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HELP! Darden v. Mcdonough ($$) v. Smith (full scholarship)

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Darden v. Mcdonough ($$) v. Smith (full scholarship)

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HELP! Darden v. Mcdonough ($$) v. Smith (full scholarship) [#permalink] New post 26 Mar 2013, 13:48
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Hey friends-- need some advice as I begin this dreaded decision process.

I am in at Darden, Georgetown and Smith. Smith comes with a full tuition scholarship, Gtown a partial (but trying to negotiate more), and Darden zilch.
I really have two potential decisions to make 1- Darden v. DC (Georgetown and Smith) and, if I go with DC, 2-Georgetown v. Smith. I would truly appreciate any guidance you all may have.

Some background on me

- I am married and have been living in DC for 6 years. My husband will continue to work in DC which will make Darden potentially a strain on our relationship and finances (if I stay in DC I won't have to stress about double rent). Not really sure long term where we may end up, but it looks like DC for the immediate future.

- Come from a non-traditional background (marketing in the non-profit/politics), eventually would like to return to non-profit work and run an organization but need to spend a good amount of time in the private sector first.

- Since I am switching industries I had originally planned on staying in marketing in the consumer products sector, but recently have been leaning toward consulting as it will provide more general management skills to assist in the long term goals.

-With consulting, Smith does not have a presence with the major firms. Georgetown placed individuals at MBB last year, but still slim in recruiting/would be an uphill battle. I did get the idea that MBB recruiting is improving there though. Darden has pretty much the best per-capita placement in consulting…

- I do love the case method and the aspect of being fully immersed in a program (versus having my pre-existing network in DC).

Really struggling with weighing the debt/relationship burden with the larger opportunities available at Darden... HELP!
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Re: HELP! Darden v. Mcdonough ($$) v. Smith (full scholarship) [#permalink] New post 26 Mar 2013, 14:44
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Everyone’s relationship is different. In general, b-school does put lots of pressure on relationship. I hear many divorce stories. However, I’m not sure if being in the same city would be better or worse for a relationship. At b-school, you will be under lots of pressure from an academic (especially at Darden, which has one of the most rigorous academic curriculums) and recruiting standpoints. So it may be good to be away from your spouse, as long as y’all find time for each other.

I would not be too quick to jump on the consulting bandwagon, especially since you are thinking about going back to non-profit. I think there is value to work in the corporate environment, so that you will understand the political play, the profit pressure, etc. A rotational or leadership development program will allow you to quickly see different aspects of corporate functions. I feel that in consulting, you will be focused on the strategy and getting staffed on project to see the nuisances of corporate inner workings. If you really want to pursue consulting, you should consider non-profit consulting. You’ll build your network in the government, and solve issues that are drive by mission, and not profit.

Going to Darden will get you a better shot at MBB, but by no means is it a guarantee. It takes lots of hard work and lots of luck to land a job at MBB. Because of this, I would recommend McDonough because it would set you well on your way to your ultimate career goal, and you get some guaranteed scholarship while you are at it.
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Re: HELP! Darden v. Mcdonough ($$) v. Smith (full scholarship) [#permalink] New post 26 Mar 2013, 15:09
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Adding another perspective to Asimov's post:

Congratulations - seems a complex case. You are probably better off with Mcdonough if you want to keep living in DC after graduation. Yes, You will probably have fewer learning experiences and less interest/incentive to mingle with your Georogetown friends who will be out of town by simply being in your comfort zone (I hope this makes sense - let me know if I am not explaining it well) but you will still have plenty of opportunities and group projects.

I think financially, you are better of staying in DC and not paying double rent and double living expenses.
The 3 schools are well balanced in terms of their offers but the rent part makes Georgetown better. (analysis follows)

Some hard numbers:
(Average Salary | Employment Rate | Probable Salary for the first 12 months after graduation (product of the two))
$101,604 | 58.5% | $59K - Smith
$114,744 | 67.9% | $78K - Mcdonough
$131,906 | 81.5% | $108K - Darden

Source (US News)

So, you could be as much as $50K better off in terms of going to Darden vs Smith just in the first 12 months.
Then over 5 years, that's harder to predict but I think probability wise, you will be as much as $150K off (131-101=30*5)


Darden vs. Mcdonough
30K over the first year and potentially $75K over 5 years (see calc above). This should address the scholarship concerns but living expenses could add up to $75K over 2 years or be a half; depends on your lifestyle. I feel it is a wash with a slight advantage for Mcdonough if you are planning the non-profit track which often has lower salaries.


Questions for you:
Are you planning to have kids in the next 5 years?
That will come into play and you want to be close to some family when that happens, so you don't want to move to NYC if your family is in DC or vice versa. Having a lesser debt hanging over you, means faster repayment and less stress when the little guys show up.

Can you be happy at Georgetown and not regret it?
I think I would be but what about you? Will you be able to live with it for the rest of your life? You had a chance to attend Darden and chose a diff program?
Worst case? People have dropped out of bschool before. Dropping out of Georgetown will be easier than Darden if you have to. The sunk costs are less. Thus it is a safer bet though you could be absolutely miserable on your own in UVA missing your home, husband, friends, etc. may drop out as well (unlikely since you will be super busy)

If you are going to stay in DC after graduation, Georgetown is probably the better bet. You will have better chances by being local + alum network but I would be careful and research if the companies you are interested in recruit on campus at either UVA or Georgetown.

Finally, Darden has a few EMBA campuses in DC - would that make sense for you as a compromise?
I will assume that not since that' s a completely different experience but thought I'd bring it up.
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Re: HELP! Darden v. Mcdonough ($$) v. Smith (full scholarship) [#permalink] New post 26 Mar 2013, 19:07
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bb wrote:
Some hard numbers:
(Average Salary | Employment Rate | Probable Salary for the first 12 months after graduation (product of the two))
$101,604 | 58.5% | $59K - Smith
$114,744 | 67.9% | $78K - Mcdonough
$131,906 | 81.5% | $108K - Darden


Great way of putting decision into perspective with numbers.

One thing you should be aware of if is that multiplying average salary and employment rate may be misleading. I believe US News use salary at graduation and 3 months after graduation. The likelihood that the unemployed graduates will earn $0 in the long term is very low. The indicator is too dependent upon employment rate, especially at top tier schools. For example, Fuqua and Tuck have the highest employment and similarly high average salary on the most recent report. By this measure their expected salary would be the highest among all schools. However, this may not be true in the long run, since top schools that are located in the high cost of living areas typically have higher average salary.
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Re: HELP! Darden v. Mcdonough ($$) v. Smith (full scholarship) [#permalink] New post 27 Mar 2013, 04:07
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I'll admit, I clicked on Darden before I even read you were married and living in DC. That said, I still vote for Darden, mainly because it's head-and-shoulders above the other two schools you got into. Yes, you won't have any scholarship $$ and double rent is a strain - but I think the long term value of a Darden MBA is worth it.

In terms of your personal life, it's not ideal, but doable. Darden's not that far from DC, and B-school lasts just 21 months and you're only on campus for 18 of them. If you were talking about a PhD program, then yeah, staying in DC would make sense, but since the MBA is such a sprint, I'd hate to see someone forfeit future opportunities for the short-term.

I gave similar thoughts to a guy here on choosing between UCLA and UCSD: ucsd-rady-half-tuition-vs-ucla-anderson-no-149708.html#p1202062
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Re: HELP! Darden v. Mcdonough ($$) v. Smith (full scholarship) [#permalink] New post 27 Mar 2013, 06:05
Wow- thank you all so very much for your time and well thought out posts. Not coming from an MBA laden or family, everyone is giving me the side eye for even considering turning down a full ride or scholarship money. All of this makes me feel a lot better/gives me more data for my explanations to them (adding this to my bookmarks of "links to send my parents to explain why its ok to go into debt," :shock: ).

If I decide to stay in marketing, Georgetown has a very newly launched center (Georgetown Institute for Consumer Research) that is a draw/could help with career placement in the marketing analytics sector. Since it is so new, it is hard to tell how the relationships are developing with partners, but they do have fellowships for students that interest me. However, if I even think about pursuing consulting, Darden is superior by a landslide. A lot of firms that recruit at Smith and McDonough primarily do so for their federal sector consulting, which is not something I am interested in (my husband is in that field already). I also do not want to be a non-profit consultant quite yet. I feel strongly based on personal experience that spending time developing skills that are profit driven, not mission driven, helps one become a truly effective leader in the non-profit world.

In terms of long term (kid) questions; I am not one of those girls who says "I have to married and have kids by x age," but as I am a woman that has a limited time frame ( :roll: ), in the 5 years after school it is quite likely we will want to start a family (while I continue to lean in, of course).

Also, I suppose my spouse and I are a bit used to the MBA relationship lifestyle; he works relatively late/has client dinners a few nights a week and I am also am a dance teacher/ performer who has rehearsals and classes many nights and weekends. Staying in DC would just be the norm in terms of time spent together; Charlottesville would really only take away the late weeknights and add to some travel time on the weekend.

As you can see, I still am a bit torn and going to do some serious contemplating the next few weeks. I am planning on attending and bringing my husband to admit weekends in April for Georgetown and Darden so we can get a feel for both schools. Hopefully seeing both schools in action/meeting potential classmates will help make the decision much easier.

Thank you all again for your wise advice!
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Re: HELP! Darden v. Mcdonough ($$) v. Smith (full scholarship) [#permalink] New post 27 Mar 2013, 08:27
I live in DC too and the reason I didn't apply to Georgetown is that I'm in federal consulting right now and I want to escape. It seems like a ton of people end up in federal consulting out of the program so that just wasn't for me. I think it boils down to whether or not you want a national or regional brand. How tied down to DC are you for the next decade? Depending on what your husband's job function is, it might be difficult for him to find a comparable job elsewhere (I know this from firsthand experience!). If he has easily transferrable skills and wouldn't mind a change of scenery, Darden would make sense. The good thing about Darden is that you could recruit for consulting jobs and potentially be placed in a DC office and not work on federal projects. I think it's much harder to do that coming out of Georgetown (much harder for Smith, I'd assume). Your access to jobs at Darden is really head and shoulders above what they would be at Georgetown and if you want to make a complete career change I think going to Darden is your best bet.

Additionally, you can always get a roommate down in Charlottesville and the rent is a hell of a lot cheaper than it is in DC it wouldn't be terrrrrrible to have 2 rents.
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Re: HELP! Darden v. Mcdonough ($$) v. Smith (full scholarship) [#permalink] New post 11 Jan 2014, 18:20
Such an interesting post! Will appreciate if DC1629 can update her final decision and reasons! It will be helpful for other candidates who encounter the similar situations!
Re: HELP! Darden v. Mcdonough ($$) v. Smith (full scholarship)   [#permalink] 11 Jan 2014, 18:20
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