Welcome to the Kenan-Flagler Family

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One day ahead of the admissions deadline, I received a phone call from a Kenan-Flagler admissions team member welcoming me to the family. Unfortunately I was out on a trail walk and didn’t have my phone with me and missed the call. I couldn’t believe the admissions team was taking time on a Sunday to personally call admitted students. This personal touch meant a lot to me and further proved the family-like culture at Kenan-Flagler.

I also received an email today, on the admissions deadline, directing me to the student portal where the admission decision was posted. For once I wasn’t holding my breath while the web page loaded. The portal directed me to a newly admitted students’ website with information about the program and MBA Experience Weekend (aka Welcome Weekend). I was also invited to join a private Facebook group for admitted students. All of the information within these sites is so helpful. I’ve done my research and visited Chapel Hill a few times, but advice from current students is invaluable. Within the Facebook group admitted students can introduce themselves and set up meet ups in their hometown. It’s also a way for students to find roommates. Current students and a few admissions team members are also present within the group. They have been so willing to answer any of our questions.

There are a plethora of events scheduled throughout the Experience Weekend. From financial aid sessions to field day events, the Kenan-Flagler team has planned it all. These weekends are a great opportunity to meet future classmates, learn even more about the school, and finalize decisions. I was told 90% of the students who attended Experience Weekend last year ended up accepting their admission offer. During this weekend it’s also a great time to further explore the surrounding area and view housing options. I am definitely going to line up some apartments to view throughout the weekend. I’ve heard it’s best to secure housing pretty shortly after Experience Weekend if you want a good selection of options. Since I completed my interview during the Women’s Weekend at Kenan-Flagler, I haven’t been to Chapel Hill since the fall. I’m looking forward to heading back to NC in a few weeks!

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March Madness

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Although most of the country thinks of basketball when they hear March Madness, there’s another type of March Madness taking place right now. For the round two MBA applicants it’s go time. Most programs release admissions decisions during the month of March. The waiting game is mostly over.

For me it seems like time is passing by so slowly. I’ve never wanted the time to go by so quickly. Regardless of the decision, I just want to know. Especially since I will have to make a decision pretty quickly. Most programs require students to submit their deposit, which is the official acceptance, in April or May.

Most programs do a great job of providing admitted students with additional information in an effort to help them with their decision. Current students and alumni provide admitted students with their perspective of the program through phone calls, coffee chats, and emails. Admitted students receive access to a portal of information. Social media is also a new factor to allow admitted students to communicate. There are admitted students weekends at which students and their partners can attend to explore the area and learn more about the program. It also gives the programs a chance to show off and encourage students to officially accept admission to their program. At this point, students may have a few offers on the table.

Well, my fingers will be permanently crossed this month. Wish me luck!

Fuqua Weekend Day Two

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The day started with a Career Management Information Session focusing on opportunities in the technology industry. Residing in the Research Triangle Park, Duke is a great place for those interested in tech.

Fuqua also offers opportunities for entrepreneurs such as the Start Up Challenge, Center for Advanced Social Entrepreneurship, and the Fuqua Tech Academy.

There are great resources available through the Career Center. If a company does not traditionally recruit on campus, the Center tries to connect students with the company by utilizing alumni relations. It was nice to hear the Career Center sometimes even helps spouses of MBA students find jobs in the area if they had to relocate.

Here are some quick stats about the 2014 Fuqua alumni.

Average salary $114k (not including bonuses)

Career field by function as a percent of 2014 grads:

Marketing: 21%

Finance: 24%

Strategy: 34%

Management: 16%

Next I attended a Curriculum Panel session led by students. The Fuqua Curriculum is a bit different than other MBA programs. Instead of having no classes on Fridays like most MBA programs, Fuqua students do not have classes on Wednesdays. It’s not a day off though. Club meetings and recruiting events fill up students Wednesday schedules. Apparently, more students stick around on the weekend since they don’t have a 3 day weekend “off.”

In an effort to prepare students for their internship, Fuqua requires all core classes to be completed very early on in the program. Below is an example of the first part of the program curriculum.

Global Institute –Introductory to MBA, 4 weeks

Fall I –core classes, 6 weeks

Fall II –core classes, 6 weeks

Spring I –final core class, rest are electives, 6 weeks

Spring II – electives, 6 weeks

Fuqua students do not receive exact grades on a 4.0 scale. Instead they receive a level of passing or not passing. For example a student may receive a “high passing” status which is somewhat equivalent to a 3.5 grade. Grades are disclosed, which was a decision the students helped make.

After the curriculum session, I attended an information session held by the Partners Club. The club provides opportunities for friendship and camaraderie for the partners of the students. The partners also provided a lot of useful information about places to live in the area. Immediately following this session we were taken on a tour of the school that ended with lunch.

Following lunch I attended a Student Panel session during which the current students answered questions about anything and everything. It was helpful to learn more about the student clubs and roles available within them. I participated in several student clubs during my undergrad and thought it was an irreplaceable learning experience. If accepted to Duke I hope to participate in the AWIB, MBAA, Board Fellows, Marketing Club and of course the Beer Club.

The last session of the day was the Diversity Panel. I enjoyed hearing about different club opportunities to make an impact on campus. AWIB recently administered a survey and compared the results across male and female participants. Female students appeared to have a different perspective and level of acceptance on campus. After the study was analyzed a town hall meeting was called to further investigate and determine ways to improve the experience for females. I found this to be an especially empowering example of the Fuqua culture.

Finally I had my interview at 4PM that day. It was a pretty casual interview with a second year student. There were only two questions that were a bit unexpected. Throughout the interview and the entire weekend, everyone was extremely welcoming and friendly. I must say it was a great weekend which ultimately left a great impression of the Fuqua program.

The Fuqua Experience

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I am spending the weekend in Durham, NC to visit Duke and the Fuqua School of Business to learn more about the MBA program. I woke up at 3AM to catch an early flight. By the time I landed in NC I was able to work from “home” for the day and attend Fuqua activities in the evening.

I had the opportunity to attend two MBA classes. The first was a computer science class that prepared students to use Excel performance tools while on the job. The class was similar to “office hours” in the sense that the class was optional to attend. The professor provided additional help and direction. It was really nice to see this side of things. Sometimes prospective students think grad school is a completely cut throat environment where you fend for yourself. From what I’ve seen, this is not the case. Both the students and faculty have been nothing but supportive to the students and want them to succeed.

The second class was a marketing research section. It was more of a lecture format with approximately 70 students in attendance. It seemed to be similar to the “typical class.”

After the classes, a group of prospective students went to Fuqua Friday. It’s an event held every week for the students and their families to attend. During this event, students and their families get to relax and bond over food and drinks. The event was very well attended this week. There were several current students who were kind enough to spend time with me and some other prospective students during their Friday night off. They were not “buddies” assigned to us. They simply saw us and shared their thoughts and experiences with us. The students were extremely welcoming and answered all of our questions. I’ve found speaking with current students is invaluable during school trips. They help to provide a different level of insight into the school.

My experience with Fuqua so far has exceeded my expectations. I agree with the slogan, Fuqua is “rethinking the boundaries of business school.” I am looking forward to my fun filled busy day at Fuqua tomorrow!

A Goal is a Dream with a Deadline

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At times this MBA journey has challenged me. It hasn’t been an easy path. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never wanted to give up and I’ve never questioned my decision to apply for grad school. But, if you haven’t started your journey, please realize this is not an easy process.

I truly believe there’s no personal growth if your goals are handed to you. Throughout this journey so far I’ve learned a lot and grown from the experience.

I’m happy to say the hard work is paying off in other ways. I’ve received an invitation to interview at 4 out of the 5 schools I’ve applied to. I am beyond elated for this opportunity.

I also realize there is a lot of work to be done. Several schools have seen an increase in applicants this year. I have been reading MBA books in an effort to prepare for my interviews. In addition to finalizing research on individual schools, I’ve also been regularly reading MBA blogs. Use caution when subscribing. Although most blogs have a lot of great content and user generated discussions, some are a bit misleading. Here are a few independent blogs I have been frequenting:

http://blog.clearadmit.com/

http://poetsandquants.com/category/mba-blogs/

Some school programs have their own blogs too. In addition to events and updates, there are tips that have helped throughout the application process.

https://blogs.fuqua.duke.edu/duke-mba/

https://michiganross.umich.edu/admissions-blog

Both programs and current students claim the interview is usually an “open conversation” instead of a formal interview. I have read some horror stories though about some grad school interviews. Some of the questions seem more difficult than the questions Google asks during interviews. We’ll see what happens. In the meantime I’m going to keep researching!

Things are Looking up with an Invite from Tepper

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I was so excited to receive an invite to interview with Tepper! I visited Pittsburgh this summer and am looking forward to going back to interview. My interview and travel plans are booked. Now it’s time to begin to prepare!

Staying Organized

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I am heading into the final preparation time before submitting my MBA applications. Luckily I started early and have given myself ample time to apply. In the Summer I was consistently checking program websites to see when the essay questions would be shared. Most programs updated their 2015 application cycle information in August. In an effort to keep organized, I created a Google doc to track information and progress.

I have a row for each program I have explored. After eliminating programs from my list I’ve hid the information to avoid clutter. The columns provide information such as links to key areas within the websites, MBA profile information, and special concentration offerings. I’ve also tracked the basic information such as deadlines, event information, and financial aid offerings.

The doc has helped reduce the amount of times I’ve needed to double check a date on a website. It’s also helped me create a schedule and keep me on track. I highly suggest creating something similar to ensure you don’t miss an application deadline.

I am probably going to refrain from blogging for awhile to ensure I stay focused. But I will definitely recap all of my experiences once I’ve finished my apps.