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# What makes a school unique?

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VP
Joined: 28 Feb 2008
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What makes a school unique? [#permalink]

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08 Aug 2008, 13:38
I'm having a little trouble answering the "why our school" question on the essays.

I'm curious how you guys are approaching it.

I'm not looking for a program that is known to be strong in a particular area (finance, marketing, etc), just a general management education.

I can think of a few reason why I'd pick a particular school:

- location: rural or urban
- reputation (but I wouldn't apply to a school without a good rep)
- programs specific to the school (Michigan's MAP program)
- impressions of the school when you visit

But what else?

To me, it's like being asked "What do you think of this wine?", when it's the first glass you've ever had. I'm sure after my first year I could tell you what is important and what isn't, but right now that ain't so easy!

RF
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Re: What makes a school unique? [#permalink]

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08 Aug 2008, 13:50
Me~~~~
If HBS lets me in then its unique, otherwise it is just another school.

Seriously though, if you are looking for something to say in the essay, probably best to pick out the "uniqueness" from campus visits, alumni contacts, etc.
You can also say so-and-so professor is good, so I want to be under that professor's tutelage.
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Re: What makes a school unique? [#permalink]

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08 Aug 2008, 14:03
You left out the most important aspect...the culture. To me, culture is everything when comparing similar ranked programs. It's why I would likely pick Kellogg over Wharton or Ross over Darden.
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Re: What makes a school unique? [#permalink]

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08 Aug 2008, 14:58
RF, identifying the strengths of a particular program is a good start, but I think you need to take it a step further and really emphasize how these strengths parallel where you are trying to take your career. I think the concept of "uniqueness" is just a mid-point to the ultimate goal of "fit".

fatb wrote:
Me~~~~
If HBS lets me in then its unique, otherwise it is just another school.

Aahaha, good one!

cpgmba wrote:
You left out the most important aspect...the culture. To me, culture is everything when comparing similar ranked programs. It's why I would likely pick Kellogg over Wharton or Ross over Darden.

That's huge for me too. I'm definitely after the softer programs because that's the kind of atmosphere that I excel in. Lots of team-work, hands-on, clubs/activities, etc..
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Re: What makes a school unique? [#permalink]

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08 Aug 2008, 18:36
Thanks for the comments guys. I've only visited one campus so far (Tuck), so I hope the whole culture thing will become a lot more apparent once I make a few more campus visits.

RF
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Re: What makes a school unique? [#permalink]

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08 Aug 2008, 19:14
What they write all over their brochures and websites, regurgitate to them in the essays. Then visit the school and personalize said regurgitation.
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Re: What makes a school unique? [#permalink]

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08 Aug 2008, 19:23
I think its what makes the school unique to YOUR goals and interests in a school's preferred 'culture'.

This has to be backuped by your demonstrated interests, and stated goals of course.

Sometimes though I wonder if that is overated too though, I mean I doubt one school wants to develop such a reputation for say non profits (Yale) that is loses out on applicants who otherwise might have applied but dont share that passion.
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Re: What makes a school unique? [#permalink]

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08 Aug 2008, 20:15
I would not talk about reputation at all, that's understood. And the number of words you save there could be much more tactically used elsewhere. Such as to talk about how you've personally witnessed school culture.

Of course, you can only truly make the "culture" argument for a handful of schools, otherwise it sounds completely contrived. To give you an example, from my own personal experiences, NYU has a distinct culture worth discussing. Columbia does not, so I focus on the academics instead.

refurb wrote:
I'm having a little trouble answering the "why our school" question on the essays.

I'm curious how you guys are approaching it.

I'm not looking for a program that is known to be strong in a particular area (finance, marketing, etc), just a general management education.

I can think of a few reason why I'd pick a particular school:

- location: rural or urban
- reputation (but I wouldn't apply to a school without a good rep)
- programs specific to the school (Michigan's MAP program)
- impressions of the school when you visit

But what else?

To me, it's like being asked "What do you think of this wine?", when it's the first glass you've ever had. I'm sure after my first year I could tell you what is important and what isn't, but right now that ain't so easy!

RF
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Re: What makes a school unique? [#permalink]

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09 Aug 2008, 05:55
Have you noticed, although schools expect the candidates to capture the "why this school" customized towards the particular school, but how the schools themelve sound all similar in their viewbooks,website texts and all?

foe example,CHi and MIT never write they are for quants. All of them quant/non-qaunt/ quasi-quant harp on same teamwork, alumni connection, accessible profs, "culture" and all intangibles?
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Re: What makes a school unique? [#permalink]

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09 Aug 2008, 06:50
I think some schools are very honest about what its really like while others it almost feels as if they try to get away from their image. Some definitely embrace the stereotypes they have while others try to fight them. I tend to view stereotypes of schools culture as fairly accurate and thats because I think its a self fulfilling prophecy. People want a very tight knit community at a small school so they pick Tuck. They want a team oriented place with a community feel, they would probably love Kellogg. They want a quant heavy program then they are going to prefer a place like MIT. So lots of these types of people seek out those programs specifically and thus the student body tends to be built around that.

If you apply to 3-5 schools in similar ranks and you get into multiples you usually will be much more attracted to one than another. I think sometimes people who have a hardtime deciding where they should go, should reread their essays and see which ones they think are the truest picture of who they are. When you write essays you tend to try to frame your personality for each school...which ever one is the most accurate probably is for the school with the best fit.

It is tough getting a true idea of what schools are like at times. During visits you interact almost completely with the students leading the tour and they often are the biggest fans of a school. During admit weekends schools go all out to win you over...I only heard a few stories about people not loving an admit weekend even for schools they dont end up going to.

Personally I think its the students that make schools unique...each school has a slightly different personality and its because of who goes there. There are so many different students that there arent going to be 1000 students who all fit the exact same mold but adcoms do try to not only admit the best applicants but the ones that fit best into their program.
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Re: What makes a school unique? [#permalink]

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09 Aug 2008, 18:38
filmcity wrote:
Have you noticed, although schools expect the candidates to capture the "why this school" customized towards the particular school, but how the schools themelve sound all similar in their viewbooks,website texts and all?

foe example,CHi and MIT never write they are for quants. All of them quant/non-qaunt/ quasi-quant harp on same teamwork, alumni connection, accessible profs, "culture" and all intangibles?

This is kinda the point I was getting at. You can read the view books and websites and they all start to sound the same after a while "focus on leadership", "action based learning", etc, etc.

RF
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Re: What makes a school unique? [#permalink]

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09 Aug 2008, 18:41
riverripper wrote:
It is tough getting a true idea of what schools are like at times. During visits you interact almost completely with the students leading the tour and they often are the biggest fans of a school. During admit weekends schools go all out to win you over...I only heard a few stories about people not loving an admit weekend even for schools they dont end up going to.

Thanks for your post! I think it is one of the more honest ones I've read.

Like I said, from the people I've talked to have finished their MBA, they can easily state why they'd pick one school over another.

When it's all so new you, it's hard to get down to what matters.

RF
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Re: What makes a school unique?   [#permalink] 09 Aug 2008, 18:41
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