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Poll: Kellogg vs. Darden

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Kellogg vs. Darden

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Poll: Kellogg vs. Darden [#permalink] New post 11 Apr 2013, 16:41
Hello,

I am fortunate enough to have been admitted to both Kellogg (1Y) and Darden (no scholarships at either). Both are great schools, so I thought I would run a poll to help with my decision.

Background: I am 29 years old (almost 30) and currently live in the mid-Atlantic. I began my career in public accounting and switched to M&A investment banking with a middle-market, energy-focused firm 1.5 years ago. Post MBA, my goal is stay in energy finance (likely investment banking or private equity) and I am flexible as to the location. Eventually, I will probably want to get back to the mid-Atlantic, but I am flexible for the first 5-10 years post MBA.

So here are my thoughts on each school:

Kellogg:
--Opportunity to accelerate the MBA into 1 year. Given my age (not old, but not an MBA spring chicken), the idea of earning a top MBA in one year is highly appealing. It would allow me to get back in the game more quickly and would save on the actual and opportunity costs of an MBA. Additionally, because I will not be switching career fields, I do not feel like an internship is a "must-have" for me. I feel like the last 1.5 years in investment banking (which includes a promotion), will allow me to re-enter i-banking (albeit hopefully at a larger bank) or potentially private equity.
--Prestige - Kellogg seems to be ranked slightly higher. I do not give much weight to the specific rank per se, but if looked at in terms of tiers, it seems that Kellogg is a top-five contender nearly every year, where Darden is typically in the 6-12 range (with the exception of the Economist, which ranked Darden 3rd in its last ranking). Additionally, it seems that the Kellogg brand might have a broader reach. I wouldn't classify Darden as a regional brand, but I would probably consider Kellogg to have more of a national/international brand than Darden. This one is tough for me to tell though. I live in Virginia, so I know that everyone here considers Darden to be an outstanding school. However, I do not know how people in other areas of the U.S. would compare the prestige of the two schools.
--Area -- My wife and I have both lived in Virginia nearly all of our lives. We are really itching to try something new and everyone says Evanston and Chicago are awesome (aside from the cold weather).

Darden:
--Great program, beautiful campus, and super alumni network. Darden's network, while smaller, seems tighter-knit than Kellogg.
--Being from Virginia, I have a stronger existing affiliation with UVA/Darden. I have many friends, co-workers, etc. who went to either UVA and/or Darden. While this draws me to the school, in some ways I could also see it has a point for Kellogg (i.e. I would presumably be able to supplement this existing network with my expanded Kellogg network). But I also know some Darden alums who are fiercely loyal to "their own".
-- Area -- Darden would position my wife and I much closer our families and Charlottesville is beautiful. Additionally, we would ultimately like to settle in the mid-Atlantic (e.g. Atlanta, Charlotte, Richmond, DC). However, as I mentioned above, my wife and I have been itching to try a new part of the country for a few years.


So, long story short, I am very thankful to have this decision and I am finding the decision tough because I have enormous respect for both programs. Please let me know your thoughts and explanations.
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Re: Poll: Kellogg vs. Darden [#permalink] New post 11 Apr 2013, 16:46
I'd go to Kellogg for sure in your position, especially without any scholarships from darden. Kellogg has a stronger national brand and you won't have a problem returning to the mid Atlantic.
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Re: Poll: Kellogg vs. Darden [#permalink] New post 11 Apr 2013, 17:24
My vote is Kellogg if you don't need the internship. Don't be swayed by other Virginians because UVA is the best school in the state and they don't have knowledge of the MBA landscape. To illustrate: I live in VA too and when I told my financial planner I was getting out of the military to do a full-time MBA, he asked me why I wasn't taking classes at ODU so I could finish my MBA before I got out. I had to bite my tongue to avoid hurting someone's feelings.

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Re: Poll: Kellogg vs. Darden [#permalink] New post 11 Apr 2013, 19:11
I vote Kellogg, too. The key here is that you are perfectly happy going back into IBD, so you truly don't need an interview to test the waters or show you can hack it. Plus, as you mentioned, Kellogg is generally thought of as top-5 caliber with the rest of the M7 whereas Darden seems to be entrenched in the 10-15 range. Who knows if that would truly affect your career outcome, but it does sound like attending a top-5 program would be a point of pride for you (and there's nothing wrong with that).

One thing I didn't see much thought about was the pros/cons of developing a community in a one-year program versus a two-year program. Have you reached out to alumni of the Kellogg 1Y program to see what types of bonds and connections they formed?
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Re: Poll: Kellogg vs. Darden [#permalink] New post 12 Apr 2013, 06:56
"One thing I didn't see much thought about was the pros/cons of developing a community in a one-year program versus a two-year program. Have you reached out to alumni of the Kellogg 1Y program to see what types of bonds and connections they formed?"

--Yes, I may not have mentioned this, but it is another item that I have been weighing. I have spoken to a number of Kellogg 1Y alums, who seem to indicate that there are ample bonding/networking opportunities. Specifically, they indicate that the 1Y's (who start in late June) have the campus to themselves until the 2Y's arrive in August. As such, they become very close, sort of developing a network within a network. Additionally, the 1Ys and 2Ys are integrated in coursework once the 2Ys arrive in August, so the networks overlap at that point.

Someone at my current firm is a graduate of the Kellogg 1Y program. He told me that he has about 10 alums from his class with whom he remains very close. He is in his forties and indicated that the group still meets twice a year for golf outings or other events (they all played Pebble Beach last year!). He also rattled off some of their business success stories, which were pretty impressive.

On the other hand, I am very close to some Darden grads, as I mentioned, and that has been their main counterargument to the one-year option. That the full two years will enhance the overall experience. I have no doubt about that, but I also feel that you can get out of it what you put into it. I.e., If you immerse yourself into the one-year experience, you will have a great experience and develop lasting relationships. Additionally, it seems that many people develop their core group of friends during their first few months at their chosen program (even at 2Y programs). Lastly, I am also nearly 30 years old, married, and with a baby on the way. Given those facts, the fact that I have already taken the base business coursework (as a business major undergrad), and the fact that I will be returning to the same (or a very similar) industry, I am strongly leaning toward the one-year option at Kellogg. Additionally, based on the other comments, it appears that Kellogg is unanimously considered a stronger (or perhaps more national/international) brand. Thanks to everyone who has commented, and let me know if this analysis is flawed.
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Re: Poll: Kellogg vs. Darden [#permalink] New post 12 Apr 2013, 07:23
I think your rationale is very sound! You clearly have a good head on your shoulders and have thought through the pros and cons of a one-year experience versus a two-year experience. I think by enrolling in a one-year program, you'll invariably miss out on a little bit of community, but given your experience, life stage, and goals, you are the exact person for whom the one-year option was created!
Re: Poll: Kellogg vs. Darden   [#permalink] 12 Apr 2013, 07:23
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