It's been 8 days, 12 hours and 22 minutes since I got the admit call from Kellogg. I'm still walking on sunshine, but I've started to come down a bit from my euphoric high. There are still Round 2 applications to complete (too many of them since I procrastinated through most of November and December). What's that you say? Why am I applying in Round 2 if I'm already in at Kellogg? Aren't I set on going to Kellogg? Isn't Kellogg my first choice?
The simple answer to the last two questions is, no. I'm not set on going to Kellogg and it's not my first choice. However, I don't have a first choice.
When settling upon my final school list after extensive research, I chose schools to which I'd be happy to go, no matter what. I chose different schools for different reasons. Some schools offered classes that directly related to my career goals, others had student groups that appealed to my interests. A couple of schools offered unique experiential learning opportunities, while others had cool fellowships that warmed the cockles of my CSR driven heart. And maybe I might could have been drawn to a certain school's ski trip.
None of my reasons for choosing one school superseded my reasons for choosing another so I never ranked them in my mind. If I liked a school less after visiting I simply took it off my list (RIP NYU). So while I have grown to love Kellogg, I'm also quite fond of several other schools. My application strategy was to apply to Kellogg in Round 1, four Consortium schools in R1 (deadline 1 month after Kellogg), another school by Dec. 15, and 3 for January R2. Didn't quite work out like that (too many schools). I lost interest in one Consortium school and also realized that I didn't like the December school enough to pay full tuition if it was the only school I got into and they offered no money. For me, the biggest factor in deciding whether or not to apply to a school is, "will I go?" If this is the only school I get into and they didn't offer me a red cent, would I happily sign my life away in loans and go spend two years there on a running tab? If the answer was yes, then that was that. I really didn't differentiate between schools once they met that criteria.
I only applied to one school in Round 1 (missed the first Consortium deadline and wouldn't have heard back from those schools til March anyways). I got in. YAY!! (that was a totally sincere YAY, I swear). Getting into Kellogg did not eliminate my interest in other schools. However, now I am only applying to schools that I would realistically choose over Kellogg. Mind you, if I was to gain admission to one of these schools that doesn't mean I would say bye-bye Kellogg. However, these schools could at least make me consider turning down Kellogg. Basically, if after attending some admitted students weekends I still love all schools equally I can and will go to the highest bidder. No matter what happens I know I'll be going to an amazing school where I'll be happy. My gut simply tells me that if I take the Kellogg admit and run with it I will always regret not at least trying to get into a couple of others. I realize that I can only go to one, but it would be nice to have some options to weigh.
Ultimately, all any applicant needs is just one school. My philosophy is if you only get into one, make damn sure it's a place you want to go. I have no interest in ever applying to b-school again. Once I got my Kellogg admit I knew I'd never have to. I've seen too many people get into several schools one year and reapply the next year to get into the schools they really wanted. This process sucks so much why apply to schools that you don't want to go to. Getting an admittance should elicit celebration, not indifference. I think this is why I never designated a first choice. I know myself and I wouldn't have been satisfied with any school other than my #1. I would either begrudgingly attend my second or third choice or scrap all other admits and reapply next year. Neither option is appealing.
I got my one and I'm definitely celebrating. Congratulations to my fellow applicants who also got their one (or two or three). Mazel Tov! And for those of you who caught an acceptance but would rather throw it back for something "better," good luck in Round 2.