OK, so after attending both Go Blue! Rendezvous and Blue Devil Weekend and talking a few days to collect my thoughts I am ready to share my experience about why I chose Fuqua.
Let me say a few things right off the bat. First, I met lots of students making this same choice, so these two schools are about as close as can be - no surprise that if you were admitted at one place you might be admitted at both. Second, this is my opinion and will be unique to me. I spent 4 years in A2 so I will see things differently than someone coming from a different place. Third, if I say I like X better than Y it doesn't mean Y is bad - so don't flame me.
I'll start by reviewing what I said in the OP:Goals
- I have the same chance of meeting my goals at either school. I learned the opportunities are there if I do what I need to do - and I will!Brand
- The stronger brand changes depending upon who you talk to. Some objective people said UMBS/Ross - "Everyone knows Michigan, not sure everyone knows how good Fuqua is." Others said Fuqua, "Fuqua is a top 5 program. Everyone knows that!" So, just throw this out and don't worry about it. They're both awesome. However, if you are looking at studying sustainability or health care then this changes some.Culture
- At GBR, all the current students raved about the community and how they went to Ross to join that community. At BDW, well... you could probably just swap any Michigan related term with the appropriate Duke one. Seriously, the students all talked about "Team Fuqua" and how they went to Fuqua to joint that community.
It comes down to really minor details. Michigan is a t-shirt and jeans school, whereas Duke is a bit more preppy. Though, I was a little disappointed that Fuqua wasn't as "southern" preppy as I would have expected. Having gone to UVA, I expected to see more of the bright colors and seersucker type look I associate with southern colleges. Yeah, don't ask...
I heard some prospectives say the Ross students were more humble and the Fuquans a bit more snobbish. Eh, I don't know. I know Michigan people can be really arrogant - not in a bad way - and outsiders can usually pick up on it. Geez, we call ourselves the "leaders and best" right in the fight song
I found the Fuquans to be a bit more serious about academics. BDW had more time for classes, talks by faculty, and I was blown away by the Dean's ability to communicate Fuqua's vision for the future and how they are implementing the plan to get there. Rossers seemed to want to highlight all of the fun in Ann Arbor. I talked to a student who seemed less concerned with grades and the job she'd have afterwords than she was with the tailgates and clubs she was heavily involved in. I left Durham really excited to get back on 1 August and start learning. Location
- Ann Arbor is fun and nothing beats a good tailgate on a fall morning before whooping up on a rival. I can completely see the appeal in this for some. Trust me, there is a big part of me that will be kicking myself when I'm on my couch watching the first ever night game in Michigan Stadium vs Notre Dame when I could be in the student section singing "Hail to the Victors" when Denard breaks a 50+yd TD run. Durham isn't the dump or pit some like to describe it as and Cameron is an amazing place to watch a basketball game (if you can win tickets).
I'm pushing 30 and married so living quarters are pretty important to my wife and me. In this respect, Durham wins by a wide margin. If I was a little younger and single I might not mind living in an old Vic that just looks like college housing.Alumni
- I don't know what I mean to say here. They're both great. I realized at GBR that the Ross alumns were already in my network and that adding some breadth in pedigree wouldn't hurt. But again, that's unique to me and probably not you. edit:
I wanted to add a bit about where the alumni is strongest geographically. Ross is strong all across I-80 (NYC, Chicago, SF) and down into LA. Duke is stronger up and down the East Coast and in the South through Texas. That's generalizing a bit, but it paints a pretty good picture.
One other thing I wanted to address is the size of the Michigan alumni. Yes, it's huge. But in all honesty, it's very disconnected and therefore a little weaker than some suggest. You will meet Michigan people everywhere you go, but that doesn't mean they can all help you get a job. The Ross network is a little bit separate from the greater UofM alumni network and is very strong./editTeaching Methods
- I love the MAP and think it's a great program. However, I decided it wasn't for me. I'm not comfortable giving up 6 weeks of coursework and the ability to take part in any electives just for MAP. Besides, I think MAP-like opportunities exist at Fuqua through the Mentored Study Program and GCP. Ross students raved about their MAP experiences and I know that if I went to Michigan I'd probably appreciate it. A few students talked about how they received internships from their project, but I wasn't comfortable with the thought that it meant I'd be waiting until April to secure work for the summer.Internationalism
- Both have lots of bright international students I'd learn tons from. I didn't realize that students generally only spend 2 of the 6 week MAP overseas. I think Fuqua's overseas campuses are a marketing gimmick that won't affect me as a student. The Global Institute and "global perspective" that Duke faculty add to cases appeals to me.Employment
- Nothing to add.Grades
- I think I had this wrong before, but now I'm getting mixed up again. I thought this would be more important to me, but I've decided to just work hard and get straight As,SPs, EXs or whatever a school decides to call them. I can see pros and cons both ways, but I'm not going to worry myself over it.
NEW CRITERIAPartner's Club
- This is the reason I feel most comfortable going to Fuqua. It turns out my wife's company took the Charlotte option off of the table so we came up with 3 scenarios for her future: a) move in wither her parents and keep her job, b) move with me and not work or c) relocate with me and find work locally.
Well, we didn't have a good experience with the Ross Partners. They seemed to frown on the couples choosing option (a). I was worried about option (b) - I have trouble getting comfortable giving up 2 incomes to support 2 people on loans. (c) is risky... it's Michigan after all and her industry isn't strong there.
At Fuqua, the Partner's Club put on a presentation about finding work in the Triangle. They made time for the prospective partners to network with current partners who work in their industry. She felt comfortable after her experience with BDW and this makes all the difference in the world to me. Though she doesn't have a job yet we have some time and there is an amazing support network for her while we make Durham our home for 20 months, so I'm confident it will all work out.
I hope this is helpful to anyone reading it. If you choose to join me at Duke, awesome! If you choose to move out to Ann Arbor and brave the cold (jk), I can completely understand. It's a great school and a great town and I can understand why anyone would make that choice. Bottom line for anyone wrestling with this decision - CONGRATULATIONS, YOU CAN'T LOSE!