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One more school--UCLA or Wharton? [#permalink]
27 Nov 2006, 21:00
I thought your "Great Application Essays..." was great. I'd sincerely appreciate if you could let me know your thoughts on my candidacy for business school.
Background: 730; 3.6; 2nd tier college; co-captain of varsity tennis team; no community service; 4 years work exp in operations at investment firm, recently promoted to manager; CFA. Essays have been turning out pretty well, and I think my recs will be good. Also, I've been talking to several people at each school, which has really helped.
Goals: want to work as a securities analyst at an investment mgmt firm and eventually work my way up to a portfolio manager.
My top choice is Chicago, and I was invited to interview, but I don't think it went very well. Crossing that one off the list. I have also applied to Haas. For round 2, I'm applying to MIT and one other school, and I can't decide whether I should shoot for the moon and go for Wharton or whether I should play it (relatively) safe and apply to UCLA.
Both are good finance schools. I most likely want to end up somewhere near the west coast in the long-run (but definitely not LA). For family reasons, I really need to go to school this year, and I'm worried that I won't get into any of my choices.
Just curious when you say the interview with Chicago didn't go well, do you mean that you feel that you bombed it and therefore unlikely to be admitted or just that your impression of the school changed after the interview? In either case, I am curious to know why.
Well, every school has its stereotypes, and I had heard that Chicago students were hypercompetitive, arrogant, and elitist. But in the course of researching schools, I spoke with at least a dozen students and recent alumni from Chicago, and didn't find this to be the case at all. In fact, I found Chicago students to be MUCH friendlier than some other programs that tout "community" as their strongest asset.
But my interviewer fit all the stereotypes, and I didn't handle it well. She was obviously very successful, but seemed a little narcissistic--she told me her GPA (4.0) and the number of people she managed (35) just out of the blue. She showed up late to the interview, didn't reserve a conference room at her firm (so we had to hunt around for an open room), called me by the wrong name (she was doing multiple interviews that day), and generally seemed pretty pessimistic about the school (she didn't like the social scene) and an mba in general ("just a stamp").
But what killed me was that I tried to ask her "WHAT part of her Chicago experience motivates her to give back (in the form of interviewing prospective students)", but it must have come out like "WHY do you give back?" And then she said that combined with my minimal community service, my question "was a tell" (that presumably I'm not the type of person who likes to give back). I can't believe she actually said "was a tell" to my face.
So it was a good learning experience. The program is still my top choice, though maybe a little less so now.
Now I'm looking for another finance school to apply to. The NY schools won't work for family reasons. Do schools like Cornell, Duke, and Dartmouth have good finance programs? They don't make the US News top ten for Finance, but some of the schools that do (NW, Haas) I don't think of as "Finance" schools. I'm leaning towards UCLA.
Nah, I figure that's just the way it goes. Sometimes these things work out, and sometimes they don't. I think that saying anything to the adcom would just come off as petulant.
If I'm lucky enough to get waitlisted, maybe I'll volunteer to give another interview (with hopefully someone a little more on my wave level).
I think you are within your rights to contact Chicago about the bad interview. You need to do so in a very above-board way--i.e., with the same unacrimonious tone you use in your post, just 'wow, that didn't work out, how can I make it better?' You do need to give them some specifics, however. They get these kinds of reports on alums occasionally and I doubt that they assume it's your fault unless you handle your inquiry poorly. Maybe they'll give you another chance.
As for your schools, you could give Wharton a go as a longshot, though lack of community is a nontrivial negative. UCLA and Haas are not safety schools for, but you have fair/decent shots at both. Can Cornell, Duke, and Dartmouth place you in finance positions with prominent firms? Most definitely they can, though if your goal is the West Coast long term, you should obviously favor schools like Haas, UCLA, and USC.
Thank you by the way for plugging my book. If you felt like posting a short positive review on Amazon.com I would be eternally in your debt.
Paul, No problem about the Amazon rec--I just posted it, and I guess it takes a day or so to show up. Happy to do it.
I'm still pretty wary about contacting the adcom about the interview. I would never do that for a regular job interview. I understand this is a little different though.
If I do decide to send something maybe I'll post it here first to see what everyone thinks.
Much obliged, thanks! I understand your hesitancy in raising the issue with Chicago, though I do think they understand that interviews sometimes don't go right and wouldn't be judgmental *if you handled the inquiry right.* (I.e., no anger, personal attacks, whining, etc.)