Wednesday, August 17, 2011

B-School in your backyard? Don’t stop there.

As the start of my first year of business school approaches in just a couple of weeks, I wanted to reach out to everyone to help you avoid making the same mistake I did. You see I almost missed out on business school and the amazing opportunity of being a Forte fellow.

When I decided to go to business school to earn my MBA, I zoned in on only one school, my alma mater which happened to be in the city I was living in at the time. It seemed logical at the time. I’m a non-traditional student. I am older, married with a teenage daughter. Going back to my alma mater would cause the least disruption for my family. So I only applied there with no thought that I would not be accepted. Wrong! I was shocked when I was rejected. And unfortunately I didn’t get the rejection until after many top-tier programs final deadlines. I truly feared that I would have to wait another year to go to school.

So what did I do? I had a total pity party for a day, and then I made the decision which I should have made initially. I expanded my search and looked at schools all across the country that were still accepting applications. I submitted four more applications, and I was accepted at all of them. The closest school was over 900 miles away, and the farthest school was over 1600 miles away. I finally accepted the offer from the school that I was accepted to last, The University of Illinois. It is over 1000 miles from my hometown. But it is the right place for me and my family to be.

I challenge each of you to not be bound by where you currently live when thinking about getting your MBA. That is the easy road to take. Life is about taking risks. Don’t settle. Demand better. You are worth it.

I’d be happy to talk to anyone about my experiences, especially if you are a non-traditional applicant like me. My email address is

Stephanie Barry, Forte Fellow
Class of 2013, The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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