Choosing the Perfect Graduate School

From dilemma to decision and why I chose UC Davis

headshot of Maanvee Mehrotra
Maanvee Mehrotra MSBA 24 shares why UC Davis Graduate School of Management was the right choice.

When the ambition to pursue graduate school first sparked in me, one thing was clear: my destination was business school. Yet, the journey to find the right program that aligned with my career goals was marked by uncertainty and intricate decision-making.

Seeking Expert Guidance

To begin my quest, I turned to my trusted mentors — professors from my undergraduate days at California State University, Sacramento. Their counsel was invaluable, emphasizing the significance of specialized programs in elevating one’s skills and honing expertise in a chosen field. With a background in business analytics, I was drawn to the realm of analytics and data.

Narrowing Down the Options — How I Did It

The next step was to sift through the multitude of graduate programs available in the United States that matched my interests. Here’s how I meticulously curated my list of prospects:

  1. Thorough Web Exploration: I meticulously combed through program websites, scrutinizing crucial aspects such as curriculum details, faculty profiles, program duration, and historical placement records.
  2. Insightful Info Sessions: I actively participated in group information sessions, a common feature in most graduate programs. These sessions not only provided valuable insights into program offerings but also assisted applicants in aligning their choices with their personal goals.
  3. Personalized Engagement: For programs without formal information sessions, I took the initiative to arrange one-on-one meetings with program executive directors. This personalized approach allowed me to delve deeper into each program’s unique attributes.
  4. Adaptable Exam Strategy (GRE/GMAT): While initially preparing for the GRE, I later adopted a more flexible approach by focusing on schools that offered GRE waivers. This decision is highly individual, and schools granting waivers typically require an approved essay as an alternative assessment method.
  5. Data-Driven Decision-Making: To ensure the soundness of my choices, I relied on objective data, including program rankings and alumni placement records, to validate my selection process. This rigorous evaluation bolstered my confidence in the chosen graduate programs.

With these criteria, I successfully narrowed down my options, and it was time to apply and patiently await interview invitations.

Crafting a Winning Application: Tips That Worked for Me

  1. Strong Recommendation Letters: Aim to secure two distinctive recommendation letters — one from a faculty member and another from your work, internship, or volunteer engagement. These letters are powerful tools for illustrating your character and work ethic, profoundly influencing the admissions committee’s decisions.
  2. Refine Your Essays: Seek out constructive feedback on your essays. Reach out to trusted individuals such as professors, coworkers, or family members to ensure your narrative is not only clear but also resonates deeply.
  3. Embrace Additional Essays: Whenever the opportunity arises, seize it! Crafting additional essays showcases your unwavering dedication to the application process. Furthermore, it allows you to illuminate facets of your character and experiences that may not be adequately conveyed in other essays.
  4. Document Your Contributions: Maintain a comprehensive record of your extracurricular activities and volunteer experiences. Most graduate applications offer space to highlight your accomplishments and contributions. An organized list makes it easy to showcase your awards and the impact you’ve had in these areas.

    These tips serve as invaluable assets in crafting a compelling application that stands out in the competitive landscape of graduate admissions.
group shot of MSBA 24 cohort
The incoming MSBA class of 2023 outside Gallagher Hall.

Choosing UC Davis in the Heart of San Francisco

These strategies were an indispensable compass during my application season, guiding me through the maze of choices. As interview invitations finally graced my inbox, I remained steadfast in my authenticity, ultimately leading me to select the Master of Science in Business Analytics program at the University of California, Davis — Graduate School of Management, nestled in the vibrant city of San Francisco, California.

Why UC Davis?

  1. Unparalleled Curriculum: UC Davis impressed me with its rigorous 10-month curriculum, which promises an intensive academic experience. What sets it apart is the yearlong practicum that allows for the immediate application of my skills to real-world challenges, providing an unparalleled learning journey.
  2. Location: Choosing UC Davis in San Francisco as the backdrop for my academic journey adds an exciting layer to my educational pursuits, enhancing not only my academic growth but also my personal and professional development.
  3. Rankings and Placements: UC Davis is renowned for its high rankings, by an impressive track record of graduate placements. 
  4. Strong Bonds, Stronger Support: Beyond academic excellence, what truly sets UC Davis apart is its supportive environment. Surrounded by a dedicated team of individuals who stand firmly by my side whenever I need them, I feel empowered and encouraged to thrive.

Since commencing the program in August 2023, I’ve been on a daily quest for fresh insights and knowledge. I couldn’t be more thrilled to be part of the 2024 Cohort, embarking on this transformative journey with like-minded peers, and contributing my unique perspective to the UC Davis community.