A new year with new schools to add to my applications

new year 2014Happy new year everyone!

It was a crazy winter holiday–a real emotional rollercoaster. I think my mind flip-flopped a zillion times during the last two weeks of December…one second I was imagining life in Evanston…the next second I was imagining life at the same exact spot I am now, sans MBA…and the next second I was imagining life in LA as a student. A big “thank you” to everyone who gave me their two cents about what schools to add to my list. After some thinking, I decided to add Fuqua and Ross to my round 2 applications. And actually, that decision was not a difficult one to make. I’m going to say something weird, now: There really aren’t that many business schools to pick from!

If you’re going for some level of prestige/recognition (which I am; it’s a hard habit to break), there isn’t much beyond the top 20 or maybe 25 schools to look at. At this point, I also know that my chances for a top 5 school are basically zero, and my chances for the top 10 are slim. Stanford and Berkeley were the two reaches I included in round 1, and seeing that I was denied without interview from GSB and it’s looking VERY likely that I’m going to be denied without interview from Haas, too, I really needed to focus on schools with higher admit rates (at least solidly in the mid-20% range). After I sprinkled in my geographic limitations, it really came down to Tuck, Fuqua and Ross. Darden was another possibility, but I didn’t really consider them mostly because I don’t know a single thing about Virginia and Charlottesville…and I didn’t have the time to find out.

Tuck was really calling out to me (especially its location), but I ultimately decided it would be a waste of effort, time and money to apply. As I mentioned previously, Tuck all but says out loud that interviewing on campus is mandatory, and I don’t have that ability. Also, its 21% admit rate didn’t bode well for me. My round 1 apps included all my dream schools: GSB, Haas, SOM. For me, the point of adding apps to round 2 was to get more actual admission offers, not to keep hoping for a dream. So, I’m thinking along similar lines to what Kris2332 said about Ross–“I also like that it’s a top program, but you feel like you may actually have a chance to get in ya know.” I need solid chances of admission. Or, at least as solid as I’m willing to get. Ross has a 34% admit rate and Fuqua has a 26% admit rate, so they seem possible. Possible.

I submitted my Michigan app yesterday. One of my longtime friends got his MBA there, so fodder for essays was easy to come by. I still need to polish up my Duke essays, though, especially the massive “Why Duke?” one. There’s lots of reasons why, but it’s tough to not make it sound like a disjointed laundry list instead of a cohesive essay.

Business school, ethics and social responsibility

minimal-desktop-wallpaper-be-goodI want to attend a business school that prioritizes ethics and social responsibility. I knew this was true even before I decided to apply to bschool, really, but now that I’m in the thick of the process, its importance is only increasing. As I start thinking about the possibility of working with large sums of money and pondering marketing segmentation and managerial decision making, the social implications just keep screaming out at me. I want to know that the school I attend and the institution/entity/student body I associate myself with is one of integrity. I  want it to be a given that we’re not functioning in a vacuum and that the decisions we make for our own lives and careers have an affect on the rest of the world, and we need to take responsibility. And I don’t want this just for my education and my future career–I also want to know that whatever school I end up contributing to and supporting is ultimately doing good work and producing grads with nuanced understanding of social issues as it pertains to business. This is probably a crazy high hope, but I have it anyway.

One of the questions I asked at every school’s info session I attended was, “Is some kind of business ethics course mandatory for all students?” Some of the schools I’m applying to said “Yes” to this question, and those that said no sank a bit in my personal ranking list.

Of the schools I’m applying to, the following require all students to complete a business ethics/social responsibility course:

  • Stanford GSB: Ethics in Management (there’s also this)
  • Berkeley Haas: Ethics and Responsibility in Business
  • Yale SOM: It seems like every course at Yale includes the discussion of ethics and social responsibility due to its integrated curriculum. The fact that their website dares to ask, “As a business leader, how should you address severe societal inequities?” is more than enough for me.

These schools do not include an ethics course in their core curriculum, but do offer ethics courses as electives:

  • Northwestern Kellogg: Ethics and Executive Leadership
  • UCLA Anderson: Leadership and Ethics
  • Cornell Johnson: A Leadership & Ethics breadth concentration. The link on their website to their course descriptions is broken, but I hope I can safely assume that a Leadership & Ethics concentration involves the completion of at least one course in ethics.

Not too much:

  • USC Marshall: They do have 2-3 classes that mention ethics in the course description, but that was just a single component of a general management/leadership course. I’m only counting courses that are fully devoted to discussing ethics and their relevance to business here.

The overall breakdown isn’t too surprising just from the schools’ reputations. It’s also not too surprising that Stanford, Berkeley and Yale are currently at the top of my wish list.

Life back to normal (kind of)

ImageThis entire business school application process–studying for/taking the GMAT, choosing schools to apply to, completing applications–has basically taken over my life for the past six months, and I have been unable to do anything else. I’ve neglected dirty dishes, laundry grew in piles and the floors went way too long between vacuuming sessions. But now that all my round 1 apps have been submitted, life has been (somewhat) returning to normal! I’m finally able to empty the dishwasher, catch up on my volunteer work and have some fun. I’m bringing the car in for an overdue repair this weekend along with checking out a couple movies at the AFI Film Festival. And unlike many of my fellow applicants, it seems, I’m not feeling stressed about my already-submitted apps. I was super stressed out before I got my Yale SOM interview invite, but now that I know I have *some* chance of attending business school next year, I’ve completely relaxed. It’s actually tempting to just put the entire thing out of my head…I have to remind myself that I still need to do work, like prepare for my interviews (and, oh yeah, I still have two more apps to go!).

No word from Stanford or Berkeley re: interviews yet. I’ll definitely be disappointed if I don’t get an invite from Berkeley. Of all the applications I completed, I thought the way Berkeley’s essays were structured and the ample opportunities they gave to share additional info really provided the most comprehensive view of me as an applicant. So if I don’t hear from them, I can’t blame an annoying application structure for it! I guess I’d take it a bit personally if I don’t get an interview invite. Haas’ four defining principles really speak to me, too, and I think the school could be a fantastic fit for me. And I’ve always had a thing for Berkeley. I almost decided to attend Berkeley for undergrad, but decided to go with a traditional Ivy instead. I don’t regret making that decision, but I still love Berkeley.

Next week I’ll have my Kellogg interview first followed by Anderson. My interview with Yale should be done the week after. I’m generally excited to put a face on this whole process–everything has felt pretty cold and impersonal so far, so it will be satisfying to interact with someone directly!