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Michigan (full ride) vs Wharton (no money)

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Michigan (full ride) vs Wharton (no money) [#permalink] New post 30 Mar 2010, 08:51
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I thought I would have withdrawn from Ross by now and decided to go to Wharton, but then I found out I would have to pay full price for Wharton. Here's why I am concerned:

- If I go to Wharton, with my undergraduate debt, this puts me at about $200k in loans exiting b-school. If I pay the loans off in 10 years, its a $2300 payment each month. This does not include the loans of my future spouse, which will probably be around 10k.

- I plan to go into brand management, ideally for a casino or hotel group. I think my back-up plan is management consulting. It is important to me that I am able to get a job in a major city in the US. So if i do marketing salary will probably be a little less than the average b-school student. My personal opinion is that Wharton will give me more career opportunities, but I might just be jaded by the name.

- At ross, with living, I will need to take out $40k in loans. So the difference between the two schools is about $120k

- Fact is my savings are enough to even make a dent in the loans, so that's out the question

What I can't quite answer is if Wharton is worth the additional 120k as my life twists and turns.

That's all I can think of. Please help me.
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Re: Michigan (full ride) vs Wharton (no money) [#permalink] New post 30 Mar 2010, 09:41
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drmang7 wrote:
I thought I would have withdrawn from Ross by now and decided to go to Wharton, but then I found out I would have to pay full price for Wharton. Here's why I am concerned:

- If I go to Wharton, with my undergraduate debt, this puts me at about $200k in loans exiting b-school. If I pay the loans off in 10 years, its a $2300 payment each month. This does not include the loans of my future spouse, which will probably be around 10k.

- I plan to go into brand management, ideally for a casino or hotel group. I think my back-up plan is management consulting. It is important to me that I am able to get a job in a major city in the US. So if i do marketing salary will probably be a little less than the average b-school student. My personal opinion is that Wharton will give me more career opportunities, but I might just be jaded by the name.

- At ross, with living, I will need to take out $40k in loans. So the difference between the two schools is about $120k

- Fact is my savings are enough to even make a dent in the loans, so that's out the question

What I can't quite answer is if Wharton is worth the additional 120k as my life twists and turns.

That's all I can think of. Please help me.


In your situation, I'd go to Ross, unless you really felt a much stronger connection with W when you visited vs. Ross.

$120K difference is no small change. Wharton would make sense if they had specific companies on their recruiter list for marketing that Ross didn't, but I'd venture to guess for BM that those lists are pretty identical. Plus, from what I've heard, Ross is pretty good with MC placement if you do decide to go with your backup plan.

In the future, it's going to be you that determines your career path, so save the money and treat yourself to a luxury car or something...at least that's what I would do.
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Re: Michigan (full ride) vs Wharton (no money) [#permalink] New post 30 Mar 2010, 11:56
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they're both great schools and will get you where you want to go career-wise. you should think about what prompted you to apply to each - when you applied to your non-consortium schools, did you only do it hoping you'd get money or were they schools you were willing to pay full price for? conversely, did you only apply to your consortium schools for the opportunity to have it paid for? (i'll be honest, that was my goal with the CGSM schools, none were schools i was excited about paying $150k for, but i would've been elated to go to a few of them for about $40-50k) in these cases, i think you should go back and think about why you applied to each program, and what it is that you want from a school outside of the job component (both schools will give you a fair shot at both of your industries). also, if possible, re-visit both schools or go to both admit weekends and take those last few days to compare and contrast each school, that may help you make the final decision.
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Re: Michigan (full ride) vs Wharton (no money) [#permalink] New post 05 Apr 2010, 09:39
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tough call. it sounds like you were set on wharton except for the $$ issue. have you contacted their financial aid dept yet? i know money is tight everywhere, especially at schools, but if some some scholarship money from wharton might sway your decision, it would be worth it to ask.
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Re: Michigan (full ride) vs Wharton (no money) [#permalink] New post 05 Apr 2010, 14:17
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It's going to be impossible to quantify what that monetary difference really means for you right now since anything could happen in the future in terms of job search, salary etc. A different way of looking at it might be, even if Wharton gives you slightly better opportunities, is that 2300/month payment for a decade going to affect how you look for a job? In other words, would you have to pass on a job that you might really enjoy for a better paying one. Weigh that possibility against the expected prestige/fit boost from Wharton.

I think that you can make the best of whichever path you choose, but either way just try not to have any regrets over the school you don't end up attending.
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Re: Michigan (full ride) vs Wharton (no money) [#permalink] New post 05 Apr 2010, 21:51
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Thanks for the responses and advices. Here's an update to my progress regarding scholarships and determining job opportunities.

I might be able to get some need-based financial aid once I decide to matriculate, but Wharton flat out told me it looked slim. They considered me for a fellowship and decided against it. I found out that I can work in the admissions office as well as TA my second year and make somewhere around 7500 - 10k. This is something I wouldn't mind doing.

I am applying to the NSHMBA scholarship that's worth between 2500 - 10k annually. Let's hope for the best

I've considered going into consulting just to pay off the debt, because quite frankly, I think the brand name is important to me. That's why I applied. As 2012dreams mentioned I thought about why I applied to each school. Well, I applied to the consortium schools because I would be happy there with money (but, not without) and to Wharton because I could see myself paying for it. Somehow I got into one of both. If I can somehow get in a situation where a consulting firm pays for my second year, I would be thrilled. Would I enjoy management consulting, sort of....but i'd prefer brand management hands down.

The final thing is that I really want to have a national job search and feel that Michigan might be too regional for the opportunities I hope to have.

Am I crazy to think that a brand name is worth the additional 120k?

As far as how much the debt will impact my life, it could be significant, but it could not be. If I can land a job that pays 120k a year, which is admittedly almost double what I make now, I think I could be ok. What do you guys think?

Thanks again for all your input
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Re: Michigan (full ride) vs Wharton (no money) [#permalink] New post 15 Apr 2010, 11:01
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Hi drmang7, I thought I'd weigh in.

[In the spirit of full disclosure, I should point out to everyone reading this that I did not consider applying to Wharton, that Michigan has offered me the Consortium Fellowship as well, and that - after a heck of a lot of due diligence - I am now convinced that Michigan is the right choice for me (I will update my profile information shortly).]

From what you've said, it sounds like going to Wharton would give you a) a better brand (how much better is debatable - if we're talking US News rankings, Wharton comes in at 5 and Michigan comes in at 12), and b) a financial obligation that will drive you towards a career path that you "enjoy...sort of" instead of the career path that you "prefer...hands down." Is the brand worth pursuing a less enjoyable career path? That's up to you to decide, though I do offer some points to consider:

1) I've generally heard that - in terms of beating your competition for jobs - the brand of your school really pays off the most in your first two years out of B-school; after that, your experience takes center stage.

1a) If you were crazy about MC, then Wharton might land you a better salary to start off with and might be worth it; but since you don't seem crazy about MC, is that salary worth sacrificing the better fit of brand management?

1b) If you DID land a better salary going into MC from Wharton, how much of that salary increase would be compromised by your loan payments? By the time you paid off that loan, you might have had enough time to be earning about the same in MC from either school.

2) If you are able to "follow your dream" so to speak, would you be happier? Personally, I see the Consortium Fellowship as an opportunity to do just that. In the past few weeks, I've realized that with it, I will be able to shoot for a dream job, rather than having to go for something like MC (which I also think I could enjoy) because of mad debt. For me, the chance to chase that dream job is priceless. And if it didn't work out early on, I have no doubt that I could land a great position in a field like MC out of Ross (remember that Ross' brand is rather well-respected as well).

3) The network. In my opinion, this point goes both ways. Wharton's network is prestigious, and will last long after that first 2-year window. If you're in MC, that network will continue to benefit you. Heck, if you're in any field, that network will probably benefit you. However, the same is true of Ross. At GBR, we were told that University of Michigan has the largest alumni network in the world (that's the entire University, not just the b-school). But they're in all industries, and seem to be very willing to reach out to one another. Ross graduates will also be there in MC and IB, as well as Brand Management.

4) The fit. Ok, I know everyone says it. And some people really don't care about fit. But to me, at least, it is very important. I didn't investigate applying to Wharton, so I don't know what my personal fit there is like, but I do know that Ross is a very good fit for me. Which school fits you? The keynote speaker at the Stern Perspectives weekend summarized fit by breaking it down into three categories: the people, the location, and the (leadership) opportunities. Are the students, faculty, and staff the type of people you would like to be around, learn from, and learn with for the next two years? Does the location offer an enjoyable and fulfilling experience for two years? Do the opportunities allow you to get involved, spread your wings, grow, lead, etc. in ways that would keep you satisfied and excited for two years? I found these questions to be very helpful, and perhaps they will be for you as well.

I'm sure you can tell what I would lean toward if I were in your shoes, but in the end you have to do what is right for you.

One more thing though: I don't find Michigan to be all that "regional." Very few Ross grads stay in Michigan after they graduate. While some 39% end up in the midwest (mostly in Chicago, as I understand it), the network is very spread-out with 20% in the west and another 20% in the northeast. See Michigan's Employment Profile by Geographic Region. I don't intend to stay in the midwest (though I wouldn't think twice if that's where my dream job is).

Wharton's geographic profile breaks down with comparable numbers for different regions. Instead of sending about 40% to the midwest, they send about 40% to the northeast, mostly to New York and Boston (in a distant second). 15% go west, and about 12% end up in the mid-atlantic. See page 17 of this PDF.

It is worth noting that almost 25% of Wharton's class leaves the US, compared to only about 10% of Ross' class. But the point is that recruiters are coming to both of these schools for all regions. The factors that lead students to one region or another vary from available opportunities to family obligations to personal preferences. People at Wharton tend to end up nearer to Wharton (with 40% in the northeast) while people at Michigan tend to end up nearer to Michigan (with 40% in the midwest), but the statistics don't tell us "why." If you want to go somewhere besides the nearest region, the option is available at either school.

Phew, that was supposed to be a short post! :shock:

Good luck drmang7!
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Re: Michigan (full ride) vs Wharton (no money)   [#permalink] 15 Apr 2010, 11:01
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