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Thursday, September 30, 2004

It's been one of those weeks . . .  

. . . when by the end of Monday I already felt like I needed a weekend. Tuesday was better - I had to stay in London overnight, so took the opportunity to see One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, staring Christian Slater, Mackenzie Crook and Frances Barber. Somehow I've managed to never see the film, so I'd got no preconceptions. It was a really fantastic performance and I'd highly recomend it to anyone who'll be in London in the next few weeks. I was staying just behind Westmister Abbey, and I also really enjoyed being surrounded by some of the iconic London buildings. I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with London. I was at university there for four years, worked or lived there for most of the next six, and am still a frequent visitor. If I could afford to live somewhere central, didn't have a horrid commute, had a 'country place' for weekends and the time and money to take advantage of all that the city offers, I'd really enjoy it. But the likelihood of that happening is practically zero, and I don't fancy paying a fortune to live in a shoe box, commuting for hours a week in something resembling a sardine can (been there, done that) and breathing nothing but traffic fumes, so I think I'll just enjoy being a visitor. I'm visiting again tomorrow, to have lunch with my ex-boss and talk to her about recommendations. And after that it finally will be the weekend again!

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Saturday, September 25, 2004

Needles in a Haystack 

I spent this morning in the city reference library with a copy of The Grants Register - a huge directory of educational grants. I'm used to grants research from my job, but these days most institutional grants information is distributed on CD-ROM or on the web, which makes sorting through it a lot easier. Using a book again felt very cumbersome.

By lunchtime I'd found three grants I wasn't aware of before, but having come back and looked at the relevant websites, one has been subsumed into another programme, one isn't tenable for study in the USA, and the last is very small and I'm on the fringe of eligibility. Fulbright only appears to be giving 2 MBA awards from the UK this year - one is for Harvard and the other is sponsored by a PE firm, so somehow I doubt they're going the be particularly interested in a non-profiter. So I'm left with two targets, which at least saves on the form filling, I suppose.

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Friday, September 24, 2004

It took them almost three weeks, but . . . 

Dear Britchick,

We have received Part 1 of your application to the Kellogg School of Management and will begin processing your application. If you have requested an off-campus interview, you will be notified of your assignment within 2 to 6 weeks. Please be aware that to be considered for a given deadline, you must submit Part 2 of your application, including all supporting documents, by the corresponding deadline. Please refer to the deadline table in our application.

Sincerely,

Kellogg Office of Admissions

I had been wondering whether I should chase this or not, so it's a bit of a relief to have received it. I sent off my transcripts yesterday. I'd considered using FedEx, but as that would have cost c£35, I opted for a Royal Mail priority tracked service, with was a little under£6. So now I just sit tight and wait for interview details while I finish off section 2.

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Thursday, September 23, 2004

Swearing at Kellogg and putting Wharton to bed 

I had a bit of a play with my Kellogg essays to see how long they'd be with an 11pt font and an all round 1-inch margin. I'd have had to lose going on for 50% of the length to make them fit. And however much I focus and however precise and concise I get, there's no way that I can use that formatting and still express what I want to say. I'd only be able to be very superficial, and I don't think that's going to get me very far. I have done a bit of harmless pruning though and they are now all in 11pt TNR, with a 1-inch margin at the top and somewhat smaller margins on the other three sides. The 1pt increase in font size does make them a whole lot easier on the eyes I admit, but I'm not convinced that the narrower margins have any ill effect. And I think there's more chance of me being dinged for writing thin essays than there is for submitting well-rounded essays with thin margins.

Earlier this evening I finished off my CV, sorry resume, and uploaded it to my Kellogg application. I'm not sure what was going on, but for some reason various bits of formatting kept changing between my word document and the uploaded pdf. It took about six attempts to get a pdf where all the text had stood still, by which time I had turned the air very blue and was a distinctly unhappy bunny. I'm really warming to Wharton's slightly more low-tech approach.

Speaking of which, after my earlier panic about the approaching Wharton deadline, I realised that my Wharton application was actually pretty much done. So I printed it off, gave it a very thorough proof read, made a couple of small changes, and then earlier today I pressed the button to send it on its merry way to Philly. My final printed version is safely filed away and I've promised myself I won't look at it unless I need to prepare for an interview, because I know that if I do some huge error will come leaping out at me and get me all worried. I do have a slight "Aghh! Have I done the right thing?" feeling, but it had to go at some point, and I think I'd be feeling this way at whatever point that was. I'm not submitting Kellogg until I know that the career progress surveys are in, becuase there's an additional cps coming from my previous boss, and with K considering an ap complete as soon as they've got one of them, I want to ensure that they don't proceed until they've got both. As I still haven't finished Stanford essay one, I won't be flexing my credit card on that one just yet either.

Finishing S1 and doing some research on scholarships is my plan for the weekend.

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A couple more bits on Stanford 

that I forgot earlier in the week.

Firstly, one of the things I noticed at last week's session was that there was no criticism, overt or implied, of other schools and on a couple of occassions alumnae pointed out that they'd only attended the GSB so that was their only frame of reference. A refreshing change from some of the approaches taken elsewhere.

Secondly, VCMBA is another great Stanford blog from a first year and there's a third one from Marquis . My Journal is from a Stanford second year, but is more politics than school at the moment.

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Tuesday, September 21, 2004

And on the subject of Wharton deadlines . . .  

It's now looking highly unlikely (if not impossible) that I'll manage to visit before the R1 deadline. A combination of work stuff, personal stuff and no classes on Fridays mean that getting over to Philly just isn't going to work out. I did fleetingly consider waiting to apply in R2, but I don't think a visit will add enough to my applicaion to make it worth it. If they want to interview me I've always got the option of interviewing over there (or getting out for a visit beforehand) or I can wait and see if they think I'm worth admitting.

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Nerves and How to Settle Them 

I'd been getting a bit nervous about one of my recommenders. We'd been in touch earlier in the summer and agreed to meet up after she got back from holiday in the first week of September. I e-mailed her a couple of weeks ago, only to get an out of office message saying that she wasn't back until the 14th. And having heard nothing last week, I was starting to get a bit worried. I was jut sending her another e-mail this evening, when she replied. So we're now set up to meet, and she has copies of my essays, a 'memory jog' of what I did while working for her, and all the deadlines etc. I know from experience that she works on a bit of a 'just in time' system and needs managing, so I'm going to keep a close eye on progress, but, realistically, I thin even if we'd managed to meet months ago, it wouldn't have made much difference to when the recommendation actually gets submitted.

On the subject of deadlines, Wharon's is just over three weeks away, which is making me nervous even though I'm well set to make it. And on the subject of Wharton, S2S seems to have been descending to the levels of B-week in some places recently, which is a shame.



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Ethics 

Dilbert is currently focussing on ethics issues. Try here and here for some amusement, and I'm sure there'll be more in the coming days.

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Essays 

I got comments on my essays back from the friends who've given them a read. They're generally positive, but with some useful things to think about. I'm still working on S1 and plan to get it finished by the weekend.

I'm also a bit worried about the first three Kellogg essays, especially after this recent post from Kristen on B-week:

We tend to stay away from word count limits but instead provide the looser page count guidelines, and let applicants use their best judgment. As long as you stick with around 1-inch margins, double spacing, an 11 or 12-point font and the 1-2 page guideline, you're fine. Responses to the short answer questions tend to range from 1/3 of a page to 1 page long.

If they want a one-inch margin right the way round and an 11 or 12 point font, then why the heck don't they say so in the application materials. A one-inch margin at the top is not the same as one-inch on all four sides, and a 'readable' font meandsns different things to different people. (I find 10pt perfectly readable, a 60-year-old with poor eyesight might not find 14pt readable, there's certainly no international standard that I'm aware of that declares that readable = 11 or 12pt!)

So my dilemma is, do I stick with what I have, which says what I want to say and complies with the formal instructions, or do I go with the margins and font that Kirsten states and do some major re-writing?

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Stanford Information Session 

Before heading off for the weekend, I went to the Standford information session for women on Thursday night, at Goldman Sachs' offices in London.

The sesion was run by one of the dputy-directors in the admissions office, who is herself a GSB alumna, and four other London based female alumnae, ranging from the Class of 1991 to the Class of 2004. One was British, one of a mixed UK/Hong Kong background and upbringing, one Turkish, and two from the US (one has just arrived a couple of weeks ago, the other had moved three years ago, ten years after her MBA). There were about twenty of us in the audience (including two men) and I think we were probably about half and half British and other nationalities.

The session started a few minutes late ("in case people are circulating the block looking for parking", a comment which produced amused smiles from those of us who know the realities of driving and parking in the City) and kicked off with information about Stanford. Then there were questions for the panel, and finally some information about the admissions process. I'm not sure that I came away with a whole lot of new information, but I did fell that the seesion added to the what's already available through the brochure and website. There were some useful new snippets (there are 400 alumni in the UK, the GMAT range for the Classes of 2003 & 2004 was 540-800) but I think what I most value is the sense of connection with Stanford and the excitement about the place that came through. I've found the Wharton resources really useful for theat in relation to Wharton and Stanford MBA's blog, but it was good to have the interaction with live people. And it was great to step back from the essays a bit and focus on all the things that excite me about Stanford and make me want to apply there. Not to mention one of the few opportunities in the B-school world to be in a place where those without Y chromosones out number those with!

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Taking Time Off (and paying the price) 

I'm just back from an extended weekend in Istanbul (well I got back last night, but didn't fire up the PC untill this morning). A few days in a really beautiful city, with great weather, and lots of time to wander, sit and drink tea, and relax has done me the power of good. I've seen it said several time on the B-week boards that one for the advantages that London has over say, New York, is that the whole of Europe is just a short and, relatively, cheap flight away. That proximity to some of the world's truly great cities is something I really value.

But having spent just a few days a way, I've come back to piles of e-mail, discussion posts and blogs to catch up on, which is how I've spent the last hour and a half. It's all interesting stuff though, and reading about the struggle that all the first years seem to be having with too much to do and too few hours in which to do it, makes me appreciate my current ability to take a few days off even more.

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Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Errors or Otherwise 

I recently came across this site on errors in English, which I thought might be useful for people struggling through essays. It's definitely, maybe even defiantly, an American English resource and there are some places where I think personal opinion/prefence is playing as much of a role as any sort of rule, but certainly worth a look. I now have it book-marked as a handy reference for when to use 'stationery' and when 'stantionary', which I can never remember (and I'm using single quotes because that's OK on this side of the pond :) )

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Tuesday, September 14, 2004

End in sight 

Spent a good chunk of the weekend getting together information for my recommenders and also got a bit more done on Stanford essay 1. I'm starting to get to the stage where I'm really looking forward to having the applications in and out of the way. It will be good to get some free time back.

Having said that, took all of Sunday off for the christening of two friends' son. We had lunch in the garden of their square (they live in a beautiful Georgian house) but unfortunatley had to dodge showers along the way. Umbellas got used to protect the food and the people huddled under the trees. We didn't seem to get too wet, but I was reminded that high heels and soft ground do not make a great combination. And considering the weather on the other side of the Atlantic, I have promised myself that I will not complain about the comparably mild wind and rain we're getting here.

The Stanford chat on B-week last night was quite useful, and I got two questions asked and answered. I think for future chat's though I'll e-mail any questions in advance and then wait for the transcript to be posted. I'm not sure being there 'live' really adds much, and it uses up a full hour.

Thursday evening is Stanford's London session for women, which I'm looking forward to. I'm going away for the weekend straight after it (or at least I'm taking myself off to an airport hotel straight afterwards and then onto a fly disgustingly early on Friday morning) and really need to do something about packing at somepoint. And working out where Goldman Sach's office is so I can find my way to the session on Thursday.

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Saturday, September 11, 2004

Inspiring confidence? 

Just read a post on B-week about Monday's Stanford on-line chat. It included this information about the student who will be taking part:

Joining Bolton is second-year MBA, Angie Strange, who's got a background in management consulting, just wrapped up a fab internship with Nike, and is also training for the 2008 Olympic marathon team with Canada.

I think we can safely say that anyone who didn't already have an inferiority complex about how they compare to the 'average' Stanford admit, has one now.

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Thursday, September 09, 2004

Words of Wisdom 

My essays (with the exception of S1, which I'm still working on) are now with a friend who's going to give me an honest opinion of what she thinks.

I haven't done much on applications in the last few days, mainly becasue I've been away with work and dealing with a stomach bug. But I've just 'attended' the B-week Wharton chat and was struck by the following comment from Rosemaria Martinelli:

"My team has a particular fondness for the growing social sector and desire for those who wish to have an immediate impact in the non-profit and public sector areas. Now this is a little more challenging for those students because the salaries for these students my be less than that of those going into the private sector, but the skill sets they will learn, the experiences they will have at Wharton, and what they are able to contribute will far outweigh that gap."

I can cope with a 'particular fondness'.

The other comment that's struck me recently is from Derrick Bolton's Director's Corner in the September Stanford GSB newsletter:

". . . the Stanford essays are not a marketing exercise – they are an accounting exercise. . ."

A really useful way of looking at MBA applications in general, I think.

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Saturday, September 04, 2004

Kellogg Application - Part 1 

The Kellogg on-line ap appeared sometime on Thursday night/Friday morning and part 1 is now completed and submitted. It basically covers the very factual information - education, test scores, work history, activities etc., so it didn't take long to do - not least becuase the extremely tight space constraints mean that you can't fit in anything but the most factual information. I even had to abbreviate the subject of my degree becasue there wasn't enough room to put it in full (and it's not that long!) I had to submit part one in order to request an off-campus interview, and I was keen to get that requeted and out of the way sooner rather than later. I've had the e-mail from embark to say that it's sent, I just have to wait from one from Kellogg in the next week or so to confirm that it's been received.

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Thursday, September 02, 2004

Turn of the year 

Yesterday morning it really felt like the weather knew we'd entered September. There was a bit of a chill in the air and low lying mist over the fields as I went past on the train. Schools go back this week, and next week activities switch into 'term time' mode. There may still be four months of the year left, but it's starting to feel like we're on the downward stretch towards the holiday season.

But across the Atlantic, just north of Chicago, there's a business school that seems to be oblivious to this movement of the days. The website still promises that the on-line application will be available late August, but it hasn't yet appeared. This would-be Kellogg applicant eagerly awaits it's arrival.

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Bringing Back Memories 

I've just been reading Mazen's Wharton Diary about the Learning Team Retreat. Just about fifteen years ago to the day I went off to do my last two yeats of pre-university education at an international boarding college, and we had a similar kind of camp experience in the first couple of weeks. What really struck me in Mazen's entry was that the school makes sure people have their medical insurance sorted, as someone always gets injured. Well, on my first-year camp, that was me. I broke my ankle within about two hours of getting off the bus, spent that evening at the hospital, the rest of the camp back at college, and virtually all of the term on crutches (I'm a slow healer). I still get a twinge in my ankle occassionally, in fact I can feel one now. And I gather I've entered college folklore, so in the next week or so, somewhere in the Welsh mountains, a bunch of teenagers are going to be being told about me and advised not to do likewise. Fame eh!

All the same, the learning retreat sounds fun and another reason to be enthusiastic about Wharton.

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