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School decisions when $$$ is a factor

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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 21 Jul 2017, 13:14
Dear Vantage Point,

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.
Vantage Point MBA Co-Founder
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Joined: 19 Apr 2016
Posts: 202
Schools: CBS '13 (A)
Re: School decisions when $$$ is a factor  [#permalink]

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New post 02 Aug 2017, 19:55
Hello again,

I think you're wise to be considering the financial impact of your education early on. That's an aspect of the whole process that many applicants overlook. And usually that works out OK since post-MBA salaries are quite a bit higher, but in your case, it sounds like you've done your research and know what the math looks like. So getting to your question about round 2 schools, if your objective is to maximize your financial aid package, then I would encourage you to look beyond the top 15. Darden is probably going to have the lowest chance (among your R2 schools) and programs like Rice and Notre Dame are going to have the highest. It sounds like you've already done a ton of research on the financial aid stats of each schools so I don't have any additional secrets or insights to share outside of that :) More importantly, though, I think that fit becomes an even greater factor as you go down the rankings and schools become a bit more regional (in terms of the student body and recruiting opportunities). That's something that you're best equipped to judge in terms of what cultural elements you connect with the most and where you want to work after graduation. But there's nothing about the schools you listed and your profile that's jumping out as a red flag, if that helps. Since you're starting so early, my advice is to connect with as many schools as you can and use those interactions to also help you pare down your list. You'll be surprised by how eye-opening a campus visit and/or coffee chat with a current student can be in confirming your fit - or lack thereof - for a school.

Keep up the good work!

Vantage Point MBA Admissions Consulting
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Re: School decisions when $$$ is a factor   [#permalink] 02 Aug 2017, 19:55
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