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When A Campus Visit Turns Off An MBA Applicant

In a previous post, I wrote about the importance of not ignoring red flags during b-school visits.

Well, I’ve decided to take my own advice and drop another B-School from my list–except for I wouldn’t say that this one was necessarily a safety school–at least not completely. Its a solid top 15 program, well regarded and (IMO) quite underrated.

I’m dropping it because I experienced some things during my visit that let me know that we just aren’t the best match. Additionally, there are some intangibles that have transcended from “nice-to-haves” to “must-haves” that this particular institution cannot provide of no fault of its own.

REASONS FOR DROPPING UCLA FROM HIS LIST OF TARGET BUSINESS SCHOOLS

Today, I am releasing UCLA Anderson from my target school list. Here are my reasons:

1) I can’t get over my tense, awkward conversation with that admissions staffer.

That infamous grade nondisclosure conversation that I had with him back in March/April has has nagged and nagged at me for weeks. It has been similar to the nagging feeling you get when someone you’ve just met makes a bad first impression and then tries to clean it up later; you’re inclined to believe that what you saw first was the most accurate and natural depiction of the subject.

If you haven’t read that particular blog post yet (despite my shameless attempts at getting you to do so with not one, but two previous links to it thus far) here’s the quick-and-dirty of how it went down (DISCLAIMER: grossly paraphrased):

mbaover30: “Does Anderson have a grade nondisclosure policy? Or is it something that you’re considering?”

admissions person: “I’m not sure what you mean.” (or something like that)

mbaover30: “You know, when students don’t disclose their grades to each other or to employers.”

admissions person: “Well, this is an academically competitive program. You should want to perform well academically.”

mbaover30: ”I understand that; but that’s not what I”m saying. I”m talking about the idea of fostering an entrepreneurial environment where students are encouraged to stretch their boundaries and take risks.”

admissions person: ”UCLA is very entrepreneurial. Guy Kawasaki went here.”

mbaover30: *crickets*

admissions person: ”(still not getting it….) Every year we have a handful of students who end up on academic probation. If you think you might be in danger of that I recommend looking into some quant-heavy business courses like economics or accounting.”

mbaover30 (who got A’s in Statistics, Signals and Digital Logic): ”I don’t think I’m being effective in communicating what I’m trying to say. That’s ok; thanks.”

admissions person: *crickets*

I could have easily gotten over this exchange if I had had the same conversation with a student. On second thought, scratch that. That may have been worse (for many reasons).

At any rate, the larger implication that concerns is me is that if the leadership of the program views someone who wants to stretch and take risks as someone who’s trying to dodge accountability for their performance, that’s my cue to exit stage left.

2) Seems more corporate: I’m looking for an undeniably entrepreneurial culture and environment.

Even though this institution has a well-funded center for entrepreneurship, I get the feeling that its bent toward the subject is more corporate; I get the feeling that the bent of the entire school is more corporate in general–and there is nothing wrong with that; it’s just not the right fit for me.