Kellogg essays are kind of okay. But Wharton was very difficult. Jus when i was fighting with the words, another applicant i am working with called me to say that the strategy has to change now. What she said made life a bit easy and more sense. So i have dropped working on Wharton tonight - will get back to it after i finish my test tomorrow.

So - i feel like i am on the last lap of a long long marathon. I still have to get my Recos done, fill my online apps and finish my essays. This TOEFL is eating up some time for sure. I'm waiting to get done with it ASAP and work full time on these stuff. I want to finish all this by end of this month and concentrate on fine tuning and submitting the apps all thru October.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

My experiments with TOEFL - Day 3 & 4

I had a crash yesterday - it has been that kind of a week. I had slept by 2 or 3 every night. Actually i am not able to sleep earlier. To add to it, i had a morning appointment everyday which made me wake up by 8 on all days. I had a tough time on Thursday and a tougher time on Friday at work, trying to fight the sleep and a tired body. So i had nothing else in mind when i returned from work yesterday, but to hit the bed. Surprisingly, that was not to happen. I had to give some GMAT gyan to someone who's taking the test in a few days and then discuss the plans for the next 2 week with a friend. Then i had to think about the discussions i had with my mentor. I never got to finish the thought process as i cud not fight sleep anymore.

Speaking about the discussion i had with my mentor, i followed this up with a discussion with my junior most recommender, who happens to be a college Senior. We were never in the college in the same time, as he is exactly 4 yrs older than me. But still, we have a good rapport right from day one at office. He was my first lead and pretty instrumental in what i am today. Almost all of my early training was under him. Back to the discussion, he had some inputs about my career goals too, which i have to think about now.

Basically me and the three recommenders i have chosen are the lunch gang at work. We have lunch together everyday and lunch time discussions cover a wide area of topics from the corporate bull shit we have to put up with at work to the happenings in the Gulf to the origins and personal hobbies of each of us. So it is not surprising when these people come to me and say "I know what you want to do and this is not all. May be you should say more" or something like "This is not the entire thought process you went through before you chose your next career move". Makes more sense coming from them because much of the thought process involved them too :)

So i am back to square 1.1, thinking about whether the goals summary is complete or whether i have to add more. The goals, on a surface level, do not change much. That cannot happen :) but i am trying to see how far i want to go with these goals. I also have to consider the aspect of being realistic, which is what made me settle with my current goals. But when people who know you well come to u and say "I know you can achieve more and I know you want to achieve more", i have to think about that. I have already thought of a few things. I need to work more on them and give them better shape. I am planning to finish this activity by this weekend.

More on the TOEFL front. I took the powerprep test 1 today and the following are the scores:

Listening: 23
Structure/Writing: 13 - 30
Reading: 29
Total: 217 - 273

I really don't understand if the writing portion occupies so much of the second section! It says it is possible that i can score a 30, by which i understand that all my structure answers are correct. But if that is true, all the structure answers put together come up only to 13??? That sounds strange to me, or is this the normal thing?

I need to work more on the Listening part. I am not able to concentrate - I feel sleepy again. To make life difficult for myself, i forgot to bring my headfones from work. So i am having to listen to the listening exercises on my wall mounted speakers. So it is like sitting in a conference hall or a seminar, compared to the headfone experience, which wud be like a one-to-one talk. But still, i just need to concentrate. I totally missed a few questions and i had to guess. That wont happen on the test day for sure.

Apart from that minor issue, i think i am fine. I will take the next power prep test tomorrow and that will be it. I'll go to work on Monday and Tuesday is test day. Hope it all goes well. I also have plans to finalize a few essays by the next weekend. I must also follow up my recommenders and get their recos done. I wish i can finish them by this week too - i am trying to do that and have given myself the buffer of next week for it. Looks like the last lap is gonna be quite busy :)

Thursday, September 14, 2006

My experiments with TOEFL - Day 2

I haven't done any preps reg TOEFL till date. All i did was some self-testing. I am considering myself to be well prepared (after my GMAT preps and performance ofcourse) and i was reassured of this after yesterday's test. So all that i am gonna do is to take the full length prep tests over the weekend and then take it from there. Kellogg's average TOEFL score is 280 and that's my first (or rather only) target. But as ever, i wanna score as much as possible. Unlike GMAT, it is possible to score the complete 300 here. Let's see...

Today, I realized the importance of having a really senior mentor, with whom i have discussed everything in my life. I had sent my Stanford Career goals essay to him - as a reference material for his recos. He then sent a mail to me stating "Your essays need lot of sprucing up man". "This is serious trouble" i thought. Not because he sent that mail, but because there really is something wrong when he sends such a mail.

Now this was an essay not even reviewed by me. I had not reviewed the Stan essays once even by myself. I glanced thru the essays before sending it to him and found many areas where i had to work on. I sent them anyway coz the essay had the stuff i wanted him to see. I expected his comments to be coz of the flaws i had already noticed. So i sent a reply to his mail "What's wrong? Grammar/Structure or Content?" He jus said "Drop in at my place when u r free"

I went in and had one helluva discussion with him. He gave this one line "Your essay doesn't appear to be all of you!" I was thinking "Okay - this man knows everything about me" And then we discussed about all the discussions we've ever had, what he thinks about my career plans and why he thinks it has not been portrayed well over here. He even gave me suggestions as to where i can improve the content etc. You know what, all that made so much sense to me. I was thinking to myself "Perhaps this is what 10 more years of experience and life can do to you".

I cudnt buy everything he said though - he obviously had no Bschool applicant experience :) He told me "Your essay sounds like a sales brochure". We discussed on this part for quite some time, in trying to decide on what's the right mix between BSchool apps being a marketing exercise and BSchool apps being a bizz doc read by ppl who can see thru the crap. He still said "Write like a 24 yr old will write"! Whatever that meant :) But what he did was really good. I am now really sure that i will get some great Recos.

I feel lucky to have senior people around me who know about me on a personal level too. Not only in relation to the BSchool application thing. I have learnt a lot of stuff thru discussing many things about my profession and the rest of the world to these people. Good to see that all those discussions now come handy :)

I had a sneak peak of the BSchool classroom experience in an Intrapreneurship training i attended today. Compared to our company standards, today's class was AWESOME. A well prepared, experienced and energetic faculty, who had a great mix of slides and videos and activities. Add to it a class filled with a diverse mix of people. There was a project lead from the BPO segment, a senior manager from a different segment, a quality person, few Managers-to-be, few team leads like me - it was a good mix. I really enjoyed the session, the perfect proof of which would be the fact that i sat through a 4 hr long class without even thinking about sleeping. This at the end of a sleep deprived week, and i was Impressed. I was giving great reviews to my manager about the sessions. If this can be so much fun, i am sure i am cut out for the 2 yrs at a BSchool!!!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

My experiments with TOEFL - Day 1

This is the first in a series of posts i intend to make as i prepare for my TOEFL test on Tuesday. The title has experiments in it coz i have never know someone who'd take a test worth 140 USD in a week. I am being told left, right and center that the test is really easy and with all the GMAT preps, i shud be in a position to do well. But still, this is like taking a joy ride over a week. Literally speaking, i am throwing in 140 USD over 7 days in a bid to make me completely eligible to apply to the school(s) i want to. That's like spending 1000 INR everyday for a week and i have never done that. The only time i remember spending so much money so soon was when i get caught in a shopping spree. And yeah, i havent given myself the freedom of indulging in shopping for quite some time now. In fact, almost 6 months. I last shopped heavily in Feb coz that's when i decided on my heavy priced plans and i needed to save money :) Well, it's been worth it really!!!

All i cud do for TOEFL today was to muse over "buying a prep book - should i??? should i not???" Okay - i am one of those people who want to know everything there is to know about something i am doing/gonna do. This includes simple stuff like going to the tailor to get my dresses stitched. I carefully noticed all the places he made measurements, came back home, thought about what kind of fitting i wud like to have in such and such places and gave him exact details when i go to him. My younger brother standing next to me wud give me this "Do u do this to show the world u r intelligent" kinda look. But that's me. I just want to know stuff.

So for someone like this, having booked a test before even knowing much about it is itself a HUGE deviation. So when the Kellogg folks told me i have no choice and since this is busy season, I had to jump on to the ETS site and book a comfortable date when it was available. I had to take this test, whether i knew about it or not! But i did one thing before i booked the test. I asked a person who had taken the test "How long do u think is required to prepare for TOEFL?" Prompt came the reply "One day". Now i made comparisons and this person was definitely a lot better than me in English. So i said to myself "Two days at most!"

Having booked the test, i had spent the whole of yesterday investigating about the test and trying to figure out if i can get some material to start off with. This test appears to be given less importance compared to GMAT, and this amuses me really coz ppl who appear for both GMAT and GRE have to appear for TOEFL and hence there shud be as much, if not more, info about TOEFL on the net as there is on GMAT. Unfortunately, i dint find a lot of new information about the test from anywhere outside the ETS site. The ETS brochures were of some help as well. Probably i am not looking in the right places, but i tried some 25 to 30 pages listed by numerous string combinations on Google.

Having said all that, now i know enough about TOEFL. I am less fidgety now, atleast on that front, and have actually started worrying about preparations. This is where my musing (the one mentioned in line 1) takes over. Finally, i decided that i would take a practice test and based on my performance decide whether I'd need more material. So i came back home and started taking these questions from the TOEFL sampler, available for free from ETS. This is how i performed:

Listening : 24 correct 3 wrong
Structure: 20 correct 0 wrong
Reading: 17 correct 3 wrong

Not bad for the first day i would say, a day where i woke up by 8 in the morning and had to fight sleep for the latter part of the test. Now i am a lot more confident and if i work thru the weekend, i must be in good shape on Tuesday. Now i am glad that i dint book a date on the week after next coz (1) i wouldn't have been able to sustain this intensity for so long and (2) it would have become boring.

I have 5 more days to go for the test. When i look back at GMAT, i spent the last 5 days with loads of tests and less preps. I guess i am into that mode straight away here. I am trying to gather material. No luck as yet. I am planning to take the two full length PowerPrep tests during the weekend and then do some preps if i get material. Else i will do the famous re-install PowerPrep stuff and take one more test on Monday. On Tuesday, the guys at ETS will have a test ready for me :)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Back to test taking mode

Booked my TOEFL date. The test will be taken on the 19th of this month. Yeah - u read that right. In just about 6 days from now. I spent some real good time investigating about the test, the level of questions etc etc and i found myself comfortable with the whole stuff. I was also in a fix coz i must give time for the ETS guys to report the official scores to the schools before the deadline. Now i have to chose atleast three other schools to which i am planning to apply in R2. This gets tricky now as i haven't given my R2 list any thought. I must also check to see if ANY of the schools i am considering to apply have clauses like Kellogg. I don't want to end up in a situation where i find in the zero hour that i sent the scores to a school that waives it off and have not sent to one that doesn't waive TOEFL.

Preparation wise, i am void. Planning to take Monday off and give this three solid days. There are already signs of one of them going wasted as i jus received an intimation of a school-friends-gathering. Hope i don't spend a lot of time over there. Will i say no to this gathering, i might not coz i expect it to be interesting. And deep inside, i have this feeling that TOEFL isn't really difficult for me to crack. Signs of over confidence??? I hope not!

I have started the process of material collection and the only decent material i cud gather were the two software given by ETS - Sampler and PowerPrep. Still haven't used any of them. Planning to install PP after i make this post and check out if it has as much instructions and section wise stuff as the GMAT PowerPrep Software had. [Update: TOEFL PP has almost zero practice content. It has 2 full legth tests like the GMAT PP.]

Heck i hate this detour, but i guess i am still safe enough coz of the progress i made. No big problem. I might not be able to work on my essays over the next one week, but that i guess is okay. Had some extended discussions with my recommenders today. My mentor said he'll finish all five in the two weeks. We had a intro-discussion today and we have decided to have frequent discussions as and when he requires some info from me. My senior has jus one to work on and he has promised that he will be work on it tonight and get back to me tomorrow. My manager is the slow one and i have to handle him pretty carefully. I have a backup option - my HR manager. But she's on maternity leave and i don't wanna disturb her. I want to finish these recos by the 25th at most. Hope i can push these ppl faster and get work done.

So yeah - over the next one week, watch this space for more info on the TOEFL detour :)

Monday, September 11, 2006

News from Kellogg

Exactly 1 month to go for my first application submission deadline and i get this minor setback from the Kellogg AdComm. Nothing big really, but i was hoping this would never happen. I was trying to waive my TOEFL requirement off from Kellogg and after one painfully long month of deliberation, the AdComm representative today quoted the exact phrases in their website and said "Please take the test" :)

The whole experience has really been bad because of the following reasons:
  1. Kellogg is the only school in my list which requires me to take TOEFL. I qualify for a waiver at all other schools.
  2. I knew this by the time i sent them a mail asking for a waiver. If they were very rigid about their rules, they need not have taken one long month to inform me of the same again. This could have been done immediately.
  3. The person who picked my mail when i sent it long back asked me to fax my resume and went on a vacation for two weeks. I promptly fax the resume, send a confirmation mail and i get a "Out on vacation" mail. This delayed the process by atleast two weeks. I have no rights to crib about the person going on a vacation. But if you are going on a vacation, why pick the mail and add it to your to-do list???
  4. And after the person returned, i still had to wait for two weeks to get informed about stuff on their website. I was first told the resume i faxed could not be found. Luckily i had also mailed the resume. Unluckily - they had problems opening the document and i was asked to resend it. Luckily i was online by this time and i sent the resume again in about 5 mins. And then i had to wait for 10 days to send a reminder to get to know the fate of my waiver request.
  5. I will be able to submit Part I of the Kellogg application only after i get done with TOEFL.
I hope this doesn't come out as a post cribbing about why i should have got a waiver. This is not about that. This post is about how this whole thing could have been done better, and more importantly, faster! Now i am in a position where i have to hunt for a suitable date, prepare for the test and crack it. It doesn't need much in terms of preparation i accept, but i gotta get into the test taking mood again and the deadlines are nearing.

Even as i am typing this mail, i get more news from Kellogg. For my recent query, the AdComm just confirmed that they will accept Self-Reported scores for the TOEFL test to start processing my application. This means that i can schedule a test even in early October and still submit my application for R1. Well, i want to now figure a date which is not to soon and not too late :) I really like everything i hear about this school and i really want to apply in R1. So I'm glad that it is still possible.

But as i mentioned above, i need to find some time out of the application stuff to finish the test. Just checked the TOEFL Sampler and the questions and the test in general look pretty easy. Hope it remains the same and i sail thru this test comfortably and get to work on the Apps again.

Speaking of working on the apps, i started working on my Harvard essay and all i could do was to review and rework on one essay. I got obsessed with TOEFL and spent all the time on it. Anyway - if this has to be done, this has to be done.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

A fruitful weekend

I finished my Chicago essays, sent the essays of Chicago and Stanford for review, finished the long overdue Harvard Ethics essay, prepared a Resume and filled in transcripts for all four schools to which i can submit self reported transcripts. I have to mail paper transcripts to Kellogg, for which i think i have to travel to my college sometime. It is a two day job - that's how it appears now.

I jus did all that i wanted to finish this weekend and i can now move over to see some movie as a satisfied individual. With all that out of the way, the only painful thing that still remains is the online apps. This i hope to finish during the next two weeks. I am sure that it is going to take a long time to finish them. If i remember correctly each school has a different bunch of questions and hence it is not gonna be any easy. But again, this is another important part of the work and hence requires some quality time.

Some good news for all those cribbing abt filling in transcripts, atleast to the ones who are applying to the same schools as me. Fill in one and u r done. Harvard, Stanford, Wharton and Chicago use the same template for their self reporting transcript sheets. It was such a pleasant surprise for me when i realized this. Columbia has a different template. Since i was in a mood to fill in transcripts, i thought i wud finish that too. But this one is kind of tricky. For starters, i dint understand what they are asking. So i filled in whatever i cud and decided i will finish it later.

So yeah - the rework on essays stuff begins tomorrow. I feel that i have covered decent ground here. Looking forward, i need to fine tune my resume, rework on the essays, fill the online apps and submit them. That still is a lot of work to be done, but i think i have traveled far from where i began.

It feels really good if you can finish your work on time and look forward to what's next :)

How divided are we

The Indian Social set up appears to be screwed up left, right and center. I mean, we all know this isn't it?!?!? No - we don't know it enough. We never know enough. Yesterday, i had a bitter reminder of this fact when i got to know someone knew.

This is a female who had got in touch with me almost two months ago - might be more. She was planning to appear for the GMAT and wanted to clarify some doubts. She saw my posts in PG and courtesy my good score, i was chosen :) I received a message from her stating all this and also things abt her u get to know in a intro session. Now my profile in this forum just says "iday" and so she asks "what's ur name?" I reply with mine and she's gone. Whoosh...

Now, she was a Gujarati and it did occur to me that something might be wrong here. But i dint want to take any wrong meanings out of it and left it as such. But yeah, the girl was really GONE :) She dint ask me any questions abt GMAT and it proved it. Then, to my surprise, she re-appeared yesterday. Same old GMAT clarification. We shared our yahoo ids and were chatting.

I decided that i better ignore the whole thing coz i dint want to create any awkward moments. So we talked a lot about GMAT. Once this was all over, she dropped this question "You are a Muslim right???" Now i cudnt stop myself anymore.

Me: Yes i am! Isn't it obvious from my name? But - Why did u ask?
She: Nothing - aise hi.
Me: Coming from a gujju, this question has a lot of meanings. So it wud be better if u can explain.
She: No, i am generally afraid of Muslims.

Believe, me! I was kind of prepared, but not for something like this. I don't blame the girl. Anyone who had been there during the riots would have developed strong sentiments about either sides. As someone who has read a lot about this, i knew i was gonna face this sometime. I had a gujju guy in my dance team which performed recently. But he dint seem to have any of these apprehensions. He has moved back to Ahmedabad and we are still good friends. But this one was so awkward.

This girl had been so affected by all that happened that she had kept herself off from Muslim folks till now. She apparently dint attend lectures handled by a Muslim prof :) I then asked "Okie - but what made you get in touch with me again?" She replied "I changed. My managers in my company are Muslim and they are good people". It was really heartening to see that she actually thought she should get back in touch with me and let me know :) She could have really not bothered at all and there are so many others who can perhaps give her better GMAT tips than me :)

But what she did is representative of all of us, the common ppl. We common public are generally nice. We normally wudnt do those kind of things that happened during those riots or any other riots. I am not gonna get into stuff like which community is wrong and which is right. There are lot of theories doing the rounds and it is really not my business. My general theory abt this has always been the same and this is exactly what i told her yesterday "There are ppl with screwed up minds in all communities. Infact, they are beyond the community tag. I don't think they even qualify to be called humans. So as common ppl, it is better that we look and value ppl for what they are and not based on any other discriminating characteristics - including age, gender, caste, community or social status."

There was a huge grin on my face when i was telling this to her. I was thinking "what if i had tried to explain this to her when she was, err, still afraid of Muslims???" I'm sure she wudnt have bought it. I'm glad she realized. I'd be glad if the others do realize as well. I'll be really glad/thankful if the politicians dont play with sentiments and allow the ppl to realize.

Chicago - finished

I think these are the most complete essays i have written till date in terms of content. As they say, u get better as u write essays and considering the fact that Chicago was the fifth school in my list, i must admit that "they" were correct. I feel really good about the essays i have written for this school and i don't think there will be any major change in them till i hit the submit button. Having said that, now i need to change some stuff in the essays of the first three schools to include the new stuff i used in the Chicago essays. Not much of content change, but stuff like minor focus shifts, a bit more explanation at some places, a bit less explanation at some places, no explanation at some places - heck this game is getting too interesting now :)

The good news is that i just have one more essay to finish now and i am planning to finish that today. The remaining of today, i want to spend filling up Transcripts and preparing my Resume. I have discussed with two of my recommenders about the recos and got them going. On Monday, I must be meeting one of them again and also the third one returns back from his vacation. So before Wednesday, the reco discussions must be complete and the recommenders must start writing them.

If i can stick to this plan, the only stuff that will be left will be the online applications. I have filled in all basic info in the online apps for all my target schools, sans Columbia. I have not started the Columbia application as i plan to do it after submitting all these schools. I really want to do it early, but i don't wanna add the extra load till i finish these apps with October Deadlines. So for these five schools, i will work on the online apps over the next few weekends. Starting this Monday, all my weeknights will be spent on reviewing and reworking on all the essays of the schools. I expect this to go on over the next two weeks and hopefully by the last week of September i must have complete Application packets for all these five schools. That's the plan as of now...

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Kellogg and Wharton Applications are up

And that completes the list of schools to which i am gonna apply in R1.

The Wharton application can be accessed from this page and the Kellogg application from this page.
Happy Apping...

The penultimate essay

I am struggling to move forward with only two essays to finish. I am sure this is not an issue related to the writing flow. This is purely because the essays are tricky. I am speaking abt the first essay of Chicago and the Ethics essay of Harvard.

I have been fighting with the Chicago essay for quite some time now. The trick here is that this is the most prominent essay in their application packet, almost twice as long (or wordy) as all the remaining essays put together, and this essay is so very specific, as is all their other essays. I just scrapped a version of this essay coz i fell into the common trap - of trying to explain all that i did till date in chronological order. I wrote some 900 words of stuff and had this gut feeling that my essay was not right. So i read and re-read the question again, when i realized what i was doing wrongly. Now i know what to do. I just created the frame work and i will finish this by the weekend.

I still have my concerns reg the Chicago essay - i feel that they are extremely concise and specific. Hence i do not have space to fill in all that i want to. I can only write what the essay asks for. This is kind of bad, but we don't have any option do i!?!? I hope i have provided enuf material. Compared to schools like Harvard (2600) or Wharton (2500) word - Chicago's essays, with a total word count of 2300, are not too far behind in word count. But three of their essays are completely off topic and take away 300 words from the game. So now this is 20% less wordy compared to Wharton and that's quite a bit.

Anyway - come Saturday and this essay shall be conquered :)
And so will be the Ethics essay of Harvard. I am speaking no more of that. Enuf said...

I have written enuf stuff to call my recommender for a meeting. I am hoping to do this tomorrow. In places where i can provide him with information, i have gathered enuf stuff. For others, i am gonna make him speak. Luckily - he immediately has the weekend to work on them. He tends to forget stuff. I'm gonna stack up printouts on his desk tomorrow :D

This week, i have slipped deadlines like crazy. But i took time off from the essay stuff and finished two novels. I feel light now and, as they say, am BACK! This weekend, the agenda is to finish these two essays and prepare my resume. Then i am planning to fill up all the self reporting transcript sheets. Then there is Kellogg's online application to start and fill up. Busy weekend again...

PS: Am wondering if i can sneak in some 3 hrs to go see "Lage Raho Munnabhai". Let's see if that is possible...

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The standard deviation

I am on a book reading spree...
I felt hugely burnt out with no entertainment (apart from the 2 movies i have seen in the last 50 days). I thought i needed a break. So, what did i do!??! I read two books over the past two nights.

After finishing the second essaay of Chicago, i thought i'd take a small break. I couldnt concentrate on the essays anymore. So there was no point in writing them without my not being in a mood to do so. So i started with "five point someone" Monday night. Between 1AM and 6 AM, i went through a minor nostalgic trip to many happenings and possibilities in my past life :) It was a good read.

So i thought i would finish the other book by the same author. This one was not as interesting as the prev one but still i finished it yesterday night. And again - i went through the same journey :) IU have some good take aways from both the books. More importantly, i feel adequately deviated :) So today i have to get back to writing the essays.

Time to go to office now...

Monday, September 04, 2006

Back to being on time...

I finished the Chicago second essay today as i wanted to. I also worked a bit on the first essay of Chicago. The real big twist about the first essay of Chicago is that i have more info now to speak about why i want to go to this school. Before the last time i worked on this one and now, i have atleast two major improvements. One, i attended the student meet @ bangalore and two, i met a Chicago Alum who is the person who started my team @ H.C.L. Technologies. He has moved out of my team and started a whole new Business Unit for HCL and is currently mediating H.C.L' s new association with Microsoft. So yeah, some interesting stuff to write here.

The essay i wrote today went by without any big issues. I had the incident, i had the theme, i had a supplementary incident (which is basically a reference into some other essay) and i was done. All the work done over the past few months hasn't really gone waste i guess. I only hope tomorrow will be equally good and then i will only have the Ethics essay to work on. Once i finish the Chicago essays, i am planning to work on my Reco and finish that meeting with my Manager. This should be done ASAP to give him enuf time to work on them. I badly want to finish the meeting by this week, but i need to be prepared.

A friend of mine will be taking GMAT this Wednesday. He has grown from a really reluctant learner into a pretty confident guy these days. From some 500 odd scores in the initial test, he has scored a 770 in one of his recent tests. Here's wishing him some good luck as he tightens up the last few screws on the day before G-day. My mentor got married on Sunday and will be returning back to work next week. He has some serious work to do as he is one of my recommenders :) Also tomorrow is onam, the annual harvest festival celebrated in Kerala and by Keralites the world over. Happy Onam folks :)

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Some work done

But not all that i wanted. I cud not proceed with the Ethics essay. Jus no mood to write. I have this huge word document where i have more than three pages if stuff from which i need to write a 400 word long essay. It is only a work of picking the right stuff, organizing it in a good way and creating an effective essay. But i was not in a good frame of mind to write it today. Some other day. At this rate, i guess this is gonna be the last essay i sit down to finish.

I finished writing the three small ones from Chicago. The "Recommend a Movie, Book or Play" gave me some difficulty. Not because i dint know what to write, but because i had loads to write. I had more than 1 page of info on this book and had to shrink it to all of 100 words. This was like morphing Mt.Everest into a football and playing around :) I had to read, re-read and re-read sentences and decide on their fit, merge few sentences into one, shrink sentences - do a hell lot of stuff to use three or four effective sentences in a same theme to speak everything i wanted to speak about the book. I don't think i have ever breathed a louder sigh of relief. I already knew what "People dint know about me". It was easy to write about it. I had few options about "Value to the study group", which again went thru the will-it-fit-in-will-it-wont and is-it-required-or-can-i-do-away-wit-it routines. 100 words is such a tight limit and i am glad i started this now after so many essays. I was already succint enough in thought and word and hence cud move faster on these essays. These three are done, atleast for the time being.

I then worked on the second essay of Chicago - i chose the one that asks abt what quality a close colleague will say about me. Long time back i had written down some possible answers for this. Now i was smiling seeing them - they all stood rejected. I now knew something else about which i wanted to write. I collected material i had earlier written about it and that's where it stands. I will work on it and finish this essay tomorrow.

So - that is all that i have done on this weekend. I guess i stress myself out too much with all the work i do in the weekdays. I am in this perennial state of tiredness during the weekend. I slept by 1AM yesterday and woke up by 1PM today :) Guess that's enough energy gained to work over the coming weekdays :)

Sometime this week, i need to gather material for my Reco meeting with my manager. This week i want to finish this and the Chicago essays. I think i can finish the essay number two tomorrow and since essay one is basically a big compilation of many of my previous essays i am hoping i can finish this by Wednesday. This means that i will only have Harvard's ethics essay to finish all my essays. Then the re-work starts :)

The plan for this month is that i will request my recommenders to submit their recos by the third week of Sept. Starting next Monday, i will finish filling in all the online information on all the applications. This is gonna be quite time consuming. If that is done, all that is left is to finalize on all the essays. Starting from Harvard, i plan to work on the schools based on their deadlines. Hope everything goes as per this plan :)

Saturday, September 02, 2006

The weekend - wasted?!?!?!

Atleast that's how it has been till date. I was all enthu when i set myself those deadlines. But i guess i underestimated the after effect of the Stanford essay writing process. I am drained out like hell and i cannot get myself to write another essay now. But i know - this is not because of the Stanford essays, because i always become more excited when i finish the essays of a school. It is the excitement given by reaching a milestone, within schedule.

But i think this weekend, i am gonna slip on my schedule. Since the time i closed the Stanford essay, i haven't made any progress. I had a torrid week actually. Since Tuesday, i have been sleeping by 3:00PM and waking up by 8:00 AM. Today it was still worse - i had to wake up by 6:30AM to go see a movie. The movie was good yes. Gave the chance to catch up with some friends. But i am jus feeling so TIRED.

Okie - let's take a look at the work ahead. The first thing that comes to my mind is the Harvard Ethics essay. I actually dug around and read lotta stuff on corporate ethics et al to write this essay. I started from this Wiki page and then i got lost - there were just so many links. I have found so much of info - i need to work on them. I have some ideas and i guess i have enuf material to write the 400 word long essay. It is just a case of deciding what "I feel" will be an ethical issue i need to be prepared to tackle.

Then there are Chicago essays. I think i will give myself the target of writing the three small ones by end of day tomorrow. If i can get all four of these essays done by tomorrow - i will feel good. But i don't think i am gonna do it. I guess the last one month of stressful life is showing its signs.
My body and more importantly my mind are screaming for some rest. So i am gonna sleep for as long as possible tomorrow and then work on the essays in the remaining time.

I wanna finish all the Chicago essays by next weekend - which seems possible really. I will also have to prepare content for the Recommendation briefing i wanted to have with my recommenders. Aah - one more busy week in prospect.

Now before i fall on the keyboard again, I'm off to sleep and get that much needed rest...
*Does a weak wave of the hands* BYE!