Sunday, February 29, 2004

Stanford Day 2 
I just started uploading the Day 2 Stanford Pictures. They should be available shortly. My impression of the GSB improved from last night, but I am still much more impressed with HBS. I will post more later, right now I have to decide if I am going to blow off the rest of the weekend's activities.

The early verdict 
Trip, FMG, 3App, anyone else out there who are trying for Stanford and haven't gotten an interview or were dinged: Stanford is not all that. If I had to decide right now I would say HBS, and I wouldn't even have to think about it. So far the Stanford people have struck me as weirdly individualistic, arrogant, not very interested in others, etc. If "fit" is the criteria I am looking for, Stanford is not the fit for me.

This is all preliminary, but if I don't change my mind tomorrow I think we will spend the third day exploring SF and the surrounding area rather than go to the class visit or other planned events. Well, I probably won't do that, but right now I want to.

Your mileage may vary, but so far this has been a deadend.

Saturday, February 28, 2004

San Francisco 
Well, we just got back from seeing San Francisco. We went down to Fisherman's Wharf and caught a cablecar up to Chinatown for lunch. Then we rode the cablecar back and drove to a small beach where we could get some pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge. Then home again through traffic. All in all, I couldn't stand SF. The cablecar took forever, traffic was bad (even on a Saturday!), and people just move too slow! Anyway, we are off to a happy hour and dinner at Stanford, so hopefully the evening will go better. Anyway, be sure and check smugmug for the pictures!

Going to Stanford! 
Woo hoo! We're heading to the airport in about half an hour to fly out to Stanford. I'll be posting pictures every night after the days events, so be sure to check each day for photo updates.

Friday, February 27, 2004

Dragging through the day...And, strike rumors... 
Work has really been dragging by today. I can't wait to take off and visit Stanford. Having lunch with Chuck yesterday got me really excited about seeing the school. In a way I would like them to make my decision easy, though. If Stanford doesn't blow me away then I can just go to HBS and be happy. For some reason I don't think it's going to be that easy.

One big unknown coming up is a potential strike by the Union where I work. If that happens, I will have to start working 12 hour days, 7 days a week until the strike is over, which could be several months. The latest rumors going around the office are that negotiations are not going well and the strike may well happen. We will know a lot more in the next week or so, since the Union has agreed to notify the company 30 days in advance of a strike (in exchange for health benefits during the strike). On the one hand I could use the potential extra cash that a strike would bring. On the other hand, I really don't want to work that much. It sure would make those month before b-school pass quickly, though...

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Lunch and Dinner 
We went over to my dad's house for dinner tonight. It was very good, as usual. He wanted the scoop on my HBS visit, and we discussed the school. Basically I repeated what I have already said here: HBS was impressive.

I have been thinking about adding titles to my entries like many people already do. I haven't decided if I really want to or not, but I have been thinking about it.

Today we had lunch with one of my step-dad's coworkers. He went to engineering grad school at Stanford about 15 years ago. His recollection of the campus was impressive, and his description of the laid-back yet exciting aura of the campus was pretty enticing. What really got me interested was his discussion of all the great things to do around and on campus. I am really excited about the visit, only 34 hours until takeoff!

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

I don't know why I was so afraid of the FAFSA form. I finished it already! Now on to the H/S forms...

Hello everyone! I’m so excited to share my 2+ adventurous years as a proud MBA “Partner” with you (friends, family, strangers). This is my very first post on the blog. I know some of you have been waiting anxiously for my remarks about everything that’s happening, sorry for the delay…but here I begin…
My thoughts on Harvard admit weekend
As you all know already, Mark and I visited Harvard over the past weekend. I was very impressed with everything, the people, the facilities, the resources, absolutely everything. From a partner’s stand point, this was a successful trip. They did a really great job selling me. I’m really starting to LOVE Harvard. The most important thing I wanted to get out of the admit weekend is to see how welcoming is the school towards the partners, and they were, they made me feel very much like a part of the HBS community. Just like the admits, we had a custom made schedule just for us. Even though they had separate activities planned for the partners, we were still welcome to attend any of the admit activities, including the class visit, which was what I was most looking forward to. I thoroughly enjoyed the class visit; it was very energetic and stimulating.
There was one annoying thing about the weekend: at the beginning of every function there were standing ovations for the admits along with a congratulatory speech reassuring the admits that they are the smartest people in the world. By the end of the 1st day, it was getting really old. Maybe I was just feeling jealous and insecure…
Selfish reasons why I want my husband to go to Harvard
The brand: How great is it for me to tell all my family and friends that my husband goes to Harvard Business School, especially since the majority of my family are in China. Everyone in China knows Harvard, even my almost 90 years-old grandma.
Boston: I have always wanted to live in the Northeast for a short period, and here is my chance.

Ok, I have to start cooking dinner now….later

Wow! I make one comment about 24 hours ago and now you can find links to this blog on four or five other blogs. Talk about a welcoming community, that was impressive! Anyway, thanks to everyone who greeted me, I appreciate it. In order to ease my own blog browsing each day I also added links to this page to all the blogs I follow. Actually, I have to thank Trip Enel, cause I 'borrowed' the html from his webpage. I hope you don't mind!

Anyway, the order of the day is FAFSA. I have been dreading it and procrastinating. I told myself I would do it this week, though, so I guess I better get started.

Oh, and I have a case to read for Stanford this weekend. They are doing an 'immersion experience' exercise where they put admits in a classroom and we will discuss a case. I was assigned 7-11 Japan. I'll let you know how it goes...

Monday, February 23, 2004

Harvard Review 
Ok, as promised, my review of Harvard:
Most impressive features:
  • Organization/Resources: Every case makes it way magically to your mailbox, the Citi-assist loan program for every admit, tutoring, loan forgiveness, fellowships, career coaches; the list goes on and on.

  • Facilities:Spangler is just amazing. The tunnel system is very cool. Shad is fantastic. I could keep going...

  • Career Services:HBS repeatedly stressed how determined they are to help students determine just exactly what career will work best for them, and then to help them get a job moving in that direction. It was very cool.

  • Students:All the first and second year students were exceptionally friendly. I was very impressed with how much fun they all seemed to have together in and out of class. Very cool.

  • Professors:Some of the professors were absolutely amazing. Others...well, see below...

  • Least impressive features:
  • Professors:Some of the professors were pretty average. However, HBS has a system to allow students to provide anonymous feedback to their prof's, so this doesn't worry me too much.

  • HBS Housing:Overpriced and undersized.

  • My fellow admits:I actually say this only because I got the feeling from just about everyone (and I probably exhibited the same behavior) that they were trying to impress other admits and justify their acceptance. It was irritating. According to the 1st and 2nd year students it takes until a month or so into the first semester for that attitude to completely die out.

  • Overall I was very impressed with HBS. Unless Stanford completely blows me away this weekend I think I will wind up in Boston...

    Sunday, February 22, 2004

    Well, we are finally home again. I'm uploading the last of the Boston pictures now, we spent the morning wandering around the Freedom Trail/Boston Commons area in downtown Boston. I think in the end I took around 150 pictures which equated to about 250 Mb. I hope you enjoy it all.

    The flight home was pretty turbulent, at one point the flight attendants told anyone with drinks to just set them in the aisle and let them spill, cause it was too difficult to hold them. Luckily, that stretch only lasted a few minutes. Once we were on the ground we had to deal with a torrential downpour, including 2 inches of standing water around our car. The cold temperatures in Boston looked pretty appealing right then.

    I will try to summarize the trip, including most and least impressive aspects of HBS, sometime this week. I better do it before Friday, cause we leave for California on Saturday morning and after that it will never get done...

    Saturday, February 21, 2004

    Well, I just added the day 3 Harvard pictures (there are a lot of them!) as well as some Boston U. pics that I took while we were checking out the school with my step-brother, David, who may attend. It's late, it's been a crazy weekend, I am going to bed. I hope you enjoy the pics. Maybe tomorrow or Monday I will be able to actually add comments to explain each picture...

    Friday, February 20, 2004

    Hey everyone! I just put up the day 2 HBS pictures. It was really cool, we had a fun time today. The case study method was very impressive, and I am really sold on HBS. I think Stanford is going to have a tough time convincing me otherwise.

    Anyway, we are going to go to dinner at 7:15 and then a "Red Party" at 9 something, so I have to go now.

    Okay, I want to know who's idea it was to schedule the breakfast at 7am?!?!? Especially when the wind chill is 19 degrees right now!!! Enough ranting, we have to be in a cab in 35 minutes...I guess I should get ready... I hope you all enjoyed the pictures, I will try to take a lot more today.

    Thursday, February 19, 2004

    Harvard! It was a fun day, we arrived at our hotel around 1:15. Then we went and got lost in Harvard Square. Finally, we found a supposedly good place to eat (Mr. Bartley's Burgers) but the food was actually pretty disappointing. Then we met up with Brian and walked down to pick up our packets at Spangler. In our packets was a list of first round admits. It turns out that there are two other people from my high school! It's a small world...

    Anyway, then we walked around a bit more, saw how horribly overpriced the Harvard CO-OP is, and finally met up with some current students and admits at a few bars (John Hancock and another I can't remember). It was pretty cool. Finally, we called it a night early so we can be well rested for the marathon of a day we have tomorrow.

    Woo hoo!!! Going to Boston!!!

    Tuesday, February 17, 2004

    The HBS admit weekend is this weekend. We fly up Thursday morning and fly back on Sunday. I am really excited. I was just checking out the agenda. We will be visiting a class, sitting in on a faculty panel, and learning about our career opportunities. Also, we will get campus tours, housing tours, and all that good stuff. I am getting really pumped about living in Boston. I have never been there before, and I am really excited about seeing the city. I was also reading PowerYogi's blog. His take on the HBS classroom experience was really enticing. It complemented what Brian, another HBS admit told me, which is that HBS has about the most powerful and impressive classes around.

    On the Stanford front, they are really starting to suck Jie in. She got an e-mail from the partners club yesterday, they make a big effort to make her feel welcome. Also, the weather and the proximity to China make Stanford a really intriguing choice.

    We are taking the new digital camera and Jie's laptop to Boston so we can publish photos each night. So, stay tuned for Thursday night to get an update of the afternoon's activites and a full set of photos on smugmug.

    Sunday, February 15, 2004

    We went and hit golf balls at the driving range today. We had clear blue skies, mid-50's temperature, it was great. It occured to Jie and me that maybe Stanford would be a pretty good place to spend two years.

    Saturday, February 14, 2004

    Ok, some more changes to the blog. I added a section on the left that summarizes the applications I submitted. I also moved the archives links further up so they are more visible. Oh, I also changed the links to the books at the bottom. Any other suggestions?

    Friday, February 13, 2004

    I watched a full episode of CSI:Miami tonight. I am pretty sure that I am dumber for it. That show is awful.

    I have been looking into MBA prep books. There are several out there: Business School Confidential, Ten Day MBA, and many others. I also would like to find a book on preparing for the case study method. I had a little exposure to the case study method in undergrad in one of the few business classes I took, but I really didn't get into it and I certainly didn't enjoy the cases themselves. However, I did enjoy the actual classroom discussion.

    Anyway, I have to work tomorrow (Saturday), because we will have technicians in on OT. In order to get it over with early I am going in at 6am. Ugh. Good night.

    Thursday, February 12, 2004

    I just finished reading through several of the other b-school applicant blogs that I found via League of MBA Bloggers. They are a pretty interesting bunch, and reading them makes me feel very thankful that I was fortunate enough to be accepted to most of the schools I was shooting for. Sooner or later I will probably send the guy who runs it a link to this blog, but I want to get a little more writing done first. I also want to get the HBS & GSB pictures uploaded. So maybe I will try and get posted there in early March. At that point I will be making a decision about which school to attend and I will have to start the dreaded financial aid application.

    Not a day goes by that someone doesn't ask me where I am going to go. Today it was my old mentor at work. I still have no answer.

    Wednesday, February 11, 2004

    We went over to my Dad and step-mother's house today (heretofore known as Dad & Amy), and had dinner. The discussion over which school to attend basically echoed what I had already been thinking. Stanford = entreprenurial, HBS = big business. Stanford = fun, lots to do, HBS = historic city, once in a lifetime chance. Totally different schools, and I could flip a coin to decide.

    As already discussed, I hate that suggestion. I do not want to flip a coin to decide... I know that no one is seriously suggesting that, but it irritates me that it is as good a solution as any. In any event, tonight did not change the status quo: I am leaning towards HBS, I will be surprised if I don't go there.

    Tuesday, February 10, 2004

    Work sucks. It was a long hard day today. I can't wait to be back in the student life, only five more months or so. Woo hoo!

    Monday, February 09, 2004

    I sent an e-mail out to my fam and a few friends, so if you are checking out the blog for the first time: welcome!

    This is kind of no man's land as far as b-school goes. 10 days until we head up to Boston, and nothing really to do. I should be getting my first big packet from HBS in the mail soon, so that would be cool. Other than that, not much going on.

    Oh yeah, last night I spoke with another HBS/GSB admit. Chris lives in Oregon and works for Nike. He has a pretty bad ass job, he works closely with LeBron James on the Nike/LeBron marketing effort. Anyway, he has kind of the opposite feeling about HBS & GSB as I do. Everyone he has talked to from HBS have kind of turned him off to the school and all the GSB people make him really feel good about that program... So, I think it will all come down to personal fit. I will be very surprised if we don't wind up at Harvard.

    Sunday, February 08, 2004

    A lot has changed over the last 24 hours. The site has been renamed from Sloant's Journey to Mark and Jie's Journey. We have created a site using smugmug.com to show off all of our pictures, and now we can post pictures on this site.

    We had a good time this weekend. We went out in Austin with some work people from around the state as well as our friend Melanie, who lives in Austin. We also picked up Jie's parents from the airport, they were arriving back from three weeks in China. Their vote for b-school was for Harvard, they didn't even hesitate... ;)

    Jie's posts look like this!

    Saturday, February 07, 2004

    It occurred to me today that someone reading this might think that I was some sort of amazing applicant and that’s why I was accepted into both Harvard and Stanford. In reality, I am shocked that I was admitted to both schools. When I first decided what schools to apply to, I thought that I had about a 1 in 4 chance of being accepted at one of Harvard, Stanford, or Kellogg. I never imagined that I would be accepted to two of the three, and I thought Stanford was way out of my league. I even applied to Wharton round 2 (I later withdrew after I heard from S/H), because I wanted to take another shot in case I wasn’t accepted to H/S/K. I think that’s why I am having so much trouble deciding where to go, I never imagined I would wind up with this decision to make.

    Anyway, I am not an unbelievable applicant. Here is my relevant info: 740 GMAT, 3.8 UGPA in engineering at a very good state school, 3 years w.e. in operations as a manager, and very average extra-curricular activities. The things that really worked for me are things that anyone can do. I had very strong recommendations, but from very normal people. None had been to business school or even any grad school. I also passed the CFA level one examination, and I worked pretty hard on my essays.

    These are the main reasons I think I was accepted:
    - My operations and management work experience differentiates me from other candidates.
    - I had strong essays and did a very good job of explaining why I need an MBA now – I want to transition into finance and I need an MBA to supplement my engineering education. Also, my essays were tailored to each school, i.e. my Stanford essays were very personal and my HBS essays were all business.
    - I was able to show that I was already doing things to move towards my goals. I think taking and passing the CFA exam showed a level of commitment and understanding and really reinforced what I said in my essays.

    My advice to anyone who is thinking about applying to b-school or reapplying is to start by reading How to Get Into the Top MBA Programs by Richard Montauk. It is the bible of B-school applications, and it was the number 1 reason I put together such strong applications. From there, you will know what you need to do to put together a really good application. Let me know if you have any questions.

    Thursday, February 05, 2004

    Well, the camera has been pretty cool. I went out with two Stanford admits and a Harvard admit/Stanford hopeful tonight. The Stanford people were not very talkative, they mostly talked about work... I am really leaning to Harvard. I need to find a way to make this more entertaining. I want to draw a large following. Any ideas???

    Wednesday, February 04, 2004

    Sorry, too busy playing with the new camera to post anything... :)

    Monday, February 02, 2004

    I posted laptop questions on the HBS and Stanford admitted students message boards and got the following information:
    HBS - Students use laptops pretty much all day every day. Not a whole lot of processing power is needed, 95% of the time you will be using internet explorer or Microsoft Office. Also, HBS publishes two levels of requirements, minimum and recommended, and apparently the minimum are sufficient for almost all applications.
    Stanford - Students rarely use laptops in class, and aside from the benefit of the campus-wide wireless network, you don't really need one. There are plenty of computer labs on campus and in Schwab, so even bringing a desktop PC for home would likely be sufficient.

    So, if I wind up at HBS I think I will go with a 5 lbs thin and light laptop, probably an IBM. If I go to Stanford I may just stick with my current PC.

    Sunday, February 01, 2004

    Today I have been checking out laptops on the internet. Computing is another difference between Stanford and Harvard, it seems. At Stanford computers are not generally used in the classroom, apparently, and they don't require that students have a laptop. At Harvard, on the other hand, laptops seem to be more integrated into the classroom and much more of a requirement. In fact, they may outright be a requirement. This is just another factor that draws me a bit further towards Harvard. I am pretty skeptical of any university that doesn't hasten to mesh computers in with the curriculum. Although I am not quite a techie, I am a big believer in technology.

    Anyway, I think I have narrowed down my laptops considerations to Dell (doubtful), IBM (most likely), and Fujitsu (the dark horse). I don't like the Dells so much because they tend to be bigger and bulkier and they run really hot. I like the offerings from IBM, but for some reason I don't want to own one (my techs at work have IBM and Dell desktops, and the IBMs are just flimsier, that could be where my hesitation comes from). Fujitsu is relatively unknown in consumer electronics, but their equipment forms the backbone of the SBC fiber network (and most fiber networks worldwide). They are known for their reliable products and top-notch customer service in the telecom field. So, if I am a big fan of Fujitsu when it comes to fiber muxes, why not laptops?

    The other consideration is size. I know I don't want a desktop replacement, but do I want a 5 lbs, thin and light model or a 7 lbs tweener? Basically the difference is screen size, keyboard room, and battery life vs. weight. Hmmm... I imagine I will go with a 5 lbs model in the end, but we'll see. Another mark in IBM's favor is that they have competitive models in both categories, whereas Fujitsu and Dell seem to only each do one well.

    I'll let you know how it goes... (Oh, and I am having fun with HTML, in case you couldn't tell... ;)

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