How an African-American Male Raised by a Single Mother Completed 14 Graduate School Applications in One Cycle and Still Has Time for More
Welcome to the first edition of our new series, Hit Submit! In this series, we’ll chat with current clients of The Art of Applying® before they’ve heard back from their schools after they’ve submitted at least one application.
For this first Hit Submit, we interviewed “Anthony,” who’s one of our most spectacular clients. Anthony is an African American male from Brooklyn, New York who was raised by a single mother, and he wants to go to graduate school to become a social entrepreneur abroad. To accomplish his goal, he’s interested in getting an MBA and potentially enrolling in a dual-degree MPP or MA program.
Here’s where Anthony applied with the help of The Art of Applying® team as an Application Accelerator® client:
- Harvard Business School
- Wharton MBA/MA Lauder Joint Degree in International Studies Program
- Stanford Graduate School of Business
- MIT Sloan School of Management
- Columbia Business School
- Yale School of Management
- UC Berkeley Haas
- Michigan Ross School of Business
- University of Virginia Darden School of Business
- Cornell SC Johnson School of Business
- UCLA Anderson School of Management
- Asia School of Business
- Columbia School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA)
We’re so proud that he was able to apply to so many schools during our Application Accelerator® program!
Let’s first review Anthony’s top takeaways and then jump into the nitty gritty of the interview.
Top Takeaways from Anthony’s Hit Submit Interview:
Start early. Anthony became our client in February 2020, which gave him eight months to work on Round 1 MBA applications and 11 months to work on policy and Round 2 MBA applications.
Find the right programs. When choosing schools you will apply to, find programs that offer the right combination of coursework you’re interested in, a great network, and connections to your target industries and regions.
Get organized. Applying to any number of schools requires you to juggle many requirements and deadlines. Don’t drop the ball. You’ll thank yourself later when you invest time in managing your calendar.
Connect with current students. Not only can they give you amazing insight into what it’s really like to learn there, but they can share experiences and knowledge that can make your application stand out above everyone else’s when you drop insider knowledge that shows you’ve done your research.
Think beyond test scores and grades. While those are important, your story is what elevates your application above your competition. We’re not saying, “Don’t get good test scores,” but don’t underestimate the power of your unique story.
If you’re interested in dual degree programs, it’s great to have an anchor degree! An anchor degree is the one that will help you achieve your career goals while your other degree helps complete your profile.
Here’s our interview with Anthony:
Anthony, how did you decide which schools to apply to?
I really wanted to go to a school that had dual degree tracks that were of interest to me.
For my Consortium schools, because I’m currently working in the tech sector, I picked schools that had really strong connections to the tech industry. In particular, I picked schools that had those connections in Asia because that’s where I’d like to go after graduating. That narrowed down the list pretty significantly. Then within that list of six programs, I ranked them by their return on investment and on having a strong entrepreneurial focus.
For the other schools, the same things applied. I was really looking for schools that had really strong international reputations and really big alumni bases.
Why is having a big alumni base important to you?
Because I want to work internationally, I think it’s important to have a very solid alumni base around the world and not every school has that. I don’t have too many connections abroad, so having that alumni base gives me that confidence that I can pick up the phone and call somebody in the country to network.
What do you hope to open up in your personal and professional life as a result of getting your business and policy degrees or some of the other degrees you’re applying to?
Because I’m currently working in the private sector, the MBA is my anchor degree. It’s my top priority, but I’m applying to a mix of international affairs or policy degrees to combine them with the MBA. I want to work internationally and in more niche areas like technology, but dealing with policy issues abroad. Long term, I’d like to pursue social entrepreneurship. That’s where I really think combining the elements of the MBA to become an entrepreneur and the policy or international affairs degree would help me understand how to have policy discussions and approach things from a social impact perspective.
What surprised you about the application process?
How important talking to current former students actually is. That’s something that a lot of people tell you to do to learn more about the school and what the culture is like. But honestly, up until applying to the MBA programs, I always thought that talking to students or attending school events were a formality. I realized after talking to a couple of students early on that I got so much great information to put in my applications.
What was harder than you expected it to be during the application process?
It was a lot harder than I expected to keep track of everything. Each application has so many nuances. Especially, because I was applying to different international programs that have vastly different time zones.
If you could go back to the very beginning of your application process and give yourself some advice, what advice would you give?
At the beginning of the process after I joined The Art of Applying®, I was solely focused on which supplemental classes I should take and what to boost my test scores for about the first four months because those were my recommendations from the Breakthrough Call. I sort of regret dedicating that much time to those things when I could have focused more on my story earlier on. I didn’t really start crafting a story until July, which was pretty late. I think it could have been less stressful if I shifted my focus to what the story was that I wanted to present.
So, this is our last question. Let’s speak to your future self this time. What does Anthony from today want to say to Anthony in March when he’s gotten all of his acceptances?
I think the biggest thing for me is to make sure that wherever I get in, I pick the best fit, not necessarily the best name. I don’t know where I’m going to get into or how much money I’m going to get from each school, but I think I would just tell me to be more critical of where you decide to go. Don’t just pick the school that is ranked higher or has better brand recognition. Pick a school that you actually enjoyed speaking to the students from or that you had the best impression of.
That’s all for our first edition of our Hit Submit series. If you want your story to sound more like Anthony’s, hop on a Quick Call with our team to talk about your applications!