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Help me solve my dilemma...

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Help me solve my dilemma... [#permalink] New post 15 Apr 2010, 07:32
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First I want to say Howdy and say Thanks – I’ve been a long time lurker. The information that you all provide has been invaluable to those of us venturing into the world of MBA programs, admissions, tests, and every other facet imaginable (the suit discussions and the dating/relationship discussions have been particularly insightful/hilarious). My dilemma is at the bottom – before that is a long-winded story about how I came upon said dilemma. If you make it through the loooong read you deserve to take the afternoon off – but if your boss wont let you do that, at least you have my sincere thanks…personally I’d rather have the afternoon off, but that’s neither here nor there…on with the story!

I graduated from a no-name undergrad in the Northeast with a B.S. in Business Administration and a 3.5 GPA. I was employed right out of college doing financial work for a state government in the Northeast. I’ll have 3 years WE upon matriculation with many more years of work experience involved in a family start-up experiencing all levels of ownership/leadership/processes. I have extensive ECs, have a ton of work-related training, and have had lots of leadership roles throughout my ECs and my undergrad.

I took the GMAT right out of college – my first time taking the GMAT was entirely to see how it was. I had studied for maybe a week and no matter what I read, until I got in there and saw the beast first-hand, I was unsure of what I was getting into. Needless to say and as was expected, my score was horrendous. I then took it again a couple months later and studied as much as a recent college grad…with new-found responsibilities, time commitments, bills, lack of time, and more money than I had ever had…could. My GMAT math was bad – I’m not bad at math (my undergraduate classes showcase this fact); I just cannot grasp how to do well on the GMAT’s math section under timed constraints. I was always the student who no matter how good I was at the math put in front of me, I still took the whole class period to finish – be it the way my brain works, the way I ‘ease’ into problems, or whatever else – it hinders my abilities on the GMAT’s math section. With a good verbal and a poor math score, I pulled a dismal 540.

I had reserved myself to not having a high GMAT score due to my poor math sections and started looking into schools that fit that score accordingly. I applied to a few places that I would go to but would not REALLY want to go to and set my “I hope to go here!” sights on Northeastern University. It’s in the Northeast that I’ve always called home, and seemed to provide me the best opportunities for what I had to offer. I focused on work and working on applications and as time passed, I handed them in for the Fall 2010 matriculation.

Weeks passed and I wound up with a phone call from Northeastern’s admissions saying that my package was stellar but my they wished my GMAT score was higher. Not wanting to ruin my chances, I said I would take it again in a month’s time and started praying for good fortune.

Along with the praying, I enrolled in an online GMAT prep course put forth by Knewton (if anyone is wondering about Knewton’s online classes or would like a forum post about my experiences with Knewton I’d be more than happy to do so) and was thrilled by what they offered. At the end of the class I started taking more practice exams and lo-and-behold…I was scoring 540-560. My math, which was really good when conducted on a practice GMAT under untimed conditions, still suffered tremendously in a timed situation. Defeated but not wanting to waste my 250 bucks, I took the test. A score of 640 later (and many double takes at the screen/print-out to ensure that what I was handed was indeed my score and did indeed include MY name…) I found myself in my current dilemma.

If you’ve read this far I greatly appreciate it and commend you on your ability to drive forward in the face of “man…will he just get on with the problem already!?” :)

Partnered with my score of 640, I was invited to an interview at Northeastern and promptly accepted. Good news right? Right. But perhaps there’s more to the story…you see, as I said at the very tippy-top of the mass of text above, I shot for Northeastern because it was the right school for me for what I had to offer. I retook the GMAT with little hope of doing much better than my previous score – at best I figured I might get near 600. Now that I have a score that is significantly better than my previous score, I’ve started contemplating saying ‘no’ to Northeastern and searching out a school that offers way better opportunities as well as appeases my palate better than Northeastern. Needless to say, I politely turned down all of the other schools that had offered me acceptance, leaving my options as ‘wait and aim higher’ or ‘Northeastern University’.

So I’ve found myself looking at Wake Forrest, Notre Dame, and UNC-Chapel Hill (my ‘reach’ school). Is this a wise decision by me? Should I forgo the acceptance that I currently have and take my new-found score and aim higher?

What would you all do?

I thank you again for reading through this novel – thanks for the community as a whole, the advice you may or may not give me in this thread, and the good times I’ve had reading and hope to be having by posting in the future.

-Biggs
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Re: Help me solve my dilemma... [#permalink] New post 15 Apr 2010, 08:42
My summation is:

Go now for lower ranked school (northeastern), or later for a better school (WF, ND, UNC).

My question is how much do you hate your job now?

In all honesty, if you feel that UNC is a reach I would accept Northeastern since I don't feel your career would change much with any of those schools and while 640 is a strong above average score, I would take graduating earlier by 1 year as more beneficial to your overall career.

(Take it with a grain of salt since I don't know much about any of those schools and I feel they are very similar)
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Re: Help me solve my dilemma... [#permalink] New post 15 Apr 2010, 12:23
GoBruins wrote:
My summation is:

Go now for lower ranked school (northeastern), or later for a better school (WF, ND, UNC).

My question is how much do you hate your job now?

In all honesty, if you feel that UNC is a reach I would accept Northeastern since I don't feel your career would change much with any of those schools and while 640 is a strong above average score, I would take graduating earlier by 1 year as more beneficial to your overall career.

(Take it with a grain of salt since I don't know much about any of those schools and I feel they are very similar)


Thanks for your take GoBruins, I appreciate it.

I am shocked that you say Northeastern's opportunities will be relatively the same as they would at Wake Forrest, Notre Dame, or UNC-Chapel Hill -- I know rankings aren't the end-all be-all, but I'm still shocked that you see Northeastern in the same light as a top 25 (UNC - ranked 21st) and two top 50's (ND and WF - ranked 31st and 46th respectively).

While I used 'reach' with UNC -- I dont feel that it would be too much of a reach (hence using quotes around reach when I put it in) -- I merely meant my GMAT score puts me in the lower end of their range. I feel the rest of my package could put me in the competitive arena. While looking at recruiters, both Wake and UNC have company recruiters that I would more like to utilize my skills and abilities for. I certainly do not want to get an MBA to go back into Gov't -- Gov't is terrible :)

Again, I appreciate your honesty GoBruins -- I'm just shocked that my belief that UNC/WF/ND would offer me greater opportunities than Northeastern University was wrong.

Anyone else care to weigh in?

Last edited by Biggs on 15 Apr 2010, 13:01, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Help me solve my dilemma... [#permalink] New post 15 Apr 2010, 12:45
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If you would like to end up in Boston area after graduation, you may be better off at Northeastern than Notre Dame. As a university, Northeastern does have a great regional reputation, although I'm not familiar with placements coming out of the MBA program. I would consider most of the schools outside the top 20 to be somewhat regional, so if you don't want to live in the South, Wake Forest may be a bad move. However, in full disclosure I was in a similar situation last year, turned down a lower tier school, applied to a bunch of top tier schools this year, and it worked out. You're young enough that another year of work experience will help more than it will hurt, and if I were you, I'd do some serious application research at schools in the range of Cornell/Darden/Duke/UNC and apply to them next year plus a couple safety schools in the northeast (like Northeastern/Boston College). Good luck.
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Re: Help me solve my dilemma... [#permalink] New post 16 Apr 2010, 08:37
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If you are able to get into UNC or as adude did, Yale, I would say that might be worth. My original point was that at a certain level schools become more regional in nature and therefore don't have a strong national reconition and will rely local brand.

Here's an example, although UCI is ranked #36 and Pepperdine is even lower, both arguably will have stronger brand and recruitment in So.Cal than UNC or Tepper, and definitely stronger than ND, WF, NE. That will probably be the same with the other schools where northeast favors NE, midwest favors ND and southeast favors UNC. If you were in the top tier schools such as H/S, the brand pretty much dominate anywhere around the world.

I hope this helps, I may still lean toward NE over the other schools since going 1 year earlier and getting 1 year post-MBA experience would probably make you more competitive for some early career jobs.
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Re: Help me solve my dilemma... [#permalink] New post 16 Apr 2010, 16:25
Thanks again for both of your responses.

I had assumed that NC's career options (even locally) would be better than those of Northeastern's -- NC has some big companies in all different sectors (Banking - Bank of America, Retail - Lowes, Energy - Duke Energy) whereas Northeastern is a regional program as well but has to deal with the powerhouses of MIT, Harvard and to a much lesser extent, BU and BC.

Obviously I'm still open to both, but I was leaning towards waiting and trying for UNC-Chapel Hill and to a lesser extent Wake Forrest or ND. I continue to question and ask for your guidance/opinions due to your perceived belief that they're all relatively the same. I understand none of them are top 10, but I figured a top 20 would have far better potential outcomes over the rest, and I was sure a top 40 would be better than a 50 which is better than a 60, etc. etc. etc.

Just trying to wrap my head around this -- being regional is fine (I'm more partial to the NC area to be honest) but I figured that even my regional opportunities would be better served by UNC-Chapel Hill/WF versus Northeastern University.

Again -- I thank you both for your help and if you're willing to contribute anymore insightful comments, I eagerly anticipate them.

Thanks!
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Re: Help me solve my dilemma... [#permalink] New post 16 Apr 2010, 19:35
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If you're willing to relocate after graduation, I think that changes things a bit. I'm looking in the US News graduate schools (2010 edition), and they're showing an average starting salary of $72k for Northeastern and $95.5k for UNC-KF. I don't think there's any question that if you are able to gain admission to UNC-KF, you'll have better career options than Northeastern. Notre Dame looks to be similar. The problem with both of them is that the average GMAT scores are well above your 640 (although they should definitely be considered possible with decent essays). Have you considered bigger state schools like Penn State, Michigan State, or UIUC? They all have starting salaries in the $100k range, with average GMAT scores around 640-650.

Looking at the stats, I seriously don't think Wake Forest would do anything for you that Northeastern couldn't, unless you're dead set on becoming a Demon Deacon for some reason... If you turn down Northeastern, I don't know that I would only apply to UNC, ND, and WF next year. You'll have several months to put your options together and get your story straight. Then apply to 1 or 2 reach's with GMAT's around 670, 2 or 3 targets around 640, and then 1 or 2 safety's in the low 600's - all in the first application round if you can (imo, it's the easiest to get in). If you're gonna do it, the best advice I can give you is to purchase a book on MBA admissions techniques, and then follow it as you apply.
Re: Help me solve my dilemma...   [#permalink] 16 Apr 2010, 19:35
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