Art of gathering information from admission officers/current students

Art of gathering information from admission officers/current students

Onset of August unofficially kicks off the preparation for applications to B Schools. Applicants start reaching out to admission officers/current students and gathering intelligence about admission process, courses offered, career opportunities, clubs, culture etc. This is a fantastic way to not only evaluate your goal alignment and fit with the school – a place where you will be investing 2 years of your life and considerable amount of financial resources, but also to start building your network and impress the school with your skills, personality and passion.

Every school has its own unique culture and they are always on lookout for applicants who display/possess some key qualities/characteristics that complement their culture. Good insights about a school will help you in unraveling what those key characteristics are and in writing high quality admission essays. During interviews you will be a lot more confident, able to easily distinguish yourself with the plethora of information and immediately strike a chord with your interviewer. Once you do that, then nothing stands between you and your admission offer.

But reaching out for information is a process that requires skill, a systematic approach and above all patience. Here are some Do’s and Don’ts that applicants should keep in mind as they reach out to current students/admission officers. You will be able to extract quality information in least amount of time, build your network and leave a good impression.

DO’s

  1. Do your own homework on basic information:-

This seems very basic. However, many students skip going through the school website and rely on current students for information such as class size, class profile, placement stats, clubs and specialization offered etc. Websites contain a wealth of information and are regularly updated with latest information that even current students may be unaware of. Not doing your basic research reflects poorly on the applicant.

 

  1. Do give a short 2 line background about yourself.

Always give a short 2 line description about yourself when reaching out to someone for the first time. It will help the other person build a mental impression about you. Include your prior industry experience, future career interest and nationality if you are an international student. Leave out all personal details.

 

  1. Do give reference of people

If you are contacting someone in school because some third person recommended him/her, then give your recommender’s reference when you introduce yourself. Your chances of getting a response then increase exponentially. More so because may be the admission staff/student greatly values his/her relationship with your recommender. Also make sure to keep your recommender updated about your meetings. It shows that you respect and take his guidance seriously and can seek out his help next time.

 

  1. Do try to get an appointment as a first step rather than information.

This is something I have learnt from my experience in retail & service industry. When you are making a sale or need something from someone, first try to build a relationship. Once you do it, your next steps are a cakewalk. So focus on building a relationship rather than simply asking for information during your first interaction with current students/admission office. People love to talk about themselves and their work. So a good starting point is by asking students about their work and achievements. Each interaction will tell you something new about that student and give you a starting point for your next conversation. Keep on strengthening that bond and you will see the student/admission officer gradually turning into your strong advocate.

 

  1. Do give students time to respond.

July, August, September and October are super busy months. Students are busy wrapping up internships or preparing for full time job placements. So expect a delay in getting a response. Patience is the key here.

 

  1. Be courteous.

While writing emails, be courteous. Recognize the fact that the other person is helping you out for no apparent benefit. Sometimes people unknowingly give a perception of things that is different from reality. Make sure that even with your best feelings in heart you are not giving a wrong perception. If that is the case, be clear that you will not get a response and your probability of getting an admission reject also sky rockets.

 

  1. Do proof read

Always ask someone else to proof read your emails before sending them out. Grammatical errors can sometimes leave a bad impression and project you as someone who is sloppy or does not give attention to details.

 

  1. DO send a thank you note after your interaction

Always send a well-crafted thank you note whenever you speak/Skype/call an admission officer or current student, preferably within 24 hours. Acknowledge their efforts. It leaves a positive impression. Though sending a thank-you note is not going to increase your chances of admission but not sending might dent, though in rare cases. But why take chances.

 

DONT’s

 

  1. Don’t come up with a laundry list of questions.

I sometimes get emails from applicants asking me anywhere from 10 to 15 questions. Never do that! It is a big turn off and your email will most probably end up in trash folder. No one has time to read so many questions, leave aside answering them. In emails, limit yourself to maximum 3 most pressing questions. Later on as you strengthen your bond, you can reach out and ask more questions.

 

  1. Don’t ask open ended or vague questions.

Applicants regularly ask questions like – “How can your school help me break into consulting”? Such questions are very broad and open to diverse interpretations. The answers can be long and people will tend to skip/avoid answering them. Try to be as specific as possible in your questions, like mention which industry/function you want to break into as a consultant. It will help people give you relevant and quality information.

 

  1. Don’t ask for profile evaluation please.

Please! Please! Please! Never ask any admission officer or student to evaluate your profile. First of all, it is a fruitless exercise. If there was any one who could predict your future with certainty, he would have been a billionaire by now. Being a MBA student or working as an admissions coordinator would then be the last thing in his mind. Secondly, no one knows what you are capable of achieving in your life except YOU and you don’t want anyone else to define the boundaries or set limits to your aims/aspirations.

 

  1. Don’t lose heart if you don’t get any response.

Reaching out to schools/students for information is a tedious process and if you don’t get success initially, it can be disappointing/demoralizing. I would only suggest – don’t lose heart and keep on trying. It is all about perseverance, patience and the right approach. See it as a preparation to what awaits you ahead in B school life. I can say with full conviction that in today’s world, figuring out the correct people, reaching out to them and asking them the right questions in the right manner are some of the fundamental skills required to be successful and neither many people have those skills nor do they get a chance to develop them. So make full use of this opportunity.

(Disclaimer: The writer is currently a student at Kelley School of Business and is a volunteer at Hoosier Host – a students outreach program at Kelley for prospective students. However  the views expressed over here are writer’s personal views and have no relation to Kelley School of Business)

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Amazing New York…

I am not blog savy. In-fact this is my first humble attempt to write a blog. It will be a big achievement for me if this article even remotely resembles a blog.

 

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I have been in NYC for last 5 weeks now and I have had a time of my life here. This blog is a small token of thanks or gratitude to this amazing city that has taught me so much in this short span – both in my personal and professional life.

NYC is a mammoth city – for a new comer it can be very overwhelming, at least it was for me! But as the days went by, I could not but fell in love with it. I had my first visuals of NYC as I came out from the PATH metro station about 100 feet below the ground. I was standing in the heart of financial capital of the world. Right next to me was the imposing World Trade Center (WTC) signifying the financial might of the US. There were sky scrapers all around with clouds partly embracing them. The whole area was buzzing with people, half of them rushing to their office and other half mostly tourists taking pictures. Occasionally someone could be seen to stop, look towards WTC, close his/her eyes for a while and then walk away. Totally excited, I stood there craning my neck for good 30 minutes just savoring the moment.

Apart from the grand buildings, the next thing that caught my attention was the subway metro train. According to Wiki, in 2013 it delivered 1.7 billion rides. For me it is a great feat of engineering, architectural, and operational marvel. Running underground throughout Manhattan, kissing the foundations of all major commercial buildings, it is truly the life line of NYC.

To me, New Yorkers always seem busy and in a hurry. If you are lucky you might be able to extract a quick smile from a stranger – something that is very common in mid-west. However, on a whole they are very courteous. May be because everyone goes through the same grind, they feel each other’s pain and want to lend a helping hand whenever/wherever they can.

Allow me to share an experience. One morning, rushing towards subway (underground metro train) during office hours, I saw a bunch of people standing on the footpath blocking the whole way. After waiting for few minutes, I got impatient and started to make my way through the crowd. As I managed through the crowd, I saw a lady bending down, trying to pick something from the floor that was falling off repeatedly. At first I thought of telling her – “Ma’am , it is office rush hours! Please don’t stop the whole flow of people behind you!” Thank God, I did not convey that to her. As I looked more carefully, I saw an injured dragonfly insect lying on the ground writhing in pain. Someone had mistakenly stepped on it and she was trying to move it out of the way to safety. After few unsuccessful attempts, 3 people from the crowd came forward and together they moved it to safety. I was immensely touched, stunned and honestly a bit embarrassed at my initial thoughts. I mean here there were 20 extremely busy people who few minutes ago were running to catch their subway. But when it came to lending a hand and sacrificing a few but precious moments of their life for a good cause, no one thought about it twice. They surely earned some good Karma that day. This incident reminded me the importance of being patient, and respectful of every living soul – be it human, animal or insect.

I have witnessed many such nice and wonderful incidents that have enhanced my admiration for New Yorkers. I will quickly share 2 more incidents.

Late night, in one subway station I saw an old man with a big speaker and piano playing Pharrell Williams ‘Happy’ song. He was not accepting donations/money from anyone. I asked him as to why he was not accepting any money. His reply was,

“When I see small kids break into dance and start bouncing around on hearing my song or when tired and stressed people look at me and give me a smile, it makes me happy, that’s my money”. “But how do you earn your living or survive?” I asked. He replied, “At this age I don’t need money to survive”. By that time my subway train had arrived and I left after sharing pleasantries in typical MBA fashion – “My name is dash and dash. Nice to meet you”.

In another such incident, one day while going home I got caught in unpredictable NY rains. I took shelter under a temporary shed constructed near a renovation site. Next to me, I saw a beggar sitting on the pavement, drenched in rain and surrounded by lot of plastic sheets. He looked at me and asked if I could spare a dollar. All I had at that time was a cookie that I offered him. He then moved over the wet plastic sheets and what I saw next gave me a big smile. Under the sheets was his small pet dog. The guy broke the cookie in two unequal pieces and gave the bigger portion to his dog. He then looked at me, there was a twinkle in his eyes and we both smiled.

Before I wrap up, one last thing that I quickly want to share – housing in NY. Ufff… Finding a ‘decent’ apartment in NY is a daunting task. Rents are ridiculously expensive. I had a tough time finding an apartment. But there is no need to panic (something I did big time and realized later). All you needs is a bit of early planning, luck and a smile on your face. Someone has rightly said, “If you can survive in NY, you can survive anywhere”.

 

Thanks for reading and Happy 4th July!.

Your comments are most welcome.