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(Poets&Quants) — It was as if he’d climbed up on a aerial diving board, shouted bottomward to anybody on the basin accouter to watch him accomplish a amateur aback cast with four twists, bounced a few times to adapt for launch, bounced a few added times to accomplish abiding anybody was looking, propelled himself into the air … and absent the basin completely.

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Poor Grant. He wasn’t attempting the world’s best difficult dive, but its bookish agnate instead: applying to an ultra-elite MBA program. And while he wasn’t cutting a Speedo on a aerial lath over a pool, he was alike added exposed—Grant was continuing in the average of the Internet for all to see.

You may accept apprehend his blog, Grant Me Admission, in which he chronicles his adventure for a top-tier MBA. It’s accustomed about 100,000 folio views. And it’s appealing good: enthusiastic, lively, acutely written, abounding of tips and account and acquaint learned. Apprehend it, and you’re appropriate there with Grant as he studies for and takes the GMAT, researches schools, visits campuses, analyzes sample essays, and gets interviews. It’s abundantly detailed.

Which is allotment of the acumen Grant went splat. He wasn’t aloof applying to top B-schools. He was additionally alive abounding time, and accomplishing a lot of nonprofit work, added putting in hours and hours on his blog.

His adventure holds a admired appointment for anyone applying to top MBA programs. Grant bootless to focus on Ambition No. 1, accepting accustomed to business school, and he paid a aching price.

As he writes on a contempo post, below a photo of a austere Martian landscape:

Harvard: Dinged afterwards an interview

Wharton: Dinged afterwards an interview

Yale: Dinged afterwards an interview

Kellogg: Dinged

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Tuck: Dinged

I’m not activity to lie; it is abundantly adamantine for me to allotment these results.

Of course, as anyone who plays this d knows, bounce is a person’s affliction nightmare—but it is additionally the norm. Aftermost year, the bristles schools on Grant’s ambition account accustomed added than 25,400 applications for below than 3,000 accessible spots. With accepting ante that ambit from a low of 12% for Harvard to a aerial of 24% for Yale, the allowance of accepting into one of these schools are adjoin you. Overall, not abundant added than 18% of the applicants to these bristles MBA programs was accustomed aftermost year.

One adverse lix leads to another, and another

For a 5’11”, 175-pound, 27-year-old man who enjoys Olympic-style weightlifting and superhero movies, not accepting into an aristocratic business academy may actual able-bodied be his aboriginal cogent abortion yet. Grant works in accumulated finance, and is now in the action of switching homes and jobs—from the East Coast, alive for a Fortune 50 aerospace company, to Los Angeles, area he’ll be alive for an ball aggregation not far alfresco the Fortune 50.

He had suffered a bottom defeat afore accepting the bristles rejections. The year before, Grant had activated to Dartmouth College’s Tuck Academy of Business alone, but didn’t get in. He’d at atomic been wait-listed.

And that’s addition acumen why Grant went splat.

After applying to Tuck in October 2013, and admiring on the delay account from December until his August rejection, Grant got a little obsessive, annoying over his affairs of accepting in, aggravating to put numbers to his chances. The actuality that a acquaintance with a lower GMAT account had gotten into Tuck the year afore afterwards actuality wait-listed gave Grant hope, which angry out to be false.

“It was apparently ambiguous unhealthy,” he recalls. “I was like an addict. I was consistently adorable on forums, and arena the allotment game.”

So the aing time, afterwards he activated to Harvard, Wharton, Yale, Kellogg, and Tuck, he wasn’t activity to accomplish the aforementioned aberration and drive himself basics by fixating on his allowance of accepting in.

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Instead, he fabricated a bigger mistake. The antecedent year, while anxiously apprehension an acknowledgment from Tuck, he’d remained diligent: he followed up his account by accepting in blow with the interviewers, emailing them already a month—demonstrating his able absorption and perseverance, and befitting himself on their radar. He should’ve done the aforementioned this time afterwards interviews with Kellogg and Tuck, but he was aggravating to anticipate the cat-and-mouse d from arresting him as it had the time before, he says.

“This year I didn’t chase up on those interviews,” he says. “I didn’t email the interviewers. That was absolutely brainless and apathetic of me. I aloof kept putting it off. Absolutely dumb.”

Not for abridgement of enthusiasm

Generally speaking, Grant (who asked that his aftermost name not be appear because he hasn’t told his employer he’s planning to go to an MBA program), is not a poor candidate. Although he went to a middling California accompaniment university for college, he was a full-ride President’s Scholar, led his school’s aggregation in the International Collegiate Business Strategy Competition, becoming a 3.7 GPA, and accelerating Cum Laude with a BS in accounting.

For years, Grant had dreamed of earning an MBA. “It was alike afore I went to college, to my undergrad,” he says. “That’s consistently been there.”

Before college, he hadn’t aesthetic his B-school ambitions to a accurate tier. But afterwards graduation, he accustomed at the cessation that he capital to get his MBA from a top-10 school, “but if that’s alfresco the branch of possibility, afresh top-20,” he says. “If you’re not in the top 20, I can’t alike attending at you because I’m not activity to advance that affectionate of money afterwards any affectionate of approved amount from the degree.”

Applying to Tuck, and alone Tuck, two years ago was “kind of like my balloon thing,” Grant says.

He had put a lot of accomplishment into the application. He spent about 200 hours belief for the GMAT and denticulate 710. To adapt for autograph his appliance and the interview, he met with bristles Tuck acceptance and interviewed addition eight by phone. He reckons he spent 50 hours belief Tuck’s programs, facilities, and professors, account books, and speaking with MBA affairs experts. He organized the fruits of all that analysis into a “crazy certificate on Tuck,” absolute facts, academy intricacies, capacity of programs that absorbed him, and advice aggregate from Poets&Quants, Internet forums, articles, and interviews. He visited the academy twice, and doesn’t accommodate in the 50-hour absolute the time spent on those trips.”I absolutely knew the academy and what the adventure was all about,” Grant says.

Going over Grant’s agog posts accounting during his appliance action is like account a account access by Edward Smith, captain of the Titanic, rhapsodizing over the admirable acclimate and bland sailing that came afore the adverse adventure with the iceberg.

After his account with Tuck—when he had activated there and at the four added schools—he came to a cessation while active home from Hanover, N.H.: “I accept collapsed in adulation with Tuck again,” he writes. “I was afraid this was activity to appear again. The aboriginal time I applied, I KNEW that Tuck was the abode for me… And actuality we are again.”

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Then Kellogg usurped Tuck, afterwards Grant visited the academy in Evanston, Ill., and had his interview.

“Kellogg is amazing and absolutely alike with who I am and area I appetite to end up in my career,” Grant gushes, activity on to use the chat “amazing” three added times in his column about his appointment and interview.

Add in the two “fantastics” he used, and you apperceive that back that Kellogg advise came, it stung. But it angry out to be below aching than the one from Tuck. Afterwards all, he’d fabricated the delay account back he’d activated there the year before, and a academy official had after told him they hadn’t let in anyone from the list. For his added adventitious at Tuck, Grant acquainted he was an alike bigger candidate. And the academy had become his aftermost hope.

Harvard had been the aboriginal to about-face him away, afterwards an interview, but that didn’t affair Grant too much. “It’s Harvard Business School, the best business academy in the world—denied, big deal.”

“When I didn’t get an account at HBS, I was not surprised. Back I didn’t get an account at Wharton, I was a little scared.”

Running on empty

With every rejection, he’d exhausted himself up a little added over the mistakes he’d fabricated during the action of advancing for the GMAT and applying to schools.

He’d been bent to far beat his aboriginal GMAT account of 710, autograph on his blog that he “most acceptable will be demography it afresh for a ~750.” But back it came to belief for the analysis his added time around, the blow of his activity got in the way.

“I got promoted, and afresh I got an added administration responsibility. Addition befalling came up at appointment for a appropriate activity to lead. I started blogging. I’m absolutely heavily complex in non-profits,” he says.

Grant would deathwatch up at 4:30 a.m., alpha belief at 5, accumulate it up for an hour or two, go to work, afresh go to his non-profit assignment. Anniversary night, he’d resume belief at 8, and put in addition brace hours. If he wasn’t accomplishing advance appointment on the weekend, he’d appointment through his Saturdays and Sundays.

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“I was operating on four hours of beddy-bye for six months.”

All told, he put in 150 GMAT-prep hours over eight weeks. “It wasn’t acceptable affection belief time,” he says. “My apperception was antagonism on a actor altered things and the GMAT was aloof one of them.” Not alone was he “completely fatigued out,” he hadn’t alike appear aing to hitting his 200-hour goal, or alike analogous the 190 hours he’d put in back he advised for the GMAT the aboriginal time.

While he’d spent 50 hours advancing for his aboriginal Tuck appliance and interview, he fell far abbreviate of that back applying to the bristles schools, not alike hitting the aforementioned cardinal for all the schools combined. “This is so embarrassing,” he says. “I anticipate I spent maybe 60 hours. Maybe. That’s actuality appealing acceptable with myself. It might’ve been less, it might’ve been afterpiece to 40. It was absolutely bad,” he says, afore blubbering to himself: “Damn it.”

He’d assassin a consultant, but hadn’t done any convenance advisory interviews, he says. He visited all the schools, except for Yale.

After he didn’t accept interviews at Harvard and Wharton, Yale was the aing academy to adios him. “I was like, ‘Holy shit, I ability not alike get in (to B-school) this year,’” Grant says.

The abhorrence grew worse as the rejections added up. “When I got dinged from Kellogg, I was cerebration to myself, ‘I’m absolutely in trouble.’”

Meanwhile, Grant’s career was shifting. He was anticipating disruption at his aerospace industry job. Staff were activity to be cut, and those who remained would face added appointment burdens. “I basically started ambiguity my bets. I had started adorable at added opportunities.”

Swimming in a sea of cocky doubt

The cord of B-school rejections had seeded Grant with cocky doubt, not a activity he was acclimated to. “Am I absolutely a top performer?” he asked himself. “Am I able of accomplishing annihilation on my own?

“That’s why it was so important that I activated for addition job.”

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By the time Kellogg alone his application, he had already had a buzz account with the L.A. ball firm.

Grant is not giving up on his MBA dreams. He’s activity to administer afresh to top 10 schools, but apparently alone three or four, and will acceptable not administer to Harvard, he says. He affairs to absorb 30 hours of basic time specific to anniversary academy he’ll administer for, and he is cutting for 300 hours of GMAT belief time. “I’m absolutely acquisitive to get a 760,” Grant says. “That will help.”

Grant created his blog because he capital to advice added bodies on the aforementioned path, he says. That fits with his absorption non-profit and advance work. “That’s my life’s mission,” he says. “I appetite others to succeed, that’s how I get my happiness.

“That’s what aching the most. I was like, ‘Hey, I’m activity to advance the charge, and anybody chase me,’ and afresh I, like, tripped.”

On his blog, below the photo of the Martian mural that acme his adumbration about his bristles rejections, Grant addresses his readers, “I feel that I accept let you down,” he writes. “It is abundantly difficult to abort about and own up to it. I am acutely sorry.”

Nevertheless, Grant is acutely able-bodied positioned for addition attack at accepting into a top program, decidedly at Tuck and Kellogg, which had already rated him aerial abundant for an interview. His history alive in accounts for the aerospace industry makes him adorable to admissions committees, and his new job is impressive. He appears to accept abstruse a abundant accord about what he did amiss in his aboriginal two attempts, and if he applies those lessons, he’s apprenticed to accomplish a bigger consequence in applications and interviews. A college GMAT account would accord him an added boost.

It turns out that the abrupt Martian scene, he says, does not represent a arid boscage of the soul. It shows, he says, a new frontier. “It’s a accomplished new apple out there.”

More from Poets&Quants:

The Highest and Lowest Paid MBAs of 2014

M7: How The Super Aristocratic Business Schools Compare

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