Pursue and Persist: Not Giving up Was the Key to Her Success

Pooja* was a music student from a young age, which inculcated some valuable lessons she would take forward with her in both her educational and professional journey. Waking up five times a week at 6.00am for music class taught her discipline and dedication. However, more than anything else, it taught her the importance of teamwork–making beautiful music, she realised, meant each singer and instrumentalist must listen to one another, understand each other’s techniques and play in harmony. It was the value of collaboration that made The Fuqua School of Business her dream school.

An Indian IT professional with a 710 GMAT score, Pooja had a traditional MBA profile. She volunteered with an NGO for many years and was able to extend this involvement into a leadership role where she reached out to 80+ disadvantaged families to spread awareness about government saving schemes in rural areas around Pune. Working in FinTech, she realised the inaccessibility of FinTech solutions to the masses and decided she wanted to change the situation. Pooja wanted to pursue an MBA to convert this dream into reality, but when she first applied, she had three schools in the reject pile, including Fuqua.

In 2017, Pooja’s commitment to making change led her to re-apply. Working with The Red Pen, she did a lot of soul-searching and self-reflection. She spoke to her interviewers from previous years, reached out to alumni to understand their perspective and used this feedback to learn from her initial setback. She realised that she needed to work on the way she articulated her thoughts, not only for her essays, but also for her interviews. She started early, stayed focused and thought intently about her life story; relating her aspirations to life changing events and anecdotes. She formulated her communication strategy from day one–she worked through the interview questions sent to her each Wednesday by The Red Pen, practiced her pitch and forced herself into simulated interview settings. This helped Pooja become comfortable with the interview format and overcome the final interview jitters. 

After her successful application experience and admission to her dream school, Pooja has this advice to MBA aspirants: “It is critical to understand and reflect on what you are looking for from a business school. The school you choose should not only enhance your overall experience but also challenge you and help you grow both professionally and personally,” says Pooja.

*Name changed per applicant’s request.

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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?