Wharts and All: Blogging the Full-Time MBA Program at the Wharton School

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Breakfast, Resolutions, and Pretty Girls

I'm breaking my blogging fast with this, my first post in just over a week. Of course, what I'm really doing is getting off of my lazy ass, but by pretending to be fasting I give my lapse an air of excusability and respectability. Right.

A new year is coming and I've thought it would be nice to post my resolutions vis-a-vis this blog. Here they are:

  • I will post an average of five times per week. Whether there will be enough fiber to feed such regularity remains a question, as junk food is all too common.
  • I will call out whiney bullshit when I see it. It's a target-rich environment.
  • I will not start another list like this without having several good bullet points to put into it. I'm having a very hard time coming up with resolutions for the new year.
  • I will have fun. I'm not blogging for my health. If I'm going to sit here and inflame my tendons with repetitive stress injuries, I'm going to have fun doing it.
  • I will strive to remain humble. This is very hard for me to do, given my considerable natural talents (I got straight As in physical education and spelling throughout primary school), but if Jesus could do it, then by golly I can certainly give it a shot too.
  • I will not be a blogroll whore, though the temptation is great. Know this: I'm not linking to you because I'm lazy and do not want to bother updating an entire list of links to blogs that I read on a regular basis. The fact is, Newsgator allows me to (and I do) subscribe to every blog with an RSS feed that's listed at I'm reading *all* of you, and I'm liking some of you. But I will not link to you in the hopes that you'll link back to me.
  • I will not use my celebrity blog status to impress the girls at business school. Since this is a New Year's resolution, and since there's no taboo on breaking resolutions while we're still in an old year, I will hereby proclaim the following. Girls, please remember this for all of 2005: I am (currently) single and very available. That will be my first and only plea on the subject. I'm not in this to make friends of any sort, be they nice-smelling, young, pretty, well-dressed, smart, and stomach-fluttering or not.
  • I will portray events accurately where any school or individual's reputation is at stake.
  • I will studiously avoid using the cliche, "Business School is like drinking fine champagne from a fire hydrant." I cringed when I read that in the welcome packet from Wharton. If I never hear anyone describe any situation as drinking from a fire hydrant again, I'll be happy. Similarly, I will not blog about being "so busy" or about my terrible lack of sleep or about how I've learned to juggle so many more tasks than I ever thought possible. Bo-ring!
  • I will figure out a way to post pictures to this blog because even the grainiest photo taken with a camera phone is worth several thousand of my poorly chosen words.
  • I will move this blog off of blogspot. Blogspot is slow and despicable.
  • I will seek out the humor and the tragedy in this whole pre-MBA/MBA/post-MBA scene and blog it. I will blog the summits and the nadirs, the pathos and the bathos, the good and the bad.
  • I will end this list now, and get some lunch.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Wharton Admit

Wharton loves me. I'm in.

Monday, December 20, 2004

The Armful

For every parcel I stoop down to seize
I lose some other off my arms and knees,
And the whole pile is slipping, bottles, buns --
Extremes too hard to comprehend at once,
Yet nothing I should care to leave behind.
With all I have to hold with hand and mind
And heart, if need be, I will do my best
To keep their building balanced at my breast.
I crouch down to prevent them as they fall;
Then sit down in the middle of them all.
I had to drop the armful in the road
And try to stack them in a better load.

-- Robert Frost

I stumbled across this poem over the weekend. It's a great metaphor for life (as are any Frost poems that take place on a "road"). This poem captures many essences of the MBA experience: the juggling of all of the different applications and processes; the frustration of rejection that makes you feel like all of your carefully constructed applications have tumbled from your arms into a mess on the road; the frustration that overwhelms us, causing us to park our asses in the middle of a thoroughfare and try to take stock of it all; the way winners eventually manage to pick up all of the pieces and continue on; the overload of a first-year MBA student; the drive to improve and to manage the burden that is so close to the heart.

Good stuff dedicated to all Wharton applicants who, like me, are waiting to hear whether we've managed to walk another mile with our awkward armfuls. That our fates have already been keyed into the Wharton application system and merely wait for some electronic curtain to be lifted at 9 tomorrow morning sets the air ajangle with both promise and dread. I'll either walk or crawl into my 9 am meeting tomorrow morning.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Best MBA-Related Reads for the Week ending 2004.12.17

An Unbiased Way to Rank Schools (Blog: Clear Admit) - I'd seen the original research upon which this story was written about a month ago, but that was before Knowledge @ Wharton picked it up, and that was before I started up this blog, so I forgot all about it until my newsreader picked up the above-linked analysis of the research. Though Clear Admit doesn't come out and name schools, we all know that Columbia's school of business uses Early Decision as a way to manipulate its standings in the rankings and to achieve much, much higher yield numbers than it would have naturally. This is no knock on Columbia--people and institutions should be expected to manipulate any rankings system that is so easily manipulable--but rather a weakness in the construction of the "popular" ranking systems.

Scary HBS Rumors (Wharton S2S) - A business school applicant wrote, "I've heard several scary things about HBS and I wonder whether they are really true." An HBS student (who blogs--a real rarity) quickly jumped to defend the school with a comprehensive, myth busting rebuttal. (And another HBS blogger jumps to the rescue as well.

For and Against Zero Work Experience B-School Students (MBA Game - The principals of take up an issue and debate the pros and cons of the issue. Most recently, they choose to debate whether the trend of encouraging undergraduates to apply to business school is a good thing.

Lessons Learned in Business School (Blog: Dan Rosenberg) - Finally, a student gives us something other than the tired and cliched line that has become all too common on the blogs of hopefuls and students. You won't find any "Woe is me, I am so busy, I have 14 finals and 23 recruiting sessions to go to and I'm not getting enough sleep" junk on Dan Rosenberg's blog. Instead, he writes about some real lessons that he's learning as a student at HBS.

Colleges Tell Applicants Fate on the Spot (AP) - How long will it be before business schools start offering this sort of service? Quote from the article: "Credit card and mortgage companies promise customers an answer "while you wait" on loan applications. Now, more and more colleges are doing the same -- visiting high schools and letting applicants know their admissions fate right on the spot."

Married and Applying to Business School (Wharton S2S) - Some applicants and Wharton students share their thoughts on what it means to be married as a Wharton applicant and student. Quality discussion. Quote: "Sometimes trying to explain the benefits of going to Wharton is more difficult that it may seem to most of us - while I see the potential and want to leap at the opportunities, she sees the comfort of our current situation and asks why I'm not happy to just join a part-time MBA program such as Temple or Drexel's."

Looks in the Post-MBA World (Business Week Forums) - A poster asks whether looking good matters for post-business school success. Business Week forum readers respond "yes" showing that there really is no chink in the armor of their superficiality. Alex Chu, a Wharton MBA graduate and admissions consultant, does manage to bring a new angle to the discussion by noting that, "weight matters much more than raw beauty. Carrying a few pounds is one thing, but being obese can be a huge (no pun intended) challenge in the workplace. Consciously or unconciously, discrimination against the obese is common."

Take This Job and Shove It! (Wharton S2S) - A perennial favorite topic of successful business school students everywhere: what to do after getting in? Continue to slave away at a job you dislike in order to help take the edge off of the substantial debt you're about to incur, or travel the world? One applicant gripes, "I cannot work here any longer. I need a break! And when else will I be able to take a few months off work?" What are your plans?

Education of an Applicant (Business Week Forums) - Avaricious Asian-American asks the Business Week forums for advice on his situation and is deservedly ridiculed. Quote: "I have a question. I recently took my GMATs and scored a 730. I am an Asian male that worked in a boutique consulting firm for a year and a half and then worked at a startup for 6-7 months. I will be working for another consulting firm starting in 2005. I am looking to apply to UPenn - Wharton, Stanford, Chicago, and Columbia for MBA for Fall 2006. I graduated undergrad from Columbia with a 3.5 GPA. Should I retake my GMATs to increase my chances of getting accepted?"

PS: Comments on ... just in case I missed anything. Please post links to great MBA-related reads from the week ending today.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

I Was Gonna Go to School, But Then I Got High.

So I've decided to ditch my applications and just work on perfecting my physique. This means it's your lucky day, Stanford_Applicant_03, because I've got an essay that you can use. When I apply next year, I'll probably just write about how I'm most passionate about fitting a 40,000-watt stereo system into my newly rebuilt IROC. But I digress.

Without further ado, here's your essay!

A few years ago, you wouldn't have labeled me as a Stanford MBA, and I know this. I was born with some physical disabilities. The doctors prohibited me from lifting until I turned 17, and by then I felt behind the 8-ball. I didn't think I ever would be able to chisel my chest like my friends. I grew up in Woodstown, so I didn't have much exposure to the Seaside Heights scene, until I turned 16, and I went on my first trip to the shore with my older brother. A few of my brother's frat buddies from Rutgers were having a reunion at their shore house, and he invited me to come with. My brother and his friends were always jacked, bronzed, and loaded with hot ladies on each arm, and I idolized them for it. I was a skinny little 16 year old Guido without the looks. My friends were into hunting and riding 4X4s, which was cool, but it just didn't feel right. When I would go to the mall, I never had fun with my friends, as they were in the Electronic Boutique checking out the new Nintendo or Sega or whatever, while my eyes were fixed across the way at the massive canister of Weight Gainer 5000 at the GNC. I'd always noticed guys that looked like my brother and his friends going in and out of that store, and ladies adoring them and I wanted to be like them. That is also the time that my great transformation occurred. I had asked a Guido honey to my junior prom, thinking that for sure, her knowing that I am a full blooded Guido, and her knowing who my brother is, that she would accept. Well, she didn't, and when I asked her why, she just pointed at my abs, pointed at my pecks, and then taught me one of the most important lessons I have ever learned: Work on your body before you work on a date! I wrote that piece of advice on a piece of laminated poster board, and have hanging on the mirror in the bathroom, reminding me my purpose every time I step out of the shower. That was it! I got smart. I got a part time job at the GNC, and decided to put my Guido smarts to work. I learned about amino acids, creatine, and other body enhancing supplements. With the money I saved with my 30% discount to GNC, I purchased a multi-visit pass to Sun-Looks tanning salon. My friend Anthony, the only other Guido from my class, worked at Sal & Bros. Meat Shoppe (town) and regularly hooked me up with chicken cutlets by the pound. Now I’m 6’1", 245, with virtually no body fat, and thick, tanned, muscles. I have the biggest arms of anyone who works out at the Golds in my town. I saw the girl who turned me down to the junior prom all those years ago, and she was salivating at my body, and admitted that she had made a big mistake back in high school. I didn’t phase me, her comments helped me get my priorities straight, and now I have the best body of all my friends, and my brother’s friends! The payoff is apparent every week. I was at Tempts the weekend of August 9, and I could hardly make time for all of the ladies that were all over me. I plan to get a house next summer and party hard weekend after weekend no doubt. Long live the NJ Guidos out there, and I’m out.

PS: Shamelessly stolen from the writing section of NJ

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Automatic GMAT Retakerinator Survey.

Wondering If You Should Retake the GMAT? Take this Survey!

It's a common enough question on the message boards throughout the pre-MBA world. Whether it's, Wharton's S2S, or the Business Week forums, the question varies little: "Hi, I scored X on my GMAT. Should I retake it?"

Here's an easy-to-use, easy-to-print survey that will help all present and future applicants answer this question.

1. Compare your GMAT score to your target school's average score. Is it within 10 points of the average score? If so, go to question 4.

2. Subtract your GMAT score from 800. Take the square root of this difference from the standard deviation of your scores on Kaplan, PowerPrep, CrackGMAT800, and any other testing software you used. If the resulting number is negative, proceed to step 4. Else, go to step 5.

3. Are you sure that you could do better? If so, retake the GMAT. If not, see step 5.

4. Is your score under 800? Retake the GMAT.

5. See step 4.

PS: Essays are unimportant. Focus on the GMAT.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Imma Get Curmudgeonly on Yo' Ass

In comments posted to the blog of b-school applicant Megami77, Aregon23 writes:

I agree, interviews for BSchools are meant to be stress free. Whether you make the cut or not, the interviewer is duty bound to make it a pleasant experience for the interviee. Think about this, for most people this is probably the first intimate experience with the school. When the admit invitations go out, it is these impressions, good or bad, that help convince people to attend or skip a particular school. Too many of these cold interviews, people will leave Stanford in droves. Reputation can only take you so far. After that it is all about fit. Someone who can get into Stanford can usually pull it off in most of the other top 3 schools.

This is an interview. You are being evaluated. It is not the job of the interviewer to "sell" you on the school or to like you or to even make sure that you leave an interview feeling happy and pleased with your performance.

Let's assume for a moment that the Stanford alumnus in question here is in fact a class A, certifiable cold fish with no personality. So what? Where on Stanford's website is it suggested that they only admit effervescent personalities who exude happiness and emotion? In constructing a class of 350 students it would be strange indeed if the admissions committee of Stanford selected people who fit just one personality type. There are introverts and extroverts and a diverse business school necessarily selects both types.

What really annoys me about Aregon23's comments (and about Megami77's gripes) is that both seem to be oblivious to the fact of class diversity and they expect everyone to like and sell them on the school. Some words of advice:

YOU WILL NOT LIKE EVERY SINGLE PERSON IN YOUR BUSINESS SCHOOL CLASS. Get over that dream now or be disappointed once you get to school. As I believe some admissions person or dean remarked to a bunch of Stanford admits (this is a paraphrase), "You'll spend the first few months of school marvelling at what your classmates have done and wondering whether you are an admissions mistake. Then you'll spend the following few months thinking your learning team members are admissions mistakes." In other words, at some point, the luster and newness fades and you are left with the realization that these people--your classmates--have faults too. Some of them you just won't like.

BUSINESS SCHOOLS ARE NOT OBLIGATED TO FILL THEIR CLASSES WITH 300 OR 800 PEOPLE JUST LIKE YOU. There are other communications styles in this world and successful communicators and leaders need to know how to deal with the full range personalities be they cold and stoical or warm and annoying as all fuck.

IT'S POOR TASTE TO JUDGE AN ENTIRE POPULATION BY ONE REPRESENTATIVE. Just like I wouldn't appreciate being called an naive 27-year-old with an overgrown sense of entitlement because someone judged ME based on YOUR actions, so too would the 20,000 other alumni of Stanford resent the implication that they're all carbon copies of the man you interviewed with on Sunday. Stereotyping gets us nowhere. I respect the statement, "I thought all Stanford people were warm, friendly and outgoing, so boy was I surprised to run into an alumnus who was not!" That's fine. It's a loss of innocence and an epiphany that reveals something about the way that you think. But to say that one hour with one person represents and entire school that's been around for 80-something years is just silly.

At any rate, I think I'll make friends with this post, so I'm going to leave comments on. Bombs away!

Friday, December 10, 2004

Best MBA-Related Reads for the Week ending 2004.12.10

Here's the best business-school related reading from the week ending December 10, 2004. Did I miss something? Please note it in the comments.

M.B.A. Diary: B-School Stresses Importance Of Setting Ethical Boundaries (WSJ) - This is the second installment in a series of essays offering a first-person perspective on the business-school experience. Emily Harrold is a first-year student at the Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley.

More Proof that Essays are Just Essays (Blog: DaRaverLA) - I still have a long way to go before I indeed become the person I portrayed myself as in my Wharton essays. With all the fucking BS I wrote on my Wharton essays about how "a great leader" I am, how "a willing team player" I have been, and all those other fucking self-moralizing propaganda I put down on my essays, I just, outright, self-contradicted myself in this situation.

Job Market Improving(AScribe) - The job market is improving for MBA students, according to a new survey of 57 business schools conducted by the MBA Career Services Council (MBA CSC), the association for MBA career services professionals.

The best will be drawn to the US (Times UK) - Some Europeans think that it is time to look away from the US for MBA inspiration. Harvard's John Quelch disagrees.

The Lighter Side

Microsoft Helps Track Down Criminals Who Awarded MBA Degree to a Cat (Seattle Post Intelligencer) - Some sleuthing by software giant Microsoft Corp. helped track down two brothers who authorities say sold bogus college degrees over the Internet, including an MBA that was issued to a housecat.

Trump to Wharton Business School Graduate: You're Fired (Black America Web) - Last night’s loser was boyishly cute Kevin Allen, a Wharton School of Business graduate who ditched law school for a chance to compete on Trump’s popular reality show.

Santa-Clad MBA Students Celebrate Year End in London Pub Tour (Bloomberg) - In a tradition dating from 1995, London Business School MBA students will tour London pubs tonight dressed in Santa suits to celebrate completing their exams.