UCLA Anderson Class Visits

uclaanderson_475x300I’ve sat in on a couple MBA classes at UCLA Anderson so far, and I have to say that they were exactly what I imagined business school courses to be like. Exactly. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. On one hand, I’m glad that I have a good idea of what I’m getting myself into. On the other hand, I’m kind of sad that I wasn’t completely blown away by the experience. But maybe my expectations are too high. I’m really a critic, at heart.

And that’s one aspect of bschool that was so shocking to me when I started this whole process. It amazes me how much MBA students help each other out! I grew up in a pretty competitive and very critical environment, and I am not used to the idea that someone will just support you without really even knowing you or your work. I tend to believe that someone’s really gotta prove their brilliance to me before I stick my neck out for them. But if they do, I’ll stick my neck out FAR. I want my endorsements to really mean something. And if I endorse everyone, does it even count? If I was a teacher, I’d be that asshole one you had in high school who refused to write a rec letter for you because you were average. (Did you not have this teacher? I did. He told all the seniors to not even bother asking him for college recs and that he only recommends 3 students each year. He would inform those 3 kids directly if they were chosen. Everyone else was shit out of luck and had to find someone else to write their recs. I was not among the chosen, but I sure wished I was! I bet his letters were fantastic.)

But I am definitely now realizing that being so critical has little value. Everyone  wants to hear encouraging, positive things all the time and feel good about themselves. It’s very alien to me, because that is not the world that I grew up in. In my world, everything you did was not good enough no matter how hard you tried. But most people are satisficers, and I’m a pretty extreme maximizer. And trying to push satisficers toward maximizing just makes everyone feel bad and usually doesn’t result in any great benefit. There are clear drawbacks to maximizing, and I’m working on changing that. Going to bschool will play a big part in that change.

Anyway, back to the Anderson class visits. There’s a lot of construction going on in the buildings, but the facilities seemed relatively new and nicely maintained. The classes felt a bit on the large side to me (I think there’s around 70 students in a cohort), but not so big that discussion was hindered. It did feel pretty crowded in general (maybe from the construction?). My impression of Anderson was just okay before, but visiting definitely improved my opinion. And UCLA overall is a really beautiful campus, though it doesn’t really seem like the MBA students really venture beyond their own buildings. The students themselves were pretty great and diverse, though, which is a huge plus for me. They all had crazy different backgrounds and I saw a pretty wide age range. There was also a good amount of geographic diversity. Nice.

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Rounds, rounds, rounds

merry-go-round

round ‘n round we go

My initial plan was to submit all seven of my applications during Round 1. But my best laid plans were thwarted by Cornell. Then they were thwarted again by USC. But I’m still doing round 1 for the other five, even though my schedule was crazy tight for Round 1 deadlines (I just took the GMAT for the first and only time less than two months ago!). My reasons are as follows:

First, and most important of all, I wanted to get this whole thing OVER WITH. I knew if I drew out the application process a couple months longer I’d just agonize over small details and drive myself crazy. Plus, I’d probably just sit around on my ass for the first few weeks and not really work on my apps until there wasn’t much time left anyway.

Secondly, the appeal of possibly knowing where my life was heading by the end of the calendar year was too much to resist. I want to know where I’ll be in 2014 NOW.

And then there’s the whole your-chances-are-better-in-the-first-round thing. Even though some of my schools explicitly say that there is no difference in competition between Rounds 1 and 2, I still don’t quite believe them. And, for me, this is a no-brainer. If you know your chances are better now, just do it now!! Yeah, there’s that whole “submit your application when its strongest” thing, but I don’t think another two months will make that much of a difference for me.

So I charted out my deadlines on a spreadsheet a few weeks ago and realized–with horror–that Cornell has an insanely early deposit deadline for Round 1 decisions. They give you literally less than one month to decide whether to commit your MBA future to them or not. And that Round 1 deposit deadline is earlier than some other schools’ Round 1 decision release dates. So if I did Round 1 at Cornell and if I got admitted, I’d have to pony up a $1,500 deposit fee to save my space while I waited for Berkeley and UCLA to release their decisions. And while I’d probably pick Cornell over UCLA at this current moment (and I might totally change my mind later), I don’t want to be in that kind of sticky situation. So Cornell got pushed to Round 2.

Then USC raised its ugly head (No no, your head isn’t ugly, USC. Your head is really pretty! Can I be admitted now?). It’s probably my fault, though. When I was creating my spreadsheet in mid-August, USC hadn’t updated its deadlines for the 2013-14 application cycle yet. Its website still had 2012-2013 deadlines on it. I figured that the dates would probably be the same this year, and typed down what the deadline was for round 1 in 2012: November 1. I happened to check in on the site again just a few days ago and saw that Round 1 does not end on November 1st this year, but October 15 instead. A two-week difference isn’t that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things, but it does make a huge difference in my insanely tight schedule. Northwestern and Berkeley both have October 16 deadlines, and I couldn’t fathom the idea of squeezing in another entire application at the same time. I also saw that USC’s website now says the second round is when “Priority consideration for merit-based scholarships [is] given to both international and domestic students with completed applications“, so I’m probably better off anyway.

So here are my deadlines, in all their glory:

  • Yale, round 1: Was due on Sept 25. I submitted everything already except for those damned video interview questions, which I will do this weekend and write about later.
  • Stanford, round 1: Due Oct 2. Their website explicitly says applying in round 1 is advantageous. I’ll be submitting this app this weekend, also.
  • Berkeley, round 1: Oct 16
  • Northwestern, round 1: Oct 16
  • UCLA Anderson, round 1: Oct 22
  • Cornell, round 2: December 4
  • USC, round 2: January 10, 2014