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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Great News from Goizueta

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I’m beyond excited to be admitted to the full-time MBA program at Goizueta. I interviewed about a week or so ago and already heard back about the decision. It was so nice not to have to wait too long. Although time is flying by, I still just can’t wait to find out about all the other admission decisions so I can make my ultimate decision.

Every school delivers the admission decision in different formats. I have heard surprisingly most admission decisions are shared later in the day. Today I decided I was going to check the application portal before work just in case the decision was posted. I actually went to the financial area of the portal first and saw the deposit deadlines were newly listed in this area. Beginning to get hopeful, I opened the admission decision letter and found out I was accepted. Later in the day an admissions team member gave me a personal phone call and shared even better news. I was being offered a partial tuition merit scholarship.

This is my first acceptance and it doesn’t even seem real. Everything I have been working so hard for over the past year and half has proved to be worth it. There were many nights when I stayed in to work on applications or study for the GMAT when my friends went out. The application, test, and travel expenses are also proving to have a ROI.

I’ve heard many stories about first time applicants not getting into any schools during their first round of applications. Often they re-evaluate their application and are able to get into a few schools the second year.

I began my journey with a list of about 15 schools. Most students apply to 3-6 programs. The time and investment for each application is significant so students limit the amount of applications they submit. And part of this process is about knowing what you want and determining which schools can get you there. I narrowed the list down to 5 schools for my initial application round. I also had backup schools I would have applied to in the next round if I did not get accepted to any of the 5 schools I selected. Luckily I won’t have to move onto the second list of schools. When I started the applications I researched the schools and decided I’d be happy to join any of the 5 programs I selected. I must say, Atlanta weather sounds pretty good right now!

My Final Round 2 Interview

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Well, I’ve had a busy month! In February I traveled to interview and visit three MBA programs. Earlier in the month I also went to Florida on vacation. This weekend I completed my final round two interview. Unfortunately I visited Goizueta during a break so there weren’t a lot of activities to partake in. I flew in on Friday morning and worked from the hotel. If you are looking for a place to stay in Atlanta, I highly recommend the Emory Conference hotel. I felt like I was visiting an up north lodge. It was surrounded by trails and had a warm cottage feeling. Just a short walk away was a street with restaurants and shops. Emory was basically located across the street next to the CDC. Emory has one of the most beautiful college campuses. Most of the buildings are detailed with old architecture filled with character. Other buildings on Emory’s campus are extremely modern in design.

On Saturday morning I had the pleasure of visiting an old friend who lives in the area. She recently moved to Atlanta and it’s been the perfect place to grow a family. One of the benefits is definitely the weather. It was about 50 degrees, but coming from a Michigan winter it felt like it was 80 degrees in Atlanta.

Saturday afternoon I enjoyed a student led tour of Emory. The student was very passionate about her experience with Goizueta. Her husband graduated from the program a few years ago and both have been pleased with their experience. The student was also quite honest and confirmed the horrible Atlanta traffic stories. She also mentioned during the first semester she sometimes was at the school until 3AM working on projects or studying for an exam. I have heard similar stories at other campuses. Students complete all but one core class during their first semester at Goizueta. During this time the students are also recruiting so it becomes a very busy time of year. I’m sure it’s all worth it in the end.

A 2014 alumni interviewed me. Again this interview was pretty typical for what I have seen so far. For some reason I don’t feel like this was my best interview. Although I think we connected, there were a few answers I wish I had changed. He asked me what else do I want the admissions committee to know and I gave a relatively vague answer instead of bringing up community services experiences. That was an area of my resume we hadn’t gotten to. During another question he asked me about my biggest work accomplishment and what portions of that experience did I actually manage. Although the example I gave was a meaningful one, I don’t know if I explained it very well. Sometimes I find myself getting too much into the details of the experience instead of giving a quick overview and reinforcing the points of the story. During every story I’ve been told you should provide an overview, background knowledge, ensure you clearly define the main points, and then explain the learnings or outcome. I hope my interview was still insightful as to why I am a good candidate for Goizueta.

Although there weren’t a lot of activities taking place this weekend at Emory, I had the opportunity to exchange emails and phone calls with current students. They were all very responsive and willing to answer any questions I had. The students shared useful insights about the program and life in Atlanta. Their passion makes me even more enthused about the possibility of joining Goizueta. Luckily I’ll hear back this week about the admissions decision. Wish me luck!

The Fuqua Offerings

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Unfortunately I was not able to attend Duke’s Women’s Weekend. I was very disappointed because it looked like a great event. I had a really important presentation at work and couldn’t get away. Luckily, I was able to make a visit earlier this year. While visiting I spoke to an admissions team member who answered many of my questions about the program. He provided a great perspective about the international opportunities offered. I am interested in quite a few of them! If admitted, I am unsure how I’m going to narrow down my options. One of my favorite offerings is the GATE program. With the GATE program students learn about business practices and the culture of the region they later travel to. Although some of the treks from other programs sound like fun trips, the GATE program offers a more comprehensive experience. I have been fortunate to have international experience with several of my jobs, but am seeking additional experiences.

Later in my career I want to pursue a leadership role at a nonprofit. Although I am involved with several nonprofits now at a volunteer level, I want to contribute in a larger way in the future. The Fuqua program at Duke offers a program called Fuqua on Board which allows students to join the board of a nonprofit for a term. A lot of the fellow prospective students at the events I’ve attended are interested in working in the nonprofit sector. This offering might be the experience you’re looking for. Read on for additional information: http://www.caseatduke.org/mba/fuquaonboard/

Waiting Game

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Well I’ve officially submitted my applications for Women’s Weekends at Duke, UNC, and U of M. Now I just have to play the waiting game. I really didn’t expect to nervous about this. I’ve been finding myself constantly checking my email. It’s just a weekend event, not actual admission to the program. Regardless, although admissions teams say it isn’t true, I would expect admission to this event to be somewhat of an indicator of your hopes of getting into the MBA program.

Maybe not though. The school has to fund the event and pay for things such as hotel, food and some transportation costs. They probably can’t do it for every applicant.

I also wonder, does the school or the prospective student get the most out of this experience. Clearly it’s in part a recruiting tool for the school. And for the student it’s somewhat of an informal interview.

It seems like the format of most of these weekends is broken into two sections. One day is dedicated to more of an admissions information day, and the other is a leadership conference that’s not limited to prospective students. I’m equally excited about both days…if I get in. I will keep you posted.

Weekend Visits

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I have been looking into visiting some of the schools I’m interested in. There are a few comprehensive visits offered. Aside from the normal VIP class visit, there are also women and diversity weekends available that seem to provide a greater look at the program. These are usually 1-3 day trips that comprise of a conference and admissions events. Some of the top schools have these programs. Some of the schools require you to apply to the programs. For others, you just have to register.

Now here’s the hard part. Which programs should I apply to? Attending these events will require a time and money investment. U of M, Duke, UNC and Kellogg all offer a more comprehensive program. Emory and Darden are offering short half day events. I’d love to attend all of them, but taking time off work and spending money to travel are concerns for me. Kellogg and U of M happen to be hosting them on the same weekend this year. Great. The Duke and UNC programs are back to back weekends. Wish I could just stay out there and work from “home” on those days. Oh well. At least it will be a good excuse to escape this Michigan weather! Now it’s time to work on these weekend applications!

Nothing in Life is Free, but Some Things Actually Are…

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Taking the first step toward my MBA has been a big financial investment, but I’ve also been fortunate enough to find a lot of free resources as well. Many of the top GMAT study programs offer free trials, study materials, and practice tests. There are also quite a few websites that offer great study tips. Additionally, there are other blogs out there that offer good tips from future applicants and prospective students. Here are a few of the resources I’ve found.
The Economist
Free 7 day trial software and one practice test: https://app.gmat.economist.com/firstsession/
Princeton Review
Free practice test and look into their online workshops: http://www.princetonreview.com/ChooseProducts.aspx?&zipcode=48326&testtype=TDA&producttype=ILD&productdetail=GMATHardMathWorkshop

Kaplan
Free practice test with video review and one free question a day: http://www.kaptest.com/GMAT/Home/index.html

Veritas
Free test and high level study materials: http://www.veritasprep.com/gmat/free-gmat-practice-test/
Manhattan
Free online classes and study tips: http://www.manhattangmat.com/Programs/Guided-Self-Study

Babson
Free practice test and mini tests: http://gmat.babson.edu/

Websites:
http://poetsandquants.com/
http://gmatclub.com/forum/10-critical-factors-to-beat-the-gmat-106790.html
http://www.beatthegmat.com/