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Why not to go to a world mba fair [#permalink]
14 Oct 2006, 07:06
Been meaning to post this for a while...
1) The tell you it starts at 6pm, but really it starts at 7. At six they have some "panel" discussion you can go to about the GMAT. And guess who's hosting it? The local director of Kaplan. G, I wonder how this discussion will end? Maybe with a pitch about the need for professional prep? I wonder....
2) Some schools have only a student representative, others have no students. Either way, you are left standing in line to talk to one person for two or three minutes. You'd get more by calling the admissions office from the comfort of your home and just chatting up whoever answers.
3) Your email address is provided to everyone who attended - schools and not - and after attending you'll get all sorts of interesting invites from schools and programs in which you are not interested. Then you start getting stuff from Kaplan and other services. Pretty soon schools start sending you moronic stuff: http://www.katzquiz.com/ -- as if looking at this quiz is going to make me want to apply.
4) You actually pay for this right.
5) While you wait to be let in to talk to schools, a sales lady from your local newspaper tries to get you to sign up for service.
I agree with Rhyme's assessment of the event but I have a slightly different conclusion. I actually thought it was helpful in eliminatiing a number of schools from consideration.
First, the panel discussion is total bunk. I was lucky in that I actually arrived a little late and stood near the doorway for a second before going inside. That turned out to be a stroke of luck because I was able to turn around and walk across the street to Starbuck's until 7PM.
They did give out my email address, but to tell you the truth I had already been receiving a bunch of emails from random sources because I selected to receive notifications when I took the GMAT. On the plus side, I was invited to attend Cornell's reception for their top scholarship and also got an email from Boston University saying that 75% of the people in my score range received full scholarships the year before and that I could have a fee waiver and a decision within 1 week if I applied right away. I guess the emails don't bother me that much.
Now to the event itself. I have lived and worked in a variety of places around the US, and I'm pretty sure that I want to be back on the west coast after business school - this is pretty important for me. I was able to learn quite a bit by asking the reps about access to the west coast job market and the strength of their alumni base in the area. Here were some of the reactions that were telling:
Yale - the recent grad that I talked to admitted that access to the west coast job market was very limited. She did suggest that the Yale name was strong and that there were plenty of people with Yale undergrad degrees on the west coast. Not exactly what I would call a strong alumni base compared to other business schools.
Darden - the recent grad that I asked said that I'd have to do most of the legwork if I hoped to get a job on in San Francisco. I learned that she landed her job through here sister - a Haas graduate. Not exactly a ringing endorsement for the reach of the Darden alumni network. Still, I had a very positive experience at the Darden reception a few days later and I will probably apply.
NYU - this girl got a scared and confused look when I asked her about landing a job in San Francisco. Clearly this was not something that most NYU grads consider. It's not a surprise, because they have such incredible access to the jobs on Wall Street, but if you are someone that wants to work elsewhere or in an industry other than banking/finance you need to do serious research about NYU.
Duke - The not so recent grad I spoke with admitted that not very many west coast recruiters visit the school, but was very positive about the "treks" that the put together. They bring groups of students each year to cities where students would like to find jobs (including LA & SF of course) and arrange for meetings with companies in the area. He also said that alumni were very receptive to inquiries from students. This was a contrast to NYU and Yale, where I didn't get the feeling that a cold call from a student would be well-received by alumni.
Tuck - My brief conversation with the adcom left no doubt that it was a serious chore to get into and out of Hanover. She was quite positive that there was good representation from west coast firms in on-campus recruiting, and she added that because Tuck is so remote, recruiters are forced to stay overnight and are often available for additional meetings and such after scheduled on-campus events. Also, the alumni base is really tight, and SF is the 3rd biggest destination for their grads. I left thinking there is no doubt that finding a great job on the west coast should be no problem at Tuck, but I also started to wonder about how remote (and cold) it is. If you go there, don't plan on flying out every few weeks to visit friends - it's a chore to get out.
UCLA - Fortunately (for both me and UCLA), I live close enough and have enough of a history with them that my reaction to them at the event need not matter. The recent grad I spoke with was rather rude and kind of pompous. I just let it slide and moved on, because I already know the campus (was there for undergrad) and I am planning a visit to the business school, but if she was my only contact with the school I would strike them from my list.
Berkeley - a grip of people. Barely fought through the crowd to pick up a pamphlet. It's clear to me that if you live in the Bay Area and you want to attend Haas, you need to do something to distinguish yourself from the huge number of applicants from the local area. Not a shocker, but something that was easily gathered from the event.
There there were schools like Wharton, Chicago, Kellogg & Columbia, where there's just not that much to ask about. The crowds in front of the Wharton & Columbia tables were prodigious (makes be wonder how many of them were competitive canditates), and there's really not much point in asking Wharton something like "how's access to jobs in SF?" It did give me some solace that schools with big names probably draw a lot of apps from people that either aren't qualified or don't execute properly. I have a feeling that very few people stress over every last word like those of us here at GMATclub - I hope it pays off in the end for us.
So, I would say that if you want to get some general information and reactions, it is a good event. If you need some in depth answers to your questions then skip it. It was a good way for me to weed out a number of schools, I guess primarily from my back-up candidates. I think I'm going with Duke and Virginia, but dropping NYU, Yale, Tuck & Cornell for various reasons. Some schools I was going to apply to no matter what (like Wharton), and other schools I needed more info so I attended info sessions (Chicago, Kellogg, Darden). I will say that it definitely saved me the time of attending the Yale & NYU info sessions that took place the next day.
I thought it was worth the $5 that I paid. Nobody tried to sell me anything. I will say that I felt bad for some of the reps from schools that nobody wanted to talk with. I was in line at the Tuck table for about 5-6 minutes and not one single person visited the table for Northeastern right next to it. I smiled at the rep to try to be nice, but I still felt kind of bad.
pelihu's report of alumni strength on the West Coast is almost exactly in line with the alumni mass index values for Yale and Dartmouth. Almost all of the truly national MBA programs are contained in the ultra elite cluster.