Friday, January 30, 2009

Wake Forest Welcome Package

It arrived! Woo! DHL picked it up from the Worrell Center yesterday and it was here (well, at my mom's house) this afternoon. It's pretty basic, nothing too crazy (they already gave me a travel coffee mug when I was there for my interview/visit). It has a very nice spiral-bound book of information on the school. More targeted info for CMC, financial aid, the area, etc. It also has a sizeable amount of information on living in Winston-Salem and the Piedmont/Triad area of North Carolina. As I lived there for almost three years, I'm pretty familiar with the area, but it was very nice to get it as its been over four years since I was last there.

I know Wake Forest-Babcock isn't the most well-known program out there, but it feels good to accomplish this. I know Wake Forest is a great fit for me and I'll be happy there. I'm still waiting on the rest of my decisions, but if I get dinged from the other schools, I won't hang my head in shame or think twice about attending.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Wake Forest Visit Recap

Gotta love 10-12 inches of snow falling in 24 hours. I love Ohio.

Early Saturday morning I woke up and made the 90 minute drive from Charlotte to Winston-Salem for Showcase Saturday and my Done-In-A-Day interview at Wake Forest. I gotta say, it felt odd to be back on campus, but in a very good way. It was like I had never left. Checking in was interesting, as there was no folder with my name on it! I was scheduled to attend the Seat At The Table event Friday evening but wasn't able to make it; talking to the AdCom apparently the miscommunication led to me name being removed. A quick bagel and orange juice later, we were ushered into a room to start the festivities.

First up, a welcome speech by the new dean, formerly the CEO and Chairman of PepsiCo, Steve Reinemund. He told us why he decided on coming to Wake Forest after retiring, his vision for the school, his background, etc. He opened it up to Q&A, and before you knew it we were thirty minutes behind schedule! I loved what he had to say in regards to the future of the program and I think it's on the right track to gain in prominence. Wake doesn't need to get better at what it does, it just needs to let people know how good it is.

After Dean Reinemund left, we had quick overviews with the AdCom, financial aid and career management center (CMC). These were very brief as we were running out of time. We then had a mock class, given by Kenny Herbst, marketing professor. Kenny is a former WFU basketball player (played with Tim Duncan) and he is awesome! I think his class sold most of the applicants on why Wake Forest rules. Very engaging, humorous, yet managed to foster some discussion amongst 30 or so wide-eyed and nervous applicants. We didn't want class to end, but had to keep moving on to other things.

We had a quick Q&A with current students, learning more about the program from the student perspective. After this, we picked up a boxed lunch and went into concentration-specific classrooms to learn more intimately about them. I was one of two guys that went into the marketing room and ate lunch with Kenny, a CMC guy devoted to marketing and a current marketing student. I liked what they had to say and the time went by too quickly. We learned just how receptive faculty are to their students. We had a quick tour (the Worrell Center isn't exactly up to par with other schools' MBA building, probably a big downside for some), then had time to relax before interviews.

Sixteen people were scheduled for Done-In-A-Day interviews. Essays are waived for those participating, though we are expected to answer them. Each interview lasts between 40 and 60 minutes with three people simultaneously. In my room I had two faculty and a CMC person. Some might find it odd that an AdCom wasn't present, but thing...faculty and students spend more time with actual students. They asked some tough questions but I felt I was prepared. Before I knew it, time was up. They said they'd start sending out status updates around 9PM. Prior to my interview I spent over an hour talking to some current students and other perspectives, just shooting the shit. It was awesome.

6:40PM, I get a call from an unknown number so I didn't answer it. I listen to the voicemail from Stacy, she says congrats and that she has more good news. She calls back a few minutes later and tells me I was awarded a Dean's Scholarship. Full-tuition scholarship, $10k stipend each year and my international trip taken care of. Awesome! I felt bad that my phone died in the middle of this conversation though! I was ecstatic and went celebrating afterwards! Woo!

Overall, I loved the visit and it'd be hard for another school to match that offer. Wake is a fairly unknown power, one I feel will climb the ranking soon.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Duke Visit Recap

I've calmed down a bit and gotten a tiny morsel of rest. Unfortunately, work isn't cooperating with me wanting to take it easy. I'm still high off my admittance though!

Wednesday, January 21st, I visited Duke's Fuqua school. Parking was a hassle, as the lot they told me to park in was closed, so I parked at a visitor's center far away and walked back. The guy checking students in said the lot was really open and gave me a pass to go back. Oh well. My interview was at 10AM with a second year student. We had a good conversation, nothing out of the norm. After I mentioned my work with the Humane Society, she asked me to educate her on shelter animals and why they're a good choice. It put me on the spot!

I had a break between my interview and lunch/tour, so I moved my car then went back to the building. There were other first year students there, just answering questions and shooting the breeze with other potential students. I'd say there were about 20 other people there. The group was pretty diverse and nice, I had a good time talking to them. Our tour started very late, as the student host never showed up. We were eventually led to the cafeteria, grabbed some food, then took an abreviated tour. I sat in on an operations core class after that. It was interesting, though as we hadn't read the case it was a bit over our heads. There also wasn't much discussion among students, mostly just answering direct questions.

Overall, I'd rate the facilities as amazing. The building is absolutely gorgeous; I could see myself sitting in the Fox Center doing work and drinking coffee. After class I headed back to Charlotte. Total driving time: 5 hours.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Admitted at Wake Forest

I'm way too tired to blog about my Duke visit or the whirlwind tour of Wake Forest. I've spent 24 hours in the car the past few days. I'll give details tomorrow. But, I got a formal acceptance call yesterday around 6:30. Further, I was offered a Dean's Scholarship. Essentially, full tuition, $10k stipend each year, and they'll pay for my trips abroad. Awesome deal, one that will surely complicate any future acceptances (no chance I get this deal from any other school!). I'm happy, excited, nervous, and tired all at the same time.

Let me just say this...having an admittance in my pocket makes me feel a thousand times better.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Very Tired

Just got back from Winston-Salem. Tuesday: 8 hours in the car. Wednesday: 5 hours in the car. Today: 3 hours in the car. Tomorrow: 8 hour drive home. Ugh. The good part is I've completed my visits to both Duke and Wake Forest. I will have write-ups for both once I get home and unwind a bit. The Done-In-A-Day experience was a good one, one others will hopefully enjoy hearing about!

Anyways, I'm off to let loose some steam. To all the people I met at Duke on Wednesday and Wake Forest today, good luck!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Carolina Bound

Tomorrow morning, I head off to North Carolina for the second time in 30 days or so. I'll drive to Charlotte from Cleveland on Tuesday, wake up early Wednesday morning and drive to Durham for an all-day visit to Duke (interview, class visit, tour, lunch with current students), then back to Charlotte. Thursday is my only free day. Friday I have a dinner for Wake Forest so I have to drive to Winston-Salem, then back. Saturday I wake up very early, drive to Winston-Salem, and do class visit/tour/lunch/reception/interview at Wake Forest. The bad news: that's a ton of driving. The good news: I will have a decision from Wake Forest that day. I'm looking forward to this experience, as it's fairly unique among MBA programs.

More bad news: the weather on my drive will be awful. Now, I've made this trip a thousand times over the years. Yet I have never had to drive through the mountains of southern West Virginia and Virginia during snow before. I'm definitely a little nervous. I'll be leaving earlier than I had originally planned to compensate. It figures, the time I want to visit, Durham is expecting a high of 20 degrees and an 80% chance of snow. Knowing North Carolina they'll shut down the state!

Even more bad news: OmneGirl won't be making the journey either. A work issue has come up and her vacation time was cancelled. I'm definitely bummed out that I have to go alone, and I know my brother's girlfriend was looking forward to having a female visitor for once.

I'll try and blog from the road. I'm very much looking forward to both visits. As I did Wake Forest for undergrad I'm very familiar. The Done-In-A-Day event is something I'll definitely give a full recap of, as I don't think anyone knows what it is really like. Until then, happy hunting (welcome back, BSG)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

My Wait List Strategy

The snow needs to stop. Seriously, it's getting ridiculous. Over 10 inches this past weekend, and it just keeps on comin'! Anyone wonder why most of my schools are in warm weather locations? Sheesh.

While I was at first upset then happy about landing on the WL for Georgetown, I have now come to terms with it. Last year, Georgetown waitlisted 300+ applicants and eventually offered admissions to 100+. That's a mighty fine ratio for someone in my position, factoring in those who took themselves off the WL to take a spot at another B-school. I had until February 1st to notify the Waiting List Administrator (such an official title); I sent in my acceptance notice at about 5:15PM!

So, now it's time to develop my strategy for getting off the waitlist. The status letter gave some options on what to send: 1) Updated GMAT score; 2) A third letter of recommendation; 3) An additional essay highlighting personal/professional changes/experiences since applying.

1) Updated GMAT: I don't think this is very necessary for me, for several reasons. I would need to submit this score by March 16th, leaving just about two months to study. I got a 680 the first time I took it, which is right inline with other admits/WL people. Marginally improving my score won't make a difference. If I retake it and get a 710, will that really make the difference? Also, this score will only apply to Georgetown. Is it worthwhile to spend the two months and $250 to marginally improve my chance? Not an efficient usage of time or money.

2) 3rd Letter of Recommendation: This is a definite. I have already spoken to my new manager (I got a new manager in August 2008) and he is all about helping me. I had my previous manager and another colleague write the first two. I've already put together a packet of information for him, and he said he could get it out the door either this Friday or early next week. Awesome!

3) Additional Essay: They provided almost no guidance on this one, in terms of length or format. Just a basic prompt of describing professional or personal changes or experiences. Well, since I applied back in November, I have been promoted and given a title, been put on a very select team to basically solve the ills of the department, been put in charge of training an additional team member, and survived a buyout. I also want to use this opportunity to reiterate why I want to go to Georgetown.

So, that's my strategy. I'm reaching out to people on the various clubs I'm interested in to gain more insight. I am also talking to an alumnus, the only person I know who went to a top 50 school. Hopefully these all pan out for me and I get an offer. I would like to know if offers for us on the WL go out on March 23rd, or anytime between now and then.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Waitlisted at Georgetown

When the calls started going out this afternoon and my phone was conspicuously silent, I knew it wasn't good. Shortly after 5PM, I get the status update email. I login, breathe, and click the link. Waitlisted. I had prepared myself for a ding, so I guess this is better than nothing. I'm really not sure what the likelihood of getting off the WL will be this year. I know Hairtwirler made it off the WL with a much-improved GMAT score. Maybe that's a possibility for me, though it's only two months to study. I've been promoted since I applied, so that will help, and I can do the third recommendation they suggest.

I was fearful of this decision. If I was rejected from Georgetown then odds were good that I'd be rejected from UCLA, UNC and Duke. Wake Forest remains my most likely shot at an MBA now, so I surely hope I knock it out of the park. I do wish Georgetown would provide some feedback but I understand why they can't.

Congratulations to all the Georgetown admits who got good news. Oddly enough, no one has reported a ding yet.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Not Dinged by UCLA

Shocker of the century! R1 decisions went out today (well, other than the early admits they sent out a month ago) and I wasn't dinged. Or accepted. Or waitlisted. It's official, my application was moved to round 2. It's good because I know I HAVE to be the first person to submit for R2, having submitted my application on October 9th. A rogue recommender ruined my R1 chances and submitted 20 days late. Now it's a whole new ballgame. Of course, knowing what I know now I'd probably change some things on my essays.

The bad news: I won't get my official ding until March 26th. For those of you keeping score at home, I'll have submitted my application almost SIX MONTHS prior to getting a decision. Talk about a waiting game. I have pretty much given up hope on UCLA as neither my GPA nor my GMAT is really up to par with the rest of the class. It would be nice, though, living the dream out in LA.

Congrats to those that made it into UCLA Anderson Class of 2011!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Duke Submitted

I hope everyone had a safe and happy New Years celebration. I enjoyed the festivities with friends and family and it was wonderful.

At 4:15PM EST I submitted my Duke-Fuqua application. Phew! This one came down to the wire as I kept editing my essays. I think I put together the best possible application and hope for the best. I have to give big thanks to Vitaly for giving me some pointers, it was nice to have someone look at them who has been through the process.

So, where do we go from here? My Duke visit/interview is January 21st and my Wake Forest visit/interview is January 23rd-24th. I've got basically two weeks to prepare. The good news is that all applications are submitted and out of my hands. It was a trying experience, and I'll write about it more in depth when I catch my breath.

I know more decisions are coming out in the next few weeks. UCLA notification is January 8th. I haven't heard anything since October, so either I was pushed to R2 like they said or I'll expect a big fat DING tomorrow. Fate will see! Best of luck all!