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.