Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The emotional roller coaster that is the applications process!

It's been a roller coaster couple of weeks as i've experienced a broad spectrum of emotions......sadness, depression, anger, humiliation, joy, relief, and disbelief!

Sadness and Depression: I got rejected by Cambridge after I had put in everything into my application. It wasn't the fact that i was rejected, but the manner. The curt email told me that all my work for the last few months wasn't even good enough to get them to want to meet me. Thankfully, i've had some experience with disappointment so i was able to pick myself up, send in my oxford application and start my cranfield (my back up) application.

Anger and Humiliation: I found out that I would have to take a test of English specially for the Oxford application. To them, if you haven't lived or worked in the US, UK, Australia or New Zealand, you don't understand English. To make matters worse, they had a minimum pass mark of 109 over 120! I know I can speak English, but I had no clue what to expect from the test....I knew there were four sections, Reading, Speaking, Writing and Listening, but i wondered what i'd have to do to ensure such a high score. I booked the test and went to take it on the 21st of January......when I got there, I felt totally humiliated. The test centre was filled with teenagers just out of high school trying to go to the U.S to study. MBA applicants don't usually have to take a test of English! I'm sure they looked at me and figured I was a farmer or something who started school in his late teens......

Sadness and Depression (2): I started the test....the first two parts were alright.....the reading and listening because they were multiple choice...i breezed through them...I was also comfortable with the writing.....and then came the speaking section. I should have been warned when the guy beside me started his session. He was to articulate why he envied sportsmen and artists....he started....'I like sportsmen and artists because.......coughs, coughs, nervous glance at me, coughs, clock ticking, I like sportmen and artists because, because, because,.....errrrr.......shit (i think that's what he said)....head on the table, time up'! I self righteously wondered how anyone could be so ineffective at communicating......and then it was my turn....the first of six sessions involved having to listen to a lecture and summarize it.....time to prepare after the lecture? 30 seconds....time to speak, 20 seconds! I listened to the lecture and tried to take notes.....shit, this lecturer's speaking too quickly! Slow down! What did he just say? Did he just talk about igneous rocks and volcanoes? What d hell is that? Time up! 30 seconds to prepare! Okay....just look at your notes and you'll be fine....time is running bayo! Stop thinking and look at your notes! Okay...shit! 15 seconds left...okay....and then i hear a voice saying, please speak after the beep.....who d hell pressed the fast forward button????? After the beep, I managed to mumble some words about rocks, volcanoes and even more rocks.....This sequence repeated itself for all the other speaking sessions and i was sure I had blown any chance i had to go to oxford. As i was about to leave the center, i checked my emails and realised i had received one from oxford.....they acknowledged my application but stated they won't be able to consider it until they received a satisfactory toefl score! And that I had until the 28th to produce it or i'll be bumped to round 3......Now round 3 is bad.....its horrible.....its the last minute round where schools don't really take chances...they go with tried and tested profiles. They also try to avoid people that could have potential visa issues because of the short time frame. I asked the toefl guys how long it'll take to get my results and they stated three weeks....that'll be mid-february at the earliest! Shit! Bye Bye last hope! Hear my plea!

Joy, Relief and Disbelief! : Cranfield heard my plea and invited me for an interview....first positive news in ages! They wanted to do a phone interview but I wasn't taking any chances! I told them I would like to come over.....I booked my ticket and will travel on the 17th, the interview's on the 21st. I decided to visit oxford as well on their open day on the 18th.....hoping i'd see something about the school that'll make me feel better about not going! Out of the blue, I received an email saying my toefl results were available online. How is that possible? In a week? With shaking hands, i logged on and checked my results.....Reading 30/30, Listening 30/30, Writing 29/30 and Speaking 26/30! A total of 115/120! How is that possible? I stood up and was about scream in joy when i realised i was in the office and couldn't really explain why i was taking toefl....i converted it into an attempt to stretch, yawned and sauntered into the bathroom where i punched the wall vigorously in suppressed excitement. With trembling hands, I reached for my phone and called Oxford, i explained my situation to the amused admissions officer who agreed to send my application in for the second round if i could get the screenshots of my results to her!

What next? I should hear from Oxford of Friday whether i'll get an interview....if i do, i'll just combine the oxford and cranfield interviews in one trip......fingers crossed!

No prizes for guessing what i'm praying i'll title my next post.......


  1. I agree with what you say about English tests. I had an argument with Columbia business school on the same topic. They had referenced an article on Indian constitution which says that Hindi is the National language of India, to highlight the fact that Indians need to give English certification tests. But, in that very article, it also says that English will be the 'Official' language of India. But, they refuse to see past that first statement. It is sad that after 18 yrs of education with English as the only medium, I had to give a test to prove that I can communicate in English.

  2. Hi Bayo -- I'm a Filipino and an Oxford MBA aspirant currently completing the R3 application. I have the same predicament regarding the TOEFL/IELTS requirements. I just wanted to know if during your application, did you send a request for waiver on the mentioned requirement? I corresponded with the adcom and they gave me such option. Given that this is yet to be approved, I'm not sure if this is a viable option.

    Hope to hear from you.

  3. Hi 'Anonymous' I didn't make a formal request but spoke to admissions staff at the time and they made it clear that it was a strict requirement. My advice would be to focus on taking the test as I doubt this would have changed from last year.

    All the best with your application!