Meet Rice’s MBA Class of 2017

Iman Houston Farrior 

Rice University – Jones Graduate School of Business

Hometown: Houston, Texas

Undergraduate School and Major: The University of Texas School of Law (J.D.); Tulane University (B.S. in Management and Business Law)

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation: Independent Real Estate Agent and Investor; Exxon Mobil Corporate Attorney; Vinson & Elkins LLP Corporate Attorney

Recalling your own experience, what advice do you have for applicants who are preparing for either the GMAT or the GRE? My advice would be to begin the preparation process for the GRE/GMAT at least a year in advance of the deadline of the application round to which you are applying. I began the process six months in advance and that was entirely insufficient to complete the GMAT process and adequately prepare applications. I wish I had prepared for and taken the GMAT one year out and spent the last six months before MBA application deadlines focused solely on preparing applications and meeting with potential recommenders about my applications and goals.

Based on your own selection process, what advice do you have for applicants who are trying to draw up a list of target schools to which to apply? My strategy was to apply to three schools that I deemed to be stretches based on admissions criteria; two schools of which I believed I met the admissions criteria; and one school of which I believed I surpassed the admissions criteria. I think applying to six schools is a decent number. Applying to any more schools would have made it difficult for me to put my best foot forward on each application. It took me months to draft and refine my essays for each school, so applying to more schools would have reduced the time and attention I could spend on each application package.

What advice do you have for applicants in actually applying to a school, writing essays, doing admission interviews, and getting recommenders to write letters on your behalf? Again, start early. I applied in Round 2 to all of the schools on my list. In hindsight, I wish I had applied in Round 1. The mass majority of applicants apply Round 2, so applying in Round 1 puts you in front of the admissions committee while they are fresh and not referring back to an entire pool of applicants who applied earlier. Moreover, at some schools, you also have the possibility of being deferred to Round 2 consideration if you are not admitted during the Round 1.

Regarding essays, I wrote and re-wrote my essays over the course of several months. Even at the time of submission, I felt like I could have spent several more months on my essays, so you can really never start them too early—or spend enough time on them.

With regard to recommendation letters, I gave my recommenders too much time. I gave them each six months after they agreed to write my recommendations to submit them through each school’s submission portal. One of my recommenders waited so close to the deadline that I decided to find someone else to write my second recommendation at the 12th hour. My suggestion would be to give recommenders adequate notice, but a much shorter deadline, so that the obligation is somewhat pressing.

On the topic of interviews, my advice would be to look your best and be your best. The same rules that apply to job interviews apply to business school interviews. Be sure you have done your homework on everything the school for which you are interviewing has to offer. Your strong desire to attend the school you are interviewing for should come through in your interview. If it doesn’t, you’re probably not going to make the cut, so be memorable for all the right reasons.

What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? After visiting several schools all over the country, I was most convinced by Rice that I was going to graduate with a tangible skill set. Having already gone to law school, I didn’t want to spend another two years reading cases and spotting issues; I already possessed that skill set. I was looking for a program that would challenge me in the areas of finance and accounting, where I knew I was deficient, and expose me to a well-rounded array of business concepts that I had not already encountered and mastered in my previous career. Rice is known to have a rigorous technical curriculum. That was right up my alley.

What would you ultimately like to achieve before you graduate? Being that I plan to concentrate in real estate, I hope that Rice’s core curriculum and real estate electives put me in the position to be well on my way to becoming an expert in real estate. I’d also like to have a much stronger finance base to utilize when making investment decisions on behalf of my family and my clients. Additionally, I look forward to getting to know my fellow classmates and learning about their backgrounds, skill sets, and future goals.

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