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School decisions when $$$ is a factor

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School decisions when $$$ is a factor  [#permalink]

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New post 21 Jul 2017, 13:12
Dear Admissionado,

OK, so this post sort of turned into the War and Peace of “What are my chances?” threads. I hope it’s not a TL;DR! And I realize that I just sent a long post your way too.

Thank you for all the help you have already provided. It has definitely helped me navigate the complex world of MBA admissions, and has also given me a lot more confidence.

First, here is my background (though if you remember if from previous questions you can just gloss over it):


26 y/o white American male
3.63 GPA (magna cum laude) from a top-5 LAC; graduated in 2013
Currently in a Master of Social Work program--will graduate in May 2018
780 on the GMAT (Q50, V48, AW 6.0, IR 8) (took it in November of last year)
Past work experience: 1.5 years (40 hrs/week and received a stipend to cover living expenses) as an AmeriCorps VISTA member. I researched and gave presentations on unaccompanied child migration from Central America. (Before that, I had been in a religious order for a year, and although I wouldn't really count it as work experience, I figure I should put it on my resume so schools aren't wondering what I did the year after I graduated from college)

Future work experience: after I graduate with my MSW, I plan to practice clinical social work (case management, mental health care, or a combination of the two) with a social services organization for about 26 months before matriculating into an MBA, bringing my total experience up to 44 months/3.6 years.

Intern/volunteer experience: The MSW program entails about 1,000 hours of field experience. I worked at a mental health center for the first half of those hours, and for the second half, I plan to do a combination of mental health and social services work. I'm also interning at a men's transitional home this summer, and am working on a project to see how we can improve the program. I also spent 3 months living and working with immigrants from Central America at a shelter in Houston back in 2013.

I am looking forward to graduating with an MSW, getting my license, and engaging in clinical social work on the 'micro' (direct practice) level. However, I am ultimately hoping to pursue an MBA and specialize in nonprofit management, as I feel that I can serve more people by being an effective administrator than I can doing one-to-one meetings with clients. Following graduation, I would like to join the administrative team of a regional branch of a social services nonprofit organization. I envision myself serving as a department director or vice president of social services.

So, here’s what’s new: I had a good couple of conversations with my Very Wise Parents this week. They pointed out that I must take finances and debt into account when choosing an MBA program, since I can’t expect the sector I’ll be entering (nonprofit social services) to pay very well. $100K or more in debt wouldn’t be as big a problem if I were going into venture capital or investment banking, but if I’m only making $60K or $80K a year after school, I would have a lot of trouble paying back those loans. They also pointed out that I shouldn’t go into heavy debt at a school just because it’s prestigious or highly ranked.

In order to reduce or even eliminate the amount of debt I’ll need to repay, I see two paths towards getting an MBA education at a Top-25 school that’s also affordable:

1. Enter one of the 9 MBA programs that offers a Loan Forgiveness Program/Loan Assistance Program for MBA students. These programs offer somewhere between $2,000 to over $10,000 a year, for 5-10 years, to students who work in the nonprofit sector after they graduate. Although I’ll have to read the fine print very carefully, these programs could substantially reduce my debt burden. If I got a scholarship at one of these programs and/or need-based aid, that would also help.

2. Enter a program that doesn’t have loan forgiveness, but has a lower program cost than other schools and/or gives me a great scholarship/financial aid package. I can’t expect a full ride, but I know that some programs have a reputation for being generous with scholarships.

With those goals in mind, here is my current list of schools. I’ll be applying in 2019 in hopes of matriculating in 2020. The Poets and Quants resources on average debt and scholarship funding helped me narrow down the list, but I could see myself narrowing it further.

Round 1:
For round 1, I want to apply to 5 or 6 schools that offer loan forgiveness. Ideally, some of these programs may be willing to offer a scholarship or need-based aid as well. If my chances seem particularly good or poor at any of the schools, please let me know. I would get started on the applications early so that I could send in all 6 by the deadlines.

1. Columbia (I would apply as early as possible, maybe even in June and July, given their rolling admissions program. This would free up time for other rounds.)

2. Stanford (I’m choosing the GSB over Harvard as my ‘long shot’ school. It seems like Stanford would be a better fit.)

3. Michigan—their loan assistance program isn’t as generous as the other schools, but there’s always the chance of a scholarship too

4. Yale

5. Duke

6. UPenn

[Note: the other three schools with a Loan Assistance Program are Berkeley, NYU, and Harvard. I don’t have the same sense of ‘fit’ at these schools as I do at the above six, but I’m definitely open to considering them.]

I know these schools are very selective, but if I can make a solid case for why I’m pursuing an MBA, I think I have a shot in getting into at least 3 of these. If the financial package at any of these schools looks really good, I probably would accept their offer and not apply to Round 2 schools.

If not, here are the Round 2 schools I’m thinking of:


1. UVA (I may have in-state status)

2. UT-Austin (I may have in-state status, and even if I don’t, it’s one of the more affordable programs)

3. Georgetown

4. UNC

However, I’m much less certain about my Round 2 schools, since there are a lot of other programs in the top 25 that may offer a generous scholarship/aid package, including:

1. Washington University in St. Louis (20.5% of their students got full-tuition scholarships in 2013!)
2. Indiana University (also awfully generous with scholarships, and 19% of their students got full rides, although attending out-of-state would make the cost higher)
3. Emory
4. Carnegie Mellon

Also, Rice and Notre Dame are tied for 29th in US News, but they’re still great programs with much lower average debt loads than many other top schools.

My hope is that by April 2020, I can evaluate the financial offers these schools give me with the Round 1 schools that admitted me. Of these 10 potential round 2 schools, are there any that have an especially high chance of giving me a generous scholarship/aid package, or any that you think would be a poor fit?

Thank you so much for helping me come up with a preliminary list of schools! Even though I’m a couple years away from applying, I want to start cultivating relationships with schools now so that they know I’m interested in their programs.
Admissionado
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Re: School decisions when $$$ is a factor  [#permalink]

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New post 22 Jul 2017, 06:34
1
U5UWZLP5 wrote:
Dear Admissionado,

OK, so this post sort of turned into the War and Peace of “What are my chances?” threads. I hope it’s not a TL;DR! And I realize that I just sent a long post your way too.

Thank you for all the help you have already provided. It has definitely helped me navigate the complex world of MBA admissions, and has also given me a lot more confidence.

First, here is my background (though if you remember if from previous questions you can just gloss over it):


26 y/o white American male
3.63 GPA (magna cum laude) from a top-5 LAC; graduated in 2013
Currently in a Master of Social Work program--will graduate in May 2018
780 on the GMAT (Q50, V48, AW 6.0, IR 8) (took it in November of last year)
Past work experience: 1.5 years (40 hrs/week and received a stipend to cover living expenses) as an AmeriCorps VISTA member. I researched and gave presentations on unaccompanied child migration from Central America. (Before that, I had been in a religious order for a year, and although I wouldn't really count it as work experience, I figure I should put it on my resume so schools aren't wondering what I did the year after I graduated from college)

Future work experience: after I graduate with my MSW, I plan to practice clinical social work (case management, mental health care, or a combination of the two) with a social services organization for about 26 months before matriculating into an MBA, bringing my total experience up to 44 months/3.6 years.

Intern/volunteer experience: The MSW program entails about 1,000 hours of field experience. I worked at a mental health center for the first half of those hours, and for the second half, I plan to do a combination of mental health and social services work. I'm also interning at a men's transitional home this summer, and am working on a project to see how we can improve the program. I also spent 3 months living and working with immigrants from Central America at a shelter in Houston back in 2013.

I am looking forward to graduating with an MSW, getting my license, and engaging in clinical social work on the 'micro' (direct practice) level. However, I am ultimately hoping to pursue an MBA and specialize in nonprofit management, as I feel that I can serve more people by being an effective administrator than I can doing one-to-one meetings with clients. Following graduation, I would like to join the administrative team of a regional branch of a social services nonprofit organization. I envision myself serving as a department director or vice president of social services.

So, here’s what’s new: I had a good couple of conversations with my Very Wise Parents this week. They pointed out that I must take finances and debt into account when choosing an MBA program, since I can’t expect the sector I’ll be entering (nonprofit social services) to pay very well. $100K or more in debt wouldn’t be as big a problem if I were going into venture capital or investment banking, but if I’m only making $60K or $80K a year after school, I would have a lot of trouble paying back those loans. They also pointed out that I shouldn’t go into heavy debt at a school just because it’s prestigious or highly ranked.

In order to reduce or even eliminate the amount of debt I’ll need to repay, I see two paths towards getting an MBA education at a Top-25 school that’s also affordable:

1. Enter one of the 9 MBA programs that offers a Loan Forgiveness Program/Loan Assistance Program for MBA students. These programs offer somewhere between $2,000 to over $10,000 a year, for 5-10 years, to students who work in the nonprofit sector after they graduate. Although I’ll have to read the fine print very carefully, these programs could substantially reduce my debt burden. If I got a scholarship at one of these programs and/or need-based aid, that would also help.

2. Enter a program that doesn’t have loan forgiveness, but has a lower program cost than other schools and/or gives me a great scholarship/financial aid package. I can’t expect a full ride, but I know that some programs have a reputation for being generous with scholarships.

With those goals in mind, here is my current list of schools. I’ll be applying in 2019 in hopes of matriculating in 2020. The Poets and Quants resources on average debt and scholarship funding helped me narrow down the list, but I could see myself narrowing it further.

Round 1:
For round 1, I want to apply to 5 or 6 schools that offer loan forgiveness. Ideally, some of these programs may be willing to offer a scholarship or need-based aid as well. If my chances seem particularly good or poor at any of the schools, please let me know. I would get started on the applications early so that I could send in all 6 by the deadlines.

1. Columbia (I would apply as early as possible, maybe even in June and July, given their rolling admissions program. This would free up time for other rounds.)

2. Stanford (I’m choosing the GSB over Harvard as my ‘long shot’ school. It seems like Stanford would be a better fit.)

3. Michigan—their loan assistance program isn’t as generous as the other schools, but there’s always the chance of a scholarship too

4. Yale

5. Duke

6. UPenn

[Note: the other three schools with a Loan Assistance Program are Berkeley, NYU, and Harvard. I don’t have the same sense of ‘fit’ at these schools as I do at the above six, but I’m definitely open to considering them.]

I know these schools are very selective, but if I can make a solid case for why I’m pursuing an MBA, I think I have a shot in getting into at least 3 of these. If the financial package at any of these schools looks really good, I probably would accept their offer and not apply to Round 2 schools.

If not, here are the Round 2 schools I’m thinking of:


1. UVA (I may have in-state status)

2. UT-Austin (I may have in-state status, and even if I don’t, it’s one of the more affordable programs)

3. Georgetown

4. UNC

However, I’m much less certain about my Round 2 schools, since there are a lot of other programs in the top 25 that may offer a generous scholarship/aid package, including:

1. Washington University in St. Louis (20.5% of their students got full-tuition scholarships in 2013!)
2. Indiana University (also awfully generous with scholarships, and 19% of their students got full rides, although attending out-of-state would make the cost higher)
3. Emory
4. Carnegie Mellon

Also, Rice and Notre Dame are tied for 29th in US News, but they’re still great programs with much lower average debt loads than many other top schools.

My hope is that by April 2020, I can evaluate the financial offers these schools give me with the Round 1 schools that admitted me. Of these 10 potential round 2 schools, are there any that have an especially high chance of giving me a generous scholarship/aid package, or any that you think would be a poor fit?

Thank you so much for helping me come up with a preliminary list of schools! Even though I’m a couple years away from applying, I want to start cultivating relationships with schools now so that they know I’m interested in their programs.


Hey there!
Good to see you back :)

Allright, so let me start with some general "life" thoughts that have maybe little to do with Admissions Consulting, but yeah still do.

The first thing is that the amount of debt you take on will likely influence your decision of what choices you will make. Someone who is 200K in the hole might make different job choices than someone who owes nothing. I don't think that there is a real danger of you not being able to pay back your loans once you graduate from a top program, however the debt might influence you to aim for a top-dollar job you don't want but need over a moderate job you love. So it's a factor to consider. Although not insoluble.

Secondly, your plan aiming for schools with loan forgiveness for folks in non-profit can be a good one. I'll take Yale for example (and bear in mind I might be providing with some outdated info), but the last I looked they had a full loan forgiveness for folks making under 75K a year. Not too shabby. But overall, I think that since you are aiming at top programs you will almost always be able to find a solution, be it through private scholarships, schools scholarships, loan deals, making more money etc. and I think at this point since an MBA is universally expensive at the Top 10 level, you should be really aiming for going to programs that fit you well.

Also, depending on what you ultimately decide your vocation to be, you might find yourself interested in a double-degree. Public health, or maybe HKS, or maybe.... there's tons of stuff out there, and you don't seem like the type to shirk a tough workload :)

Ultimately I think all of your thoughts and all of your parents thoughts are valid, and it's great that you are already thinking about these things at this point, but making actual decisions is premature. Instead, take it easy. You know the top 10 or 15 schools you are interested in. Visit them. Spend weekends. Talk to students.Talk especially to people who are from your field. Hit up alumni on Linkedin. Go to school events. Chat up professors. Go to networking meetings and MBA fairs. The more you do this, the wiser you will become and the better decisions you will make.

So allow me to hold off at this early stage on giving you an explicit answer as to "school X" or "School Y". Instead, let's deal with that the summer you will apply. You will have gained more experience, talked to more people, and so on...

But do keep in mind that there is a certain amount of unpredictable circumstance involved. Meaning the best way for you to get the best offers is in addition to making the best possible application, applying to AS MANY schools as you would be interested in going to. You never know who will offer you a full ride. :)

I hope these thoughts help.

Best,
Jon Frank
_________________
Jon Frank
Founder, Admissionado

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That'll get you started. Still have questions? Reach out, and let’s gab. 
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Manager
Manager
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Joined: 07 Aug 2015
Posts: 96
Location: United States
Concentration: Nonprofit
GMAT 1: 780 Q50 V48
GPA: 3.66
School decisions when $$$ is a factor  [#permalink]

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New post 22 Jul 2017, 20:32
Thank you Jon--as always your comments are very helpful! I will try to take your advice on getting to know schools to heart. In fact, I visited Penn today just to walk around and see the campus.

My list of schools I'm interested in is indeed getting longer and longer. I know the conventional wisdom is to not apply to more than 6 or 7, but I'm tempted to try to squeeze upwards of 7 into the first round. Is that manageable if I get a head start and really push myself over the summer? And then I may also try 4+ schools in round 2 to compare as many financial/scholarship opportunities as possible.

My real concern, though, is that if I apply to a ton of schools, I'd be asking too much of my recommendation writers, especially my [future] direct supervisor. I understand that letters of reference take a while for people to write, even if some information will be common between schools. Can I really ask my direct supervisor to write 7, or even 11 letters for me??

I know the requirements for references differ by school, but I'm wondering if I could have my direct supervisor write Letter #1 for some schools, and then have another senior staff member at my place of employment (who still knows me well) write Letter #2 for other schools. I think I'll have a number of people who would be willing to write Letter #2.

It's things like this that make it hard for me to take it easy, much as I'd like to! :D


[Edit]OK, learning about the GMAC Common Letter of Recommendation has taken my fears away! It looks like all of the schools I'm really interested in (other than Wharton) use the Common form, or a very similar set of questions. So it shouldn't be too much trouble for someone to submit LORs to 7 or even 11 schools.

I do have one other question about references that I'm curious about, though. I don't believe it will apply to me, since I think I've had good relationships with all of my supervisors so far, but: What if someone can't submit letters of reference from their current supervisor because that supervisor would probably write a negative evaluation of their performance? How could you (truthfully) explain this in the optional essay without making a terrible impression? Again, I'm quite sure that my post-MSW supervisor and I will have a good relationship and that he/she will be happy to write a positive recommendation for me, but I imagine this problem arises for at least a few students.
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Joined: 30 Nov 2009
Posts: 6230
Location: Chicago, IL
Schools: Brown University, Harvard Business School
Re: School decisions when $$$ is a factor  [#permalink]

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New post 24 Jul 2017, 11:45
U5UWZLP5 wrote:
Thank you Jon--as always your comments are very helpful! I will try to take your advice on getting to know schools to heart. In fact, I visited Penn today just to walk around and see the campus.

My list of schools I'm interested in is indeed getting longer and longer. I know the conventional wisdom is to not apply to more than 6 or 7, but I'm tempted to try to squeeze upwards of 7 into the first round. Is that manageable if I get a head start and really push myself over the summer? And then I may also try 4+ schools in round 2 to compare as many financial/scholarship opportunities as possible.

My real concern, though, is that if I apply to a ton of schools, I'd be asking too much of my recommendation writers, especially my [future] direct supervisor. I understand that letters of reference take a while for people to write, even if some information will be common between schools. Can I really ask my direct supervisor to write 7, or even 11 letters for me??

I know the requirements for references differ by school, but I'm wondering if I could have my direct supervisor write Letter #1 for some schools, and then have another senior staff member at my place of employment (who still knows me well) write Letter #2 for other schools. I think I'll have a number of people who would be willing to write Letter #2.

It's things like this that make it hard for me to take it easy, much as I'd like to! :D


[Edit]OK, learning about the GMAC Common Letter of Recommendation has taken my fears away! It looks like all of the schools I'm really interested in (other than Wharton) use the Common form, or a very similar set of questions. So it shouldn't be too much trouble for someone to submit LORs to 7 or even 11 schools.

I do have one other question about references that I'm curious about, though. I don't believe it will apply to me, since I think I've had good relationships with all of my supervisors so far, but: What if someone can't submit letters of reference from their current supervisor because that supervisor would probably write a negative evaluation of their performance? How could you (truthfully) explain this in the optional essay without making a terrible impression? Again, I'm quite sure that my post-MSW supervisor and I will have a good relationship and that he/she will be happy to write a positive recommendation for me, but I imagine this problem arises for at least a few students.


Allright, so I guess I will address your one remaining question. :-D

Not being able to submit recommendations from a current supervisor is quite common. Not so much for negative evaluation, but lots and lots of folks do not want their boss to know they are leaving... until they are ready to leave. so if there is any conflict that might prevent you from getting a recommendation from your current employer, it is something that should be explained in your essays.

Other than that, with enough foresight, apply to 7 schools in R1! Why not? We once worked with a Russian client who did 11 schools in one month! (and she did them well, too. I just don't know how she stayed up :) )

Best,
Jon
_________________
Jon Frank
Founder, Admissionado

==

***NEW Admissionado Products & Services! ***

If you like the post, give it a KUDOS!

Now, read up and get smart:

That'll get you started. Still have questions? Reach out, and let’s gab. 
Our only requirement is that you don’t prefer warm milk over cold milk. Everyone else, 100% welcome.

Email: claudia@admissionado.com
Young People: WhatsApp or WeChat (@JonFrankHBS)
Older: FacebookTwitterLinkedIn 
Oldest: 866-409-4753
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