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Michigan Ross v Yale SOM

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For a General Purpose MBA, where should I go, Yale SOM or Michigan Ross?

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Michigan Ross v Yale SOM [#permalink] New post 29 Mar 2013, 10:23
Hello GMAT Club!
Like many of you, I'm hoping for a little crowd-sourced wisdom on whether to attend Yale SOM or Michigan Ross.

I am the founder and president of a small education (through technology) -focused NGO, currently directing our pilot project in Africa. My short term goals definitely include winning grant funding for my NGO to expand, and taking on more projects in the developing world. Before you all jump to tell me that Yale is renowned for non-profit management, I would say that my time doing non-profit work in Africa has caused a few changes in my medium to long-term goals. I am a bit less optimistic now about my chances of affecting real long term change via the NGO route. I'm increasingly focused on using for-profit business as a tool for development.

I know that is pretty vague, so I'll elaborate on my professional interests. First, clean energy. I have several years experience working in solar energy and smart-grid/energy efficiency start-up companies. My time in Africa has reemphasized the centrality of access to energy for people at the base of the pyramid.

As you might guess from my NGO, I'm also interested in the power of technology to enhance education. I think this goes hand in hand with access to energy.

I might need a few more years of experience first, but I can really imagine a career in impact investing down the line -- analyzing, advising, investing in, and generally nurturing SMEs that can make a positive impact in the developing world. Maybe one path to get there would be through some boutique development consulting.

I have to pick a school before I return from Africa, so no chance to attend admitted student events. I'd love your help. Which school do you think I should attend (and why)? Thanks!
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Re: Michigan Ross v Yale SOM [#permalink] New post 29 Mar 2013, 15:26
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Obviously I'm on the Yale train, but you do sound like a great fit to me -- energy + education --> impact investing. I feel like wanting to make that impact and using your background + the MBA curriculum is Yale's sweet spot. Yale does have a dual degree with the School of Forestry and the ability to just take classes there without the dual degree, which I think would help you towards your goals on the energy-side.

The pull for Ross is the Erb Institute as I'm sure you know. In general it's a similar schema to Yale SFS where you get that added layer of coursework in energy/sustainability to supplement the general MBA curriculum. I didn't look into that program at Ross so I can't give additional details beyond that.

Are you able to make the Ross/Yale receptions where you are? Both schools have them in the coming weeks, and you'll be able to connect with alums and other prospective students there. You can also reach out to current students at the schools to see what they think.

Best of luck with your choice (and of course, I have my fingers crossed that you'll join the rest of us GC-ers at SOM, but do make the best decision for you!) :)
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Re: Michigan Ross v Yale SOM [#permalink] New post 30 Mar 2013, 10:51
Hmmmm, so many ways to think about this!

I'm interested in hearing more what your pros and cons are for each school. Perhaps we could help by eliminating some of your cons at Ross and/or Yale so that you felt more confident about one or the other?

I'm really familiar with Yale's education focus, but not as much on its energy and sustainability stuff. I am obsessed with Yale, and much of it has to do with the education club and impact culture at the school. Students, professors, alums, etc. are really supportive of social impact goals.

The doubts that I'm having are about these schools' resources with regard to technology. I'd say you're better off at Haas, but I guess it's too late for that. That said, there's an amazing entrepreneur club at Yale that might be in line with your goals.

The thing about Ross is that since it's bigger it may have more general resources to support your goals. However, fewer of these resources may end up assigned to your area of interest. I think your best bet is to ask the schools to connect you with current students and alumni in your target industry. They were instrumental in helping me make my final decision. It's creepy how aligned the alums' trajectories were with my goals.

One final thing--if you are interested in doing international development, you should look at Yale's international experiences and Advanced Network for Global Management. Ted Snyder is super invested in globalizing the SOM coursework and reach. It's pretty inspiring and it might be worth learning more about in your case.

Good luck!
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Re: Michigan Ross v Yale SOM [#permalink] New post 02 Apr 2013, 05:25
machichi wrote:
Hmmmm, so many ways to think about this!

I'm interested in hearing more what your pros and cons are for each school. Perhaps we could help by eliminating some of your cons at Ross and/or Yale so that you felt more confident about one or the other?

I'm really familiar with Yale's education focus, but not as much on its energy and sustainability stuff. I am obsessed with Yale, and much of it has to do with the education club and impact culture at the school. Students, professors, alums, etc. are really supportive of social impact goals.

The doubts that I'm having are about these schools' resources with regard to technology. I'd say you're better off at Haas, but I guess it's too late for that. That said, there's an amazing entrepreneur club at Yale that might be in line with your goals.

The thing about Ross is that since it's bigger it may have more general resources to support your goals. However, fewer of these resources may end up assigned to your area of interest. I think your best bet is to ask the schools to connect you with current students and alumni in your target industry. They were instrumental in helping me make my final decision. It's creepy how aligned the alums' trajectories were with my goals.

One final thing--if you are interested in doing international development, you should look at Yale's international experiences and Advanced Network for Global Management. Ted Snyder is super invested in globalizing the SOM coursework and reach. It's pretty inspiring and it might be worth learning more about in your case.

Good luck!


Hi Machichi,

Thanks for your input. Also, thanks for the reassuring comment you left for me on beatthegmat back in February when I was stressing about not being invited for an interview. Turns out, they did indeed use my interview from last year.

Here are my pros and cons:

Michigan
+ Big alumni base with a strong rep.
+ Erb Institute, great resources for sustainability
+ Generally seems to have a lot of resources and courses that align with my interests
+ I have a friend in hist 1st year at Ross. He can help get me onto the Social Venture Fund, show me the ropes, and ... be a friend
+ Action Learning / Multidisciplinary Action Project seems like a great way to supplement classroom learning with real-world experience
+ I hear Ann Arbor is great

- I think Michigan's brand is less strong among people not in-the-know about business schools. Especially abroad.
- Impression (could be wrong) that Michigan's network and job placement is heavily focused on the Midwest
- While a big alumni base is good, I prefer small classes/programs. Not sure Ross would offer as intimate of an MBA experience as I'd ideally want.
- I get the impression that there's a lot of social attention on the Michigan football program. I'm not really into spending my Saturdays drinking and getting hyped up for a football game.
- This might seem like a small detail, but I'm finding the web portal for admitted students to be really confusing and difficult to use. It's hard enough making plans and decisions from overseas without having to struggle for basic information on their website. Not super material to the MBA program, but I'm wondering why they can't do better.

Yale
+ Great general brand name, especially for working overseas
+ Small, intimate program
+ Love the do-good focus
+ East coast location is closer to home for me, and I'm much more likely to want to work on the coast than in the Midwest

- Less established program --> less established alumni network


You can probably tell from my +/- list that I'm leaning toward Yale. They got me on the MBA train in the first place (applied to SOM and only SOM last year in R3, got wait-listed) and I think I've had sort of a general school crush on Yale for a really long time. Before I make a final decision, I just want to make sure I've thought it through, done my diligence, etc. Since I can't attend any of the admitted student events, input from the forum community can offer at least some additional insights.

I am in touch with current students in both programs, and will be speaking with them + recent alumni in the coming weeks.

Thanks, and maybe see you in the fall!
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Re: Michigan Ross v Yale SOM [#permalink] New post 02 Apr 2013, 18:17
evandc1 wrote:
Thanks, and maybe see you in the fall!


Oh I remember that comment! I am glad that it worked out to be true for you!

You've laid out some good reasons for each. It also sounds like you're just more familiar with the Michigan program. I will say that the alumni network at Yale includes the greater university, something they try to sell people on who are concerned about the smaller business school network. You'll have to investigate to see how true that is in your field!

Good luck deciding!
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Re: Michigan Ross v Yale SOM [#permalink] New post 03 Apr 2013, 06:05
- I think Michigan's brand is less strong among people not in-the-know about business schools. Especially abroad.
- Impression (could be wrong) that Michigan's network and job placement is heavily focused on the Midwest

You have a tough choice! I can't comment too much on Yale as I have not done much research on its program but I wanted to address your points that I have listed above about Ross. I am trying to make a decision as well between Ross and another program so I've been agonizing some of the same things you are considering.

I believe Michigan's brand is strong among people that are not in-the-know about b-schools. Its undergrad rankings are really solid and their graduate programs are top notch and usually in the top 10 (Law, Medicine, Engineering, and etc). However, you are correct in the fact that the general brand doesn't pop like Yale, especially internationally but not many other schools do.

Not sure about the overall Michigan network but if you look at the employment report for Ross, 34% end up in the midwest, 24% in the west, and 22% in the northeast. I think that's a pretty good distribution. With Michigan being in top 3 most prestigious school in the region (behind Northwestern & Chicago), lot of midwest firms are going to go after Michigan grads.

Finally, it doesn't seem like you are passionate about college football or at least the day drinking aspect of it. I come from a football school like Michigan and you are right that lot of the social attention is on the football program. Lot of the bonding that you'll form with your classmates will happen through football Saturdays and your interaction with alums can start with an informal discussion about the team. Certainly not a negative if you are not passionate about the Wolverines but I will say that it will help if you are! I wouldn't worry too much about this though. I am sure at our age, there will be many people in the class that won't feel like day drinking all day like we are back in undergrad.

Hope this helps!

Last edited by jplw26 on 08 May 2013, 14:36, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Michigan Ross v Yale SOM [#permalink] New post 03 Apr 2013, 07:09
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I'm in a very similar situation and know how tough/wonderful it is to have to decide between these two great schools. I was also admitted to both programs, was fortunate enough to receive full-tuition scholarships from both, and also have a background in international development (via the Peace Corps). And, like you, I've learned a lot from my experience living and working in communities on the receiving end of development efforts, and am now a stronger believer in business-driven strategies to create significant impacts.

The pros and cons highlighted above summarize the differences between the two schools very well. They're both amazing options.

Ultimately, I've decided to go with Michigan because of the dual Erb Institute route. The program seems fantastic--truly interdisciplinary academic curriculum, lots of hands-on experience via MAPS and the Master Project, and a tight-knit Erb community within a huge network of students and alumni.

That being said, my professional goals are not as internationally oriented as yours. After graduating, I'd like to move out west and focus on local efforts intersecting environmental sustainability, public health, and economic development. I think Michigan's network will be a huge asset in this. However, if you wish to continue focusing on projects in Africa or other parts of the world outside of the US, I think the Yale brand will open many more doors for you.

Good luck making your decision! Let us know what you end up going with. :)
Re: Michigan Ross v Yale SOM   [#permalink] 03 Apr 2013, 07:09
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