Thursday, February 26, 2009

Advice From

I didn't even realize it until today but took my current situation and offered their advice, not only to myself but to others in similar situations. In this admissions season I know there are others who must weigh offers between two very different schools, and they give good insight. Check it out HERE.

Changing The Way Admissions Works

Having gone through three admissions processes (applying for undergrad, applying to transfer undergrad schools and now MBA admissions) I know the pain it causes those applying and the repetitive and competitive nature for the schools involved. Everyone wants the best students possible; more than that, with certain sects they need not just the best they can get, but better than a competing school. The MBA example of this is Harvard vs. Stanford. Obviously each school can accept the top kids, but they are also very much aware of what the other is doing.

Admissions is a changing environment. It used to be stats, stats and stats. SAT/ACT, LSAT and GMAT/GRE along with your GPA could define your range of possible schools. Now, it seems the tide is turning. B-schools have started accepting the GRE and focusing on a more holistic approach outside the numbers. Some undergraduate programs have stopped requiring an ACT/SAT score. My alma mater (and future B-school) Wake Forest University was the first top 30 school to stop this requirement. There is a growing trend to look at the person and not just the numbers. Anyone can get a 700 GMAT and a 3.0 GPA. What makes you different is more important.

Wake Forest is hosting a long meeting on the changing admissions process, specifically for undergrad. Distinguished schools such as Harvard, Texas and UVA are participating. The goal is to make higher, elite education more accessible to everyone. All students should have a realistic opportunity of attending these schools, not just those with ultra-high SAT scores or grinders who got 760s on the GMAT. I encourage everyone to check out the website HERE.

Could you imagine an admissions world where Stanford didn't care about your GMAT score?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Mardi Gras!

Ah, good ol' Mardi Gras! Fat Tuesday was usually a fun day back when I lived in New Orleans. I remember staying uptown for the parades and just enjoying myself with other people. Downtown was a different story completely! I hope everyone has a fun time wherever you celebrate. And for those of you in the Crescent City for the first time, remember: There ain't no place to pee on Mardi Gras day!

On the MBA front, nothing new to report from other schools. Hope has completely evaporated for an interview invite at UCLA, but that was to be expected. The Duke notification date is slowly creeping up; I do hope we get word prior to Monday. I know R1 decisions went out on the Friday before the date. Maybe we'll all get lucky!

I RSVP'd for Scholar's Weekend at Wake Forest. I'm working with the travel agent to determine the best flight to Greensboro. Gotta love that this is all paid for by the university! They'll also cover my costs to attend Red Carpet Weekend in April. One thing I'm liking about Babcock is the amount of communication between the school and me. Since getting accepted, I've had students call me and message me on Facebook, the Dean has called, I've gotten an email from a professor. I keep getting letters saying how much they want me to come. It really makes me feel like they're saying "We want you!" instead of "You may not be good enough, but I guess we'll let you in anyway."

Vegas dates are set. July 8th-12th, I found a flight and hotel for under $415, which is awesome. Can't wait!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Is Winter Over?

The worst part about winter in northern Ohio is the sense of false hope it can give you. Just when you think it's nearing an end and warmer temperatures are coming, we get socked with a foot of snow. This morning my commute took over two hours (normally 45 minutes) and the walk from the car to the office was brutal. One can easily see why I chose the schools I did.

I got my formal invitations for Scholar's Weekend and Red Carpet Weekend at Wake Forest. Scholar's Weekend is for students receiving one of the big scholarships; it's a chance to learn more about the school, interact with other recipients and people, all on WFU's dime. They're covering airfare, hotel, shuttles and food. Sounds like a good time! The invitation came in the form of a call from the Dean. But I have to ask, why call at 10PM at night?

Red Carpet Weekend is the admitted students weekend, and falls a month after Scholar's Weekend. I was given a voucher for free airfare as I live some distance away (more than a five hour drive). Not bad, two visits in the span of just over a month, all for free.

I'm looking forward to these, as well as final decisions from the rest of my schools. Meanwhile, I keep plotting my finances for the next few months (it'd be easier if my roommate had paid me anything since September!) and how much debt I can get rid of. I also started planning a Vegas trip for early July. Prices for airfare and hotel are under $500 for a five-day trip, which is excellent. 138 days to go!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

General Updates and Thoughts

I apologize, this may be a post that crosses many subjects...

Having been waitlisted at two schools, with one admit and two more decisions pending, I'm starting to wonder about choices and decisions. UNC and Georgetown will notify me of my updated stats (either Admit, Deny or Remain on WL) on March 23rd. Duke notification is March 9th. My UCLA ding comes March 26th. My Wake Forest decision must be made by April 1st. Here's the quandry: If I get accepted to UNC or Georgetown, I won't know about scholarships (if there are even any at that point) until after my decision is due to Wake Forest. Is the full ride worth passing on UNC or Georgetown? Does leaving school with zero debt mean more than possibly better career prospects? All things to consider...

I think I've settled on a final date to quit my job, baring something else happening (buyouts being offered, getting laid off, etc.). June 30th will be my last day (145 days away!) and it can't come soon enough. The environment at work has been pretty bad given the state of the new company and the economy. 6k jobs will be gone pretty soon, and there's no indication where they'll come from. I plan on moving to my new place in early August, giving myself the month of July to relax. I've decided I want to take a trip somewhere. I may have company but there's a good chance I'll be going alone. Any thoughts on where to go for a week, spending around $1k?

Other than that, it's pretty much Business As Usual. The Dean at Wake Forest called me last night to invite me to Scholars Weekend, a school-funded event that brings together the top scholarship perspective students. It sounds like a good time and I look forward to meeting some fellow admits there.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Waitlisted at UNC

Another day, another waitlist. Checked my status when I had a free moment and UNC has offered me a spot on the waitlist. They will evaluate me with the other waitlisters and R3 applicants with notification coming on March 23rd, the same day as Georgetown's notification.

This is putting me in a difficult spot, though. First, I have to let Wake Forest know by April 1st if I'm accepting. If I get in to any other school, I'll have a week to figure it out. There likely won't be any scholarship money left either, so now the question will become "Is a full-ride to Wake Forest better than accepted at another school with no money?" This is frustrating having to wait so long.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Is Now The Time For An MBA?

This is a question that gets thrown around quite a bit, what with the daily news reports of the poor job market and dwindling possibilities. Business Week has posted a few stories about the difficulties with recruitment in the current economic environment, and each school has updated both current students and perpectives on the state of employment.

Now, I came across THIS thread on the Business Week Forums (they are the devil, aren't they?), where a current student at a top-7 school laments his decision to attend, given what he gave up to attend. This thread, although completely crazy, brings up some good questions.

According to them, unless you're attending Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Chicago, Kellog or MIT you might as well not go. If you aren't going into a high-profile position at a brand-name company (ie, McKinsey, Bain, etc.) you might as well not go. Only those top six schools get job offers, all other schools are screwed. If you are attempting to switch to a new career, you might as well not go.

Personally, I find this ridiculous. I'm not after one of those positions. I don't care if I work for one of those companies. I'm not after a $200k salary. No, I'm not enrolling at a top six school. Yes, I am attempting to switch careers. No, I'm not kept up at night wondering if it'll all be worth it. I *know* it'll be worth it. For me.

I'm not going to B-school to "hide from the economy." I started planning this well before markets tanked and banks started crapping on themselves. I applied to zero M7 schools. I want to better myself, increase my network and life experiences, learn some new skills, get a better job. If I get the dead-center average for my target profession, I'm still doubling my current salary. I've never gotten to study abroad; now I can. There are a thousand reasons why I want to get my MBA, and I'll be damned if I let a few cautious stories scare me. Sure, it may be tough, but it'll make it more rewarding.

Sometimes I think people get hung up on names. Do you mean to tell me that the only way to make an MBA worthwhile is to go to Harvard or Chicago and work for McKinsey or Goldman Sachs? I'm sorry, I'm not picking up what you're putting down. I've got my reasons and I'm perfectly content with it.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Long and Quiet Time

Boy, the MBA blogosphere sure is quiet these days, especially on the applicant front. Where is everyone? It seems before the new year I could check Hella's list and always see an update. Now it's almost always just Clear Admit or Accepted and maybe another blogger. Wake up people! This is the time to talk things through, make some decisions, vent frustrations. I know waiting stinks, but that's no reason to go silent! I rely on you!

I've started formulating what I want to say in my Georgetown waitlist letter. Accepted had a good three-part idea. First, write about what you've done since applying. Then, address a possible weakness. Finally, reaffirm your fit. Sounds like a very solid plan and I can certainly touch on all three points. I already have my manager working on a recommendation for me. March 23rd is just so far away though. And without significant scholarship money I don't know if Georgetown will ever happen.

UNC decision is coming up next Monday. Wee!