Sunday, June 1, 2014

Why Anderson? – Thoughts from Fellow Admits and Current Students (Part 3)

This post is a continuation of "Why Anderson? – Thoughts from Fellow Admits and Current Students."  Thank you again to all the individuals who have submitted their thoughts.

We’re pulling up to the second apartment on our L.A. Housing Tour as part of A-Days, the UCLA Anderson admit weekend for newly admitted students. It’s a (shockingly!) sunny and 72 degree day, and as we file out of the van and up the walkway to the next apartment the eight of us wrap up Getting to Know You 101. It’s what will become a very familiar song and dance of three basic questions: “Hi! Where are you from? What do you do? What do you want to do? Wow, that’s cool.”

At A-Days, there is a traditional fourth question that will become the great equalizer of the weekend, separating those that are to be heavily recruited over the next two days from those that are “the decided” (and therefore just get to eat, drink, and network to our heart’s content). “Have you committed to Anderson or… are you deciding among other schools?” It’s a little like Hunger Games – as a group of highly qualified, smart, innovative future MBAs will be divided among their districts that will in time shape their culture, identity, and future. Intense.

Me? I’ve already decided. In fact, as soon as I was admitted I couldn’t submit my deposit any quicker. When my van-mates learn of some opportunities I turned down for Anderson, they are a bit shocked. Based on rankings alone, Anderson should have been my third choice.

From my perspective, my decision to attend Anderson boiled down to a simple equation that permeated my thinking throughout the 20-month MBA application process. Business school is just that…50% business, and 50% school. All of the companies on my short-list are L.A.-based. Schools in the Midwest (where I call home) and the East Coast, regardless of the nominal rankings advantage, would only provide a small percentage of added value to my $200K investment. Anderson has the largest ROI (yay! B-school speak) in regards to the 50% business component.

I urge applicants to consider, before you decide which MBA, to honestly answer the question why MBA. (Hint: it may be different than your admissions essay! Write the honest response to that prompt and the strategic response, and make your own decision whether you want to submit one or the other. Then, sign this liability waiver ________________, as I claim no responsibility as to your admission success based on which response you decide to submit). Lastly, visit the school to make sure the program checks off as many points on your why MBA list as possible.

The Top-20 schools are all great programs and will make you more edumacated. But answer if the school will get you to where you want to be and if you will be happy spending 200,000 dollars (I wrote out the word “dollars” for extra emphasis). Anderson blew all of these points out of the water, so it was a sure thing.
I’ve written out my why MBA list below, and how Anderson met these points.
  • Broaden my skill set with specific emphasis on marketing (any top program. Top professors and their research should be posted on the school's website. Anderson won on many levels in regards to professors and courses I wanted to take)
  • Diversify my school portfolio/perspective (thus taking me out of the Midwest)
  • Entertainment industry (Specifically L.A. over NY for my company short-list. I had multiple "wow" moments when I researched Anderson's class offerings in regards to entertainment)
  • Learn from my peers and ideally know everyone in my class (thus, seeking a collaborative environment and smaller student body)
  • Honestly, learn not to be so darn rigid. I was burning at both ends in my current industry and needed a chill pill. I felt Anderson could teach me a thing or two about the value of fun in leadership which, in my humble opinion and research, should not be taken lightly.
  • Feel connected. My undergrad was very non-traditional (I also encourage future applicants to distinguish between non-traditional and unique. Focus not on how you’re non-traditional, but rather on how you’re unique. Everyone is special!) I wanted a student culture in which I felt as though I “fit”. When I interviewed on campus I felt like the students gave me a big ol’ proverbial hug. I was sold.
-Mike Leve, UCLA Anderson Class of 2016

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