Wednesday, December 28, 2005

On making the right choice

Lots of people made me very nervous during the admissions process. Everybody seemed to be applying to at least 3 programs. The questions I heard most often were
  • "But what if you don't get into London Business School?"
  • "But why don't you apply to Harvard?"
  • "Why don't you go to INSEAD?"
I always said that I really wanted to go to London Business School and I didn't intend to spend $1,000 in application fees! Also, I applied in R1 to ensure I would have enough time to apply to other schools in subsequent rounds if my initial plan failed.

For me, there are many reasons to pick London Business School over any other school. Even now, it breaks my heart that my best friends are spread out over all continents from Sydney to Miami to Pnomh Penh to Zurich. I'm sure Harvard and Berkeley have excellent people and a great alumni network, but I want to live in London after my MBA, and what's the point of having great friends if all of them are located in Silicon Valley or Toronto and I see them only every 5 years?

Then of course, there is London! Frankly, I miss London very much. Last year, my boyfriend lived there and I went to visit him almost every weekend. He lived in St John's Wood and we would often pass by LBS on our strolls through Regent's Park. We would eat aromatic crispy duck in Soho, biryani rice in Brick Lane and chill out in Caffè Nero :-). It was always clear to me that I had to go and live in London.

I think what made my application successful was that I had a very clear goal in mind and imagined being at LBS already while writing the application. I would dream about where to live, which electives to choose, which clubs to join etc.. Once I applied to a scholarship to the Philippines and I did the same. Though I hadn't even sent the application, I would read the Manila Times on the internet, check out the best places to eat in Manila and the best surf spots in Luzon :-). And it worked.

I do have some advice to current applicants though: let them know you're eager, but make sure you show you have other options ;-). I used a few tricks actually because I was also hoping for a scholarship. I did say in my application that I was applying to several other schools (which wasn't true at that point but could have been true at a later stage) and I did have my GMAT scores sent to Harvard, Chicago, Haas and INSEAD to show I was also looking at other top schools. In my conversations with alumni, I would say that LBS was definitely my top choice, but that without a scholarship I might have to go to another school because I couldn't fund LBS (which was definitely true). I don't know if that's why I received a scholarship in the end, but I'm sure it didn't do any harm :-).


Max Christian said...

It's absolutely freezing in St John's Wood this evening, too cold for a stroll through the park. Maybe in the morning...

Good luck with your studies!

angie said...

Here it has been snowing for three days in a row, very beautiful but also very cold! Lucky guy living in St John's Wood already!

Moe said...

Great advice in that post angie. I think you hit many issues that other applicants fail to see. I met so many applicants that just apply to different schools for the sake of the name but when you ask them why those schools, they often fail to give a concrete answer.

See in in London next year!

Al Martine said...

You've made a great choice! Welcome to the team.

Happy New Year!


RusGirl said...

Nice advice! :)
And good idea about scholarships!

karibu said...

Welcome to the London Business School community and that's definitely a great choice you've just made

Karibu (MBA06)

Anonymous said...

Hi Angie, great blog! I've just had my interview for LBS. After reading your post I'm wondering if I should let admissions know before Dec 19th that I need help funding my MBA? What are your thoughts?.. I've been given mixed advice on this one.

angie said...

hey anonymous, no need to tell them, the school scholarship are mainly merit based, i.e. if they like you a lot and fear you might switch to a higher ranked school they will offer you a scholarship right away. In case that doesn't work out, you can still apply to many merit based company scholarships later on.

Keep in mind though that if you have financial limitations London Business School is probably the most expensive MBA you can get out there, especially with current exchange rates.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Angie, that's good to know. Its tough weighing up the benefits of a 2 yr MBA at LBS verses the cheaper 1 yr options. How do you rate Insead, IMD, Said and Judge?

angie said...

I think it depends a lot on what you want to do afterwards. I find London great to explore options (I have changed my mind many times since I am here) as you have a lot of time to talk to people, try things out, do the summer internship etc. Also, our core finance professor Joao Cocco is excellent and I heard the finance electives are outstanding. So for that part I think it is great.

If you know already for sure that you want to do industry or consulting I would go to INSEAD, it has a better name in those places and it is much much cheaper for the same quality and larger network.

Also, London is not cheap so depending on your financial situation you can ignore this or check out cheaper options.

Anonymous said...

Angie, Great post! You have some great points about selecting a school. How would you rate London Business School against Wharton (European vs US experience and post grad options?). Also, can you provide some insight into the reputation of LBS in the US? Thanks so much- I'm trying to make a decision between LBS and some US schools.