Thursday, 31 December 2015

Tuition Fees for London Business School 2016 Are Out

Tuition fees for the London Business School MBA program starting 2016 have been released. It's going to cost £70,800, which wasn't too far off my £70,000 estimate that I've been basing my budgets on.

This is a 4.5% increase from the 2015 tuition fee of £67,750, a bit of a jump given the state of the current economy and well above global inflation, global GDP growth rates and GDP growth rates for most regions. Then again, the 2014 to 2015 increase was 5.5% and 2013 to 2014 increase was 4.6%, so it does look like they have taken into account the current state of the global economy and lowered salary growth rates. Likely the weaker GBP and current low interest rates would have been considered too.

This is of course entirely my opinion and observation. As someone earning in NZD, a 4.5% increase in a fee charged in GBP is significant. Also bear in mind that I have zilch finance or economics background beyond bits and pieces I've picked up for the sake of avoiding total personal investing disaster. And this is why I need to go to business school... :)

Saturday, 19 December 2015

The Ultimate First World Problem - INSEAD vs LBS

Yes I know. I'm in the lucky position of having the option of attending the top two MBA programs in Europe. That does however present the dilemma of where to go, and there isn't much time to decide as the acceptance forms need to be back with London Business School by early January.

So I thought I'd list here what I like and don't about each program, which along with sourcing input from other sources, might help me decide.

I like that....
  • It is definitely by far much cheaper for both tuition, opportunity and living costs. Tuition for 2016 has been set at €71,000. Living costs are an estimated €22,000.
  • It is well known for being a strong consulting school alongside Harvard. Given that I wish to move into consulting post-MBA, the INSEAD brand would be very useful. Some say for consulting in Europe, it must be either Harvard or INSEAD.
  • The firm I'd like to work in post-MBA, Bain, recruits the most number of MBAs from INSEAD.
  • INSEAD attracts many consultants who I would be able to network with and learn from.
  • INSEAD has a strong network in Asia given it has a campus in Singapore. This would be useful because Asia is the next economic centre.
  • INSEAD has produced more Fortune 500 CEOs than LBS, being second after Harvard. I would rate INSEAD's alumni network as being slightly stronger compared to that of LBS.
  • I got along very well with all the INSEAD alumni I've met so far. They feel like my "kind" of people.
  • The electives for INSEAD are really interesting. There are so many I'm keen on taking. By contrast, the LBS electives don't sounds as exciting in the course descriptions so I'm not sure which to go for.
  • INSEAD seems to be stronger in entrepreneurship compared to LBS, which is important to me as I have long term entrepreneurial goals.
  • With family in Singapore, not only would I be able to see them more often while I'm on the Singapore campus, but also I would be able to save plenty on accommodation costs by moving back in with my parents.
I don't like that....
  • The program is only 10 months long which gives you very very little time to absorb all the new knowledge as well as job hunt.
  • At INSEAD I won't have a chance to do an internship so indeed to be very sure I want to become a consultant.
  • I'll need to re-learn French to get it up to the level required by INSEAD for a third language prior to the start of the program, as I won't have time during the program.
  • The Europe campus for INSEAD is located in France, which means I'll need to do extra travel to London where I want to work for interviews. This also means extra travelling costs. Plus, even if it's not located in Paris, France isn't exactly the safest of places to be right now.
  • Given the program length, the cost of attending INSEAD per year actually works out to be more expensive compared to LBS.
London Business School 
I like that....
  • I get to do at least one and possibly two paid internships. According to the current student who called me, if you want to do an internship, you should be able to find one.
  • Using the money earned from the paid internship, I would be able to cover most if not all of my living costs for the second year, as the average internship pay is about £1054 per week.
  • It is located in London, right where I want to work post-MBA. This makes networking and arranging job interviews easier. Plus there will be London based businesses that come to LBS to recruit but don't travel to INSEAD to recruit.
  • Extra opportunity available for networking with London businesses and potential recruiters through the London Business Experience core course.
  • LBS offers specialisations unlike INSEAD so I could major in strategy or entrepreneurship depending on what electives I take.
  • It is a 15, 18 or 21 month program depending on what you want to do. This gives me more time to absorb all the new knowledge and the workload won't be as intense.
  • I can potentially do an exchange to one of the Asian business schools like CEIBS which will provide a direct Chinese network. As many are well aware, the Chinese are all about relationships first.
  • The tuition for LBS covers all expenses for a week long trip to another country for the compulsory Global Business Experience. This means that even if you can't afford to go on job treks, you can still get the global business exposure.
  • LBS actually has a specific Turnaround and Restructuring Management consulting club which is slightly different to consulting, and something I'm really interested in.
  • LBS only requires two languages, which I've got so not extra studying needed and instead I've got more time to spend studying Finance.
  • LBS is probably more well-known in NZ and Australia compared to INSEAD although the alumni chapter in INSEAD seems larger.
  • LBS has a reasonable commitment fee of £2000 and provides sufficient time to make the reservation payment, unlike INSEAD's commitment fee.
I don't like that....
  • The cost of attending LBS is much higher than INSEAD. ROI for LBS is lower than INSEAD.
  • Living in London is frightfully expensive, accomodation costs are more than my current mortgage! There's that tricky matter of needing to demonstrate financial means to obtain a student visa. This does mean you can't just go with half the cash and plan to earn the rest for living on after.
  • LBS is not as strong in Asia as INSEAD which means if I did want a job in Asia it would probably be tougher.
  • LBS isn't as well known for consulting so I'm not sure if that affects chances of landing that job at Bain that I'm aiming for.
In any case, I thought it would be a great idea to find out directly from Bain in London if they had a particular preference. Maybe the people hiring generally find MBA grads of one school or the other better. No harm asking in the name of research right? So I've emailed them and hopefully I'll get a reply this side of Christmas!

Thursday, 17 December 2015

An Unexpected Call from INSEAD

Round 2 results for INSEAD were due to come out by the end of this week. Updates on acceptances started appearing on the GMAT Club forums from Tuesday. Surprisingly though, 2 fellow Round 1 waitlisters also reported getting accepted from the list. This made me wonder whether I should actually just go ahead and accept the LBS offer since I hadn't heard from INSEAD.

Last night while I was in the shower the phone rang. My Significant Other brought the phone in saying it was an international call. So I jumped out of the shower and called back. Yes, it was INSEAD and yes I was accepted for starting on the Singapore campus! Unbelievable!

Thinking about it though, it is somewhat unusual to have such quick movement from the waitlist, given that in previous intakes waitlisters have suffered months of uncertainty. I'm wondering if perhaps the attacks in Paris might have yielded INSEAD fewer applications than usual in Round 2? Or maybe I got lucky and there aren't actually many marketers remaining amongst the applicants.

I'm stoked regardless. I'll admit the part of me that also cares what other people think is doing cartwheels because now it feels like It wasn't a fluke that I'm being recognised. Not that an acceptance from LBS is anything to sneeze at. Just that as an overachiever, 2 acceptances is always better than just 1! Though it does present the difficult dilemma of which school to attend. That is however a problem for another day. :)

Monday, 14 December 2015

Scholarship Results for London Business School

So apparently scholarship announcements have been going out over the last 2 weeks since LBS handed out acceptance offers. Not having heard from them, I thought I'd better confirm this on the slim chance that maybe I didn't hear from them because they were a little slower this year.

Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. I was told though that while majority of the scholarships had been given out to other recipients, there was another round of scholarship announcements in May, when all offered candidates from Rounds 1 through 3 will be considered once again. I also learnt that as a student on a full-time MBA in the UK you are allowed to work 20 hours per week in term time (realistically feasible from terms two or three onwards) and full-time in vacation periods.

I must say it is quite disappointing to not have received a scholarship because the numbers after you convert British pounds to required NZ dollars do not look very palatable! I have been looking at currency forecasts though and the British pound is predicted to go down in value over the next few months so fingers crossed there.

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Technology at London Business School

I got an email saying that LBS has an app for admits and that it was a great way to connect with future classmates. So I downloaded this especially since I wouldn't be able to make the admits event happening right now. Here's the app on the phone
The app has some pretty cool features like being able to see all the admits for your class without having to login to the LBS Portal. Like any social media app you can upload photos to share with the class and like and comment status updates and photos. You can also view events and event agendas.

The app also links to parts of the LBS website like the portal and the Accept Your Place page, which is where it becomes a bit of a let down - the site isn't mobile friendly. In this mobile day and age where responsive design has been around awhile, I do wonder why LBS has yet to update all parts of their website to be responsive. Or even create a mobile version of the site.

Perhaps this is in the pipeline as I write this, but for now at least, those wanting to access the site or Portal via mobile will have to make do with really zooming in to tap on any links or those fields to sign in.

It Arrived

It's been a week since I got the news of acceptance from LBS and this just arrived via DHL:

The offer pack also contained two copies of my offer letter, information on visa applications and a hand written card from the admissions officer for my region.

Receiving the pack makes it seem so much more "real" and definitely gets me excited about going to LBS. While I was leaning towards INSEAD when I first started doing applications, I must say that I'm definitely leaning more towards LBS now - and not just because I've been accepted there. In this past week I've also joined the LBS MBA2018 Facebook group, met some of my potential future classmates online, had a phone call from one of the student ambassadors and traded emails with the LBS ad com. All positive interactions with really friendly and helpful people. It has definitely helped me feel more like I can really fit into the community, which was one of the things I wasn't entirely sure of during the application phase compared with the many INSEADers with whom I hit off with from the start.

I'm almost tempted to go ahead and accept my place in LBS and not wait for a decision from INSEAD. Hmmm....scholarship announcements for LBS come out next week, which is a major decision factor for me. For now, I'm going to wait and see. In the meantime I've got a murder mystery party to organise.