A Highly Emotional Week Ends With A Decision To Go To Cornell

I was dinged by three schools last week–Dartmouth, Tuck and Virginia–and waitlisted by Ross. These decisions go along with an admit at the Johnson School at Cornell University and a ding at Wharton. This has been one of the most emotional two-week periods in my life. Even though I was fairly warned by those who came before me, I was not prepared for the emotional swings that MBA decisions brought.

I spent most of last week pretty depressed, and not because I really did not want to go to Johnson or Ross – that isn’t the case at all. After spending countless hours crafting applications for my other schools, it is really painful to receive a 200-word form letter saying “thanks but no thanks” in response. By Friday evening, I was ready to exhale, and I certainly did. After several cocktails at the work party and with dinner, my friends took me out to celebrate. Saturday morning, I woke up with a serious hangover, but in a much better mood. I had put the dings behind me, and focused on my remaining decision.

My immediate reaction told me I’ll decline the waitlist at Ross to attend Johnson.  After spending some time making sure that I want to follow that plan of action, I made my decision. I will be attending the S.C. Johnson School of Management in the fall!  The school really impressed during my visit. I’m thrilled to be accepted, and can’t wait to embark on the next stage of this journey.  All roads lead to Ithaca now!

When I visited Cornell, I arrived at campus much earlier than needed; it was better than sitting in my hotel room. I was so early, that admissions had not arrived to open the office yet, so I sat in the beautiful atrium and watched the students filter in. Like Darden, Johnson provides coffee for its students in the morning, often with professors and other administration people partaking in the social event. Once admissions arrived, I began knocking off things on my pre-determined schedule by attending a first year finance course. While the course was not the most interesting of options I had, I felt it was a good way to see what a normal/required course looks like at Johnson. As such, I was not too impressed with the content – working in finance has helped me understand a lot of what the course was covering – but I think the professor did a really good job making the course as interesting as possible.

The class was surprisingly large for such a small MBA program, though it did not seem like the students had to fight to be heard. Good thing too, since there were TA’s in the back of the room, marking participation grades. Which brings me to another point; there is no grade non-disclosure at Johnson. I was assured by several students that it was not a big deal, but I think that GND leads to a less competitive environment, where students focus more on grades than education; something that does not always go hand in hand. Nevertheless, I am not too worried about grades; I am much more interested in learning.

The curriculum at Johnson is something I am really interested in. Instead of having dual semesters of core classes, Johnson knocks a whole bunch of them out in your first semester, and then second semester is filled by something called immersions. Immersions are career-focused classes, that allow you to get some hands on experience in an academic environment that simulates the work you’ll be doing in your desired industry. When I say simulate, I do not mean hypothetical problems – you will work on real world issues within your immersion group. These live cases stand to give you a leg up during your summer internship, as you will have already accomplished similar work before the first day of your internship, as opposed to only having accomplished core classes. Seems like a good idea to me.

Immediately after class, my interviewers greeted me. Yes plural – I had two interviewers. At the same time. Seems that Johnson was still in the process of training its second year students for interviews, so my interview would be conducted by a 2nd year student AND an admissions member. The interview was similar to the previous 3 I have had at Fuqua, Tuck, and Ross. Standard walk-me-through-your-resume, why-boots-to-suits questions. Very few curve balls or questions I was not expecting. After 50 minutes of questioning and conversation-ing, I was done. I did not feel that I left much on the table, and perhaps this was my best interview yet. The questions just really seemed to play to my strengths and preparation. That being said, it is really hard to tell how you did on an interview like this; sometimes you walk away feeling completely different about your answers than your interviewer does.

I left campus knowing that I would be thrilled to spend 2 years in Ithaca.

Boots To Suits is a mid-twenties MBA applicant who wants to land a spot in the Class of 2016. He has a degree in civil and environmental engineering, and has worked as a construction project engineer, as well as an analyst at an investment manager. He blogs at Boots To Suits.


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