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

Monday, January 31, 2005

How to Write an MBA Blog [Edit 1]

Inspired by Tony Pierce's award-winning post on how to blog (read it!) I've decided to actually dispense some of my own advice, which is, as usual, going to be quite awful. Brace yourselves.

  • Make promises you can't keep. (For instance, promise to "start writing again" but then fail to deliver on that promise. Another successful tactic is to promise to deliver the straight dope but then delete your blog.)
  • The world is lucky that you deign to acknowledge it. Please, bless us with your unvarnished pearls of wisdom, as nobody has ever written anything on the subject of MBA admissions ever, and it's about time someone wrote the definitive guide to the Stanford, Wharton and Harvard interview process. You! You are the Ron Jeremy of the B-school blog world. You fill a gaping hole in the community.
  • Call your interviewers at Morgan Stanley "a bunch of guidos." This not only reflects well on your school, but also increases the chance that your interviewers will read your blog and decide to give you "big ups" for not kowtowing and kissing their asses like every other applicant out there. Booyakasha.
  • One oft-used tactic requires you to create the mother of all butt-kissing blogs and fill it with nothing but praise for your target school and how much you'd love to attend it. Now here's the key that will allow the adcom to connect the dots: post your GMAT scores, your background, and a few other personal details so that they'll not only read your blog, but connect it to your application profile and therefore be cajoled into rendering a favorable decision. And finally, stop blogging after you're in, as the blog has served its purpose.
  • If you'd prefer to attend a school with no homos in it, make it clear from the get-go. Don't let the blog world's bleeding-heart namby-pambies dissuade you from expressing yourself. PC is just another abbreviation for "communism."
  • Use your "blogs I'm reading" link list as a carrot and stick. If someone says something you don't like, you'll continue to read them of course, you just won't put them on your list. That'll teach 'em! Of course, anybody that kisses your ass in comments totally goes on the list, even though they be boring pedants.
  • Claim to reject every school that accepts you because, after all, you're just too highly remunerated and business school would be a waste of time. Your virtual cock has grown longer!
  • If you decide to attend HBS, stop posting anything interesting or insightful and just focus on pumping the brand. Why spend the effort? As HBS's only blogger, people will read you anyway.
  • If you decide to attend Stanford, emulate the lone Harvard blogger. People will read you anyway.
  • If you decide to blog at Wharton, you'll need to combat the perception that you're blogging on behalf of the marketing office. The best way to do this is to post pictures of busty playmates with Alex Brown's head photoshopped onto them. That'll show the world that you have journalistic integrity. (A thousand sighs of disappointment that my link didn't deliver the goods. Maybe next time.)

Edit 1: Minor improvements here and there.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Best MBA-Related Reads for the Week ending 2005.01.28 [Edit 4]

  • FT 2005 MBA Rankings - Harvard moves up one to tie Wharton for first place. Columbia, Stanford, LBS, Chicago, Tuck, Insead, NYU Stern, and Yale round out the top 10 (in that order). (Found at
  • Wharton Career Services Guru Peter Degnan Changes Jobs - An excellent historical account of Peter Degnan's impact on the Wharton Career Management Office since 2002. Students are understandably concerned about what this departure means for the full-time MBA program. In an opinion piece one student from the class of 2006 uses the news as an opportunity to complain about how much Wharton spends on the Executive MBA program relative to its brand importance and financial benefit. (Found at Wharton Journal)
  • Wharton Professors Embarrassed by Class-Skipping Students - Now Future MBA Girl (aka Alli Myatt) could have just said something bland and generic in her post like, "everyone's stressed about DIP" and then wrapped it up with a few clichés about how business school is truly very like drinking champagne from a fire hydrant, but instead she gets specific about how that stress manifests itself. I love her description of sheepish professors who are "grateful that SOMEONE showed up to class." Scandalous. (Found at
  • Peter Drucker Defines the American CEO - "CEOs have ultimate responsibility for the work of everybody else in their institution. But they also have work of their own -- and the study of management has so far paid little attention to it." (Found at CareerJournal)
  • Product Naming Case Study: Choczels - I never thought that one of my favorite blogs in the world would ever write something that I could share with the MBA audience, but Todd Levin has surprised me again. You know there's some overachieving schmuck out there already drafting his class of 2008 application essays about his experience "leading" the Choczels team. (Found at
  • MBA graduates weather economic downturn - "At the core of the FT rankings is a survey of the salaries MBA graduates earn three years after graduation. It shows that some one who went to one of the top 10 US business schools in 2001 today earns an average salary of $144,492." (Found at
  • Majority of Workers Believe Their Bosses Lack Integrity and Fairness - "More than half of American workers question the basic morality of their organizations' top leaders and say that their managers do not treat them fairly...." I'd be interested to know whether managers with MBAs are any better or worse than their non-MBA peers.(Found at Worthwhile Magazine)
  • Probability Is a Myth - The next time some wannabe posts, "Hie, I have 780 GMAT, 3.9 UG, 4 yrs W/E IT, IIT Madras what are my chances at H/S/W?" just post a link to this essay in response. Cliff's Notes version: "My probability of getting into Stanford GSB is not really 10%. In fact, there may be no one whose chance of getting into Stanford GSB is 10% or even near 10%. It may be that one-tenth of the applicants have a 100% chance and the rest have a 0% chance. It's more likely that there's some kind of a double-humped distribution in which some select few have an 80-95% chance and the masses have a 0-5% chance." (Found at
  • Your MBA Plans Will Not Remain Secret - A cautionary tale that serves to remind us all that it's only a matter of time before the entire company learns of our plans to leave in pursuit of an MBA. (Found at
  • Top Tier MBA Required for Job - How often do you see a help-wanted advertisement that actually specifies the need for an MBA from a "top tier school"? Here's one (an interesting career-oriented website, to boot):
    -> Opening: Director of Brand Marketing,, NYC
    Seeking world-class Director to develop & execute brand strategy to drive business & build brand. Have a profound impact on the future at a defining moment in our evolution. The ideal candidate has MBA in Marketing from a top tier school; 5+ yrs brand marketing exper.; strong working knowledge of industry marketing channels; excellent interpersonal & communication skills. Resume, cover letter; Email:
    (Found at Marketing Sherpa)
  • Infamous MBAs from Top Schools - Writes a poster in the business week forum, "We all know the famous ones such as Bush for H and Donald for W etc. Token boys on their school's website. I am trying to compile a list of those infamous one that all M7 trying to forget. Anyone wants to add to this list?" This is fun; help compile the list. (Found at Business Week)
  • The 101 Dumbest Moments in Business - Most of the list is available to Business 2.0 subscribers only, but at least the top 10 is available online. It includes the tale of the Bank of Ireland CEO who was busted for downloading porn at work. (Found at Business 2.0 Blog
  • Wharton sees wave of profs fresh out of school - Wharton hired 23 new faculty members his academic year. Thirteen of them came straight out of Ph.D. programs. "Consequently, younger professors are teaching a large range of courses -- from small MBA courses to high-enrollment introductory courses," says the article. Though the article focuses on reactions (mostly from Wharton undergraduates), it piques my interest in the extent to which Wharton's MBA students are satisfied with these younger professors. Given their youth, many of these new faculty members are going to be the same age as the incoming MBA class. They're also going to lack much practical business experience. Are age and experience even necessary for business school faculty (Found at The Daily Pennsylvanian)
  • Consulting and Banking Career Discussion - Every once in a while the forum regulars that hang out in the monkey cages at Business Week stop flinging poo at each other just long enough to have an intelligent discussion. Here's one that ballooned to 154 replies since Monday of this week. It begins with a question about pay ranges for consultants, but evolves into a more meaningful analysis of what the job is really about. (Found at Business Week MBA Forums)
  • New Blogs Added to My Feed this Week - I had trouble picking just one. First, there's the humorist with the leaden GMAT score and the golden keyboard (dinged by NYU? Ouch! Should have taken the GMAT Retakerinator Survey) [Warning - this blogger has a problem staying "on topic" and may not be a safe-for-work read], then there's the Michigan MBA student who dropped not just one but two comments in response to yesterday's post. How can I not show some love for that sort of dedication? Plus, anybody with the guts to call his interviewers at Morgan Stanley "a bunch of guidos" wins my respect (he won't be winning any jobs, though, if the MS boys ever read that).
  • New Series of B-School Comics - Words won't do this one justice, so I will steal some of the other Zach's bandwidth to showcase this great work. I hope he keeps it up.
  • MBA-NFL Draft Idea - Writes PandaCH, "Think about what the term "Ivy League" did for a bunch of antiquated institutions with lazy gardeners... We need something like that for b-schools too." Columbia invented the M7. Isn't that good enough for you? Well, the rest of the post has some interesting ideas too. A fun exercise in lateral thinking. (Found at

Edit 1: How could I fail to leave out the wonderful new comics being done by Zachary Emig? Also provided the missing link to Business 2.0 story.

Edit 2: Modified an adjective... ;) Those of you who download your feeds regularly can hunt for it and you'll learn that I'm really a nice guy who feels occasional pangs of guilt.

Edit 3: Inserted a warning about one of the links above...

Edit 4: Edited the link to MBAHoing.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Who Posts Short Shorts? I Post Short Shorts! [Edit 1]

My fingers ache to tap out so much craptacular stuff that I'm presented with a dilemma: I'll either have to axe topics, post more times per day, or limit the amount of time I spend per topic. I do know that the majority of visitors to this site flee in under five seconds (Logfiles are humbling things.) I also know enough to trust the reaction of a friend (I do have some!) who saw the blog for the first time today and wrote, "Whoa. A lot of text. Mebbe I'll read it after the semester's over. Hehe."

Hehe indeed. These short shorts are for my internet friends with the short attention spans:

  • One cure for the textual overload might be to insert some photos like my new hero Happy Ending. Reading Happy Ending's blog was like reading a funnier version of myself. He's the man with the golden keyboard and leaden GMAT score. Still, any blog named after the massage world's seedy euphemism [link may not be work safe] for an orgasmic finish wins my vote. Ha! Seedy euphemism. Get it? Ha Ha!
  • Another cure for the textual overload might be to express myself more succinctly. Business Boy rightly lampoons me for beating about the bush (there's that onanism entendre again!) with all of my disingenuous posts that have so far only obliquely hinted at the unexpressed love that burns a slow but hot fire inside of me (in the area below my belly button to be specific). It is true, I have a scarlet M on my chest. I dare not get my hopes up, however, because we all know that the object of my affections is herself obsessed with the conceited but mocha-eyed playboy with the spikey eyelashes who graces the second seat in the fourth row in Ms. Spangler's homeroom. She'd never dig a Wharton nerd like me, but I long for the day when he mistreats her and I can confront him in the parking lot with a line I've rehearsed many times, "Hey you! Get your damn hands off her!"
  • And finally, I've been asked why I don't spend more time enlightening the world with just a fraction of my obvious surfeit of knowledge about the admissions process. "Dearest Bskewl," my adoring, GMAT-worshipping fans from Hyderabad and Shanghai plead, "why do you not spend more time giving us your unvarnished pearls of wisdom about the admissions process?" To them I offer these two unvarnished (and I do mean Unvarnished) pearls of wisdom: (1) Google it, you lazy fucks, it's not like these goddamned schools haven't been around for a hundred years or more. Does the world really need another high-on-himself recent admit unleashing noblesse oblige? (2) Surely you can scrape together $16.32 to purchase the bible on MBA admissions? Is there anything new under the sun to be written on this topic? Is there still a heartbeat in this horse?

I blogged this to: Hooverphonic's "2-Wicky" and "Wardrope."

Edit 1: Someone already emailed me about the first unvarnished pearl of wisdom. He was offended and would have preferred a little varnish after all. Sorry. No varnish here. We're fresh out of varnish. Another reader wrote to remind me that I left out an important fact and for that I apologize: the URL for Google is Try the search terms "MBA" or (if you want to get really fancy) "MBA Admissions" (with quotes). Also, please read my response in the comments below for another disclaimer.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Why Wharton Will Always Be #2

I've come to the unfortunate realization that Wharton will always be number two to Harvard Business School's number one. This may be disconcerting to those of you who care deeply about the whole rankings thing, but get used to it. The situation is sure to continue in the very long term.

Why? Because of Alphabetization Bias (my coinage). Alphabetization bias means that all else equal, two equally-ranked entities will tend to be referred to in alphabetical order. Examples of this bias in action are plentiful. Whenever Yale ties Harvard in the undergraduate rankings, Harvard is listed first because one of the two schools must be listed first and because nobody can really argue with alphabetical order. Similarly, whenever Harvard ties Wharton for first place, Harvard is listed first in printed rankings because simple alphabetical order dictates that it must be so.

The result is a subliminal reinforcement of the Harvard name above the names of Yale, Stanford, Wharton and other schools unfortunate enough to have a letter low in the alphabet. In conversations referring to just-released rankings people will tend to repeat the list as it is printed (or displayed on a website). Thus, no matter who ties with Harvard, Harvard's name will tend to be said first. Do not underestimate the stickiness of such repetition! We can't say "Ebert and Siskel," "Clyde and Bonnie" or even "Johnson & Johnson" without sounding stilted. It just doesn't sound right on the ears, and therefore the alphabetical phrases "Harvard/Wharton" and "Harvard/Yale" become common parlance. They become phrases that cannot be rearranged.

There are some people who acknowledge the inherent unfairness of this and are doing something about it. Me for one. The Financial Times for another. IN the FT's latest rankings, Harvard and Wharton Wharton and Harvard are tied for first place. The Financial Times invested time and money so that the online version of the Global MBA rankings 2005 displays either Harvard or Wharton first, randomly. They've also done this for the three schools ranked at #13. This is certainly an admirable attempt to maintain balance in the high-stakes school rankings game, but alas, I doubt that they printed several different versions of their paper in order to maintain that balance throughout.

Let's summarize the reasons Wharton will always be #2: alphabetical orderings of equally-ranked entities tend to calcify upon repetition into phrases and common idiom. When publications go to print, it is cost prohibitive to produce several different versions of the same paper in order to list one school or another. And there are years of printed material now in which the iron hand of alphabetization has further cemented Harvard's mindspace lead over Wharton.

There are of course reasons why the two schools are very different and why Harvard's yield (the ultimate measure of the applicant pool's desire to attend an institution) and subsequent selectivity are higher than Wharton's. Those are topics for another post (or series of posts). I simply wanted to introduce and discuss the concept of Alphabetization Bias.

One final takeaway in the form of a recommendation to officers of the as-yet unnamed Yale School of Management: offer alumni with last names beginning with the first three letters of the alphabet a lower hurdle (say 80 million?) to have the school named in their honor. It will pay off in the long run, because you will be tied with many schools on your way to the top five. If you count a rich "Mr. Aamen" among your alumni, court him hard.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Putting the Horse Before the Cart [Edit 2]

ONE: For one of the companies that unwittingly pays me to write this crap, dysfunction is an operating principle. I just got out of a meeting in which a divisional head wagged her finger at the assembled vice presidents of marketing and business development and admonished, "Let's be careful that we're not putting the horse before the cart." Of course she meant exactly the opposite of what she said, but nobody at the table winced, giggled, or or even noticed the malapropism. Perhaps I'm the odd man out. Perhaps I'm wrong to think that horses should precede carts, that ducks should form orderly lines, that early birds are fed well, that monkey business is necessarily bad business. But what do I know? This company was perverting sound business principles before I was even a tail-lasher in a spoonful of briney seminal fluid.

TWO: Wharton's Graduate Association Store brags that "last year over 85% of Wharton students joined Pub!" That's admirable, but the real question is this: who are these people? What is the overlap of the group of people who opt out of pub to the group of people who study hard enough to make the "Director's List" (top 10% of class based on their GPA)? Are 15% of my classmates asocial losers? (To be fair, friends at top business schools across the country tell me that there are some classmates they never see at social functions.) The idea that all MBA seekers are equally enthusiastic about socializing is as stupid as the idea that all graduates of a certain program are obligated to be effervescent, personable kissers of pimpled applicant ass.

THREE: Who are you people that are coming here because someone emailed you my URL? Please drop me a line (either email or comment) and let me know what someone found compelling (or horrific) enough to warrant an email to approximately 50 of his closest friends. The email was sent on Sunday, but clickthroughs are still happening today. Who are you? Why do you come here? And while I'm talking about logs, I'd like to say hello to frequent visitors from Goldman Sachs, McKinsey, University of Chicago, Palo Alto, Columbia U., Delhi, Yongsan, Dallas, Phoenix, Memphis, Boston, Yahoo, Google, and the federal penitentiary in Alderson, West Virginia (Martha, is that you?). Just so you don't think I'm bragging: 50% of my site traffic views these pages for less than five seconds.

Edit 1: Minor edits to make it more better. Updated last number in last paragraph to reflect that fact that more individuals have decided to linger on this site for a full six seconds before returning to the porn that they were surfing previously.

Edit 2: Corrected some dumb redundancy in first paragraph.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Tabula Rasa: B-School Students Remake Themselves

How many times in life are we given an opportunity to start with a blank slate, to completely remake ourselves in the image of who we want to be? Rarely. It happens when we go to college. It happens (to a lesser extent) when we start a new job. It also happens when we embark on a new graduate education program, especially one as geared towards helping career switchers find new and exciting work.

Here are a couple of quotes that summarize the idea:

"It's a unique moment in life when you can create your new destiny," [a college administor] says. "Nobody's going to say, 'You're ridiculous, you're not that way.' Everyone's going to believe and accept it."

"'It's a time when you can say anything you want about yourself and nobody knows if you're telling the truth or not,' [a student] says. 'That's where the ethical part comes into it. I think you have to be true to yourself.'"

(Source: Christian Science Monitor, "Frosh find ways to remake themselves" August 2003)

To what extent to business school students take advantage of this opportunity to reinvent not just our careers, but our physical and social selves? How successful are we at these reinventions? Two anecdotes:

I have one friend who regularly wails about her academic underperformance as an undergraduate. She graduated with a 2.9 GPA and it was only that high because she was able to take introductory language classes in her native tongue. She'll be attending Stanford this fall and says she intends to rock the academics because it's important to her sense of self-worth to see herself as academically superior. I don't think I've ever seen her wearing glasses, but she just purchased a pair that screams "I study hard." She's also planning to grow out her party-girl hair highlights and she made a New Year's resolution to stop using her breasts quite so much to get what she wants. (This resolution is observed more in the breach, much to my pleasure.)

I know of some students at Columbia Business School who are sometimes referred to as "The Heathers." In the movie, The Heathers are a four-girl group (three named Heather, one named Veronica) of ultra-popular, uber-cliqueish High School bitches who are in love with their own desirability and superiority. At Columbia Business School, the Heathers don't play croquet, but they do manage to carry themselves with all of the hoity-toity bitchiness you'd expect from cardigan-wearing, gum-smacking, teenage princesses. But judging by the sniggering that goes on behind their backs, these women have failed to reinvent themselves in the likeness of the popular sorority sisters they never were.

Some of us are so desparate for a new image that we'll do it by scalpel, if necessary. How many business school students use the convenient break before the official start of school to purchase for themselves new noses, chins, and breasts? I know a male student at HBS who's had a gastric bypass. I doubt he's the only one. I know two women my age who've already had liposuction. One's already got her MBA, the other is thinking of applying for the class of 2008.

I don't mean to judge these reinventors (except perhaps when the reformulated version of the person is worse than the old version of the person), but rather to simply note it as a phenomenon.

At the commencement ceremonies this fall, look to your left. Look to your right. One of these people is method acting and will soon become the character he or she is pretending to be.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Best MBA-Related Reads for the Week ending 2005.01.21 [Edit 1]

  • Why big corporations are hiring fewer Ivy Leaguers. - "A coveted undergraduate admission to an Ivy League college is a ticket to success, right? But a recent paper by Peter Cappelli and Monika Hamori, both of the University of Pennsylvania, suggests that the prestigious degrees aren't as valuable at America's largest corporations as they were a generation ago. If you want to run GE, you might be better off attending the University of Connecticut than Yale." (Found at Slate)
  • What DOES happen to a dream deferred? - FutureMBAGirl writes to let us all know that there's no end to the anxiety: "This weekend has not lead to major boosts of my self esteem. One of the banks at the top of my list decided I was not worthy of an interview. The rejection has lead my anxiety to rise to levels unseen since my business school application." (Found at
  • How Long Before Yoav Gets Beat Down? - Yoav Shapira writes about his frustration with people who are talking in class just to hear the sound of their own voices. How long will it be before his classmates find the blog and pressure him to stop posting this stuff? Yoav's got more guts than I do, assuming that Yoav's no pseudonym and that picture he posted is real. Kudos and keep it coming! And I'd be surprised if this post isn't true of every business school in the country. I've attended a dozen classes at various business schools and saw plenty of it. (Found at
  • Are Job Seekers Entitled To a Formal Response? - "Over the last eight years I've heard from many people complaining about how corporations are like black holes when you are looking for a job. No matter how many times you try to contact them, you often can't even find out if they've received your job application. .... Do you agree with [this] position that corporations are rude and not fulfilling their end of the bargain in relation to people who apply for work from them? I'd love to hear your thoughts." Sound familiar? Sound off! He's asking for reader comments, so send him your thoughts. (Found at Career Journal)
  • B-School Naming Rights Prices Keep Climbing - "Big-time wealth offers the chance to buy a Learjet, an island, an NBA basketball franchise or, these days, a more enduring and worthy bauble: a big-time business school with your name on the gates. In the case of the most prestigious U.S. business schools, the price of immortality -- or something akin to it -- has been going up." (Found at The Detroit News)
  • Elite Schools Get Asses Kicked by IU Kelley MBAs - Indiana University's Kelley School of Business earned the Global Prize title in A.T. Kearney's Global Prize Case Competition, beating nine other teams from schools including HBS, Kellogg, MIT Sloan, Wharton, Columbia, and Chicago. (Found at Indiana U)
  • FT 2005 Business School Rankings - "While the Financial Times 2005 MBA rankings aren't due out until this Monday, the listing was available for a brief time period on the publication's web site yesterday. We're not sure if this was inadvertent or purposeful - but the rankings are no longer visible today. Luckily, a post in the Business Week discussion forums listed the full rankings before the FT site pulled them away..." (Found at Clear Admit & Business Week Forums)
  • Performance vs. Credentials on The Apprentice - A review of the second season of The Apprentice is the last place I'd expect to find this discussion, but it happens nonetheless, down in the 12th paragraph. Quote, "These questions have come up repeatedly on the show: Which serves people better in the business world, education or experience? What's the correct balance? How much should a Harvard MBA "count"? Trump thinks it counts for a lot; he's always favored Apprentices with name-brand diplomas, at times to the point of fetishizing them. Andy had his moments, but the crust of graduation had barely cooled on him, and it showed; still, Trump's fascination with Andy's Harvard degree (and national debate title) kept him in the running longer than he'd have lasted otherwise." I'd say that's a fair assessment of most of America's take on high-falutin' degrees. We're often so bowled over by them we fail to fairly assess an individual's performance. (Found at MSNBC)
  • Where Are They Now? Harvard MBA Opens High-End Veterinary Practice - Collins Anderson became a vet after finishing his Harvard MBA. Before that he was an investment banker in NYC. Do you suppose he wrote his career essays about becoming a doggy doctor? I doubt it. Takeaways: (1) Some people do have the guts to break free of the Naficy-prescribed fast track; (2) pet medicine is going the way of human medicine and it's going to be a big business in all of the country's wealthier areas (and no HMO involvement either!); (3) You may still need another degree beyond your MBA to do what you want to do. (Found at My San
  • Recruiters Speak on Prestige MBA Degrees Vs. Local Programs - Surprise Surprise! Recruiters judge recruits differently depending on where they obtained their degrees. "Most recruiters say the prestige issue is far less important when gauging MBAs from regional business schools. More important typically are factors like experience and character." Lots of interesting takes on name-brand MBAs from the people who do the hiring. (Found at The Kansas City Star)
  • Goldman Sachs CEO Speaks at Huntsman Hall - I'm less interested in the fact that he spoke, than this description: "The chairman and chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs addressed more than 400 students in the Huntsman Hall auditorium. So many students attended that some were forced to watch a closed-circuit broadcast of the lecture in an adjacent room due to the turnout." Takeaways: (1) It sucks that facilities are insufficient to fit everyone in that wanted in; (2) Huntsman's proximity to undergradutes probably meant that some undergraduates were sitting in seats that MBA students would have wanted (had they been on time!); (3) That Wharton could handle the overflow with video hookups indicates not only a high level of technical sophistication but also experience with having had to do this before, which begs the next question: how often does this overflow situation happen? One more interesting nugget: "Paulson also discussed the strong relationship [Goldman Sachs] has with Penn, saying that more people were hired from the University to work at Goldman Sachs in 2004 than from any other school in the country." (Found at The Daily Pennsylvanian)
  • Forehead ad auction hits $30,000 - Andrew Fischer, from Omaha, Nebraska, has pledged to have a non-permanent logo or brand name of the winning bid tattooed on his head for 30 days. "The way I see it I'm selling something I already own; after 30 days I get it back," he told the BBC Today programme. (Found at AttaGirl)
  • Wharton's MBA Admissions Blog! - Lessons For Marketers - The Wharton MBA Admissions Blog gets kudos from a marketing blog, mostly for being very content-rich. (Found at Diva Marketing)
  • Best New Blog Added to My Feeds This Week: Business Boy - I'm reluctant to link to anyone that just has three posts under his belt, but the writing's good (he describes himself as "an essayist by nature") and so I'm adding this link, in part to pressure him to stay regular. (Found at

Edit 1: Added story about Wharton Adcom Blog found at Diva Marketing

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Business School vs. Panhandling, an Analysis

Now that most of the big first round decisions have been delivered, everyone's checking the damage and assessing their options. Some people conduct their post-mortems in private, but some post them publicly so that we may all benefit from their thought processes. Here's a particularly brilliant analysis that I've decided to steal wholesale because I believe it to be particularly well-reasoned:

Let's ask the really hard hitting question here:
Should I go to Business School or become a panhandler in my hometown of Los Angeles?
Panhandling Pros:
  • Expected income of ~500USD/day, 125k per annum (two weeks off per year, no working weekends)
  • Southern California weather
  • no student loans, significant tax advantage
  • heavy emphasis on experiental learning (No case study, no lecture, no learning teams, no class)
Panhandling Cons:
  • Punk highschoolers beaning you with eggs after Homecoming/Prom
  • negative externalities (curbside orange salesmen, po-po, Governator) threaten access to customer base
  • weak brand
Business School Pros
  • showers
  • internet access
  • drinking on the job
  • undergraduates
Business School Cons
  • NPV: -120k USD
  • 240k POC (panhandling opportunity cost)
(Source: Business Week Forums)

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

A Ding Dong Ditty (or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the... ) [Edit 1]

It's the season for acceptances, yes, but for the majority of us it's the season for dingage. In the spirit of all things that go ding, I'd like to introduce you to a very special song. Stop me if you've already heard this one. I'll be humming it in my head all day:

When I was a little bitty boy
My grandmother bought me a cute little toy.
Silver bells hanging on a string,
She told me it was my ding a ling a ling.
(Source: "My Ding-a-Ling" by Chuck Berry)

This is perhaps the greatest of all of the songs written about the ding-a-ling. What's this got to do with MBA admissions? Nothing, perhaps, except to demonstrate that not all dingage is bad and that it is our duty as rejected applicants to go on living and enjoying dings whenever appropriate. Not convinced? Do yourself a favor and go listen to it. I searched for a full version, but couldn't find one.

Edit 1: Waitlisted at HBS. My search is now over. I'm sending in my Wharton matriculation agreement and I'm never looking back. My lessons learned to follow (perhaps tomorrow).

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Congratulations, Bskewl!

I logged in to the Stanford site today to discover the following text: Congratulations, Bskewl! Your application has been successfully submitted.

Wait. Wait a minute. That's not what I was looking for. Hit back a few times. Ahhh, there it is:

Dear Bskewl: Thank you for applying to the Stanford Graduate School of Business. We have completed the review of applicants to the Master of Business Administration Program, and I am sorry that we cannot offer you admission to the MBA Class of 2007."

Well at least they didn't "deny" or "reject" me. They were simply incapable of making an offer. Stanford's fault, not mine (though you'd think that with a Stanford MBA Mr. Bolton can do anything). Guess not! Onward Ho!

I Want You to Want Me Too

The Stanford decisions have started to roll in. I have not received a call yet, but I'm already fabricating excuses.

Honestly, I don't particularly want to go to Stanford anymore (not after the love and money that Wharton has shown me), but I still badly want to be accepted just so that some of my fears of inadequacy can be put to rest. Who doesn't crave the ego boost of acceptance? If Wharton is the only one of my dream schools to accept me, I'd begin to wonder anew whether I was just a borderline case that somehow managed to end up in the wrong pile when the admissions officer carrying an armload of applications to the recycling room collided with the admissions officer carrying the load of accepted applications to the dean's office.

Wouldn't it be nice to be able to tell everyone that I turned down Harvard for Stanford? Stanford for Wharton? Wharton for Harvard? Being accepted everywhere would allow me to reject the others and maintain some of the facade that masks deep-seated fears of inferiority. This I will never admit in public.

But just for fun, let's make the wild and crazy assumption that I'm rejected at Harvard and Stanford. Which of the following lies do I select for my cocktail chatter?

  • Har-what? I'm not sure I've heard of that school, nevermind applied to it. Do you mean Thunderbird?
  • Stanford and Harvard just didn't give me enough money. The Wharton offer was more attractive.
  • My parole officer said I need to stay within 150 miles of NYC.
  • Sure I've got ho's in different area codes, but none in California. I'm not willing to build a new booty-call rolodex. That's a lot of work.
  • Well I visited Stamford and thought it was lame. Plus, I don't like Connecticut at all.
  • I was waitlisted at both HBS and Stanford. I'm not gonna sit around and wait for them to make a decision. Wharton it is!
  • I had lots of sun damage as a child. My dermatologist told me to avoid the sun. Stanford would have been hazardous to my health, perhaps even cancerous.
  • When I discovered that my Stanford alumni interviewer was really a cold fish it just, like, completely changed my view of the school. It was then that I knew I could not attend Stanford ever.

PS: Want a real scare? Log in to the Stanford Application and click on the "Application for Admission" link right above the "Submission Status" text in the center of the page. I'll let you discover the surprise.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Best MBA-Related Reads for the Week ending 2005.01.14

Here's the best MBA-related reading from the week ending January 14, 2005. Did I miss something? Please note it in the comments.

  • Business School Career Cube - See, I knew I picked a winner last week when I called PandaCH's blog the best "new" blog added to my RSS reader that week. He's outdone himself this week, by posting this wonderful image. (Found at
  • Personification of Business Schools - Megami transmogrifies Wharton, Stanford and Harvard into three guys that you'd really like to punch in the nose. Repulsive yet fascinating.(Found at
  • B-School Students with a Cause: Social Responsibility in MBA programs - Business Week says that "A growing emphasis on social responsibility and ethics among MBAs is having a positive impact in the classroom and the real world." How real a trend is this? The article fails to back up its claims that business students are becoming any more caring. Anecdotes do not make a trend. I say it's bullshit, but it's at least hopeful bullshit. (Found at Business Week)
  • The CEO-English Phrase Book - Writes Slate, "when CEOs speak what sounds like English, they're actually talking in an entirely different language." They picked it up at business schools. (Found at Slate)
  • Ding Letters with Style - Any post that starts with "shits and giggles" and then actually delivers on that dangerous combination wins my vote. Read the comments too. (Found at
  • Portable Power - "Portable power, however, goes with you wherever you go. It becomes "intrinsic to the person you are" and thus is more valuable in the long run. The people who survive and thrive after a layoff or other unexpected turn of events, for example, can often fall back on their portable power as a resource." (Found at Worthwhile)
  • Intolerant Bozo of the Week - It was a tough call between Prince Harry and TreeSuit2BusinessSuit, but ultimately Harry's just an inbred idiot while TreeSuit is a genuine ex-Marine bible-perverting jerkface. (Found at TreeSuit2BusinessSuit)
  • B-Schools Encourage Spiritual Exploration - "While graduate-business programs certainly aren't trying to inculcate religious beliefs, more schools are offering courses dealing with spirituality and personal fulfillment. Will the trend help future leaders remain true to their convictions?" Have you actually read the course description for "Creativity and Personal Mastery"? It's amazing, as is the student feedback.(Found at WSJ Career Journal)
  • Rough HBS Interview with Reactions - I've learned to stop trusting Business Week's overzealous thread-deleters, so I'll quote the entire post here:
    Just to add my two cents, I'm also anxiously awaiting next tues/wed. I had a disasterous interview with HBS, though. I felt like the guy was working through his marital problems in my interview (i.e. asking me if I'd feel I wasted my education at HBS if I chose to be a stay-at-home mom, asking me tons of other questions relating to having children, etc.). I mean, freaking A, I'm not even married or anywhere close. Not to mention he asked me "what would your ideal engagement ring look like." He asked me later if I thought his wife was wasting her education since she went to HBS and is now a stay-at-home-mom. I was really stunned after the interview. None of the questions asked could really gauge what I could contribute to a program. Anyways, he did ask me what book I read recently. I don' t know if it was rote formality, but he didn't seem to care much about any of my answers. He cut off almost every single one of my replies, interrupted me several times, and didn't let me finish a thought. Hopefully it was some 'battle of wills' and 'testing of how you'll respond' rather than just a mean, nasty angry interviewer. And for that other poster that keeps rattling on about 'lesser schools," my interviewer actually said, "not to be pompous, BUT it IS Harvard." I'm hoping for Stanford. My interview there went WAY better, and if the alumni are any indication of the population at large, Stanford all the way! Please!
    (Found at Business Week Forums)

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Homos Have no Place in Business School [Edit 1]

Props to Classy n Fun for spotting and calling out what too many people were all too happy to gloss over.

The issue: ex-Marine and business school applicant for the class of 2007 discusses his fit at Darden. Are you sitting down? Get this -- they allow the "partners" of faggots and lezbos to join the Partners Club at Darden. Is that sick or what? Why is there not more outcry in the wider business school community at Darden's overly permissive partners policies? Why, in this day and age of "values" are we just sitting here and letting these people live in sin under the guise of respectability? Why are we even allowing homos access to our bastions of prestige? Stupid lawyers meddling in God's business, that's why!

No, really: because (slowly, very slowly, too slowly) we're beginning to open our minds to people who are different than we are. It took us a while to start letting black men vote, took longer for us to let women vote, and even now, we still discriminate against these and other groups. While I appreciate FMGirl's attempt to find something agreeable in everyone, I think she's gone too far with the following:

One thing I've learned at school - some really cool people can say (IMO) some really intolerant things. But that doesn't stop them from being cool. I'm learning that people are more dimensional than their political/moral viewpoints. Sometimes its hard to be open-minded when you perceive someone is close-minded, but finding that place, I think, makes you a bigger person. (source)

Being permissive of intolerance, hatred, or racism does NOT make you a bigger person. It makes you an accomplice. If you witness unethical, illegal or just plain wrong behavior going on and do not dissociate yourself from it, you become part of it. This isn't just me writing: most ethical codes encapsulate the basic idea that if you see something wrong and fail to speak out against it you become party to it.

I want to quote Mr. Lorence in full so that it's preserved for all time as a testament to his bigotry and intolerance:

Erica and I are really excited about Darden. I have basically written off HBS since they have not given me an interview invite. I could get one in January though. The deadline for rejection is Jan 19, 2005. Yes, my ego is bruised, but life goes on. Anyway, Darden seems like an awesome fit. The more we learn, the better it seems. There are lots of clubs that you can join to include the "Partners" Club. I must admit the name rubs me the wrong way since society, to include business school, has now conformed to the accepted method of “cohabitation.” Hence, unmarried “partners” come to Darden who live together. I guess that includes gay people. I don’t have the time to go off on that tangent…See the link above for the clubs. We are committed to paying for the cost to live as close to Darden as we can. We learned the benefit of living on a Marine Corps base and having access to the facilities, being around other families, etc. We want to replicate that in the business school experience. I got a call from Cheryl Jones, the Assistant Director of Admissions. It looks like Erica, Anna Grace, and I will be going to Darden for Darden Days during 8-10 April. This is when many admits go. We have invited our parents to come so that they can see Anna Grace and take her while Erica and I go look for a place to live. If anyone out there reading this lives within walking distance or a short drive to Darden, please email me. If not, please email me anyways. From the ticker counter, I see there are actually people reading this thing. Unbelievable! (source)
It seems as if my views have garnered a sizeable amount of discord amongst the liberal bloggers. My beliefs and values are based on Biblical principles and teaching. Period, end of story. If one chooses to label that as close mindedness, then I certainly deserve and relish such a moniker. Since I’ve lost the desire to spend much time on this blog anymore, I’m not going to post a large amount of text to give further insight. I wish no ill will toward anyone, even those of different beliefs. Just don’t ask me to accept the liberal, “progressive” ideals as they are, in many ways, contradictory to Biblical principles. I’m sure this will spark even more furry, but that is certainly not my goal. I wish you all well in your pursuit of admissions. (source)

On a lighter note, have you taken the Bible Slavery Quiz? Test your knowledge of scripture!

I suppose this is a wake-up call for me as well. I've been hearing for years the stories from friends who have been travelling through Law School and Medical School and who run into racists, gay-haters, misogynists and other anachronisms. I had no right to expect the business school population to be free of such taint, but still, I'm dismayed.

Edit 1: Appended Harry the Nazi image. Intolerance is all fun and games until your mug's splashed on the front page of a tabloid. Why didn't his friends tell dumb Harry that it simply wasn't funny? They were too concerned with kissing his royal ass in the name of networking, is why. Sound familiar?

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

You're Just Too Damn Vain for Me, Girl [Edit 1]

Thanks to MargaritaLuvr for turning me on to The Streets.

Fit But You Know It (A Side), Fit But You Know It (Remix).

I sing these songs to you, HBS:

  • See I'd reckon you're about an 8 or a 9, Maybe even 9 and a half in four beers time. [Nearly Perfect. Check.]
  • But there's just one little thing that's really, really, really, really annoying me about you, you see: yeah, yeah, like I said you are really fit, but my gosh don't you just know it? [Knows it. Check.]
  • For a while there I was thinkin - yeah but what if? [Who doesn't dream of Harvard, if only for a moment?]
  • I did fancy you a bit though (yeah I must say) I would rather I hadn't mugged myself on display. [I grovelled in my applications. Check.]
  • You're just too damn vain for me girl; playing in a different league from me girl. [Check.]

Edit 1: Found the blog that linked "Fit" for me.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

The Horror. The Horror.

I have never seen Wharton, Stanford and Harvard painted in a more horrific light. Megami scores high marks for originality--I'd never have thought to personify these schools in the style of trashy grocery-store erotica--but low marks for taste. Putting walnuts and Gummi Bears on pizza: similarly original, similarly nasty.

I'm revolted! I'm disgusted. I'm also looking forward to the next installment, where Stanford kicks sand in the face of nerdy Wharton and steals the superficial idiot bimbo with a pickup line that means "You don't need nerds like him, I've got a dime-bag, a case of Corona, two-dozen condoms, a gallon of Astroglide, and 24 hours; all I need is you for the perfect party" but which actually comes out (in the flowery way of porn for women) as "Vanessa, let us absquatulate to my cabin in the Poconos where I shall first bat my mocha-creme eyes at you with such force that the wind generated from my spiky eyelashes shall rend your lacy bodice and send it flying hither and thither but mostly to the floor--the marble floor afforded by my great wealth--in shreds. I, like a tiger, shall lap at your body as I would a dish of fresh, non-GMO, organic, full-cream milk, and then we shall enjoy the sinful pleasures of each other on a bed of rose petals as I recount to you in my deep and manly voice how I scored a 780 on my GMAT."

It just doesn't work. It scares me. But I reckon it'd be interesting to count amongst my classmates a half-blind writer of bad porn. Rock on. There's your diversity, Derrick.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Own Brothels, Casinos [Edit 1]

(All answers by "Wharton" are formed from an anagram of "Wharton Business Schoool".)

BSKEWL: What are Philly winters like? What do you recommend students wear?
WHARTON: Brutal. Chinos, snowshoes.

BSKEWL: I'm goin to be an entrepreneur. What businesses industries do you suggest?
WHARTON: Own brothels, casinos.

BSKEWL: What are the classrooms like at Wharton?
WHARTON: Oh... two cushionless barns.

BSKEWL: I've been meaning to visit Wharton, but have not been able to. Can you describe what students are like at Pub Night?
WHARTON: Hah. Boisterous Clowns.

BSKEWL: If I don't liquidate my ROTH IRA to pay for school I may have to beg for money in Philly! What do you think?
WHARTON: Business loans chow ROTH? Cashless hobos ruin town!

PS: It took me several hours to write this post. Anagrams are tough.

Edit 1: Added post script, gave it a racier title.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

I think I'm turning Japanese. I really think so. [Edit 11]

Nobody seems to have noticed that 17 (out of approximately 60) current student blogs listed at are in Japanese. I clicked on a few of them and here's a pretty typical quote:

Strategy?????????????? MBA?????????? Strategy??????????? Stanford???????????(source)

"Hah!" I thought. This person's got as many questions as I do about the MBA program at Stanford! On thinking about this puzzling post more, I decided to try to install Japanese characters on my computer and try again. That didn't help much -- it changed all of the question marks to squiggly Japanese lines! And so I tried Babelfish, with these results:

Strategy true to its name handles the analysis plan of the enterprise strategy, so far the first, "MBA ? it is and" subject (personal opinion) is. Because subject of Strategy type large number being prepared even with selective subject, is one of the reasons where I choose Stanford, it had enjoyed very, but collating the diversification strategy of the enterprise which was really handled with first class in the basic strategy of that company, the process and the like which it keeps appraising, being very clear, it is funny. In combination also with the text to this course, because it is written, we agree to the contents of proper class, there is also reading answer.

That didn't help much. The first version--before all of this translation--may be the most clear. Still, I can't help but think that there must be something on all of these Japanese-language blogs that's interesting to read. Are there any unique opinions? I fished a few more paragraphs from different Japanese blogs and came up with some interesting translation attempts. Here they are, presented as an interactive quiz. First read the quote, then select the translation that best fits it!

"Very first, the professor quickly and it was visible unreliablly, but while class advances, the air is attached to manner of the steering wheel of class discussion being exquisite." (source)

  1. The professor is sometimes invisible, the better to fly through the air with his magical steering wheel.
  2. It became clear after a while that the professor steered the class discussion very well.
  3. Someone farted in the carpool on the way to class. I think I shall have to buy a new steering wheel.
"Now schedule of term in the afternoon of the month ? wood Strategy (the strategy) with the finance, with is 4 subjects which are said during morning of marketing and operation and the fire ? gold. Physical Education (physical education) with we had decided to take the lesson of golf which is offered in substituting. (Note: It does not become the unit)." (source)
  1. In wood shop today we learned to inlay golden ornamentation into kiln-fired redwood trees. I think I may substitute P.E. for wood shop, but then I wouldn't get credit for it.
  2. I write this blog in Japanese so that nobody will find out that we golf all day (we call this class "Marketing" on our resumes).
  3. I got a golden penis piercing this afternoon, but my girlfriend said "It does not become the unit" by which I think she meant it was unbecoming or ugly, so I shall remove the hoop at my earliest possible opportunity.
"Today of Wednesday there is no class, there was a new happiness event of the club activity, however Club Day. The student group arranging the desk completely in the open space before the library, those which induce new student. The group every of area such as sport system and Asia, Europe and Latin America such as skiing and golf, it is wide to those which are conscious of the employment of consulting and the venture capital etc. from the volunteer circle. If also year fee free ones it is, 45 dollars it raises relatively and there is also a thing. Temporarily turning in a general way, to write all names to any which have interest, after other than whether you are admitted formally afterwards, those which probably will enter without fail, deciding we had decided to pay fee. With the circle of part preparing the novelty of the T shirt and the magnet, etc. it had and started and moved aside. Me the magnet of Marketing Club and the drink bottle of Alumni Association Get." (source)
  1. Today was Club Day. We ventured to an island off the coast of San Francisco and clubbed baby seals. I used a Marketing Club while others used Skiing and Golf Clubs.
  2. Me Tarzan. You 2nd-Year student want Tarzan join club. Me the magnet of Marketing Club and the drink bottle of Alumni Association get.
  3. I put my name down on every club list so that I could get free sports bottles, magnets, pens and other tchochkes. When those clubs start asking me for dues, I'll pretend I didn't understand the sign-up process and made a mistake in putting my name down! Cha-ching, free sports bottle!

Edit 1: Fixed formatting issue
Edit 2: Inserted number of student blogs
Edit 3 through 10: Fighting with formatting

Edit 11: Minor grammatical fixes

Friday, January 07, 2005

Best MBA-Related Reads for the Week ending 2005.01.07 [Edit 3]

  • Flaunt the Rules of Grammer, But Don't Flout Them (Prospect Magazine via - The beat-down is laid upon an obfuscating writer. MBA students would do well good to take this to heart. My favorite quote: "We might wonder why she [the author being lambasted] has found it so difficult to say something so simple. But that surely is the answer: it is because the proposition is so simple that the expression is so muddled. If it had been put straightforwardly, we would have seen at once that it was hardly worth making. One of the reasons that this is bad prose is that it is dishonest prose: in each of these passages the writer is trying to hide the fact that she has very little to say."
  • What Do Women Really Want? (The Public Interest Magazine) - Compares the effects of various family-friendly policies on women with various goals: from traditional (nuclear family) to postmodern (DINC for life). The nut quote: "The case for rethinking what we mean by "family-friendly" policies is put forth not to advance one pattern of motherhood and employment over another, but to give equal consideration to the diverse values that influence how women respond to the conflicting demands of work and family life." All the women chasing MBAs are surely struggling with this.
  • The Coddling Crisis: Why Americans Think Adulthood Begins at Age 26 (WSJ) - MBA applicants are generally ambitious 20-somethings. Compare and contrast to these folks: "Ages 18 and 21 are no longer the true entry points into American adult hood, as more young people today take soul-searching breaks after college or put off starting their "grown-up" lives. A 2003 poll by the University of Chicago's National Opinion Research Center found that most Americans think adulthood begins at about age 26."
  • Student Loan Scares (WSJ) - The following quote summarizes it nicely: "'Student-loan debt collectors have power that would make a mobster envious,' says Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard Law School professor and bankruptcy specialist."
  • New Blog Worth Reading: Panda CH (Blog: PandaCH) - A consultant and business school applicant (what's new?) who (I promise) was selected for this column before he linked to me. Honest. What makes it good is the custom lists. Making such lists requires creativity and I always appreciate that over another "Studied GMAT for 12 hours today. Bleh. Think I'll go do some more SCs before hitting the sack"-type blog.
  • Peter Drucker's Essential Tips for Managers in 2005 (CareerJournal) - Writes Drucker, "the following excerpt is a sampling of "The Daily Drucker," a collection of key statements from my writings, followed by explanation and comments, also from my work, on topics ranging across a great many fields: management, business and the world economy; a changing society; innovation and entrepreneurship; decision making; the changing work force; the nonprofits and their management; and so on.
  • Students Rank Recruiters (Stanford GSB Career Services Office) - More a press release and a bunch of butt-kissing from the Stanford GSB to recruiters and back again than anything really substantive, but still fun to think about it in the way that the Clear Admit blog put it: "the Stanford GSB students have potentially turned the rankings system inside-out by developing their own ranking of recruiters." If only! A ranking necessarily implies that someone's listed last. They'd never do that, but still fun to think about.
  • Stanford Director's Corner: Diverse Perspectives (Stanford MBA Admissions Newsletter) - Always required reading when it's published, and always well written. I love the quote Derrick selects for his riff on diversity:
    A great deal of learning occurs informally. It occurs through interactions among students of both sexes; of different races, religions, and backgrounds; who come from cities and rural areas, from various states and countries; who have a wide variety of interests, talents, and perspectives; and who are able, directly and indirectly, to learn from their differences and to stimulate one another to reexamine even their most deeply held assumptions about themselves and their world. As a wise graduate of ours once noted, ‘People do not learn very much when they are surrounded only by the likes of themselves.’ -- William Bowen, president of Princeton University from 1972-1988
    That is the essence of why I got annoyed at one applicant's suggestion that everyone in a school should have the same chipper personality or even necessarily get along. This is a basic tenet of every quality admissions process, but people need to keep being reminded of it.
  • Clear Admit Sucks (Business Week Discussion Forums) - A pretty thorough discussion of the dangers of relying too much on admissions consultants, and some good tips for how to deal with them if you've got more money than sense and do hire one. [Edit: This thread has now been deleted from the Business Week forums. Some suggest that it was deleted because Clear Admit is an advertiser on Business Week's website. I have not confirmed that they are, but would not be suprised. The thread was actually full of excellent discussion, and the applicant community is poorer for its deletion. Did Clear Admit ask Business Week to delete the thread? Judging from recent traffic analysis, someone out there is clearly concerned about Clear Admit's brand image: I had about four visitors click into this blog when they Googled "Clear Admit sucks."]

Edit 2: Fixed the link to the Stanford Director's Corner letter.
Edit 3: The "Clear Admit sucks" thread was deleted from the business week forums. I updated the last paragraph to note this.

Admitted Students' Theme Song [Edit 4]

Ever since being admitted to Wharton I've been struggling in my search for the words to express my joy and happiness. I finally admit defeat because two men have expressed it in song and dance far better than I could ever hope to express it.

These two links I am about to share with you are the victory dances that I longed to do on December 21 but did not have the guts, imagination or physical vocabulary to do. These videos express my heart on that day, and upon seeing them both, I instantly recognized them as what my soul sings. I suppose this will out me as the energetic sort that loves fruity dance music, and so I must come clean: I'm the one that friends always thank for "breaking the ice" at their weddings. I make such a fool of myself on the dance floor, that nobody ever feels ashamed to dance near me, though they sometimes get smacked by my flailing. That is the second reason I love these guys. We're cut from the same cloth. Linkage ensues:

  • Victory Dance 1 The tune you hear is "Mirage" by Paps and Skar. By the glow of the monitor... realization dawns that our hero is entering a joyous new chapter of life. Thumbs up! Alas, this video is far too short. On to the next.
  • Victory Dance 2 (alt link) The Romanian dance song is "Mai Ai Hee (Dragostea Din Tei)" by O-Zone. Do you see that look of anguish on the applicant's face at the beginning of the video? How he moans and worries about his chances at admission? And then... he refreshes his status page and... SUCCESS!

Is there a name for videos of people dancing with earphones on in front of computer monitors? This is a powerful genre of music video. "Chair Dance Vids" is descriptive, but clumsy. On days like this I love everyone and nothing can get me down.

PS: Friday's "best of" post is still in production.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Jingoism Ate My Baby

Another Zach stopped by to ask me a few questions about my previous post. That such questions were asked indicates that I'm either talking about an entirely alien concept or I'm not communicating well or (most likely) both.

  • He asked, "[The reasons for not publishing anything negative about a school are,] As you mentioned, the emotional investment in the school, and the hope for improved ratings. Why cheer against the home team?" Flip the question. When did it become the responsibility of every student at a school to do PR for that school? School spirit is understandable, but when it blinds you to real problems it becomes a problem. As the Patriot Act and other freedom-limiting legislation so amply demonstrates, there's such a thing as too much spirit. It doesn't matter if you love your country, your religion, your business school or your own mother, nothing is beyond reproach and a critical eye never hurt anyone.
  • Zachary also noted that "many students rely upon alumni for job leads, and many alumni would frown upon someone dissing the school." I think there's a difference between unsubstantiated complaints or rants and well-written accounts of one person's experience with a school. I think also that if I were to expose some atrocity (e.g., that Huntsman Hall were warmed in winter by a large pig farm deep within its cellars and that these pigs were maltreated) that alumni would join me in calling for reform. Why should Business Week be the only publication that can effect change on business schools? It took a dismal review of Wharton's career services to spur the institution into hiring Peter Degnan to reform it. What if one of the students prior to Degnan's arrival had been a vociferous critic? Might this reform have happened sooner? Might more students have benefitted from it?
  • He asked me to explain "the productive benefit of rabble rousing" as well. I think that I've miscommunicated. I'm not interested in stirring the shit just to see how it smells. I'm not malicious. I'm going to try to be fair. But I completely disagree with Zachary that "99% of the MBA experience" is going to be pleasant, no matter where you go. No school has it 99% right, and any school that thinks it's got things nearly perfect is in danger of one of the worst crimes that an individual or institution can commit: complacency.
  • I was asked, "If no other bloggers are writing bad things about their schools, would you want to be the first one to do so?" Yes! What's the point of being a yes-man? Of saying things that only others say? Of being bland? Of carefully navigating life afraid of offending anyone in the slightest? Of silencing your reservations and opinions just so you don't stick out? I'm the guy wearing a sparkly miniskirt, garter belt, lipstick, and nipple clamps on Halloween. I'm the guy that will contradict you in case discussion if I think what you just said makes no sense. I celebrate diversity of opinion and am driven mad by the lack of it in our blogosphere. Look at the fledgling lawyers! Now they know how to argue and have diverse opinions. There's no reason why business school students (of all people) have to look, talk, walk and sound the same from sea to shining sea.
  • Finally, writing with balance is just a helluva lot more interesting. There's a reason why PR Newswire puts limbs to sleep while the Economist, WSJ and New York Times have won the respect of readers all over the world for their attempt to report in a fair and balanced way. I suppose I consider myself a reporter, with a duty to my reader (and to myself) to accurately portray reality as I perceive it. Snapshots from Hell wouldn't be widely read had it been titled Snapshots from Just Another Business School Where Everything Is Peachy Keen and Where Conflict Is Never Discussed.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Wharts and All [Edit 1]

Harvard's got Year One. Stanford's got Snapshots from Hell. What's Wharton got? I'm almost of a mind to attend the school just so that I can publish my own observations on life at Wharton. I'd call it Wharts and All. As the title implies I'd need to do my best to create an objective, balanced record of life before, during and immediately after Wharton.

Boosterism threatens to confound my authorly ambitions, though. The moment a person is accepted to a school his own interests are suddenly realigned in a way that supresses his desire to write anything that might tarnish the institution. Few students or graduates dare write anything that might draw heat or controversy because they want to perpetuate the brand glow that separates these schools from the rest. Meanwhile, graduates of less elite programs hope that if they only squeeze their eyes shut and wish hard enough and never say a mean thing (ever) then they'll be rewarded with the fame and fortune that accompany a rise in the business school rankings.

Thankfulness also conspires against honesty: I already feel incredible personal allegience to Alex Brown simply because he is the face of the admissions committee that chose to baptise the next chapter of my life with an admittance from the big W. I feel obliged to return the favor. I found myself wondering whether I should add my own voice to the ranks of student diarists, thinking that I could help Alex market the school to applicants. I'm not alone in these feelings judging from the tenor of posts that gush about all things positive at Wharton but remain mum on anything that's truly critical. This form of bias also applies to bloggers at other schools. Stanford's lone truthful blogger shut her blog down just a month into the start of the program when a negative post about a classmate's cheating got her into hot water with others at the school. And Mark reads like a Harvard infomercial at times.

The result is that there are very few honest opinions being published from the inside of any of these schools. Wharton comes the closest to actually giving the outside world a real feel for what it's like on the inside (much to Wharton's credit!). Even though the Wharton bloggers who have their mundane day-in-the-life vignettes touted all over the Wharton website are volunteers, they're publishing (and are publicised) on the Wharton admissions site. Surely this comes with either implicit or explicit understanding of what's appropriate and what isn't? (I don't know if they are given guidelines or not.) How likely is it that one of them will level a serious criticism at the school when their supervisor and sponsor in these blogging endeavors is on the school staff? Not likely.

Where are the William F. Buckleys of the MBA programs? Where are the cantankerous rabblerousers who circulate flyers on campus, pen letters of protest, and chain their naked bodies to bicycle racks in order to protest cruelty against something or another? They're all too scared!

They're scared for naught. No single voice is going to change perceived reputation of the Stanford, Wharton or Harvard brands. Most MBA types have an inflated sense of the impact of their own opinions. Did Stanford beef up the quality of its instruction in response to Peter Robinson's complaints? Doubtful. Did Stanford take a dive in the rankings as a result of the book? No. Is the book even that relevant to Stanford today? Doubtful.

And so I really doubt that this piddly little blog and the eventual mega book deal--we're talking four figures easy--that comes with being a faithful and interesting blogger will do much to alter anyone's opinion of Wharton. Confident in my own insignificance, I hereby pledge to to squelch bland boosterism and tell it like it really is.

Check back with me in a year and tell me if I've kept this promise or if I've wussed out.

PS: My, how time flew today! The length of this post is inversely proportional to the amount of work I accomplished today. Luckily, I've trained my secretary to do about 90% of my job.

PPS: For the record, I don't really think there's all that much difference in quality between any of the top business programs. (There are major differences in focus, in student culture, in student and faculty attitude, however.) I mentioned Harvard, Stanford and Wharton here because these schools have managed their brands and massaged their places in the rankings game particularly well. They're top by fiat.

Edit 2: I had incorrectly stated that Wharton's student diarists are selected by the school's staff. This has been corrected.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Fears of My Life

TAKING THE GMAT: Fear of taking the GMAT. Fear of not taking the GMAT. Fear that I will oversleep on the day of the test and miss it. Fear that I will not be able to sleep at all on the day of the test and bomb it. Fear of not studying enough for the GMAT. Fear of scoring poorly. Fear of spending too long on a single, thorny sentence correction problem. Fear of spending so little time on difficult problems that I breeze through the test and arrive at the end with half an hour left and no back button, the terrible realization dawning that I completely misread each question in a fundamental way and that I am doomed to attend NYU. Fear of the clock ticking far too rapidly. Fear of noises in the room distracting me and lowering my score. Fear of clicking that button that irrevocably records the score for all posterity. Fear that my score is not high enough. Fear that I may have to retake the test again. Fear upon reading the Business Week Message boards that everybody in the world scored a good forty points higher than I did. Fear that I'm actually a dumb person for not having done better on the GMAT. Fear that I have wiped a good 342 million memory cells that allowed me to maintain a somewhat tenuous grip upon the mathematics that I'll need once I'm in an MBA program. Fear that I may have to give up even social drinking if I wish to halt what appears to be a rapid descent into mathematical illiteracy. Fear that even if I do manage to become an admissions mistake my GMAT score will be requested by potential employers and will be used to screen me for jobs that I'd love to have, but, alas, I'm completely incapable of handling thanks to my GMAT score.

THE APPLICATION: Fear that my essays, while spellchecked, actually contain a number of errors that I'm just too tired to catch at four in the morning on the day they're due to be submitted. Fear that I made a mistake in waiving my rights to review what my recommenders wrote about me -- fear that my recommenders are evil and have been friendly for years now only so that they could sink the single-most important project of my life to date. Fear that my boss in particular will live up to his reputation for being a spiteful bastard and will slip in the most damning praise that has ever graced an application: "Zach's enthusiasm for work is evident to everyone that works with him. He often takes on so many projects that he sleeps in the office and has sacrificed his personal health and relationships for work. He is an inspiration to us all." Fear, the crippling sort, immediately after submitting the application, that I forgot to find all instances of "Kellogg" and replace them with "Stanford", or worse, that I did replace each and every instance of "Kellogg" with "Stanford" but I submitted the application to Wharton. Fear that somewhere in Palo Alto right now Derrick Bolton is getting shitfaced with all eight of his staff as they pass around first a bong and then my application, each reading a quote from one of my essays that is met first with three beats of stony silence, and then, rapid, percussive, snot-spraying giggle explosions. Fear that one of my horrid phrases will inspire such bladder-loosening, asthma-inducing laughter that one of their number will be both soiled and hospitalized and that he will angrily shred my application in retribution the day after he is released from the hospital.

ACCEPTANCE AFTERMATH: Fear that the people that Wharton hires to investigate me will discover some careless mistake or another in my application and pull the rug out from under my hopes, dreams and aspirations only after I have announced my plans to coworkers, friends, and family and only after I have quit my job and that I shall have to live in ignominy thenceforth. Fear I am not an admissions mistake but an admissions experiment that began with someone double-dog daring Alex Brown to admit a real fuck-up just because everyone knows that Alex never turns down a double-dog dare. Fear that I will be called onto a stage in front of an auditorium full of admits at the Winter Welcome Weekend and presented with a special runners-up plaque that acknowledges certain "charms" in my application but which regretfully rescinds the offer of admission and would I please use stage left to exit so that they can get on with the program? Fear of lame-duck-itis that will cause my coworkers to remember me not at all fondly. Fear that this stroke of luck has upset some karmic balance somewhere and that I will be flattened by the M3 uptown bus or diagnosed with elephantiasis or that a condom will silently and secretly fail vaulting my debt burden easily over the $140,000 mark.

There are of course the fears that will come with MATRICULATING, THE JOB HUNT and with MY FIRST JOB OUT OF SCHOOL, but I'll enumerate those fears when I have a little more experience with them.

I had hoped to start with my hopes for the new year, but I was inspired by developmentally disabled author Michael Bernard Loggins, who, in Fears of Your Life lists 138 of his fears, small: "#53 Fear of Bats" and big: "#85 Fear that if you put too much toilet paper in the toilet bowl it will run over and get all over the floor and on you and on someone else too, it would leak from upstairs to the next floor below." Listen to Act II at minute 33:40 for an audio rendition of it.