I’ve heard that the waiting period after Columbia’s interviewer feedback is submitted (and before a final decision is rendered) is the most torturous wait. Luckily, I haven’t found that to be the case. I was much more anxious on Aug. 13th while waiting for my app to change to “under review”. I’ve been fairly relaxed, checking my inbox for that “status change” email only once every half hour as opposed to every ten minutes. I’m sure that the wait will become much more excruciating as the days drag on and my chances of a ding increase (shudder). I will attempt to pass the next half hour by debriefing ya’ll on my HBS visit from a couple weeks ago.
We stayed at a friend of a friend’s place in the Back Bay part of Boston, which was really nice. Really impressive. The tiny but beautiful apartments reminded me of Manhattan. Boston certainly is cozier/more intimate but still a pretty nice city. It was nice to sleep in a real home as opposed to a post-college den. The friend of a friend is actually one of the execs for Teach For America and he (and his girlfriend) were excellent hosts.
That morning, we wanted to catch the early Finance class (I think at 9:15 or so) but it took us forever (nearly 15 minutes) to catch a taxi in Cambridge (inexcusable) that we were 5 minutes late. The student (another friend of my friend) was already in the class and we didn’t want to disturb it so we walked around campus for the next hour or so. The HBS campus is astonishing. It blew me away in every respect. It is literally its own campus and situated on the Boston side of the Charles River as opposed to the Cambridge side with the rest of Harvard’s schools. HBS is made up of approx. 7 or 8 very nice, modern buildings. They are all connected by underground tunnels so you don’t even have to step foot outside when the weather stinks. I quickly realized that having its own physical campus was a plus, not a minus. I originally thought it would be a disadvantage because I wanted to be able to fraternize with the students from other schools and feel a part of a larger community. But the thing is, HBS is so freaking large (900 students per class) that it is its own community. It is still a bustling and vibrant campus without having all the other schools around. I totally didn’t foresee that.
The first building that we entered was Shad Hall aka the gym. HBS students have their own exclusive gym (other students can’t use it) but HBS students can use the other gyms! Awesome. It was really nice. There were 3 new basketball courts and the weight room and exercise machines were all in these really rich mahogany-walled rooms with crimson carpeting. It looked like somebody accidentally put the exercise machines in the library of a mansion! All the machines looked new. The locker rooms were unbelievable and had tissue boxes and hairdryers in every row. The urinals were weird and super fancy- they were “98% waterless” and used some microbacterial technology that kept it clean. It sounded disgusting but I’m sure it does the job. The gym got me so pumped!
Then we walked into the non-faith-affiliated Chapel which is in the shape of a stout cylinder. When we walked inside, it was really pretty. The stairs into the ground floor of the chapel had its own garden with lush plants surrounding the staircases. There were 2 workers watering the plants. It appeared to me that HBS really had a ton of excess money to spend on such luxuries which I guess shouldn’t have surprised me. The auditorium itself was very nice and basic with several dozen chairs and two pianos (I think) and an alter. Tasteful.
We didn’t have any interest in checking out Baker library so we went to the Arthur Rock Center which is their center for entrepreneurship. I don’t remember much except that there were lots of cabinets and glass cases showcasing all the inventions and products that alumni had created over the years. Sorry, I don’t remember anything of particular note though I’m sure there were plenty of good ideas.
Then we decided to walk into the Admissions Office located in Dillon House which was definitely the most low-key of the buildings, it looked like a small townhouse. There appeared to be only 1 person working there at the time and they were in the back. When we walked in, we were unattended for the first ten minutes. This is probably because class visits and tours don’t start until October and we visited in mid-September. We browsed the various magazines and pictures and I took some candy from the mammoth candy bowl. There was a stack of really cute and innovative fold-out maps of the HBS campus sitting on the receptionist’s desk. It folded out to become a really artsy (it was illustrated) map of the campus. It’s hard to describe but it was really impressive and I could not imagine any other school having the resources to commission such a neat little thing that was unnecessary but so, so nice. When an admissions person (she seemed like staff, not an officer, but I don’t really remember) finally came out, she told us that visits had not started yet but that an info session would be held at 2 pm. She suggested that we walk around campus and maybe grab breakfast in Spangler, the student center and cafeteria.
We opted to grab breakfast at Spangler and wow, was it nice. It was the nicest school cafeteria I had ever seen. The food was prepared by Restaurant Associates, the same firm that did our food at Deutsche Bank’s cafeteria, but it looked better, maybe because it was so spacious and clean. The presentation really matters I guess. I got an egg and cheese croissant while my friend got a smoothie. When we sat down, we were amazed at the furniture. There is typical cafeteria tables but they were much smaller and nicer. The wood looked really rich (maybe just the paint or whatever). There were also a lot of other areas that you could sit since Spangler is the student center as well. Those places you have to check out on the HBS website’s campus tour because there were rugs everywhere and rich leather couches and loveseats. It was the difference between having $200 chairs and $800 chairs (note: those values are wild conjecture). Completely unnecessary but so luxurious to have! There were only a few students there eating breakfast and reading simultaneously. I noticed that the women at HBS are certainly more attractive than any other school I’ve seen. They were on par with the NYU Stern girls except the HBS women had more expensive-looking clothes hehe.
The food was good though. I can totally imagine eating there every day for 2 years (okay, maybe not every single day but still). After eating, we met up with my friend’s friend, Amy, at 11:30 or so to sit in on her next class, Technology and Operations Process Management (TOP Mgmt) or something like that. We met in front of her class's building, Aldrich, which was very state of the art.
I’ll post on that and the rest of my day in Part 2 because I’ve already written 2.5 pages single-spaced. Oy! Oh, and the funny thing was that there wasn't a sign-in sheet at the Admissions Office. My friend and I joked that HBS probably didn't care about keeping track of which applicants were truly interested in the school (in order to manage their yield)- instead, HBS probably just assumed that you would matriculate if accepted! hehe