Monday, January 31, 2011

Grad picked for prestigious program

Ahmad Baitalmal cropWhen we checked in last May with Ahmad Baitalmal, he was a happy man. He was about to graduate from WSU with a BA in business and a 4.0 GPA. He and his family were enjoying the party that WSU Online throws for its students the night before commencement. And he’d lost nearly 100 pounds.
     Now, Baitalmal has another reason to celebrate. He’s been accepted into the prestigious Sloan Master’s Program at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. The 10-month program is designed for midcareer professionals and accepts only 57 students a year.
     Applying felt more like a job interview, Baitalmal said, and his references were carefully checked. “I did notice the Stanford interviewer was pleased to read the WSU name,” he said. “So far, going with WSU has been paying off rather well. Of course, my 4.0 GPA didn't hurt.”
     Without WSU Online and Bellevue College, which he had previously attended, “Stanford would still be a dream,” he said. “To those who put my associate and bachelor degree program together, I truly am very thankful.”
     As for his weight, Baitalmal, who once topped the scales at 470, said he’s off his brutal 500-calorie-a-day diet but has taken up bicycling instead. “Together with my wife and son we do about six miles twice or three times a week. But when I'm alone, I go for about 20 miles.” More...     Baitalmal, who lives in Renton, Wash., will move to Palo Alto, Calif., in August. He offered this advice for others considering grad school:
The GMAT is a learning experience. “Preparing for the GMAT was transformational and I do recommend that other grad school hopefuls take it seriously regardless of their target score, especially for someone investing in an MBA degree. The GMAT trains students to get in the habit of asking the correct business school questions.”
Be yourself on your application. “I was at a Harvard Business School information session at Microsoft and, during the Q&A session, attendees wanted to know the best strategy to get accepted. The Harvard rep promptly responded by saying, ‘Do not try to get into our heads. If you do that you will fail and you will not be considered.’ That made sense. Don’t try to figure out what the admission committees wants to see, then try to fit essays into that imagined mold. The corny adage of ‘Be yourself’ is a golden rule. I thought that if I had to concoct a strategy for them to accept me, then it was probably the wrong school for me.”

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