Joined: 26 May 2011
, given: 0
Re: Thunderbird or Santa Clara [#permalink]
26 May 2011, 16:22
I am a current MBA student at Thunderbird and I'll be graduating this August. Let me tell you about my experience at Thunderbird, hoping that it will help your brother with his decision.
Thunderbird is definitely a different school. On average more than 50% of the student body in the full time MBA program is from a foreign country (I am from Italy, for example). The whole environment is therefore very international, and the classroom experience benefits from having a large number of students from different countries. For example, discussing the South East Asia economic crisis of the '90s with students from Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia who can tell you their own direct experience is something that you can only get in very few schools.
Thunderbird's focus on international business also means that the school is better known abroad than in the US. Many companies that recruit at Thunderbird look for people with foreign language skills or that are able to do business with different cultures. If your brother is looking to refine his international business skills, then Thunderbird is definitely the school for him.
As far as your concern about the location, you are right, the Phoenix metro area (and especially Glendale) doesn't have that much to offer when compared to the Bay Area, however there are a few important points to consider. Because there isn't much to do outside of campus, students tend to organize a lot of parties, get togethers, and other activities.
There are dozens of student clubs (from the golf club, to the wine club, to the Private Equity club) that allow for numerous networking events, social interaction, and leadership opportunities in professional and recreational areas you are interested in. In addition, when students spend more time with each other (rather than hanging out outside of campus with a small number of other students), they form deeper bonds and relationship that last for a lifetime. This is evidenced by an extremely strong and active Alumni network spread out in over 160 countries. Thanks to the strong relationship that Thunderbird students create on campus, Thunderbird alumni are like a big family and when you need to get a job at a particular company, chances are that there is one or more Thunderbird alumni working there who are more than happy to help you get an insider's edge. In addition, Thunderbird's legendary pub is a meeting place for many Thunderbird's Alumni who may be in town for business or pleasure, and on occasion you will find Exxon Mobil or Intel or other executives singing their hearts out at Thunderbird's karaoke night.
Finally, the isolated location is an encouragement for students to organize trips to Las Vegas, L.A., or the Grand Canyon to get out of campus on a weekend.
Also the many opportunities to study abroad for one or more trimesters are definitely my favorite aspect of Thunderbird's curriculum. My study abroad in Prague last summer was memorable, especially because it was during the World Cup (soccer) and we would all go to the main square after class to watch a game on the big screens and drink lots of local beer.
All in all, I have to say that Thunderbird is far from being a perfect school in a perfect location. But I think the flaws people see at the surface are exactly what makes Thunderbird the amazing school it is. Students here come together from all corners of the world and work together to overcome these negatives, creating an environment that is so much more than what a traditional MBA offers.
Hope this helps,