Thursday, September 28, 2006

adding one more school to apply to

In an earlier posting, I said that I may not be applying to a school on my shortlist because it requires GRE. Well, the school now accepts GMAT as well. Hence I'm adding it to the list of schools that I will be applying to.

[Update (Mar 2, 2007): This school is Wharton.]

I'm really happy about this as it is one of my Tier-A schools. Not that I will surely get in there, and it is making my pockets lighter. Nevertheless, I'm glad that I can apply to it now than to wonder "what if" in the future.

Anyway, just to update my school list:

Based on the most recent USNews America's Best Graduate Schools (2007) ranking, the 8 schools that I am applying can be split into 4 groups:
  • (Group I) 3 in the Top 10
  • (Group II) 3 in the Top 11 - 20 range
  • (Group III) 1 in the Top 31 - 40 range
  • (Group IV) 1 outside the Top 49 (not sure if it is ranked)

Based on the USNews America's Best Graduate Schools 2005 Information Systems speciality ranking,
  • 7 in the Top 10
  • 1 outside the Top 20 (a Group I school)
I further divided these schools into 3 tiers,
  • Tier A: 2 Group I [MIT, Wharton], 2 Group II [NYU]
  • Tier B: 1 each from Group II, III and IV [UT @ Austin, U of Maryland, Georgia State University]
  • Tier C: 1 Group I [UCLA]
[Update: I have decided to dropped UCLA from the list. So I would only apply to 7 schools.]

no more 4th recommender

I was following up with my 4th and last recommender (non-academic) to see how was he coping with writing my recommendations. Unsurprisingly, he said he was extremely busy to work on them.

After thinking through and following up with some schools, I think I would withdraw him from my recommender list. Thankfully, I already have 3 academic recommendations and all are pretty strong.

Friday, September 22, 2006

corresponding with a faculty member

About 1 month ago, I was corresponding with a faculty member in a particular school that I would be applying to. The introduction started well. However, after I sent my CV and research interest over, the communication ceased. A week later, I sent a friendly reminder/enquiry but there were still no responses.

Today, 3 weeks after sending the reminder/enquiry, I decided to send one last enquiry to check whether previous emails and CV have been received. Just hours after sending the email, the faculty replied and said she was very busy over the last few weeks and hence couldn't reply to me.

On one hand, I'm glad that the emails got through. On the other hand, beside acknowledging my emails, there were no further comments. Well, no comment is better than bad comments, so I'm thankful for that. I'm now hoping for a further discussion. Yet I am not too sure how I should be driving this communication.

Guess I just have to move on with my application for the time being, regardless of the (lack of) outcome from this correspondence. At the same time, I'm continuing to pray for opening of doors.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

schools selection

Taking a break from the essays writing and thought maybe I should journal down my school selection process.

I have identified 9 schools but, as of now, I am likely to apply to 7 of them only. 1 of the other 2 schools requires me to take the GRE, which I'm not sure if I can do it in time. The other is not really that into my research interest.

Based on the most recent USNews America's Best Graduate Schools (2007) ranking, the 7 schools that I am applying can be split into 4 groups:
  • (Group I) 2 in the Top 10
  • (Group II) 3 in the Top 11 - 20 range
  • (Group III) 1 in the Top 31 - 40 range
  • (Group IV) 1 outside the Top 49 (not sure if it is ranked)

Based on the USNews America's Best Graduate Schools 2005 Information Systems speciality ranking,
  • 6 in the Top 10
  • 1 outside the Top 20 (a Group I school)
I further divided these schools into 3 tiers,
  • Tier A: 1 Group I, 2 Group II
  • Tier B: 1 each from Group II, III and IV
  • Tier C: 1 Group I
[Please see my updated list.]

How did I come up with the different tiers? There are a few criteria that I looked at, starting with the most important:

1) Research interest. I looked at the faculty's research interest, and identified those that are doing research that I'm really keen in.

2) The school's reputation - both in general and specific to Information Systems. I also considered the school's placement record.

3) Environment - as I am going with my wife and daughter, I hope the place is condusive for a healthy family life, raising up children, etc.

4) Cost and Quality of Living. I took into account the stipends and financial aid offered by the schools here.

Such tier-system would be helpful should I need to decide between offers in months to come (of course, this is what I'm hoping for...). There is a limitation though: while useful to compare between tiers, this system may not help much when comparing within a tier. Anyway, that will be a good problem to have. And I must/should not be too presumptuous for now.

At this point, it might have been better if I had expanded the list to about 10 schools. But criteria #1 (Research Interest) seriously limited my choices. I'm not sure if this is the right thing for me to do, but I guess I should just move on.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

doing my last lap

I have done version 6.4 of my SOP and begun to customize my SOP to the schools' essays. Started work on 5 schools' essays - of which 3 are 99% completed and the other 2 are 97% done. Just need to review them a bit more before I finalize and "pdf" them.

I have also decided that I will not rush to complete the research paper for the application process. At this stage, I don't think the paper will make it in time to significantly strengthen my application. Furthermore, the journal which my collaborator and I are targeting is not exactly in the A-list. I came to this conclusion after talking to one of my recommenders (not my collaborator) over the weekend that just passed, as well as reading a relevant posting in Testmagic today. Nevertheless, I hope to wrap this research paper up by Christmas - need to be responsible to the task, right?

As I reviewed the task list that I put in place a few months ago, it seems like I have done my best and made good progress in all departments except for publishing the research paper and talking to potential advisors in the schools that I'm applying to. Hopefully, these will not come back to haunt me in a few months' time.

Hence, what are outstanding in my last lap are the last 2 recommendation packages (which should come in by this month end), the essays, and some financial certifications that I need to do for some of the schools. I think I should be able to submit some of the applications as early as Oct.

God willing, I hope I will do a victory lap come Feb/March/April 2007.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

sop - yes! yes! yes!

Yes, I have just done up version 6.2 of my SOP. Showed it to my wife, and she liked it. To her, this must be it. Personally I am also quite satisfied with this version. Not only has it addressed various important issues but also presented them in the best way (yet).

There are a total of 14 versions, from ver. 1 to 6.2. Man, that's a lot. Anyway, I have started to adopt my SOP mastercopy to the requirements of the respective school. Quite a lot of work. Seems like I'm on my last mile in the application process.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

my profile

A snapshot of my profile:

  • Bachelor degree from a non-US university (AACSB accredited).
  • Graduated in 2001. Top 10% of my cohort (600+) and was on Dean's list
  • Less than 1 year experience at time of application.
  • No publication (yet).
Work Experience
  • 5+ years experience in a startup that is very related to my research interest.
  • 1 year experience in the public sector.
Standardized Tests
  • GMAT: 99th percentile
  • TOEFL (iBT): 100+
  • 3 academic recommendations. All strongly recommended me for the programs.
  • I would think that it is strong. I hope it is strong.

Monday, September 11, 2006

cleared toefl!

Total 114 (R=29, L=30, S=26, W=29). Should be good enough for all schools.

Thank God!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

moving along

I'm reworking on my SOP - again. ;p Not a major revamp; just trying out a new structure to present my story. I couldn't help it.... my brain and fingers were itchy.

Was just corresponding with a key recommender. Working with him to get my recommendation package completed. Basically he wanted me to customize the letters to the programs and schools that I am applying to. Not so much of the content, but more of the "courtesies". Quite a bit of work, but if this helps, it's worth it. So it seems like I should be receiving the 3rd set of LOR soon. I'm almost ready to send in my apps.

Speaking of apps, I've started filling up the online forms. Progressing quite well, although there are a few schools that have yet to open up the online application channels. Basically I'm left with my TOEFL score (which should be coming soon) and the customized SOP for the schools. And then there is the research paper. All these by Nov/Dec.... hmmm.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

2nd LOR in

Collected my letters of recommendation package from the 2nd Prof. I can't really tell whether is it a strong recommendation or not. But I think it is definitely not a bad recommendation. So I am very thankful for that.

Given that recommendation plays an important role in the admission process, I am glad that I have all grounds covered in the area of LOR.

2 more sets of LOR to collect. Hope they will come in by Nov.

Monday, September 04, 2006

at the start of Sept

7 more months to go... time really flies fast.

Yesterday in church, I got to know someone who just came back from one of the school that I am really keen in. He is from the same school as the Prof whom I spoke to about 2 weeks back. Coincidence? God's hands? I really think it is the latter. Is this a sign of things to come? Interesting...

I reworked on the research paper over the weekend. Left with some finishing touches before we submit it. Hopefully it will be successful this time.

I will be getting the recommendation package back from another Prof tomorrow. He completed it much faster than I expected. He told me that he would be busy for the next 2 months and to chase him in Oct if necessary. Not sure if this is a good or bad sign, but what I can do? Anyway, I have passed the other packages to 2 other recommenders. This aspect of the application is moving quite well.