Rungee Goes to School

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Pondering

Well, the pleasure of being admitted to four schools has not yet worn off, but I have since found a new fixation to replace my obsession of wondering whether or not I will get in somewhere – trying to figure out where I should spend my next two years! I warned readers that there would be more to come on this and here it is!

So, what to do? You would think this would be an easy choice. I think one of the things that helped me gain admittance to these schools is now working against me – I found them all a very good fit for me for one reason or another. I was able to explain very clearly why I wanted to go there. None of the schools is truly a PERFECT fit, but most are pretty darn close except maybe one or two aspects. The question is – do I go with the school that will get me there via a direct path or do I want to take the scenic route? So, here are the parameters against which I consider each school (not necessarily in order of importance to me):

Achieving my Short Term Career Goals
I have two main things I would like to come away from my MBA with – ability to work internationally (difficult if you don’t have the international experience to begin with) and ability to move into the health care sector. For me, LBS is the clear winner on international, but it lacks the defined health care component. Wharton is the clear winner on health care… hell, they have a whole program devoted to it. Duke does as well, but I personally find Wharton the stronger of the two, mainly b/c the overall school seems to come off stronger. Both schools have some international programs, but it's not the same as actually studying internatinally. Michigan has a little of both, but nothing to outdo the others. In the end, I think I need to focus more on building my knowledge of health care and try to work in the international component where I can.

Winner: Wharton

Cultural Fit
This is one of the hardest things to assess. From everything I’ve heard about LBS, I really think that it would be an excellent fit. The students are diverse in comparison to the US schools, the class is small (this could be a negative in terms of alumni network, but I think I would get to know more people on a more intimate level), and the students genuinely seem to have a good time. I do not think B-school is just about having a good time, but all other things equal, I’d rather have fun with my teammates while learning. Duke was great at reaching out to me as a female candidate and Wharton has been absolutely spectacular in the post-admit support (I think I've gotten no less than six or seven emails and calls from people offering to discuss Wharton and answer all my burning questions). I am interested to see the effect of the change in the Grade Non-Disclosure policy at Wharton, though.

Winner: Undecided (previously LBS but Wharton is winning me over as we go along)

Brand
Ah – yes, I am admittedly superficial when it comes to this... I like name brands. I chose a name brand undergrad over full ride scholarship offers from several other schools. When it came time to decide on job offers, I again went for name brand over a small and intimate firm where I would certainly be working on projects in my desired domain and making more money. But, I have seen the power of brand, which is why it’s hard to ignore. No, it’s not the be-all, end-all, but it doesn’t hurt. I think Wharton has a wonderful brand and people are starting to understand it is not just a Finance school. From what I can tell, LBS is considered to be on par with the top schools in the US over in the EU, but it is relatively unknown in the US. I would be happy to work in Europe for awhile, though, so this wouldn't inhibit in my short-term goals. It would be helpful if the brand were stronger over here, though, for when I want to come back. I think LBS will be able to grow its brand outside Europe, but it's going to take some time. I think Duke and Michigan are about equal...they're great schools, but not in the same tier as the H, S, W triumvirate.

Winner: Wharton

Money
Well, I don't have my aid package from Wharton yet, so I don't know how they will ultimately shake out. But, for now, let's assume zero from them. Duke's scholarship offer combined with the lower costs in general make it the most affordable by far. Following Duke is Michigan (again, a scholarship offer and lower overall costs). Next is LBS thanks to a scholarships (otherwise, it is by far the most expensive b/c of London's high cost of living and the horrid exchange rate), and Wharton brings up the rear. So, how much is the name brand really worth? An important question. I'm looking at a very considerable difference... so, how long do I want to be in debt?!

Winner: Duke

Location
North Carolina definitely has the best weather. I did not particularly like how spread out the school and Durham is... I felt like a car would make life much easier there, and I don't really want to have to deal with a car while I'm at school. Everywhere else, I will have to deal with moderately crappy weather, but, hey, I can suck it up. Philly has great restaurants, although I'm not too keen of the city overall. London would be AWESOME for all the obvious reasons. Ann Arbor is small but, again, I would probably be better off with a car and it is wicked cold.

Now, along with location, I have to consider distance from my husband, who will probably stay here. His job is going extremely well and we both think it makes sense for him to stay to see what opportunities come to him. Plus, he'll only need to find a new job once rather than do that now and then again when I graduate. The only exception is LBS -- we felt that was just too far, so he would move w/ me if I were to go there. He is clearly pulling for Wharton b/c it closest. Duke is also within driving distance. Michigan is farther but still only a 1.5 hour plane ride away (and cheap air fare)!

Winner: Tie - LBS for fun, Wharton for distance, and Duke for weather

Of course, there is no way to know which decision is the "right" one since there is no way to look into the future. But, I don't really think I can go wrong... these are all excellent choices and I always said I would be happy if I got into any of them alone. I am leaning toward Wharton right now, but I decided not to make any final decisions until I had gone to the admit weekends and rec'd all my financial aid information (or as much as I can get prior to the due date for submitting my decisions to the schools). I looked back to my earlier posts talking about which schools I liked more than others and there were definitely changes from my initial list to my final application list. Likewise, I'm sure some things will be shuffled around with these factors too, and I will probably think of more parameters for comparison, so we shall see what happens in the end!

21 Comments:

Blogger Wannabe said...

Without a doubt, I would take Wharton. Simply because it starts with W.

W for Wonderful!

:P

Good luck with your decision. Not an easy choice, but I think if you don't like risks, you should probably pick Wharton as it probably has the best brand name and may offer more opportunity than the other schools. Just my 2 cents.

1:10 AM  
Blogger Iday said...

From what i see, Wharton is the clear winner :)

For all the factors u've mentioned, Wharton is either the clear winner or right at the top. The only thing where it comes last is the money factor.

I dont think any BRAND comes for less :) Any school that has a great brand (as W does) does not come cheap. More than anything else, it also seems to work for ur personal life.

So i think Wharton wins the race hands down :)

1:50 AM  
Blogger Le Voyageur said...

Rungee - I am a current student who had very similar goals when starting out. I'm not at any of the schools that you are considering - I am at Chicago GSB. But perhaps I can help (while being relatively objective on the school choice since there is no motivation to convince you on my school). Feel free to shoot me an email.

6:15 AM  
Blogger High Above Broadway said...

I have a little bit of the same dilemma in that Columbia is the nice local, brand school vs. Ross or Haas who are emerging brands and great programs that are shooting past the sludging CBS.

4:50 PM  
Blogger Cornfed MBA said...

Wharton, Wharton, Wharton!

I mean, you only go to business school once. You have the rest of your life to pay off the loans :)

5:32 PM  
Blogger rungee582 said...

@wannabe - good enough reasoning for me. ;) Agree on the brand name.

@iday - That is so... you hit the nail on the head and these are all reasons W is on top for me.

@le voyageur - I appreciate the offer and would love to hear your perspective... I will email you!

@broadway - I'll be interested to hear how you make your final decision... that is a tough one too.

@cornfed - that is exactly what my husband says (including the Wharton chant)

9:48 AM  
Blogger MBA babe said...

i feel like i'm in a similar boat. Everyone has their opinion on which one i should go to, but scholarship money is awfully hard to turn down, especially when you are also interested in that school!

My strategy, if this helps, is to go to admitted students weekends and any other event where i can talk to alumni, current students, etc and at the end of 2 months hopefully know which is best for me. Of course, I haven't done this yet and not sure if it will help - but that's how I'm going about it :)

Good luck!

12:23 PM  
Blogger R2_MBA said...

Any decisions?

1:45 AM  
Blogger blogger28 said...

One thing you also need to factor is support structure for women in business. London Business School has fantastic support for women. There is an extensive networking events and support framework to get more women in business leadership positions.

Something to ponder! Good luck with your decision!

2:00 PM  
Blogger blogger28 said...

One thing you also need to factor is support structure for women in business. London Business School has fantastic support for women. There is an extensive networking events and support framework to get more women in business leadership positions.

It's great here at LBS and international exposure is fantastic and depending on what industry you want to end up, LBS has great relationship with all banks, consulting and many industry players from Google to L'Oreal that hire globally and not just London/Europe.

Something to ponder! Eitherway, Good luck with your decision but I am a bit biased :-P

2:02 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

very nice and thoughtful post. I am kind of sorry I have no time to post my version of it these busy days. It is also sort of a relief to see that I am not the only one having a painful choice.

But in your case it seems that W is indeed a winner in almost all the categories. I would take LBS only if you want to work in Europe as it's not terribly well-known in US.

Good luck with your decision!

3:45 PM  
Blogger AGirlsMBA said...

Thank you for your advice! I appreciate it - looks like I'm goign to be reading my app in and out for the next few weeks!

Congrats on having such a tough decision! I would go with W or LBS. I think it also depends on where you want to be after you graduate!

10:11 PM  
Blogger Bschool Diva said...

Looks like it's going to be Wharton.

9:08 AM  
Blogger UniQpath said...

Hey rungee582 , are you planning to attend the Wharton Winter Welcome weekend? I am going there. If you will be there, then may be we could meet up?

Thanks.

5:53 PM  
Blogger The One said...

Followed your blog some when I was writing my applications for R2.

Congratulations on your admits - most of us would be happy with half the success that you achieved.

It will be interesting to see where you end up...

3:41 PM  
Blogger MBA Aspirant said...

Congratulations on your success. I am pretty sure that you will end up joining Wharton.

5:23 PM  
Blogger rungee582 said...

@mba babe: Definitely planning a similar strategy... I'm interested to see what you will decide.

@r2 mba: not yet!

@blogger28: Thanks so much for speaking to the strenths of LBS. I really think the LBS folks are awesome for reasons such as this. This is certainly a tough decision b/c I have become very attached to LBS. I wish it had the specialization I desire, though (I know that's not the point of the program, as it is a general MBA school... I felt like I could still achieve my goals through that but it would be a bit more difficult, I think). Still thinking through it, though, and your information helps.

@alex: Thanks. Good luck w/ your choices too!

@agirlsmba: My pleasure... best of luck w/ the interviews. Thanks for the advice. :)

@bschool diva: Yep - nothing for sure yet, but it's looking that way.

@uniqpath: I am... would be great to meet up. I messaged you.

@the one: Thx for checking back in and the congratulations. All the best to you.

@mba aspirant: Thanks... I am certainly leaning that way, but we'll see how it plays out.

11:54 PM  
Blogger Clear Admit said...

Hello Rungee,

Congratulations on the admits! This is a great breakdown of your choices. Would you be willing to post this report to the Clear Admit Wiki for the benefit of other applicants? You can do so by clicking here, or simply e-mailing the text to wiki@clearadmit.com (we’ll be sure to link back to your blog when we post your information).

We’d also love to hear about your campus visits and interviews.

Thanks and best of luck in the MBA admissions process!

-Lauren

4:13 PM  
Blogger angie said...

wharton seems to be the winner here and I think especially what you say about healthcare you will only get there.

Don't forget there is an exchange programme with LBS so you could still go there for a term for the international experience, and also you can try to spend your summer interning abroad. A lot of my classmates are going to intern to Hong Kong, for example, so keep those options in mind.

1:22 PM  
Blogger rungee582 said...

@Lauren - done!

@Angie - You make an excellent point, and I specifically asked how easy it would be for me to do a more full-fledged international experience while at Wharton (let's say go to LBS for a semester!) during the admit weekend. By the way, I follow your blog and it was one of the ones that inspired me to apply to LBS in the first place!

8:26 AM  
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10:30 PM  

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