Monday, August 30, 2004

Wharton does a really good job of keeping your ego in check.

I took the accelerated accounting during preterm to prepare me to take a placement exam to get into a quarter long financial accounting class (versus a semester long class). It's the only area I felt strong enough to justify skipping the core. I TAed financial accounting in undergrad, I trained nonprofits how develop financial statements, and I spent LOTS of time with financial audits in my last job (I analyzed 150 audits this summer alone). So I didn't think I needed the basic class. I get debits and credits. I get how things move through the financial statements. So I thought I would try to test out.

The only thing I was worried about on the test was time. Sometimes I move through the questions slower than I should, but for the most part I understood the concepts. The accounting department doesn't post practice exams, so there was nothing to practice repetitiously to get the timing down.

The placement test was this Saturday, and it's official - I'm not as smart as I think I am. That test was HARD. There wasn't enough time to think through the problems. It's one of the few times in my life that I didn't finish an exam. My cash flow statement didn't balance (Although I was only off $800). I didn't put my work on the designated T accounts. It was an absolute disaster of a test. All I can do now is hope for divine intervention and partial credit. But I wouldn't be surprised if I end up in the semester long class.

And stats took off to 95 miles per hour last week. Before last Thursday, I pretty much understood what was going on in class. I didn't really need to do the homework to keep up with the concepts, and I did fine on the quizzes. And then on Thursday the professor gave us bags of M&M candy (yum!) and asked us to count the total number of M&Ms in each bag and the number of brown M&Ms (I had 58 M&Ms and 13 brown, a bit higher than average - SCORE!). The professor puts the class results into the statistical package, and I assumed we were going to create pretty pictures and histograms. Well, no. He started talking about population of samples and Control Limit Theory and sample distribution of the statistic, and I was totally confused.

And to make matters worse, the professor kept saying, "It's really important that you understand this concept here, or else your doomed to fail the rest of statistics." Okay, it wasn't that dramatic, but you get the picture. Getting lost now is BAD.

I think they gave us candy to make the us feel better about being completely lost. The lesson I've learned is to let go of what I knew before. So I did stats/econ/finance/account before - so what, so did everyone else here. And if they didn't do it before, they are such geniuses that they can pick it up easy now. It doesn't matter how good you were or how good you think you are at Wharton. You're starting at zero, so you better work your ass off if you want to do well.

And you know what else I learned? Beware professors baring gifts of M&M candy.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

After a meeting of the Wharton Democrats last night (Radicals UNITE!!), I decided to head over to IKEA to find frames for some prints I bought this weekend. The IKEA in South Philly is brand spanking new - it just opened yesterday. Since it was a weeknight, I figured that the store wouldn't be too crowded.

Well, I figured wrong.

It was an absolute MAD house! Traffic was backed up for at least a mile before reaching the store. As I sat in traffic, I said to myself, "Self, clearly there must be a game or a concert going on because there is no way all of these people are going to the IKEA." Well, guess what? They were all going to the IKEA. The football field-sized parking lot was PACKED. It took me 10 minutes to find a spot. And there were tour buses parked outside. That's right. Friggin' tour buses. At the IKEA. Can someone please explain to me how a tour bus to friggin IKEA works? I mean where do you put your stuff? But I digress...

I talked to some of the IKEA staff about the crazy number of people there - and they said it was PACKED all day. All damn day! It was like they were giving away government cheese or something. The funny thing is there's a bigger IKEA about 20-25 miles away in Conshohocken. So I'm not sure what the mad rush was for. Totally INSANE!!

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

The last few days have been an interesting.

Last Thursday, we had our party. Although it was successful, it wasn't as successful as I would have liked. A couple of factors contributed to the "depressed success." 1) WHAMBAA had their party at the same (rather stuffy and hot) location earlier in the week. 2) People were tired and realized that they actually needed to study to be successful at Wharton. The upside of the depressed success was that the party was much less hot and stuffy. I had an excellent time. And I had my first (second and third) Apple Martini. Those drinks are quite tasty - they are kind of like jolly ranchers. That tastiness can cause a girl to drink a little too much though...

We also got our math test scores back Thursday. I passed, but my score was also more depressed than I thought it would be. The score was about 15 points below what I expected. When I told my mother my score, she became VERY alarmed and started throwing around the idea that I might need a tutor, and that maybe I wasn't well equipped for Wharton. Well on Monday I got my test back, and low and behold, the TAs didn't give me credit for a major part the last question - they took 15 points off! So I talked to the professor, and he said I got the questions right. So in my head I know my score should be about 15 points higher, much to the relief of me AND my mother. The professor looked at me like I was lunatic when I went to his office to contest a passing score. His (sarcastic) response when I told him why I was contesting it was, "Well, I can write 100 on there if you want." So I'm a little bit anal... what can you do?

I have given up the pursuit of waiving out of stats and have decided to focus on placing into the quarter long (versus the semester long) accounting class. With a little bit of effort, I think I could waive out of stats, but I value sleep too much. Hopefully this somewhat lazy decision will not bite me in the ass later this year.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

One thing Whartonites have seemingly mastered is partying. Koko Loco was off the hook. I stayed out later than I should have and I drank more than I intended. But I did have FUN!

Math test results come out tomorrow. I'm trying not to think about it too much. Hopefully I don't have to retake it.

Along with classes and work (I'm still working part-time), I've also been helping to organize a preterm party. The African American MBA Association (AAMBAA) is holding a party tonight at TPDS (the Philly Dance Spot). The party is a fundraiser to help students get down to the NBMBAA conference in Houston next month, and it's a tribute to the summer olympics (so togas! togas!) . It's in the same location as Koko Loco, so hopefully people will come out and support it. If you're in the Philly area, it's at 12th and Sansom, and the party runs from 10-2. We're having drink specials until 11p ($3 domestic beer, $4 well drinks,which is apparently mixed drinks using the house bottom shelf stuff, and $5 apple martinis). Togas optional.

I have the stats and the accounting waivers next week, and I still need to pack my crap for my move in two weeks. All this activity is neverending!

Monday, August 16, 2004

The Math Test is OVER baby!

I have to say it was very challenging. I think I did most of it right. Although I know I got the second question wrong (2.b, apparently y=10 NOT the answer I got, 3.6634 bla bla bla - darnit!) I'm trying not to talk too much with people about the actual questions because then I just start obsessing, and there's nothing obsessing can do about my answers now. Hopefully we'll get the results back this week. If you fail, you have to retake the test until you pass it. I am NOT trying to take the test over. Once was enough!

Tonight there's a couple of post Math exam parties. In about 10 minutes the MBA office is holding a barbecue on Koo Plaza (the grassy knoll of Huntsman Hall). I'm all about attending stuff that involves free food! And then, tonight there are two parties that I know of. I will be supporting the WHAMBAA (Wharton Hispanic American MBA Association) party. It should be fun times.

Well that's it for now, cuz after the math exam this girl needs a stiff DRINK!

Friday, August 13, 2004

Things are getting busier, but are still manageable. It seems that Wharton adds activities and classes logarithmically in order to ease you back into school. Right now, I'm taking Stats and MGEC (econ). We have the big math test Monday morning, which seems to have people stressed out. I'm not too worried, though. Not that I've mastered all the concepts - it's just that I don't normally get stressed out by tests. We'll see what song I'm singing when Tuesday rolls around.

There is an attempt by the faculty to change part of Wharton's culture. When I visited last year, I noticed that student's came and went from classes, which was often sanctioned by the professors. While I understand that can be distracting, I actually liked that part of Wharton's culture. I thought it spoke to the fact that what you get out of Wharton is what you put in - since the student's are adults, I saw the fact that they came in and out of class as a testament to their individual choices.

Well, I guess others didn't like that too much, because this year during preterm the profs have been MAJOR sticklers about being on time. Most of the classes have assigned seats, and we aren't supposed to leave during class. Now I have a couple of problems with that. 1)I want to sit where I want to sit. I want to sit near the front, so I can hear better and can see the board. I think we should be allowed to sit in an area that meets our needs. Like in stats I'm in the second to last row, and I have trouble hearing. I'm a little miffed that the faculty's desire to control the class has affected my ability to learn in class. 2) And I don't ask for permission to pee. If I need to go to the bathroom, I'm going. I'm 29 years old. I didn't ask permission to pee when I was in high school, and I'm sure as hell not going to start now. I'll be damned if I need to ask another adult if I can use the restroom. I'm not on a prison chain gang.

So, because Wharton is all about coproduction, I intend to do more than just whine about this stuff. I'm going to find out about what I can do about it. Stay tuned on this one.

Despite the increased analness of the faculty, I still love it here. My classmates are amazing. And I find the material interesting so far. I also like that I have the opportunity to affect change at the school. It's all pretty darn cool.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Preterm has been truckin' along for almost a week, and yesterday was the first night I actually studied. Before then, I hadn't quite made the connection that I need to study during the down times. Just because you have 3 hours off between classes does not mean you should go shopping or just hang out.

I've been studying in study groups to prepare for the big Math test coming up next week. Wharton tests incoming MBAs to check that we have a basic proficiency in math. You take the test until you pass it, and apparently everyone eventually passes. BUT, if you fail the test twice, you have to take a semester long math class with the undergraduates. Not that there's anything wrong with taking classes with undergraduates - but taking calculus with a bunch of 18 and 19 year olds may be a bit much for old heads like me. So I'm working quite diligently to make sure I pass the test the first time.

I'm really enjoying learning new stuff. The coolest thing continues to be how the professors connect one subject to another. The way I learned stats, econ, and calculus before - I kind of went through the motions. I learned the mechanics. Now I'm learning what things actually mean, which is surprisingly exhilarating. Today in math class, for the first time since I was 17, I finally understood the purpose of derivatives. I get it now. So now, not only can I take the derivative, I actually know WHY I'm taking the derivative. It's like that "Circle of Life" song from The Lion King. Everything is connected. Theories learned in economics can be applied to marketing. Methods you learn in calculus can be used in stats. It's all so cool. I guess the fact that I find this all fascinating makes me a major nerd. Oh well. I love this stuff!

Friday, August 06, 2004

Commuting is a major pain. This morning, there was a major accident on I-95, and I was 2 minutes late to my Math class. Well- entry to the class is bared at 9:00 AM on the dot, so I missed the first half of class. I guess I need to leave my house at 7:00 AM. I will be SO GLAD when I move closer to campus next month.

My Cohort is pretty cool - although I'm still feeling them out. Wharton divides the class of 800-825 into 4 clusters (I'm in cluster 4). Each cluster has 3 cohorts of 65-70 people. The idea is the cohort system helps make students feel more connected to the Wharton community. I'm in cluster L. Last year's cluster L (Big L; we're little l) was known as the studious cluster that busted the curve. For some reason, some in my cohort want to break that tradition. I'm not sure I get that - nothing wrong with busting the curve, as long as you're the one doing the bustin'.

Today we started our econ class (MGEC, pronounced "Magic"), which was pretty straight forward. You know supply and demand curves and equilibrium prices and all. What I'm beginning to realize is that in grad school, the subjects are all connected. In undergrad, I learned micro, calculus, stats, etc. But I learned them independent of one another. It was like learning silos of information. Now we're learning in a way that relates calculus to stats, stats to econ, etc. So far the professors have done a pretty good job of interweaving the material. And now I get WHY we need to know calculus in business. It's all pretty cool. Just another reason I'm glad I decided to get my MBA.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

This past week has been intense. Tuesday was my last day of work, and Wednesday preterm started. Since Wednesday, we've been inundated with new faces, new buildings, new concepts. It's slightly overwhelming. Despite the overwhelming feeling, I have to say that every moment has reaffirmed that I made the right decision to come to Wharton.

The first day was mainly fluff. Along from hearing speeches from Deans Harker and Jain, and Pete Kim, the WGA president, we were also treated to speech from magician Benjamin Levy about remembering people's names. Mr. Levy's speech was very entertaining - he pulled a bowling ball out of a brief case. I still don't understand how he did that.

The rest of my day was spent getting to know people, and going to the bookstore. I almost had a coronary when I saw the price of some the books. One of the accounting books was $150. That's right One Hundred Fifty Dollars. I KNOW!!! I'm hoping I don't need that one because I didn't slap down the money for it. I also paid some of my club dues yesterday, which was quite pricey. All and all I spent over $1,000 yesterday. I wasn't expecting that, but I'm glad I had the resources to take care of business.

I also sucked it up and got a Palm. Many of my friends and family had suggested that I get a PDA before, but I was very resistant. I always break the LCD display - which means I lose all my data. I've never broken a paper based calendar. And I always believe that if it ain't broke don't fix it. Well as I was driving to Walmart to go get a new calendar, I thought of how much of a pain it would be to write all the stuff going on would be. So, I bit the bullet and got a Palm Zire 31. Please keep any negative comments about my choice to yourself!

Today, I went to my first official preterm class. This morning I attended a three hour long session of Math Boot Camp. The point of the math class is to help get everyone on a level playing field for the very quant intensive coursework at Wharton. The class started with the professor going over what a function was. I didn't expect the class to go to THAT basic of a level, so I was feeling all smart and superior. And then after the break the prof went started talking about logarithmic functions. And that's where he lost me. He was trying to make sure we understood the WHY not just the what of logs. I didn't get it. One thing I did learn though - never feel like your too smart or too superior at Wharton!

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Today is my last full time day at work and tomorrow preterm starts. I have CRAPLOADS of stuff to finish today, but I am extremely excited to get started.

This past month has been CRAZY. I've had lots of work stuff, and I've started getting involved with some school activities already. All this has meant much less sleep for me but I figure I'm conditioning myself for school life. Kind of like training for the Olympics or something.

I’ve met many of my classmates and I truly enjoy being around all of them. They are all so smart and accomplished. I wonder how I ended up in the group. But even though I continue to doubt the legitimacy of my acceptance letter, I am so glad to be a part of the Wharton Community. I love hearing about their plans post Wharton. I absolutely believe some of them will change the world.

I'm so excited that I know I will be getting very little sleep tonight. Preterm, here I come!

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