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Duke vs. UNC

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Duke vs. UNC [#permalink] New post 28 Jan 2009, 00:01
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I flew to NC this weekend to interview at UNC and Duke, and I have to say, I was thoroughly unimpressed by Duke. When I arrived for my interview, it looked like I'd been invited to a disorganized cattle call. There were 50 people waiting to interview, and maybe 7 or 8 student ambassadors to greet prospective candidates. I didn't feel welcome at all. In fact, for the first 10 minutes I was there, I nervously leafed through some papers I brought, because all the ambassadors were talking to other people. I truly felt like an outsider. When one ambassador finally did talk to me, I was disappointed by his demeanor. He was a terrible conversationalist. Every question I asked him resulted in a one or two word answer. I wanted to jump ship from the conversation, but there was really nobody else to talk to. Eventually, I was called for my interview, and I couldn't believe that I flew all the way to NC to get interviewed by a 2nd year student, rather than an adcom. Though the student was nice enough, I felt he lacked in the personality department. Though Duke has a great brand name, I cannot see myself going to a school that runs a disorganized admissions process. And to boot, it seems that many others had similar experiences to me.

On the other hand, UNC was an amazing experience. I got there and was immediately welcomed by a student ambassador. I was swiftly taken in for my interview with an Adcom (not a student), and as soon as that ended, there were four ambassadors waiting to take my group of eight prospective students to lunch. UNC paid for our lunch, and the student ambassadors were laid back, personable, and enthusiastic. I really felt welcomed. After lunch, the ambassadors took the group on a guided tour of the building, and answered each and every question posed by the prospective students. Honestly, it was night and day when compared with Duke.

I know many of you are concerned with brand name, and certainly, Duke wins out over UNC in that category. But for my money, I'd rather enroll in a school with motivated, enthusiastic students than a school filled with "dial tones." Don't get me wrong, I'm sure there are plenty of smart people at Duke, but in your journey to find the right MBA program, remember that you have to spend two years of your lives with these people. I encourage anyone considering Duke to fly out and visit the school. You would not want to commit your time, money, and energy to this place (or any other school) without seeing if your fellow classmates are going to be a personality match. Duke was honestly one of my top school choices before I visited, now it's down near the bottom of my list.
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Re: Duke vs. UNC [#permalink] New post 28 Jan 2009, 03:29
I have to whole heartedly disagree with your impression of Duke. I think what happened to you is that you interviewed on a day that the adcom office had more interviewees than they could handle - or the group just didn't mesh that well due to the ambassadors. My visit to duke there were only 2 ambassadors, maybe ~8-10 interviewees at the same time, and the entire time was great - we all talked for basically hours since it was a day visit, interviewees were chatting it up with eachother and ambassadors were incredibly social and welcoming. It was a great visit in my opinion, probably my best one aside from Booth.

You know I think this can be random and unfortunate, for instance I have heard of people having horrible wharton visits that swayed them from attending over other schools, and my visit to Kellogg was awful although I kept hearing it would be one of the best beforehand. And Kellogg was right after my visit to Duke and Booth which I was incredibly impressed with - probably because they don't have ambassadors to chat with you for the hours you sit in the waiting room, don't pay for lunch, and also shift you around like cattle. Although I got rejected, I was prepared to view the school as if my visit was not bad, because I knew that if so many people enjoyed the school - I must have been handed a particularly bad experience. Sometimes we get handed a bad day which can cloud our view of the school, so I would try to not to blanket the school with this one bad experience when making your decision - try to outreach to current students or alumni before you make your final choice if you get in.
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Re: Duke vs. UNC [#permalink] New post 28 Jan 2009, 03:42
Wow, of all the schools I've visited, I thought Duke did the best job. My experience was very similar to jlola's.

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Re: Duke vs. UNC [#permalink] New post 28 Jan 2009, 06:43
Agreed with the respondents above. I interviewed at both Duke and UNC as well, back in November. There were, tops, 15 interviewees when I visited Fuqua and probably 5 or 6 ambassadors. They were all quite chatty, actually, and I thought the process was very well organized. My second-year student interviewer wasn't exactly full of personality, but I could say that about most of my interviews thus far for B-school. There was a lunch and a tour scheduled afterward that I didn't go on, since I know the Duke campus pretty well already.

Sorry you had such a negative experience. I agree that you should consider the possibility that you just happened to show up on a day when they were crushed with interviews. Also, don't get bent out of shape about being interviewed by a student. I'm pretty sure they make that clear on their admissions page... what were you expecting?

I thought the UNC interview process was good too, but though Kenan-Flagler made a great impression, I was much less impressed by the facility.
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Re: Duke vs. UNC [#permalink] New post 28 Jan 2009, 07:00
My Duke visit was awesome. I think that you may have just visited on an "off day" for them or something..........
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Re: Duke vs. UNC [#permalink] New post 28 Jan 2009, 07:18
I was totally impressed by Duke during my interview process. For my time slot, there were several 1Y students willing to answer any question; maybe the day being a Saturday helped. The panel discussion we had with current students was really informative.

My wife accompanied me to the school, and while I was interviewing, she had good conversations with current students. To my surprise, she had already toured when I came back from interviewing. She was interested in the Partners club, and became happy to know that SOs of current students remain as busy.

Also I am certain that our lunch was paid by Duke, if this helps to know.

But yes, I was slightly disappointed by the interview process, primarily because it was more of jotting down what I said than having an enagaging conversation. Later I learnt that interviewers have different styles.
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Re: Duke vs. UNC [#permalink] New post 28 Jan 2009, 07:21
My interview with Duke was the toughest! I, for some reason, was not expecting that after having really casual conversations in the waiting room. My interviewer was very nice though.
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Re: Duke vs. UNC [#permalink] New post 28 Jan 2009, 07:29
I would echo the above. Of the three schools I visited (Duke, Kellogg and Booth), I thought the Duke visit was the best. There were probably about 10-15 prospective students there, some interviewing some just visiting, and 2 or 3 ambassadors. While with the size of the group you couldn't have a 1 on 1 with any of the ambassadors for too long, I think they did a good job making sure that all the prospectives' questions were answered, and they seemed genuinely friendly and excited about Duke.

Regarding the use of students as interviewers, I'll admit the Duke website isn't as clear as it could be:

Quote:
During the interview you will be asked a variety of questions that will give you the opportunity to present your background and interests to a member of the admissions committee.


At Duke, the students who do the interviewing actually are members of the admissions committee, but I could see how the webpage could be misleading. Regardless, I wouldn't worry about it, the students have been trained, and you have the same opportunity to present yourself as if it were an admissions officer. It seems like again you had bad luck with your interviewer, mine was incredibly friendly and the interview was very conversational.

All told, you certainly shouldn't choose a school you don't feel like you would enjoy attending, but if possible I'd try visiting again. Or, if you're admitted, Duke runs admitted student events in various cities, so I'd suggest attending one of those to get a feel for potential classmates.
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Re: Duke vs. UNC [#permalink] New post 28 Jan 2009, 08:33
Interesting thread. A good friend of mine who is applying to Duke R2 seemed pretty impressed by his interviewer but utterly unimpressed by the other interviewees (including one who inadvertently spit a piece of his food out into my friends tray during lunch).

Going a step further, I can now speak of 2 people I went to school with undergrad that I know of at Fuqua now(one a first year, one a R1 admit). One was a pretty smarmy type, the type that teachers loved but most of the other students couldnt stand, the other was from korea and only hung out with other korean students (dont mean to stereotype as I have other friends from SK who are really cool people). But literally everything I read about the school / hear from people that I haven't met in real life makes the campus sound really fun and filled with people who are a good time. Sooner or later I'm going to have to decide how much my own, limited experiences are worth versus the broad experiences of many others....
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Re: Duke vs. UNC [#permalink] New post 28 Jan 2009, 09:02
Here was my recap of my visit back to Durham in October.

post537335.html#p537335

My overall experience at Duke was fantastic. I really enjoyed it there. My interviewer was a dud, but it didn't lower my impression of the school. Also, as riverripper pointed out awhile back in a different thread, once you are attending a school, you have almost zero interaction with adcom. Ultimately, your interaction with adcom or how organized they appear should be taken with a grain of salt. If people based decisions off of the "wine and dine" process while visiting campuses for interviews, Darden would probably beat out all schools by a landslide. Also, as others have pointed out, it's hard to say that your interaction on any given day is representative of the school experience. IHTG loved his first visit to Cornell, while he said his second visit was mediocre.

If you do a search, I think one or two folks were faced with this option last year. If I'm not mistaken, mbahunter is at UNC and choose it over Duke. You may want to reach out to him for his opinion.
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Re: Duke vs. UNC [#permalink] New post 28 Jan 2009, 09:10
I am also surprised by your visit ...

My experience at Duke was fantastic. Great ambassadors, good conversation, and a really smooth process. I am slightly surprised you were upset about a 2nd year student interviewing you. This is incredibly common at many of the top schools. I interviewed at Tuck, Ross, and Duke and all had 2nd year students, and my interview with Kellogg was with an alumni.

I think you must have caught them on an off day; I was very impressed with the reception at Fuqua.

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Re: Duke vs. UNC [#permalink] New post 28 Jan 2009, 13:19
After talking to aaudeat about my visit, it turns out that there was confusion last week with the student ambassadors due to the recent start of the semester. Specifically, Wednesday (when I visited) isn't a day for normal classes, so it was very difficult for enough people to help out. I was late for my class visit and the tour was very abreviated (as no hosts showed up). However, those I met were very friendly and willing to help out (one guy spent over an hour chatting with prospectives, then once it was realized the lunch host wasn't there, he took us around to the cafeteria and set us up with some tour hosts). I know not everything can be smooth as silk.

I thought Duke did a decent enough job for me to not worry about it very much.
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Re: Duke vs. UNC [#permalink] New post 28 Jan 2009, 15:25
I'm definitely in the Duke-visit-was-awesome boat. Here's my Duke visit recap if anyone's interested. It was my most enjoyable visit and dramatically increased my interest in Duke.

I guess it depends on what you're looking for during a campus visit. Like ryguy904 said, it's difficult to guage a school based solely on their "wine and dine" process. To me, the scripted stuff like tours, information sessions, and Q&A sessions certainly had their place in my overall impression, but what I was really after was a glimpse into what it's like to be a student at that school.

I had an experience very similar to your Duke visit while at Kellogg. It was the first day of campus visits and about 50 prospective students showed up. Needless to say, the admissions office and student ambassadors were caught off guard. None of the students had been trained to lead tours yet and there were only 3 ambassadors to take people to lunch. So, instead of lunch groups of 8-10, we travelled in groups of 15+ and each ambassador ended up splitting time between two tables trying to answer all the questions. We also never received a formal tour. Some 2nd year students took groups of 6-20 students on a quick 20-minute walkthrough of Jacobs inbetween their morning classes.

Was I pissed? Hell no! 99 times out of 100 I would have received the cookie-cutter class visit, building tour, and intimate lunchtime Q&A, but this time I got to see Kellogg students in action when sh*t hit the fan. The ambassadors worked together to split up the lunch groups and my impromptu tour guide was even late to class because he stuck around to answer our questions. They made something out of a tight situation and gave me a unique look at what it's like to go to school at Kellogg. It was real. I loved it!
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Re: Duke vs. UNC [#permalink] New post 28 Jan 2009, 19:42
Carterman32 wrote:
Eventually, I was called for my interview, and I couldn't believe that I flew all the way to NC to get interviewed by a 2nd year student, rather than an adcom. Though the student was nice enough, I felt he lacked in the personality department. Though Duke has a great brand name, I cannot see myself going to a school that runs a disorganized admissions process. And to boot, it seems that many others had similar experiences to me.


This basically exactly describes my Wharton interview -- disinterested student interviewer, actually no students in the admissions office the whole time I was there, packed with people, etc. I really doubt that reflects on the kind of admissions process Wharton runs -- I think I was just there on a tough day with a less-than-perfect interviewer.

It's hard not to let a single day color your experience of a school, so a bad visit really might ruin a place for you. But I wouldn't draw general conclusions from a single day at any school.
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Re: Duke vs. UNC [#permalink] New post 29 Jan 2009, 19:28
To redirect the thread a bit based on its subject...

How do you all think that UNC and Duke compare for someone who is a North Carolina resident?

At roughly $23,500 for tuition and fees, Kenan-Flagler is about $22,000 less per year than Fuqua for in-state residents. Obviously that difference is not as significant when considered over the span of an entire career, but I think that UNC is an especially great option for people who benefit from the in-state rate (particularly if those students plan to return to or remain in the South like me). I'm interested to hear the opinions of others.
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Re: Duke vs. UNC [#permalink] New post 29 Jan 2009, 21:05
I'm a NC resident too. I think if you wanna stay in the southeast, especially in health care, UNC is a strong contender vs. Duke. When you add up the tuition plus living expenses, though, the price advantage decreases somewhat. K-F is a good lookin' school, but lacks the name recognition... so I think it really depends on what you're going into.
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Re: Duke vs. UNC [#permalink] New post 30 Jan 2009, 05:25
Hi,
Glad to hear you had a positive experience at UNC. I might have been one of the Ambassadors that day! Anyway, I made the UNC/Duke decision last year. I actually quite enjoyed my visit to Duke last year so dont let one visit taint you too much. If you are accepted to both then you must attend both accepted students weekends...its the best way to make a final decision. If you have any specific questions or would like to send me a private message I'll respond as soon as I can. Best of Luck.

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Re: Duke vs. UNC [#permalink] New post 30 Jan 2009, 14:08
johncoctostan wrote:
To redirect the thread a bit based on its subject...

How do you all think that UNC and Duke compare for someone who is a North Carolina resident?

At roughly $23,500 for tuition and fees, Kenan-Flagler is about $22,000 less per year than Fuqua for in-state residents. Obviously that difference is not as significant when considered over the span of an entire career, but I think that UNC is an especially great option for people who benefit from the in-state rate (particularly if those students plan to return to or remain in the South like me). I'm interested to hear the opinions of others.


I'm an NC resident as well, although I'm kind of a transplant. (Moved here from IL so my wife could go to Duke Law.)

I didn't apply to UNC because I don't think KFBS really has much of a national brand at all. I want to stay in the Southeast post-MBA, but there's no guarantee I'll stay here forever, and I would expect the opportunities to be somewhat better for a Duke MBA than a UNC MBA even in the South. Obviously everyone's situation will differ and a lot depends on pre-MBA WE and skills, but I don't think I could risk going to UNC unless I had a clear idea what I was going to do with the money I saved or I was absolutely positive I wanted to stay in NC forever.

Just my $0.02 -- obviously UNC is a great program and I don't mean to knock it.

(Also, while I like hanging out in CH, I admit I really love Durham. I know that may be a minority opinion, but I really love this town.)
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Re: Duke vs. UNC [#permalink] New post 30 Jan 2009, 15:55
Skitalets wrote:
I'm an NC resident as well, although I'm kind of a transplant. (Moved here from IL so my wife could go to Duke Law.)

I didn't apply to UNC because I don't think KFBS really has much of a national brand at all. I want to stay in the Southeast post-MBA, but there's no guarantee I'll stay here forever, and I would expect the opportunities to be somewhat better for a Duke MBA than a UNC MBA even in the South. Obviously everyone's situation will differ and a lot depends on pre-MBA WE and skills, but I don't think I could risk going to UNC unless I had a clear idea what I was going to do with the money I saved or I was absolutely positive I wanted to stay in NC forever.

Just my $0.02 -- obviously UNC is a great program and I don't mean to knock it.

(Also, while I like hanging out in CH, I admit I really love Durham. I know that may be a minority opinion, but I really love this town.)


Full disclosure: I applied to UNC and not Duke in part for personal reasons and in part for financial reasons. I am planning to enroll there next year.

I agree that opportunities between the two schools could be different depending on what you want to do and would also agree that Duke is typically considered to be in a higher ranked grouping of schools, but I think that your assertion that UNC doesn't have a national brand is unfounded. Six of the 15 "top" recruiters at Fuqua were also "top" recruiters at Kenan-Flagler last year including McKinsey & Co., Citigroup, BCG, and Johnson & Johnson. The number of students that these companies recruited from Fuqua is, in many cases, larger than the number recruited from Kenan-Flagler, but Kenan-Flagler's class size is also about 50% smaller than Fuqua's. There is also significant overlap in companies that recruited three or less students at Fuqua and Kenan-Flagler.

If you think that you might want to move to the West Coast, you're probably much better off with the Fuqua brand. If you want to move to the NE, Fuqua often has an edge. If you want to work in the South, I'm not convinced that the difference in cost is always worth it.
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Re: Duke vs. UNC [#permalink] New post 30 Jan 2009, 17:06
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johncoctostan wrote:
If you think that you might want to move to the West Coast, you're probably much better off with the Fuqua brand. If you want to move to the NE, Fuqua often has an edge. If you want to work in the South, I'm not convinced that the difference in cost is always worth it.


Totally true. As for "national brand", I think we could probably get into a semantic debate when really I don't mean to discredit what you're saying (that big, national firms do recruit at KFBS). Part of what I meant using that term was what you say above -- Fuqua will take you further as a brand with national strength in some regions that KFBS might not. But it's worth pointing out that regional brands should not be taken lightly -- I chose Fuqua over Kellogg in part because I want to stay in this area and Duke's brand is stronger here than Kellogg's.

In any case, no doubt that you are right about the economics of the decision -- it's very easy to get sucked into a mindset that every penny you pay for a given top-drawer MBA is worth it over a less expensive, still great school. People really need to look at their goals instead of automatically pulling the trigger on the top ranked school they've gotten into/can get into. Rankings don't factor in fit, region, and a lot of other important things (and don't always give a good representation of the quality of a program, either).
Re: Duke vs. UNC   [#permalink] 30 Jan 2009, 17:06
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