blueberry pudding

I’m sitting here in the Atticus bookstore on the borders of the Yale University campus to pick up a fresh serving of banana bread pudding for my friend back in New York City. The only thing is, they don’t have banana bread today. I quickly send my friend a series of TXTs.

Me: Oh wow there are lots
Me: No banana today. Blueberry, chocolate chunk, carrot cluster..
Me: Chocolate!!
Her: Blueberry
Her: !!
Me: Blueberry or Blueberry Oatmeal?
Me: Went with plain bb
Her: Wahoo! Plain it is
Her: Plain bb yay!!!!

The other recommendation my friend (a former master’s student at Yale) offered was the mashed-potatos-and-bacon pizza at Bar. That sounds like a heart killer if I’ve ever heard one. I had to try it. Alas, when I arrived, their kitchen hadn’t opened yet.

Well, I’m in New Haven today for a campus visit to Yale SOM. For the entire week leading up to today, the weather in New York couldn’t have been more perfect. Mild, sunny, slight breeze, mid 70’s just the way I like it. Yet today marked the first cloudy day with a forecast of rain in weeks and I woke up to my alarm at 5:40AM expecting the worst – strong and powerful winds, gloomy atmosphere on campus, and walking around in soaked dress pants and shoes. As I prepared to leave my apartment and head to Grand Central Terminal this morning, I was very tempted to throw on my Lowa hiking boots (fitted with Gore-Tex, my absolute favorite pair of shoes to wear during inclement weather). Alas, I opted for the more traditionally accepted pair of dress shoes.

And it was a darn good choice that I did. Not that I would have particularly stood out among the 18 or so other prospective students, but it turned out to hardly rain at all today! Sure, the clouds were grey and the sun was nowhere to be seen but this actually didn’t appear to have put too much of a damper on the campus activity. Still saw plenty of people mulling about, the campus teeming with life.

Yale SOM was interesting. Whether due to the relatively new establishment of the business school itself (relative, in respects to the other more established b-schools) or because it is mid-September, I got the feeling that the admissions office was a bit .. hmm.. not as polished as I had expected. The opening video that kicked off the day was a bit clumsily handled, as if the admissions staff member had never operated a PC before. There were twice as many chairs as there were seats filled, and the staff member spoke with uncertainty when detailing out our itinerary for the day. The tour guide showed up late.

…are any of these a concern?

Not even remotely.

Everything else about the day was tremendously impressive. The Yale campus was gorgeous – I felt inspired by the rich, neo-gothic architecture of the old campus and nodded approvingly at the new SOM building under construction. I felt enriched by the history of the various buildings and of the prominent alumni that had passed through some of the very same walls/rooms. The current students made themselves extremely available throughout the day, whether over lunch or concluding the day with a Q&A. The class I chose to sit in for was taught through a dynamic lecture, with what appeared to include well over 80% of the class participating and inputting their thoughts on Intel’s brand strategy, the importance of differentiation, and the advantages and disadvantages to having a narrow proposition in a brand promise. The discussions branched over to Groupon, Honest Tea, Apple, and a variety of other established names.

I did notice the classroom was packed to the seams, and a handful of students needed to bring in extra chairs and sit on the side. Yale SOM clearly needs to expand and upgrade its facilities (which is where the new building comes into the picture). There is also no cafeteria (imagine how difficult it is to stay healthy eating cart food for lunch every day) and they provide each student with their very own locker a la middle-school all over again. The fact that the school chose to eradicate the business school’s cafeteria building in place for more dorms for the undergraduate student body may speak volumes of how Yale prioritizes its schools. SOM is still considered a lower-ranked school, possibly a “back-door through an Ivy League”, and among the friends whom I’ve spoken to that have completed MBA research of their own at one point, few expressed much enthusiasm for the Yale business school. Still, I am not one to doubt the potential and influence Ted Snyder is and will continue to bring.

What was perhaps most impressive was the Yale SOM students – each student I met was downright friendly. I felt a stronger fit with these students more so than I had with many of the other schools. Brainy, friendly, and poised. As for knowing how to get down and have a good time – well, I can’t say that I got a chance to party with any of them but I don’t doubt their talents in that department either! Again, it was a small sample size – it’s expected to see students who participate in such tours and Q&A sessions to be well-rounded and offer nothing but positive things to say about their experiences. But it certainly doesn’t hurt.

Could I see myself living in New Haven for 2 years?

Yeah… absolutely.

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