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So I was recently accepted at both PSU and UNC. PSU is enticing me with a full ride + stipend, whereas UNC is enticing me with what essentially amounts to a half ride.
Depending on which ranking used, PSU is anywhere from 35-40 and UNC hovers right around 18-20. My undergrad was @ PSU.
I am the epitome of a career switcher, with a varied work background up to this point that isn't really applicable to one particular area of study (fast food management, automobile sales, banking compliance). I'm essentially looking to reinvent myself at Bschool and secure a strong, professional job in Marketing (or perhaps Real Estate if I go w/ UNC) following graduation.
Not much in savings, so I'd be looking at ~$60k in loans to cover remaining tuition and misc. expenses at UNC. Moving from PA to NC; fiance would be making the trip with me, and the plan would be for her to secure employment to cover our living expenses. Kicking around the thought of me having to get a small part-time job to help out financially.
If I go w/ PSU, life continues on as normal, except we have to cut expenses to deal with my decrease in income (not a complete loss of income, thanks to stipend) while she continues working at her current job. Obviously no loans with which to contend.
Advice guys? 100% career switcher with not the strongest/most illustrious work experience looking to break into Marketing (or perhaps Real Estate) with minimal savings? Full ride + stipend at lower ranked school or half-ride at higher ranked? Thoughts on "brand" comparisons and alumni network PSU vs UNC (thinking towards the future, 5-10 yrs post MBA)?
If you're a career switcher I'd probably recommend UNC, as it'll have much stronger on campus recruiting. I don't really see a school ranked 40 worth much, as even if it's free, I don't see you obtaining any prestigious job offers out of it.
Needless to say, you're in a very fortunate position! A half-tuition scholarship from Kenan-Flagler or a full-ride from PSU are both great options.
But as a native Californian and a current NYC resident (with plans to matriculate at a business school in NYC), I would unequivocally vote for UNC. Here are my (humble) reasons:
1) Doesn't make much sense to repeat business school at your undergrad institution: I attended Haas (UC Berkeley) for my undergraduate degree but chose not to re-apply for my MBA there, as I wasn't convinced that my network would change that dramatically. Yes, you would certainly encounter different students in more advanced stages of their careers (when compared to undergrad), but you would very likely encounter students with a similar DNA as your undergraduate alumni base. Your MBA experience is a unique opportunity to exponentially increase your network and UNC would open up an alumni base in the South, as well as help make inroads into a (stronger) network in the Northeast.
2) You want to switch careers and UNC is a much stronger brand nationally: UNC, frankly, is in a different tier relative to PSU (you also highlighted this in noting the schools' respective MBA rankings) and will bring a different caliber of employers to campus, come recruiting season (study the schools' employment reports!). Apparently you're contemplating entering marketing or maybe even real estate, and UNC (as it is a stronger business school) will provide a more diverse set of opportunities and a more prestigious employer base (if you wanted to even enter Finance / IBD, for example, you could potentially enter Bulge Bracket investment banking from UNC, but from PSU I think it would be nearly impossible. I am an Associate at a BB IBD in NYC and I have colleagues from UNC that are freshly-minted MBA grads).
3) Half-tuition is still a lot of money: I know that a full-ride is always enticing, but honestly, a full-ride doesn't necessarily always equate to a better opportunity. Don't forget that your MBA is a brand that you will associate yourself with for the rest of your career / life, and while PSU is a great public institution, UNC is an even better one (and has much stronger pull nationally, and maybe even possesses international reach). Similarly, I will be the first to admit that while I love Berkeley, Columbia is in a different tier!!
This is just my two cents and I wanted to re-iterate that your predicament is a blessing.
I really appreciate the sound advice guys! My heart and head are both leaning towards UNC, but growing up a banker's son I'm somewhat financially risk averse so the added debt I would incur by going to UNC was/is weighing on my mind.
However, considering my intentions regarding bschool (reinventing myself, landing a prestigious job and positioning myself for an exceptional career) I know which school is the better choice: UNC, for all the aforementioned reasons.
I feel truly blessed to even be in this position, and want to ensure I have no regrets in hindsight. At the beginning of my journey when I was still contemplating pursuing an MBA, I told myself "You don't want to wake up when you're 40 and wish you would have just gone for it". Similarly, I don't want to look back when I'm 40 and think "If I just would have risked it and gone to UNC"...
Moving from PA to NC; fiance would be making the trip with me, and the plan would be for her to secure employment to cover our living expenses. Kicking around the thought of me having to get a small part-time job to help out financially.
I wouldn't count on a part-time job. An MBA isn't college - you start recruiting almost as soon as school starts. Something to explore may be the possibility of establishing in-state residency for your 2nd year. I'm sure there are rules (like you'd need to show you're staying in NC after graduation), but that could knock off quite a bit from your tuition.
UNC is a solid top 20 program with some great connections... (And proximity to Duke which ensures you get a great number of reputable recruiters... Half ride at UNC is still a lot... Smeal is a decent school but IMO does not compare to UNC in terms of prestige or connections.. Let me say it this way.. A 50% scholarship at UNC is too much to ignore for a full ride at Smeal...
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@ CobraKai: PENN STATE!!... (on an unrelated note, think Franklin's going to pan out?)
Checked into in-state tuition qualifications, and that's definitely a possibility as my fiancee and I had discussed potentially remaining in the area regardless. Will look into that further, so thanks for the suggestion!
You guys are hammering home the same reasons for attending UNC as I had rationalized in my own mind before even making this post....I was/am just worried how things will develop financially. But bschool is too big of an endeavor to take lightly, so I'm going to send my deposit to UNC and make it work!
Re: PSU full ride vs UNC half ride
16 Jan 2014, 06:13