Different strokes for different folks

I had a comment recently asking about how my list of schools work. I must admit, I wasn’t hugely surprised. At first glance, it does look like a disparate list of top 10 schools with very different characteristics. However, I reassure you there is more to it than that. Afters days, weeks, and months of research, I have a really clear idea of what I want out of my MBA experience. Hopefully I can offer some justification as to why this shortlist works for me (and me only). I will try and go through the different factors that people use to choose schools and I can give an insight into my thinking.

Location: I can hear you ask already. How can you be convinced that Tuck is awesome and then also apply to Wharton? And what about Booth, all the students live downtown. I have lived and worked in one metropolitan city or another my entire life. On the other hand, I studied at a campus university that was more remote. Therefore I am equally comfortable in a remote environment such as Hanover as a city environment like Chicago. That’s not to say I don’t have a preference. However, my preference for a US campus university experience is not so strong for me to discount any schools. Instead it will more likely act as a tie-breaker.

The one important aspect on location is that I want to be on the East Coast/Chicago for family reasons. This is why I have never considered any schools located in California. Otherwise I am sure Haas might have at least warranted some consideration.

Class size: See above. Tuck’s intimate class size vs Wharton’s class of over 800. I have researched and know well the pros and cons of both scenarios. Again, I feel confident that in whatever class size, I would succeed and feel comfortable. I am no wallflower, so whether I am in a class of 280 or 800+, I doubt I will feel drowned out or intimidated.

Careers:  This is one of the most important aspects for me. The overriding factor is that all of them place well into my targeted industry (not finance) in my targeted location. It might sound clinical and pragmatic but above all else, I want my MBA to achieve my primary goal of switching careers.

Curriculum: There are certainty differences vast between core-heavy curriculum of Tuck vs totally freestyle crazy flexible curriculum of Booth. However, I believe that I can learn all the relevant required skills at any of my targeted schools. Although at first sight Wharton and Booth scream finance schools, this is not my interest. In fact, I think both schools are much more rounded than people give them credit for. Booth’s Polsky Centre for example is doing great work on the Entrepreneurship front. Wharton is stronger at marketing than people realise. I really tried to dig deeper beneath the reputation and what’s on offer. So there is a great research center at Tuck that I hope to get involved with should I be admitted. At Wharton, there is a specific concentration and research center that really speaks to my career goals.

People and community: Finally, what binds this all together are the people. At least from my interaction with people at each school, I felt a fit. Yes, Tuck and Kellogg probably curates their class a lot more to ensure a harmonious community but at the same time, with a class the size of Wharton or Booth, I will find kindred spirits and meet new and interesting people.

Hopefully, the above will have given you an idea of how I came about my list of schools. They are certainty different on the surface but each one has aspects in their curriculum that really appeal to me and can get me where I want to go.

As an aside while looking back at my old post, I came across my own checklist for getting into b-school:

  1. Take GMAT
  2. Research Schools + Pick a final list of 6 to apply to
  3. Self-reflection + document raw materials for essays
  4. Write essays + fill in applications
    New addition:
    4.(a) Get invited to interview(s)
    4.(b) Wow the interviewer(s)
  5. Get admitted

Looks like I omitted the fact that I need to be invited to interview and crush that portion of the admissions process! It is pretty amazing though to look back at how far I have progressed in my gameplan. I am down to the final stretch now. If I can execute then I might be lucky enough to be in a position to strike out #5 come middle of December! The ultimate scenario would be having a seat secured after R1 and wait on the news from Tuck early February.

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This entry was posted in Booth, Gameplan, Picking Schools, School Visit, Tuck, Wharton and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Different strokes for different folks

  1. Reader says:

    Interesting post… I still feel that after all the criteria you state, you still have no preference (maybe the location one). Perhaps you could explain your post-MBA goals so we can fully understand. It sounds like you will go to any of these top programs that accept you and “make the most” of the experience. Or perhaps you have no strong preferences, so location and career are the only drivers in a program? To me it still looks like you are applying to top programs and are justifying it by location since career prospects are very similar at all top programs (if you want to go into industry/function X, you will have the chance to do so). Just my observations, in the end you do not have to justify ANYTHING to anyone but yourself. Congrats on your progress so far and good luck on the upcoming interviews!

    • domotron says:

      Unfortunately, I would prefer to keep my MBA goals to myself until at least I secure a spot at one school. However, I wasn’t completely clear about my intention to return to London. It was really important for me that the schools I attend have a strong alumni presence in London. Even in the top 10, some schools really don’t have much of a presence in London.

  2. Excellent post !
    I believe this really helps you if your interviewers ask you whether you applied anywhere else, and why ?

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