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The Spouse Dilemma

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Joined: 29 Jun 2005
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The Spouse Dilemma [#permalink]

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New post 24 Jul 2007, 11:52
Hey guys.... is anyone else facing or have experienced with the Spouse Dilemma?

I'm in a weird situation here in that I'm currently located in Toronto. Both me and my spouse are thinking of doing the MBA.

So here are the possible scenarios we're facing:

1) We both do an MBA in or around Toronto (ie. Rotman, Schulich, Ivey, etc.)
2) One of us gets an admit from a well-ranked school in the States
3) Both of us get an admit form a well-ranked school in the States

So the question is, IF - and that's a big IF - case 2) above occurs, our ideal goal would be for the other to come along and find a job and settle there. This also helps fund our daily expenses, etc, so that we're not without income for 2 years, as in case 3).

Has anyone been in a similar situation? How hard is it for a Canadian to look for and secure a job in the States? Obviously 1) would be the easiest on our budget, since we have a house here etc., but at the same time it'd be wasteful to not take up an offer from a well-ranked US school if 2) were to occur. What to do??
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New post 24 Jul 2007, 13:34
It is unlikely that both of you would get into the same high-ranked school, so going at the same time would require a compromise of some sorts. I have no experience to speak from, but talked to a few couples that did the same thing and really enjoyed it. One of them even split four years between HBS and Stanford, which is pretty incredible for one couple.

My wife got her MBA a few years ago (at night) and now she can support me during the full time program. That lowers my stress level quite a bit because she still brings home a paycheck, and her schedule is not as crazy so we will see more of each other than if she was a student.
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New post 24 Jul 2007, 13:38
That sounds rough. I think the idea of taking turns and seeing where it leads. If you're wife goes first and lands a job in any major market, there will be opportunities for you.

Maybe both apply and see who gets into the best program for their needs and make the decision from there?

Wow. The more I type, the harder it sounds. Not to say it can't be done, but both of you would have to really see what you're each capable of "dealing" with, IMO.
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New post 24 Jul 2007, 14:29
I know of at least one couple at Kellogg who both applied and both got in. I know of another from the GSB. Same story. I know of one HBS girl whose husband didnt want to leave his job, so she went and he stayed in NYC. They visited each other on weekends. I know several couples at various schools where one student went one year and by the second year their spouse had applied and been admitted.

Now, none of those scenarios are scenario B... There is an argument to be made that Scenario B shouldn't happen - at least not if schools are aware that you are both applying. It stands to reason that most schools would have the foresight to realize that admitting one but not the other may well put the person in an impossible situation. Thats not to say that your odds of being admitted are any better as couple, just meerly an observation that, at least in the cases I know of, couples were either both admitted or both denied.

That said, scenario B is of course possible.

If you decide to plow forward - I think you guys need to make a very cut and dry decision early on as to how the decision of who gets to go where is made. Maybe its based on who gets into the better school - but you would need to have a very very clear cut way of handling this. It would have to be something you both agreed upon before hand and neither of you could ever bring it up again. Personally, I couldn't make that commitment, but I think thats the commitment youd need to make. Otherwise, it'll become a source of contention between you.

A few things. Needless to say, you apply only to the same schools. Second, I think you visit together, attend class together, and make sure the adcoms know you are both applicants and that you are both planning on enrolling. (make mention of it in your essays in some way that you are both excited about joining group X). This won't necessarily improve your odds, but it will signal to the adcom that you are applying in tandem.

Another possibility, although unorthodox, is to just come out and ASK the admissions office to make a decision in tandem, but based on your individual merits. I can't imagine you would be the first couple to apply and face this possible difficulty.

The other option which you didn't list is to simply both apply and both go to whatever schools you were admitted into. If that happens to be the same city, great, if not, you deal with it for a year and visit each other as much as possible.

My wife has also given some serious thought to applying for an MBA and is actually now in the process of studying for the GMAT. When she told me about it, I told her "apply wherever you want". She said she'd only apply to Kellogg and Chicago. I told her that wasn't necessary and explained that whether it be Chicago or whether it be INSEAD, I'd support her decision. I did that for two reasons - one, I think limiting herself to Chicago and Kellogg doesnt give her particularly great odds (not that she doesnt have a chance, just that its a quite narrow set of chances for anyone really) - and two, because if she didn't get in somewhere, no matter what she says or how much she cares for me, there would be some part of her that resented me for "pinning" us down to only local options. That - I think - is the major issue with scenario 2. One of you would likely resent the other. So, I've given her carte blanche. Apply where you want. We'll hope for Chicago or Kellogg but if it doesnt work out, we can always make things work. That said, we'd be looking at a year apart - not two, which I admit, is a little different.

So, if I were you, I'd:

First, talk to adcoms at the schools, and just ask them if they have couples you can reach out to. They may very well have lots of useful solid advice. Make sure the adcoms know you are both applying to a given school and don't be afraid to ask about the possibility. Ask if they take that into consideration or how they've handled in the past.

The other thing to consider is that if one of you gets in and the other doesn't, and you go and then re-apply, the school would have to be awfully evil to reject you a second time while your spouse is already attending. Thats not to say you'd get in, but I imagine your odds would be substantially improved.
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New post 24 Jul 2007, 16:05
You dont have to get into the same school either. You could apply to schools in the same city. Chicago has Kellogg and Chicago. New York has Columbia and NYU. Boston has Harvard and MIT for top ranked schools and then also in Boston are BC, BU, and Babson...all schools in the top 50. So if one has a very strong profile and the other a slightly weaker profile you can plan it out that way.

I think its tough without knowing how closely matched you are...unfortunately one of you may be far more qualified than the other.
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New post 24 Jul 2007, 16:15
09App wrote:
I have no experience to speak from, but talked to a few couples that did the same thing and really enjoyed it. One of them even split four years between HBS and Stanford, which is pretty incredible for one couple.

So superman and supergirl did get married !! :shock:
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New post 25 Jul 2007, 06:27
My wife in I were in a similar situation. It doesn't look like we'll be getting our MBA's at the same time but here is what we were thinking.

NYC- Columbia and NYU would be ideal but Yale and Wharton were probably doable. Yale more than Wharton b/c New Haven is the last stop on the Metro. It would be a hellacious commute but could be done. Especially if we lived somewhere in between. Wharton is obviously in Philly but we could see each other on the weekends pretty easily.

We didn't want to do Boston b/c I don't think we really had a shot at Harvard and I didn't really like MIT.

You also could consider Duke and UNC. I figured this would be more of a safety net but both have good MBA programs.

Of course there are the Chicago schools and finally SF Bay Area (Stanford and Haas).

There are obviously options. NYC, where we want to end up, was the ideal situation and I think we had a good shot but our situation changed and we will be spacing out our MBAs.
  [#permalink] 25 Jul 2007, 06:27
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