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# Ross or Darden

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Intern
Joined: 11 Mar 2008
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11 Mar 2008, 10:21
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Hello all! I have been accepted at Ross and Darden (with \$\$), and am having a difficult time making a decision. I currently work in publishing, and post-MBA I would like to initially go into consulting and then into non-profit/social enterprise work.

Help!

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11 Mar 2008, 11:53
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That's right, I did discuss Ross v. Darden in a prior post. Ross enjoys a huge following here at GMATclub, and while I definitely believe it is a great school, I think the activity and reputation here exceeds the level of interest and it's reputation in general. The decision seems to be a landslide, but I just wanted to point out that according to US News, Ross is ranked 11th while Darden and Duke are tied for 12th. Of the three schools, Darden has the highest starting salary and substantially better employments numbers at graduation and 3 months after graduation. Just for reference:

School : '06 Starting Salary : employed at graduation : employed 3 months after graduation
Darden : \$112,506 : 83.8% : 93.9%
Ross : \$110,834 : 79.6% : 85.1%
Fuqua : \$108,556 : 79.8% : 89.0%

Certainly, salary and rate of employment are just a few of the factors to consider when choosing a business school, but since the discussion of this thread seems to be skewing towards employment, these numbers bear some examination. Darden grads are employed at a 4% better rate at graduation; and the higher average salaries likely reflects that more Darden grads are getting the jobs of their choice, or at the very least suggests that Darden's employment rate is not higher simply because it's grads are settling for lesser jobs. If you move on to the rate 3 months after graduation, Darden's gap over Fuqua widens to almost 5%, and the gap over Ross is almost 9%! That's definitely not an insignificant figure. The 85.1% employment rate means that some 60-70 Ross students are unemployed after 3 months; and if they had an employment rate equal to Darden's, over half of those people would have jobs, leaving just 25-35 unemployed.

So, I've never really understood why people automatically assume people will chose Ross and Fuqua ahead of Darden. Even before I learned of my scholarship from Darden, it was easy for me to choose Darden over Fuqua (my Ross application didn't get considered because of a screw up) based on personal considerations; but people were surprised last year that I preferred Darden to Fuqua. I do understand that Darden's admit numbers were weak for a number of years. This was related to an expansion from 240 students to the current 300 students per year. Just to note, the the above employment numbers reflect Darden's worst admissions figures; admissions has moved back in line with other peer schools in the last two years, and employers have been uniformly pleased with the current students, and I believe McKinsey, Bain, BCG, Goldman, Morgan and Lehman brothers (basically the top three in consulting and banking, especially the the problems Citi is having) all made offers this year either equaling or exceeding their historical highs - in other words the most ever.

All that said, I think it is a personal decision about where you'd like to ago, especially among these three schools, which I believe are extremely similar; in terms of reputation I quite certain that recruiters (especially big, frequent recruiters) view students at these schools equally - almost mirror images of one another. Here are some things I consider advantages for the various schools, just going off the top of my head.

Michigan has football, which is a big plus for me. It's also got a great location, and for people starting next year it will have an awesome new facility (if it gets completed on schedule). On the other hand, Michigan can get really really cold, which is a serious pain in the ass. Also, the largest nearby metro area is Detroit, and I really cannot overstate how much Detroit sucks. The thought that people having trouble finding jobs might have to turn local employers in that area scares me. Detroit is probably the worst big city (won't be big much longer given the rate that people are living) in the US; it's really a miserable place.

Fuqua has a nice campus and a really nice building for the business school. The weather is definitely a lot better than in Michigan and the local employment centers are pretty appealing and the area seems to be growing nicely. There are finance opportunities in Charlotte, and plenty of management opportunities in the research triangle - which is especially nice given Fuqua's strength in health care. Duke has basketball, which is good and bad. The downside is that people all over the country hate Duke. You'd be amazed how many people, especially in ACC country, just hate Duke and dookies (people from Duke) with a passion. It's related to the success they have had in basketball, but UNC has been even more successful historically, and people do not hate them. I'll go off on a little tangent here, I think people hate Duke because coach K is just an annoying human being, and over the years Duke has recruited players that just piss people off. We had this discussion in another thread, but Duke probably has a dozen people that are just hated everywhere, and I can't think of another school with more than one or two people in their histories. (Laettner, Hurley, Wojsekowski, Thomas Hill, Danny Ferry, Reddick, McRoberts, etc... people really hate these people and it has nothing to do with whether they won or not - just look at McRoberts). Ok, finished with the tangent. I think Fuqua is a great school with a lot to offer. I could definitely imagine being really happy there (and at Ross as well).

Darden has an impressively beautiful campus with excellent facilities that are about 5 years old. In fact, I'd put the architecture of our private parking garage (do other schools get their own parking garages?) up against the school facilities of most other business schools. Darden has nice weather and a country-club like setting. In fact, there are at least 5 excellent golf courses within 10 miles, some of which offer student semester passes for about \$400 and fees of about \$15 a round. There really is a sense of community here that isn't found many other places (only Tuck has a higher rate of student giving), and alumni are amazingly responsive to current students. I'll give a personal example. After completing my banking job search, but before accepting my offer, I contacted a Darden alumn working at Intel's venture capital arm. He responded saying they had already finished their hiring for the year but send over my resume just for reference; I took the message as a standard 'don't call us, we'll call you message'. I went ahead and accepted my banking offer (my first choice) and a couple of weeks later, the guy at Intel capital emailed saying that one of his portfolio companies (a start-up they had invested in) was looking for a management intern and that he could probably put me in place. I told him I'd already accepted my banking offer, so he suggested we get together when I'm out in the bay area. I'd been in contact with him a total of one time, and he went out of his way to keep me in mind for other opportunities. I can honestly say that alums respond to requests at least 95% of the time, and they do not blow you off with cursory responses. All schools say they have strong networks, but it really isn't true everywhere to the same extent; the student and alumni community is really very very strong at Darden.

So again, I know that Ross enjoys a strong following here and I think it's a great business school. But from a recruiting standpoint, there is basically no difference between Ross, Fuqua and Darden. Different people will enjoy their experiences at each school to varying extents, and everyone will have their own preferences. I just wanted to point out that away from GMATclub, out in the real world, and in alternate world inhabited by recruiters, these three schools are probably as similar as it gets; and that's reflected in the rankings as well.

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14 Mar 2008, 08:58
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I voted Ross for one reason only: Darden's curriculum structure scares me. I don't know how Pelihu does it.

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11 Mar 2008, 10:26
I voted for Ross. Ross and Darden both will offer you great opportunities, but for consulting I will go with Ross. If your goals were oriented towards finance, I would go with Darden.

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11 Mar 2008, 10:30
Wow- thats pretty one sided...wonder if Pelihu has any thoughts as he went to UM for his Law degree and took courses at Ross and is currently a Darden student.

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11 Mar 2008, 10:30
Voted for Ross, because it's a better choice for consulting track straight after graduation. Ross is more well-rounded school in terms of approaches to education, i.e. not only cases. And Ross is a very-very nice school.

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11 Mar 2008, 10:31
I think to me it depends on how much money.

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11 Mar 2008, 10:34
bherronp wrote:
I think to me it depends on how much money.

Not that much.

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11 Mar 2008, 10:38
Betsina,

First of all, congratulations on getting into both these great schools. I think Ross is better overall when compared to Darden. I would like to think Ross as Jack of all trades (sorry fellas, take it as a compliment). But, if the \$\$ are too many, then go with Darden. B School investments are huge and it won't make much of a difference unless its an M7 school.
You have 2 equally good options. If the scholarship amount is insignificant, go with Ross.

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11 Mar 2008, 10:43
dosa, pelihu summarized Ross vs Darden pretty well in this post.

103-p415006?t=55545&hilit=match+up#p415006

dosa_don wrote:
Wow- thats pretty one sided...wonder if Pelihu has any thoughts as he went to UM for his Law degree and took courses at Ross and is currently a Darden student.

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11 Mar 2008, 10:48

Anyway, I am sure that you know about the teaching method at Darden (Entirely case-based). That should be one of the biggest differentiators between these two schools. Then there's the fact that Ross is more respected for GM/Consulting and Darden for finance. I am pretty sure that Darden won't be that bad at GM/Consulting either. I would not worry that much about the \$s. You wouldn't be talking B-schools if you weren't willing to take the \$-hit. In the long run, the \$ saving in tuition is going to be negligible. Just my opinion, of course.

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11 Mar 2008, 12:19
Good analysis Pelihu- great insight. I agree with the others that it comes to whether you like case studies or not. Also, Darden is supposed to be one of the "tougher" programs, which might be a good thing for some people.

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11 Mar 2008, 13:37
i slightly favor ross over darden, but dont have hands on experience with either. it would be nice to have a current ross student chime in as a rebuttal to what pelihu wrote. obviously pelihus view is very biased... i just searched through some old posts and saw he had michigan ahead of darden before application results last year, which goes to show wherever you go you will end up loving it anyway.

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11 Mar 2008, 14:15
I would go with Ross because while I think case based is the best teach method for somethings but definitely not others. I think teaching methods should be tailored to what works best. I think they are on par for overall stature. Though from an outside perspective (I didnt apply to either), Ross is riding a wave of increased popularity. Its definitely one of the schools out there right now that has a lot of very positive opinions. This isnt a knock on Darden which is a strong school but I have heard far more folks interested in Ross (here and else where) and I know people who picked it over other elites including Duke and Darden and definitely dont regret that decision.

As for Dardens salaries, I think those favor schools that have more students go into finance. If you want MC or GM, Ross definitely has a stronger rep in those. If you want finance Darden holds the edge there. That said there isnt enough of a difference to choose based on its reputation. Its not like you are choosing between Darden/Michigan and an ultra elite...they are truly peer schools so go with wherever you will be the happiest and enjoy the most.
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11 Mar 2008, 15:02
Great post, Pelihu. Part of what is making my choice so difficult.....

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11 Mar 2008, 15:35
You are right dabots. Early on, I did like Michigan a lot because of my personal connections. As I mentioned, the opportunity to watch Michigan football is a huge plus for me as an alum (more so than for people new to Michigan) and that was an especially big factor this past year. Expectations were high, with Henne, Hart and Jake Long all seniors, Michigan was coming off an awesome season and expectations were really high. For anyone that's witnessed a national title run (I did at Michigan in 1997, my first year there) you know how exciting this is, and for a Michigan alum and huge sports fan like myself, this was a major consideration. Looking forward, with the coaching change and underclassmen leaving, this is the most challenging year Michigan football has faced in 20 years or more. But the bottom line is that when deciding among these schools within the same cluster, personal preferences are a major factor. But it was moot for me anyways, as some of you know, because my application got fouled up, they didn't consider it for the round submitted, and I received the full scholarship from Darden and decided to attend so I told Ross not to bother. Darden didn't really pull ahead for me until I really interacted and got to know the people and the community, and it's no surprise this didn't happen until later in the process; but once I was exposed to the community Darden was an easy choice.

RR, I'm not sure that the employment figures reward placements in finance. Based on the employment data I've looked at from numerous schools, those compensation numbers include base salary and guaranteed compensation (signing bonuses) and consulting jobs generally have the highest numbers. IB salaries tend to be understated because the figures don't appear to take in the year-end bonuses, either for the stump year or for the first full year. If these year-end bonuses were included, then finance compensation figures (and indeed average compensation figures) would be much higher. As we know, first year IB compensation has been in the range of \$230-280k over the past few years, but most school employment reports list finance positions at \$95k base + \$30-40k signing bonus. That's less than what consulting firms are currently paying (is it \$140k + \$20-30k signing? I'm not sure) but of course IB is all about the year end bonus, which is not factored into these numbers. So, I do not believe the employment numbers favor schools that send more people into finance, but they definitely do favor schools that send more people into the higher paying metropolitan areas.

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11 Mar 2008, 15:37
great insights peli, added to the knowledge vault
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12 Mar 2008, 14:56
Thats a good write-up. Thanks pelihu

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14 Mar 2008, 10:14
Betsina wrote:
Hello all! I have been accepted at Ross and Darden (with \$\$), and am having a difficult time making a decision. I currently work in publishing, and post-MBA I would like to initially go into consulting and then into non-profit/social enterprise work.

Help!

Have you decided yet?

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14 Mar 2008, 10:55
So is Darden the only school with a tough curriculum or are there others as tough?

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Re: Ross or Darden   [#permalink] 14 Mar 2008, 10:55

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