Saturday, January 07, 2006

Ratings Obsessions

Having read and written a lot of comments regarding the "My school is better then your school" debates, I have been meaning to write something on the subject for quite some time. I had an extremely difficult time narrowing down my school choices and trying to differentiate between the programs. A big reason for this being that I always felt that my undergraduate institution was not quite right for me and I wanted to make sure that I chose a grad school I would be happy with.

I used the ratings as a first step and looked at the top 20 US schools. That was probably the only time I looked at the ratings for help, everything else was a matter of research. I didn't want to go to a school with a huge student body, but I also wanted at least 200 people in my class. I wanted a structured first year schedule of core classes in order to be "forced" to learn subjects I might otherwise opt out of. Having zero interest in consulting and ibanking I made sure some of the companies I want to work for recruited at the schools I was considering. I also looked for a Bay Area connection, knowing that I want to come back to San Francisco after school. In the end I was split between Haas and Columbia for my number one choice. Finding out that CBS has full resources use of Haas' job placement center was the ultimate deal maker. Deep down I was craving to move away from the Bay and living in New York has always been a dream. I was also concerned that I would feel torn between spending time with my family and existing friends vs. the new B-School friends. My family would have made it especially difficult since they already expect me to come visit on a weekly basis. Thankfully NYC is too far for them to ask that of me ^_^

As far as the other two schools I applied to, Kellogg was a total last minute decision (as can be seen from the earlier entries in this blog). Wanting to go into biotech I knew that the Kellogg Biotech MBA emphasis would open up amazing opportunities, but that was pretty much the only reason I wanted to go there (along with the fact that it is close to Chicago - which I LOVE). Anderson was my last choice and I was actually hoping I would not end up there since I hate Los Angeles. I really liked the campus and I have a few friends in the program right now, but beyond that they don't really have what I want. It was also a money issue since Anderson and Haas would have saved me about $30K over the two years.

It is too bad that so many people have the need to put down a school to make themselves feel better. Is Harvard really in a different league from Chicago? Probably for certain industries or areas, but definitely not across the board. Even if one program is significantly better then another as far as statistics show, I am a firm believer that you have to find that certain fit. This same reasoning applies to finding a job. It is not all about the salary and benefits, you have to like the place and the people you will be working with. You have to feel a connection to the culture of the office, otherwise you will end up miserable and start looking for a new employer in no time. In closing, the school name, much like the MBA admissions interview, can only help you get where you want to be if everything else is in order. So why not do some research and find a place you will truly enjoy for two years? Especially when you are investing almost $130K in it.

In personal news, I am still in Chino. I am working today (Saturday) and looks like tomorrow will be no different. I might be stuck here until Monday (should have been on the plane right now). Definitely going to roll my hours and take two days off when I get back.

I have been playing around with the Clear Admit Wiki and adding content from my experiences. I think it will be really useful to the future applicants to be able to obtain all this information in one place. I wish I had access to something like it when I was going through applications.


Blogger SugarRumCherry said...

I totally agree with you. I think each person has a different reason for choosing their top choice. For me, location was a huge factor. I've been dying to move to NY for a really long time, and I am excited to finally be able to do so. :-)

January 07, 2006 5:58 PM  
Blogger i_will_make_it said...

Yes, pick the school that's fit for you. Sure, HBS and Wharton are AMAZING schools, but I decided not to apply myself because I didn't feel the fit (I would probably be swallowed up by their enormous class size). So I am glad you have chosen CBS for YOURSELF. Plus, it'll only be 2 years away from the bay. It's good to get out and experience a different environment. I know you'll love it in NYC! :-)

If I'm in Chicago, you can come kick it with me anytime! *Keeping my fingers crossed - knock on wood*

January 07, 2006 11:53 PM  
Blogger sorebrek said...

Hmm, for some reason I always thought you wanted to switch careers into I-banking. Well, it looks like you've spent a lot of time thinking about this. I love NYC, I blend easily in to the neurotic, rude and grumpy New Yorker crowd :-)

January 08, 2006 11:18 AM  
Blogger droodoggie said...

Good post. Congratulations on getting into Columbia; you'll fit in well here.

January 09, 2006 8:12 AM  
Blogger Vishy said...

Good post. More on why CBS is a 'fit' welcome

January 09, 2006 12:11 PM  
Blogger Marina said...

Thanks Vishy. Are you asking me to give more detail as to why it is a fit for me?

January 09, 2006 7:10 PM  
Blogger PupStar78 said...

Re. your Q on the Kellogg interview... it's actually a day of interviews that the school's alumns host in SF. I had to sign up for a timeslot on the 28th. I'm not sure how I feel about being a scheduled slot in a day of many applicant interviews.... although I suppose it isn't much different than being a scheduled interviewee on campus... the adcoms on campus probably interview several candidates a day.

January 09, 2006 7:22 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

nice post. Maybe we should have a 'channel' in the wiki 'School Choice' for content like this ?

January 10, 2006 8:11 AM  
Blogger Marina said...

Alex -

I think that is a good idea. Maybe peope can put their campus visit experiences in that section as well?

January 10, 2006 10:03 AM  
Blogger MBA Cutie said...

Ross's D-Day is Friday the 13th at 12:01am.

Thanks, Marina!

January 10, 2006 10:09 AM  
Blogger FooBarMe said...

I am definitely thankful that they did not reject me after the interview. I hope that my application was strong enough to get me to Fuqua.

January 10, 2006 4:37 PM  
Blogger MBABlogger said...

congrats for getting into columbia :)

January 11, 2006 1:26 AM  
Blogger BjornLee said...

got here by accident by googling "ibanking blog". Quite useful blog here, i must say, for my future MBA decision process. Congrats!

April 04, 2006 10:05 AM  

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