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The real world : Elite b-school vs XYZ b-school

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The real world : Elite b-school vs XYZ b-school [#permalink] New post 21 Apr 2012, 09:46
I wonder how grads from top b-schools interact with grads from the lesser-known schools in the real world. Will grads from the lesser-known school be "bullied" by grads from the higher-ranked / elite schools? And when it comes to promotion and job responsibilities, will grads from the lesser-known school be passed over, and discriminated against? I am just wondering how the branding of the school will have an impact on the career trajectory of an MBA grad, assuming that both can perform equally well at work on the same job. Can someone help shed some light on this point?

Well, I am asking this question bc I have been accepted by a top 10 b-school and also have an admit to another program, which comes in at a much lower ranking (top 30 within the US) on the U.S news charts. As I am unable to afford the cost of attending the elite school, I now have to consider whether to accept the offer at the lower-ranked program or reapply in the new cycle this fall to other schools. While I have no doubts about the quality of education that I can get from the lower-ranked school, I am concerned about my career growth coming out of the program, especially in a highly competitive job market with grads from top-ranked school snagging the top positions in an organization. Will it be worth it to take the plunge, invest 2 years of my life and all my savings in the lower-ranked program, OR should I hold my horses and reapply to better schools?

I am approaching 35 (yes, I know I am very old), and have reasonable test scores (75th percentile). Given the right environment, I am sure I can improve my test scores tremendously but I will only be able to do so only if I shift out of my parent's house as they fight everyday, making it almost impossible for me to concentrate on my test preparation. I have a 3.5 GPA and graduated top of my class in college.
Given my personal situation, should I therefore grab the opportunity that the lower-ranked school has presented to me, or drop the offer and consider other alternatives ? I am not considering any EMBAs as I don't think I will be able to have the same experience that I can get from a full-time on-campus program.

Grateful for all comments to some / all of the points raised above. Thanks everyone.
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Re: The real world : Elite b-school vs XYZ b-school [#permalink] New post 25 Apr 2012, 06:35
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I agree with the other posters who have said that a top MBA will give you a greater range of opportunities and better chances of employment. I'm a current student at Tuck and my recruiting experience has far exceeded my expectations. The companies that I have been able to interview with would never have spoken to me prior to my entrance to Tuck. I got my summer internship quickly and easily, it pays well, and it's a perfect fit for my life and career goals.

Having said all that I also agree that it is only the opportunity that the school gives you. You still have to perform well in interviews and you must never forget that you're competing with students from all of the other schools. I figure I must be a pretty good interviewer because I know several people who are much smarter than me who have had some difficulty getting through the interview stage. I guess what I'm trying to say is that if the #30 school you have gotten into has relationships with and, more importantly, can get YOU an interview with companies that you want to work for then it's really your own skill as an interviewee and candidate for job positions that will limit your career prospects.

Also, I have personally found that individual job performance has mattered less than I expected. What the majority of companies (exclude IB, and some other cut-throats) are looking for is your ability to work with others and to elevate the performance of an entire team. Anyone with real world experience will tell you that they would rather have 10 amazing team players than 10 individual superstars. So emphasize that aspect of your personality and the opportunities should be there for you.

I can see that this is a hard decision for you, and reading between the lines it seems as though you are a little worried about the prestige of the lower ranked school. There may be a few people from top schools who look down upon people from lower ranked schools but for the most part I believe that this isn't an issue. You should choose the school that's right for you, your financial situation, and your career goals, and if you do run into a school snob then ignore it and move on. Trust me, nobody likes that guy, and they didn't while they were in school either.

Good luck with everything buddy.
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Re: The real world : Elite b-school vs XYZ b-school [#permalink] New post 22 Apr 2012, 20:41
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I'll give my take by hitting various points you made.

Will being older hurt you for certain jobs?
Depends on if you want to change your complete career track. Usually not if you are trying to stay in the same area.

This is a question that probably will affect law school grads in your age more than younger law school applicants (vast majority are either in college or no older than 25 and with no more than 2-3 years WE). The NLJ Top 250 firms generally only want to hire younger associates from elite schools who can handle the 80 hour work weeks with minimal familial interruption, though some top students at lower schools get in here too. Older law applicants usually apply their degree in a related field pre-JD. For example many law students with big science backgrounds and considerable quality scientific WE can find offers as patent/IP lawyers.

For MBA's, I'd imagine that investment banking may be like this too, but I'm not interested in this field at all, so maybe someone else could chime in on this.

Elite school or a Top 30?
A top 30 school will still have great regional prospects and if it's in a major city's area, your job prospects will look good post MBA. Again, if you're trying to get into something completely new, then yes, generally speaking, the better the school, the better the prospects you have. Ultimately, grad school and college is what you make of it.

Will you be passed over for guys who went to better schools than you as an employee?
I'll say it like this. My college degree from William and Mary certainly helped me get some job offers over some other guys who didn't go to schools as good as mine. But that really only helps me for my first job, and perhaps I may get into a better b school program over some others with a similar GPA because W&M is a Public Ivy and holds good clout in the Washington area though I'm not so sure outside of the east coast.

However now after six years of WE and with me hitting the age of 28, my college degree is not going to impress any prospective employer by itself, and they want to see what qualities I bring to my employer now instead. I can't flaunt my college degree at this point in time anymore in the DC area because it isn't giving me any promotions, etc. I have to beat out the other guys with my merit, regardless of whether they're from a school as good as W&M like UVA, a school clearly better than W&M like Georgetown or Hopkins, or one of the local/regional schools like George Mason, VCU, or James Madison, all schools that produce some pretty successful guys in the local area too. A degree, any degree gives me a foot in the door for some opportunities sooner and lets you apply for some better opportunities that you can't without it. But yes, the returns for a degree because of the school name diminish the further and further away you are from graduation. I certainly see that with my college degree.

Closing thoughts
I think you should go to the school that's best for you now, considering your age is "entering" executive MBA territory. The elite school (ie - Kellogg/Wharton/Stanford) gives you the most open doors and may get you something you like sooner. The top 30 program (Georgetown/Vandy), especially if it's in an area where you'd like to work is not a bad deal either. You'll be fine if you put your time into business school and into the areas you'd like to work in, and in particular if it's not too far off from your current line of work. Good luck!
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Re: The real world : Elite b-school vs XYZ b-school [#permalink] New post 21 Apr 2012, 12:04
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If you're 35 and have an acceptance to a top 10 Full time MBA, I wouldn't risk waiting another year in hopes of reapplying and getting accepted with scholarship or something like that. Especially at your age, the odds of you getting referred to a school's EMBA program go up every year.

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Re: The real world : Elite b-school vs XYZ b-school [#permalink] New post 27 Apr 2012, 00:59
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Hello imaProfessor,

I am in the same boat as you are. Although you are a little ahead of me as I will be applying only this year. I am 34 and facing a similar dilemma of choice between a full time and an executive MBA. I have come across conflicting opinions on how the age determines eligibility. While some say it doesn't matter, others say it does.

As far as the question of choosing between two schools, if I were you I would consider the following factors:

1. Quality: Highly ranked schools are ranked high because they offer a better quality of education. Now, the difference between a school ranked 5th and one ranked (say) 8th is nothing. However, there is always a difference between the one that is ranked 5th and the other that is ranked 30th.

2. Comfort: Irrespective of rankings, each school is different and have their own DNA. Doesn't matter what the ranking is, I think it is very important that you are comfortable with the school's DNA. Because unless you are comfortable with that school's environment you will not be able to take advantage of the higher quality that it offers. For example, some people like smaller class sizes where the experience is very personal while for others this may not matter and they may thrive in large class sizes where the personal touch doesn't exist. Again, some people learn faster in a very cut-throat competitive environment where everything is so very fast .. fast; while others may prefer a much slower and steadier pace to learning concepts. I am assuming that you have already visited both the schools and are equally comfortable with either of them in terms of the environment.

3. Cost: Cost of education is always important. As someone already said, if it is jut 20K then that may not matter. But if it is significant (depending on what you think 'significant' is) then that should be taken into account. Because there is no guarantee that you will get a scholarship next year at the top 10 school unless your application strength improves significantly. Look at the bird at hand vs. the two in the bush.

While to me these three are the most relevant factors that I would look into if I had to take the decision, I understand that it is very difficult to quantify the parameters or put them into an equation. Because, the first two are very qualitative as well as subjective in nature. In the end only you can create the perfect equation that satisfy your needs.

As far as the post MBA career is concerned, I think what matters more than anything is how well you have improved your skills in the 2 years. In the workplace, it is always your achievements that drive your growth rather than what school you have come from. The school does help to jump the initial hump but after that it is all about you. So, Quality and Comfort are important and go hand in hand. If you have a family then your post education debt is also a matter of concern. So, Cost is important too. But once, again the amount of debt you carry along with your post MBA salary will determine your financial position. So, in the end all the three go hand in hand.

Hope this helps. I know how difficult choices can be at times and I do empathize with you.

I do have one question for you - it will help me in making my own decisions. I am not sure what schools you had applied to but did you come across any events where you felt that some of them considered your age negatively? I mean to say, should I be more concerned about my age while applying to certain schools than the others?

Regards,
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Re: The real world : Elite b-school vs XYZ b-school [#permalink] New post 21 Apr 2012, 10:55
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Re: The real world : Elite b-school vs XYZ b-school [#permalink] New post 22 Apr 2012, 18:57
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To me, there's no question the prestige of someone's degrees has a strong initial signaling effect, but that's just a starting point. Ultimately, a person is not a piece of paper, and if you ever find yourself in a culture that believes such a thing, maybe that's not a great place to be. :)
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Re: The real world : Elite b-school vs XYZ b-school [#permalink] New post 23 Apr 2012, 03:40
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novanative wrote:
I'll give my take by hitting various points you made.

Will being older hurt you for certain jobs?
Depends on if you want to change your complete career track. Usually not if you are trying to stay in the same area.

This is a question that probably will affect law school grads in your age more than younger law school applicants (vast majority are either in college or no older than 25 and with no more than 2-3 years WE). The NLJ Top 250 firms generally only want to hire younger associates from elite schools who can handle the 80 hour work weeks with minimal familial interruption, though some top students at lower schools get in here too. Older law applicants usually apply their degree in a related field pre-JD. For example many law students with big science backgrounds and considerable quality scientific WE can find offers as patent/IP lawyers.

For MBA's, I'd imagine that investment banking may be like this too, but I'm not interested in this field at all, so maybe someone else could chime in on this.

Elite school or a Top 30?
A top 30 school will still have great regional prospects and if it's in a major city's area, your job prospects will look good post MBA. Again, if you're trying to get into something completely new, then yes, generally speaking, the better the school, the better the prospects you have. Ultimately, grad school and college is what you make of it.

Will you be passed over for guys who went to better schools than you as an employee?
I'll say it like this. My college degree from William and Mary certainly helped me get some job offers over some other guys who didn't go to schools as good as mine. But that really only helps me for my first job, and perhaps I may get into a better b school program over some others with a similar GPA because W&M is a Public Ivy and holds good clout in the Washington area though I'm not so sure outside of the east coast.

However now after six years of WE and with me hitting the age of 28, my college degree is not going to impress any prospective employer by itself, and they want to see what qualities I bring to my employer now instead. I can't flaunt my college degree at this point in time anymore in the DC area because it isn't giving me any promotions, etc. I have to beat out the other guys with my merit, regardless of whether they're from a school as good as W&M like UVA, a school clearly better than W&M like Georgetown or Hopkins, or one of the local/regional schools like George Mason, VCU, or James Madison, all schools that produce some pretty successful guys in the local area too. A degree, any degree gives me a foot in the door for some opportunities sooner and lets you apply for some better opportunities that you can't without it. But yes, the returns for a degree because of the school name diminish the further and further away you are from graduation. I certainly see that with my college degree.

Closing thoughts
I think you should go to the school that's best for you now, considering your age is "entering" executive MBA territory. The elite school (ie - Kellogg/Wharton/Stanford) gives you the most open doors and may get you something you like sooner. The top 30 program (Georgetown/Vandy), especially if it's in an area where you'd like to work is not a bad deal either. You'll be fine if you put your time into business school and into the areas you'd like to work in, and in particular if it's not too far off from your current line of work. Good luck!


Good post.

Also thought I should say what's up and give a shoutout to a W&M grad. I grew up in CT and NY, but have a bunch of family down around DC and Virginia, and my grandfather went to W&M, and always had amazing things to say about it. Would have applied myself, and likely would have gone, if I hadn't gotten lucky and got into Hopkins ED. W&M had the nicest campus I've ever seen, without a doubt. Most of the B schools I'm applying to are in the DC area as well, seems as you're the same way. Love the area, it's a great place.

Again, nice insights with that post.
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Re: The real world : Elite b-school vs XYZ b-school [#permalink] New post 21 Apr 2012, 11:19
Did you get $$$ from the top 30 school? Are loans not an option? Consider the next 25 years after graduation.
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Re: The real world : Elite b-school vs XYZ b-school [#permalink] New post 21 Apr 2012, 20:32
@ RG0105 : Yes, I've heard that the school I attend will not matter 2-3 years into my post-MBA career. It's my achievements during those years that are going to make a difference on whether I end up on the path to a senior management position or down the slippery road as an office boy. I haven't had the opportunity to work in an environment with grads who hail from diverse b-schools. I believe I am not the only one out there who has similar concerns about being viewed less positively in the workplace as a grad from a lower ranked school than a co-worker who comes in with a H/S/W brand on his resume. I hope to hear from more people in the GMAT community :)

@ whitie8lax : I got $20k scholarship from the top-30 school. And I am waiting for news for more scholarship $ from the same school, with the possibility of getting a full ride + living expenses for both years. If so, the opportunity cost of attending the top-30 school will definitely be much, much lower, which will then make it less tough a decision to matriculate. (And thus relieves me of the pressure of looking for a well-paying job coming out of b-school and allows me to really focus on what I really want in my career. ). I informed the top-10 school that I will not be able to attend their program, but my request for some financial aid to close the gap in my finances was turned down. No $ - which is a sign that my current profile is not one that is particularly valuable to them. While I admit that I don't have a particularly sexy profile (aka investment banker / consultant from MBB / entrepreneur ), I believe that I am capable of achieving a lot more given the right opportunities and mentor. And I am determined to prove all my naysayers wrong, by making a real, powerful impact in the school that I eventually attend.

@ ebonn101 - Well, I am turning 33 this year. I agree with you that the risks of getting rejected by the Adcom are so much higher, notwithstanding what the schools say about no age discrimination and what not. But I also know that there are older applicants who managed to get into a top-10 program, by writing persuasive essays to justify why they want to go into a full-time MBA program. I applied to a top-15 school and was referred to their EMBA program even before the results for my FT MBA application was out - hence, I know that many schools are desperate to fill their EMBA classes too. But at 33 with only 7 years work experience to my credit, I am in an awkward situation - a tad too old for FT MBA but too young for EMBA programs. Since most people only do their MBA once, should I work on improving my profile (GMAT, extracurriculars, and get the promotion at work) and reapply next year? It has always been my dream to study at a top-10 school (e.g. Cornell Johnson, Yale, Columbia, NYU Stern, Dartmouth Tuck). I like the top-30 school too (else I wouldn't have applied ; it was not my safety school - I even stayed up till 4am in the morning to do my interview as I was in a different city then.)

Appreciate more views, GMAT folks. I am in a real dilemma. Thanks in advance.
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Re: The real world : Elite b-school vs XYZ b-school [#permalink] New post 23 Apr 2012, 09:20
novanative wrote:
I have to beat out the other guys with my merit, regardless of whether they're from a school as good as W&M like UVA, a school clearly better than W&M like Georgetown or Hopkins,


I'm sorry but I have to call you out on this,....in what world is W&M considered "as good" as UVA? If UVA isn't clearly the better school (which i think it is), then it definitely has the more prestigious reputation. I live in the DC area so I know that usually in-state kids that get dinged from UVA go to W&M or VTech, thats common knowledge. I didn't attend either one so I have no skin in the game. Also, UVA is better than Georgetown IMO, I would say Hopkins is in league w/ UVA but its hard to compare because they don't have many similarities. Don't get me wrong, W&M is a fine school, but the above smacks a bit of W&M trolling. And as far as "public ivies",....there are about 10 different versions with different schools on them,.....but there are really only three undisputed "public ivies",....Berkeley, Michigan, and UVA. Those three are on par w/ the very best private schools.

And to the OP: I concur w/ most of the other posters,..MBA prestige will only get you that first job,..beyond that you proceed based on merit. Nobody cares where you went as long as you're making them money. That being said, don't underestimate how much easier it is to get a job (one that you like) at a T10 vs a T30. The difference can be enormous.
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Re: The real world : Elite b-school vs XYZ b-school [#permalink] New post 23 Apr 2012, 09:27
I've heard that it usually doesn't matter in terms of elitism where you went to b-school, unless you work at a truly cutthroat place. My best friend's brother in law did some consulting work at Goldman Sachs. He went to Carnegie Melon for his MBA, and he told me that initially people looked down on him for not going to a more prestigious school. However, as he was very good at his job, he grudgingly gained the acceptance of other people. In the end, however, he felt it was a toxic work environment based on several factors and wound up quitting his job at GS.
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Re: The real world : Elite b-school vs XYZ b-school [#permalink] New post 23 Apr 2012, 09:49
If the cost differential is a 20k scholarship at top30 vs. top 10 I would go with top 10.

Did you check the employment reports of the top30 vs. top10, i bet the average starting salaries already show a ~20k difference between the two not to mention the different caliber of employers.

I feel the brand and the stronger recruiting presence a top 10 offers more than offsets the additional cost imo (20k scholarship if all else equal).

Good luck with your decision.
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Re: The real world : Elite b-school vs XYZ b-school [#permalink] New post 23 Apr 2012, 09:58
cecilpaladin32 wrote:
I've heard that it usually doesn't matter in terms of elitism where you went to b-school, unless you work at a truly cutthroat place. My best friend's brother in law did some consulting work at Goldman Sachs. He went to Carnegie Melon for his MBA, and he told me that initially people looked down on him for not going to a more prestigious school. However, as he was very good at his job, he grudgingly gained the acceptance of other people. In the end, however, he felt it was a toxic work environment based on several factors and wound up quitting his job at GS.


While some top tier consulting/VCs do have decent reasoning behind their choosiness, your Goldman Sachs example is a perfect one for proving how ridiculous the system is.

A company like GS should be a little more aware of who they look down upon, considering Tepper consistently has some of the most quant-skilled people in the world attending each year. And I think they're, what, second only to MIT in anything tech-oriented?

Obviously the line could be drawn somewhere, but especially when talking about a top 5-10 vs top 30 kind of choice, I think it's somewhat absurd.
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Re: The real world : Elite b-school vs XYZ b-school [#permalink] New post 23 Apr 2012, 09:59
pze wrote:
I'm sorry but I have to call you out on this,....in what world is W&M considered "as good" as UVA? If UVA isn't clearly the better school (which i think it is), then it definitely has the more prestigious reputation. I live in the DC area so I know that usually in-state kids that get dinged from UVA go to W&M or VTech, thats common knowledge. I didn't attend either one so I have no skin in the game. Also, UVA is better than Georgetown IMO, I would say Hopkins is in league w/ UVA but its hard to compare because they don't have many similarities. Don't get me wrong, W&M is a fine school, but the above smacks a bit of W&M trolling. And as far as "public ivies",....there are about 10 different versions with different schools on them,.....but there are really only three undisputed "public ivies",....Berkeley, Michigan, and UVA. Those three are on par w/ the very best private schools.


Yes, there was a bit of school homerism there, I think W&M does have a bit of that in them, including me. By school rep, I was referring to moreso in terms of undergraduate reputation, not as a full university where UVA of course takes the cake. There are a good number of UVA students who were dinged at W&M for college in-state and out, and vice versa as you said, no VA high school student will call W&M a safety for UVA, and vice versa in most cases. Pretty darn close stats and considerable applicant overlap.

W&M is one of the "original public ivies" according to one publication by Moll which is where I believe where this all started from. But yes, I'll give you that there seem to be more schools in recent years trying to lay claim to it.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_Ivy ... blic_Ivies

****

But the essence of that post wasn't to spark vitriol and I apologize if it did. I didn't mean to show too much school pride, or to take a shot at UVA undergrad alums who are on here and there have to be many. It was meant to say that my school's name helped me get some opportunities right after college and I'm happy that it did, and that may have helped many of us on this forum. However, it is just an opportunity. It's up to me at the end of the day to show what I can do, and all of us to show that, and that is what is going to help our careers in the long run. Business school prestige like any other grad school's prestige, can help us get a better shot at that first job post MBA (maybe even 2nd). But we have to work hard at it from there, or someone else will take our spots. Hope that helps.

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Re: The real world : Elite b-school vs XYZ b-school [#permalink] New post 23 Apr 2012, 10:43
novanative wrote:
pze wrote:
I'm sorry but I have to call you out on this,....in what world is W&M considered "as good" as UVA? If UVA isn't clearly the better school (which i think it is), then it definitely has the more prestigious reputation. I live in the DC area so I know that usually in-state kids that get dinged from UVA go to W&M or VTech, thats common knowledge. I didn't attend either one so I have no skin in the game. Also, UVA is better than Georgetown IMO, I would say Hopkins is in league w/ UVA but its hard to compare because they don't have many similarities. Don't get me wrong, W&M is a fine school, but the above smacks a bit of W&M trolling. And as far as "public ivies",....there are about 10 different versions with different schools on them,.....but there are really only three undisputed "public ivies",....Berkeley, Michigan, and UVA. Those three are on par w/ the very best private schools.


Yes, there was a bit of school homerism there, I think W&M does have a bit of that in them, including me. By school rep, I was referring to moreso in terms of undergraduate reputation, not as a full university where UVA of course takes the cake. There are a good number of UVA students who were dinged at W&M for college in-state and out, and vice versa as you said, no VA high school student will call W&M a safety for UVA, and vice versa in most cases. Pretty darn close stats and applicant overlap.

W&M is one of the "original public ivies" according to one publication by Moll which is where I believe where this all started from. But yes, I'll give you that there seem to be more schools in recent years trying to lay claim to it.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_Ivy ... blic_Ivies

****

But the essence of that post wasn't to spark vitriol and I apologize if it did. I didn't mean to show too much school pride, or to take a shot at UVA undergrad alums who are on here and there have to be many. It was meant to say that my school's name helped me get some opportunities right after college and I'm happy that it did, and that may have helped many of us on this forum. However, it is just an opportunity. It's up to me at the end of the day to show what I can do, and all of us to show that, and that is what is going to help our careers in the long run. Business school prestige like any other grad school's prestige, can help us get a better shot at that first job post MBA (maybe even 2nd). But we have to work hard at it from there, or someone else will take our spots. Hope that helps.


No need to apologize novanative,...W&M is an awesome school and it does indeed have a great reputation among employers, especially in the greater DC area. Although I didn't go to school in Virginia,...I have to admit I'm a bit partial to UVA :)....one of my biggest regrets is not applying there for undergrad. Its an amazing school (and Charlottesville is a beautiful town),..thats why I felt the need to preserve its stature as the top dog in Virginia :)
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Re: The real world : Elite b-school vs XYZ b-school [#permalink] New post 24 Apr 2012, 06:04
jhubaseball08 wrote:
Good post.

Also thought I should say what's up and give a shoutout to a W&M grad. I grew up in CT and NY, but have a bunch of family down around DC and Virginia, and my grandfather went to W&M, and always had amazing things to say about it. Would have applied myself, and likely would have gone, if I hadn't gotten lucky and got into Hopkins ED. W&M had the nicest campus I've ever seen, without a doubt. Most of the B schools I'm applying to are in the DC area as well, seems as you're the same way. Love the area, it's a great place.

Again, nice insights with that post.


Thanks for the school shout out.
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Re: The real world : Elite b-school vs XYZ b-school [#permalink] New post 24 Apr 2012, 07:44
Although it is true that the MBA only matters for your first job, the companies/firms that recruit at Top 10 vs. Top 30 schools very different. Take a look at the employment report from the top 30 school and if the company you want to work for hires from there, then you should be fine. But I will tell you if you want to work at an MBB or a BB bank, chances are slim to none that they will take people from 25-30 programs that didn't work there pre-MBA.
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Re: The real world : Elite b-school vs XYZ b-school [#permalink] New post 27 Apr 2012, 03:15
Let's say if I want to do f500 cf, does it make sense to go with BYU MBA (around 30th) over Anderson/McCombs/etc, considering the huge cost difference?
Re: The real world : Elite b-school vs XYZ b-school   [#permalink] 27 Apr 2012, 03:15
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