Saturday, June 23, 2007

Financial Aid

Wow, school is expensive. Duh--I knew this, but now I really know it. This year's cost of attendance (tuition + living) is higher than originally estimated by the school, plus I'm not even sure if I can really live off of what'll be left over. So I might have to borrow even more. Yikes.

Thinking of it all as one large sum is rather scary, yes. And thinking about the interest I'll accrue over the 10+ years to pay it off...even scarier. But maybe I should choose to think about it as a small monthly fee that I'll just have to pay for the rest of my life. That's not so bad, right? Ha...ha...

I need scholarships.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Admit Weekend

So I attended admit weekend this past Friday and Saturday.

I must say I've never felt as introverted as I did during this weekend. On the first day, I felt a bit overwhelmed by other admits' eagerness to talk about themselves and about business school. We already had so much information to take in from the first-year ambassadors, faculty, and alumni that were there--did we also need to spend every waking moment discussing our goals and rehashing our application essays?

It's not that I lacked excitement about attending--I'm just still in "whew it's over let's relax!" mode. And I intend to stay there for a while!

But this was a "sell" type of weekend as many admits hadn't made the decision to attend yet, so as someone who's submitted their deposit already, I had a different perspective on the event. I just wanted to sit back and get a feel for what I'd be in for (and who I'd be there with) come this fall.

I made a few friends, most of them like me--and by the second day I was starting to enjoy myself. People in general began to relax and have a little fun. Overall, it was a good experience, and the weekend confirmed a lot of random things I've read or heard about bschool in general:

-bschool "divas" do exist, and shamelessly at that!
-no matter where I go, some people are just assholes
-half the class is going to have a serious advantage in my first finance class
-cold calling is scary, and shrinking in my seat doesn't help
-dim lights and alcohol make for a great networking environment
-everyone is incredibly diverse in what they have to offer
-despite feeling a little intimidated, I deserve to be there as much as anyone else

addendum: hmm, judging by the comments I've received below, I worry that my post has come across a little more negative than I'd intended. It was a rough start, and there were some overwhelming personalities, but everyone settled in by the second day, and I did have a good time and met a lot of good people. I'm not any less excited about going--but I did find it amusing to encounter a few typical bschool stereotypes in person :)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Best of Blogging?!

Wow! I wasn't expecting to win anything--especially anything related to being funny. I recall last year's winner, MBAJackass, being truly hilarious. But I'm honored to have brought a light chuckle or at least a tight-lipped smirk to the otherwise stoic, stonefaced mba applicant community ;)

Thank you for the award! And thanks to all the other applicant bloggers out there who've been sharing their experiences.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Call me nerdy, but this is my favorite part of the process. The test is challenging, but the answers and score are concrete. No need for self-assessment or reaching deep into your bschool motivations; all you will ever want out of this step is a (high) three digit number.

In fact, the GMAT is your first opportunity to put a big fat gleaming star on your profile (which could potentially detract some attention away from your bad gpa, limited work history, or felonies--all things which you now cannot change). And it's only a test. There are countless preparatory materials for it--not to mention tons of helpful, FREE online resources. And if you are fortunate to have test-loving friends like myself, you've also got free tutors. There's no reason why you can't do well. So get started!

My thoughts/advice on the GMAT:

Schedule it.
As my roommate has nagged over and over, "if you don't schedule the test, there is no sense of urgency." You could end up putting it off forever. Think about why you don't want to schedule it--worried you won't be ready? Well you won't be ready unless you study, and chances are, you won't study that hard until you schedule it! You don't have to schedule it for tomorrow, or next month, or in the next three months, but it helps to have a solid D-Day. You want it to be in the back of your head at all times. You need that reason to turn down social events to stay home and study. And guess what? Your friends are probably tired of hearing your bullshit about how you're going to go back to school, so prove them wrong and get serious about it. :)

Yes, obviously--but I think it's good to have this planned out. I set a schedule that I managed to stick to for the most part. But all I did was chug straight through the books and questions, without timing myself, and without really thinking about what I needed to work on. This was a big mistake on my part! Okay, so there is SOME self-assessment involved. Take the time to look back at what you suck at, and delve deep! Not just "verbal" or "sentence correction" but SPECIFICALLY what type of sentence correction questions? Why do you get them wrong? Figure it out and conquer it!

Use the Official Guide.
I made another major mistake in not using the guide (or at least flipping through it) sooner. I drudged through Kaplan and Kaplan 800 (which in its own right, is a good book) first without looking at the only book that used REAL ex-questions. I chose not to study REAL gmat questions until halfway through my timeline! Big mistake there--plus, relying on Kaplan and Kaplan tests was discouraging. While I wouldn't say Kaplan is "harder," I'd say overall the experience of testing with Kaplan questions is not as straightfoward as the O.G./GMAC tests or the real GMAT. My scores were all over the place and I occasionally would get scores in the 500's. The two official GMAC sample tests I took produced the same 700+ score, and were reflective of my final, real GMAT score (Which was even higher--woohoo).

Take a class. Or not.
My roommate (applied a year prior) took a Kaplan class and regretted it. It seemed that most people in the class hadn't been in school for several (I think 7+) years and had little to no quantitative skills. Can't say that's reflective of all classes, or all Kaplan classes, but that was his experience. He advised me not to sign up, so I didn't, and we ended up scoring within 10 points of each other. I do believe that you can learn it all on your own, but a class provides that "kick in the butt" some of us need to keep a regular study schedule going. Figure out if it's right for you--just don't wait on it.

Calm down.
My own panic probably cost me 10-20 points on the exam. That's what I'd like to think, anyway. I distinctly recall answering question #3 on the math section incorrectly--and agonizing over it during the remainder of the quant. I realized a second after I made my answer final that I'd missed something! While that would make anyone a little frazzled, I must admit to being quite panicked about the test weeks before I took it! DEFINITELY find your own way to relax and do not drive yourself crazy over the "what ifs" --because by now you should have studied hard and well and could only do awesome. DO NOT study up until the test; take at least the day before off. Cramming is useless--the GMAT doesn't really gauge your verbal & quantitative know-how as much as it does your under-pressure test-taking abilities!

Pick a theme song.
This is vital. Or okay, maybe a theme song isn't for everyone...but plan something positive to do after your test and focus on how great you'll feel doing it!

You've conquered one of the scarier hurdles in this arduous process. Round up the dear people in your life who will never quite understand what you just went through and have a drink, on them! Or a fabulous steak dinner. Or a shopping spree. :) Just don't think about bschool for a good few days!

Monday, April 09, 2007

A journey of a thousand miles begins with one single step!

First and foremost--should you go to business school?

I can't answer this question because I'm not you. Besides the generic reasons of more general business knowledge, more career flexibility, and more cheddah--I think it's important to find your own motivation for going. Although, I don't think it has to be so concrete that you could write your career goals essay just yet. Of course, that's awesome if you already can.

I admit to thinking about business school for a good year before I ever picked up a GMAT book. I think, like most things, an MBA is only as good as what you make of it. Being a career switcher, some of the questions I kept in mind through the whole beginning process is:

Ultimately what do I want to get out of school?
What could I do with the next few years instead of business school?
Where will that get me?
How important is school brand to me?
Am I only thinking of top 5, top 10, or top 30 schools?
How much time and money am I willing to sacrifice (or borrow)?
Is there anything else currently more pressing in my life that will take time away from the application process?

That last question leads me to the most important part of the initial self-assessment: Are you really going to do it?

Talking about business school and flipping through a GMAT book every once in a while isn't enough to get you in. Don't bother half-assing your way through the process, especially if you want to go to a relatively selective school.

A friend's uncle coined his own version of the acronym NATO, which stood for "No Action, Talk Only." (Helps to think of it being said with an elderly Asian man voice.) I use it regularly to describe those aspiring "someday, I'll go back to school" folks who indeed only talk about it. Either decide to do it or decide not to do it. You have to kick your own ass if you want this! I promise you that the application process itself is already incredibly rewarding and marked with milestones of personal acheivement. And that's before you even go to bschool! So before you sign up for Kaplan classes or order countless school brochures, make a conscious mental comittment to getting your MBA! GO BIG OR GO HOME! And please, don't be NATO.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Best of Blogging? Me? Aw, Shucks!

I'm rather surprised at this nomination since my update rate dropped once I started getting those disheartening dings. But I'm quite flattered!

I do have heaps to share on the entire process--especially since I have many friends applying for c/o 2010. Once people stop handing me those pesky celebratory vodka-sodas and Amstel Lights, I'll have a free hand or two to provide more substantial posts.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


After 2 rejections, 1 transcript snafu, and the heartache of being waitlisted---

I've been officially accepted.

Yay! I'm going to Business School!!!

(more details later; more alcohol now)