One week after attending Harvard and Stanford’s info sessions in downtown Los Angeles, I attended the MIT Sloan info session in Santa Monica.
SWITCHING OUT BERKELEY HAAS FOR MIT SLOAN
Initially, I had registered for an info session for Berkeley Haas on the same day; however, that was before I decided to apply to my Consortium schools in round two. I need to focus all of my attention on my R1 schools right now; then I can switch gears and devote 100% of my energy to the R2 schools, including Berkeley.
I’m pursuing this plan of action for two reasons:
1) My job is bananas right now with the biggest software release my company has had in 3 years fast approaching. In fact, when I attended the MIT info session after work, I RETURNED to work for another hour or two of critical tasks before leaving sometime past 10pm.
2) As much as I had planned to have my essays all wrapped up by now, they’re not. Even though several have been written for weeks and weeks, they take a LOT of revision to get right. Additionally, that revision should not be done hastily or with only one set of eyes. It takes writing the essay, not looking at it for a week, editing, sending it to someone else to review, waiting for them to get back to you, editing, not looking at it for a few days, re-editing, realizing you need to throw out half, rewriting, editing, sending it to someone else…you get the point. Its torture; and time consuming.
Also, since Berkeley is in California, I can do a campus visit later this year. I knew that I wouldn’t be getting to Sloan’s campus anytime soon, so this info session was crucial for me so that I could make contact with the admissions staff and get my questions answered (from Sloan, that is).
The fact that Berkeley has been such an elusive school for me to get face time with (missing a previous info session and not getting to sit with them at the Riordan/DMAC event after having requested them) made this a tough choice; but I knew it was the right one. So, I sent Haas a cancellation notice to allow some other deserving person to have my spot at their R1 info session.
GMAT RETAKE PLANS CANCELLED
Needless to say, there will be no more GMAT-ing for me. While I know that I”m fully capable of a 730/740 once I master timing myself (lack of time is the main reason why I feel like I capped out @ 700 previously; especially on the quant) I would have needed to plan about an extra month to give myself enough time to re-review, practice timing and be on point for the performance.
SOME SMALL TALK, TEAM MBAOVER30 AND CHANGE OF PACE
I was quite happy to see that Sloan decided to host its info session in Santa Monica. While it is not the most central place in the city, being that it’s on the ocean, it was an easy 35 minute drive down a few major west side streets for me. Additionally, I was less stressed out while travelling there and found parking right across the street from the hotel that I only had to pay $1 for (as opposed to the $40 that I had to cough up for my HBS info session).
Per my usual, I arrived early. I ended up sitting next to two prospective students who worked in finance. As it turned out, they just happened to be familiar with the company I work for. They met each other while working for the finance outfit that worked on my company’s IPO several years ago before it was sold to the PE firm that currently owns it. Our common thread made for nice small talk while waiting for the info session to begin.
Naturally, they knew some of my coworkers, including one of my recommenders. Now one of them works in the finance department of an aerospace company while the other is in the same function for a gaming company.
I also met one of my readers, Andrew, during the event; thus, continuing my almost perfect record of being recognized by SOMEONE at nearly every event that I’ve gone to. So much for anonymity. Ant any rate, I want to give a big shout of to Andrew! Best of luck on your 2012-13 admissions goals! Definitely comment and keep me updated with your progress and results bud.
THE MOST ADMISSIONS-SPECIFIC INFO SESSION THUS FAR
When the admissions officer began her spiel, I initially thought that I was going to be in for some boring restatement of stuff I had already read on the website. While she certainly covered the expected bases, she devoted a lot of time to the admissions process and what they were looking for. In fact, Sloan’s turned out to be the most admissions-specific info session that I’ve been to up to this point.
I think this may be the case due to MIT’s unique approach to admissions. Admissions in general is a very subjective process. And while Sloan’s process is not 100% free of subjectivity, is the most objective that I have heard of. Knowing that her school’s process was off the beaten path, I”m sure the adcom officer wanted to make sure we understood exactly how and why.
I also got a burning question of mine settled once and for all. I had read some time ago on The Essay Snark’s blog that you shouldn’t mention your goals on Sloan’s app because their adcom really doesn’t want to hear it. Then at the Riordan/DMAC event I got my face cracked when the adcom officer who represented Sloan basically said that advice was bunk.
On this day, however, I learned from the horses mouth that the actual truth was at the midpoint between those two pieces of advice. I raised my question about the two opinions that I had received, demonstrated the obvious contradiction and put a period on my question with “which is it“? There were several giggles in the room over that.
The answer that I got was [basically] that Sloan isn’t really interested in what you say you’re going to do because you probably won’t end up doing that. Statistically, 80% of Sloan’s students change careers while in the program, many not even knowing about their chosen professions before they get there. That corroborated the bit about goals being less important.
She did, however, say that they’d like for you to be very clear on your need for an MBA and why now, which corroborates some of what the other adcom officer at Riordan spoke about. Why you need the MBA and why now is basically the first leg of your goals statement, which is traditionally followed by your immediate, mid (optional) and long term MBA goals. So finally, it was settled. I now knew exactly what I needed to do to tweak my Sloan essays, which had been bothering me for weeks.
SLOAN’S OBJECTIVE ADMISSIONS PROCESS
According to the admissions officer, Sloan grades each applicant on X number of criteria. Then the 800 highest scores get interviewed. Lastly, the class is chosen from approximately 60% of that 800, a certain percent of which will choose other programs over Sloan. Knowing this, it makes perfect sense why Sandy Kreisberg is always telling people with high GMATs that they will probably get into MIT.
While this is not necessarily true, knowing about this objective grading scale adds some explanation to why a high GMAT score is definitely to your benefit. Knowing that also makes me feel a little ill about not having the time to do a retake like I had planed.
A scored approach vs. the more widely known subjective approach has both its pros and its cons. And whether the objective nature of the process registers as a “pro” or a “con” depends on your individual situation.
People who have worked hard for high GMAT scores and GPAs can rest assured that they will get a bump in preference regardless of other weaknesses in their application. On the other hand, folks who may have weaknesses in their status but are strong in other areas may not feel that they are getting a fair shake.
Regardless of what camp you sit in, its good to be aware of how this process works and how you might stack up against your competition within it if your sights are set on Sloan.
THE MOST PARTICIPATING ALUMNI
Something else that impressed me about Sloan was their alumni. One would think that H/S/W would be way ahead of them in terms of west coast alumni representation. And while that might be true in reality, it was not evident at the info session.
There must have been about 12 or so alumni who made up the Sloan panel. I found it odd that they stood the entire time, but they were very engaged and quite reminiscent of their times at MIT. That said a lot to me about the quality of the experience of that program.
TOP MBA PROGRAMS REALLY ARE UNIQUE
Whenever I’ve heard top MBA programs pontificate about their supposed uniqueness, I’ve always received that information with a bit of skepticism; however, attending info sessions has shown me a cut and dry uniqueness in each. One example of differentiation between them that I have observed has been the kind of people who even show up to the various info sessions.
Aside from the group of us who seem interested in multiple schools, each group thus far has been very distinct. From the HBS suits, to the laid back Stanford-types, to the MIT techies. If I had to guess the professions of those in the Sloan info session, I’d bet good money that 60% or more of them were engineers. That made me realize why the person who represented them at Riordan/DMAC was so adamant about talking about the non-engineering students who were doing great things at Sloan. Non-engineers are apparently who MIT looks for in order to create a diverse class; makes sense.
NO FOOD TO FEED THE MULTITUDES
Where are 2 fish and 5 loves of bread when you need them? The only downside to the Sloan info session was its lack of food. Not that I am the type of person who generally expects that (actually, I generally eat before I go anywhere), but the past few info sessions have really spoiled me; but is it really spoiling? I mean, these info sessions ARE right after work and DO tend to last through dinner time.
Its a logistical issue. There just ins’t any time to get food AND be on time if you have an even remotely demanding job. And by the time you’re done, it will have been hours and hours since you’ve eaten. So needless to say, by the time the info session ended, I was doubled over with hunger pangs; nevertheless, I still had a smile on my face as I had received a great deal of insight that I can apply to my application strategy for one of my target schools.
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