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Journey to my MBA

Friday, August 13, 2004

MBA process update

I have much to share and write. I’ll probably need to spread this over several journal entries. Anyway, about my MBA app process….. I have 3 people I’ve found to write my letter of recommendation. I’m looking for 4 since I may need to spread out my requests because of the number of schools I’ll be applying to. I haven’t reviewed the letter of recommendation format, but I hope the writers can copy and paste between letters. I’m assuming that many of the questions will be somewhat similar with a few exceptions. I feel anxious about asking someone to write 8 letters of recommendation for 8 different schools. I met with my friend H who graduated from UCLA's b-school. Because of his grades, GMAT score and education background, I know he could have applied to higher end schools and been accepted. However, he was held up by the company he was working at. They were dangling the finalization of his green card like a carrot and so he couldn’t leave the company and went to the best school in the area. Having applied to only Berkeley and UCLA, he was accepted to both. I need to clarify that my friend is one of blunt observation and is not one to sugar coat things and always has the habit of telling it like it is. As he is a very analytical guy, for the last 10 years that I've known him, I've found most of his observation in life to have a lot of truth to them.

So we met for 3 hrs last night and talked till we both thought we were going to fall asleep just walking to the car. I got home at 1am. He went over the schools that he thought I should apply to. The list he created matched what I had already researched thankfully. Moreover, it matched a ranking that Business Week had. He told me that although he hadn’t seen the rankings in 3 years, he knew the rankings because of the stigma that he was facing everyday about what school people had graduated from and the kind of subtle judgments that he noticed in the work force. He asked me, “how do you think I know the rankings?” He answered his question by saying that it was because the stigma of what you graduated from were all around him. For him, certain schools had certain kinds of impact on the kind of respect one would initially receive after meeting someone. In consulting, depending on the project, teams of people are put together in various combinations that's based on skill set. Upon meeting each other for the first time, most people would ask one another what school they had graduated from. He could see it in their face what certain schools meant to them. Although, he says that he isn’t prejudiced against, he can see each persons reaction when they hear the name of certain schools. He stated that this was pretty normal to expect. When meeting someone, you tend to ask a few questions of a person to get an idea of who they are and so asking somebody what MBA school they graduated from was like asking where they lived. This was the case whether one is talking about the reaction of a client or a fellow colleague. H makes a note never to ask anyone about which MBA school they went to because he considers this practice abhorable.

The one school that was removed was Darden. Here were the reasons he picked certain schools for me to highly consider
1)Class size – smaller class size=higher competition

2)Alignment with my specialization in IT and general management. So for example, school heavily biased toward finance background students were removed.

3) Rank of the school based on his experience. What he felt were “real life circumstances and respected reputation in the marketplace” matched almost exactly the rankings in Business Week.
4)School reputation. As we are on the west coast, schools that are in the rural areas somewhere in the Midwest that were not recognized as reputable/well respected schools were removed. The schools he listed for me were in the following order 1) Harvard 2) Wharton 3) Kellogg 4) Berkeley 5) Michigan 6) Dartmouth 7) UCLA

Overall, he stated that if one doesn't get into a top 20 school, that going to B-school was more or less just wasting ones money. He said that although it's not really talked about, the reality is that there is a clear distinction in stigma between a tier 1 and tier 2 school in the work place. He suggested that due to my IT background, I should also consider Carnegie Mellon, UCI, USC, Austin and Duke.

I know that it may sound like H was making too big an issue out of the reputation, respect issue however he bluntly told me that as much as having an idealistic outlook on the school factors of good teaching etc... that I should just get over it. And that I needed to understand that the respect thing is just a fact of life and that I should just take it into high consideration, do the best I can do with what school I get into and not dwell on it more than necessary.

I told H that I would be applying to 8 schools potentially. H then asked why not 10-12?
He went on to say that many applied to that many schools. He said that many MBA grads won’t admit openly to how many schools they applied to unless specifically asked. He also said that people who are real serious about going to B-school apply to that many schools and he knows quite a few who did. I dropped my jaw at this point and told him that I needed to consider it think about it more. We discussed the issue of part-time and full time MBA. We concluded that it would not be a good idea for me to do part-time. Here were the reasons.

1)Difficulty in assimilating the information while working

2)Difficulty in creating a network and getting active with the school (Big issue for post-MBA job exposure)

3)Inability to do internships. THIS WAS BIG ISSUE FOR HIM and suggested that I not take this issue lightly. When going part-time, you can’t do internships period.

4)Being married and wanting to have kids, balancing work and school would be unrealistic in light of my priority trying to watch my kids grow up from infancy. I want to have kids soon. It would be a tremendous sacrifice and one that has lead to many divorces. I wonder if there are any published stats on this. In my next posting, I’ll talk about what was discussed regarding essays, life as a consultant (He works at a very prominent consulting firm) and GMAT.

More FMR updates
Aug 13, 2004
Added MBA Portal—The Japanese equivalent of the MBA League of Bloggers (MBA Resource)
Added R&B Consulting GMAT Prep Software—Adaptive GMAT CAT Exams—As far as I know, this is only 1 of 3 companies that have adaptive GMAT CAT’s (GMAT Resource)
America’s Scramble for Global Applicants –July 7, 2004 A slew of factors is causing a notable drop in overseas students at U.S. schools, prompting them to crank up their recruitment (MBA Article)<—Purchase successful MBA application essays


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