As many of you know, I have been fortunate enough to be offered admission at two fabulous business schools. The question now, is which will I choose? I thought I'd walk through some of the things I'm going to be considering over the next few weeks before finalizing my decision. The underlying theme here is that I expect that both schools would make me very happy, now I just need to decide which it's going to be. The answer's in the palm of my hands! Hopefully my thought process aids others choosing between two (or more!) great options.
Some of the major things I will be mulling over during the next few weeks are career exploration, class size, alumni networks, and location. I'm going to jump into my thought process so far, but the plan is to reach out to current students and administrators to see what they can tell me.
I am excited about business school first and foremost because of the promised exposure to many different fields, people, and perspectives. I love working in the education non-profit sphere, but it's all I know (save the miserable 2 years I spent as a cashier in high school). I am super excited to meet people with different career paths, to experiment in an internship next summer, and to take classes that push me to think broadly (and dare I say it? bravely!). I honestly don't see any marked difference between Kellogg and Yale in this category. Perhaps because of Kellogg's size, I might be exposed to more options, but because Kellogg has majors I will be tracking myself into disciplines I'm comfortable with. So in that way, Yale, with its year-long required core, guarantees exposure to things I might naturally avoid. I plan to talk to students at both schools about how their career goals have evolved and how the schools have supported that evolution.
Since the cat's out of the bag (i.e. I've been accepted and don't care if people use the clues to figure out who I am), I can use specifics that I used to leave out. For example, I went to Wesleyan University. It's a large liberal arts college or a small university, depending on your perspective. And that's exactly the confusing thing about business schools. What perspective should I have when considering what the right size is? Bigger is not always better as it allows students to meet lots of people, but sometimes those relationships are less developed. On the other hand, when a school is too small, exposure to different people is invariably limited. Yale is planning on increasing its 2-year class size to about 350 over the next few years and Kellogg is decreasing (to an unknown number as far as I know). The current difference is about 275 versus 450. Part of me prefers the larger size but I'm not sure how much of an effect is actually has on the students. Worth investigating and I welcome people's thoughts on this topic.
Alumni networks are all the rage. I already mentioned this idea to some extent in my last post. What I didn't mention is how before I applied I never even considered the alumni network as something worth considering. Now, I definitely see I overlooked a key benefit of joining the MBA world. Kellogg is really transparent with its employment reports, which is pretty cool. I am not sure how to approach my alumni network "investigation"; however, since it's such a big part of the degree, I'm hoping that alumni will be at events I attend in the Bay Area over the next few weeks.
If this were a real estate show, we'd be echoing the words "location, location, location!" after every commercial. It isn't, but that doesn't mean we should throw it out the window. I have a newfound fascination with Chicago and I am drawn to the idea of living there. It's obvious that Kellogg will line me up for a career in the Windy City, but it's not so clear whether Yale will suffer for being in New Haven. It certainly hasn't kept Yalies from coming to the Bay Area. That said, location seems pretty unimportant in many ways. I like the idea of going to school outside a city (something that Yale and Kellogg share) and am adventurous enough to pave my own path regardless of where I go. If this new chapter included 7 years as a PhD student, I'd be singing another tune, but I can do 2 years anywhere, and I kind of like the idea of being tucked away in a secluded school bubble.
And before I forget: congratulations to my fellow bloggers and forum friends who got in to their schools! Big shout outs especially to Str1der (Tuck!) and MBAover30 (Wharton and Booth!).