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Decision Time: NYU Stern ($) vs. UVA Darden ($$$)

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NYU Stern ($?) vs. UVA Darden ($$$)

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Decision Time: NYU Stern ($) vs. UVA Darden ($$$)  [#permalink]

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New post 17 Apr 2019, 08:16
Greetings everyone,

Figured I'd ask for some feedback from the forum on what has proven to be a tough decision, (but a great problem to have, obviously.)

Background is in television production, and entered into the process looking to transition into media management, or possibly something at the intersection of media and tech (as the two industries continue to converge. That said, I'm also open to exploring other areas.

NYU Stern felt like the best fit, given location, and interests, and I received a $60,000 scholarship for the first year, (although second year scholarships, through my understanding, are not awarded until the summer before second year, so I don't actually know if there's the possibility of that being renewed or not.)

In any event, I was surprised, (and thrilled!) to receive a full scholarship at Darden, which has made me re-evaluate things. Obviously, Charlottesville is not the media/tech hub of New York City, and the school does not tend to place as many students in those industries. That said, I know that media in general is more of a networking/connecting with companies independently process, and less about formal recruiting, so I'm thinking that maybe it is still possible at Darden? Also, as I say, I'm open to exploring other paths, and I know Darden's consulting opportunities are top notch.

It's also hard to ignore the financial incentives, not only from the scholarship, but the fact that, obviously, Charlottesville's cost of living will be a lot less than NYC. This is of particular importance given that I'm an older (35) student, without a ton of savings (just recently finished paying back undergrad loans!), and if I do end up in media/entertainment, it's certainly not as lucrative as traditional MBA paths.

So I'm looking for people's perspective... Is the better fit, career-wise, and culturally, at NYU, worth the thousands in extra debt that I'd be taking on? Should I ultimately choose Darden, knowing that it's a fantastic program, that can still open a lot of doors, and will be much more affordable? Or am I too worried about the debt/cost component, and should just choose the school that I felt like was the best fit (Stern)?

Curious to hear everyone's opinion!
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Decision Time: NYU Stern ($) vs. UVA Darden ($$$)  [#permalink]

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New post 17 Apr 2019, 11:09
Great job! I think you need to reach out to students should Darden have a Media club and look for alumni to speak with on LinkedIn at the companies you're interested in. If it looks like you'll be able to achieve your goals through Darden with some extra work then I say take the money and run.

Otherwise, Stern is likely a better option in the short and long term as it would give you a significant leg up in networking not only in total alumni reach but also in access considering that you could meet alumni in person.

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Re: Decision Time: NYU Stern ($) vs. UVA Darden ($$$)  [#permalink]

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New post 17 Apr 2019, 14:11
Congrats on your admits! Esp at 35!!! That's tougher these days.

Two great opportunities! Though there are quite a few difference in the two programs - the teaching style is different for one. I am sure you are familiar with Darden's case method and that's a draw to a large group of folks who have no chance at HBS. However, it is also not for everyone.

By the way, scholarships are usually awarded for the first year only (though always renewed in the second year as long as you keep your GPA at a certain level, usually 3.0). This is true for partial or full tuition waiver scholarships. So, you don't need to worry about the second year really unless you party too much. With 60K first year at Stern, you are likely to have to pay only $30K for the Overall Stern experience vs. $0 for Darden. As you did mention the cost of living is different but you also get to network in NYC and that's worth something.... hard to network from the woods of Charlottesville ;-)

$30K is not a small amount but it is not $150K either which is the full sticker price many are paying. If you are really set on Media, I think being in the City is important. Coffee chats, conversations, connections, parties, etc - you will have to network. At the same time if you are more likely to take a traditional MBA career track and enjoy the case method and while saving a ton of money, I can't see Darden being a bad choice. Even if you go to Darden and have to look for a job for 6 months, you won't be far behind than if you have gone to Stern.

P.S. It is paying for some aspirations vs. real hard savings. If you were sick and tired of your undergrad loans, I don't think anyone will fault you for picking Darden!
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Re: Decision Time: NYU Stern ($) vs. UVA Darden ($$$)  [#permalink]

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New post 17 Apr 2019, 16:05
Thanks so much bb. Appreciate the kind words.

I am indeed familiar with the case method at Darden... I actually attended a sample class at both Stern and Darden, and enjoyed both! To be honest, the difference in the teaching styles is not a huge factor for me one way or the other, I truly think I could learn and benefit from either.

I'm curious about what you mentioned regarding scholarships however. Most of the scholarship letters I received (from Darden and elsewhere) mentioned the amount would be divided between the two years. At Stern however, the letter specifically mentioned that the award would be dispursed half in Fall 2019, half in Spring 2020. I inquired with the Program Office whether the scholarship could/would be renewed for the second year, but have heard back that scholarship awards are final. So it's basically left me with questions, wondering IF I would receive the same scholarship in the second year, or if I need to plan with the expectation that I'd have to cover the second year on my own. (If you have any additional insight on this, please do let me know!)

Totally agree with you on the benefits of New York City, particularly when it comes to networking, in media specifically. So yeah, I am basically debating whether that somewhat better fit is worth the additional expense, and it's been tough to decide! But I know that ultimately it's the best of 'problems' to have, as I'm lucky to have such good offers, and I know both programs would open a lot of doors.

Thanks so much for the feedback/advice, and yeah, if you have any additional insight on the scholarship situation, I'd certainly love to hear it!




bb wrote:
Congrats on your admits! Esp at 35!!! That's tougher these days.

Two great opportunities! Though there are quite a few difference in the two programs - the teaching style is different for one. I am sure you are familiar with Darden's case method and that's a draw to a large group of folks who have no chance at HBS. However, it is also not for everyone.

By the way, scholarships are usually awarded for the first year only (though always renewed in the second year as long as you keep your GPA at a certain level, usually 3.0). This is true for partial or full tuition waiver scholarships. So, you don't need to worry about the second year really unless you party too much. With 60K first year at Stern, you are likely to have to pay only $30K for the Overall Stern experience vs. $0 for Darden. As you did mention the cost of living is different but you also get to network in NYC and that's worth something.... hard to network from the woods of Charlottesville ;-)

$30K is not a small amount but it is not $150K either which is the full sticker price many are paying. If you are really set on Media, I think being in the City is important. Coffee chats, conversations, connections, parties, etc - you will have to network. At the same time if you are more likely to take a traditional MBA career track and enjoy the case method and while saving a ton of money, I can't see Darden being a bad choice. Even if you go to Darden and have to look for a job for 6 months, you won't be far behind than if you have gone to Stern.

P.S. It is paying for some aspirations vs. real hard savings. If you were sick and tired of your undergrad loans, I don't think anyone will fault you for picking Darden!
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Decision Time: NYU Stern ($) vs. UVA Darden ($$$)  [#permalink]

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New post Updated on: 17 Apr 2019, 16:17
Ah. I see. Interesting.... I have to admit it's been a few years since I have held a scholarship letter in my hands.... I am used to seeing the scholarships being presented on a per year basis with some kind of a caveat about eligibility in the second year. However, I think they owe you a response. I would check with your admissions contact (not Fin Aid office) as it seems they misunderstood your question... if it is relevant that is..... or am I going completely crazy and mixing it up with the Student Loans that are not guaranteed the second year? :dazed
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Originally posted by bb on 17 Apr 2019, 16:10.
Last edited by bb on 17 Apr 2019, 16:17, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Decision Time: NYU Stern ($) vs. UVA Darden ($$$)  [#permalink]

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New post 18 Apr 2019, 07:12
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Really surprised by the voting here--makes me wonder if people actually read your write up and situation. Because of the less-traditional nature of your interest, the burden will be more on you to network, etc. This will be much more difficult from UVA than from NYU. As BB mentioned, those scholarships are virtually all renewed, but even if not, I think you are better off giving yourself a leg up by being able to consistently meet with people in your field. Imagining the costs (and stress) of flying in and out of charlottesville and trying to meet with people who already have hectic schedules sounds daunting.

Both are fantastic schools, but if NYU fits you better (and your goals) it seems like the relatively minor monetary difference is not worth passing it up. Good luck!
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Re: Decision Time: NYU Stern ($) vs. UVA Darden ($$$)  [#permalink]

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New post 18 Apr 2019, 13:08
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If you got no money from Stern this would be a more difficult decision but with at least $60k i think Stern is the clear choice here especially given your goal of media.
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Re: Decision Time: NYU Stern ($) vs. UVA Darden ($$$)  [#permalink]

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New post 22 Apr 2019, 05:58
Thanks so much to mradamsmith, and everyone else, for the advice and feedback, it is very much appreciated. And yes, I can totally appreciate the extent to which NYU would likely be a better fit, given the ability to network for media/entertainment right in New York City. Suffice it to say that this has become a conundrum for me specifically because of the financial aspect... I wish I were in a position where I could simply wave my hand at the additional thousands of dollars in debt, (and perhaps I should have more confidence in my ability to handle it in the long term)... but I must admit, given that I am older, and interested in non-traditional fields, and just generally prone to thinking about worst-case scenarios, there is definitely a part of me that is debt adverse, at this time in my life, and leaning towards the option (Darden) that minimizes the risk, and allows me to explore a variety of MBA paths without having to worry as much about a heavy debt burden at the end of the two years.

It's definitely proven to be a difficult decision, one that I will likely be grappling with until the deadline date, but I greatly appreciate everyone's feedback, and if anyone else wants to chime in and offer their perspective, it's always welcome! Perhaps I shouldn't be so worried about debt, I know from looking at a variety of reports and statistics that $100,000 or so in debt is pretty much the standard for most students pursuing a top-tier MBA... but I still can't help but worry about that amount, given that I've never come from great means, and that my undergraduate debt (which was a lot less), was obviously an obstacle for many years. So yes, more thinking and more deliberating ahead.




mradamsmith wrote:
Really surprised by the voting here--makes me wonder if people actually read your write up and situation. Because of the less-traditional nature of your interest, the burden will be more on you to network, etc. This will be much more difficult from UVA than from NYU. As BB mentioned, those scholarships are virtually all renewed, but even if not, I think you are better off giving yourself a leg up by being able to consistently meet with people in your field. Imagining the costs (and stress) of flying in and out of charlottesville and trying to meet with people who already have hectic schedules sounds daunting.

Both are fantastic schools, but if NYU fits you better (and your goals) it seems like the relatively minor monetary difference is not worth passing it up. Good luck!
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New post 22 Apr 2019, 10:19
Totally makes sense. Make the decision you can comfortably live with and the one you won't regret during a tough day of interviews or when 2 rejections come in from the internships of your dreams. There are those cold nights and if a small fire made of $30K can make you a little bit warmer, then it is well worth it ;-)
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Decision Time: NYU Stern ($) vs. UVA Darden ($$$)  [#permalink]

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New post 29 Apr 2019, 19:40
Ok, so I’ve gone through this process before.

With the course work and limited resources available in Charlottesville, I have no idea how you’ll reach your goal. It’s not easy keeping your energy levels high with a million group projects and cases to work on.

You’ll make the lost $20-40k in the first two years of your post MBA job, I still feel that Stern is a better fit for you, and you shouldn’t care too much about the $20-40k, instead go with the single focus of getting that high paying job in media that’s driving you to get an MBA.

There is something to be said about getting an MBA in a big city or a city with more resources (Chicago/LA/SFO/DC/Boston/New York)- it’s easier to network, it’s to find mentors and it’s easier to get guidance and it’s easier to meet people in person.

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Re: Decision Time: NYU Stern ($) vs. UVA Darden ($$$)  [#permalink]

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New post 02 May 2019, 05:36
Hi JohnJohnJ,

First and foremost, thank you so much for the thoughtful response. I really appreciate you, and everyone else, taking the time to offer some perspective to a random internet stranger.

And your advice makes perfect sense, believe me... it mirrors a thought process I've also been having, about how the better fit/opportunities in NYC are worth some extra debt...

Honestly, if I had confidence the difference would only be in the $20-40k range, as you say, I think it'd be a pretty easy decision. My hesitation comes from the fact that it could end up being much more. Even IF I received comparable scholarship support in Year 2 at Stern, I'm likely looking at, I would estimate, about $60k more to attend, between tuition and cost of living differences. And if I didn't receive ANY scholarship support there, that number jumps to about $130k.

Realistically, since I don't know for sure, I'm sort of approaching it as though I have a 50% scholarship in Year 2, and about a $100k difference between the programs.... which it goes without saying, is a good chunk of change. I know there's a school of thought that says don't worry about debt, you'll make it back, but as a 35 year old who is older than most students, and who is naturally debt-adverse... I'm taking a long hard think about it all.

So yeah, it's right in that range where it's become a tough decision for me, haha. If it were $20-30k difference, I think Stern would be the easy choice. If it were $200k, Darden would be easy to pick. As it stands, with the second year scholarships unknown... It's become quite tricky!

But I so appreciate the advice, and I'll update when I make a final decision!



JohnJohnJ wrote:
Ok, so I’ve gone through this process before.

With the course work and limited resources available in Charlottesville, I have no idea how you’ll reach your goal. It’s not easy keeping your energy levels high with a million group projects and cases to work on.

You’ll make the lost $20-40k in the first two years of your post MBA job, I still feel that Stern is a better fit for you, and you shouldn’t care too much about the $20-40k, instead go with the single focus of getting that high paying job in media that’s driving you to get an MBA.

There is something to be said about getting an MBA in a big city or a city with more resources (Chicago/LA/SFO/DC/Boston/New York)- it’s easier to network, it’s to find mentors and it’s easier to get guidance and it’s easier to meet people in person.

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Re: Decision Time: NYU Stern ($) vs. UVA Darden ($$$)   [#permalink] 02 May 2019, 05:36

Decision Time: NYU Stern ($) vs. UVA Darden ($$$)

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