Just to set the record straight, my heart is not set solely on bschool; pinning your hopes on such a statistically low chance when you're an 'old' and 'below-average GPA' prospect seems silly. However, an MBA from a top-10 seems by far and away the best route to a director or VP level position (ed. or CEO, depends on what company we're talking about!) where I can enact organizational improvement from a true leadership position, rather than having to do everything behind the scenes! The application process helped clarify goals, as well - it is as valuable as the adcom reps say it is!
To that end, I've got a number of routes to where I want to be, and while Bschool is the most attractive (connections, classwork, exposure to other companies through case studies, lectures, visits, projects, and of course the alumni networks!) it is not the only route. In the last week I've had some leads on opportunities I'd love to pursue, but I've had to hold off since I won't know my status until Feb.
Responding to comments:
- Not looking outside the top schools simply because brand name, opportunities, and alumni network are very important to me. As several (successful entrepreneur/biz leader) friends have said, "Why get an MBA? Pick up MBA for dummies, you don't need to spend so much money!" and I concur. The opportunity cost for an MBA is very, very high (lost salary/promotions/business opportunities + spending $$$$ for an MBA) and to justify it, I'd want to come out with a degree backed by a stellar reputation and a solid network of alumni.
- Not looking at Round 2 (except perhaps to finish one Wharton essay and submit, but Wharton's program really lacks in the places I'm interested in) because I can't put my career on hold indefinitely... time is a pretty limited asset!
- On 'holistic process' - Think statistics. Bschools are happy to brag about their incoming classes, and you won't see many bschools saying their average GPA and GMAT scores went down with this year's class ;) While there is certainly involved work by the adcoms to diversify their classes, they do care about their stats. I suggested that the adcom might use that particular method because you do want to make sure your final stats improve your school's brand - so identifying candidates that will tilt numbers in the upward direction is an easy first step.
Thanks again for the discussion, have a great weekend!