Which School?

So I have been wracking my brain for the past few months trying to decide ever since I found out I was accepted to three great M7 business schools – two of which have offered me generous scholarships. I know I am in an enviable position, but the most heartbreaking thing I have to deal with is the fact that if I commit to one school, I need to say goodbye to the two other great schools that have offered me admission.  I don’t want to live with a decision that I might regret for the next few years.  I am 99% decided on which school I will go to – I am just in the process of having my fears/indecision allayed by conducting more research. I based my decision on these factors (among others):

  • Money – Of course. US$200++ thousand is a lot of money to invest in for two years of learning.  I have been told by a few students not to worry about this (ack!) but I seriously don’t want to be buried in debt! Kellogg offered me a scholarship that would cover 75% of my tuition, while Booth offered me a scholarship that would cover 50%.  Obviously, both financial packages would take really big loads off my shoulders.  I contacted my admitted first love (Wharton) to see if there was any room to negotiate a fellowship.  I got two very firm NOs from the two people I talked to. So that’s that.

 

  • Finance Opportunities – I want to be in finance after graduation. Wharton and Booth are known as finance schools with great finance reputations, so that’s a plus for them.  Kellogg, although not known as a finance school, has a good finance program with good resources for someone looking to focus in finance.  The thing with Wharton and Booth being known as finance schools though is that I am going to have a lot of competition when it comes to recruiting for finance jobs, while in Kellogg, there would be a smaller pool of people to compete against for these jobs.  On the other hand, the finance schools would have better networks within the companies that I most probably would recruit in.  I have also heard that Booth’s career services are the best of the three. However, the bottom line is I would ultimately be the one deciding where I can gain employment.  No school can hand me my future on a silver platter.

 

  • “Fit” – The Kellogg folks I talked to are really warm and helpful. I admit I have felt more of a real hard sell coming from the Kellogg alum and students I’ve talked to (complete with offers to host me should I want to go to the admit weekends).  The Booth admissions office has been the most helpful out of the three schools’ offices, and the alumni I have talked to have been honest about their assessment of the school and how they think Booth can help me with my future career.  With Wharton on the other hand, I know a lot of people who have gone to attend there, and I quite like these people – they are all very impressive in their own right. My company has a kind of sub-group in Wharton because Wharton tends to admit a lot of people from my company every year.  The impression I’ve gotten from the admissions people though is that while they are warm and helpful, they don’t really spend a lot of effort trying to prove themselves. Wharton is Wharton, and the name should speak for itself :p

There are other considerations though. For example, the alumni network and branding in my country for Booth is the worst among the three schools.  I guess it’s because Booth’s ranking only rose up pretty recently, whereas the other two schools have always been in the top five (ish).  Booth is kind of like noveau riche, compared to Wharton, which is old money.  So not a lot of people in my country are aware that Booth exists, or that it is actually a great school. That is neither here nor there though, as I plan to work in the US for the next few years after graduation (fingers crossed).

I have been praying for guidance for a few days.  I have about 10 days to go until I have to make my first deposit (Feb 13th). I’ve told my husband that I will come up with a decision pretty soon. If anyone has any insights – I would surely appreciate it! I plan to update this blog regarding my final decision. 🙂

When The Dust Settles…

I’ve officially received the admissions decisions for all three of the schools I applied to for the first round… And *drumroll* – I got into Wharton, Kellogg and Booth! Oh my gosh, I could not be happier!!

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Wharton called first, and it was in the middle of my office Christmas Party.  I was actually expecting a call at around 10 PM my time (or around 9 AM EST, when their day starts), but they called at around 7:55 am EST. I had to run out because there was a band playing. Anyway, I must have looked like a mad(wo)man jumping up and down the patio! The admissions officer who handled my admissions interview in Singapore was the same person who called me.

Kellogg called last night, at around 9:30 pm my time (or 7:30 am CST).  I was also not expecting the call that early! I was glued to the GMATClub forums (username ynmbana FYI hehe), and they were expecting the calls to go out at 9am CST as well.  Dean Ziegler was the one who made the call. She had to call twice though, because the first time, the line was really bad and I couldn’t hear a thing. Okay, I was in the process of changing my clothes when I got the call so I actually rushed out of our apartment with my dress unzipped :p I was that excited! And with more great news – Kellogg extended the Forte Fellowship to me! Woosah!

Booth called at around 10:40 pm my time (so that’s 8:40 am CST).  My battery was almost drained, so I had to rush to our room to plug my phone in.  It was the longest of all the admissions calls I received. The AO was definitely chattier, and she told me the things she liked about my presentation (i.e. how I incorporated social media to show different facets of myself), and she also shared things like I would be connected to a current student and an alum, that I should expect a small gift in the mail in the next few weeks, etc.  And she offered me a great fellowship as well!

This is going to be a seriously SERIOUSLY tough decision for me to make – although I like this kind of quandary. I am just amazed and awed at the opportunities I have been given. I will spend the next few weeks researching about the schools (again), making pros and cons lists, consulting with alums and students, and yes, praying for guidance.

PS – thank you to my awesome husband, who was by my side through the whole process, and hugged me after the three admissions phone calls. 🙂 I promise to cook you a great thank you/celebration meal… or, if we’re being realistic, treat you to one!

One Week After TBD

As my title states, it’s been a week since the Wharton TBD.  It went better than I thought it would.  I was super nervous the weeks leading up to the TBD, but I took my own advice, and just prepared (like, really prepared) for it.  I also went to the TBD reception the night before the interview, and it helped take the edge off my nerves because I got to meet 2 out of the 4  other people that would be in my TBD team.

I really enjoyed the TBD more than I thought I would. My group had a nice dynamic going on, and no one really put  people down. So no horror stories like those stubborn types trying to hog all the airtime. There was one guy who tried to do that though, but all in all, I think all my team members contributed well to the discussion. I can see the value in having a TBD, although I am not sure how the assessment will go like if most of the groups were like mine (i.e. generally nice people that were able to get to a consensus easily).  Also, the team agreed to adopt my idea in the end – so that should be a plus for me, right?

I am hoping for good news around 26 days from now. Eep! I will focus on doing R2 apps until then,

Preparing for Wharton Interview

humility-helpingThis will just be a short update. I’m scrambling to prepare for my prompt and one-on-one. I know, I know, they said that you only need to prepare for an hour tops for the TBD, but I am not totally comfortable with that.    I like to be prepared!

Anyway, the point of this post is to shout out to all the lovely people who have helped me so far. Wharton folks (and really, all the B-school folks I’ve met in general) are so helpful and genuine! I’m so fortunate that in my company I get to work with a lot of MBAs so I have a lot of resources to consult with.  They connect me to all these great people too that I can just talk to.  Like just this morning, I was able to talk to a current Wharton student (thanks to an intro made by a Wharton alum) and he offered pretty good advice on tackling the interview.  I’m so inspired to pay forward all the help I received. So if anyone wants to ask me anything, I’m available to help 🙂

PS Argh! I’m so nervous! :/

Wharton Interview Invite!

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I received my Wharton interview invite on my flight back from my Booth interview in Singapore.  In a way, the flight kind of saved my sanity because it forced me to stop clicking refresh on my email account, application profile and GMAT Club Wharton forum every few minutes.  I’m SO HAPPY to have gotten an invite!!!!!!!!! Wharton has always been my first choice, and they (kind of) love me back! 😀 I’m also stoked that I received interview invites for the three apps I submitted in R1.  The schools liked my profile and essays enough that they didn’t decide to ding me outright.  Of course, Kellogg tries to interview all the applicants so I’m excluding them in this statement.

I’m flying back out to Singapore next week, this time with my husband.  We’re going to stay over the weekend (hopefully give me the chance to relax after the TBD).  I’m so anxious for the TBD – it will be the first time I’m doing a TBD, so I don’t really know what to expect.  I’ve gone through forums and blogs to help me prepare and these are some of the tips I’ve collected:

1. Try to be balanced.  Don’t be the loud-mouthed rude person (basically the B-school archetype haha) that takes over the whole conversation, and don’t be the really quiet one in the corner that doesn’t contribute anything.

2. Go early, to give you a chance to socialize with your TBD team, and to break the ice

3. The goal is to come up with a solution for the team, and not to emerge as the “star”.  Try to be civil – don’t cut off a teammate, and offer up consensus building ideas to move the process along.  That’s why it’s a “team-based” discussion.

4.  Come in prepared!  You will be given a prompt to talk about, so do your research.

5. Don’t take the one-on-one interview for granted.  The trick is to prepare an engaging one-to-two minute spiel about yourself.

Good luck to me!! And good luck to all those facing an interview in the next few weeks 🙂

Update on Booth Interview

Apparently, not a single alumni is willing to interview me in my home country. Uh.. I swear, I will be an active alumni interviewer for whichever school I will go into.  Anyway, I will have to fly to Singapore this Friday to interview with an alumni. It will be my FIRST time ever to do a day trip to another country that isn’t for business – won’t be bringing any luggage haha.  I already bought my tickets earlier today. Sad that my husband won’t be able to come with me, but it really doesn’t make sense for the both of us to go because I’m only planning to be there just for the interview.  Crossing my fingers that I will get an invite for Wharton – it also means another flight to SG :p

Hope my flying there pays off, though. I was given a choice to either interview in Singapore, or to have a phone conversation with someone from the admissions team.  I was willing to fly out to be able to interview in person – I don’t think a phone interview can be a good substitute for the interview experience. Plus, it’s a chance to show how dedicated I am to getting into Booth. I’ll be interviewing with a someone in the consulting industry. I believe he’s also interviewing with another prospective student that day.

Crossing my fingers! and toes!

On my to-do list: buying a pants suit for the interview :p