The whole admission process at Cambridge is far more pleasant than at other schools. The admissions staff are great and, rather than being treated like a number, they seem to know all the applicants and their stories without hesitating. Similarly, I really enjoyed the interview process. It is more about showing you the school than grilling you.
Before the interview day, they ask you to join a secret Facebook group of current students and people who have been accepted from previous rounds, where people introduce themselves etc. It was a bit cringe-worthy at times, but good to see who else was in the running. Cambridge sets up a dinner at one of the colleges for Sunday night and somebody organised informal drinks prior to that through the Facebook group.
The dinner was really good, with current students at each table, and it was a really comfortable way to get to know people. Afterwards, we went for a quick drink in the college bar. Everybody stays in Cambridge on the Sunday night, as it is an early start on Monday. First up on Monday is the interview, where one of the faculty talks to you about your application. My interviewer was pretty quiet, but kept asking questions to keep things moving. My GMAT score was good, but heavily swayed towards verbal, so he asked about my proficiency with numbers and whether I would be able to keep up with what is a very fast moving and academically-challenging programme. There was no difficult quant question, as some had suggested. Once he was happy with that, he dug a little deeper into the periphery of my essay questions. There weren’t any questions around why I wanted to go to Cambridge, but I slipped a bit of that in at the end through my questions to him. I didn’t really hit it off with my interviewer and it didn’t feel like the interview went brilliantly, but it was a perfectly pleasant experience.
We then had small-group careers sessions with an external careers person who specialised in placing MBAs. That was excellent and she was far more candid than I would ever have expected at an interview day, talking through the challenges we would face in doing what we wanted to do even if we had an MBA. She also could give some very unbiased thoughts on the MBA programmes offered by different schools. We also had a big group session about careers, which also included each person talking about where they were from, what they currently did and what they wanted to do. It was pretty impressive to see the diversity in the room and it gave an inkling of how useful it would be to be in a programme with those people – a huge number of people wanted to do something where another class member had experience.
The rest of the day was again showing you what Cambridge had to offer, with a networking lunch, coffees, a walking tour of Cambridge etc. They know what they are doing and it is hard not to fall in love with the place once you’ve been there properly for a day. It also showed the benefit of the Judge business school as a learning space. I’ve been to a few business schools and they are all pretty similar, but Judge has breakout spaces and an open feel where you do just naturally sit down and start talking to people.
I would encourage anybody who can to go along to the interview day. It is a tough decision choosing between the top global programmes and I found it gave me a really good feel for the school. You can tell that it is part of a thriving ecosystem of academic excellence and creativity, rather than just an efficient machine for turning out bankers.
I was given an offer, but more importantly the whole admission experience made it my top worldwide choice, above other schools that are higher in the rankings. It is hard to weigh up completely different schools and it is deceptively simple to think a school with
a higher ranking is the better school. I couldn’t warn you more about that approach—nearly none of the rankings focus on things that mattered to me. After looking into it, I only applied to LBS and Cambridge and received offers from both, but I’ll be going to Judge.
The technology and entrepreneurship opportunities at Cambridge have few parallels elsewhere. On that front, this is worth a read:
More than that, it is the uniqueness of the Cambridge Exprience. It is as if you can feel a history of 800 years of the world’s greatest thinkers in the walls of the buildings and, once I had visited, I couldn’t wait to go back to start the programme!