So I've been working on my first Columbia essay, the typical "Why MBA? Why now? Why Columbia?" essay, and it's really quite frustrating. I've always been notoriously terrible at word limits. This year's essays haven't been released yet but historically, this essay has always had 750 or 1,000 word limit recommendations. Last year it was 750 :( I don't really understand why they keep fluctating back and forth between the two limits but I am working under the assumption that 750 is this year's limit as well. My first draft had over 1,600 words! I've been able to get it down to 1,400 and then 1,200 but it's a struggle. I keep hearing that 10% overage is standard and acceptable which means that I need to get it down to 825 max. I will probably wind up settling for 850ish though.
My obnoxious admissions consultant insists that I shouldn't worry about the word limit and that 1,000 for a 750 word limit is fine! I am not taking that risk but I can't say that to him cuz he'll just yell at me. Looking back on it, I don't know if I made the right choice with this guy. We'll see. There are still at least 3 other essays to work on after this so maybe he'll provide some keen insights but in the early going, he pretty much just berates me via email about my "juvenile and breathy" writing style. Sigh. I don't mind the abuse if it gets me in but sometimes he says things are good or bad without explaining why, and I'm too reluctant to just take his word on everything. He's not God, even if his reputation is such in the admissions realm.
I'm intent on getting my first essay done before the application is released (probably mid-July) so that I can concentrate on getting the latter 3 done by the opening of the review period (mid-August). I decided to revisit my resume today and update it for Columbia's standards. I had previously found some student resumes on the Columbia Real Estate program's website so I decided to mimic their format to an extent. Not surprisingly, our formats were already alarmingly similar as mine was already using a standard Finance layout. I'm satisfied with my resume for now but think some of the diction and descriptions under my work experience could be better chosen. Not bad for now though.
We're now at the 2 and a half month mark until the opening of the Early Decision review period... I bet I'm the only loser keeping track of that stuff. But this means I should probably ask my recommenders in the next two weeks since I think it's best to notify them 2 months in advance of their due date. One of my recommenders (my old manager from Deutsche Bank whom I have a great relationship with) is in NY so I will want to make a trip up there to take him out to lunch and then spring it on him. But it will suck if he's busy and cancels lunch on me, which basically will waste my entire trip/weekend. I guess I can just call him to catch up and then ask him? I'm very confident he'll say yes but I'm such a worrier. The other recommendation from my current manager will be a much tougher card to play. I want to ask my current project manager because he is a fan of my work but he is a stickler who will say both positive and negative. I can't risk that. My co-worker who is applying to part-time programs said that she already talked to him though, and apparently he said that he understands the need to "soup up" the recommendations so maybe it'll be cool. But the other issue is letting him know that I'm thinking about leaving the company already, even though I only joined 7 months ago! In fact, he was one of the people I interviewed with. I think I'll wind up asking him anyway but it'll have to be at the most opportune moment. I might have to get him drunk, j/k! I just need to ask him when he's not stressed and in a good mood (most of the time) and when we're alone.
I met an old college friend for dinner and billiards yesterday evening and she's currently enrolled at Cornell for their Master's in Public Policy program. Funny thing is that she's here in DC for an unpaid internship and she can't afford rent! I know money is not the be-all and end-all but it seems kinda impractical to me to get jobs that don't pay the bills. I totally dig doing something that you're passionate about but maybe it should be a side project or hobby if it means you can't even afford $800 a month for a crappy apartment in Virginia. Or maybe I'm just a narrow-minded idiot :P Oh well, Memorial Day weekend is over and tomorrow I must return to the mines...