The quick few lines.

June 22, 2009

A quick few lines about something I faced recently having upgraded myself from the OGs to the simulated CATs. The OGs have a line running thru the centre of its page, and the SCs/RCs/CRs are arranged on either side of this line. The arrangement allows the SCs/RCs/CRs to occupy less horizontal space. The full question is therefore available for me to read in a highly concentrated space which is less linear and more vertical (like a scroll). In a test screen however (1280 px) the SCs/CRs are spread across the entire 1280 px in about 2-3 lines. The information on the test screen is not as concentrated as in the OGs. This dilution of information across the space has been a major issue for me not just in the verbal section, but, even more so, in the quant sections where the data is spread in a horizontal line stretching across the 1280 px. I do not face this problem with RCs as the passages in the simulated CATs are arranged in a scroll-like fashion to the left of the screen – very much like those in the OGs.

The solution: Do more CATs.


A quick word about shifting grains from chaff.

June 17, 2009

A quick word about shifting grains from chaff. The Internet, I’ve come to notice, is flooded with mostly well-meaning individuals and associations who advise and opine on issues plaguing most MBA applicants — the GMAT, the essays, the LoRs. I must thank them for their time and their inputs, but it appears that the challenge I face is having to differentiate advice from opinion. The flood of suggestions is a queer mix of those coming from admits, applicants and consultants. Out of the three sets, the first and the last are usually advices; the middle set is almost always opinion. All applicants are really in the same boat with or without the leak. Of course, sometimes it does occur that an applicant has a good idea — a way to proceed, but more often it is an opinion which does not have any value for me.

An admit can say what worked for him/her; a consultant is usually only cryptic, and forums are littered with people tossing in their 2 cents which are usually worth just as much. In such a scenario, it pays to listen carefully to what’s been said and determine if the inputs are advices or opinions. I think it was Aristotle who said, “It is a sign of an educated mind that can entertain a thought, but without actually accepting it.”


Between the Old and the New.

June 13, 2009

The DU admissions took up most of this week. There were campus visits, college visits — all to pick up and deposit forms on behalf of my younger brother who is getting ready to start college this year. Naturally, the GMAT prep took a substantial hit — not only because of the time spent on travelling and planning and discussing, but also because I was too tired after a day of running about in the heat, and then attending office, to sit with any prep materials.

If one were to visit North Campus — one of the two campuses of DU, and clearly the most sought after location for students — one will certainly be necessitated to visit St Stephens College and Ramjas College which form two out of the three constituent colleges of DU. The difference in attitude in these two colleges, even though both lie in very close proximity to each other, are remarkable.

St Stephens College feels old-world. It had maintained its old student’s desks, black-boards, architecture, notice-boards and classrooms with veneration. The red-brick architecture, which is almost eighty years old, has been expanded only slightly over the years, and that too in sync with the present style. There’s a sense of pervading nostalgia throughout St Stephens which is oddly comfortable.

Ramjas College, on the other hand, is avant-garde. While almost as old as St Stephens, Ramjas prides itself on modernity and in-your-face high technology. Digital notice boards, Wifi campus, state-of-the-art canteen (housing an MF Hussain print at one point of time), fully air-conditioned auditorium, dedicated seminar room with Jamo-Denon audio system and LCD projectors, black-boardless class-rooms, eccentric mosaics etc. is the norm at Ramjas. There is a constant ripping out of the old and ushering in the new there.

I mention these two colleges not only because they are the best two colleges in DU, but also because they remind me of the top MBA schools across the world. Institutions always display enormous pride in their heritage, and in the number of years they’ve been standing. A few MBA schools in the USA are over a century old. The ones in Europe are relatively new. Students have to choose between the new and the old. Both have their selling points and weaknesses. And at the end of the day, it eventually comes down to individual choices. A high-tech experience, or an old world charm. Personally I’d prefer a mix of the two; but I have a fondness for old institutions. I have a fondness for heritage which shows in the facade of the school and within. My choice, if I cannot have both, would be the old-world charm. I love the smell of Ivy!


Ranking or Fit?

June 9, 2009

I can see why so many MBA aspirants are so fed up with rankings. Not only are there too many establishments bringing out their subjective views on the topic, but these views almost always yield very disparate results. On one hand, this disparity gives a lot of schools the chance to occupy the top slots of one ranking or the other, on the other hand, these rankings end up siphoning fuel into chat forums, resulting in regular tirades on which is number #1 and which is not. The discussions, needless to say, are usually inconclusive.

HBS occupies the top slot in this year’s USNews rankings; Wharton takes No. #1 on the FT list, IMD/Booth is top on The Economist, Tuck/ESADE gets the top slot in WSJ (2007), and Tuck gets top slot in Forbes (2007). So which one is really the best? If I could give a very personal response (which is the very purpose of this blog) it would be that I really don’t care. Surprising as my answer may appear, my rationale is built upon the notion that each school is fundamentally different from the other; each gives the admit a very unique experience and exposure and that cannot be ranked. It’s the same case as comparing apples and oranges — fruits they are, but not quite comparable. Instead I’d be looking at ‘fit’. I’d pick up a set of schools I’d want to go to based on curriculum, teaching methods, location, campus, recruitment figures, student profiles, classroom experience, section experience, and financial aid packages. Basically I’d look at the sum total of the possible experience that the school environment would be able to generate for me to determine the fit. If a school fits me, then by correlation, I’d fit the school.

I haven’t mentioned brand value because that is largely a subjective matter. Most discussions on forums on A vs. B eventually end up with the participants presenting their perceptions of the brand. “A has a slightly higher brand value than B” is nothing but an individual’s perception and the response to that, “No, A and B are equal” or “B has a better brand value among PE recruiters” exemplify the point.

After months of elimination, I have found only one school (Ahem!) that would fit me like a glove. The general advice appears to be to choose two reach schools, two competitive schools, and two safety schools. But with each application costing me US$ 250, it doesn’t make sense to me to turn it into a lottery. I will therefore apply to just the one school that I’ve come to conclude as the perfect fit.


The Greatest Impediment to My GMAT Preperation

June 7, 2009

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Yes, Inspired.

June 6, 2009

I’ve arrived at a certain conclusion — leadership, at all levels, is not just about leading. It’s about inspiring. It’s about doing that what will cause someone to be inspired and in turn attempt another ‘doing’ which will, hopefully, inspire another … and the circle shall continue. This blog is a result of this inevitable circle.

I am a corporate lawyer, formerly a journalist, and hopefully in the future, an MBA candidate at my chosen school. I’m not so much keeping a record of my days leading up to GMAT, the application process and the results as I am trying to broadcast the lessons learned in the process. My Twitter Feed is possibly a better gauge of my experience than this blog will be.

While I shall keep posting as often as I possibly can, regularity can not be guaranteed. At the same time pecking on a keyboard is difficult, especially during the MBA Application Process, when one has his fingers crossed. So condone the delays.

And this concludes the first post.