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CEIBS Application Journey

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CEIBS_SA Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
01 Apr 2014
1 messages

CEIBS Application Journey

Post Wed Apr 02, 2014 10:37 pm
For the many young and hopeful that are applying for MBA schools right now, I sympathize with the pain and struggles you are going through. Seven months into my MBA at CEIBS, I would like to share with those whom are interested my personal MBA application journey.

The toughest part of the application process for me was actually the very beginning. To be able to juggle work, personal life, and still motivate yourself to bury your head into books truly forces you to prioritize. Without going into too much detail, the steps I took to studying were as follows:

1. Completed the latest edition of the official GMAT study guide book.
2. Identified weak areas based on the errors I made in the study guide.
3. Focused on practice material specifically targeting the areas I didn’t do well on. I tried to minimize wasting time doing problems I was already okay on. Also read up on tips and suggestions specific to the more difficult problems via blogs…etc.
4. Take as many practice tests as I could until I consistently scored above 700 (I took around 7 or 8).

I took my time to study (I was in the midst of a demanding project), but the situation varies for everybody. Some people learn better by attending classes, and some people don’t have the luxury of time. By no means was my way of studying the “right” way, but for me it worked. However, I cannot emphasize how important it is to take practice tests. It helped me with time management, get used to the pressure, and it really was the best way for me to “get serious”.

Program Selection
After I passed the exam, life appeared colorful again. Following a couple weeks of celebration, I spent the next month gathering materials to decide which schools I wanted to apply to (given my GMAT range, career function preference, location, and overall background). I began with a long list of prospective schools (HAAS, Wharton to name a few), but after serious consideration, I was able to narrow it down to two programs: CEIBS and INSEAD.

Again, a lot of this came down to personal preference. The process of selecting schools really helped me make life decisions rather than merely comparing which programs ranked higher. Do I want to work in finance, consulting, or industry? What kind of existing and future networks do I want to leverage? What is the best way for me position myself for job offers? In the end, it came down to what I felt worked best for me, given my specific background and personal preferences. Location obviously played a significant role in my decision making process. I wanted to be in Asia (China to be specific) for 3 primary reasons:

1. China boasts one of the fastest growing markets in the world, and Shanghai is undoubtedly a global city. It is still in its developing stage, and there is still plenty of room to grow as it attempts to transition out of a manufacturing based economy. Sound management is in high demand.
2. One of my greatest strengths is my balanced Chinese American background. I grew up in Taiwan studying at an international school, so while my native language is English, I am fluent in Chinese and share a deep understanding of the Chinese culture. I also have ten years of experience studying and working in North America, so studying at an international MBA program in Asia and pursuing a career at an MNC in China allows me to leverage my unique background.
3. Moving to Asia brings me closer to family. For many of those that share similar backgrounds as I do, it’s likely that you have struggled to make the decision of whether or not to move back to Asia. For me, an MBA in Asia serves as a bridge for me to move closer to family.

In the end, I was admitted to both CEIBS and INSEAD. At the time, CEIBS was ranked 15th on www.ft.com, and INSEAD 6th. I knew I had a tough decision ahead of me. My engineering DNA of course led me to fill out a comprehensive pro’s and con’s spreadsheet comparing the two programs in detail. In the end, I decided to join CEIBS.

While INSEAD consistently ranks higher than CEIBS in global rankings, there are many aspects that differentiate CEIBS from other MBA programs around the world. The greatest advantage of course, is that CEIBS offers you the opportunity to really get to know China. The CEIBS slogan is “China Depth, Global Breadth”. I personally don’t believe you really get to know a city unless you have lived there for more than half a year. The location of CEIBS is something no other global MBA program can offer, so if your career destination is Shanghai, this is the place to be.

You also don’t really get to know a country unless you have had the chance to interact with its people. Some of the best and brightest Chinese students make up 60% of the CEIBS student body, providing international students like myself the most direct, interactive environment to better understand the Chinese culture. Case discussions often have a strong focus on current events in China, and late night parties provide a glimpse into Shanghai’s vibrant social scene.

Finally, CEIBS offers a solid platform for many of the multinational and local top companies to recruit from a program proven to generate top talent. When recruiters come to CEIBS, they know they are speaking to students that have shown resolve and motivation to remain in China after they graduate. These intangible factors are often times difficult to quantify and capture in MBA rankings.

Asides from the depth on China, there were also several other comparisons (in no particular order) between INSEAD and CEIBS that helped me make my decision:

1. INSEAD is strong in consulting and finance, both of which are not career paths I am not particularly interested in.
2. INSEAD summer intake is a 10 month program without summer internships (only Jan. intake has internships). CEIBS is an 18 month program with summer internship. Since I lacked professional work experience in China and in a business function (I was an engineer), an internship provides me with much needed work experience.
3. CEIBS offered me a generous scholarship to help pay for an already lower tuition (~63K USD without scholarship. CEIBS scholarship funding will cover close to 80 scholarships (out of 200 students) and finance 40%-100% of tuition for each winning student. Keep in mind, however, that INSEAD is a shorter program (less opportunity cost). In addition, when comparing programs with similar rankings as CEIBS (Kellogg, Duke, Tuck, Stern, HEC…etc), CEIBS enjoys a much better ROI and ranks number 3 in salary increase.
4. INSEAD offers a more diverse student body and the opportunity to study in Singapore, US, and/or France. While most people certainly appreciate diversity and the flexibility to study in various locations, my primary objective is to understand China. While CEIBS is not as diverse as INSEAD, 40% of its students come from international backgrounds (primarily Indian, Korean, North Americans, and Europeans). All Chinese Professors at CEIBS have spent extended periods of time in North America or Europe, and all International Professors have spent extended periods of time in China. CEIBS also offers a comprehensive list of exchange school partners, including INSEAD.
5. While INSEAD carries a more reputable global brand than CEIBS, CEIBS is a renowned program in China, not just for its MBA curriculum but also for its EMBA prowess. The EMBA at CEIBS attracts ~800 top executives from China each year.
6. CEIBS is a relatively young program, but in the past 20 years it has sprinted to the top of global rankings. The program is still growing and thus embraces new initiatives and provides opportunities for students to contribute towards its maturation. Similar to the dynamic, fast growing economy of China, at CEIBS you have the liberty to try new ideas and make a difference to the program.

There are probably more comparisons that can be made, but in the end, my personal career aspirations led to my decision of selecting CEIBS. So far my decision has yielded fruitful results in various ways. My next blog will elaborate on my personal experience through the first half of attending CEIBS. Thank you all for reading and good luck!

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