. Friday, June 19, 2009

As an MBA applicant, I approached a lot of students from different schools for their insight. A few people who are considering Queen's for 2010 have approached me with some questions too. I reckoned, it would be great to have a F.A.Q page, and mark it as a perma-link. As always, this is a link that will be updated regularly.

Admission steps:
1. What is the average GMAT score that Queen's takes?
- While there is no particular GMAT score average that I can think of, a score of above 600 would form the lower limit in most cases. Like most business schools, Queen's looks are the overall profile of the candidate, including the essays, and the resume. The essays and resume play a HUGE role in your application. We have people from 600 to 780 in GMAT in our batch. So, that us quite a range. Aim as high as possible.

2. What are the steps to apply for Queen's?
- I had written a series of steps in one of my earlier entries.

3. Is there anything in particular that I must write in my essay?
- Your essays are your door to the school. Queen's School of Business is extremely detail oriented when it comes to choosing the candidates. I am not joking about this. Some of the things I might consider bringing about is:
* What sets you apart?
* Your strengths in working with teams?
* An honest assessment of who you are?
* Your growth / extra curriculars / differentiators / leadership experience.

4. Is the TOEFL needed for admission?
- I submitted by TOEFL scores. If you seek deferral of scores, please mail the admissions committee with appropriate reasons.

5. How is the interview process?
- The interview is a conversation. We had telephonic interviews for international candidates. If you are in the US / Canada, then they will invite you over to the campus for the interview. This is an advantage, as you can see the campus and talk to the current MBA batch while you are here.

1. What is the cost of living in Kingston?
- In my opinion, this is something that one cannot estimate as it varies from person to person. I am pasting an answer that we got from a student from the batch of 2009, Zach Sonnleitner as this is the most comprehensive answer I have recieved:
1. Rent:
This depends on whether it is furnished vs. unfurnished, if you are sharing laudry/kitchen/bathroom areas. I have heard figures from $450 going up to $800 pre-month for a single. I myself have rented the entire mainfloor of a house, furnished, with private laundry and bathroom for $1125/month. Expensive, but I have a wife who spends a lot of time their while the program keeps me busy. Also, you may (or maynot) want to avoid the "student ghetto". Houses in the ghetto are cheap, but their can be noisy parties from time-to-time. Also, non-ghetto housing tends to be a little nicer. Oh ya, Kingston's student housing is mainly in the form of older victorian style houses (1900s era) that have been convereted to multiple dwelling units. They can be overheated, underheated, dusty, drafty, etc. Sometimes they are perfect, but rarely. Be prepared to love you dwelling for the unique character the accompanies it.

1.1 Furniture:
A lot of the houses turnover at the end of April as undergraduate students who were living together for a few years graduate and move out. They literally leave their old furniture on the front lawns for the garbage truck. A lot of it is in very good condition if you can get it before it rains. If you are hear early, driving around daily for a week or so and picking the best dressers, couches, etc. before it rains on this stuff may be a good way to furnish a suite. Just a thought and a piece of information I wish I had been given.

2. Utilities:
Most rents will cover electricity, heat and water. However, cable television, phone and internet are extra. A lot of my classmates have opted not to get cable TV or internet at home since they simply aren't there enough to make use of them. I signed up with COGECO for full cable, internet and phone (VIOP), for about $100/month. It took about a week to set-up and I was able to do sign-up at a COGECO store in the mall. Again, a lot of people have opted to use a cell phone and skype instead of this solution. Also, the school has wireless internet in a lot of areas as well as the LAN connection for each student at their desks.

3. Electricity and internet charges:
Addressed above. I will also note that most of the coffee shops have internet. Some require you buy time, but a lot have it free.

4. Food Cost:
This all depends on what you eat and how much. If you cook all your meals yourself this can be kept to $200/month per-person. This goes for both domestic and international students (i consulted with my colleague to check this). However, then there is the chance you may want to eat-out or you get so busy you must eat-out. This could easily add another $100 to $200/month per-person, but again it depends on the person. Also, there are the various social outings. Plus there are few nicer resturants you will want to tryout, so budget for at least one really nice meal per month ($60/meal?).

5. Group trips/activities (catagory you missed)
You will want to set aside some cash to go do some of the fun stuff there is to do around Kingston. Within a 6 hours drive you have: New York City, Boston, Quebec City, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Niagra Falls, just to name a few. In addition there are various beaches. Lets not forget: white water-rafting, scuba-diving, sailing, scuba diving, hiking, downhill skiing, crosscountry skiing, hockey, etc. All of these activities will require some additional funds. Our class did a lot of this stuff and it made our experience that much better!

6. Socializing (catagory you missed)
Not everyone drinks alcohol, but it is important that everyone comes out and socialized. Networking is VERY important both within the program, outside of the program and after the program. Get good at this, fast. That being said beer is going from $5-8/pint or $15-22/jug depending on what you like and where you are. If a person was a really big party animal this could also easily add another $200/month. Even if you aren't, I would recommend you guys try to arrange pot-luck gatherings and keg parties at classmates houses. This keeps the cost down and allows you to socialize. In addition you get to try a lot of interesting new foods.

7. Clothing
Just a reminder that you are expected to show up with a suit or equivalent business dress attire. There are a few nicer places in Kingston, but a lot of people ended up going to Toronto for a new suit before interview season. Also, your class will want to get some "Queen's MBA 2010" swag printed up. This isn't as cheap as you would think.

8. Potential international travel
You may go on exchange. You may have a friend who goes on exchange and you go and bunk with them for a week while traveling the country. Just keep this option open."

From what I have noticed, if you are staying outside campus, an average expense of CAD 1000 is a fair estimate.

2. How far is downtown from the school?
- The downtown is approx 20 minutes walk from the school. Most students live at a 15 minute walk to school and 15 minute walk to downtown.

3. Restaurants?
- There are MANY restaurants in Kingston. Infact, I heard that this city has the max per capita restaurants. There are 3 Indian restaurants, many Chinese, Thai and Cambodian restaurants in addition to the zillions ofEuropean ones. Many places where you get pizzas and there are a lot of pubs on Princess Street.

4. How far is the nearest Walmart / Loblaw / marts where you get discounted merchandise?
- Loblaw / Walmart are about 15 minutes drive, on the end opposite to Downtown. There is a Foodbasic where you can do food groceries, which is in downtown.

5. If they are so far, how do students get stuff for their use?
- Most students walk down Princess and get their daily items. Some students normally take a bus to Walmart / Loblaws during the weekend, and then rent a cab to come back home. This helps in getting shopping done for relatively lesser price, and since you are sharing the cab ride, it is quite inexpensive. Most of the Food shopping is done in Food basics though.

P.S. This post is incomplete, and I am publishing this for now. I shall work on this FAQ, based on input from the readers, my peers and other feedback.