Cornell campus visit and interview


On Sunday, I flew out to visit Cornell. I decided to actually fly into Rochester, and then rent a car to get down to Ithaca Sunday night. This would allow me to be well rested for me day of activities at Johnson on Monday. Unfortunately, things didn’t go as planned.

Due to inclement weather, my flight into Minneapolis (where I was making a connection to Rochester) was  delayed. This resulted in me missing my connection to Rochester. Instead,  I was rebooked to Rochester via Detroit. I finally landed at Rochester at 11PM (7 hours later than originally planned), and instead of driving down to Ithaca that night, stayed in Rochester and drove down the following morning.

A few takeaways from my Johnson experience:

1. The people there are incredibly friendly. Not sure if ti’s an upstate NY thing, but everyone I met there – from the students, to the admissions office folks and the workers in the cafe were genuinely nice.

2. It’s a small and tight knit community. I was glad to see that Johnson went to great lengths to ensure that it’s student body was collaborative, friendly and close knit.

3. Ithaca, and the greater Cornell campus are really pretty. I just wish they were easier to get to!

I was interviewed by a second year student, and the interview was rather laid back. He did a great job of keeping things congenial and relaxed. The questions asked were pretty straightforward:

– Walk me through your resume.

– Why an MBA now? Why Johnson? Short and Long term goals?

– Leadership – what does it mean to you? Talk about your leadership skills.

– What research have you done about Johnson? I talked about the students I had reached out to etc…

– How will you contribute to the Johnson community?

– Do you have any questions for me?

The interview was semi-blind. He had my resume, and notes about my application written by an adcom member who had reviewed my application. My interview lasted about 50 mins.

I left the interview, and campus, happy with my Johnson experience. Now, I’ll just have to cross my fingers and wait.ric-flair-strut-o_zps79e47f67

UCLA Visit


This past weekend, I flew out to LA to enjoy some warm weather, hang out with a few friends, and most importantly visit UCLA. We’ve had a very cold fall in Chicago so far, so Los Angeles was a welcome respite. It was in the 20’s when my plane took off from Chicago on Friday, and 85 when I landed at LAX 4 hours later. The wonders of modern travel.

UCLA first came up on my radar when I attended their info session here in Chicago a few months ago. I loved the Adcom’s presentation, and their alumni were very friendly. They’ve got a strong Real Estate Program, and the SoCal area is obviously a massive real estate market. LA’s glorious weather, and the fact that I’d have the chance to live in Santa Monica (which is freaking awesome) during B-school is a huge bonus.

When I stepped onto UCLA’s campus, I was stunned by the architecture and greenery on campus. Considering that its an urban campus, there’s an impressive amount of space between buildings where students could sit and read on the grass between classes. The Anderson building itself is also great. They’ve got a top notch facility there, and after sitting in on a class, I can firmly say that they’ve got some top notch faculty as well. I hung out at the Anderson cafe for a while, and had coffee with two current students. They were both raving fans of the school, and only reenforced my belief that I’d fit great with anderson’s community and culture. I only wish I had applied in Round 1!AwesomeRennerGif

Interview invite at Johnson


The first good news of the admissions cycle – I’ve been invited to interview at Johnson! This news felt particularly uplifting, especially given my ding at Booth last month. I’m a HUGE fan of Johnson. I remember visiting Ithaca in HS, and I loved the campus, and community at Cornell. I’m excited to interview next week!277e0-vince-mcmahon-walk

A ding from Booth.


I found out last week that I was not invited to interview at Booth. I was disheartened to hear the news. On hindsight, Booth was my first, and weakest, application. Oh well, one school down, several more to go.

A quick summary of where things currently stand:

1. Kellogg- submitted and interviewed (R1)

2. Booth – submitted and rejected (R1)

3. Duke – Submitted – R1. Interviewed during the open interview period.

4. Cornell – Submitted R1. Should get interview/rejection decision in the next 24 hours (eek!)

5. Columbia – Rolling decisions. Submitted App 10/28.

6. UCLA – Visiting campus next week. Will be submitting R2.

Round 1 Apps done!


It’s been a while since I’ve last blogged. I spent the last month wrapping up my remaining Round 1 applications. Now with my R1 applications done, I’d like to share some newfound perspectives I’ve gained on these applications:

1. The two most fun essays I’ve had to write so far have been Duke’s “25 random things about myself” and Cornell’s “Write the story of your life as a series of chapter titles”. It’s refreshing to write essays that force you to be a little creative, and I;m glad that Cornell and Duke have adopted this approach unlike some of the other traditional B-school apps.

2. I visited all the schools that I have applied to so far (with the exception of Cornell). I was lucky that I had a lot of air miles accumulated from my frequent work travels (I love Southwest!). Immersing myself in a school’s culture while on campus allowed me to determine if that was a place that I wanted to spend the next 2 years of my life at. It also allows you to observe the life of a student at school, and ask them any questions you may have about their experiences at that school. I found that almost all students are happy to talk about not only their experience at school X, but also provide their advice on how they went about choosing schools etc. The common theme that I heard was that getting into B-school is the hard part, once you’re in, its a little easier. I, for one, am very excited to hear that.

3. Reach out to students that are presidents etc of any student interest clubs that you’re interested in. I am looking to transition from engineering/construction to real estate development, and I found that I learnt a lot from talking to members of the Real Estate clubs of the schools that I’m targeting.

A GMAT state of Mind


I took the GMAT about 18 months ago, and through hard work (and a little bit of work), I was able to score a 740 (49Q, 42V). I’m  a native English speaker, so on the verbal portion, I didn’t really have to learn any subject matter. For other native english speakers, I would recommend you just practice as many questions as you can.

For the verbal portion, I used the Official Guide to the GMAT, as well as the Kaplan Books.

One tip  – Read the economist weekly if you already don’t. Their style of writing, as well as their content in general, is great practice for the reading comprehension portion of the GMAT. Read the economist enough, and you’ll be able to answer arcane questions on abstruse passages on the GMAT easily.

Now, onto the Quant portion:

I used the Manhattan series of books as my bible, and I can’t attest enough to how awesome they are. Seriously, make sure you use them, they’re totally worth the investment. As an engineer, I come from a heavy quant background, and am pretty good with mental math. To really do well on the quant portion, I had to focus on correcting any shoddy mistakes or errors I’d make in haste. To iron these out, I practiced, a lot. I can’t emphasize how important it is to do literally every question on all the Manhattan books.

Test Day Tips:

I’m sure you all have taken a lot of  tests in your lifetime, so I won’t rehash the usual pointers that you’re probably already familiar with. Just a couple that I found useful:

1. Just like how a pitcher or a hitter in baseball has a warm up routine, I’m sure you have one too. Make sure you come to the test site early enough to give you at least 20 minutes to check in, use the bathroom and get all that out of the way.

2. Make sure you bring a bottle of water with you to the test site. Its a 4 hour test, make sure you hydrate.

3. While hydration is important, make sure you don’t drink too much water. Seems obvious, but I personally know of a friend that had to use the bathroom during the test, and yes- he lost 3 minutes of time on the AWA portion.

4. By the time the test has rolled around, I’m sure you’ve practiced, a lot. Just remember to stick to the script, keep it simple, and you’ll do just fine. You’re better of pacing yourself and making sure you get all your questions right instead of rushing through the questions in order to beat the clock.

5. Adderall usage- Some of you may have tried it, some of you may have not. Some of you may have a prescription for it (in that case go forth and use), but most of you likely don’t. I’m not going to recommend its use (I don’t use it), although I know friends who swear by its potency in allowing them to focus. My only advice is this- if you haven’t used it before regularly, don’t debut its usage on test day. That’s just a recipe for disaster.