Friday, July 23, 2010

lol MBAaments

In 2003, I graduated from Rice. Every business school admissions cycle since, I have considered applying to MBA programs. I even wrote the essays a few times, but I never sent an application in. No regrets; I wasn't ready nor certain enough at the time to make a $100k+ investment.

But I'm certain that I'm applying this year and that means I have to start selecting my application list. At about $300 per application (fee + sending GMAT score fee) plus the considerable time investment, it's a choice that requires careful thought. The funny thing though is how in flux this list is. If you asked me a week ago, you'd get a completely different list, and a month ago, another one entirely.

Nearly 100% that I apply: Wharton, Texas, MIT Sloan, Yale. Wharton is known as the finance MBA, but I'm also going to have a foreigner wife and a newborn so being close to my family in Philadelphia is a pretty key reason to choose Wharton. Sloan is entrepreneurial and quantitative, plus carries MIT along with it, which has tons of nerd cachet. Yale is historically not a great MBA program but has recently risen dramatically in the rankings and shown a commitment to improving its program. As a value investor, it looks like a bargain: exactly the sort of school which will be higher ranked in the future than it is now. Texas is my safe school: as an in-state resident, if I don't get into Texas or the other 7 or so schools where I am likely to apply, I have to consider whether I should be paying $100k to get an MBA. But Texas has some factors that make it an extremely attractive safe school: in Texas, weather, Austin, 1/2 the price of other MBAs, local recruiting, etc. It's definitely plausible that I get into bigger name schools yet go to UT. On the other hand, my interactions with the McCombs admissions folks have definitely left me...less than palpably excited about McCombs.

Very good chance: Stanford, Chicago, Kellogg. Stanford is something of a dream school, but it's also the most expensive application fee which I find annoying even though it makes sense as they are by far the most difficult MBA to get into. I like the way they structure their essays though: classy and intelligent. Chicago is known as a finance school, which I dig, but I'm still a bit hurt that they rejected me for law school 7 years ago, although I'm glad they did. Probably not rational, but I think it's important to fight to be rational only where it truly matters. I don't really like their "make a powerpoint presentation about yourself" essay question either. It strikes me as slightly inane. Northwestern is obviously also a great school, but I'm not so sure how well I'd handle the cold of Chicago.

In flux: Harvard, Duke, Dartmouth, NYU/Columbia. At many points, I would have had Harvard on my definite list, but for whatever reason it's currently here. Dartmouth is a fantastic school, but cold, kinda middle of nowhere, and not in a city. Lack of a brand name like Harvard* doesn't help if I need to get a job in Argentina because the wife wants to come home. Duke has a good name, good weather, high quality of life, but I'm not sure I envision a scenario where I go there over Texas. NYU/Columbia are on the list simply because I'm not sure I want to be in NYC with a newborn.

* When I went to the Stanford MBA presentation a year or two ago, I was pretty amused by the Stanford folks having to give more of a hard sell than they seemed to be used to. The highest caliber Argentine applicants want to go to Harvard, because it's better known than Stanford here.

24 hours later: Columbia has jumped to the "nearly 100% that I apply" list. Funny how that works.

Further update: List has changed, also I forgot to put Acton MBA on this list.


Tish said...

Phooey. Don't worry about the others and just pick Texas.

Evan said...

The one problem with Texas is the people who work there are...distinctly unimpressive to me.