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Current MBA students: What's important in choosing a school?

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Current MBA students: What's important in choosing a school? [#permalink] New post 07 Feb 2009, 14:03
This is a question for guys like Rhyme, Riverripper and other current MBA students.

What factors did you think were important when choosing a school, but you now feel aren't that important?

And likewise, what things weren't that important to you, but now you can see that they are?

RF
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Re: Current MBA students: What's important in choosing a school? [#permalink] New post 07 Feb 2009, 15:02
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The whole fit thing is the most important thing, and the real difference (I feel) between schools is a lot smaller.

Once you are in a respected program the opportunities are all available, and it really depends on how much you are able to take them. I know that in Harvard you may meet more PE or VC people. The bit people overlook is that they may not feel comfortable at Harvard, and therefore are as such may fail in the many opportunities as opposed to excelling in the few. It is really hard for someone to say that a classic (read highly ranked) school isn't the 'right' place for you, but sometimes it isn't. I am really happy that I felt so right with one school on visiting and made up my mind, and didn't have the labor of any school I might have thought considerably better (I screened out H/S/W along the way for reasons - non academic reasons!).
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Re: Current MBA students: What's important in choosing a school? [#permalink] New post 07 Feb 2009, 15:10
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For me I only applied to schools I would go to but ranked them on based on a bunch of factors. Honestly I applied to 3 top 5 schools in R1 since I was going to do "easier admit" schools in R2 if it didnt work out. I applied to those 3 schools because they were great schools and the honest answer is brand matters. I picked them due to preference over other schools and location concerns.

Schools I looked at and decided against:
-Tuck was out due to location and my wife's ability to find a job.
-HBS was out due to my opinion on what the culture is like...this opinion was formed long ago and is engrained...(born and raised Mass guy)
-Columbia was out since its a finance school and didnt really want NYC
-Wharton was out due to location and just didnt appeal to me
-Stanford honestly, thought my chances were slim and its just kind of struck me as a breeding ground for fields I wasnt all that interested in

==> Kellogg was my top when I applied due to the culture, very strong in GM, the community for my wife, great location with good job prospects for my wife. Has a great rep for teaching soft skills that GM companies highly value but few schools are seen as providing, I was an engineer so I definitely wanted to get away from that image of being another nerdy quant jock.
==> MIT was number 2, based basically on location and my wife's heavy influence on this one...we lived near boston, love it there and have tons of friends and family in the area.
==> Chicago was #3 of my R1 schools. Top school, good rep in basically every field, Chicago is a great city.

Things I didnt consider that I think that very fortunately ended up working out very well for me, and had I known to think about this I would definitely factor in my applications/decisions. Diversity...not of students since all schools do a good job of that but of recruiters and job placement. MIT and Kellogg both do excellent in this area. In the current job market having a school that places people in a very large variety of functions, industries, and locations is incredibly beneficial. Hiring varies greatly by area, some are doing just fine and others are shaping up to be incredibly brutal. If you are at a school where lots of students headed to careers that no longer are there, well logic dictates they are going somewhere and if you weren't going to that area, the competition for your job just increased DRASTICALLY.

Fit is amazingly important, but while I think I did put some thought into it...I dont think I really put a great deal of importance on fit for my wife. I viewed it as "will I get along with my classmates?" and not will we both enjoy our time here. However, while thats incredibly important for you...if you are moving a great distance and are married or bringing a bf/gf/fiance with you, they are going to have to find their fit too. I think we definitely lucked out in this area, not only is my wife great friends with some of my classmates but she has made amazing friends with other significant others of students. We showed up and there was an immediate network which is great since we knew no one in this city.

I think you need to really understand yourself and what you want. While some stereotypes about schools are completely off, others are pretty accurate. If you cant stand working in groups dont come to Kellogg, if you would rather do everything on your own then there are a lot of schools that will be better for you. You are going to get a rigorous education wherever you go, I think how you get that will vary incredibly between schools.

Also one thing to really look at before you go to school no matter where you go is yourself in the mirror. I think that these days the toughest thing no matter where you go is being honest with yourself. Career switching is still possible but at times like these companies want the smallest risk possible. So doing a some career switches are going to be very difficult. You want to be an IB but were a high school history teacher, well years ago maybe someone would take that risk. Now adays, chances are going to be extremely slim, I dont care what school you are at and how great their rep is in that industry. Thats not to say dont go for your dream but have some backup plan that your background plays to much stronger than the switch. The more directly related your experience the greater your chances for success.
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Re: Current MBA students: What's important in choosing a school? [#permalink] New post 07 Feb 2009, 16:43
Great post riverripper!
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Re: Current MBA students: What's important in choosing a school? [#permalink] New post 08 Feb 2009, 07:11
river how did you distinguish between chicago and kellogg??
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Re: Current MBA students: What's important in choosing a school? [#permalink] New post 08 Feb 2009, 08:02
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river how did you distinguish between chicago and kellogg??

Both are great schools but are very different. While it was my 3rd choice if I had only gotten into Chicago and not MIT or Kellogg, I definitely would have gone or else I wouldnt apply. I want GM and everyone I talked to, including alums of other schools, said Kellogg has the stronger rep in that area, even though I think placement numbers historically in that area are pretty similar. Once again historical numbers dont reflect current interest with the way the job market is there is a slight uptick in competition for GM here, and I am sure its that interest at other schools has increased far more drastically.

Things that I think set the two apart and what was right for me may not be right for you at all. Kellogg has the stronger rep in soft skills, its no lightweight in the academic area but with a very strong technical background I think that Kellogg would do far more to round me out. If you want to be in some hardcore numbers driven job and have a liberal arts background, then Booth might make more sense for your profile. Fit for me Kellogg won hands down, not to say people at Chicago aren't great people (Rhyme is a case in point of great people at Booth) but the overall sense I got from all the alums and students I interacted with when I was applying, Kellogg just felt right. I like Chicago but living in Evanston along with almost all of my classmates is a huge benefit in my opinion. You may prefer big city living, I love the tight knit community here but also really love the job market for my wife and activities that are only 25 minutes away. I think you will make great friends where ever you go but I think you interactions off campus and outside of school are far easier when ALL of your friends are within several blocks of where you live. Plus I would rather walk 10 minutes to campus than commute 40 minutes each way. There are days I go back and forth several times, and that is not possible at many other schools.

My advice is rank what your criteria are in regards to choosing schools. Recruiting and job placement honestly should be 1a, and Fit and community (location/lifestyle) should be 1b. They go hand in hand but if it comes between choosing a top 5 school and a top 20, even with a little money the long term benefits of not being EXACTLY where is right is going to be worth it. However, when you are dealing with a tier (the ultra elite/elite/not so elite), picking between Chicago, Wharton, Kellogg...go with fit. Especially these days. The job market for the places the high up schools dominated recently are the ones that are sucking so you wont get the benefit of possibly getting into HF/PE/VC etc. Those jobs basically wont exist for a while, so if I were going to get a 50% ride at Chicago vs HBS, I would go with Chicago.

Once you have career and fit, then factors like money can come into play. I really would highly suggest thinking twice in the current job market before you turn down a top 5 school for a 10 to 20+ school just because you get some money. 20k a year works out to 4 months of salary post MBA. At times like these, job placement can vary greatly by school and an MBA is a long term investment. Don't jump for the school that shows you a little cash without thinking about what its going to be like when you are a 2nd year or recent graduate to be recruiting from that school vs others you are turning down. Not to say everyone graduating from a top 5 gets a job but historically during downturns, they suffered FAR less than other schools did recruiting wise.

Thats not to say there aren't things about schools that people wouldnt want to change but you just have to be willing to accept those. Find out what students DON'T like about their school. I think there are some obvious ones, like at Kellogg its obvious that our building doesnt compare to some other schools. In fact I would rank ours in line with Tuck but above MIT...but below Chicago and other newer ones. However, in my opinion its functional and that was extremely far down my list of criteria.
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Re: Current MBA students: What's important in choosing a school? [#permalink] New post 09 Feb 2009, 08:39
refurb wrote:

And likewise, what things weren't that important to you, but now you can see that they are?



The hot girl to guy ratio.
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Re: Current MBA students: What's important in choosing a school? [#permalink] New post 09 Feb 2009, 11:29
Audio wrote:
refurb wrote:

And likewise, what things weren't that important to you, but now you can see that they are?



The hot girl to guy ratio.


It always comes back to that doesn't it?

:yes

RF
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Re: Current MBA students: What's important in choosing a school? [#permalink] New post 09 Feb 2009, 14:51
Audio wrote:
refurb wrote:

And likewise, what things weren't that important to you, but now you can see that they are?



The hot girl to guy ratio.


You mean there are other things to consider besides this?
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Re: Current MBA students: What's important in choosing a school? [#permalink] New post 09 Feb 2009, 21:59
Omne wrote:
Audio wrote:
refurb wrote:

And likewise, what things weren't that important to you, but now you can see that they are?



The hot girl to guy ratio.


You mean there are other things to consider besides this?


You obviously thought it through when you chose UNC and UCLA, good man.
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Re: Current MBA students: What's important in choosing a school? [#permalink] New post 11 Oct 2014, 14:19
Hello from the GMAT Club MBAbot!

Thanks to another GMAT Club member, I have just discovered this valuable topic, yet it had no discussion for over a year. I am now bumping it up - doing my job. I think you may find it valuable (esp those replies with Kudos).

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Re: Current MBA students: What's important in choosing a school?   [#permalink] 11 Oct 2014, 14:19
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