Sunday, March 30, 2014

Hoping for financial aid

The estimated student budget at Stanford GSB for a single student living off-campus is $104K per year. Holy cow!! I've previously blogged about the cost of a MBA after looking at the Kellogg budget, but this is significantly more. Wow, kind of freaking out right now.

I've narrowed my school decision down to HBS and GSB, which both only offer need-based aid. This is both good and bad. I know that I'll definitely be awarded some scholarship aid because of this, but it also means that I will most likely not get close to the merit-based awards I received from other schools. I've completed the financial aid applications and should hear back within the next few weeks. I'm really hoping these school are generous, as salaries in social enterprise aren't known for being particular high.

Anyway, I think the debt is definitely worth it, but it makes me wonder how this trend can continue. I can only imagine what the costs will be in 5, 10, or 15 years from now. It seems like this bubble will have to burst at some point.

So here's to hoping for $$$$!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

In at HBS!

When I applied to HBS in round 1, I was given "further consideration." This bumped my app to round 2, meaning I applied 6 months ago. It was a long wait, but it was beyond worth it. This has been an incredible journey filled with stress, anxiety, happiness, and triumph. From the days and nights I spent agonizing over the GMAT, to now being accepted to Harvard Business School, I feel beyond fortunate.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Accepted to Stanford GSB!

This morning, I made sure that my cell phone was sitting next to me as I began my work day. I checked the volume and eagerly hoped for a call from Derrick Bolton of GSB. I saw a few people from Asia and Europe post admits on the gmatclub forum. Then, at around 10am, I casually glanced down at my phone and noticed that I somehow had a missed call from 9:45am. I listened to the voicemail and jumped up from my seat when I heard the message saying I had been admitted. I listened to it again 2 more times just to make sure I had heard correctly.

OMG, I've been accepted to one of the best business schools in the country!

If you recall from an earlier post, I actually didn't think my GSB interview went very well. It wasn't bad, but I had a hard time reading my interviewer and I wasn't sure whether my personality came through as well as it did with prior interviews. Whelp, somehow it worked out, I guess.

I still cannot believe it. I'm beyond happy, amazed, and simply thankful. I'll probably post something else here later, but for now I am too excited to focus and to type anything more than these few lines.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Waiting for March 26th

I downloaded a countdown app on my iPhone that keeps track of the time until final decisions are released. It just buzzed to remind me that HBS decisions come out in one week... as if I could have forgotten.

I've found myself spending too much time lately googling HBS and Stanford. I've even looked at nearby housing (I have a pet so I can't live in on-campus dorms). There is absolutely no benefit in me looking at housing for schools in which I haven't yet been accepted. I clearly have way too much restless energy waiting for March 26th.

I've also spent a lot of time researching everything I can about Tuck. This is one of the few sane things that I'm currently doing. Interestingly, I recent found out that there will be a tech trek in August for first years. While schools like Haas or Stanford may traditionally be more well-known for tech, Tuck is currently doing a lot in this area and it's pretty exciting!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

One more week until Stanford calls!

I'm trying not to think about next week, but I can't help it. At this time next week, DB will begin his marathon day of calling all Stanford GSB admits! 7 more days...

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The True Cost of an MBA

Back when I was deciding between Kellogg and Tuck, I came across an interesting page on Kellogg's financial aid website. It contains a table showing average indebtedness and the sample repayment. These numbers are astounding (not in a good way)!

It's hard to fathom taking on $150,000 in debt at this point in my life. I've never made such an expensive purchase before, and I honestly find it incredibly frightening. I keep reminding myself that its an investment, but that doesn't make it any less scary.

Below are sample debt figures from the Kellogg website and "the average monthly payment calculated using an interest rate of 7.6% (an average of the Subsidized and Unsubsidized Stafford Loan fixed interest rate of 6.8% and the Grad PLUS Loan fixed interest rate of 8.5%)."

Average Indebtedness/Sample Repayment

Loan Balance: $150,000
Loan Interest Rate: 7.6%
Loan Term: 10 years
Monthly Loan Payment: $1788.37
Number of Payments: 120
Total Loan Payments: $214,603.52
Total Interest Paid: $64,603.52

Loan Balance: $125,000
Loan Interest Rate: 7.6%
Loan Term: 10 years
Monthly Loan Payment: $1490.30
Number of Payments: 120
Total Loan Payments: $178,836.76
Total Interest Paid: $53,836.76

Loan Balance: $100,000
Loan Interest Rate: 7.6%
Loan Term: 10 years
Monthly Loan Payment: $1,192.24
Number of Payments: 120
Total Loan Payments: $143,069.41
Total Interest Paid: $43,069.41

Loan Balance: $75,000
Loan Interest Rate: 7.6%
Loan Term: 10 years
Monthly Loan Payment: $894.18
Number of Payments: 120
Total Loan Payments: $107,302.06
Total Interest Paid: $32,302.06

Loan Balance: $50,000
Loan Interest Rate: 7.6%
Loan Term: 10 years
Monthly Loan Payment: $596.12
Number of Payments: 120
Total Loan Payments: $71,534.71
Total Interest Paid: $21,534.71

Loan Balance: $25,000
Loan Interest Rate: 7.6%
Loan Term: 10 years
Monthly Loan Payment: $298.06
Number of Payments: 120
Total Loan Payments: $35,767.35
Total Interest Paid: $10,767.35

Note: The above data was calculated by the Kellogg Financial Aid Office. These numbers may be somewhat outdated. 

So basically, if I took out a $150,000 loan, I'd end up paying over $60K in interest alone, and would have a monthly payment of $1700 for the next ten years -- that's like a mortgage!

Thanks to the full scholarship I've been offered by Tuck, I'd only have to worry about the cost of living expenses and other fees, which would be a huge weight off my shoulders. However, if I were to be accepted to HBS or Stanford, I have no clue what my finances may look like. 

Readers, how are you planning to finance your degree? Do most people have huge savings that they're planning to deplete, or are you going to take out major loans? Feel free to post in the comment box below. I'd love to hear your plans!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

What makes a "bad" interview?

I was recently chatting about what makes a "bad" admissions interview. For a place like Harvard, for example, how can the adcom narrow the field from the 1800 people invited to interview to the ~1100 people who will be offered a place in the class? After all, the people who receive an invite have theoretically already demonstrated their academic and professional merit through their applications. Additionally, I was able to interact with several of my fellow applicants during my interview day, and they all seemed highly accomplished and super friendly.

So with all of that greatness, how can 700 amazing people still get dinged after interviewing?

I have my own speculations, but I stumbled upon an interview with Dee Leopold (Managing Director of admissions for HBS), and I think the article sheds some interesting light on what makes a "bad" interview.

I recommend that you check out the full article, but I'll post a few key takeaways below:
  • Character Flaws: "The first thing is to screen out, to the extent that we can, hubris and character issues. If you cannot behave yourself for 30 minutes with a member of the admissions board at Harvard and we accept you, it would be like trying to bring a loaded gun on a plane. So to that extent, we’re baggage screeners, without any thought that we are going to catch every character flaw, but we are going to pay attention."
  • Disengaged Students: "We’re looking for your ability to fit into this learning model, which is not a classic academic model of you sit still and listen and take notes and write papers and spit back stuff. You come into a 90-person section and you are there to contribute. You are there not to be a bystander but are there and willing to put yourself on the line and take a risk and say that ‘I think that Sally Smith in this case should do this and here’s why.’ And you need to be able to accept pushback, to be interested, alert and engaged. I need to know you want to be there."
  • Boastfulness: “They talk about their substantial accomplishments and they think I could believe that at their entry level there is no one else in the organization,” she says. “They do billion-dollar deals and all the grown ups are somewhere else. They don’t realize that the goal of this application is really not to make yourself stand out but simply to tell your story.”
  • Lack of Diversity: "A superb, off-the-charts person in an interview may not get admitted because at the end of the day the interview isn’t meant to be the lightening round where how you perform in 30 minutes determines your fate. It’s not, you’re in or you’re out. You might say this person is a star in the interview but we have a lot of people with similar backgrounds who did well and we just can’t take them all. So the shaping of the class can become more of a driving factor than the evaluation."
Regarding the last point about diversity, Dee specifically notes that diversity is not simply about your race or gender, or even where you've spent the past few years working. Rather, there could be five different applicants with PE experience, yet they all would approach a case differently because they all have different life experiences. Life experiences are what makes someone diverse. 

So that's what makes a "bad" interview, according to the head of HBS admissions.

To all my fellow applicants, good luck! We will all know our fates in 13 more days!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

HBS and GSB Interviews

I am now officially done with b-school interviews! While I am in no way complaining about having the opportunity to interview with some amazing programs, I am extremely ready for this part of the process to be over. I had my GSB interview this week, and my HBS interview last month. Everything else happened back in Round 1, which seriously feels like an eternity ago.

I expected this one to be a rapid-fire style of crazy questioning. However, it ended up being very relaxed, friendly, and enjoyable. My interviewer smiled and laughed, and was totally unlike the expressionless interrogators that are described online for past HBS interviews. While I have a few things that I wish I had said differently, overall I left feeling pretty confident. Who knows how it will work out in the end, but I think I was able to convey an accurate sense of my personality, motivations, and goals.

I am less sure about this one. My interviewer was much more serious and asked a few unexpected questions, although he was still a very nice person to chat with. Interviews are only one part of the decision-making process, but I don't think I presented my best self here. In retrospect, there are quite a few things that I wish I would have had time to say. It's weird, this was my longest interview (about an hour), yet I feel like I had less time to truly show who I am.

I now have exactly two more weeks to hope and stress, and then it will all be over... sort of. I will finally know where I'm going to be for the next two years, and I can begin the next round of stressing -- including finding housing, deciding when to leave my job, and of course worrying about financing this huge endeavor. 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

1000 Page Views

Woohoo, I've hit 1,000 page views in my first two weeks blogging! Thanks for reading everyone.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

And the winner is Kellogg...No, wait, it's Tuck!

The past 5 days have been pretty intense. I'm totally not complaining about having options, but I have been insanely stressed. In the battle between Tuck and Kellogg, I finally made the decision late Sunday evening to enroll at Kellogg. I appreciate Kellogg's strengths in marketing and social enterprise, and I loved the school when I visited. It's a solid, top 5 program that will help me reach my goals.

I  clicked the "enroll" button on the online portal, and felt relatively confident with my decision. "I am going to Kellogg," I thought.

But then, I woke up Monday morning with doubts. The costs of earning a MBA are astronomical. Am I really going to turn down a full scholarship?! I spent Monday and Tuesday chatting with some current Tuckies who I met when applying. They alleviated a couple of small, personal concerns that I had, and reignited my initial excitement and passion for that program. I interviewed with Tuck all the way back in September, and I think that I somehow just started to forget the little things that made me love it.

So, today is the deadline to enroll and submit my deposit at Kellogg. I have a few hours left to change my mind (again), but I'm pretty sure that I'll be choosing Tuck. And surprisingly, my decision is actually not based on the money (although it's obviously a great thing to have). 

It's been a week of soul searching, and I'm feeling good about my decision. I'm excited to be a Tuckie!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Stanford GSB Interview Scheduled!

It was initially a bit challenging getting in touch with my alumni interviewer, but I have finally heard back and have scheduled a date. OMG, it's real now! This will be my final admissions interview, and I'm really hoping it goes well. 

It's crazy to think that since I've made it to the interview stage, I now have a 50-50 chance of being accepted. Seriously, this is bananas!! I've said it before, but it bears repeating: When I began this application journey, I was honestly just hoping for one admit. I absolutely never imagined myself being in this position, and I am so incredibly grateful for these opportunities.

To prepare, I've been reviewing the feedback on Clear Admit and practicing responding to behavioral questions, (which the GSB apparently loves).

The most frequently asked questions include the following themes:
  • Why Stanford?
  • Why MBA?
  • A time you failed
  • A time you led a team
  • A time you persuaded or influenced others
  • A time you went outside of what was expected
  • Your biggest accomplishment
I've prepared for these types of questions for other interviews, especially the Kellogg interview, so I think I'm actually/hopefully already in pretty good shape. One thing that I probably haven't done as well as I should is to stay on top of current events. I watch my local news every morning, but I need to spend some more time reading business news, such as that of the WSJ or Economist.  And so, I have a plan to keep me busy for the next week.

... oh, yeah, and in the meantime, I still need to decide whether or not to submit the Kellogg deposit on Wednesday! Ahhh!