Although this is a deeply personal decision, I couldn't resist asking you guys...
I have to make a decision soon about which school to attend. I literally did not imagine that I would end up with three great options.
For context, I've spent five years working in municipal government and want to transition to management consulting after getting my degree. I eventually want to return to the public sector, probably doing something like running a non-profit.
Some of the things I care about when selecting a school: strong presence in social enterprise, consulting placement strengths, rigorous curriculum, financial aid, "culture/fit", lifestyle.
Social Enterprise: Here I would honestly rank Kellogg first, Columbia a close second, and Booth a distant third. Kellogg and Columbia are pretty closely ranked in this dimension in my mind. Kellogg's program is a bit more highly regarded than CBS', however Prof. Fisman, the director of CBS' Social Enterprise program, seems to be doing a great deal to keep the program dynamic and innovative. Booth has one professor that teaches a social enterpreneurship lab, and there are similar social enterprise related EC opportunities at Booth, but their program is just not fully formed yet.
Consulting Placements: This is basically a wash. Kellogg gets the edge here, but not by as much as I initially thought, since I'm putting weight on M/B/B placements. About 10% of Kellogg's student body gets M/B/B full-time post-MBA placements, versus 8% at Booth and 7% at CBS (I excluded from the CBS numbers McK sponsored students returning to their firm). Internship numbers are somewhat similar. Overall, 27% of Kellogg grads go into the consulting industry versus 24% at Booth and 20% at CBS.
Curriculum: I prefer Booth's flexible curriculum over Kellogg and CBS' core curriculum approach. I like the way Booth allows you a couple class options for each foundation requirement, and also allows a little more flexibility in when you take required classes. Although this is more of a brand preference than a comment on curriculum, I also prefer the quantitativ reputations of Booth and CBS over Kellogg's more "poetic" reputation.
Financial Aid: Kellogg has the huge edge here. Their financial aid application process was so straightforward and transparent, and I really appreciate the quick turnaround (2 weeks from fin aid app submission to preliminary aid package). Kellogg also offers need-based loan assistance for grads pursuing non-profit careers for up to 10 years after graduation. Columbia has a similar program, but eligibility ends 5 years after graduation. Booth does not offer a loan assistance program. Also, Kellogg has offered me a $13k scholarship in my aid package- no aid offers from Booth or CBS yet.
Culture/Fit: I've honestly liked the Booth students and alums that I've met the best. Booth's outreach since I've been admitted has been phenomenal. My interviewer for Kellogg called me to congratulate me after I was admitted, which I appreciated. I have not heard from anyone at CBS since my admit call a month ago.
Lifestyle: Again, I give Booth the edge here. This may sound silly, but there's a running group/charity that is a very important part of my life. If I attend Booth, there's a chapter near the downtown hi-rises that I can run with in the mornings. I might be able to get down from Kellogg occasionally, but it seems far less likely. There's no local chapter in NYC. While I've never lived in NYC before, the cost of living is pretty high. It's also pretty high in downtown Chicago, but less so. I'm not very enthusiastic about the idea of living in a suburb like Evanston. Given the three options I would prefer to live in downtown Chicago.
I am of course continuing to research the programs, talking to current students and alums at all 3 schools, and doing my best to attend as many admitted student events as possible. In a perfect world, I would attend all three admit weekends, but Booth and CBS are at the same time, and CBS wants my deposit the following Friday, which happens to also be Day At Kellogg. So I gotta decide soon.
So...what do you guys think? Vote and leave me your comments!
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