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Fridays from the Frontline: Deferred Chicago Booth Scholar Reflects On Application Process

The future may feel extra uncertain right now, but one thing young professionals can do is lockdown their seat in a leading MBA program through a deferred option. Catherine Wain, who anticipates graduating from Chicago Booth in 2024, shares her story behind applying early.

Deferred Chicago Booth Scholar Reflects On Application Process

By Catharine Wain, Chicago Booth MBA ’24

Over one year into her deferment through the Chicago Booth Scholars Program, Catharine Wain shares why she chose Chicago Booth and how she’s taking advantage of the deferment time both personally and professionally.

What attracted you to the Chicago Booth Scholars Program?
Stability, flexibility, opportunity for risk, and development. I knew that I wanted to attend Chicago Booth after a few years in the working world, and the program allowed me to express my intentions early on and secure my future at Booth. The Chicago Booth Scholars Program provides flexibility for when I actually matriculate, so I can ensure it is the ideal time in my career to go to business school. The security of already being admitted provides me with the opportunity to take professional risks, exploring new and challenging areas (industries, companies, departments, and teams). The program also provides resources and networking opportunities for development that I can take advantage of during my deferment period. For example, after I was admitted to the program, I met my Booth mentor, a recent graduate who shares a common background and interests with me.

What do you hope an MBA will help you achieve?
An MBA from Chicago Booth will enable me to pivot from a technical engineering role to a business-oriented field/position/function. In the future, I hope to work in demand planning and/or portfolio management at a biotechnology company. With an MBA, I can leverage my technical background and pair it with business acumen to impact the company I work for and the broader industry.

What was the application process like, and what advice do you have for those considering Chicago Booth Scholars?
The application is fairly straightforward (information is provided on the website) and the fee is waived. My best advice is to take time and self-reflect. What are your interests, passions, and goals? How would an MBA from Chicago Booth align and enable your future? Your answers to these questions should shine through in your application. Additionally, I recommend getting excited about Chicago Booth by attending an event (whether virtual or in-person), talking to alumni and current students, and researching the school.

How did you prepare for the admissions test?
Though Booth allows you to take either the GRE or the GMAT, I chose to take the GMAT. When studying, I took advantage of any and all lulls in coursework (syllabus week, week after midterms, etc). Additionally, I mapped out my schedule for the upcoming week and made sure to block out studying time. Sometimes it was hard to stick to the schedule with everything going on at school, but it definitely pays off, I promise! I also worked with a friend who was studying for the GMAT as well and we kept each other accountable.

The Chicago Booth Scholars Program allows you to complete the test and application process all before finishing undergrad. How are you taking advantage of the extra time this has allowed you now?
I’m extremely grateful for my past self for securing the admission to Chicago Booth (and grateful to everyone who helped me get here)! I’m using the admission security to take more risks at work and pursue projects that I’m passionate about, even if I don’t feel completely qualified. In my personal life, I’m using the extra time to volunteer, explore the nearby state of Oregon, and adopt a dog!

How have you stayed engaged with Booth during your deferment period?
So far, I’ve attended a local networking event (and plan to attend future events), met current Booth Scholars, met my Booth mentor, and grabbed lunch with a Booth alumnus at my current company. I will definitely continue to stay engaged during the deferment period! I look forward to connecting with more Boothies and matriculating in the future.

Catharine Wain is more than a year into her Chicago Booth Scholars deferral period. After graduating with a degree in Chemical and Bimolecular Engineering from Johns Hopkins University, Catherine now works for Genentech in San Francisco. Catherine anticipates graduating from Chicago Booth in 2024.

Posted in: Fridays from the Frontline, Weekly Columns

Schools: U. Chicago Booth

About the Author


Lauren Wakal

Lauren Wakal has been covering the MBA admissions space for more than a decade, from in-depth business school profiles to weekly breaking news and more.

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