Monday, April 16, 2007

Student Perspective: Long Distance Relationships

Hello to all, congrats to the newly admitted students, and good luck to those who applied in round three!

Today, we’d like to talk to you about something – or better said, someone, who is often overlooked in the whole MBA process: the significant other. In particular, we’d like to focus on the long-distance relationship. Lo and behold, our target is not to give you some couple counseling – we are not qualified for that. But we would like you to profit from the experience of some students who are going through this.

To frame the problem and assure you that I know what I’m talking about, here is a brief portrait: I am French, and I worked in Germany and China before school. Now I am a second year student at the GSB. My better half is Swedish, and she currently works in Stockholm.

The first thing that we long distance people all see is that you need to count on each other. It sounds like a huge tautology but let me be more precise: she/he will support you. Make sure that this project is as much hers/his as it is yours, if you do not want to wake up one day with a break up email or phone call. Be sure that you let him/her know about the upsides of this program for both of you (a hopefully higher future income, Career chances etc.) and the downsides (distance).

Most of the people who choose the long distance relationship do it because of job constraints. In my case, my girlfriend loved her job. She was torn between her will to be with me and her job. As a foreigner, what would she do in the US? She did not want to quit (it is her first job, so quitting after 3 months might have had some resume repercussions), yet she wanted to be with me. Here is the first tip: talk about that together and be open. If you are the one leaving for the MBA, do not forget that by following you, your significant other might jeopardize his/her career too. Given that at the time you come into school you generally do not know where you are going to end up, this represents significant risk added to you, your life, and your relationship. Ponder also that you as an MBA student will be awfully busy. Our partners club here is doing an incredible job, but many wives/husbands recognize that they do not see their partner so much, while they spend some time with other partners of MBA students within the club activities. The reason is that the whole socializing, events, recruiting, etc. is as much part of the MBA education as sitting in class is. In my case, distance allowed me to focus a lot on school, job, etc. Some of my friends who live with a partner tell me about their constant time struggle. My girlfriend and I decided that she would keep her job and that after the MBA we would go to the same place together, our decision driven by the best of both job opportunities.

That being settled, the hard part starts – separation. Here are a few tips that many saw as critical:
  • By the time you part, always make sure that you know already the precise date when you will see each other again – ideally you will already have the plane ticket. This is critical because it transforms an otherwise empty horizon into a countdown to seeing each other again. It builds up the expectation and shifts the wait from an interrogation (when do we see each other) to an excitement (2 weeks to go!). To help you with this, the academic calendar is published on the school’s webpage and has a very substantial horizon – check it out.
  • Nowadays, communication systems make it really easy to talk together and even see each other. My girlfriend and I are avid Skype users. The network at the GSB is so good that we can also use our webcams with the wireless system. It works very well, and we talk once or twice a day. You will have to get used to the time difference. In general, your schedule as an MBA student will offer sufficient flexibility and breaks so that you can adapt to his/her working schedule – it does take a bit of planning and effort.
  • For you Gentlemen: Valentine’s Day IS important. Roses, sent by any delivery company are best. It will cost you 90-150 USD but hey, that’s no money compared to the 80 grand you are paying in tuition.
  • Look at job options early. Where do you want to go? Where could you go? Keep your significant other informed on a regular basis and take their input into consideration. It will help you to converge towards a mutually agreeable place more easily. Be creative in generating options – use the Career Services Office for help. In my case I discovered with amazement that my target company (Bain & Co) had an office in Stockholm… Maybe I could spend the summer there. If you are interested in the country where your significant other lives, ask him/her for advice. Brainstorm together: what companies are there in his/her place (and that works also if you are from the same country). My girlfriend sent me a list of 60 companies based in Stockholm. Then I cross checked with the list in our career services office – we had data for ALL of them. I ended up at Bain Stockholm for the summer, and when I got an offer, both Anna and I were thrilled to accept!
  • All in all, try to involve your partner as much as you can in your everyday life. If he/she stayed in a country for work, chances are that you will have a somewhat more exciting life than him/her. You will meet people from everywhere, go to receptions, cocktails, diners, parties, etc. Get her/him involved in the experience. Talk about what you do, whom you meet. Ask for his/her advice when confronted with some local problems. Basically, when he/she comes to visit you, he/she should be able to know a lot about all the people he/she will meet. Not only their names, but also if you like the guy, if you’ve worked with him, etc.
Of course this is not a simple recipe for success. Just a few things that people with long distance relationships keep on repeating between each other. Good luck to all!

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

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Campus Visit Logistics

Special note for Admitted Students: Contact your AdCom if you would like to visit campus outside of Admit Weekend. They can help us arrange your visit so that we can best meet your needs as you decide which MBA program is best for you.

Step 1: Plan your visit to Chicago GSB
Figure out the best time for you to visit the GSB. Although info sessions and tours are conducted almost every day, we highly recommend that you come when school is in session and when current students are participating in campus visit activities. This way, you can get a student’s perspective on everything from classes to student groups to where we hang out at night. Current students will have a limited role in campus visits during schools breaks (Winter, Spring and Summer) as well as during the first and last weeks of each quarter.

Check out this site for campus visit exclusion dates (no visit activities offered on these days) as well as a general schedule of events for future date ranges. For those of you that want a little more than a regular visit, be sure to check out our “GSB Live” expanded campus visit offering on the same webpage.

Step 2: Register online for your visit
When you determine the date of your visit, please inform the admissions office so we can be ready to welcome you. To do this, you can register online here. This will help us ensure that we correctly match our volunteer resources with the volume of visitors coming in each day.

Step 3: Book reservations for travel and lodging
If you an out-of-towner, you’ll probably need to fly into Chicago and stay at least one night. Visitors often ask, “Which airport should I fly into?” Chicago has two airports: O’Hare (ORD) and Midway (MDW). You can use either airport for your campus visit and both have public transportation to and from the center of the city. However, Midway is much closer to Hyde Park and that can be advantageous. For example, if you won’t have much time to make it to the airport after your visit, you should choose Midway if possible. Depending on traffic and your mode of transportation, travel times to O’Hare from Hyde Park can range from 45 minutes to 2 hours during “rush hour”. On the other hand, you can typically make it from Hyde Park to Midway in less than 45 minutes.

As for lodging, the GSB does not have any preferred hotels. However, you can find a list of frequently used hotels here. In addition, you can choose to stay at the International House on campus, which is just three blocks away from the Hyde Park Center. You can learn more about the “I-House” here.

Step 4: Getting to Hyde Park Center
There are many ways to get to campus if you’re coming from Downtown Chicago. The fastest way is to take a taxi, which you can find easily at any hotel. Just tell the cab driver that you’re headed to 5807 S. Woodlawn in Hyde Park.

Public transportation is also a great option. You can take the Metra train to within a few blocks of the HPC. You can find the Metra schedule for the train to Hyde Park here. Note: if coming from Downtown, you can board the Metra at Millennium Station, Van Buren or Roosevelt Road. You will want to exit the train at 59th Street. If you plan take the Metra, call the admissions office for walking directions from the train station.

In addition to the Metra, you can take the CTA’s #2 bus from multiple stops Downtown to 60th & Woodlawn. The HPC is only a two-block walk to the north. You can find the schedule for the #2 bus here.

If you intend to drive, you can find directions here
. You will need about 20 minutes to drive from Downtown, and longer if you’re staying further north. Also, give yourself ample time to find a parking spot since parking can be difficult around the HPC. If all else fails, park in the UofC visitors pay lot on 55th St. and Ellis Ave and then walk to the HPC (it will take about 10 minutes).

Step 5: Enjoy your visit!
Ask lots of questions and take in the entire GSB experience! Be sure to sign in at the Admissions Office when you arrive.

Step 6: Getting back to the airport or your hotel
If you’re low on time and need to go to either airport right after your visit, your best bet is to take a cab. You can call ahead and reserve a taxi through most taxi services. While we don’t endorse any cab company, the easiest number for me to remember is Yellow Taxi: (312) T-A-X-I-C-A-B. You can also ask the admissions receptionists to help you contact a cab company. Cab rides to the airport will be expensive, but they are usually the quickest, most direct mode of transportation. See the travel times in Step 3 for estimates on when you should have your taxi pick you up.

If you have time, feel free to explore Hyde Park on foot or head back up to Hyde Park via any of the previously mentioned public transportation options.

Step 7: Give us feedback
We rely on feedback from our campus visitors to help us continually improve the program. You can post suggestions on our web forum (, e-mail the admissions team ( or contact any of the student volunteers you meet during your visit.

Best of luck to all of you!

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