Sorebrek's Musings and Ramblings

In search of the holy grail of an MBA (class of 2008 hopeful), this space will hopefully chronicle the search and my other quixotic pursuits.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Depends vs. halitosis

Happy to report that the festivities of the "World MBA Tour" run by have come to a close as far as San Francisco is concerned. Turned out to be quite the circus that I was expecting it to be. It wasn't much of a surprise though, thanks to Dave's post on the LA leg. Some observations are due:

1) Most adcoms seemed to parrot the same set of responses (often to the same questions asked over and over again and sometimes even otherwise). Well, the other side of the argument is that it appears that most people showed up with no background research other than the BusinessWeek top-10 list and a burning ambition to break into the big league. I think can understand how mind numbing it is for the adcoms taking these questions; but once in a while when a decent question did come up, the answer inevitably started with a depends. I am leery of any reply that starts with the much-abused expression.

2) My advise to future visitors to such shows would be to track down the alums and pass on the adcoms. The alums are relatively untrained in dealing with the MBA-seeking hordes and in their enthusiasm, might reveal things adcoms won't go anywhere near. Besides it is very insightful to understand how their thought process led them to seeking an MBA in the first place.

3) Avoid the Kaplan sideshow if you can. This is a hard sell and I don't like it one bit that I am paying to sit through their ad pitch. If I were to do it under duress, I would rather they pay me and make it an absurd amount while they're at it. However, it appeared that mine was a minority opinion since the halls were apparently packed. IMHO, if you really must partake of the Kaplan wisdom, it is freely purveyed on a weekly basis at your local Kaplan center within a 10-mile radius of wherever you live, even if that happens to be a mountain cabin in rural Montana.

4) The big dogs figured out early on that this was not worth their while. Harvard, Stanford, Columbia and Sloan were notable absentees and sorely missed by attendees. Wharton was well staffed although the crowds looked like the ones thronging Grand Canyon vista points during long weekends. Chicago and Michigan had dignified presences - two/three adcoms, no alums however; neither of them much of a crowd-puller. I am surprised. Humanity flocked in great waves around the solitary, rather frail-looking Kellogg adcom taking urgent sips from her water-bottle with her back pinned to the table and nowhere to go. Not a place I want to be in for 4 hours fielding questions from the hungry hordes.

5) Based on third-party reports, the b-school mock lecture was impressive. Rock-star prof from Haas on corporate ethics.

6) I went around and said hello to the underprivileged names, unsung and rather deserted. Turned out to be a better experience than the quickie advice-fix the bigger names were giving out. Most were warm if not grateful and it was worthwhile talking to them about rank-mania and how they saw it from their side of the fence. I urge you to do the same if you're attending in a different city.

7) It was interesting to see the globalization of the business of the MBA. A school each from China and India showed up. At the Chinese school, try as I might, I could not break into the inner circle to ask questions. I gave up and managed to wriggle my way to the ISB (Indian School of Business) table and had a mildly-interesting conversation about ISB's perception of Indian hai-guis (not very kindly so it seems).

8) Ask tough questions, you've got nothing to lose except your ignorance. I did not. On retrospect, I should've. However, please remember that tough does not equate to rude or stupid. So "what is the weakness of your school" does not qualify. I actually did hear that one; couldn't bear to stay around for the answer.


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