From the category archives:


Last week I went to the GW MBA Follies. This was my first ever Follies and I was really curious to see what it was all about. During my MBA years I either did not even know about specific dates when the Follies was performed or would not go under the feeling of guilt of wasting a night for entertainment when it could be better used to work on my MBA homework assignments ;-)

This year, however, I was well-informed about the upcoming Follies date. Thanks to the GW MBAA announcements and repeated postings on the Facebook group for part-time MBA students at GWSB, of which I am still a member, my curiosity was piqued up and well-sustained. As I said at the beginning, this was the very first time I would go to see Follies. So for me it was like checking out the box on my list of things to try at least once. It was also one of those things that I missed during my MBA time proper and would like to do to complement my overall MBA experience.

To be honest, I had some idea of what the Follies were like. Before going to this year’s show, I looked up a few videos of MBA Follies from other business schools, and videos of GW MBA Follies from previous years on YouTube. It was moreover interesting to see how this year GW MBA version stacks up.

I had fun and quite a bit of laughs. Since the show was produced exclusively by the full-time Global MBA students (and mostly 2-nd years), some of the jokes were more of the “inside jokes” to which the audience at large reacted with great enthusiasm, but they were lost on me. Most of the Follies, however, had more universal appeal for business school students at large:  of course, lots of swiping on the GW MBA falling rankings and the hiring prospects for the students. But this seems to be a recurring theme for GW MBA Follies. I was a bit surprised by quite extensive use of expletives in one or two episodes, but this is just a matter of personal preference, I guess.

Though I overall liked this years Follies, for some reason I think that Follies 2012 were a bit more creative and funnier. It may be just because I knew more students participating in the Follies from my elective classes last year.

You can watch a complete set of videos from this year’s GW MBA Follies on YouTube. And since I already checked out the box for attending live Follies on my check list, that’s what I am going to do in the future as well – watch online ;-) . You can start doing just that by watching one of the episodes from this year’s GW MBA Follies with Dean Doug Guthrie.


In my post-MBA time there have been a few milestones directly connected to my MBA. First was the Graduation Gala that I described briefly in my blog. Then, of course, were  the Commencement weekend ceremonies back in May: GWSB Commencement and GWU Commencement. Sometime in July I received my MBA diploma by mail. This was all the glitzy parts that capped three years of grueling time crunch and sleep deprivation.

But as we, adults, know all so well, there is a pay time for everything ;-). For me it came on January 3-d this year when my first required payment on my MBA student loan was due. I will share some highlights of my student loan borrowing and paying history, so that prospective students could get some idea about the financial repercussions of getting MBA through part-time mode.

Of course, everyone’s situation is different in regards to how they pay or finance their MBA education. I know at least one classmate whose parents paid for the whole program. Quite a few others were receiving some tuition assistance from their current employees. Usually it was up to equivalent of six credits per semester.  Many of us, however, paid/financed our whole way through the school on our own. This was the case for me, with a little caveat. I received a merit-based scholarship from GWSB for a total of six credits (equivalent of around $7200) that was applied to my first year of program.

So here is a rough breakdown of my financial situation with paying for MBA. GWSB requires 52.5 credits for graduation. The average cost per credit over three years was about $1,280 (it started at at $1,208 in 2009/10 school year and increased every year thereafter). Therefore the total cost of tuition was about $67,200. With $7,200 scholarship factored in, my tuition only was about $60K to cover on my own. This does not include other incidental costs, such as textbooks, business cases, course packs (~$2500); supplies, including laptop, which I purchased specifically for school (~$1500); commute and parking costs (~$1000); additional costs for study abroad in France, such as flight, hotel, meals, etc. (~$2000).

So the total cost of my MBA was about $74K, of which I had to pay/finance about $67K. My goal at the start of the program was to minimize the amount of the student loan as much as I could. Therefore, all the incidentals I paid as I went, out of pocket, throughout the school. With that I had only to finance my tuition of $60k.

But I did not want to take any additional private student loans besides my government-backed Stafford loan. As a graduate student I was eligible to borrow up to $20,500 each year. In my first year, thanks to a GWSB scholarship, I borrowed only $11K. In second and third year respectively I borrowed $20.5 and $20K. That brought me up to a total borrowed amount of $51.5 K. The difference of about $9K in three years for tuition I also paid as I went, out of pocket.

If I left it as it was I would end up paying $587 in monthly installments, starting in January 2013, for the next 10 years at a fixed rate of 6.8%. But I really I did not like the idea of paying more than $500/month. So throughout my school years, and especially in time after graduation before my loan was capitalized in November, I was making payments on my loan, even though I was not legally required, whenever I had a chance. The goal was to bring the monthly payments under $500 once the required payments kick in. My effort paid off and at the time the loan was capitalized and finalized for the next 10 years I had only $43K left to pay off with monthly payments of $498. Given all my other financial obligations, it is quite manageable. I actually plan to make some extra payments towards my principal when I have a chance, to minimize the amount of total interest on the loan and reduce the payment period to around eight years, instead of ten.

So that was my breakdown of MBA costs and MBA student loan repayment. As your situation may differ slightly or significantly, you can make adjustments to your calculations, but it gives you a good ball-park figure about the costs and the ways to pay for it.


I just really cannot let it go. I am becoming a GWSB fixture of sorts – a proverbial perpetual student, except I am not doing it to get another formal degree, but to pursue some of the interests through the classes I did not have time to take during my MBA tenure. In my post MBA Postpartum Syndrome I wrote in more detail about the ways how some of my classmates handled the issue of abundance of time that many of us suddenly got upon completion of the MBA mission. One of the ways was continuing education or professional development.

I also wrote about some of the things I did personally over the post-MBA summer to regain some purpose in life. I mentioned then my signing up for auditing a class at GWSB in the Fall semester. When the registration opened for the Spring semester I sure enough signed up again for another class to audit. At this moment I am determined to continue taking auditing classes for at least another year.

The class I took in fall was Introduction to Programming. I have been working in IT industry for over seven years now and I always felt a gap in my professional background because I did not have any formal programming training or experience. Therefore I decided to fill that gap by taking the class. I have never been really inclined to programming/code writing. Too tedious and boring exercise for my personality. So I hoped that taking a class would help me somehow to overcome this attitude to programming, as well as enhance my IT professional acumen.

I am glad I took that class. I am especially glad that I had never taken that class for credit. I did not fell in love with programming, and the class confirmed in very strong terms that programming is not for me. It also confirmed that I was right when I was changing my career to IT some eight years ago and chose to specialize in systems administration vs learning a programming language. In class I learned some basics of programming logic and general principles. I got some pointers to related disciplines that might be more interesting for me, such as systems design, for example. By far the most exciting moment in that class was the video our professor shared with us:

And this is probably all I want to say about that particular class.

The whole idea of auditing classes, however, is a very valuable proposition. George Washington University has a special Alumni Course Audit Program. For a nominal price of $125 you can audit almost any regular class offered in the University. There are some notable exceptions, such as classes in Medical School and Law School are generally not open for audit, plus some other minor constraints. But overall, if someone is really interested in some courses, there are plenty to choose from.

And the cost of audit is really very attractive. Compare $125 with a regular price of $1420 for one credit in GWSB graduate programs – MBA and MS in Finance. For a three-credit class it would cost a regular student over $4000.  I also checked out the cost of the same Introduction to Programming non-credit class in a local community college. It was over $600. So if you do not seek official credits, just to gain the knowledge, you cannot beat the GWU offer.

Another benefit of auditing is that you are not subject to any stress. You do as much or as little as your schedule and lifestyle allows. No required homework, group assignments, required textbooks, etc. For me just attending the class and following the class lecture and discussion is all I need. Although I bought the textbooks for both of my audit classes, it was for my own benefit and leisurely reading.

The class I am auditing now in Spring term is Online Marketing. I am half way through it and really find it quite enjoyable and informative. I hope to write more about it in the future.



It has been over two years already since I read Tim Ferriss’ book The 4-Hour Workweek. I shared some of the thoughts on the book in my post The 4-Hour Workweek – Jar of Goodies from Tim Ferriss. One of the lasting impressions from the book, besides some business and career-management advice, as well as Ferriss’ self-absorption and narcissism, was the author’s zest for life and desire to live it to the fullest. It was quite contagious, and I got this bug for life adventure from reading the book. Except that for the last two years the only outlet for my adventurous inclinations was pursuing the MBA degree ;-) Nevertheless, two years ago, after reading the book, I started to put together my list of things I wanted to experience in life. I don’t call it “the Bucket List” though, as that list was for someone with imminent death prospects.

One of the experiences I put on the list was to do skydiving. I had been theoretically thinking about it before, but never did any research how to actually get to it. So after reading the book I just went online to check out the skydiving centers around DC. I was surprised to learn that there were more than one outlets offering tandem skydiving and you could get it for between $200-300. For some reason I thought it could be much more than that. I further rationalized that one skydiving jump was the cost of just two full-priced textbooks for some of my MBA classes. Surely, if I was paying for the textbooks, I should pay for such a memorable experience.

When I shared with my family my intention to go for skydiving two years ago I said: “Can you imagine, it costs only about $250 to jump with the parachute (this is what skydiving is called in my mother tongue). My quick-witted younger daughter replied immediately: “I wonder how much less it would be to jump without one”. ;-)

Anyways, when in March of this year I saw a deal on Livingsocial to do skydiving for just $160, I grabbed it without hesitation. I knew I would not have time to do it before the end of the school, so I designated it as my MBA graduation gift to self, since my wife and older daughter opted out from it, and my younger and adventurous daughter was too young to join me in the sky.

In August I finally had it accomplished. It was indeed a great experience, as you probably might figure out from the embedded video. I was also very happy that I did not have to do it by myself, and had a company of an MBA classmate and two of his buddies.

So about the skydive. That was indeed one awesome experience. As much as I liked the free fall and floating under the parachute, by far my most exciting and favorite moment was letting go of the relative safety of the plane and sliding outside – just let it go and slide out into the new and exciting.

Honestly, I did not quite expect it to be that way. I had heard enough stories about first time jumpers being forcefully pushed out from the plane because they had a panic attack at the sight of an open door and could not force themselves to step out. In less severe cases people viewed that step outside as a necessary evil in order to experience the reward of a free fall and floating. For me, however, it turned out to be the  greatest prize and the rest was all gravy.

Was there any scary moment in this skydiving experience, you might ask. In fact, the scariest moments were when I was watching the video and saw the flapping face skin during the free fall. Looked like a scene from a horror movie to me ;-) .

So, that was my very delightful MBA graduation gift to self. Now I need to check out a few other items on my not-Bucket List. Running a marathon is the next in line. I will keep you posted on that. For now, watch the video of my skydive, if you have a few spare moments.


GWU Alumni Weekend – MBA Zero Year Reunion

November 30, 2012

This is a belated post on the event that took place two months ago, but since I have been lazy in updating the blog lately, I want to catch up on some noteworthy events and developments in my post-MBA life. There will be some other posts soon about the past events, since I had started […]

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Post-MBA Summer of Firsts

September 30, 2012

As I wrote back in June in my post MBA Postpartum Syndrome the issue of the newly found free time was one of the most overwhelming challenges for part-time MBA graduates. I also shared a few plans of my own that I had for the use of the post-graduation time. Now, three months later, I can […]

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