Edit: I revised the Kellogg Loan Forgiveness section based on new information!
I've decided to pretend to be systematic about my decision. I have crafted a list of the most important factors in making my decision and am going to host a battle royale of sorts. because there can be only one! (Heidi Klum just flashed through my mind. I should probably not think of this as a fashion contest...oh wait I already did, not once but twice...)
So the major components that I am looking for in a Business School are as follows: Integrity (OMG, ethics at b-school?!), Prestige (admitted reputation whore here), Diversity (challenge me!), and Career (not salary, rather "dream fulfillment"). I'll rate each school on a scale from 1-5.
I chose to apply to the schools I applied to because they produce graduates who are socially-minded, their alumni's greatest accomplishments are often impact-driven not finance-driven. These schools top the list of having a combination of great programs, great alumni, great impact. The thing that makes these school stand out for me though is the commitment to social impact on a deep, sustained level. Both offer strong curricula in non-profit management, and wonderfully enough they offer "Loan Forgiveness" to those who enter the public sector. Yale has a strong edge out on Kellogg for me because Kellogg's upper threshold is $85,000 per year, while Yale's is commensurate with the average annual salary (or $100,000+). Now that is truly putting your money where your mouth is.
The other thing worth mentioning is the leadership at the schools. Dean Blount and Dean Snyder are fantastic. They have both spoken passionately about the importance of social impact work and they are fresh-faced and fulsome about their school's futures. It means a lot to me that they prioritize this kind of civic engagement and that they want to move their programs to the next level of excellence.
Yale takes the lead on this category because of the more endowed Loan Forgiveness program and the percentage of people who go into social impact fields.
I chose to apply to top schools because let's be honest, it's easier to get your foot in the door when you have a brand name on your resume. Yale's going to hold more weight than Kellogg because I'm planning on working in non-profit. Most people (::cough:: me a year ago) are not so familiar with business schools, so the overall parent university is the real linchpin. Kellogg is a highly esteemed business school, so people who do know will certainly understand the cachet. My only concern with Kellogg in this area is the obsession with the 1Y and part-time program. It just gives me pause that they might be moving their focus and thus diluting some of the resources for the 2Y program.
This category is kind of a toss-up because Yale is universally acclaimed as a world-class university, while its business school is quite young, whereas Kellogg is fabulously perceived but Northwestern lacks some star power on the coasts. My prestige ranking is a mix of my field's preception (first number) and the business world's perception (second number).
Wow, a whole category on the fuzzy topic of difference and feelings. Kellogg has launched a new campaign to "Think Bravely" and they are really stressing the importance of getting lots of different in their doors to debate and learn from each other. Also, they outdo Yale in this category by the pure virtue of being a larger school. Not only does Kellogg bring more people to the table, they really stretch across the world and across industries to ensure that diverse backgrounds and experiences saturate classroom discussions.
I can't give any school top marks here because there are such limited numbers of under-represented minorities and women at these schools. Not that all white dudes are the same, but it is a placeholder of sorts. The other consideration is that both schools are somewhat pigeon-holed in a discipline (Kellogg = Marketing and Yale = Non-profit). I know this not to be the case from my visits, but it might have some effect on who decides to apply and attend.
Although Yale does worse in this category, the upside is that if everyone's similar but you LOVE them, you kind of stop caring. (Oh rationalization!)
The fact that we're taking two years "off" from our career to advance said career is something I would have found laughable two years ago. My old belief was that your career is something you do, not something you plan for. Spoken like a true liberal arts major...but now, well I think the skills, network, and experiences I'll gain while in b-school will prove to be the most valuable investment in my career to date. So with that in mind, I am trying to attend a school whose graduates are thrilled with their jobs because they are exactly where they want to be.
On the Financial Times ranking, they actually have a category called "Aims Achieved" that measures the extent to which graduates fulfilled their goals. I love that Yale is 3rd and Kellogg is 6th in these categories (1st and 3rd respectively in the US!). It speaks volumes to the passion of graduates to achieve what they want AND to their ability to find work that falls in line with their wishes. I'm admittedly pretty unfamiliar (read: clueless) with the Career Resource Centers at these schools, but they must be doing something right! Obviously, having applied I've already bought into the idea that an MBA is the key to moving ahead in my career both in terms of field and position.
I feel so lucky and grateful to be in the position of choosing between two amazing schools. And as you can see, it's neck and neck, with the final tally putting them both at 17.5 out of 20. I know when it comes down to it, the most important thing for me is to determine where I see myself thriving MORE? I know I would be happy at both schools, but I don't think they'll let me enroll in both...
So I were forced to make a decision today, it would undoubtedly be Yale, and a lot of it has to do with my visit. Although I complained about the "love at first sight" factor, I had an amazing visit to New Haven. The current students AND applicants I met were just incredible. Throw in the strong financial edge Yale has and I'm pretty sold.
In the next couple weeks I'll see how I feel, obsessively reading the forums, checking the Facebook groups, and debating with my boyfriend. At the end of the day, he's given me permission to make the decision, but I definitely need his opinion. Once he finds out where Connecticut is on a map, he may protest though!
Best of luck to everyone else and congrats to those of you who have gotten in!