As an applicant, Fuqua has emerged as one of my favorite MBA programs because they make life easy. Sure they’re a great program that meet all of my requirements in an MBA program, but in terms of applying, they are amazing. All of the information you need is readily available on their website, and their blog is one of the best I’ve come across. They also have an open-interview policy, which makes life SO much easier on us applicants. Why? Because I can book my flight, hotel, and rental car to Durham months in advance. I can request time off in advance without having to come up with a mysterious illness for the 4th time this month (Not really, though – My application plans are “out” at my workplace.. I realize many aren’t that fortunate, though). Also, it allows me to get in front of the admissions committee in more than 1,000 words worth of essays. I think i said 1,000 words in the first 5 minutes of my interview! Finally, it I’m a big proponent of visiting schools. It is often to put a finger on the culture of a school, no matter how excellent the online resources are. Visiting lets you get up close and personal with the school, and help determine if the program is a good fit. It also provides some good fodder for your essays.
So I scheduled my interview early, and flew down to Fuqua on a Friday morning. After meeting up with a gmatclub friend, we hopped in my rental and took off to the campus – this is where things went awry. It seems, that parking at Fuqua is a fiasco. My compadre and I drove around campus for 20 minutes, and eventually bargained with a lot attendant to let us park in his reserved lot. Luckily, from here on it would be smooth sailing. While we were fashionably late for our campus tour, we were quickly integrated with the tour group, and made our way to the cafeteria. Fuqua graciously gave us 10$ lunch vouchers, and set us free in the dining hall to pick up whatever we wanted to eat. After making it back to the table with my bounty, I chatted with the other applicants and found they were some pretty cool people. My tour guide was even more cool – no offense fellow applicants. After talking with her, I found that she left a career at Disney to start a bakery before coming to Fuqua. A bakery that helped her win Food Network’s cupcake wars. Yeah, I told you she was cool.
After lunch, we went back to the admissions lounge where we broke into groups for our class visits. I sat in on a core accounting course, which, to my surprise, wasn’t as bad as it sounded. I definitely tempered my expectations when I found which class I’d go to, but if the professor could make accounting seem OK, then I trusted the other courses could only be better. Strange choice by Fuqua, though – why would you show prospectives accounting? From there, we had a very candid Q&A session with a member of the admissions team, talking about anything from GPA to recommendations to what happens when you hit the submit button. After the Q&A, I went to a panel of 3 first years who talked a lot about their experience at Fuqua thus far, and had another Q&A session with them – note to future applicants: bring lots of questions, you’ll have opportunities. Finally, the end of the day was near, and it was time for the famed Fuqua Friday.
Fuqua Friday is absolutely something you should attend if you’re going to be at Fuqua on a Friday. To this point in my application process, I haven’t had opportunity to chat with as many MBAs as then. The students were unbelievably accommodating, and definitely helped answer some of the questions I had. Also, they have free beer and wine! The whole MBA program descends on the cafeteria for an informal happy hour, often bringing their partners and families along. Food is served by one of the clubs, and the students use the time for anything from unwinding, networking, catching up on some work, and group meetings. I spoke with several students during the 1-2 hour long event, and even caught some of 2nd years coming back from a themed hash run. At this point, I was exhausted, and made my way to my hotel.
Saturday morning came and I was up early and determined not to be thwarted by the parking situation. Of course this time, I had no troubles, and was an hour early. I took the time to walk around campus for a bit, and get myself prepared for the interview. Along my walk, I stopped at Cameron Indoor, a must-see if you’re visiting. I cut my walk a bit short, as I didn’t want to be late, or worse, get lost. I made it back to the admissions lounge, and my 2nd year interviewer called my name. Turns out, we had a lot in common, and the interview was very conversational. Being that it was my first MBA interview, I was happy to have some easy questions to get me started. Looking back, I might have left a little on the table, but I think I did pretty well. I thanked my interviewer, took a short survey, and after 36hrs at Fuqua, it was time to head home. Overall, I really liked the school. Team Fuqua is a very real thing, and I got a positive vibe from the students I talked to. I’m happy that I’m applying Round 1, as I think it is among my top choices.