“>WikipediaSince I found out I’d been admitted to HBS in R1, others have asked me how I did it, how I got in. Usually, I say I hit refresh on my application status every 3 seconds until it changed to “admitted”. I hesitate to answer seriously because I don’t want anyone to follow my path as a blueprint for admission.
My story started during my junior year at a service academy. I was taking my first classes as an econ major and went on a field trip to HBS where we did a mock case with HBS faculty. I still remember the case – a comparison of Coach K and Bobby Knight’s leadership styles. That’s what sparked my interest.
I’d always been pretty good academically, but the prospect of business school gave me even more reason to focus on my academics. I barricaded myself in my room the rest of junior and senior year, ultimately graduating with a 3.9.
For the next five years, business school had to wait – I owed the army five years for my free education. It didn’t take long to decide that I didn’t want to make the army a career – having little say in assignments or locations, seeing incompetent officers given less work/responsibility while earning the same pay and same promotions, seeing high-performing officers given crushing workloads with no reward or prospect of early advancement, etc.
So, like anyone with a good deal of time on his hands, I prepared. I read everything I could about business school – books, forums, consultant blogs, school guides. And then I studied for three solid months. It paid off – 750 GMAT and I held a celebratory GMAT study guide bonfire in my backyard.
I’d gotten myself solid numbers, but that alone wasn’t going to get me into schools. I needed more. I volunteered at an animal shelter but it didn’t feel right; it was contrived. After struggling with the issue for several months, I resolved to do sincere service only, and I eventually found myself teaching my soldiers personal finance in the natural course of my job. I kept that up.
As application season drew near, I knew essays were my chance to give colour to my story. I’m not a writer, but I’d jotted leadership stories in a journal that fellow vets encouraged me to keep. Picking ones that fit the various prompts, I went through 6-8 drafts of each essay to make sure the real me showed through, not some black and white, standards-loving army guy.