I made the trek up to Berkeley yesterday to learn more about Haas. It was a great day and I have oodles of information to spice up my essays in the next two weeks. With my work schedule and my ambitious plan for 5 round 1 apps, I had to squeeze my visit into a single day. Lucky for me, Southwest has a direct flight between San Diego and Oakland so it wasn’t too bad and they have great deals on inter-CA flights. I woke up around 5 am and caught the 7 am flight. That put me in Oakland just after 8:30. I was able to take BART into Berkeley than catch the campus shuttle bus up to Haas. I love public transportation and BART is one of the best. It’s clean, easy to use, convenient, and efficient. I had no problems and checked in at the admissions office around 9:30.
That left me some free time before the tour/lunch at 11:45, so I went down to the café to make some notes/list of questions, proofread a couple essays, and read the latest “Economist” (has a great section on the presidential election). Plus, I wanted to just sit back and observe Haas students in their element. People were very friendly, smiling/happy, and most people were working in pairs or groups. I talked to some students who were in the morning section of Microeconomics (the class I would be visiting in the afternoon) and talked to them about the pricing presentation they were working on. Everyone seemed very casual and laid back. I definitely got the “collaborative environment” vibe.
The tour through the Haas facilities was nice. I like the layout and central courtyard, lots of common space for interacting with your fellow students. I did notice the presence of the undergrads, but the tour guides and info session leaders said that there were very few issues sharing space and/or professor time with them (except for scheduling the study rooms, which can be done online). The campus itself is pretty cool, and of course Haas is situated at the top of the hill so all the older MBA folks get their exercise. We got some lunch and continued to bombard our hosts with questions.
After lunch, we attended the information session hosted by two student ambassadors. I didn’t get much new information out of it since I attended the Haas info session here in San Diego, but it was nice to get two new perspectives on life at Haas. My overall impression of Haas remains the same: a laid-back yet rigorous program filled with intelligent, down-to-earth folks who care just as much (or more) about the world around them as they do about making money, all in a very collaborative and student-driven environment.
Next, I attended the core Microeconomics class. It was different than a typical class since it was their final class of the half semester. Rather than a lecture or case study led by the professor, the learning teams each did a 5 minute pricing presentation on a variety of companies as a culmination of what they had learned. There was a wide range of presentations: some with one presenter and some with two, some who played it straight and some who went for funny, some with PowerPoint slides and some with no visual aids. I was happy to see that a handful of the companies selected were sports related and this showed me that even in a general class you can tweak a project for your industry of interest. The students I spoke with at the end of class told me it was a really interesting class, great professor, very “laid back yet rigorous”. As Dave reported a few days ago, the classroom was stifling hot! Public program = Less money for the luxuries.
Finally, I met up with the co-chair of the Entertainment Management Association. This was probably the most informative part of my day and will have the most impact on my essays. Two pages of notes from that discussion full of advice on using an MBA in the sports/media/entertainment industry, searching for jobs/internships, tailoring the curriculum to work for you, networking with alums and MBAs from other programs, different projects and seminars available at Haas related to the industry, etc. It was invaluable and I’m so glad I’ve set up similar meetings at Kellogg and Chicago next week. We wrapped up around 5:30 and I headed back to the airport. I tried to get on an earlier flight but failed, so I didn’t get home until around 11 pm. It was a very long day, but a great day.
I am physically exhausted and with 5 apps due in the next 4 weeks and my trip to Chicago next week, there is no reprieve in sight, yet my campus visit has me mentally energized and ready to attack my remaining application tasks. MUST…PUSH…FORWARD!