A singular focus and taking calculated risks results in acceptances at Kellogg and Booth

Growing up in an extended Indian family, my life became a series of negotiations and arguments. While I value our closeness, my inclination to chose my own path has created friction time and again, and these conflicts have taught me the importance of standing my ground and approaching goals systematically. When I realized I wanted to go to college and study engineering, my family, most of whom had only finished high school and still ran a successful family business, couldn’t understand my need for higher education and worked to discourage it. In a society that values stability and communal expectation over individual need, I am an anomaly, someone who has worked in a variety of companies in a few short years, all in service of my ultimate goal of working in private equity.

I started my career as a software associate for a global investment bank in their Delhi office. After a few months, I knew I wanted to be on the deal side but that wasn’t a path available to me. So, I left Delhi, moved to a smaller city and joined a startup investment bank. While this shift to the far murkier world of a start-up looked like a big risk from the outside, I knew that I would thrive in a challenging environment, and that picking up the intricacies of investment banking would lead to greater growth. After a year of learning the ropes, I moved to Mumbai to join a larger, more established firm. And then, yet a year later, an opportunity to join a small private equity firm surfaced. I finally made the jump to my target industry and have since expanded my skills and helped the firm evolve. My family was baffled, but I was secure in the knowledge that I had built the life I wanted to be living.

When I felt ready to pursue a business education, I came to The Red Pen ready to apply in 2015. To my surprise, I was advised to stay in my current position for another 12 to 18 months and invest more of my energy there before attempting the rigors of the application cycle. In hindsight, that advice proved to be the right guidance; when I returned to The Red Pen a year later, I was truly ready to frame my experiences and abilities in a holistic and effective way.

Following a structured framework allowed me to explore my own reasons for wanting an MBA, and helped me find schools that would challenge me and help me continue to grow. Having been accepted to both Kellogg and Booth, I know that whatever school I choose, it will be the right one for me. My business school path, just like everything else in my life, is the one I’ve chosen for myself.

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The fundamental role of independent educational consultants is to help students explore college opportunities and find the right place for them to succeed academically and socially. IECs don’t get students admitted—they help students demonstrate why they deserve to be admitted at appropriately chosen schools. They help students find colleges they might not have heard of—often out of their region—and they help students put their best foot forward.

Here are 5 things families should consider when looking to hire an IEC:

  1. Does the IEC belong to a professional association such as IECA with established and rigorous standards for membership?
  2. Do not trust any offers of guaranteed admission to a school or a certain minimum dollar value in scholarships.
  3. Ensure that the IEC adheres to the ethical guidelines for private counseling established by IECA.
  4. Find an IEC that visits college, school, and program campuses and meets with admissions representatives regularly in order to keep up with new trends, academic changes and evolving campus cultures.
  5. Do they attend professional conferences or training workshops on a regular basis to keep up with regional and national trends and changes in the law?