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!

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!

My Second Visit to the Burgh

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One of the reasons why I even considered Tepper is the location. Last summer I stopped in Pittsburgh on the way home from a road trip. We were vacationing in the Outer Banks and unfortunately we were evacuated because of Hurricane Arthur. That gave us some extra time to explore on our journey home. We stopped in Pittsburgh for the day and fell in love with the city. Pittsburgh is comprised of different sections that all have a very different atmosphere. We started the day in the Strip District where we visited a large scale farmers market. We stopped by Penzeys Spices and Pittsburgh Popcorn-both must visit attractions if you are in the area. The weather was beautiful and we walked along the water. There was a Pirates Game going on that day. If you aren’t aware of it, two of Pittsburgh’s stadiums are located right on the waterfront which really adds to the experience. Across the bridge we spent some time in the SouthSide district. There’s a street that is lined with restaurants, bars, and stores. Before we left, we visited the financial district. That section is mostly filled with businesses and sure does create a great skyline.

Anyways back to the visit review. I had the opportunity to go back to Pittsburgh last weekend to interview. For this trip I had the pleasure of having some company with me. Pittsburgh is less than a 5 hour drive from Detroit so my mom decided to come with me. We drove in Sunday morning and explored the city for the day. The next day began with the interview. During my visit to Duke I scheduled my interview for the end of the day so I could absorb information about the program throughout the day and ensure I used a few buzz words throughout the interview. There are benefits to either approach. During the visit to Tepper I scheduled the interview first thing in the morning. It was certainly nice to have it over with and just enjoy the rest of the visit.

The interview was pretty typical. There were questions about my post MBA plans, why Tepper, and why I decided to pursue business school. The interviewer and admissions team were so welcoming and organized. They had a detailed welcome packet for me to review after the interview which provided information about Tepper and Pittsburgh as well. Some programs provide little information about the city and if you are not from the area, it’s nice to learn more about it.

After the interview I attended an informational session held by the admissions team. It was helpful to learn more about the curriculum. Tepper tries to prepare students for the future business world. The industry is always changing and business leaders need to be prepared for anything. Next I attended a student led tour and lunch. This is usually my favorite part of MBA visits. The current students provide a real perspective which allows you to get a better glimpse of the culture of the school. The student leader of my group was so helpful. He had a similar background and had moved to the area with a partner and a dog, both of which I will be doing. Part of my decision factor will be to determine what job opportunities there are for my partner. He works in corporate finance which provides him with a lot of options in big cities. Although I have not been admitted yet, it’s still always nice to be able to ask lifestyle questions and the student had all the answers. Last, I visited a Financial and Managerial Accounting class. Surprisingly the content didn’t go completely over my head, so that was encouraging. If you’re still reading, thank you. This was a long post! Needless to say, my visit to Tepper inspired me.

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.

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!