Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Addendum to International Student Financial Aid

Following on the last blog post.....

Just for frame of reference, here is the current interest rate information from the financial aid office. Please note this applies to international students and is for informational purposes only. It is not a guarantee that the rates will be the same in the future because the rates are reviewed and adjusted on a quarterly basis.
The interest rate on the International Student Loan without a cosigner is variable and is adjusted quarterly and is based on the 3 month LIBOR plus 3.5%. The current in school rate is 8.61% and 8.76% in repayment. This rate is good until 3/31/2007. There is a 5% insurance fee that is deducted from each disbursement.

The interest rate on the UC Alternative loan with a cosigner is also a variable rate and is also adjusted quarterly. This interest rate is based on the 91 day T-Bill plus 3.25% in school and 91 day T-Bill plus 3.40% in repayment. The current interest rate is 8.254% in school 8.404% in repayment. This rate is good until 3/31/2007. There is no insurance fee on this loan.

Want to discuss this topic some more? Head on over to the Chicago GSB Discussion Forums

Demystifying Financial Aid for International Students

So, you are considering coming to the GSB for your MBA. Maybe you have already been admitted. And suddenly you realize that it will cost you a lot of money, and you worry worry worry. Money, Visa, moving, …

Keep cool, this is totally doable, and we all overcame it so why can’t you? Here's a bit of advice and a few ideas.

First things first: MONEY.

For international students, it is indeed the primary concern. The reason is that in order to get a visa, you have to bring proof of sufficient funding to your local US Embassy or consulate. That means securing some money up front, or having the awkward discussion: “Dad, could you write a letter stating that you will give me $100,000 if the bank does not fund me?” Yikes! Well my dear friends, the GSB is always willing to help you and make your experience more enjoyable. If you are admitted, you will receive a loan guarantee from our financial services office. That’s right, you get a paper saying that the school will lend you the money without cosigner should you come to us. This is not free money, God forbid! It is just a guarantee that someone will lend you some money to pursue your MBA. What does that mean for the immediate future? You can breathe easy and actually carry forward your research for financing AND your Visa in parallel. The Chicago GSB does its best to make sure this is a hassle-free experience for you.

So back to the money part. You are sure to get a loan, but you still need to plan ahead. This means developing a budget. You can go to our webpage to see a typical budget of a student at Chicago GSB, and make your own based on this data. Careful, these are costs for one school year (Sept-June), and you have to plan for two! Then, conduct a market survey. Go and visit a few banks, and ask them the following question: "Ahem (clearing throat)… I’ve just been admitted to a top business school in the US that might guarantee me a comfortable income in the future. Would you be willing to lend me (insert your budget figure here)? If so, at what terms and conditions?" You might be incredibly surprised at how banks are receptive to this idea. They know what an MBA is, and the prospect of future regular cash flows is good for them. Next, compare the terms they offer with what the Chicago GSB can offer.

Let me state it loud and clear: the GSB does an awesome job at finding good terms for its students. However, some local specifics in your country might make it better to borrow there. For example, I borrowed in Euros at 4.5% fixed rate. It is tax free because of a French law. Finally, it was in Euros at a time where 1 Euro was 1.15 USD. Now it is about 1.3 USD, so actually the MBA will cost me less than planned, especially due to the fact that I am going back to Europe after I graduate. Get it? Think about looking close to you. The terms may be better or worse, and it's up to you to choose the best option for you.

Second obstacle: VISA.

There’s no way to escape it: if you are a foreigner, you’ve gotta get one!

For your visa application, accurately follow the GSB’s instructions. They are real pros. Follow the links they provide in your admission letter, fill in the information they need for your papers accurately and completely. Be sure to read the page they give on the difference between F-1, J-1, etc. And if you have ANY doubt, CALL THEM. They will answer your questions and help you with a diligence you have rarely seen anywhere else.

Take a diligent look at all the documents for the consulate. For that, follow the instructions on the website of your local consulate or embassy. It is long and boring, but it is necessary. Be sure to go to the embassy with ALL of your papers, having done all of the necessary online payments, with the vouchers for all of these payments. You will be fine, MBA students always are. Nobody has ever been stranded, and the Chicago GSB certainly will not allow anyone to be stranded.

Finally: CELEBRATE!!!

That’s right! For crying out loud, you made it! So go downtown and indulge yourself somewhere, you deserve it.

Want to discuss this topic some more? Head on over to the Chicago GSB Discussion Forums

Friday, January 26, 2007

Friday FAQ: What happens after I hit submit?

A question recently posted by "whatalife" at the Chicago GSB Discussion Forums:
"I would like to request the admissions committee to kindly explain the application reading process on the Chicago DSAC blog. There is some speculation and rumors flying around the various forums and it is unneccassarily increasing applicant anxiety.

It would be great if you could explain the process in as much detail as possible. For example, are the applications read in order or in a random fashion, how many people read an application before a decision is made etc."

All of us on DSAC remember feeling this way with our business school applications. You pour your heart and soul into your applications, you finally hit submit, and then it's just a black box until you get an email or phone call with good news or bad news. We understand your frustration, so we'd be happy to shed a little light on the process.

The first people who handle your application are the application processing staff members. They print out all of the parts of your application, create a file folder for it, and batch it up with other complete applications randomly. If anything is missing from your file, these are the folks that will email you or call you to resolve the problem. Applicants usually have a lot of questions about this stage: In what order are the processed (FIFO, LIFO, etc)? How are they batched? We assure you that this is done randomly. The completed applications are batched in groups (quantity depends on number of applications in a given round) and distributed randomly to the first readers.

The first read is usually done by a second year GSB student who has been selected and trained as an admissions Graduate Assistant. The application then goes on to the admissions committee (adcom) professionals where it gets read by 1 or 2 adcom professionals. The decision that comes out of these first 2-3 reads is "invite to interview" or "deny." Invitations to interview are released on a rolling basis. Decision input into the system takes awhile, and again, the process is random (no FIFO or LIFO order). For Round 2, this started on January 24th and will continue through February 21st. If you have not received an invitation to interview by February 21st, you will receive email notification that your status has been updated in the online application system, which will show the denial decision.

If you've been invited to interview, you will have your interview either on campus or with an alumnus in your area. Your interviewer will submit a report that is added to your file. Your complete file is then read by several additional adcom professionals before a final decision is reached. Admits will begin receiving calls a day or two before the decision deadline (March 28th for Round 2, May 16th for Round 3). Denials will be notified on the decision deadline via a status update in the online application system.

We hope this clears up the confusion, puts the rumors to rest, and alleviates some of the anxiety. Best of luck with your applications!

Want to discuss this topic some more? Head on over to the Chicago GSB Discussion Forums

Friday, January 12, 2007

Friday FAQ: Flexible Curriculum & Networking

The Chicago GSB has an approach to curriculum that is different from other MBA programs. There is only one truly required class, LEAD, the leadership class for first year students. In addition, LEAD is the only class with a structured cohort and learning team system. Other than that, the Chicago GSB curriculum is very flexible and highly customizable. There are many benefits to this system, but people often wonder about the trade-off. A question that comes up frequently is,
"If the cohorts exist for only one class and for only one quarter, are you still able to create a diverse network of friends at the GSB?"
The answer is yes. In fact, many of us feel that the flexibility of the curriculum actually enables us to interact and form friendships with even more people than we would under a more extensive and structured cohort system. Rather than taking core classes with the same group of first years, you may end up in an elective class with a mix of first and second years as early as your very first quarter on campus. Each class is a different set of people, and you can form study groups with different people. In fact, over the course of your 20 classes at the GSB, you could theoretically have 20 unique study groups with no repeats.

Beyond classes, there are many ways to meet people. Connections can start before classes do via Random Walks. Other connections are made through student groups, social events like LPF and TNDC, the GBC mentor program, ski trip, spring break trips, and job treks (Bank Week, Brand Week, and West Quest). Or just spend the lunch hour in the Winter Garden at HPC (pictured at right), which is the social hub of the GSB.

And of course, there are always the friends you make in your LEAD cohort and learning team.

Want to discuss this topic some more? Head on over to the Chicago GSB Discussion Forums

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Countdown to Round 2 Deadline

Hope those of you who are applying to the Chicago GSB in Round 2 are having a relaxing evening. You probably are if you've already submitted. But if you've been procrastinating and are making 11th hour edits to your essays before tomorrow's 5 pm CST deadline...well, chug a Red Bull and keep on plugging away.

Don't forget to proofread your essays before you hit submit...look out for typos, spelling & grammatical errors, and the dreaded NAME OF ANOTHER SCHOOL! And try not to put off pulling the trigger to 4:59...you never know what may happen with the system, especially with the heavy load that comes with an impending deadline.

Once you've hit submit, it's out of your hands, so it's time to kick back and relax. Best of luck to all Round 2 applicants! And if you aren't able to make the deadline, you should give it a go for Round 3.

Want to discuss this topic some more? Head on over to the Chicago GSB Discussion Forums

Friday, January 5, 2007

Friday FAQ: GMAT & GPA

This is the first installment of a recurring blog post we'll be doing weekly...Friday FAQ. Each week we will take a question that comes up often on the discussion forums and in information sessions. Topics will vary based on what's hot, but expect us to cover admissions, career services, curriculum, student life, the City of Chicago, etc.

By far, the most frequently asked question is....
"Is my GMAT or GPA good enough to get in to Chicago GSB?"
So it is the first one we'll tackle here. The short answer is: we don't know. And while this may seem like we're dodging the question or trying to hide something, it's the truth and there are many good reasons for it. Your stats are only one aspect of your application. Decisions are not made based on stats alone and there is no magic formula used by the admissions office, so the notion of offsetting a below average GMAT or GPA with something else is a little misguided. The admissions office isn't in the business of admitting stats. They want to admit well rounded applicants and those decisions are made based on essays, recommendations, extracurricular involvement, GMAT, GPA, interview performance (if invited) and overall fit with the GSB. Decisions are made based on a holistic assessment of all components of your application.

At the end of the day, a 'good' GMAT and/or GPA won't get you into Chicago GSB, nor will a 'bad' GMAT and/or GPA keep you out. In fact, what makes a GMAT/GPA good or bad anyway? It's hard to say. If you must measure your stats against some sort of yardstick, the best you can do is the stats of the latest entering class. The Class of 2008 had an average GMAT of 703, with 80% of the class scoring between 640 and 760. They also had an average undergraduate GPA of 3.5, with 80% of the class between 3.0 and 3.9. What does that tell you? That 10% of first years scored lower than 640 on the GMAT and 10% of first years had an undergrad GPA less than 3.0. However, it doesn't tell you what the lowest GMAT or GPA is (which for privacy concerns is not publicly available)....it could be anything because Chicago GSB has no minimum requirements for GMAT/GPA.

A typical follow up question is... "Should I retake the GMAT or take some classes to create an alternate transcript?" And the answer is always personal and entirely up to you. If you feel like you can significantly improve your score or grades, and have the time and the resources to do so, then by all means give it a shot. But don't forget to consider the tradeoff: your time and energy might be better spent doing research on the GSB and writing your essays.

Want to discuss this topic some more? Head on over to the Chicago GSB Discussion Forums

Wednesday, January 3, 2007


Throughout the 2 year MBA program at Chicago GSB, the folks in the Office of Career Services provide programming and advising to support us in our quest to find the perfect job+career. Some of those activities are driven by the staff, others are driven by second year students. This weekend will be one of the major programming events of the year. wInterview is a one day off-site event jointly run by Career Services staff and second years to prepare first years for their internship interviews (which start later this month). This is not a required event, but it is a "must attend" event because the experience is invaluable as you start the recruiting process.

Highlights of the sessions include:
  • Second year panel discussions with insider tips to navigate the process
  • Function-specific interview demonstrations (an actual recruiter interviews a brave first year and gives live feedback for everyone's benefit)
  • First year mock interviews, conducted by second years and recorded to DVD for posterity (to make fun of yourself later, and hopefully break your bad habits of saying "you know" and playing with your hair before your first real interview)
  • Review of the on campus recruiting process and website...the nuts and bolts of how to accept close list interview invitations and bid your way onto open lists
wInterview is one of the most helpful events offered by Career Services. Hope the first years are read for interview boot camp this weekend!

Want to discuss this topic some more? Head on over to the Chicago GSB Discussion Forums