Hello North Star blog readers! Many of you are in the midst of the business school application process, or thinking about applying. Are you curious about what it’s like to be a student at a top MBA program? Here is some insight from a friend of mine who is a first year student at Cornell’s Johnson School of Business. He has graciously agreed to share his perspective on the experience so far, as he reflects on the past eighteen months.

Dear Melvyn:

It’s been a long road to get to here. The semester is over and you are back home in Orange County. Do you remember a little more than a year and a half ago when you decided to go back to school to earn your MBA? It has only been 5 months since you first stepped foot on the Cornell campus as a full-time residential MBA student. What have you learned since then?

  1. It will be hard juggling everything:

From club meetings to study sessions to company briefings, your time is the most valuable resource. Developing an adeptness at managing your time is critical for success. Oh and that outlook calendar, put it to good use!

  1. FOMO is real:

You’ve heard about this cool club that helps you nurture an appreciation for wine and their regular weekly meeting is Wednesday, but you also want to listen to that really established speaker who runs Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund. You really question whether you should be going to this camping trip in the woods or you should stay to attend this “jhorts” (jeans+shorts!) party in order to network with second years.

You want to do everything yet feel as if you only have time for nothing and you are always running around your school building. The feeling does not go away. So many interesting things are going on at the same time. Choose wisely.

  1. Recruiting starts earlier than you think.

Keynes apparently said that: “It is better to be vaguely right than exactly wrong.” Wish I would have known that when I first set foot in Sage Hall. Multi-recruiting puts tremendous pressure on one’s time, and is not a great idea. (By the way, if you thought you were done being referred to by that term, think again. You will be an applicant for at least two or even three more years to come).

It is definitely advisable to at least have an idea which industry and function you want to pursue. Briefings start early and the call for resume drops appear in your inbox in the blink of an eye.

Melvyn Li Wan Po forms part of the class of 2017 at Cornell’s Johnson School of Business and will be part of the inaugural Digital Immersion Program. Originally from the African island of Mauritius, Melvyn now calls Newport Beach home. Melvyn is a proud MLT Professional Development fellow and an active Consortium member in the Johnson community. Next summer, Melvyn will be plying his marketing skills at a well-known Fortune 500 company in the Seattle area.


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Karen Marks

Karen has more than 12 years of experience evaluating candidates for admission to Dartmouth College and to the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. Since founding North Star Admissions Consulting in 2012, she has helped applicants gain admission to the nation’s top schools, including Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Wharton, MIT, Tuck, Columbia, Kellogg, Booth, Haas, Duke, Johnson, Ross, NYU, UNC, UCLA, Georgetown and more. Clients have been awarded more than $70 million dollars in scholarships, and more than 98% have gotten into one of their top choice schools.
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