Hey Friends, I recently attended the World MBA Tour in Bangalore. The tour was on 29th September 2012 (Saturday) at the Taj Vivanta Hotel, M.G. Road. The event started at 8.00 AM with pre-registrations and ended with an MBA fair. So here are my experiences from the same. By the way, a lot of the discussions that happened during the sessions are readily available over the school websites and so I am writing here only key takeaways from the tour.
The tour featured 26 business schools from across the globe, the most prominent among those were Harvard, MIT, UCLA Anderson, IE Business School, Indiana Kelley, Rice Jones, Maryland Smith, USC Marshall and many others from Japan, China and Portland. The program started with a 1 and a half hour Masters fair where business schools showcased their targeted MS programs like the MS Finance, MS SCM (both from Maryland Smith). We could discuss the insights from these specific programs with the school admissions representatives.
After the Masters Fair, the formal MBA tour started with a presentation by GMAC on ‘Demystifying the GMAT’. This event talked about various aspects of the GMAT like how to prepare and some key statistics about the GMAT. It was a pleasant surprise to know that India ranks 4th in terms of the largest number of scores being sent to a country (a summation of all the scores sent to Indian Business Schools).
The session by GMAC was followed by Panel Discussion on ‘How Admission Decisions are made’. In my presentation hall, we had representatives from Indiana Kelley, USC Marshall and Georgetown McDonough take this session and talk about what do they look for in application while selecting a candidate. The advices were same as we hear over and over again – No magic GMAT number, No magic GPA, Applications are read holistically, No significant difference between Round 1 and Round 2, No significant bar on age and so on. A couple of significant takeaways from this session were in the Resume and Essays sections – Admissions representatives told that the admissions staff are non-technical people and hence applicants should not put too much of technical stuff in their resumes, Resumes should be of 1 page ONLY, rather than responsibilities we must put the Impact of our actions and Quantification of our achievements. On the essays side, they advised us to ‘Write the WHY of our decisions rather than concentrating on the WHAT of the decisions that we have made in our career’. They advised the CAR approach to writing essays – Context, Approach and Reflection (concentrating in the increasing order from C to A and then to R). A great advice that I got from them was to write essays and ask someone to just read our essays and guess the question. If the person can guess the question correctly, the essays are nice.
Individual school presentations started thereafter with 3 parallel sessions and this was a bit unfortunate for me because I missed a couple of school presentation that I wanted to attend but had to choose one of the schools due to parallel session thing. The fourth presentation was again a parallel session of MIT and Harvard and unfortunately again I had to choose one, I choose MIT. The presentations of all the schools were about some key features of the schools, admissions process and ended with 5 minutes of Q&A session from participants which mainly saw questions regarding application criteria and other general question. I was sorry to see that most participants were asking very basic and general questions, the kinds of which are readily available on school websites. So here I am going to write only key takeaways from each school session I attended (in that order).
UCLA Anderson School of Management: As you might be aware of the Academic Tracks at UCLA, these track choice is taken by the school even before a student comes to the campus. It is also perfectly okay to not choose a Track in which case it is called Custom track and a student himself designs his curriculum. The tracks can be topped with Specializations. The school takes In-person alumni interviews for the admissions process. On the financial aid side, once accepted, a student can apply for need based financial aid. However, merit based financial aid does not need any separate application and are part of the admissions process. There are loan options also available without a US Co-signor. For those interested, TA/GA options are also available. During the MBA fair, which followed the school presentations, we were talking to a current student at the business school. He had come to IIM-Bangalore on an exchange program and was at the MBA tour taking question from students. He told that McKinsey does not come to the campus for recruitment but posts various job postings.
Georgetown McDonough Business School: School is in Washington D.C which works as a great advantage in terms of the Public Policy and Business mix of the culture. The admissions representative talked a lot about how much they value the community spirit. D.C is close to major finance centers and hence great for finance careers. The business school has a small class size of 240 and the curriculum is more General Management focused. There are no specializations. As the admissions office explained, Specializations lead to like-minded people being together whereas business education should be about diversity and working in different teams. Teaching method at the school typically comprises of 60% case based and 40% lecture based curriculum. On the careers part, every student is assigned a career service coach who is an expert in the industry (in which the student is interested) and a 2nd year student for guidance. They have recently revised the curriculum. It is now a semester based integrated curriculum. By integrated, it means that professors co-ordinate their classes so that students get a holistic 360 degrees view of any business challenge. There is a Global Study Opportunity in the 2nd semester of the 2nd year. The admissions officer especially stressed on visiting the school because, in her words, it is less expensive to fly to US and visit a school than paying the full tuition and feeling miserable for the rest of 2 years. This made me apprehensive about admissions prospects because she stressed on visiting the school at two separate occasions. I know of several schools which say that visiting school is a great thing but they understand that it could be an expensive affair for international students and hence visiting a school does not affect the admissions decision in any way. Now I only wonder what the inside story is? One important note here – The business school DOES NOT have a loan program for international students. Some students expressed their concerns about the school being in Washington D.C where most the federal consulting jobs are not open to international students. The admissions officer admitted that such jobs are indeed not open to internationals, however, the offices of KPMG, Ernst & Young and many more consultancies are located very close to the business school and thus opportunities are not really limited for international students.
Rice University Jones School of Business: The school has a 100% case based teaching approach. It has a small class size and is a private university. Climate-wise, Houston is HOT. The school is entirely separated from the Rice University as the entire Jones schools works out of one state-of-the art facility. The business school has a great healthcare connection. Houston is the energy capital of the world and hence was insulated from the effects of global recession. Almost 30% of the class goes to Energy related industry. Some 39 of the Fortune 500 companies are headquartered in Houston so industry connection is great at the business school. Houston and Texas, in general, have a huge Indian community too. The student culture is very tightly knit and there is a party every Thursday where staff and students meet each other. Free alcohol is served in such parties and many a times, Industry executives also sponsor such parties where senior executives meet students. The small class size of 100-125 ensures that everyone knows everyone else. On a lighter note, a alumnus present said that the people is career services know more about students that students want them to know. For Indians attending the business school, it does have a cricket team and there are some fine Indian restaurants too in the area. The alumnus told us that there is a restaurant by the name of Himalaya which serves great Biryani, the best the alumnus had ever had. The campus has 2 bars which apparently sell the cheapest beer in the area. The curriculum offers 10 concentrations and one can choose to do no concentration at all or can choose to take a maximum of 2 concentrations. The school is very generous in giving scholarships and almost 91% of the class received some form of scholarship. The School, however, DOES NOT have a loan program without co-signor. During my interactions with the alumnus in the MBA fair, I talked to him about the energy industry not being receptive to international students. To this, he said that partially it is true that not all companies in the energy industry are open to international students but at the same time many are open and this does not limit the opportunities available to international students.
MIT Sloan School of Management: The MIT discussions were all the general stuff about the curriculum and the admissions process. I had looked at the website of MIT Sloan in-depth before going to the session and hence there were only few takeaways from the session. I however got to interact with an alumnus which was great. Some of the highlights were that MIT conducts in-person interviews across the world (yes! The admissions staff travels across the world to do interviews). There is a Bangalore MIT Alumni Club which is not necessarily MIT Sloan but MIT as a whole. On the community involvement at Sloan, apart from the Sloan clubs students can also get involved in the MIT wide clubs and other activities. MIT has a career tracks option (presently 3) which is not necessary to follow. Post-admissions, MIT asks for desired track where a student has to write an essay on why he wants to pursue a particular track. Good news is that there is no limit on the number of students that can enroll in a particular track so it is not competitive to pursue a track. The alum present said that although there is relatively greater focus in MIT on academics, it does not limit the student life outside the classroom. Career services at the school are great and career activities start from the 3-4th week itself of joining MIT Sloan.
So that was all about the MBA tour. It was a great experience, meeting so many business schools in one day. The information in-flow was too much for a day but it’s a great experience. I just wished that I could attend a couple of more sessions if parallel sessions were not there. My business school list is now showing up stable. Let us see where it goes. For more, Stay Connected..!!!