Thursday, June 19, 2008

School visits

If I could offer you one piece of advice, it would be - wear sunscreen.
A notch after that would be, visit the schools you plan to apply to.
As an international, flying over the Atlantic, then airport hopping across the USA poses a financial and workplace challenge. Especially if you don't want people at work to know you're looking at an MBA.

I can't put my finger on what drove us to visit schools, but I'm so glad we did.
You can do all the research in the world and "know" everything there is to know about the school, but you won't know the school. The only way to feel the culture and atmosphere is to experience it. Talking to people from the school, alumni, students, cleaning ladies etc. helps, but you will truly know if you "fit" the school once you've visited.

So, once again, visit the schools you plan to apply to.

I found the value of the visit was tremendously increased by contacting current students and arranging to spend some time with them so you'd have the chance to ask questions, maybe go out together and experience what it's like being an MBA student there.

Schools offer class visits, usually followed by lunch with current students (some pay for it, some don't), maybe a Q&A session and some are even nice enough to provide parking for your cool (so 90's) rental.

At minimum you need a day at each school for the class visit and spending some time with students. If there's one thing I do regret is not spending 2 days (two full days, not land, find hotel, visit school 2nd day) at each school to have one day free to get to know the place and more importantly (much more) the nightlife.

It's also nice if you join one motel/hotel club membership and stick with it so you'd probably end up getting a night or two for free during your trip. I used and was fairly happy saving $100+ staying one night in Boston.

Prior to the trip, I thought I knew what schools I wanted and what they would be like (more or less). I found out that some schools I thought I'd fit right in, I didn't like and some I thought would be nice - I fell in love with.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Getting a US student visa

Today we went to the US embassy to apply for a student visa for my fiancĂ©e (she’s also in my class of 2010).
The overall experience was pretty painless though I went to register for voting for the first time while I was there and it’s substantially easier on the US citizens side.
I have not heard of stories of international students who did not get the visa, but better be prepared.
So here are a few tips we gathered while listening on other people’s interviews:

1. Come at least 20 minutes prior to your interview. The security checks take time and it seems they invite groups of people once an hour rather than stream them every few minutes or so. So you want to be there before the full group gets there.
2. Don’t hide anything – they know anyway
3. Even though they took your fingerprints on the first step where you present your documents, don’t run off to the interview line. You are required to give your fingerprints again at a nearby window. I have no idea why, but if you don’t do it you may have to start the process all over (so the facilitator there says).
4. Bring a pen (black preferred). It’s a bummer to crowd around the few pens they have there or asking people to use theirs.
5. If you already have/had a US visa – bring it. They don’t ask it on their website and it’s not mandatory, but they sometimes ask if you have it.
6. Bring a paycheck. Again this is not something they specify on the website, but they sometimes ask for it. Better safe then sorry.
7. Bring cash. Preferably exact change. In Israel we paid 33.5 NIS for the postal delivery of the passport+visa.

*Information based on experience in US embassy in Tel-Aviv and is merely a suggestion. Author not responsible for any damage, loss or anything anywhere ever.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Should You Get An M.B.A.?

I tried out the Forbes business school calculator. I got the following results:
Yayks! I had the notion, but it's different when you actually see the numbers.
So I'm leaving a good career progress and a nice salary, stability, friends, family and all of that behind. Why do I want to get an MBA?

I had to answer this in the five applications I wrote, but even before that, I had to answer this in order to know if I even wanted to apply in the first place.

I like money just like the next person. Well, I apparently don't like it enough to keep it and patch up that hole I have in my wallet, but anyway, money's not the (main) reason for the MBA. I'm not even looking at investment banking.

Ok, so I would have gotten my next promotion in a few months. That would have been nice, but then what?

It's the leap. The doors that would be opened for me once I'm in a top b-school, the top notch education I'll get to understand all the business components and how they all come together, the fantastic people I'll meet (and already have met some). It's that quantum leap.

Why do you want to get an MBA?
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