I may have spoken to over 50+ Said applicants /admits over the course of my year, through various channels. I’ve been assigned as mentor to two incoming students. A few classmates and I volunteered to do a Q&A panel with new admits at the Experience Weekends and I also got involved with the admissions office this April to hold a meet up with incoming students at Bangalore when I was in India for our career trek. My classmates and I have been asked nearly the same queries every time, and having been in the same position a year back, the anticipation is understandable and expected.
For the benefit of others who may still are probably still seeking out advice, I am posting a few things which have been most commonly asked and a few more thrown in from the back of my head. Feel free to write in the comments or reach out to me over Facebook / LinkedIn / Email if you need help with anything specific:
- College selection: Every admit gets a college, sooner or later. Do not sweat if you are rejected from the college of your first choice. I am told this year the procedure is a bit different from last time. My batchmates were approached for their next preference, with suggestions on which colleges had spots for MBAs still left. This year upon rejection from first preferred college, the University puts you in a common pool and assigns you a college on their own. I cannot think of a reason for this change, apart from making the process tad easier for them operationally. However, be assured that once you are admitted to the B School, there is no way you will not end up in one of the colleges.
- Which college to go for: While colleges make up for an important part of the Oxford experience, in my personal view choosing a college is not as much a crucial factor as it is for the undergrads. For an MBA the involvement with their college varies individually and thus their motivation for choosing their college. While a few may have showed up at their college only for matriculation formalities, there are many in my batch who are part of their college rowing teams or their college MCR ( Middle Common Room, for the postgrads ) committee. For the rest of us colleges are a great way to interact with the wider Oxford community and get involved socially through formal dinners, bops, guest lectures etc.
Unless there is something absolutely specific you want out of your college, you cannot go wrong with your choice. If you fancy a Harry Potter / Tolkein -ish experience, choose one of the older colleges – Christ Church, Merton, Exeter, New College etc. GTC and St Hugh’s accept the maximum MBAs (120+ combined), while Regents Park has two MBAs this year. Go for Brasenose / St. Peters / Worchester or the like if you prefer a college closer to the B School or GTC which has an off site accommodation ( RAC ) right across the school. I chose GTC as I wanted to stay at RAC, and I go to the college about once or twice a week for my Yoga classes, for formal dinners and to use their library. If you are still looking to make up your mind, have a look at this document , and this more from an undergrad pov.
- Books: At the beginning of each term, the professor of each subject uploads the reading list on the Weblearn portal. There are recommended books in addition to the cases and papers that one needs to pre-read in preparation for a class (mandatory for CPA subjects but recommended to read nevertheless to benefit from the class discussions). Not all students end up buying or studying from the books and manage with course slides and notes or refer books in the libraries. However, towards the exam time it gets increasingly difficult to find a free book in the shelves. My college GTC’s library is well stocked up with management books and lends for three weeks ( Sainsbury library in the school lends for two days ). I had bought a few core books and used them occasionally over the year and for my assignments. Happy to sell them to an incoming student for a discount. Feel free to contact me if interested.
- Private accommodation: Good time to start looking is towards later half of June / beginning of July. It is suggested to try and take a private tour of the place before signing the lease, or ask someone to do it on your behalf. Some times the accommodation turns out different from what is expected / appears in the pictures and description. Your college should help you in securing a letter for tax exemption from the council. For incoming batch of 2016/17 – make use of the Google doc prepared by my batch and reach out to people already living in private accommodations for specific advice.
- No, we don’t wear formals to classes every day. Only during the first few days of the Launch to feel business-y enough upon arrival. And on days when there is a company presentation right after class. And then of course, certain days when we find ourselves up for some #ItsAnOxfordThing experience and decide to dress up fancy to the class with prosecco thrown in for everyone.
- If you are targeting Banking or Management Consulting jobs, be prepared to apply soon after arriving here as their recruitment cycles are usually quite early on in the year. It is good to have a Plan B in case you do not make the cut. For your own good, have an idea of what do you want to do with your life and how do you plan to use your time here to achieve that. It is fine if you are clueless yet, a lot of students figure out their calling over the year or even change their post MBA plans they had initially made for themselves. Make good use of the time here to look within and understand what do you really want to do.
- For the Indians – there are plenty of Indian restaurants with decent Indian food ( for better food go to London / Wembley / Southall ) and stores with Indian groceries. Nearly every thing is available in Oxford. Tell your moms to not panic. Perhaps carry a pressure cooker if you will. But really, do not come to Oxford only to look for Indian food all the time, defeats the purpose of immersing yourself in an international experience. Else befriend the guy from Currydoor and Dosa Park opposite SBS. Or better learn how to cook.
- MBATs are fun. A lot of fun. Try not to miss.
I’ll write more soon. For now, I am off to bed before it dawns upon me that fourth last week of my MBA course is barely 6 hours away. Yikes.