Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Top 5 B-School Admissions Panel

This evening I attended the Top 5 B-school Admissions Panel (or whatever unoriginal name they're calling it) in Washington, DC. It was held at the Capitol Hilton, a very nice, large conference room in a ritzy hotel. The link to the event is here, first provided by Soni (who sadly couldn't make it due to work) : http://www.alumni.upenn.edu/club/bsap/ There are other dates, all this week, in the other big urban centers like NY and Boston and San Fran so check it out. Mine was sponsored by the Penn club in DC and Kaplan (bleh) too. And it's free.

So I got there early and you could tell it was a high-powered affair. Only the top 5 schools (in the sense that they're the only schools to ever hold the top slot in either BW or U.S. News since 2003 according to Son). Their fancy brochures were laid out on tables for grimey hands to pick up. MIT Sloan even had some sweet pens. A funny thing I noticed is that HBS had 2 smaller pamphlets that didn't have any title or discernable point to them other than the generic propoganda. 3 hours later I realized that one was targeted towards women and the other towards minorities. As an over-represented majority minority male, I guess I shouldn't have touched them. Oops.

A couple observations. The vast majority of the aspirants in attendance looked very well put-together. Definitely like future business leaders. I didn't talk to any of them as I had a friend with me for a crutch but still, I could tell. They were all dressed smartly, had good posture, clean hair/teeth, didn't scratch their butt, etc. The future business leaders of the world will at the very least be presentable and well-groomed :) The other great thing is that a good 40% of the room of 800-900 were women. Considering the top b-schools only have around 35% women, this was a welcome sight. And they were attractive women too in many cases. Win win all around. I also recognized someone I dislike from work and a girl whom I hadn't seen since college in attendance.

So apparently there's a silent auction for a group Kaplan class. I didn't stick around to learn the winning bid. The panelists from left to right are: Judith Hodara from Wharton, Eileen Chang from HBS, Derrick Bolton from Stanford, Sloan lady, and Kellogg lady. Sorry, I don't remember their names. As you may recall, I am a Columbia ED guy so I was only there to glimpse some insight into HBS and Wharton. Mostly Wharton though. I think I'm deluding myself with the HBS pipedream. Anywho...

They've split up the topics so that each school gets to talk about only one admissions factor even though what they say is meant to be broadly applicable to all the schools on the panel. So in otherwords, one school is speaking for all five schools. Weird format. Judith Hodara from Wharton starts off with "Academic Standing and GPA". She says what we all already know about there being no limits and cut-offs and how admissions is a wholistic process. No real info. Eileen from Harvard is next on the topic of "work experience." No info either. Derrick from Stanford then talks about interviews. And then the two nameless ladies speak but I've fallen asleep so I don't know what's going on. Seriously, I dozed off because they were speaking in such platitudes! Then there was an open Q&A session with some stupid and some surprisingly entertaining questions (one older applicant if it's okay that he write about formative experiences from the 90's).

I did find the dynamic between the schools interesting though. Judith and Eileen both clearly dominated the talking during the Q&A session. They were very assertive with the microphone and both were extremely articulate and well-spoken. They sounded like they knew exactly what to say and gave just the right proportion of response and ambiguity that is needed of public figures such as themselves. Impressive. They really represented their institutions well as the best in the country. Derrick from Stanford took a different approach. He didn't dominate the mic though he definitely was 3rd place in terms of amount of talking done. He spoke very sincerely and sounded like he was having a conversation with the entire audience... he seemed like a nice, personable guy and tried to give the most honest answers of the three. I can see why Stanford has the offbeat reputation. I liked him. The two nameless ladies from Sloan and Kellogg were kinda embarassing to watch. They never siezed the mic and weren't particularly articulate. I was kinda taken aback.

Eileen and Judith kinda leaned towards each other when the others were speaking too, almost as if they have a secret pact to raise themselves up as the 2 best MBA programs in the country. They could've convinced me tonight. Once the Q&A was done, the room full of aspirants flocked to elbow each other for a chance to speak to their fav school's rep. My friend and I walked out to get some dinner. California Pizza Kitchen. Mmm.

So what did I learn? Not much. I fell asleep. The panel was useless (almost) to me because I am probably a bit ahead of the game judging by the general questions being posed during the Q&A session. Also, the adcom themselves admitted this is the very start of the admissions season. At one point, I wanted to jump up and ask how Chicago and Columbia felt about not being included in the panel :P So that's my report. I know you didn't find it helpful but I was honest.

In other news, neither of my recommenders are done. I think I'm going to have to step up the annoyingness. I am making steady progress with my essays though. Also, I need to stop stressing. I am kinda stressed that I have to find a new roommate during this busy time but truth be told, I still have 25 days until I need a roomie to move in. Unlike New York, where I feel like people find their new apartment well over a month in advance, people in DC don't seem to finalize their living arrangements until 3 weeks beforehand. The uncertainty kills me but I need to just breathe and chill the heck out. I need a mojito. I don't care that it's 1:40 am on Monday night. Sorry for sounding so ornery :/


Soni said...

I meant that those were the 5 schools ranked #1 in USN or BW up until last year when Chicago GSB took #1 in BW.
Glad I didn't attend haha.

HappyBunny said...

Thanks for the heads up. I'm interested get some face time with the Kellogg lady who I believe would be Beth Flye, I think I saw it somewhere. :) I'll let you know how it goes in boston.

Spencer said...

Good summary, I was there and pretty much agree. I did sit close enough to write down all 5 names though, the 2 missing ladies were:

Julie Strong - MIT Sloan
Nancy Sims - Kellogg


TienyChesney said...

Hey Spencer,
Thanks for the info! I'm also glad that you (and others who have contacted me) share my opinion on the utility of that panel. Still, there are many more to come! Wharton's website in particular has an excellent schedule of upcoming events everywhere. Wharton seems to participate on a different major panel every week!