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Duke EMBA v Full time (top-5?) MBA in two years

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Duke EMBA v Full time (top-5?) MBA in two years [#permalink] New post 20 Mar 2010, 11:45
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I have an interesting dilemma and would love to hear your take, Alex.

Wusappenin:

Age: 28/m
Undergrad: University of California School (Lower tier) B.S. Physics. GPA 2.84. Undergrad research published in Nature
GMAT: 750 (47/47 98%)
Job: 6 years work experience - all military. Top student in flight school. Current fighter pilot. Combat tour to Iraq. Air Medal recipient. Division Officer in charge of 38 people. Ranked #1 of 21 officers in performance evaluation and recommended for early promotion. Achievement medal for sustained superior performance.
Perceived strengths in application: leadership experience, decision making experience, exceptional work record, above average GMAT.
Perceived weaknesses in application: low undergrad GPA, lack of finance/business background or education

Dilemma:
Interested in attending Duke's Cross Continent EMBA program which will allow me to get my MBA while staying at my current job. I am applying for the 2011 class which starts this August.
However, some people have told me that with my background and GMAT scores, I should wait two-three years, when I will complete my obligated service, and then apply for a top 5 school.

What are your thoughts on this situation? The advantages of doing the EMBA is that it will allow me to complete my tour in the military with my MBA completed. This will allow me to immediately jump into a job in the business sector once my tour is completed without having to wait another two years. The advantages of going to a full-time top-5 program are evident, however, will being 31 when I start my MBA, and 33 when I complete it, be a factor in the business world? Is it, at my age, worth the extra two-three years to get an MBA from HBS or Booth vice Fuqua? Is this all a moot point? Am I barely qualified and I should be content if I get into the Duke EMBA?

I really appreciate your time and look forward to any insight you may have.
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Re: Duke EMBA v Full time (top-5?) MBA in two years [#permalink] New post 20 Mar 2010, 11:47
I forgot to add that I'm taking accounting courses via UCLA extension to address my lack of formal business training/education.
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Re: Duke EMBA v Full time (top-5?) MBA in two years [#permalink] New post 21 Mar 2010, 08:25
As a military officer, your age won't be an issue for b-school admissions or b-school recruiting.

So whether it's worth it to wait or not really comes down to a personal thing. The main practical thing is that going to a full-time program will give you much better access to management consulting and investment banking recruiting. Also, if you're interested in jobs within industry outside of aerospace/defense (i.e. software, manufacturing, energy, mining, auto, retail, consumer goods, film/entertainment, etc) then you may have an easier time in a full-time program. An EMBA however would be ideal if you're pretty sure you want to transition into a related business/industry (which in your case would be transitioning to the business side of aerospace/defense, such as working in their finance division, business/corporate development, and so forth). Not saying that it's impossible to make a more significant career shift into an unrelated industry with an EMBA, but it's certainly easier in a full-time program since in an EMBA, the student body isn't as geared towards that (less of a support group) where in a full-time program, most students are aiming to make a significant change in their industry of choice.
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Re: Duke EMBA v Full time (top-5?) MBA in two years [#permalink] New post 21 Mar 2010, 08:46
Thanks for the reply, Alex.

I understand what you're getting at. It would be easier to get a job at Merrill Lynch if I attended a full time program and if I had my heart set on Boeing, then either would be acceptable.

I suppose I'm also curious about my odds are at getting into a top-5 full time program. I would hate to say no to Duke now only to be turned down by every top-5 three years from now. I realize that my GPA is low and I intend to remedy that by doing well on my UCLA extension courses and showing that my record since college reflects a maturity not had by my 19 year old self. What, in your opinion, would be my odds of being accepted into one of these programs? Does it really matter to prospective employers that, given my experience and background, my MBA would be from Duke vice Harvard or Northwestern?

Again, thank you for your insight. I'm not too familiar with the business world and this is all fascinating to me.
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Re: Duke EMBA v Full time (top-5?) MBA in two years [#permalink] New post 22 Mar 2010, 12:51
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If you're able to reveal in a networking event, interview, or even in your resume (how you write it) that you have a strong sense for what specific skillsets (leadership, analytical/problem-solving, decision-making, etc) from your military experience can translate into the civilian/business world, the employer will likely value your military background moreso than whether you went to one top school vs another. Moreover, there's a good number of veterans in the business world, and they certainly like to take care of their own (i.e. to a veteran, being a veteran yourself is more important than whether said veteran went to the same b-school as you did; veteran status trumps b-school name especially if you went to a good or great school, which Duke is).

Also, in the real world, recruiters and business professionals care *less* than MBA students/applicants about b-school prestige. Will most acknowledge or know that HBS has a better rep than Duke? Yes. But does that mean they will make a summary judgment of you simply because of the school you went to? Absolutely not. Again, recruiters care mostly about what you can bring to the table in terms of your skills and your ability to contribute to their bottom line. And most know that that has little to do with the name of your education beyond a certain threshhold - going to a "good" school helps is a reaffirmation that you're probably a pretty capable guy, but whether it's a top school vs another won't really matter as much as applicants/students think. The MBA is *one* line item on your resume - they are interested in you for the totality of your work to date (and you as a person, which is why they interview you and not just hire you based on a resume). The only exception to this is if you're looking for investment banking or management consulting jobs -- but then again, most people who go into this meat grinder leave within 1.5 - 3 years anyhow, only to enter industry of some sort where actual operating/real world/managerial experience is more valuable than credentials anyhow.

As for your chances at these full-time programs, you have enough of a shot that it could be worth applying if you really want to go, but no one is a shoe-in at these places even with the most exceptional of credentials. It really just comes down to a judgment call on your part whether you want to go now and get it over with, or leave it till later and then apply full-time.
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Re: Duke EMBA v Full time (top-5?) MBA in two years [#permalink] New post 24 Mar 2010, 09:50
Wusappenin,

It's really funny that I came across your post! I was just accepted into the Duke Cross Continent Program and I had very similar dilemma as you. I was trying to decide whether to accept the offer or try for a top 5 school within a couple of years. I've ultimately chosen to go to Duke. I believe I had a strong chance at getting into one of the top 5 but one factor that ended up helping me with my decision is the pure financial aspect. The company I work for will pay for the program and I will continue to make a salary. This is a kin to completing your tour and then being able jump straight into your career.

Hopefully you'll decide to join and I'll see you in Shanghai in August!
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Re: Duke EMBA v Full time (top-5?) MBA in two years [#permalink] New post 24 Mar 2010, 10:40
Interestingly enough, I too was in the same exact position as FelipeM, and I too chose Fuqua CC program due to company sponsorship.

FelipeM - send me a PM so we can connect before August!!
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Re: Duke EMBA v Full time (top-5?) MBA in two years [#permalink] New post 25 Mar 2010, 22:49
Interesting...i've also accepted by Duke CC. I chose to this program is because I want a career enhancement rather than a complete switch of career. Also, I only want to stay in Asia (but I want a US degree, since I grew up in US). This leads me to have little interest to go to school full time in US. Anyway, I hope to see u guys in SH in Aug
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Re: Duke EMBA v Full time (top-5?) MBA in two years [#permalink] New post 25 Apr 2010, 19:26
Is it too late to apply to Duke CC 2010-11? How do I ask company for sponsorship if it's not listed in our education tuition policy? Whether I'm sponsored or not, I'm still interested in applying!
Re: Duke EMBA v Full time (top-5?) MBA in two years   [#permalink] 25 Apr 2010, 19:26
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Duke EMBA v Full time (top-5?) MBA in two years

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