Posted on April 25, 2018

Indian Engineer- Harvard and Stanford admission: Mansi’s journey to top 5 MBA programs – Part 3


Mansi was accepted into 5 top MBA programs– Kellogg, Wharton, INSEAD, Stanford, and Harvard. Mansi is headed to her dream school, Harvard.

Mansi’s interview will be published in 4 parts wherein she will share her background, goals, reasons to pursue MBA, unwavering preference for HBS, application strategy and preparation, her biggest challenge in the admission process, advice on video essays, her success mantra, and much more.

In Part 1-  Mansi talks about:

  • Her Background
  • Goals
  • Reasons to do MBA 
  • Her Preference for HBS

In Part 2- Mansi shares:

  • Her Application Strategy
  • Planning &
  •  Preparation

In this part 3- Mansi talks about:

  •   The Most Challenging Part of the Application Process, and
  •   Her advice on video essays

Poonam: Looking back, what was the most challenging aspect of the admission process? How did you overcome that challenge?

Mansi: The most challenging part of the entire process would be introspection. It is not about building some kind of profile for the business schools but thinking through your stories and diving deep into yourself and deciding what you want out of your education and life. I think that was the most important and critical part. It initially was very challenging, but as I started diving deep, discussing with my friends and family, and with you, I got a good perception of what others think about me, what I think about myself, and how to match it. If it is the same, then it is good; if not, then I have to think about how to bridge it.

The most challenging part was building my story and having that confidence to present my story, especially for Harvard and Stanford essays. To me, brainstorming ideas and writing essays was one of the most critical parts. I suggest that instead of asking what ad com want to hear, take your time, say a month or two months and dig deep into your stories and decide what you want to present to the Ad Com.

Poonam: This is immensely valuable advice, Mansi. How about video essays? I think video essays are also very challenging.

Mansi: Of course. You have to go into minor details about the application.  I cried after Kellogg’s video essays. That was the first video essay I did, so I was very stressed out. I think my Kellogg’s video essay did not go well, and I am not sure why. I prepared a list of 50 to 60 questions and memorized the answers for all the video essays, which now I think I should not have done. I remember you always advised me to be spontaneous. But when those three questions appeared on the screen, I was taken aback. I did not know what to say. First 10 to 20 seconds, I was just staring at the screen blankly and did not know what to say. I was not prepared for the spontaneity.

So, I think being yourself, being calm, and being stress-free helps you to be able to think in those 20 seconds that you get for your response. So if you are stressed, you will just lose those 20 seconds in a blink and not know what to answer. If you are calm, you will have time to look for two to three points, and then discuss it in two or three lines. Sixty seconds are not much; even if you say three lines, the time is gone. The questions are very simple and something you can relate to in your everyday life. For example, introduce yourself or talk about your hobby or a global problem that you are concerned about. These are pretty simple questions, and if you think calmly, you can easily get to the questions and the answers, but if you are stressed out, it is not easy.

Poonam: Exactly, confidence and calm approach is the key to doing well in video questions.

Mansi: My experience with INSEAD video essays was different. I submitted my application, and a couple of hours later, I dressed up in my business suit and submitted the video essays. INSEAD video essays went so smoothly because I had learned enough from my experience of Kellogg’s video essays. So I suggest that applicants should just be prepared for the important questions which you would be for an interview, such as ‘why MBA,’ ‘why this school, ‘what are your short term, and long term goals’, etc. For the other questions, you cannot have a list. Just be prepared for being stress-free and spontaneous, and you will be fine.

Poonam: It’s true that Kellogg’s video essays prepared you for INSEAD video essays.

Mansi: Exactly. INSEAD was a cakewalk after Kellogg’s video essay.

Poonam:  Absolutely.

Note: Stay tuned to Mansi’s interview Part 4, wherein she shares her success mantra and her interests and hobbies.

Since 2011, MER (myEssayReview) has helped many applicants get accepted into the top 20 MBA programs. (Poonam is one of the top 5 most reviewed consultants on the GMAT Club.)

Do you have questions about your application? E-mail Poonam at or sign up here for a free consultation.