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Musings on a Post-Bac

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Musings on a Post-Bac [#permalink] New post 11 Jun 2010, 13:29
Hey Alex,

Thanks beforehand for the time and effort you will put into reading, reflecting upon, and answering this post.

I have been working abroad in Europe for several months and have gained some great work experience. It is a start-up company that is just getting off the ground. My role has largely dealt with the firm’s plans for the American market, so my lack of French skills hasn’t been an issue career-wise. That is now changing, however, as we leave the preliminary changes of the company’s life cycle and the firm becomes a true going-concern. This means that I will have to learn French to continue my advancement. As much as they can, the owners have indicated I will have a new salaried position upon my return to Europe provided I am fluent. In the meantime, I will continue to work for this firm essentially on a consulting basis, as there are still some minor issues that will arise from time to time for which they will need my assistance. I cannot support myself over there on intermittent consulting earnings and so have returned to the United States to learn French for the several months it will likely take until I am fluent.

How do adcoms view post-baccalaureate degrees? I realize everything is in context, but, all things equal, would it be best to a) formally matriculate at a university to earn a BA in French or b) learn French autodidactically? In either case, I will continue to work for the European firm and plan to list the same my CV, although I will make clear my new role. My concern is that if I earn the BA, it will appear as if I am not working too hard for the European company (which, in all honesty, will probably be the case for --- per the above --- without French there is not much more I can do for them, maybe 5-10 hours/week).

At the same time, however, could this work to my advantage? You see, I am a 2005 grad and very aware that some of the top schools (yes, I am a "top school or bust" kinda guy) are trending downward in desired WE. Would a year off from working reduce my WE in turn or, when we speak of WE, do we basically mean “time since bachelor graduation?” The amount of consulting work I will be doing during this period is insignificant enough not to list on my CV if it means I will have 4 years of WE instead of 5 when I apply this fall. If I pursue the BA, I will be a full-time student and my CV will reflect that accordingly, with or without the consulting entry*. If I do not pursue the BA, I will surely keep the consulting on my CV (don’t want to make it look like I am eating cheetos all day :wink: ) and just learn French on my own. Is this problematic?

Would the BA be a beneficial counter to the BS I have already earned? To reinforce my right brain strengths and differentiate my candidacy from that of the majority of b-school applicants? How would the post-bac grades impact the GPA of the original bachelor degree? Would adcoms take a cumulative on all my bachelor work (both the BS and BA) or will they disregard the post-bac grades (even though it will be a bachelor degree and not graduate study which, as you have pointed out elsewhere in this forum, is known for easier grading).

Appreciate your help.

-----
*If I avoid the consulting entry will it look like I am going back to school to avoid work? I think it would be clear enough the post-bac is career-related; it's not like I am going back for English Lit.
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Re: Musings on a Post-Bac [#permalink] New post 12 Jun 2010, 09:43
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One year of classroom instruction will give you at best, basic to functional knowledge of French.

You become fluent by *living* the language, not by studying it. You need the habit of interacting on a daily basis in your life speaking the language to understand the nuances, inferences, subtext and tone that is specific to French speakers which you cannot pick up in a classroom.

As you may or may not know, language even in a business environment isn't just about conveying information -- it's about revealing intent. And that is more than just vocabulary and grammar, but context which you can only gain through experience by interacting with French speakers for an extended period of time on a daily basis in many different kinds of contexts (from running errands to dining with acquaintances over dinner to sales meetings and everything else in between).

Moreover, spending just 2 months speaking French 24 hours a day in France (or Quebec) will teach you more French than one year of classroom instruction in the United States.
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Re: Musings on a Post-Bac [#permalink] New post 12 Jun 2010, 18:43
You make some good points. The university study was to be in addition to self-study, however. Couple this with the fact that I already know some French from having lived over there and have access to the French expat community in my town (people with which to talk in order to learn those nuances), I think I could swing fluency in several months. If nothing else, I would gain an extremely solid foundation (grammatical fluency, so to speak) from which to build upon my return. But you're right: immersion is clearly the best means of learning a language and it is my intention to get back there as soon as possible.

Does work experience mean time actually spent working or, per my original post, total time since finishing one's bachelor degree?

Also, what is your take on rounding GPA? If a transcript says "y.x9", would it be acceptable to round that up to "y.(x+1)0" on the CV or do you suggest keeping it out to the hundredths? Opinions on this vary considerably. How have you advised your clients?

Thanks again.
Re: Musings on a Post-Bac   [#permalink] 12 Jun 2010, 18:43
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