Getting Ready for Columbia Business School, Running, et cetera

Monday, December 19, 2005

Today was Yale day

In the morning I got an invite to a Yale SOM Winter Break Social. The students are home for the holidays, so they host chats with applicants. What a great idea! Plus it’s at the Brickskeller, which I think is a super cool hang-out bar.

This afternoon I got a call on my cell phone. I saw the 203 area code, so I pretty much knew what it was. So now I’ve been accepted at Yale too. I’m happy that people want me at their school. It makes me feel, well… wanted, which is always pleasant. But I also feel bad for Yale. I think that it’s an awesome school, and I’d agree with the students that it doesn’t get the respect that it deserves. But I’m going to Columbia. Columbia fits my goals better, and I pledged to go if accepted when I applied ED.

I think of Yale SOM as a great woman, and I’m breaking up with her. “It’s not you, it’s me.” I had hoped to let her down easily after the new year. I never expected her to pop the question so quickly. I mean, she’s great, she tries so hard to make me happy (winter break socials, cell phone calls; Columbia, you could learn something...) but I’m already promised to someone else. If she could have waited until January, the way I thought she would, I could have asked her to stop considering me. Now I’ll hurt the yield number. Always a bridesmaid… SOM, I never wanted to do this to you.

Well, I’ll keep up appearances until a bit after the new year. I’ll go to the social and maybe see some of the folks from the school information sessions. Then I’ll send the dear john letter. That might free up a spot for the folks on the YALE Round 1 board.

In other news, I got the Columbia admit fat envelope today. Some people have written that they don’t want coffee mugs or t-shirts. I am not one of them. I want everyone who sees me to know that I’m going to Co-LOOM-Bya, without me having to brag about it. I want to sleep in and wear a CBS t-shirt until it falls in tatters from my body, which by then would be tatooed with the symbol of Hermes. I would never wear a shirt with my company’s logo, because that’s lame. But this isn’t, at least not quite yet.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Application Essays

There was a spot on the radio this morning about monologues based on college application essays. I was shocked. I usually don’t get to hear something applicable to my life on the radio. It got me thinking about applications…

Now that I’m basically done with the business school application process, what did I learn?

- Applying to business school is exiting. Visiting different schools rocked. The other prospective students at the schools and at admissions events were really “my people”, and there was a feeling of opportunity in the air.

- I enjoy writing essays. Not so much that I’ll continue doing it, but it was ultimately satisfying. I really had to think about what I want to do with my life, and try to be very clear about it. I also had to look back at what I’ve done, and try to find things that were interesting and show me in a good light. This introspection was actually pretty ok. Heck, I love thinking about me, but usually no one else cares.

- I saw some things about myself that I don’t really like. I took the CBS value system question as an ethical question. What I wrote forced me to look at a pretty glaring weakness in who I am. I guess that it’s called temptation for a reason, but I really have to work to resist it.

- I also didn’t like that I completely fell apart after the Columbia interview. I knew that I needed to deal with the Stern and Tuck applications, but I couldn’t make myself work. I told myself that I didn’t feel right about Stern, and that I had screwed myself with Tuck with a lousy interview, but that wasn’t the truth. I just could not force myself to come home and write essays. The December 1 deadline came and went with no work on my part. Sure, it worked out with Columbia, but it was not a calculated risk. It was paralysis.

So the pros are that I like business school people and writing about me, and the cons relate to looking straight at some of my flaws. I was hoping for some more meaningful lessons. I’m sure that I could come up with more, but for now I’m done re-writing everything 12 times before it takes shape.

Anyway, the next challenge should be financial aid, and maybe scholarships. I will try to wait until at least the new year to start worrying about how much work business school apparently is. My dream is totally the “happy hours and fat job at the end” business school, but that won’t happen :(

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Admitted to Columbia!!!!

How ironic that I write a long-winded, whiny post about waiting, and the next day I get an admit. Heck, the admit was early in the morning (8:45am), fewer than 12 hours after I wrote.

I am overjoyed, and perhaps a mite tipsy. I spent the day at work displaying no emotion and emailing furiously. Got home and did a little dance, and made a little noise. What a great day. What an awesome year!

Seriously, do I have to go to work tomorrow??

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

It has become a waiting game

Yesterday there was a post on the BW board, trying to see who had been complete for a few weeks for Columbia. This was basically a roll call for a list that I have kept in my head since Thanksgiving or so. The list was originally four people. Then last week one got dinged, and today another. The roll call showed that there was at least one other poster in the same situation: Complete with interview, waiting...

Ben, one of the Columbia admin staff, posted on the CBS ED board today, saying that folks can get interviews on either the first or second read, or as a result of the committee read. So it's likely that those of us who have been waiting in the Complete stage received interviews as a result of the first read. I would have thought that this was a good thing if 2 of the 4 other folks in my situation hadn't gotten dings.

So what can I make of all of this? I have a good understanding of why I've been waiting, but not of how long I might wait. Of the two people in my situation who have gotten dings, the first was complete for 24 days, the other for 22. I have been complete for 22 days, which would indicate,
on average, a ding for me tomorrow - if this data actually meant something. The numbers for the other two who are complete are 29 and 23 days without a decision. I can say that any of us could receive a decision at any time, and if I was going to gamble, I would say that one of us will hear before the week is up.

In the meantime, I should focus on the fact that I am still in the game. Even if this is a game involves waiting for other people to play. Tennis maybe? The ball is in their court.

Monday, December 05, 2005

It's a winter wonderland out there

The first snow of the season has been falling off and on since two pm. I walked back from the metro and was awed by the quiet of it. There were few cars, fewer people, and a silent sprinkle of snowflakes. Tomorrow it will be muddy slush, and a headache in traffic, but it is soothing tonight.

I was coming home from the College Bound Taste of College Night. It's a chance for the partners to put on their old college clothes, for the students to learn about different schools, and for everyone to have a nice time celebrating the organization. The speaker at dinner was the new head of the DC Teachers Union, and I was amazed to listen as he spoke about the power of focus and discipline, and of being willing to follow your own path. We were sitting in a room covered with pictures of Gingrich, Dole, Bush, etc... and here was a union leader speaking to a roomful of yuppie liberals and underprivileged kids, and it worked. Working hard to get a good education is such a universal message that it could bring us all together. So, for one-time only, I have to give the Heritage Foundation props, for actually practicing compassionate conservatism.

Of course, mentoring played more than a small role in my passion essay for Columbia. Clearly, I'm well along the path to the dark side, praising the right, and getting more than mere joy from volunteer work.

Sunday, December 04, 2005


I spent today hung over, and accomplished almost nothing of value.

I was out until four something, at a party with kickball people. It was cool, but I am really getting too old for this hangover stuff. It's 10:00, and I still don't really feel normal. I think that I used to recover faster.

I did go running, and found a new blog to read. A woman at Wharton who writes well. I went to blockbuster to get a mindless movie. I picked "Soldier", and it was truly horrible. I realized a few minutes into it that I had watched it before, in freshman year.

Tomorrow we'll see if there's any movement amongst the Columbia ED applicants. Almost nothing happened this week, and the theory is that it's because Linda Meehan was in India, and therefore unable to work with the rest of the admissions committee to send out admits and dings. This week, Amanda Carlson will be in the Middle East, so it remains to be seen whether having Linda back will be sufficient for us to see movement.

With Yale, there probably won't be news until January sometime. The BW board indicates that some folks will hear by the end of December, but the main batch of results will come out later.

To finish the night, the funniest post from the analyst forum, which I happily don't have to read any more:

Author: ralphmacchio
I call my pre-exam ritual "the Terminator". First I crouch down in the shower in the classic "naked terminator traveling through time" pose. With my eyes closed I crouch there for a minute, visualizing either Arnold or the guy from T2 and I start to hum the terminator theme. Then I slowly rise to a standing position and open my eyes. It helps me arive to the test site as an emotionless, cyborg badass.