Saturday, August 18, 2007

Why Darden?

I think I have no more second thoughts to apply to Darden. I stumbled on Darden's Dean's (Robert Bruner) Blog a while ago. The concern that Darden has for International students is laudable.
Read about the Visa Situation for Darden's International Students in Robert's own words.
Following has been the phlisophy of Darden and when put in Robert's own words again feels like, yes this is "my call".

When I explain this to groups of prospective applicants, virtually no one walks away. Instead they ask, “Tell us more; in what ways is Darden demanding?” I think that three factors explain most of it:
**Case studies, not textbooks and problem sets. Cases require a lot of reading and are usually ambiguous. You can feel like you are floundering at times. There are no right answers (but there are many wrong ones.) And every case requires an action recommendation. If you’re used to rote learning, the combination of ambiguity and pressure to decide will stretch you. But that’s the point: every day, managers must take action in the midst of ambiguity. Real business life does not conform to sterile textbook problems. Case studies are great training for professional life.
**Active participation and the “cold call.” At Darden you are evaluated continuously. About half of your course grades will derive from daily class participation. Without warning, the professor will ask a student to begin the discussion in each class—this is the “cold call”. You are expected to come to class prepared each day and to participate actively in group discussion. To say what you think, defend your ideas, and make actionable recommendations can be uncomfortable for many people. But these demands mirror professional life. The feedback you receive on your ideas is immediate and compelling, a daily jolt of energy that lets you know how you are doing. Many students deliberately choose to attend Darden because they want to grow in the ability to communicate, think on their feet, and learn the discipline of effective professional preparation.
**Obligation to others. Any strong community like Darden’s makes demands as the price of participation. You will belong to a study group from which you will gain important insights and to which you will feel an obligation to contribute. The same goes for your section of 60-some students. Clubs, friends, roommates and family will make their demands. And UVA’s very successful honor system creates a community of trust and demands honorable behavior. If you want to play strictly by your own rules, Darden will not be your cup of tea. For its part, Darden will invest a lot in you--there is a great deal of support to help with Darden's demands: study groups, mentors, tutors, and very ready access to faculty members. This aspect of Darden will teach you how to contribute to and lead groups, how to get timely help, and how to help others grow.

I do not think i need any more reasons.


Last few months have been a whirr. The best part could be the single yet visit Amar and I managed to the Chidren's Lovecastle Trust, Bangalore. This is actually in relation to my previous post The Light. CLT works with Digital Study Hall to create content that supplements the Government School education in about 40 villages in Bangalore. Its a wonderful Organization and am very excited to contribute something tangible to it.

Apart from the above, what kept me busy for the most part of the last few months has been the dreaded GMAT. After the debcble of the CAT last year, i decided that i had to take GMAT. Though an MBA abroad was always my first preference, i decided to take CAT because of monetary reasons. Somehow i was always not quite comfortable with listening to lecture with a bunch of fresh college grads. In any case, after visiting Stanford last April, i subconsiously developed a deep urge to hear those bells chime for me :). So here it is, I am finally done with the GMAT with a score of 770 (Q51, V44). To the uninitiated, those are the raw scores on 60 that GMAT gives. Q - Quantitative, V - Verbal. This is about 99 percentile as per the official score sheet. I also seem to have scored a 6.0 on the Analytical Writing Ability part!

I am done also with another dread called TOEFL. I dont know why would somebody need to take TOEFL when the GMAT itself demonstrates the Verbal abilities of a candidate. Some say, Indians can get a TOEFL waiver from MBA Schools, after all English language is the one good (or bad??) heirloom the Brits have passed on to us. Some other say that all schools may not graciously agree to waive off this requirement. Anyway, i scored a decent 112 on 120 in the TOEFL iBT, with minor hiccups on the "Speaking" section.

This is just the beginning and a fairly decent start, if am permitted to think so :). I need all the energy i can muster for the next few months to brave through the admission process. But, i am definetely not feeling smug, as i am very aware of the fact that, however stellar the scores are, schools wont even give a rat's ass :), if there is no story to tell. So...Miles and Miles to go. At least, I am almost done with short-listing of the schools, will post information on the same soon. But the sketch looks like:

1. Kellogs
2. Darden
3. Ross
4. Tuck

I am also thinking about London Business School and Insead. Need to research on these schools more.