Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year! And some retrospection

I vividly remember this time last year. I was ecstatic about being admitted to Wharton and was still dealing with the enormity of the change my life was about to take. One year later and after six months of Wharton, life is still changing, inexplicably so.

I believe a large part of business school is the continuous change it entails. I came in naiver than I am today, maybe even less sure of myself than I am now. I discovered the much feared peer pressure, dissected it and would like to think I conquered it. I found new ways to stretch time to make the days seem longer than 24 hours. I found stimulating pursuits to replace sleep and achieved new levels of insomnia and new levels of inebriation. I learned to "deal" with email, to skim, sift and separate the important from the not-so-important. I even mastered the art of color coding, tagging, flagging and archiving to surpass human levels of organization. I confronted the American grading system, got bewildered, questioned every method I've employed thus far in my previous academic life and finally devised a way to make results proportional to effort. I made friends, friends I can call at 3am. I have friends I can discuss philosophy, economics, films and music with while getting drunk; I can even be my cynical self to them. I realized I don't miss India, neither do I think America is the end of my journey, I proved to myself that geography holds no significance in my life. I witnessed cultures from all over the world, analyzed them to death and ultimately decided diversity is overrated. I understood that everything is negotiable, that perseverance pays, that charm is a weapon, that diplomacy can delude.

I learned all of this and more, way beyond what this blog can express. Here's hoping Wharton continues to be the enigmatic, priceless, eye-opening lesson in perspective it has been so far. I'm enjoying my journey. I hope you enjoyed my retrospective rant. Wish you a very Happy New Year!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Thanksgiving at Florida

I was at Orlando for thanksgiving and had a blast. I enjoyed the weather and the 8+ hours of sleep every night more than anything else. We went to Universal Studios and Sea World, it was awesome fun. It's amazing how they have created a whole new world inside Universal Studios. There's so much for kids to do in the United States! Here are some pics which my friend clicked :D...

I came back to Philly last night and spent most of my Sunday morning writing a speech for my communications class and sleeping some more. Four days is just not enough to catch up on all the sleep lost at Wharton :-)

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Birthday Blues

It is my birthday tomorrow and Diwali too. And I have no idea what to do. I didn't even have time to buy a new dress. I should ideally be getting drunk tonight, I'm doing an all-night-long meeting instead. I can't party tomorrow night either because I need to be on a bus to NYC at 5.30am on Friday for the Wharton Finance Conference. I can't throw a party on Friday night because all my friends will get back from NYC really late. Saturday is out because the Wharton Diwali Party is happening then. And who parties on Sunday night (other than me, of course)?

I didn't want to crib at first. But cribbing on my blog somehow feels better than cribbing to people and wasting their time. I guess my current state of mind is a cumulative effect of the past couple of weeks, for I have been running around without pausing to think. I've not had the time to blog, write, read or do anything I really want to do. I have been learning so much in my classes without having the time to really absorb things. I am very tempted to question if I'm really getting what I want out of my two years at school. I thought I will at least figure my life out
completely :-). Usually I don't have the luxury of thinking beyond academics, recruiting and extracurricular commitments. During a rare rebellious moment I feel on top of the world. And the rest of the time, I feel like I'm chasing an elusive, disappearing, almost chimerical ideal. I know this is just temporary sullenness, still it's a little too depressing to go down this path.

In nicer, more benevolent musings, I just realized that Wharton Round 1 interviews are starting next week. If anyone is doing their interview on campus, feel free to drop me an email (thembasaga at gmail dot com) and I will be glad to meet you, take you around Wharton if possible and of course give you all the moral support you want :-)...

That's it for now. So until a better mood graces me...

Monday, October 22, 2007

Just to avoid studying...

I am writing this post when I should actually be studying for my Statistics final. But then anything beats studying stats and blogging wins hands down :-). The truth is I have no idea what to study.

In more exciting musings, I have a day off on Wednesday. I guess I will spend a part of the day shopping for clothes! I really need to sleep too, hopefully the drinks I am sure I will have tomorrow night to celebrate the last final will take care of the much needed extra sleep :-). I'm going to Florida for thanksgiving and need to research what fun things are there to do. I also have a meeting with the Follies team and a bunch of things to do for the Wharton Journal. (&#%* this post is turning into an exhaustive to-do list!) Speaking about the Wharton Journal, it is an awesome place to get the insider scoop on life at Wharton. All the major events that happen over the week are covered and there's some fun stuff to read too. The journal is living proof that people at Wharton do cool stuff and are not all quant jocks who only study, recruit, network and do other such boring stuff. So check it out at

I will sign-off as a painful all-nighter is staring at my face. Ciao...

Saturday, October 20, 2007

B-School academics

How would you react when you walk out of an examination hall with no idea whatsoever if you did well or not? I had my marketing final today and was rather bewildered when I walked out of the exam half hour early. This post is not a rant about how well or badly I am doing academically. It is about a certain train of thought I have been mulling over for a while now that came to a sort of culmination today.

What is the right approach to academics in an MBA program? Is there a right approach at all? Taking the issue of grades - Most people come to B-School to advance their careers or to find their calling in life. In my opinion, grades are not the deciding factor for success or failure of such pursuits. With heavy student support for grade non-disclosure policy, no employer really asks for grades or uses them to decide whether to make an offer to students. That said, it is really easy to stay near the mean grade at a place like Wharton. It is going from B to A that takes all the time and effort. The worth attached to that effort varies from person to person. For some it might be effortless, for others good grades might be a way of validating their mastery over a subject, for others it could be a mere ego trip. What is important to realize here is that it is a personal choice and endless comparison of grades with fellow students (trust me it happens even in grad school, even in B-School!) is a criminal waste of time and energy.

Coming back to the approach to academics, this is how I look at it. I believe it does me a world of good to measure my academic performance by how much I have learned, how much of new knowledge I have imbibed over the duration of the course. A mere number or a letter says nothing to me about how much of say, economics, I know after six weeks in a microeconomics course. Can I talk eloquently about what I learned in class, can I apply the concepts to real life situations? I would much rather answer in the affirmative to these questions. I know I am on the right track when I see the warranty card of my new iPod Touch and wonder what expensing method Apple might use to estimate the warranty expenses they are likely to incur. Or when I think about "price discrimination" when I choose two-day shipping on Amazon. I might sound like a geek, but I maintain that an MBA is all about application of the concepts you learn. I expect an MBA to change the way I think about the things I observe and I am extremely glad that at a most rudimentary level, it seems to be happening to me.

I guess I can now go to sleep, nonchalant that
in the larger scheme of life today's Marketing exam and Monday's Economics exam and Tuesday's Statistics exam are all inconsequential!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Walnut Walk

I never once imagined I would go pub crawling in lingerie and coat :-) and I did just that on Saturday. Yep, bedroom casuals below the waist and business formals above the waist, that's "Walnut Walk" for you! The girls looked uber sexy and the men, hilarious, as we marched all night from pub to pub. The weather was awesome, a tad too warm for October but just right for the occasion... The highlight of the night, however, was a bunch of random guys on the road who insisted on pulling down their trousers and taking pictures with us :D.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

My plans for the spare time that I don't have...

There are just too many exciting things to do at Wharton. There is something for everybody and more. I'm already loaded and rearing to take on more. I got the two positions that I really wanted, I had decided to shoot for them even before I reached Wharton :-). I will be taking up some more work in one of the professional clubs. I am part of one sports club and will join one more shortly. Then of course, there are various ongoing community service activities that I intend to participate in. Time management is key when it comes to managing academics and parties and clubs and your personal life. And I must say, I am hanging in there for now.

Last week was called "Hell Week", fondly describing the numerous exams, submissions and cases due day after day during the week. It gives you the impression that if you get through this week, and you do so only once, you are apparently over the hurdle. But I think that is misreading it completely. It's just that this week is the first of its kind at Wharton, once you get through it, you learn to expect it and to accept it the next time. So I feel the worst is yet to come and it seems quite logical because recruiting has not even begun yet. So many more hell weeks are in store :-). I know I sound unusually cheerful about it. Maybe I found an efficient way to manage my time, or I learned how not to be stressed, or it is all the liquor from last night's party lingering around...

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


I have been wondering what to do with this blog. I will not claim that I don't have time to write anymore, because I believe I will make time for anything that is important enough to me. But the fact remains that I have let the blog languish for nearly 2 months now. I am not sure if I have any readers anymore, but I apologize to the few who remain.

This blog has been an important part of my MBA application period. It has been a scratch pad for my writing, an organizer for my thoughts, instant champagne to celebrate my successes and a stiff drink to drown my failures over, above all, it has led me to some of the better friends I have made in my life.

I know it is sort of obvious that I should not let it die, but I really don't know what to write anymore. I can blog about life at Wharton, but I am scared it might become one long rant. I might forget that the reader is most likely not at Wharton. But then again, I could write this blog for myself and not bother if people understand what I am talking about, but that goes against the philosophy of this blog and I need not publish such writing anyway. So I have decided I will write about things that strike me as interesting during the course of the day and hope it helps people form their own pictures of Wharton/B-School life or at least serves as a fun 2 minute read.

So I will be back with more soon...

Friday, August 03, 2007

Blogging finally!

I arrived at Philadelphia on 25 July. For nearly a week I was just running around setting up the apartment, getting internet access, groceries etc. etc. The place feels like home now and after nearly 10 days I found more than 5 minutes to spend online.

Preterm has started and I am superduper busy. I have a reasonably light courseload for preterm but there are so many other things to do. Today I went on a trolley tour of Philadelphia organized by Wharton. The city really has LOT of character and history. The tour guide had a piece of trivia for every building/structure on every road.

The amount of information I am trying to assimilate and the number of choices is simply overwhelming. And the people are awesome, the endless partying is even better. As a result I suffer from a severe lack of sleep. Oh yes, Already! My life feels like it is on fast forward. Wonder how crazy it is gonna be when classes start in September :-).

More later...

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

California so far...

I intended to blog everyday about what I do here in CA, but never get around to it somehow. So here's how my days have been like so far...

Saturday was a bright sunny day and we decided to visit Monterey Beach. "We" is read as my extended family of 11 adults and 3 children. And it was probably one of the craziest days to go there. It was really cold at the beach and we could not even get the kids out of the car. There was a lot of fog at first. When the fog lifted it was like curtains being raised to reveal hazy mountains in the distance. It was such a beautiful sight, too beautiful to capture on a photograph. So I did not click any :D. In other attractions, my uncle and I repeatedly ran up and down a sand dune simply on a whim and totally whetted our appetites for the yummy Mexican dinner that followed :-).

I met a bunch of my undergrad friends on Sunday for lunch. 3 of us decided to go to San Francisco. We stopped for a lovely view of the bay, bridge and city at Golden Gate Bridge Vista point. The lights were just coming on at downtown San Francisco and I had to tear myself away from there just because we went too late and had other places to see. We had a blast driving down crooked street (twice that too!). Then we drove around downtown SFO for a while before returning. It is a really charming city and I hardly saw the place. I'm definitely going there again and again and again... Hopefully I can drive there myself the next time.

Other than the tourist routine, I have also been making social calls, for I have a lot of family living in the Bay Area. Yesterday I visited Stanford with an uncle. The campus (at least the parts I visited) has an old world charm because of its stately stone architecture. The main library was awesome! I loved the silence and roamed for a long time among the rows and rows of leather bound volumes. I didn't have enough time to wander over to the B-School though.

And I just loved that fountain...

Will write more from LA this weekend...

Monday, July 16, 2007

Typographical'l'y chal'l'enged :-(

Please replace l' with l throughout this post. And 6' as 6, 0' as 0 and so on. Thank you in advance.

Currentl'y my typing l'ooks 'like this:

rstuvwxyz 123456'7890'

The above lines were the letters of the alphabet and then the numbers typed continously without spaces/enter.

The keys
type enter on their own. Quite obvious from above I guess.

Del'ete was typing enter for a whil'e. Now it's al'right. Now it's suddenl'y not again.

"""""""""""""""""""''- That was the l'eft shift key hel'd on for a few moments. The right shift key decided to be a little saner and does nothing.

And the enter key worked every fifth, sixth or tenth time I hit it. And now it doesn't work anymore.

If you have not guessed by now... I shared some of my morning coffee with my keyboard :D. Everything that makes sense in this post (and logging in to blogger etc. ) was typed using the on-screen keyboard.

Oh! Do I love it!

Thanks again for putting up with the crap. Hope you enjoyed my misery!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Moved, physically this time

I reached California a few hours ago! The roads are awesome :D.

My flight was uneventful and boring. The persons seated next to me were old people visiting their son/daughter in the United States and all I exchanged with them was a few smiles and nods to all their ravings and rantings about their previous visits to the states. The immigration official was not even bothered as to why I was entering the US at California instead of Philly. So my chronic obsession about immigration was also totally wasted :-).

Right now I'm barely awake. I'm desperately trying to beat jet lag by sleeping only at night. Two more hours to go before I sail away to the land of nods. Will write more after I return...

PS: If you don't get the title of this post, refer to this

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Uncles galore!

My paternal uncle who has come on vacation to my place bought me a brand new Nokia N95 phone! And he also bought me a financial calculator for B-School :D. My maternal uncle who I am visiting in California before I reach Philly is going to buy me all my winter clothes and other stuff that are better in the US than India. How cool is that?! I don't know if an admit to Wharton warrants all this, they seem to think so anyway. Do I see green???

I know I sound like a kid. But that is how they pamper me and I am not really complaining at the moment. You will agree with me when you see my HUGE shopping bill :-)...

On the moving front- I still have to buy $$$ and I'm procrastinating it forever for no apparent reason.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Moved, Virtually

You might have hunted for this blog on Hella's list. Maybe you also found it, considering you are already here. I just moved from the applicants section to the students section. But not without a pang of emotion. My entire application journey flashed before my eyes as I watched my blog disappear from the list of applicant blogs. I hope my student life is as fulfilling and eventful as the past one year...

So now you can find me here and here :-)

Thanks to everyone for reading my blog all this while and do come back for more!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Last minute lists

I'm out of India in 10 days. People keep calling to wish me or meet me once before I go. My departure keeps coming up in every conversation. But strangely, I don't feel I'm going anywhere at all. I definitely don't feel I'm going "back to school" because right now I'm just going on a 2-week holiday. This inertia is something I've never felt before and I'm sure it's not going to help me get acclimatized to school quickly. I keep telling myself this is because I don't know what to expect in the next few months and I'm just a little reluctant to let go of all the familiarity. But I'm not really convinced with my own excuses.

Moving on to less uncertain things... Now I think I know what are the things I need to pack and what are the other miscellaneous things I need to wrap up before I go. I will put down the list here for people who might find some use for it over the next 2 months or so...

Packing List:
I'm listing out just the categories of items. The specific things in each catergory varies from person to person and may be very different depending on where you are traveling from. A little googling can find you many really extensive packing lists.
  • Documents (Education, B-school related, work related, medical prescriptions and health history, travel related, financial documents, insurance, driving license with international permit. Ensure that documents needed during travel are easily accessible )
  • Photographs (in standard sizes and the negative/soft copy for later use)
  • Money (Cash, Travelers' checks, credit cards)
  • Important phone numbers and addresses
  • Medicines (with prescription)
  • Clothes
  • Prescription Spectacles/contact lenses (carry a spare)
  • Toiletry (just for a month till you know your way around the new place)
  • Footwear
  • Accessories (bags, watches, belts, jewelery, goggles etc.)
  • Books
  • CDs, DVDs (that you absolutely must carry)
  • Gifts (if any)
  • Food items (this is specific to Indians)
  • Utensils (mainly cooker and tawa, this again is specific to Indians)
  • Backpacks/briefcases etc.

Things to wrap up before leaving:
  • Change of address wherever applicable
  • Car driving license with international permit
  • Eye, dental and general health check up, immunization shots
  • Closing of back accounts/credit cards/other subscriptions
  • Leave signed checks, signed empty sheets of paper etc. at home for emergencies (this might be specific to Indians)
  • Leave copies of all documents at home
  • Buy travel insurance if needed
  • Change money
  • Reconfirm flight(s)/seats/on-board meal selection
  • Weigh luggage to ensure you are within the limit or make plans to pay for additional baggage
  • If someone is receiving you call the person and reconfirm flight timing. If not make plans for transit from airport to apartment/hotel/wherever
I might have forgotten some things. So I will add to these lists as and when I come across something I've missed.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Too much of this good life?

Right now the most fortunate thing in my life is having an uncle who has, or rather had a bag manufacturing business AND who sent us large bags (and smaller ones too) every time someone in the family went abroad.

Now, to give you an idea of my misery:

My shopping done, the obvious next step was packing, which I(read my mother) started yesterday. And I have LOTS of stuff. I wonder what the Lufthansa guys were thinking when they set the 46kg weight limit on luggage. Don't they know Indians at all? Last night we packed a bag completely with way less than half my stuff and thought it's good to go. But we found that it weighed only 20kgs :-(. Now that's disastrous. Thankfully we have a bag of the next size at home (refer previous paragraph about uncles and free bags :D). Now we have to unpack the packed bag and use the larger one instead, which is really nothing to crib about, but I hate packing (which my mom makes me sit and watch) and I'm on vacation and hence entitled to crib just a wee bit.

Now about other bags... I bought a couple of really nice handbags recently and they make me feel like a girl again :-). I'm also surrounded by a hundred "not so nice" plastic bags containing all my shopping and my room looks like a warehouse. You will find me huddled up and sleeping in whatever space I can find between the bags and my books.

I'm getting a little too used to joblessness and it's heavenly. I don't laze around but I love not having to account for my time or use it gainfully to earn my living :-). Pity the fun has to end so soon. C'est la vie...

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Shopping, Swimming, Studying. And yeah, Flying Ants too!!!

My shopping list is shrinking!!! I bought my luggage today and 4 pairs of Jeans yesterday. I still have to buy formal wear and some other miscellaneous stuff. I'm so glad I can finish shopping sooner than I expected :-). And I totally enjoy my hour or so of swimming everyday...

I was getting worried that I might not be able to take waiver exams because I could not find books that have the relevant material at my library except for 2 subjects. I don't want to buy books as I cannot carry them and ironically, buying the course texts will be a waste of money if I manage to waive the courses :-(. But things became peachy again once I saw the dates for the waiver exams I want to take. They are spaced out and give me enough time to borrow books and prepare even after I get to Wharton. Anyway I was secretly wishing I won't have to study too much before school :D. Now I can play hookey, guiltlessly that too!

A very funny thing happened a couple of days ago. I was sitting at my comp and suddenly something fell into my left eye. No amount of jumping up and down, rubbing, scratching or splashing water could get the thing out. Finally, when I managed to twist my left eye completely out of shape and peered into it with my right eye, what should I find but an ant sticking to my eye-lid. Yes, a RED ANT. I tried removing it with my finger, a dry handkerchief, a wet handkerchief, a Johnsons ear bud and other such objects in rapid succession, but to no avail. The dead ant was hanging on to my eye with its tiny little tentacle (as I found out much later). I had to finally visit the doctor who initially put up quite a fight to locate the ant, while telling me all about flying ants/insects and how they put their tentacles to effective use in such situations. Then I, by now very familiar with the art of nearly gouging my eye out, helped him locate it in a jiffy, quite dexterously, if I may say so myself :-). He then anesthetized my eye with an eyedrop which in turn made my tongue and lips numb too. I sat clenching my fists and gritting my teeth as he held my eye open and pinched the ant out with a pair of forceps. Gross? Oh yeah!

Now I have to use eye drops which flow into my throat and make me sick and an eye ointment which sticks my eye closed for about an hour. I never thought THIS will happen in my life. Kudos to the ant!

Monday, June 11, 2007

10 days out of a job

My last day at work was 31st May and my team gave me a really nice farewell. I had to cut a huge cake, make a speech and got a lot of unexpected gifts from friends. I got quite sad during the last few days at work but managed to spend considerable time with all my good friends and hopefully will keep in touch with all of them.

Until 3rd June I was really busy with packing (I wrapped each of the 100 odd books I owned in Bangalore with polythene and taped it, you can imagine how long that takes!), last minute meetings with friends, social visits that my mom insisted on, delivering the stuff I gave away, calling people on my phone book before I surrendered my phone etc. Those 3 days were more hectic than my full time job :-).

I have been in Chennai for a week now. I thought it will be really weird not having a job to go for every morning(or afternoon :D) and I expected to take a long time getting used to it. Thanks to the long list of things I need to do before I leave India, I don't feel much of a difference. On the very day I landed in Chennai I had to rush to get my learner's license, enroll in car driving school and begin my immunization schedule. I also got a new internet connection at home, enquired about money exchange, travel insurance etc. etc. etc.

We are rebuilding the house we used to live in. It is the house I lived in for 22 years and much as I hated to see it demolished, I am still very excited about the new plan and all the ideas I have for the house. So I've been spending a lot of time with my mom picking out wall shades, tile patterns and other fixtures, giving specifications to the carpenter etc. And I must say I'm enjoying it and am quite sad that I will never live there again and will not even stay in India long enough to see the completed house.

The "Get Started" packet arrived from Wharton and I'm done reading the 2 booklets in it. Wharton allows students to waive courses and the waiver information guide (on a CD) is a whopping 350 pages long. Being an Engineer, I cannot waive even a single course by credential. However, I have a list of courses that, with little or no effort, I might be able to waive through exams . Waiving some courses will go a long way in reducing my first year course load. So I'm rather unsuccessfully trying to motivate myself to learn the basics of these subjects.

I went shopping yesterday and bought a bunch of clothes. I still have loads of things to buy before the end of the month. Because I'm not very fond of shopping I'm trying to space out my shopping expeditions so that I don't get frustrated and give up too soon. At least the traffic situation in Chennai is better than that in Bangalore and does not add to my reluctance to go shopping. And yeah, now that I have paid all my previous bills, the wallet is steadily getting thinner :-(. On a side note, I found a really nice swimming pool and will go swimming everyday from today!

I might sound quite busy and excited, but there are a few things I miss about Bangalore:
  • My friends at work. I have many friends in Chennai, but they all have jobs to keep.
  • The weather which was getting really nice when I left.
  • Weaving erratically through the crazy Bangalore traffic, I don't have enough opportunity to do that in Chennai :-)
  • My trusty 2-wheeler :-(, although I have a friend's spare vehicle to use in Chennai.
But I guess my mom's food and all the time in the world to do as I please pretty much make up for it... That's about it from me at the moment. I really will blog regularly henceforth...

Friday, May 18, 2007

A long overdue update...

I'm writing this post more out of pity and a sense of duty towards my blog than a true inclination to write :-). Things have hit a lull on the MBA front especially after getting my visa and I don't know what to write.

In the last 3 weeks- I bought my tickets, paid the deposit for my apartment, bought furniture and just got started on my shopping. I'm yet to pay for any of these things (Yes, I seem to have a lot of people who want to spend money for me) and am going to swoon when I dole out all that cash one of these days :-(. I bought 4 pairs of shoes/sandals, a pair of shades and the watch you see in the picture :D!

I found buyers for my 2-wheeler and other household stuff in Bangalore. But I get to keep them till 3 June when I leave Bangalore for good. I also found someone to takeover my room and saved my flatmate a roomie-hunt.

I have 10 working days(with 2 weekends in the middle) at my job. I still have a lot of work and looks like I will have to slog all the way till I leave on 31 May. I am a little undecided on whether it feels good or bad to have a lot of work until the very last day. At times I feel nice and important. At other times I just want to go home and sleep.

My mom is coming to Bangalore at the end of the month! I have to pack something like 80 books, a cupboard full of clothes(I think I should get rid of most of them and buy a whole new wardrobe before I become a pauper student :D), a computer and its table and other miscellaneous stuff that I have acquired over the last couple of years. My mom is indispensable in such a situation!

I'm really looking forward to my month in Chennai. I mainly want the home-cooked food, the beach and the lazing around. I am conveniently leaving out the shopping because I hate shopping and hate even more to think that I cannot postpone it beyond the last week of June :-(. Relocating is such a pain and doing it 50Kgs is nightmarish.

Since it's making me a little morose, I will stop writing now. More on my plans for my stay in Chennai and my California trip coming up!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


Thanks to Clear Admit and all my fellow bloggers for putting me among the top 10 applicant bloggers of the year. It feels really good that you find my posts useful. Hopefully this blog will continue to provide insights on life at Wharton and B-School in general.

Congratulations to all the other winners!

I hold a US Visa now!

I had my visa interview in Chennai yesterday and I got my visa! Now I just need tickets to get to Wharton...

Coming up: A detailed post on my preparation (documents et al) for the visa interview....

Thursday, April 19, 2007

I cast my vote!

I cast my vote for the Clear Admit BoB contest a couple of days ago. I was very familiar with the nominated applicant blogs, so I hardly had trouble voting. But I must admit that I had not read too many of the student blogs. I was familiar with only a few of them and I did not want my vote to be biased. So I did a whirlwind tour of all of them and picked my favorites and sent away my ballot to Clear Admit. I really wish all of them had moved to the new blogger and categorized their posts. (Fat chance, I know. They have busy B-School lives after all)

Now all I can do is wait for the results. I hope some of you voted for me :D. All the best to all the nominees!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Resume tips

There is an oft-used marketing strategy - "State, elaborate, state again". The resume is where you can state your case. It can be used as both an introduction to your entire application as well as a concise summary of your professional and extracurricular life. So the resume is an important marketing tool and here are some tips to use it effectively:

Typically your essays will talk about your experiences, learnings, ideas and opinions. Whereas your resume can be used to list out and quantify your achievements. The size of the teams you led, the $ value of your sales targets, the amount of business you earned for your firm, the % increase in efficiency you achieved for the software you developed, number of promotions, academic/professional awards, prestigious scholarships etc. are all quantifiable entities that will make your resume impressive. When a person reads your resume he/she should get an idea of your achievements and should want to know what made you achieve them (which is what your essays will contain). So, numbers look good on your resume and your resume is the best place for numbers.

Although you will be using bullet points and resume-speak, grammar is important. Short crisp sentences in simple past tense without too much of passive voice really helps. Do not make your reader guess the expansion of your abbreviations.

Choose a resume format that does not look too cluttered and allows enough space to say everything you want to. I personally believe that a very simple functional template works better than those that offer more decorative value. Make sure there is clear demarcation between the various parts of your resume, namely, educational background, professional experiences, extracurricular interests. Ensure that you give all the relevant dates for every activity.

Do not try to overload your resume with explanations and description and thereby introduce redundancy between your resume and essays. Save the verbosity for the essays!

Make sure all the significant aspects of your education, profession and extracurriculars are listed in your resume. Missing out something could mean giving an incomplete picture of your candidacy to the adcom, specially because the resume could serve as a quick reference to your file and should contain all the key points you want your readers to remember about you.

Normally, schools specify the acceptable length for the resume. If not specified a 1 or 2 page resume is ideal. I used a 2 page resume for all my schools because none of them restricted the length to 1 page while some specified a maximum of 2 pages. So don't go overboard with the length.

Hope you find this post useful...

Monday, April 09, 2007

Your angel essay reviewers!

In this post I will tell you who can effectively review your essays and how. I will try and keep this post short :D

The author
You have to be the first reviewer of your essays. Ideally you should not stop rewriting an essay until you are comfortable enough to show it to someone else. While reviewing, pay attention to both content and style. While someone else might be in a position to comment on your style, only you can decide what is the best content for an essay. A reviewer will only be able to critique your content. He/she cannot create the content for you. Hence, for each essay, ask yourself if you have chosen the best story you have. Think if there is something else you can use to make the essay more effective. Creating a tight story is the first step. Look for glaring logical gaps in your essay. Systematically fill them up, till the essay is logically sound and convincing. If you do this incrementally each time you edit an essay, you will be well on your way to a perfect essay :-).

Partner in crime
For me, this reviewer was a person who was also applying to B-School (to the same ones as me in fact). But it takes a lot of trust to do that and I would say I just got lucky! Basically, you need someone who is familiar with the application process. He/she should be in the thick of things to have a reasonable chance of judging if your essays will sell. A fellow applicant is of course just an idea. A current student/recent alumnus can do the job too. But they are really busy and it's unreasonable to expect so much of time from them unless they are your friends. If you have a friend or colleague who really is interested in the process, or is ,say, applying next year, you have your ideal reviewer. You can coach him/her a bit with some sample essays of successful applicants. You can make him/her read school websites to understand what kind of people your target schools attract. Make sure you give them all the information they need to do this favor for you.

Clueless do-gooder
This is a person who does not know you very closely, someone who can give an outsider's take on your essays. This is the reviewer whose role is closest to that of an adcom member. It is difficult to get a stranger to review your essay for you. So get someone who is just a recent acquaintance/friend/colleague. You should be able to count on this person's goodwill and his/her language skills. All you need this person to do is to tell you if your story sounds like bullshit, did he/she find it plausible, convincing, impressive etc. Basically get an objective opinion about what did not go down well when he/she read your essays for the first time. If this reviewer has good lingustic skills, then he/she is the best person to candidly comment on your style, voice and language also.

Lie detector
This has to be a person who knows you really well. Family and close friends fit the bill well. They just need to check if the essay portrays the real you and if you have written in your real voice and tone. This reviewer should ensure that your true personality shines through your essays. Since this reviewer will be a person you are close to, you can take the liberty of troubling them a wee bit more and demand a little more of their time, sleep and effort. This review is the checkpoint for you to make sure that you are not trying to be the ideal B-School candidate, something that the adcom can see through very easily. This review should help you drop all your facades.

Human Spell Checker
As I said before, do not trust the spell checker in your word processor. You can do the spell check yourself. If you are not confident of your spellings, get someone who is good (even bright school kids will do, you can bribe them:P) to do it for you.

Do keep in mind that you need only the above roles in your reviewers. Having 5 unique reviewers is not very practical and is very time consuming. You will need atmost 2-3 reviewers with a reasonable overlap of the roles I have outlined. As the title says, they are angels,send them thank you notes, take them out for a drink or a dinner or something. Do not let your gratitude go unexpressed.

PS: This post is not a usual "how to review your essays" post because I did not intend it to be one. I believe there are only 3 things to review: Content, Style, Grammar. I feel that it is the selection of the right reviewers that gives you your best shot at submitting winning essays. Hence the slightly unconventional (maybe even tangential) post. Feel free to leave a comment for any clarifications you might need to find this post more useful.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Funding your MBA

You might think funding is one thing you can think about after getting accepted to B-School. But think again! What if you get accepted and then realize there is a problem with arranging the funds needed to cover your MBA? I personally know people in this situation and hence I thought I should write this post to forewarn those who are just beginning their application journey.

As we all know, the MBA is an expensive expedition. Most applicants hope to fund their education through loans and scholarships. Scholarships are not easy to come by and they seldom cover the full cost of the education. Given the hectic academic and social schedule, it is not practically possible for MBA students to work for their living. So how will you fund the $100,000 - $140,000 you need to pay for your MBA? This is a question you should ask yourself even while you are selecting the schools you want to apply to.

If you are a US citizen or a permanent resident:
I am not an expert on this, but I believe there is federal aid/loans that cover a sizable portion of your expenses depending on your financial situation. So your financial concerns should be lighter than those of an international applicant.

If you are an international applicant, here are the things you need to consider:

Are you applying only to top 10 schools in the US?
If yes, rest easy! Almost all the top 10 schools in the US have a need-blind application process and have a guaranteed loan program for every incoming student. Most of these loan programs do not require a US co-signor. This makes life really easy! You can just go ahead and apply and worry about finances only during visa time (I promise a separate post on this if and when I get my visa :D).

But the top 10 schools are also the most difficult to get admitted into. So you might add a couple of lower ranked schools to your list. This is when you need to be careful. Typical questions to ask yourself before you decide to apply to a school:
  • Does the school have a loan program for international students?
  • Does the loan program require a US co-signor? Do you have someone willing to co-sign for you?
  • What is the interest rate for loans with and without co-signor? Is there a significant difference?
  • Does the loan have guaranteed approval or do you need to go through some credit check before your loan is approved?
  • How long does it take for the loan to be paid out?
  • How are you expected to sustain yourself till you get the loan money?
  • Will you need to bear the cost of tuition even before the loan money reaches you? If so, can you manage it?
  • Does the school offer some special financial assistance for people with your background (if you are a minority applicant)?
  • How do current students from a similar background as yours manage?
These are questions for which the answers may not be readily available on the school's website. After all everything in life cannot be handed to you in a platter :D. Google, current students/recent alumni, the school's financial aid office and fellow applicants (who have information) are the resources you should capitalize on to get your questions answered.

Other sources of funding you can explore:
  • Can you borrow enough money in your home country itself? Are the domestic loans competitive when converted to $?
  • Does the domestic loan cover living expenses also? (This may not be the case, the loans may be restricted to tuition and other academic purposes)
  • Do you have personal sources of funding (e.g. immovable assets, shares etc.) which you would be willing to liquidate/mortgage?
  • Will your parents/spouse/relatives sponsor you?
  • Will your employer sponsor you? If yes, what are the terms? (It is counter-intuitive if you want to switch careers but will have to go back to work for your employers if you avail the sponsorship)
As a future MBA student, you will want to make intelligent financial decisions. The answers to these questions will help you do just that and also save you the disappointment of realizing that you cannot attend a school you had your heart set on.

To reiterate, it is not enough to like a school's program. Attending the school should be financially viable too. So...Read the fine print. Look before you leap!

Some useful posts I unearthed right now :-
Clear Admit - admissions-tip-thinking-about-financing - Paying for your MBA
MBAPodcaster-Financing your MBA
An LBS student's experience

Nominated for BoB!!!

It feels really good to be nominated by Clear Admit for its Best of Blogging Awards!

My thanks to Clear Admit for considering me for this award. Personally this means a lot to me because it is a recognition of the effort I put into my blog. When I was scouring the web for resources at the start of my application journey, I stumbled upon Clear Admit. Since then this website has remained my best source of information on all things "MBA". I urge other applicants also to make the best use of this wonderful resource. This post is a small gesture to pay my tribute to Clear Admit!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


This post will outline a method of tackling the essay writing process and some subtleties worth considering. I will not talk too much about how to collect the content for your essays, as my previous post addresses it already.

First of all, there are 2 ways to begin with the essays. You can complete your essays one school at a time or you can group together similar questions from various schools. The first approach is more holistic while the second, although seemingly more efficient, might produce a very haphazard result. It is still a personal choice you will need to make.

Here are a series of steps you can follow to answer a single school's essay questions successfully:

Create your story...
Sit back and take a good look at the essay questions. Make sure you understand what exactly they are asking for before you plunge into answering them. Then it is time to figure out what goes where. Before beginning to answer the questions, make up your mind about what are the examples you will use for each of the questions. There might be a few compromises you will need to make, especially if the school has lesser number of questions. It is better to make these compromises early than realizing you missed a very important example after you have finished all the essays. Hence fitting the pieces of your story into the questions makes for a tighter story and will also avoid redundancies.

While creating the content for your essays remember that there are some implicit questions to be answered for almost every school you apply to irrespective of whether they are stated or not:

1. Why School X? Why now?
2. How will you make a difference to the school
3. Career progress
4. Career goals

If not asked, the onus is on you to find a suitable place to fit in the answers for these questions.

Putting it down in writing really helps to clear out the fuzz in your mind. You may not yet know the stylistic aspects of how you are going to present each essay. Still, create a separate file for each of your essays and jot down an outline for each.
You can then build on this outline to create bullet points, and then rearrange them to have a good sequence. This is the most visual way to make your story unfold before your eyes even before you write it.

Flesh it out...
Now your content is ready. It is now time to convert your essay into logical paragraphs. Paying attention to tense, grammar and voice (as elaborated below) convert your bullet points to complete sentences. When arranging your content in paragraphs make sure one flows into the next. You can use your introduction to set the stage for the essay, to inform the reader as to what to expect. Or you could begin with a bang like the opening of a dramatic scene. The same goes for the conclusion, you can use to summarize or to finish with a flourish. Simply use your imagination!

Embellish your essay...
The rest of the work is decorative. You can add quotations, sub-headings, conversations, citations et al. If the online application preserves the formatting then you can bold, italicize, use 5 different fonts, indent, subscript, superscript, whatever you please!

Written Language
Mind the language in your essays. While it is important to write in your true voice, you simply cannot be completely colloquial or have sloppy grammar in your essays. It is not necessary to use flashy, flowery, exotic words in your essays. The primary aim is to get the point across. Impressing the reader with your linguistic genius is only a fringe benefit :D. A purely functional vocabulary is more than enough to write a good essay. The idea is to make the reader feel you are talking to him/her, to create this effect you need to take care of 2 things

a) Active voice
As far as possible use active voice in your essays. Essays in passive voice sound like technical specifications. I'm sure techies will understand what I mean here. Active voice is more personal and speech-like.

b) Tense
Take care to see that your essay has uniformity of tense and smooth transition between tenses when needed.

  • Slang is blasphemous
  • Passive voice is a little inhuman :D
  • Grammar is important. Period.
  • You are expected to know your spellings. Don't trust the spell checker in your word processor.
  • Paragraphs make the reader's life easy.
  • Shorter sentences improve readability and sustain the reader's attention
  • Choose between British and American English and stick to it.
  • Punctuate your essays!

You can be humorous, witty, poetic, prosaic, lyrical, formal, semi-formal, technical, didactic, narrative, conversational etc. etc. Take your pick. But make sure it works well. Don't allow your essay to become a bad joke or a tiresome monologue or a constipated technical document.

Keep your audience in mind
Remember that your reader need not be familiar with your industry/ your extracurriculars. So unexpanded abbreviations are a big no-no. While quoting examples remember to give some context to the reader. Explain the hierarchy of your team to demonstrate where you fit in. Do not ramble away technical details of your project. If you are saying something which is culturally very specific to your country, take a couple of lines to explain it to your reader. To cut it short, empathize with your readers. Do not bombard them with jargon and hence give them a chance to question your ability to be sensitive in a diverse cultural environment (namely, B-School).

Sob stories
When it comes to failure related questions, DO NOT rant, crib, whine, pass the blame or make lame excuses. Sob stories make the reader question your leadership skills, adaptability in a team and your maturity level. State the facts as they are and focus on what you are doing/did to overcome your setbacks/failures. Openly admit your weaknesses and describe how you are addressing them. Show the adcom you are mature and down to earth.

Being unclear about what you want to do post-MBA and hence speculating a little about your future is one thing. But fibbing about your past and cooking up achievements is another thing altogether. A "story" may sell, but is the dishonesty really worth it? This is a question of personal ethics and I will leave it at that.

So... Happy Writing!

PS: I will write a separate post on reviewing essays and deciding who reviews your essays.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Your fact-file- A preparatory ego massage...

Once you are done with your GMAT, there typically should be some time before the essays are released (if you intend to apply in R1) or before you begin to work on your essays. Irrespective of whether you have the luxury of time before beginning on essays or not, it will really help to create a fact file for yourself. What I mean when I say "fact file" is a bulleted dump of every single thing you have done in your life that is worthy of mention to someone who does not know you at all. I would suggest not to be too concerned with the "worthy of mention" bit, trust me, it could bog you down real bad. So first- just put down every single thing that stands out in your memory.

While jotting down stuff, to maintain a semblance of order I would put them into a matrix of buckets as follows (matrix because there will be unavoidable overlaps):

  • Academics
  • Test Scores
  • Professional Experience (jobs, salaries, promotions)
  • Extracurriculars with dates

These facts will feed into your resume and application forms later :-)

Incidents in:
  • Professional life
  • Extracurriculars
  • Personal life

The above incidents can be further broken down into:
  • leadership experiences
  • teamwork experiences
  • introspective stuff that led to self-realization (hyuk!!!)

  • by nature
  • acquired by experience

  • currently addressed
  • hopeless and potentially damaging (which will go unmentioned in the essays of course:D)

Wow factors, some examples:
  • Supreme Academic/Professional honors, quantifiable achievements
  • Olympic medal(s)
  • Huge family name/business
  • Unique personal circumstances/background that contribute to diversity
  • Entrepreneurship (serial entrepreneurship gets a bigger WOW!)
  • Anything else you can articulate well enough to excite the reader...

This is just a sampling of categories, add whatever you feel makes sense for you. Once the fact file is lengthy enough and your ego has been massaged well enough, it will be time to knock off all the things you have been fooling yourself about until then. Mercilessly remove each thing you would not buy from someone applying to you for a B-School admission. Cut every claim that you cannot support with an example from your life. Scour the file for contradictions, doing this early will ensure that your essays are consistent with each other.

This file can always be a work in progress. You can come back to it and add/delete things as you navigate through your applications. It will be a single reference point for all the information and inspiration you need when you write essays. There will be times when you look at this file and think "Wow! Have I done so much with my life?" and other times when you think "My lack-luster life can be shrunk into just 42Kb (it would be disrespectful to choose any other number!), even without zipping. Sigh..." .

I will end this post with the message that this grunge work is definitely worth it. It really helps you focus your thoughts and consolidate them so that you don't miss the better stories when you do the real work.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Congratulations Ganja Turtle!!!

Huge Congratulations to Ganja Turtle for being admitted into Chicago-GSB's Class of 2009!!!

I believe that his campaign to get off the wait list was one of the most creative efforts I've ever seen. His hopes and dedication (during a time when all one wants to do is curse his luck) were not in vain. And I thought all the creativity and sincerity he showed deserved a special tribute on my blog. Hats off to you Ganja Turtle!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Congratulations to Wharton R2 admits!

My hearty congratulations to all people admitted to Wharton in Round 2! This must be a really exciting time for you. Boy! Do I remember how it feels :-)! Party hard to let it sink in :D. And then the boring paper work will start... Do feel free to email me with any queries you might have about matriculating to Wharton. I would be glad to help.

Admits in Bangalore/Chennai, how about meeting up?

Update on my matriculation:
My I20 is ready and is on its way to me. I have made arrangements to wire my deposit and will be mailing across my matriculation materials next week. The only pending item after that will be visa.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Do not waste the $250 GMAT fee. Do some research!

The $250 you shell out for writing the GMAT includes sending your score to 5 schools. The usual attitude is to get the GMAT done away with before starting on school research. It might seem like it is too early to shortlist schools before your GMAT, especially if you take the test early in the year. But considering the hefty cost of applying to each school, it makes a lot of financial sense to decide on the schools you intend to apply to (at least 5 of them) before writing the GMAT and hence save on the cost of sending additional score reports. This post will mainly cover the kind of school research you can do along with your GMAT preparation to have a reasonably final list of schools on test day.

I would divide school research into 2 parts:
  • Reasearch to identify suitable programs that meet your needs
  • Research to show fit with the school and alignment of your requirements with the schools' individual offerings.

The second part is more about the specifics of your chosen schools/programs. This research will unearth the microscopic school-specific data that will go into your essays to demonstrate that this school is the perfect place for you :-) (A separate post on this later maybe).

The first part is more about you and your needs. This research is mainly aimed at deciding whether you would want to attend a particular school and it is the part you can do before your GMAT. The following aspects greatly help you decide if you want to go to a school or not:

1. Rankings/Reputation
Whether you like it or not rankings exist and applicants, schools and recruiters do bother themselves with the rank and reputation of b-schools. I know these things are relative and should not matter ideally. But we don't live in an ideal world. However, the importance of rankings varies from person to person. There are 5 rankings in order of importance:

Do keep in mind that rankings are based on fixed criteria which may not be exhaustive. So, while it it is reasonable to want to study in a well reputed B-School, using the rankings as the sole criteria for school selection is not a very wise thing to do.

2. School website
The school's website is arguably the best source of factual information about a school. After narrowing down to a list of say 10-15 schools based on rankings, I would advise you to spend considerable amount of time going through each school's website. They have truckloads of information about academics and the culture of the school. Some schools even have interactive forums in which you can get your questions answered by current students/adcom members. From the website you should be able to glean enough information to decide whether a school has the required academic offerings for your chosen specialization, whether a school has enough extracurricular activities in your area(s) or interest etc. The website also tells you a lot about the teaching methods of the school (E.g. 100% case based, 50-50 lecture-case model). Another important piece of information a school's website offers is about the culture of the school. You can easily figure out if a school encourages a lot of teamwork, if it focuses more on leadership development etc. All this information put together should give you a fair idea whether a school is right for you or not.

3. Talking to people/Blogs/School Visits
It might be a little difficult to find students/alumni to talk to. But it's definitely worth spending the time to find people to talk to, especially if you cannot visit the school. Visiting the school is the best way to get a load of the pulse of the school and to see first hand what the general attitude of the students is. Talking to a couple of students/alumni can give you an idea (albeit a narrow one) about what life at school is like. Alumni can also give valuable information about job opportunities available post MBA. Reaching out and getting to know people who have been through the experience can really help you decide if you will be happy in a school. You definitely don't want to spend 2 years amidst people you cannot bond with...

4. Recruitment statistics
The school's website is the best place to obtain recruitment statistics which is a very important consideration before you zero in on a school. When you think of an MBA you also think of ROI and these statistics indicate your likely ROI after 2 years. However do remember that the statistics will be a little skewed by the highest and lowest income figures :D. It is also a good idea to visit the websites of the companies you are targeting and/or speak to people from these companies to find out how they perceive your target schools when it comes to recruiting.

5. Personal preferences
An MBA is 2 years of your life and you should really enjoy it. This means you need to make many choices. Do you want to live in a city or suburbs, how big should your class be, should the school be pet friendly, is night life important to you, how big a loan are you ready to take, other family constraints that you need to take care of, the list is endless. I feel personal preferences are equally, if not more, important than some of the other criteria I have outlined above. So do evaluate them before you decide to apply to a school.

Research is time consuming. But what I have described above can be easily done between your hectic workload and rigorous preparation routine. Keep the detailed research about club activities, courses, professsors etc. for after your GMAT. I feel it is enough to get answers for the basic questions before you shortlist 5 schools to send your score for free. Even if you change your mind later, you can always add/change your target schools. After all it's just about money. So don't excessively pressurize yourself and shift your focus from the test.

Monday, March 05, 2007


Wharton awarded me $20,000 through a combination of a fellowship and a need-based grant. This means they met the 10% stipulated student contribution. Now I don't need to show any personal sources of funding as I have a guaranteed loan for the entire remaining amount :-). They've also mentioned that I could also get some corporate fellowship in addition to this.

My financial woes are fast-disappearing! I totally love this :D

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The much dreaded GMAT

Jan/Feb is the time most R1 applicants start hating their jobs (after the year-end appraisal), start thinking about their future vision (or lack thereof), indulge in higher contemplations such as one's stagnant career/life and thus zero in on an MBA as the ultimate salvation. The first logical step of course is to get the GMAT out of the way. This post is intended to give the reader an idea of how to effectively plan one's GMAT prep, ace it and hence not waste time and $$$ on a second attempt :-). So here goes...

Preparation time:
The amount of time to budget for the preparation depends on the current and expected workload over the subsequent 2-3 months. Writing the GMAT in the first quarter of the year gives you ample time to prepare and attempt it again in the unfortunate event of a bad score and still have enough time to apply in R1. So the general idea is to finish the GMAT(final attempt) by June/July. I would say 2 hours everyday (including weekends) for 6-8 weeks is ample preparation time to get a score above 700 or even 750. Discipline is key here. If you miss preparing for a day you need to make it up over the weekend. Instead of going strictly by time, I found it more effective to go by a weekly plan. Every Monday I made a plan for the week and stuck to it, catching up on the backlog over weekends. Also keep in mind that while preparing for the GMAT you need to shortlist 5 schools to send your score to for free. Budgeting some time for researching schools will save $$$ because you can avoid wrong choices made in a hurry. (Will write a separate post on managing the school research parallely)

The benefits of an error log:
Maintaining an error log and revisiting the errors at regular intervals,say every week, will help you to identify patterns in your errors and thus your problem areas. It is better to note only the questions/problems for which you went wrong and not note the answers. This way when you revisit the log you can solve the question again from scratch. The outcome could be:
a) you arrived at the right answer- this is the ideal scenario and it means you are improving (unless you just made a lucky guess)
b) you arrived at the same wrong answer as the previous time - this means you have not learnt from your mistake
c) you arrived at a wrong answer different from your previous answer - this means you are making wild guesses and better review the underlying concept first.
To summarize- an error log is a dynamic indication of positive/negative(or lack of) effects of your prep. Used effectively, you will find that the error log shrinks week after week culminating in no errors or a bunch of minor silly mistakes.

Materials I found useful:
1. The Official Guide for GMAT Review (OG- 11th Edition)
2. Kaplan 800
3. Other material available on online forums

Tests to take:
1. Powerprep (till 2005)
2. GMATPrep (since 2006)
3. Tests downloadable from various online sources.(I used google to find them)

Sites with good material and forums:
1. TestMagic

Too much material might end up confusing you. It's better to get an idea of all the stuff available and decide which are the ones you are going to use instead of hoarding everything aimlessly. Once you know what material you will be using it also becomes easy to plan your study time accordingly. Participating actively in the GMAT forums is very helpful. You can greatly benefit from the different approaches described by various people. The forums also foster healthy competition and you can get an idea of where you stand vis-a-vis the competition.

A sample plan:
Month 1
week 1 - Barrons/ Princeton or some easy material to familiarize yourself with the GMAT pattern
week 2 - OG (11th Edition)
week 3 - OG
week 4 - OG
every week end - revisit all errors from the error log and identify weak areas

Month 2
week 1 - Kaplan 800, 1000 CR 50-60 questions each day
week 2 - SC 50-60 questions each day
week 3 - CR, SC 30 questions each day
week 4 - RC target doing 25 GMAT passages or so.

Month 3
first 20 days - 1 test each day from various sources.
next 5 days - Revisit all errors marked as important, read your notes if you have made any. Solve a few problems of each type everyday so that you don't lose touch.
D-Day - 3 : GMATprep1 (2006 software) test and analysis
D-Day - 2 : Princeton2 , Powerprep2 (2005 software) test and analysis
D-Day - 1 : GMATprep2(2006 software) test and analysis.

3 months is a lot of time. The above plan can be implemented easily in 6-8 weeks.

One piece of advice:
Last 2-3 days it's best to relax and not study anything new. Take it easy, write some tests, and sleep well.

PS: I deleted this post by mistake. So had to post it again, sorry to the people who had commented

Monday, February 19, 2007

The Wharton Interview (helpful for R2 interviews)

I hope this post helps people doing their Wharton R2 interviews...

The Wharton interview is...

I do not mean to say you can ramble away. I mean that it is not a stress interview and is meant just get to know you as a person. The idea to judge your communication skills and to figure out if you fit into the Wharton community. There are a few standard questions, beyond that the interview can take any turn depending upon your experience, your persona and your conversational ability. It is possible to guide the interview so as to bring out the best aspects of your past if you are a glib talker.

Another thing which I feel will work to your advantage in the interview is your body language. If you have met Wharton students, you will agree with me that many of them ooze confidence. The interviewer will probably look for confidence in a prospective Wharton student too. Your body language says a lot about your confidence and maturity.

The interview report should ultimately indicate that the same person wrote the essays too :-)

The interviewer sees only your resume. In my case the interviewer took a couple of minutes to read the resume at the start of the interview. So I'm not sure if she even read it beforehand and come prepared with questions. This means that you can reiterate the examples used in your essays. But if you have important stuff that you could not mention in the essays due to lack of space, the interview is a good place to bring it up. An advantage of having examples different from the essays is that they will supplement what you have already mentioned and give a fuller picture of you to the adcom. Promotions, salary hikes and other recognition which came by after you submitted your application can also be stated during the interview.

...not decisive
The interview is just a part of the process and is not the sole elimination criteria. The Wharton interview is not "a make or break". You could get in because of a good interview, you could get in despite a bad interview. There is no reason to be nervous at all. Look at the interview as just a tete-a-tete and talk like you would to someone who has met you for the first time and is getting to know you. There is no right answer for the questions, it is HOW you answer them that matters.

Tips to get more air time
Quoting examples as part of your answers will not only get you more airtime but will also make for convincing answers. Examples are also a way to elicit pertinent follow up questions which is a great way to delve deeper into your experiences and viewpoints. Deep discussion in fewer aspects is better than superficial answers for a large number of questions. It is better not to sound too studied. In fact I would recommend minimal preparation . It is more than enough to know the facts and let your answers flow with the conversation. Going with rehearsed answers for the standard questions might make you sound boring and less confident. However, extempore may not work for everyone, it's a personal choice ultimately. The interview(specially at hubs and on-campus) is supposed to last for 30 mins, but I'm sure there are many people(including me) whose interviews stretched for 10-15 minutes longer. Longer interviews are an advantage most of the time.

Alumni vs Hub vs On Campus
The choice of the type of interview is usually a combination of your schedule and what you expect out of the interview. If convenience and lower cost is the chief concern, then alumni interview is the natural choice. If you want to return to your home country immediately after MBA then you might want to know more about the opportunities and the network available in your country. An alumnus will be in a better position to give you valuable information which will help you to make an informed decision if you have to choose between multiple schools later.

If you want to visit the school before you decide to attend, then the interview is a good reason to make the trip. Also the on-campus interviews are conducted by second year students who will be able to shed light on the life at school. You can also get a feel of the atmosphere and the culture of the school which is an important factor which can sway your decision to or against the school. People who live reasonably close to philly should not miss this opportunity. I say this because I know how difficult it was for me to compare the cultures of different schools using what I read and the few people I could talk to.

Choosing the hub interview means traveling within your country, unless the hub is your city itself. This definitely is not as convenient as the alumni option. The hubs are conducted by members of the adcom and they may not be able to answer some of the questions you might have about the curriculum, job opportunities etc. The flip side is that there will be someone in the adcom who has met you and spoken to you and might support you in case he/she really liked you. This is something you cannot achieve through an alumni interview where you rely solely on the report mailed in by the alumnus. At least during the interview, adcom members tend to be neutral to the industry you belong to/aspire to enter. This could be an advantage and a disdvantage: An advantage because you have a fair chance to showcase your achievements as opposed to talking to a person who belongs to/knows a lot about your industry and hence might undermine your credentials. A disdvantage because you may have specific questions about a particular industry and a veteran in that field or someone who has friends in that field might be able to answer you better.

Links for preparation
Clear admit wiki interview database

Interview experiences of a few bloggers (R1 applicants):
Cornfed MBA
Ganja Turtle

All the Best for your interview!

Disclaimer: This post is a summary of my opinions formed from my own interview experience and those that I have read so far. This is by no means a generalization of all Wharton interviews and I maintain that there is no such thing as "a typical Wharton interview".

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Apartment Search Over!

Thanks a ton to everyone who extended support and valuable advice in my woeful post about my apartment search.

I have a few nice updates on the matriculation front. First of all, I found an apartment! I will be taking over a current student's apartment. My future roomie and me had our eyes on this building all the while, it's one of the safer apartments at a reasonable rent. Now we just have to sign the lease. Here I would like to note how helpful the B-School community is (Wharton and all other schools). When I was trying to shortlist places I mailed pagalguy asking for the contact of a couple of Indian girls so that I could discuss the safety factor with them. I mailed one of the girls he pointed me to and the very next day my apartment search ended. Within 24 hours, she replied answering all my questions and also offering her apartment. So people, it really really helps to reach out to people, even those we don't know personally.

I faxed my verification authorization to Kroll on Thursday. The very next day I got a mail saying that the authorization has been processed and that they will begin the verification process shortly.

Wharton has said that the financial aid committee will meet this week to process the first batch of scholarship applications. So I should get my scholarship result and the loan amount I'm eligible for within 2-4 weeks starting Monday. I have completed my I20 application except for the financial details for which I need to get my loan information from Wharton. So I guess I can complete my I20 application in a month or so too.

The list of things I need to do is slowly disappearing :-). I have been meaning to start on the suggested readings for B-school, but I'm stuck up with my classics mania. I'm simply not able to draw myself to the business/management section at the bookstore :-(