the trials and tribs of an MBA hopeful!

Come join me in coffee shops, hiding in conference rooms at work, and generally giving up my entire social life as I work on my MBA applications!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

West Coast Girl Goes East

Ah, feels good to be home! I just got back from a week long trip to New York and Boston. It was so fun to see friends and family, although living in Cali has turned me into a was freeeezing!!!! I also visited Columbia and Harvard while I was out there, and spent a lot of time listening to my friends/family explain respectively why New York/Boston are the greatest cities ever. (i'm sure this input was purely objective, right?)

First stop: Columbia
I planned my New York trip mainly around visiting friends, not Columbia. Had I looked a little closer, I would have realized that Columbia had their midterms last week so unfortunately I couldn't sit in on a class. oops! However, I did get a chance to walk around campus and sit in on an information session. I really liked the atmosphere of Columbia - although it's in NYC, it's not really in the heart of the city and campus felt like, well, a campus (as opposed to NYU). The info session felt like a bit of deja vu...not only was it the same presentation as I saw in SF, but it was also the same presenter! The big difference was that there were only about 15 of us, compared to about 200 in SF! Felt waaay more personal, and totally renewed my interest in Columbia. Although it's not my first choice, I would be more than happy to end up there!

One other interesting tidbit - they give on-campus housing based solely on distance. Basically all international students and Cali residents (woo hoo!) are guaranteed on-campus housing. Always a good thing in super-expensive NYC.

Next stop: Harvard
My experience at Harvard was incredible. All of the stigmas I harbor about Harvard were completely obliterated after visiting. I felt like they took the time to really sell the program, which is always impressive from a top tier school. Also, the whole day was completely organized and I felt totally welcome on campus.

In the morning, I sat in on a class - yes, I got to see the famed case study method in action! They assigned me to a marketing class, and I was picked up by a student in the admissions office. The professor came up to me outside of class and introduced himself - apparently he is one of the young hot-shot profs there. There were two of us visiting the class and we were given a HUGE welcome - we were introduced by name, undergrad school, and company. And we got a huge round of applause (esp huge due to the 90 person section). The first thing that amazed me was just the sheer energy in the room...all the hands were up waving in the air (which I guess shouldn't be too surprising since your grade is 50% participation, but still). Students seemed very prepared for the case, and debated among themselves on which solution would be best. Truthfully, I was hoping to sit in on a finance or accounting class to see how the case study method worked in those types of classes, but marketing was very fun. A couple of times, a student would have a particularly innovative answer, and - NO JOKE - the class broke into applause and some people gave a standing ovation!! Not sure if this was representative of all classes, but I walked out feeling pretty inspired.

There was a lunch with some first year students, and it was a great opportunity to ask questions and find out just how insane the first year gets. They were very open and honest - seemed to like the program a lot, but also seemed stressed trying to balance class and life (to be expected, i'm sure!) The other prospective students in the room were applying next year - so much more ahead of the game than me!!! :) In the afternoon was an information session run by some 2nd year students - it was more of a q&a than standard presentation. Again, I liked their candidness and willingness to share their experiences, give pros/cons, etc. The other cool thing was, they all seemed very normal - in a good way! I guess I just picture Harvard students as these amazingly smart super-humans ... don't get me wrong, they all seemed amazingly smart, but I guess it just humanized the whole experience for me. The one downside for me is still the HUGE class size (900!!), but hey, i think I could deal! Now I just keep my fingers crossed for that interview invitation...

Anyway, that's all for now...gotta get ready for the first day back at work post-vacation - yuck. I know this was a long post, but wanted to give a taste for anyone who hasn't had a chance to visit. Lemme know if you have any other questions!

Oh yeah, and why isn't it January yet???????? :)


Blogger Marina said...

Cali people actually are not guaranteed housing but this past year we all got it, including Oregon and Washington people as well. The housing is so nice to have not only because I am paying less than I was in San Francisco but also because it is RIGHT across the street from campus!

Let me know if you ever have any CBS related questions or want to get in touch with any clubs!

6:09 AM  
Blogger MBA babe said...

marina - thanks for the clarification :) Paying less than SF rent would be incredible, and it would be pretty cool to try out life in NYC. As I get into my Columbia app, I may be coming to you with CBS questions - thanks!

9:59 PM  
Blogger Hobbes said...

Awesome recap. :)

Totally agree with u on Stern - its jst a building! I visited it jst 'cuz I was in NY - even if I were to think of apping there, I would've had thought twice; it was that big a turnoff.

11:57 PM  
Blogger cinghal said...

This is super-helpful for someone sitting in New Delhi, and not being able to take a trip himself! You make the whole thing so REAL! Thanks!!

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