Given my planned all-or-nothing strategy, I needed to get some unbiased advice on the strength of my application and an idea as to how well I'd need to do on the GMAT to stand a chance of getting in to a top program. Also, I wanted to discuss my rationale for looking at MBA rather than EMBA programs.
I contacted an admission consulting firm and arranged a 1-hour meeting. They had me fill out a questionnaire that included information on my undergraduate and graduate record, my work experience, and potential topics for application essays.
The consultant they put me in contact with, Mark, had been an admissions counselor at an Ivy League business school. One of my main concerns was that my undergraduate GPA (3.1) would present a major barrier to admission; Mark said he wasn't too concerned about this due to my high grad school GPA (3.7). He said a good score on the GMAT (in the neighborhood of 700) would further put this issue to bed. (I remain a little skeptical about this, since the undergraduate GPA of admitted students is a factor in some business school rankings - so there is an incentive for b-schools to focus on the undergraduate GPA despite post-undergrad grades.)
On the MBA vs. EMBA question, Mark said he thought I might be a better fit for an EMBA program, but the decision ultimately hinged on what I wanted to do after finishing business school. If I wanted to accelerate my progress at my current company or within my current industry, an EMBA would probably make the most sense, but if I wanted to make a big change in my career, a traditional MBA would make the most sense. We discussed writing applications for both EMBA and MBA programs as a potential hedging strategy, but for the reasons I discussed in an earlier post, I later decided only to apply to full-time MBA programs.
I had done a small amount of research into the schools I might want to apply to; we walked through the list and Mark suggested a few additional schools. Most importantly, he said he thought I had a reasonable shot at getting into a top school.
After mulling it over for another week and discussing the matter with my girlfriend, my parents, and some skeptical friends, I decided to go for it and signed up for a GMAT prep course.