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How Visiting UC Davis Totally Changed My B-School Plan

First, let me give you some background of my thought process before applying to business school.

I was working full-time in human resources in Southern California and loving it. I didn’t want to pause my career for school, so I applied to working professional (part-time) MBA programs in the area. The programs were great and exactly what I expected. But on a whim, I decided to apply to the UC Davis Graduate School of Management (GSM). It was located close to my family, and I thought it might be nice to be closer. Although I knew the school was reputable, I didn’t truly entertain the idea because I didn’t want to uproot my entire life in SoCal.

Fast forward to the first time I stepped into Gallagher Hall. I walked in the door and suddenly, the heavens opened up, and my life was complete.  Just kidding. To be honest, I was relatively skeptical because I had pretty much made my decision to attend a part-time program. That skepticism disappeared very quickly.  

It is a rare occurrence that I enjoy an interview conversation as much as I did on that day. The admissions director and I talked about everything ranging from the diverse student body and individual decisions on attending business school to some embarrassing moments and my obsession with my dog. Within minutes, we were having a conversation that was insightful, thought-provoking and even made me laugh!

Thought 1: Dang, the staff here is awesome.

Next on the agenda was talking to an MBA student ambassador. We talked about the ups and downs of business school, the class, the professors, etc. I learned so much from him and, best of all, he was real with me. I remember him saying, “Business school is hard, but you’ll handle it if it’s something you really want to do.” As a skeptic, I was 100% prepared to see through his salesmanship and discover the truth. The feedback he gave me was genuine and raw. I was impressed with what he had to say about the program. So much of what he said has stuck with me over this last year.

Thought 2: It’s refreshing to hear that from a student perspective, the program is worthwhile inside class, at the GSM, and out in the workforce.

After lunch, I had the opportunity to sit-in on an Investment Analysis class. As someone whose background is solely in human resources, this was new stuff for me. Again, I’m going to be honest with you, I did not understand most of what was being discussed, but what fascinated me was the dynamics in the small classroom. It wasn’t a professor just lecturing at his students. It was a collaborative discussion between the everyone in the class. There were lecture slides, but those were used to incite thoughtful questions and answers. I had never seen such valuable conversation in this setting before.

Thought 3: These professors know what they’re doing and are truly preparing their students for careers in business.

I spent the next hour talking with students and touring the school. I took mental notes of the interactions between everyone to try and get a further feel for the GSM “vibe.” People were having fun, joking around, having lunch, and working on group projects together. I could see the collaboration between the students and how much they enjoyed working with each other.

Thought 4: Environment? Check. Good culture? Check.

I went home and sat down to think about everything I had learned. It was a BIG decision to make. I evaluated what it meant for me to go to a part-time program down in SoCal vs. going to Davis. Like a true Type A, I put pen to paper and made a pros and cons list.

Thought 5: Time to pack. I’m moving to Davis.

Update: I’m now a UC Davis Full-Time MBA student!