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Advice Needed, Stern or My Safety School?

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Advice Needed, Stern or My Safety School? [#permalink] New post 06 Apr 2007, 08:34
I'm getting ahead of myself here, because I haven't been admitted to Stern yet. But I can feel it in my bones, I'm going to get in. And when I do, I won't have long to decide because the deposit for my safety school is due shortly, and I have already extended that deadline twice. So I'm hoping to think all of this through ahead of time.

I have basically a free ride at Boston University. The program is an MS-MBA which means you get your masters in information systems in the same two years you get your MBA. The salary numbers for people with this MS-MBA with a concentration in healthcare, are very good, much higher than the normal MBA. I'm confident I can get a great job coming out of BU.

So the difference between going to Stern and Boston U, in terms of cost, is probably something around $85K for the two years (tuition and cost of living difference). It would be nice to leave school with that much less debt.

Would I be crazy to pass up Stern? I would think choosing between Boston U and an ultra-elite would be a no-brainer, but I'm not so sure about Stern. In healthcare, the brand name of an MBA just isn't as important as in other industries. And I wouldn't be likely to stick around New York after graduating Stern.

Of course I want the prestige, and I would love to choose Stern just because it is so well respected. But I'm not going to be an i-banker and I'm probably wouldn't want to get into a hardcore McK or Bain type consulting job. Of course as Pelihu pointed out to someone else, people switch industries a lot in the course of their career, and a great school will help open doors, but outside of the ultra-elites, I don't know that there's a huge difference. I think years down the road the distinction would get obscured by the weight of work experience. Let's say in ten years I want to switch into high tech or something, won't my work experience be way more important at that point? I'm sure an ultra-elite might add a little extra punch to my resume, but would BU versus NYU make a huge difference?
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 [#permalink] New post 06 Apr 2007, 09:35
Johnny, you make valid points and the decision is not so evident. Let me add some opinionated comments / questions:

a) For how long do you intend to stick with Healthcare?
b) The value of an MBA fades off typically about 5 years from graduation. After that, your work exp. takes over.
c) Are you interested in the other degree you'll be getting or is it just a nice "freebie" you were never interested in until they told you about it?
d) You say that right now healthcare is in so much need for business folk that they don't focus too much on rankings. What will the situation be in about 2 years time? What if the economy goes bad?
e) I know NYU is usually very related to finance an NYC. But it's still an Elite school. This means (regardless of industry): more powerful network, better overall job prospects, better average salaries, more prestige, etc.
f) Geographical limitations: only you know the "personal cost" of moving to NYC or staying in Boston.
g) If you are going for a non-elite school to stay in the same industry, why not go part time and at least keep your salary?

I always stick to the cluster system. When comparing schools within the same cluster, geography, "fit" or even a slight scholarship can decide the battle. When comparing in between neighboring clusters, a free ride can mean something. But across 4 clusters, IMHO, the decision is simple: go with the higher clustered school you can get.

Hope it helps. L.
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 [#permalink] New post 06 Apr 2007, 10:05
As Lepium said, there's just too much of a gap between the two schools you are considering. Your opportunities will be worlds different. I'd definitely recommend going to Stern and I hope you're right about being admitted. Good luck.
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 [#permalink] New post 06 Apr 2007, 12:26
Thanks for the advice guys.

Lepium you hit on some really good points. You are correct, the "freebie" masters was not something I was actively looking for, but having spoken with people who have this degree that are out in the workforce (mostly consultants), they say it gives them the ability to work with tech people because of their "fluency" in information systems, and they know they started w/ higher salaries than their peers. But I realize this is probably something that BU is doing to differentiate themselves as a business school and is kind of a bell and whistle type thing.

The personal cost you mentioned I think is significant for me. Moving to NY would really complicate my personal life.

I agree that a free ride could make a difference between schools in adjacent clusters, but in my mind BU and NYU are in adjacent clusters. I think Hjort's cluster system is great, but I think once you move out of the elite cluster, the distinction between clusters is mostly based on minor differences in selectivity and prestige, not as much on the doors that will be opened by those schools. For instance (I hope this doesn't p*ss anybody off here ) I don't think there's a huge difference between McCombs and Wake Forest. Or between UNC Kenan-Flagler and Wisconsin. Supposedly these schools are two clusters apart, but I think that if you're not living in the area of these schools, they don't make a huge difference. What job can you get with a degree from McCombs that you can't get with a degree from Wake Forest? If you leave the respective regions of these schools, are people really familiar with them such that they all belong in different clusterse?

So for me, once you get out of the elite cluster, the next three clusters are really all in roughly the same area. I'm sure someone going to Mendoza would totally disagree, but if you look at placement numbers and average salaries for all these less than elite schools, the differences aren't anywhere near as dramatic as the drop-off from ultra-elites to elites on down.

I was actually just discussing all of this stuff with a colleague, and she is going to put me in touch with the principal of a boutique healthcare consulting firm, someone who randomly enough, chose Boston University over Stern years and years ago. I'm going to talk to him on Monday morning, I'll be curious to hear why he made that decision.
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 [#permalink] New post 06 Apr 2007, 13:07
johnnyx9 wrote:
So for me, once you get out of the elite cluster, the next three clusters are really all in roughly the same area. I'm sure someone going to Mendoza would totally disagree, but if you look at placement numbers and average salaries for all these less than elite schools, the differences aren't anywhere near as dramatic as the drop-off from ultra-elites to elites on down.


Cluster analysis:
I must admit I have not researched too much on schools beyond Elites (as I did not apply there). So you may have a valid point. I did, however, research McCombs and UNC a bit and I think they have an edge over Wake Forest and Wisconsin at least for the majority of industries / functions. I will agree that beyond the TransElite Cluster there's probably significant overlap, though.

So let's say:

NYU: Cluster 2
BU: Cluster 4

BU freebie: +1 Cluster
BU in Boston:+1 Cluster

So we have a tie here. You are now choosing between 2 equally clustered schools. Good luck!

A note on risk mitigation:

I have always thought that an MBA is about risk mitigation. If you are great, you don't need a brand name MBA, or you may not need one at all. If you have what it takes, just pick up some books, learn from experience, use your street smarts and you should do just fine.

On the other hand, if you are average, you will need all the "brand push" you can get. Only you will know what to make of this. I think your upcoming meeting will assist you with this process.

Another option?

Additionally, I think there's a third chance you might be overlooking: since you are already in the field (healthcare), and companies are recruiting heavily for people with experience in the industry, wouldn't you be able to go PT and achieve similar results? Or, most importantly, couldn't you just start throwing around some resumes and get a nice position? I don't know if BU has a PT option, or which other PT options you have in the area, but I would not overlook this possibility. Heck, you may even try and get into NYU's PT program! And get your employer to finance it!

Hope it helps. L.

PS: I was about to write a 4th option: the rockman-is-a-troll option but I realized even when some people would get the joke, others might have been offended. So I did not. But you can figure it out if you know rockman.
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 [#permalink] New post 06 Apr 2007, 15:22
Lepium,

Thanks for the analysis! I was probably overstating the case with comparing some of those schools and saying they're essentially the same.

You are right, the part-time option would be the smartest decision, but I have to admit, I'm really craving a two-year break from the office-life, and would not be interested in the balancing act of school and work where you feel like you're half-@ssing both of them. That is just me, I think for other people it is a great option.

The "risk mitigation" that you bring up is what is really pushing me toward Stern. I'll have to chew on all of this stuff over the weekend, thanks again for the input!
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 [#permalink] New post 06 Apr 2007, 19:55
I totally feel you Johnny. I knew right after walking out of the UW interview that my chances were pretty strong, which is why I only visited BYU and Indiana afterwards. Never even applied to the other schools because UW turned out to be an ideal fit. But, of course, these schools all fall in relatively the same tier II cluster.

Ask BU for another extention based on your circumstances and they will most likely grant it. Mention that you still have several applications outstanding and that you just aren't in a position to make a final decision yet. They won't revoke your scholarship offer.

In the meantime see what NYU offers you. You mention that you feel your chances are solid, so perhaps they may also put up a partial merit/need based scholarship to offset some of your NY living expenses. If, on the other hand, you get nothing, then carefully reconsider your options and all costs involved.

One question, did you apply for the Langhorne PT or FT program? If PT, does the school offer a PT to FT transfer option?

Considering that you are still relatively young (under 30), possess a solid GMAT score and have expressed an interest in law, I may also suggest a third option: The three year Kellogg Joint MBA/JD. http://www.kellogg.northwestern.edu/jdmba/

If you do decide to sit out another year, consider snipering this program to the extreme. I've posted it before, so you can run a search in the archives to read Pelihu and Rustmonster's comments.

Heading off to Gold's now to do a little barbell therapy followed by an hour of bag work... Talk to you later J.
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 [#permalink] New post 06 Apr 2007, 22:51
Hi Johnny,

I don't usually post but just wanted to share my opinions.

I, too, have an admit for BU-HSM program. I was dinged at an elite (I thought i was really competitive at this one) and waitlisted at another ultra-elite school. All of which have HSM programs.

My profile's ok...only that it's probably overrepresented and not to mention that I applied pretty late in the admission cycle. That being said, I often wondered if I should just wait out another year, strengthen certain portions of my app and reapply next year. At this point in time, i am still unsure but I doubt I will be doing that. Like you, I am trying to figure out what's the best for myself and this post is more of me thinking out loud.

I guess it really depends on what you wanna do post-mba. For me, whoever recruits at the school is of little importance to me since I am not keen to be another salaried worker upon graduation. What interest me are the presence of a tech transfer office, presence of med/biomed sch and elements of tech being incorporated into the curriculum. The location would be important too since I am particularly interest in boutique firms, smaller bio-start ups and learn the workings of these companies.

In addition, I am looking to learn from like-minded classmates, from various facets of the healthcare ind, who would help in my networking and stregthen my knowledge of the ind. Sure, the admitted students of BU-HSM aren't those who had handled 100million in private equity or some top IB but definitely, so far, the backgrounds of the classmates pretty much intrigued me.

So, the question of the brand name comes in. Currently, I work for a F500 med dev company, top in its sector. I searched through the Senior mgmt team of about 10 and found that no single b-sch dominates. There's kellogs, wake forest, thunderbird etc. Hence, I don't think it really matters. Of course, one would argue that a stronger brand name would open more doors yada yada yada... but that does not exactly worry me. BU is a pretty huge school and the alumni network extends beyond those from the GSM. It also helps that its popular among international students and thus there is a huge number of members out of the US.

I am not obessed with rankings. A higher ranked school would be great but I would not go crazy and defend for the sch should its ranking falls. The numbers are too arbitrary to be taken seriously. There are also many great schools around the world, which have never ever been discussed in forums here.

Poiint is, consider each school based on its own merits and perhaps, ask yourself why you had applied for BU in the first place. If you cannot find a good reason, then don't attend BU. Go with NYU.
Whatever the final choice is, good luck and all the best!
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 [#permalink] New post 07 Apr 2007, 07:37
Yogil80 - Sounds like you're thinking about a lot of the same stuff as me.

I've really been trying hard to justify going to Stern over BU, but crazy as it sounds, it just doesn't make sense to me. As you said, senior leadership in healthcare companies seem to have degrees from all over the place.

Also, I'm interested in healthcare consulting or possibly just non-specialized consulting, and Stern doesn't have very strong placement in consulting. It's really all about finance at Stern, while BU does fine with placing people at firms like Deloitte, CapGemini. The Bains and BCG's would be unavailable to me even at Stern.

Good luck with your decision as well!
  [#permalink] 07 Apr 2007, 07:37
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Advice Needed, Stern or My Safety School?

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