Now that the first part of the application process is over for me, I sometimes catch myself actually missing it. There’s not much I can do now, aside from waiting for interview invitations, so here’s what I can tell you from my own experience.
- The opportunity for instrospection. As MBA reapplicant puts is very nicely, the need for real introspection is tough, but it is also a golden opportunity to get to know yourself better. During the process, I learnt a lot about my own priorities in life. I was happy to realize I had made some really wise choices for my personal life, choices that I do not regret and that help me be a better manager at work. The energy, the enthusiasm and the optimism I am able to share with my colleagues (and hopefully with my future classmates) are fueled by how I take care of myself and others outside of work.
- The GMAT and the TOEFL. Yeah, no kidding. Preparing for the GMAT was not easy, especially because French people are not used to this kind of testing at all, where you have to switch from one question to another in two minutes, with these questions having no connection at all. Standardized tests have their pros and cons, but one cannot deny that they are fair. And if my application is to be compared with those from people from all around the world, I am relieved to know the same comparison scale is being used for everyone.
- The holistic approach. I appreciated that the Schools tailored their applications to get to know you as much as possible, not only as a professional candidate, but also as a person. It felt nice to have the opportunity to give them a comprehensive and sincere overview of who I am. And adcoms seem to show genuine interest for all these aspects too.
- The trouble with international undergraduate studies – the French system in my case. I underwent extremely competitive studies which lastingly trained my brain to think and react quickly. I had these student years to thank for the way my GMAT went : after 7 years of work experience, 2 months of study (working full time, taking care of a toddler), 1 quick and dirty shot, I ended up with a 740 score. Ok, I’ll stop there because nobody likes a showoff 😉
My academic level should be ok to follow the MBA courses. Yet, it is more complicated than that.
[Special edit for prospective French applicants who may go through the same issues. Sorry for the length]
I know that I am eligible to the programs I applied to (3-year Diplôme from Grande Ecoles) but I wondered how the CPGE should appear in my application. Basically, they are the equivalent of prep courses to enter Business or Engineering Schools. You do get some random transcripts from these years, however, there is NO WAY –not even under torture– I can disclose them (I don’t even physically have them anymore) . Some professors used to enjoy putting harsh and humiliating comments to push you to work harder, knowing that these will have no impact on the final competitive admission exam, and would never be used for any purpose. Luckily, since 2007/2008, the French government have realized that this kind of document could seriously harm students who may want to pursue studies abroad. This is why they introduced a certificate to testify that CPGE students have a high academic level, and have earned equivalent credits. Having entered a Grande Ecole before 2008, I unfortunately do not have such a certificate.
I intensively googled the subject to know how fellow French applicants did before me, and I was faced with very different cases: those who had the famous certificate sent it, others who managed to get indulgent transcripts translations from their high schools sent them…and the rest just focused on the Grande Ecole transcripts. I emailed the MBA admission offices, which also gave me different answers. Some only focused on degree granting institutions, others mentioned they do not want high school transcripts. Since CPGE are basically an extension of high school (the institution you attend is actually a high school), I chose not to worry about them too much. Plus, I figured out that it would be the same as sending your GMATprep or MGMAT CAT scores, or any transcript from a GMAT prep course in addition to your GMAT official score -> not relevant and biased. Only the final result (the Grande Ecole entrance exam ranking) matters.
I simply hope that adcoms will know about this too, and that I won’t have to go through the hassle of explaining the old-fashioned French educational system.
- The high application fees. They better be worth it.
- No feedback if your application is rejected. Well, at least that’s the case for the schools I applied to. I understand that they receive a huge number of applications, but a short explanation by request would be greatly appreciated.