The calm before the storm

It´s been a while since my last post. But this has been a very busy month, and it seems is going to remain that way for a little longer.

I haven´t had much time lately to think about my next MBA-related step, that being to decide to which schools I want to apply. I think I am almost done with it: there are 3 schools to which I am sure I will apply. The thing is I would like to select other three to complete the 6-pack, and that will reqire a little more research, work or meditation on my part.

I have taken the opportunity to talk, by phone or mail, with several current students in the last few weeks and they have been nice enough to share their thoughts on and experiences in different US business schools, thus helping me get a better idea of the differences between them, and how I would fit in in every one of them. This has helped me narrow my possible choices for those 3 remaining spots to 5 schools (too many). But I am sure the decision will be tough, because all of them appeal to me in some way. It will all depend on to which factor I will put more value on: pure fit, location or how well (or better) connected that school is to my intended industry. Of course, it does not mean that I will, in fact, apply to 6 schools in the end, but that I´d like to have 6 schools as my possible options.

I know people who since the very beginning know the schools they would like to apply to. Like a friend of mine only applying to schools in California because that is where he wants to live in the future. I know that I want a social and close community (as I have stated in many post already), but I am not that worried about the exact location or by the fact that the school can be based in a small town or in a big city. As long as I think that one school can help me fulfill my goals, I will consider it; and that is making the process a little harder and longer for me. But it is also helping me to get to know more schools better.

So far the schools that have made it to the finish line are Tuck, Fuqua and Haas. All of them have small classes with close and collaborative communities and in which healthcare is kind of important. Of course the latter is not as much big in Tuck as it is in the other two, but after visiting and talking with students interested in the field, I would say it is one of the schools that, not having an specific certification, it has strong ties with the industry. Of the ones remaining in the hunt the hardest one to dismiss would be Stanford, because it has always been a dream university for me, but I´ll have to consider the slim chances of admission, if only from a statistical standpoint. Although “if 400 get in every year, why can´t I be one of them?” has always been my type of approach.

In any case, with GMAT and TOEFL done and my goals defined, this is the last step I must take before the applications are opened in a couple months, more or less, so I can afford to linger a little bit longer on the decision. But once it is decided the time will come, at last, for me to sart drafting esays, with one eye on fall deadlines, and with all the stress that comes with it. I have to say that, after almost a year since I started to think about the GMAT, I am really looking forward to starting my first application, although I know it is going to be a daunting and exhausting process.

Nobody said it would be easy.



Business Schools Playoffs

I have been able to do some research and some deep thinking lately and I´ve managed to start shortening my target schools list (not that much actually). Thus I can provide a brief glimpse of what the Race to Round 1 Fall ´14 looks like right now. A few words on every contender.

Top seeds:

Tuck: Okay, this cannot come as a surprise. It was one of the first schools I looked into and very soon I felt for it. I love its location: having lived in Madrid for 10 years now, I believe that this kind of change (moving to an 11,000 people town) could make the experience a really different one and be real immersion experience into the MBA life. Plus, it has a great Healthcare Initiative program and doesn´t do bad in healthcare recruiting. I also want to play hockey by the way. I will be visiting in march (yeah!)

Kellogg: although its class size is not exactly small, it is located in a small town and is also a very social school  (with the advantage of being so close to such an amazing city as Chicago). It is famous for its close community and strong alumni network, just as Tuck. It has a very strong Healthcare Enterprise Management major that fits in very well with my goal of entering the pharma/biotech industry.

Fuqua: I would be proud of being part of Duke University, having been a fan of basketball and the Blue Devils all my life. Also, Fuqua is yet another example of a very strong community. Besides, it is the school that sends the greatest percentage of its students into healthcare with its Health Sector Management certificate. Furthermore, I am very interested in Peter Ubel´s class about Marketing and Public Policy.

In the hunt:

Stanford: A Harvard-like brandname. It has a smallish class and its located in the Bay Area, where many Biotech/Pharma companies are hearquartered. Besides, sunny California looks appealing: this maybe one of the few top schools where winters are not so hard. Plus: It would be great to be able to attend Stanford Cardinal football team games. Probably will move up to secure its position in the Round 1, but you never know.

Haas: Also in the Bay Area, with a small class, and with a double degree MBA/MPH program that takes only 2,5 years to complete. Probably one of the best schools/universities regarding healthcare. It is also a very social school. Nothing is actually keeping me from moving it to a top seed.

Anderson: At first, I wasn´t that much into UCLA Anderson and L.A. but when I met alumni and recent graduates they changed my mind in how I saw both L.A and the program, and made me realize what a great and close community they are. The only things that make me hesitate are the fact that it seems to be a little more local than other schools (although many of the spanish alumni had made their way back just after graduation…so much for local) and that, despite having created some specializations, as one of the recent graduates told me, healthcare was not that strong just yet.

Booth: I love the freedom Booth gives its students to select their destiny. As one Adcom put it in a recent event: ´if you are to become a business leader you should be capable of making your own decisions regarding how to shape your MBA experience´ (something like that). Chicago is a great city, with many recruiting oportunities, and although it is not a small class, almost all students live in three buildings that are close to each other thus creating the sense of a tight community. It has low recruiting numbers in the healthcare industry but a current student told me that it only means that a little more work by the student is required and every major employer in the field comes to visit the school as expected.

Wharton: Another top 5 school and with a shiny Healhcare Management major: it sends a pretty high number of its graduates (considering industry standards) into healthcare, and that is the main reason it is “up” here. It is famous for its focus in finance and it seems to be a little more competitive community than others in this list; although a student I have met said the latter wasn´t really true and that is not as finance-focused as it may seem. I don´t really like the fact that the class is like 800 students big.

Looking for a Wild Card spot:

There are some schools I haven ruled out nor moved up because I still need to do more research about them. Depending on how it develops one or two of them might climb up a few positions.

Darden, Sloan, Tepper, Yale SOM, Johnson

I will be visiting Yale (and maybe Sloan) in february, that will definitely help me make a decision.

Ruled out:

HBS: I know it is not usual to see Harvard out so soon. I think there is not another single school as well known (I think even some tribesmen from some lost island on the Pacific ocean might actually know the name), a brand name anyone would like to add to his resume, with alumni as CEOs, founders or boardmembers of many of the Fortune 500 companies. Those are powerfull reasons to go HBS all the way. But I just don´t think it´s for me. I strongly prefer a smaller class, I think it would foster a closer community and deeper relationships with both students and faculty, and isn´t that a big part of what all this is about? Also, I would rather have a wider variety of class-teaching methods.

CBS: Wouldn´t it be great to spend two years in NYC? It is, in fact, one of the most popular schools among Spaniards,  but I have to say that from the very beginning I knew I won´t apply to Columbia. Besides, from what I have learned talking to current students, its community is not as close as in other schools, with students living all around the city. It would be a great choice if I had a clear focus in finance, which I have not.

Of course, the BS Playoffs are on a very early stage yet. My intention is to select 5 or 6 to apply next year in Rounds 1 and 2, although depending on how it goes, that number could grow or decrease a bit.

Stay tunned to see how the playoffs develop. Looks like March Madness is on its way.