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Kelley ($) vs. Kenan-Flagler (no $)

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Kelley ($) vs. Kenan-Flagler (no $)  [#permalink]

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New post 13 Feb 2017, 15:34
Hi all,

I have been accepted to the online programs at Kelley and Kenan-Flagler. I’m really torn with which school to choose and would love some help. I also interviewed with Kellogg the other week and am waiting to hear back.

About me: I’m currently 30, work in CPG, and am the sole income provider for me and my wife, who is currently getting her PhD. Cost will definitely be important considering I am the primary income source, and between the two of us, we already have ~$120K in student loans. My goal after MBA is to either move into consulting for Retail/CPG or to stay in CPG and move up to Director level in Brand Management or Corporate Strategy. I receive about $5K in tuition reimbursement every year, which isn’t a whole lot.

Kelley (online): about 10% scholarship, and can also waive out of 3 courses.
Pros: About $40K total cost. Great CPG/Marketing network
Cons: Outside of Top 20. Only two 1-week residence sessions – doesn’t seem like enough face to face time. Question mark with ability to help me land a consulting job.

Kenan-Flagler (MBA@UNC): No scholarship
Pros: Top-15ish. I actually like the concept of quarterly “immersions” where you meet with your cohort in different parts of the world. They also say they have a helped a number of online graduates move into consulting.
Cons: Steep price tag at $104K ($90K after tuition reimbursement)

Kellogg (Part-time, accelerated): This would be my top choice, but I should hear back within the next 2 weeks. Kellogg is my dream school, but I’m concerned about the debt I will be take on in addition to what my wife and I already have from undergrad.
Pros: Elite program. Accelerated track helps reduce costs. It will cost something like $95K total when I factor in course waivers and reimbursement.
Cons: Crippling debt when tacked on with the loans we already have.

What would you do here? Would love any input or advice. The debt that my wife and I have adds some complexity to the mix, and I also have to wait and hear back from Kellogg. If I do get into Kellogg, is it worth going there despite the massive debt we will be in?
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Kelley ($) vs. Kenan-Flagler (no $)  [#permalink]

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New post 13 Feb 2017, 16:24
1
stp015 wrote:
My goal after MBA is to either move into consulting for Retail/CPG or to stay in CPG and move up to Director level in Brand Management or Corporate Strategy. I receive about $5K in tuition reimbursement every year, which isn’t a whole lot.


I would NOT matriculate in an online MBA program if the goal is to switch careers/functional roles, switch industries, or switch companies. IMO, one should ONLY do an online MBA program if they plan to stay in their current company and on their current career path (and only need the degree as a qualification to continue to be promoted).

I imagine that recruiting in an online program is a tremendous challenge. Online programs have no on-campus visits from companies, there is no opportunity for an internship, there are far fewer opportunities to network, and I am not even sure students in online programs have the same support from their school's career center or alumni network as they would in a full-time (or on-campus part-time) program. In short, there is absolutely no recruiting pipeline for online MBAs. And all of these obstacles in your case would be on top of you continuing to work full-time. That'd be a rough road.

If you're the primary breadwinner and you're already working to pay off $120k of collective family debt, I would not pursue any of the options listed in the post at this time.

I would recommend getting a bit creative if you're dead-set on pursuing an MBA. You could look into the following:
1. Inexpensive evening programs that stretch over three years in your area. This would both make getting the degree more manageable as you continue to work full-time AND your tuition reimbursement from work could stretch further since it could be applied three years in a row.
2. Taking another year, paying down the current debt with 'gazelle intensity' as Dave Ramsey would say, smashing the GMAT, and then attending an MBA program with a big(ger) scholarship.
3. Looking at other opportunities that will enable you to reach your goals without taking on lots more debt. (Could you network your way into a new job without an MBA? Are there any certifications you could pursue now that could help you achieve your goals but do not require $60k-$100k+ of new debt? Etc.)
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Re: Kelley ($) vs. Kenan-Flagler (no $)  [#permalink]

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New post 14 Feb 2017, 03:46
stp015 wrote:
Hi all,

I have been accepted to the online programs at Kelley and Kenan-Flagler. I’m really torn with which school to choose and would love some help. I also interviewed with Kellogg the other week and am waiting to hear back.

About me: I’m currently 30, work in CPG, and am the sole income provider for me and my wife, who is currently getting her PhD. Cost will definitely be important considering I am the primary income source, and between the two of us, we already have ~$120K in student loans. My goal after MBA is to either move into consulting for Retail/CPG or to stay in CPG and move up to Director level in Brand Management or Corporate Strategy. I receive about $5K in tuition reimbursement every year, which isn’t a whole lot.

Kelley (online): about 10% scholarship, and can also waive out of 3 courses.
Pros: About $40K total cost. Great CPG/Marketing network
Cons: Outside of Top 20. Only two 1-week residence sessions – doesn’t seem like enough face to face time. Question mark with ability to help me land a consulting job.

Kenan-Flagler (MBA@UNC): No scholarship
Pros: Top-15ish. I actually like the concept of quarterly “immersions” where you meet with your cohort in different parts of the world. They also say they have a helped a number of online graduates move into consulting.
Cons: Steep price tag at $104K ($90K after tuition reimbursement)

Kellogg (Part-time, accelerated): This would be my top choice, but I should hear back within the next 2 weeks. Kellogg is my dream school, but I’m concerned about the debt I will be take on in addition to what my wife and I already have from undergrad.
Pros: Elite program. Accelerated track helps reduce costs. It will cost something like $95K total when I factor in course waivers and reimbursement.
Cons: Crippling debt when tacked on with the loans we already have.

What would you do here? Would love any input or advice. The debt that my wife and I have adds some complexity to the mix, and I also have to wait and hear back from Kellogg. If I do get into Kellogg, is it worth going there despite the massive debt we will be in?


I mostly agree with the poster below. However if you are hell bent on an MBA I might add that you think from the end here. Go to the recruiter for the post-MBA job you want and find out - if I do this, will I get this? Investigate the chances of a quick ROI. Speak with corporate HR and the MBA recruiter. I know that CPG recruiters are pretty focused on Kellogg and if they don't go there, they go to Nielsen to recruit. Would not recommend you fly to Paris to eat peanut butter sandwiches here.

However I think the psychological stress of the debt would put pressure on your marriage. it might really be best to do the EMBA route later when your wife is established in her career and you are paying those loans down. Again, think from the end. Might investigate careers that offer loan forgiveness.

I would not recommend consulting unless you enjoy the airport and 80 hour workweeks. The nice thing about CPG is that there is some relative semblance of a normal workweek, you aren't expected to be there until 9pm like my consulting clients. If you plan to have kids, it is a bad idea.
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Re: Kelley ($) vs. Kenan-Flagler (no $)  [#permalink]

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New post 16 Feb 2017, 20:41
If you want to career switch Kellogg is your best choice here and will allow you the flexibility to pursue either of the career paths you are considering. I am just not a real believer in the ability of an online program even from those great schools to help you materially reach your goals especially at the price tag at UNC. If you are serious about the benefits of an MBA go with Kellogg. Farrel gave some great advice about the more personal advice of your decision so please don't overlook that
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Re: Kelley ($) vs. Kenan-Flagler (no $)  [#permalink]

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New post 21 Feb 2017, 10:59
Thanks for everyone’s opinions and suggestions – definitely great insight and I appreciate the time taken to read through my post and chime in!

I do agree with many of the statements regarding the online format; it’s definitely not the preferred route for me. But I do know that I need an MBA at some point so that I can at least continue to advance upwards if I don’t switch careers. I also believe my resume is strong, with experience at some high-profile tech companies. I was hoping the combination of my WE plus an MBA (even if completed online from a well-ranked school) would position me for continued advancement in my industry, as well as some flexibility to move into a new function. I agree that UNC is probably not worth the pricetag. From my conversation with Kelley’s online program about their experience with career services, they do have the same access to career services as full-time students (including job postings, career fairs and networking events, etc.), and there are also companies who specifically post jobs for online candidates as they have more work experience. A few people I spoke with at both UNC and Kelley were also able to land jobs at high-profile companies or even move into consulting, so I guess it just depends on the strength of the candidate. But yes, no question that switching careers is definitely easier in a full-time program.

That being said, I ended up getting into Kellogg! After speaking with my wife, we decided it would be worth the investment for me to go there as it will likely significantly increase my long-term earning potential, even if that means we’ll be sitting on more debt than we would like. My wife will also be earning income soon, and we’ll hopefully get some support from our families. After Kellogg, I think I can leverage my experience in Retail to consult for 1-2 years, and then take a Director role at a consumer goods company.
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Re: Kelley ($) vs. Kenan-Flagler (no $)  [#permalink]

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New post 21 Feb 2017, 14:42
Super happy for you...it is funny how things take the complexity out of a tough decision. You will learn a ton at Kellogg. Good luck!
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Re: Kelley ($) vs. Kenan-Flagler (no $)  [#permalink]

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New post 23 Feb 2017, 10:33
stp015 wrote:
Thanks for everyone’s opinions and suggestions – definitely great insight and I appreciate the time taken to read through my post and chime in!

I do agree with many of the statements regarding the online format; it’s definitely not the preferred route for me. But I do know that I need an MBA at some point so that I can at least continue to advance upwards if I don’t switch careers. I also believe my resume is strong, with experience at some high-profile tech companies. I was hoping the combination of my WE plus an MBA (even if completed online from a well-ranked school) would position me for continued advancement in my industry, as well as some flexibility to move into a new function. I agree that UNC is probably not worth the pricetag. From my conversation with Kelley’s online program about their experience with career services, they do have the same access to career services as full-time students (including job postings, career fairs and networking events, etc.), and there are also companies who specifically post jobs for online candidates as they have more work experience. A few people I spoke with at both UNC and Kelley were also able to land jobs at high-profile companies or even move into consulting, so I guess it just depends on the strength of the candidate. But yes, no question that switching careers is definitely easier in a full-time program.

That being said, I ended up getting into Kellogg! After speaking with my wife, we decided it would be worth the investment for me to go there as it will likely significantly increase my long-term earning potential, even if that means we’ll be sitting on more debt than we would like. My wife will also be earning income soon, and we’ll hopefully get some support from our families. After Kellogg, I think I can leverage my experience in Retail to consult for 1-2 years, and then take a Director role at a consumer goods company.



I was in the same exact position two years ago as you are today, where I considered these three options. The online route just doesn't seem like it holds much value, and I knew people in Kellogg's program were able to recruit for new jobs, so I made the same decision too. IMO this is easily the right choice given what your goals are.

The difference with me was I started with about $8k in undergrad loans, not $120k. Best of luck to you, $200k+ is an insane hole to take on. I hope you enjoy Kellogg.
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Re: Kelley ($) vs. Kenan-Flagler (no $)  [#permalink]

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New post 23 Feb 2017, 11:23
thanks bjb5228

It's a certainly a tall task, but getting into the accelerated program and waiving out of 4 core classes really helps. We'll just need to live modestly for a few years and put all supplemental income into paying down tuition. If I'm diligent I think I could graduate with ~$170K total, which is more manageable. It's a scary number, but it must be worth it for the experience/long-term income potential. Right?? I hope...!
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Re: Kelley ($) vs. Kenan-Flagler (no $)   [#permalink] 23 Feb 2017, 11:23
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