Friday, May 25, 2007

College accommodation

Now that I’ve been offered a place in a college, my next concern is getting accommodation. The letter sent by Magdalene College mentioned it was a provisional offer, conditional to Judge final confirmation of my offer which, they told me, will be sent really soon. I spent the last couple of days contacting Judge and Magdalene and so far, they’ve been very helpful. And I know that many students don’t have a College yet, so I’m fortunate for being able to arrange everything in advance.

At first, I was having second thoughts about accepting college accommodation. I thought I would be cool to have my own flat were I could be by myself. But now, I think being in a college is part of the Cambridge experience. And although it might not be as comfortable as a private flat, I’m thinking it will be much more fun to live in the college and I’ll be much more into the spirit of studying in Cambridge (and it is also a lot cheaper!).

So, college accommodation it is! And the next step is choosing a room, or at least, a rent band. The problem is I don’t know anything about the rooms and their characteristics, so I guess it won’t be that easy to make an informed decision.

At least, now I’m sure to put some pictures here of my room once I get there, so I can help someone in the future. That’s a promise! It would be very helpful for me if there was a webpage or a blog with some info regarding accommodation (with pictures!).

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

St. Mary Magdalene

I have just received a letter from Magdalene College. Looks like I'm heading to Magdalene College. So be it!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Two months

It has passed almost two months since I first started this blog. My intention was to describe my application process and everything that is related to it. I know when I started thinking about applying, I browsed the internet for information and it wasn’t easy at all to get what I wanted. Hopefully, some of the things I’ve written so far can help some people out there in preparing themselves.

In months this blog has been visited nearly 300 times! I must say this is a much higher count than I could imagine when I started it. In these two months of posting, there are some interesting statistics:

- Readers from United Kingdom, Japan and Singapore account for 45% of all readers (I’m not from any of these countries);

- 46% of readers take more than 5 minutes in the site;

- 30% of all readers have returned at least once;

- 25% of all readers got to the blog by googling “Cambridge mba interview” (yeah…I did that a lot too before attending the interview!).

Through this blog I have also been contacted by other future students, which has been quite nice (yes…the email in my profile works).
I just hope it has been useful to some people.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Earning an option - The Gmat

Mid November 2006. I arrived at the GMAT center 15 minutes before the scheduled time. Before entering the room, I had to take all my personal items, including wallet, cell phone, pen and even my jacket. I was driven to a small white room with about 10 computers and one camera in each corner of the room. It is definitely not the most stress free environment.

I had scheduled the GMAT without knowing exactly why I needed it. For a while, I had been thinking about taking an MBA and how it could be an interesting thing to do as means of getting new job opportunities, but I wasn’t really sure about it. So I went to take the test just to see if I could get a bit more than 600. At the time, I thought that was the minimum score I should have if I intended to apply to a good school. Basically, I was trying to earn an option of applying to a good school. If my GMAT score was low, I knew an MBA wasn’t the way.

I think the biggest difficulty in taking the GMAT is managing the anxiety. It is quite stressful being in a small room with cameras pointed at you and knowing that you have limited time to answer each question. Any slip can cost you a lot in the final score.

So I didn’t start it very well. In the first couple of questions I spent too much time struggling against my own fear of failure. After seeing that if I kept that nervous for the rest of the test, I would really fail any chances of having a reasonable score, I switched to “nothing to loose mode”. That is, if I had started well, it meant I had a lot to loose in the next questions, as my score was high at that time. But starting so badly, I thought at that time I had ruined all my chances of having a good score, so my anxiety disappeared completely and I just kept answering questions without fear of failing (cause I thought I had already failed….our mind is a tricky thing, isn’t it? And mine is even worst!).
By the end of the test, we are supposed to click if we want to see the score, and make it valid, or don’t see it and cancel it. I thought a long time before I clicked. I thought I had failed my goal, so I wasn’t sure what the best course of action was. I was thinking of cancelling it….but if I cancelled it, I had to do it again. If I failed, I had to do it again also. Either way, I had to do it again. The only difference was it wouldn’t count for my exam history. So I took my chances and I clicked yes. And I’m glad I did it. Turns out I’m quite pessimistic regarding my performance in exams….and after well, I hadn’t performed that badly. I got a great score (the first digit was a 7!).

But what I really got with that exam was an option. An option to apply to whatever school I wanted to.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Preparing an application

Most European Universities allow applications until late March and some until late June. In America, most applications must be submitted until January, so it is good to plan ahead.
If you are planning of submitting applications to both European and American universities I think you should start all the arrangements by the end of the summer of the previous year. That is to say, August or September is the time to start over. I guess you should plan everything so that you are able to submit an application in December or January. Even if the deadlines are very far ahead, it is important to apply early. Some universities, such as Cambridge, assess applications as they are received. So, places are being filled even though the application deadline has not passed yet.

Every top university asks for two exams: the GMAT and an English Test (if English is not your native language), such as TOEFL or IELTS. Bare in mind it may take some time to schedule these exams. Where I live, there is only one date per month to take the IELTS. That means if you don’t get the score you need, you’ll have to retake the exam, loosing at least a month in the process. The same goes for the GMAT.

So, I would say you should have your tests made by November. That will give you a month or two to get the application documents and to think about all the essays and amazing questions they have for you. American Universities usually have more essay based applications. European Universities require less effort (and imagination!) to fill their application documents.