So, after narrowing the field and taking the GMAT, I still wanted to make sure of my first choice before turning in the application.
The campus visit was exciting because it was a hopeful “make or break” turning point. After months of making sure that I was an appealing candidate, I looked forward to being wooed a little. Still, I was mentally prepared for the information session to be a disappointment in some way. Had SCU not impressed me after visiting, I would have looked around a lot more. Since SCU is on a quarter system, there are four application cycles each year. For me, the entire application process took place during a period when I would have been waiting to apply to a semester-based program. This meant that, like early application for college, I could find out about my first choice acceptance without missing a chance to pursue alternate plans.
The information session for prospective students was appealing, but that’s the point, right? Students and administrators provided advice about the application, details about the program, and further inspiration for strong application essays. I already knew before visiting that I liked SCU for the program’s excellent reputation in SF and the South Bay. The behavioral psychology focus of some of the finance courses, and the touted (Jesuit) history of critical rigor stood out as distinguishing characteristics. Knowing that the program would have an emphasis on Silicon Valley tech business, it was good to hear that the MBA courses would still have a social foundation. The clearest way that I’ve heard this valued was in the context of behavioral finance. A study of “the market” should consider the consumers in a more complex way than traditional economics. This approach appeals to my liberal arts (parochial) background. Planning to concentrate in marketing, I want to maintain a broad and well-balanced perspective while formalizing my business skills.
Administrators and alums imparted a lot of information along with encouragement, with the Q&A session covering a host of logistical concerns and alumni impressions. The most involved questions came from prospective international students, since academic accreditation affects both admission eligibility and course waiver policies. When asked for more subjective information, alums and administrators were forthcoming with honest answers, like which teacher was most likely to cause GPA damage. I was pleasantly surprised by some blunt advice about pitfalls for applicants.
A surprisingly important consideration, one that matters even more for executive and full-time students, is the attitude that applicants give to every single person in the admissions office. Because of the importance of group projects, interpersonal dynamics become increasingly important throughout the program. Executive program MBAs are basically working with the same group for the duration of their studies. If you’re obviously rude or give a bad vibe to someone in admissions, they have every right to think that you could be a problem for fellow students who need to collaborate with you down the line.