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# Good School, Bad FIt? What would you do?

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28 Feb 2013, 01:33
Hi all,

I am hoping someone will provide some words of wisdom. I've gotten in to two schools, one a top 20 school, let's call it Kenan-Flagler, and one totally unranked and off the radar, let's call it SF State.*

I think I could meet a lot of my academic goals at either program but the ranked program has incredibly good placement stats, national reach, etc. The other school, while unranked and kind of unimpressive on the job placement front just feels like home. To top it off, I have been hoping to relocate to the "Bay Area" any way and hadn't really wanted to move to North Carolina even though there are some things I really like about it. But I have been getting to know future classmates online a little and I am not sure I am a great fit with them. I will know more when I go to an admitted students event soon but it really seems like the unranked school is where I would make the most interpersonal impact.

One final complication -- a full tuition waiver at the ranked school.

Right now I'm leaning toward the ranked school, thinking that I will use its resources to get where I want in the long term, even if I feel out of place for 2 years. Seems the prudent thing to do anyway.

But I'm wondering how others would weigh in on the dilemma.

Thanks!

*These are both substitutes to protect anonymity but the idea is the same. No offense meant to either school.
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28 Feb 2013, 02:19
Congrats on the admits. If I were you and if it's possible, I'd attend the admit weekends of both schools to get a better understanding. Those potential classmates from the ranked school are only a small subset of the student body, and you don't have to hang out with them if you decide to go to that school.
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28 Feb 2013, 03:21
Expert's post
I agree, the folks you get to see online or the first ones off the bus/loudest/etc are usually the ones trying to compensate. You will have a diverse class in both programs and often all the craziness goes out of the door/window after the first 2 weeks when the impressions are made for the next 2 years and the first friend groups are formed.

You will be in many classes requiring group work and you will get to meet people of all walks of life and have a chance to spend more time with them and learn of their perspective. My guess is that the top 20 program will attract more interesting folks who are higher grade if you know what I mean, fewer slackers (there are always those), and more people who can challenge you. Bschool is not about being comfy. You want to better yourself, that may entail being challenged and your perspective changed. Not very comfortable for most but that's part of the value.

I would follow the suggestion of the admit weekend and getting a feel for it there.
Money + the higher ranking (which means better professors, better classmates, and better job prospects) make the choice very easy.
If you still have doubts after the event, attend a few classes in the unranked school to observe the current students.

Edit: don't fall for the fallacy of "this school is not cool but I am, and therefore, I will find a much better job than anyone else potentially" - that does not work. There are 1-2 people who do get great jobs due to X but it is hard to be those 1-2 people and you will subject your career and compensation to a lower start. Think about it that way - even if your gut feel is right (which i can't see how it is) you will enjoy the non-ranked school and your 2 years there like a summer camp, pay $100K more for it and start at$70K a year as opposed to perhaps feeling outside of comfort zone, not paying $100K, and starting at$110K a year.

I think it is a lot to throw away based on a very limited experience with your future classmates....

P.S. Time at school flies. You will be super busy and 2 years will go by very quickly.
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28 Feb 2013, 03:49
Thanks theK and bb for the input. I will definitely approach the admit weekend at the ranked school with an open mind.

And point taken on the fallacy of thinking that the "big fish, small pond" scenario would work in my favor.
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28 Feb 2013, 06:00
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Fit is a nebulous concept. Yes, there are some schools that would be a terrible fit for certain people. In that case, I'd say don't go. However, a school does not need to feel like "home" for you to attend. As bb said, business school is a time to stretch yourself and get out of your comfort zone. I chose the school that didn't fit me the best and I couldn't be happier that I did. Give admit weekend a fair shake. I have the feeling that you'll find there's more to the higher ranked school's student body than you first thought.
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28 Feb 2013, 07:03
The tuition waiver at the ranked school - is it some sort of named fellowship that you could list on your resume?

Reason I ask is that getting into a top 20 school is a major accomplishment - you're competing with the best and brightest on the planet for a finite number of seats. Not having to pay for it is an even bigger one and can help you stand out when it comes to recruiting.

I think you know which way I'm voting.
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28 Feb 2013, 07:20
Thanks, Cheetarah1980 and CobraKai for the good perspectives. Cheetarah -- I think you will be proved right about the students at admit weekend and I don't mean to diminish them here, either. I definitely look forward to the challenge of being around a diverse group of bright people.

CobraKai, it's not something like you describe (has to do with military status) but I have a feeling that wouldn't change your vote...
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28 Feb 2013, 07:28

CobraKai, it's not something like you describe (has to do with military status) but I have a feeling that wouldn't change your vote...

Oh - well, I'm a vet too, so hey, congrats on your admits, and thank you for your service! Are both schools on this eligibility list for this conference?

http://mbaveterans.com/faq/eligible-mba-programs
http://mbaveterans.com/2013-conference
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28 Feb 2013, 07:35
CobraKai wrote:

CobraKai, it's not something like you describe (has to do with military status) but I have a feeling that wouldn't change your vote...

Oh - well, I'm a vet too, so hey, congrats on your admits, and thank you for your service! Are both schools on this eligibility list for this conference?

Thanks, same to you! The ranked school is on that list. Looks like a good conference!
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28 Feb 2013, 08:39
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In terms of scholarship awards, don't think that only named fellowships can be mentioned on the resume. You can simply state that you were awarded a merit scholarship for X amount or Y% of tuition, awarded on the basis of A,B, and C. This always helps an applicant stand out in terms of recruiting.
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28 Feb 2013, 20:37
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bb wrote:
My guess is that the top 20 program will attract more interesting folks who are higher grade if you know what I mean, fewer slackers (there are always those), and more people who can challenge you. Bschool is not about being comfy. You want to better yourself, that may entail being challenged and your perspective changed. Not very comfortable for most but that's part of the value.

I just want to echo bb's message, especially the bolded words, based on my experience in management consulting and having worked with various clients in different industries for 5+ years. Every time a colleague is asked about the one thing that makes it special working at our firm, 9 times out of 10, the answer is "the people."

I love having the opportunities to work with motivated individuals at my firm - I learn a lot by being exposed to their positive attitude and behaviours, how they think, how they frame and solve problems, their interpersonal skills, how they challenge my thinking, etc. Don't get me wrong - There are bad apples, but I think my firm does a good job weeding them out.

The point that I'm trying to make is that in my opinion, by being in an environment consisting of highly-motivated and accomplished individuals (and hopefully collaborative too) such as a higher-ranked B-school, you will have a better chance of stretching and improving yourself.
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28 Feb 2013, 22:49
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Congrats!

FWIW - My boss has an MBA from a top program, and she doesn't purely look at rankings when hiring. She said she'd rather see a person carefully choose a program based on the program's ability to advance that person's career than just aim for the highest ranking. So for example, if she were looking for a healthcare professional (yes I'm generalizing), she would take someone who got a scholarship and got really invested in the Duke healthcare management community over someone who just chose Booth because it's higher ranked. However, she *doesn't* hire for particular personality types; i.e. "fit" is only based on their professional fit. It's good to have a little diversity and a little congruity

In a group of 100+ people, you'll be able to relate to 100+ of them in one way or another, b/c you're all in b-school together! Shared experience makes relationships way more than shared interests.

Also, tuition waiver/scholarship is nothing to scoff at; not everyone gets those, and it means that you're being highly regarded by an already highly regarded school.

Can we guess at your schools? :D
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01 Mar 2013, 09:56
bb wrote:
don't fall for the fallacy of "this school is not cool but I am, and therefore, I will find a much better job than anyone else potentially" - that does not work. There are 1-2 people who do get great jobs due to X but it is hard to be those 1-2 people and you will subject your career and compensation to a lower start.

Don't mean to hijack this thread, but I'm curious about this comment. BB, can you provide some more color around why you feel this way about the 'big fish, small pond' dynamic?
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01 Mar 2013, 18:17
bigcountry wrote:

Can we guess at your schools? :D

Hmmm...maybe I'll PM you if you guess correctly. I am trying to keep it anonymous until I've formally declined one of the offers. And I've now paid the deposit at the ranked school so I guess that would be the offer from the smaller school.

And to everyone who had added comments here -- thank you. You've definitely added perspectives that haven't occurred to me and talked me off the ledge.
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03 Mar 2013, 13:32
OptimisticApplicant wrote:
bb wrote:
don't fall for the fallacy of "this school is not cool but I am, and therefore, I will find a much better job than anyone else potentially" - that does not work. There are 1-2 people who do get great jobs due to X but it is hard to be those 1-2 people and you will subject your career and compensation to a lower start.

Don't mean to hijack this thread, but I'm curious about this comment. BB, can you provide some more color around why you feel this way about the 'big fish, small pond' dynamic?

I would be interested in this as well
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03 Mar 2013, 14:18
bigcountry wrote:

Can we guess at your schools? :D

Hmmm...maybe I'll PM you if you guess correctly. I am trying to keep it anonymous until I've formally declined one of the offers. And I've now paid the deposit at the ranked school so I guess that would be the offer from the smaller school.

And to everyone who had added comments here -- thank you. You've definitely added perspectives that haven't occurred to me and talked me off the ledge.

Okay well entreating my own boredom here:

Ranked/far from home: Emory
Unranked/smaller: UC-Davis

Best of luck in your decision!
Re: Good School, Bad FIt? What would you do?   [#permalink] 03 Mar 2013, 14:18
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