Saturday, August 30, 2008

Explaining the Criteria

I'm back in NY this weekend. Mom's been in Beijing for nearly 3 months so it was really good to come back and see her again. She got me 5 mini bobbleheads of the Friendlies (those cute mascots for the Beijing Olympics), a deck of cards, and some headbands featuring the red Friendly. I will look like such a fruit but I'm kinda excited to wear it the next time I play basketball. I've learned that moms don't change :)

Anyway, I've been reading up on Wharton and Yale recently. Yale's really my 2nd choice next to Columbia in terms of fit but it's impossible to ignore Wharton's stature as the best MBA program in the country (in my opinion). Just because of that, Wharton is my second choice and Yale my third. But here's the thing. If I don't get into Columbia, there's a considerable chance that I don't get into Wharton (duh). If I only apply to 3 schools, then I'm putting all my eggs in the Yale basket. I'd go there in a heartbeat but what of my love for New York? I almost feel like I have to apply to NYU Stern. Have to. Upon second glance, their essays aren't as easy as I remembered them being. Luckily, their deadline is not until November but that means the wait will be even longer. Ay. But truth be told, I would probably have a great time at Stern and it would probably allow me to do what I want/need career-wise. I don't even mind the lackluster facilities (in my opinion only!) and the "city campus". I guess the thing that really bugs me is that I will feel like I settled in terms of prestige. I've written before and I'll write it again: I'm a prestige whore.

I wonder if that means Yale or Stern is my real 3rd choice? Hmm. Well I thought I'd take a page from OMGparishilton's book and explain the factors that I care about when ascertaining fit with potential MBA programs. I've actually covered these in depth in my old, now-defunct blog but I'd like to explain myself.

Location: This is super important to me. I want to be in Manhattan, NY. Anywhere else is compromising. NYU Stern wouldn't be on my radar at all without this key factor.

Brand/Prestige: This is super important too. The thing is that rankings only account for part of this (though a considerable part). In my head, I have my own idea of what the top schools are and rankings can only sway the order so much. That means I will always consider Columbia prestigious even if it's been at #9 in the rankings forever. The whole superficial M7 and Ivy League association are good enough for me. Similarly, that is why I will consider Yale but not any other school outside the top 10 or 12 or whatever we want to debate it is.

Career Prospects: This is almost a moot factor since most of the top 10 schools will get you where you need to go. But it helps if the network or program or recruiting is particularly geared towards real estate or finance for me.

Culture: This is a tricky one to describe but I don't want snobs (even if I have snobbish tendencies at times) and I don't want nerds (yes, I realize that we're all nerds to a degree by virtue of our GMAT scores). But I do want to enjoy the company of the other students. I want to feel comfortable. And having only 30% females doesn't help (sorry, MIT).

Curriculum: Obviously the more flexibility the better but it doesn't matter that much to me. I pretty much accept that the 1st year is mostly core and the 2nd year is electives at most anywhere. I don't care about being able to exempt myself from certain courses because I have no previous coursework anyway.

Hmm, I thought there'd be a lot more factors but I guess everything kinda loosely falls under "culture." And seriously, most things are not that important. Facilities are important but c'mon, they are not that important when compared to location, career prospects, and culture. Similarly, % of international students, food, grading systems, and all that stuff are small.

Since I'm a wackjob, I thought I'd also list my likelihood of acceptance at each of my target programs (assuming I put in my best application) as of today. These are all untenetable hunches.

Columbia 78%
Wharton 41%
Yale 55%
Stern 77%

Oh, and how could I forget? Harvard 102% :)

5 comments:

trystwithmba said...

Its funny how our school list is also decided by the way the essays appear!(Stern, in your case).

TienyChesney said...

Tryst,

Truer words have never been typed. A major reason I'm not applying to Chicago (the social ineptness is actually a small factor in the grand scheme) is cuz there's no way I can make decent slides despite my being a consultant. Similarly, if HBS was a bit easier, then maybe I'd be willing to expend the energy and roll the dice. I knocked out Berkeley a couple months ago due to their application questions but in hindsight it was the right thing to do since I want to live in NY permanently and their strength is in San Fran/Silicon Valley.

TienyChesney said...

Tryst,

Truer words have never been typed. A major reason I'm not applying to Chicago (the social ineptness is actually a small factor in the grand scheme) is cuz there's no way I can make decent slides despite my being a consultant. Similarly, if HBS was a bit easier, then maybe I'd be willing to expend the energy and roll the dice. I knocked out Berkeley a couple months ago due to their application questions but in hindsight it was the right thing to do since I want to live in NY permanently and their strength is in San Fran/Silicon Valley.

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to leave a comment after I saw your observations about schools based on each criteria. I think stereotypes and perceptions seem to play a big part in most people's selections. For instance the percentage of women is a constant 35-38% at most top schools unlike your reference to MIT vs HBS (I forget if it was your next post or this one). Obviously Stern is an exception. Also things like snobs, nerds are based on assumptions and stereotypes built up through the years. The best thing is to visit schools, experience the classes,atmosphere and decide for yourself. You'll be surprised at how different some schools can be as opposed to their "reputations".

My 2 cents from someone who went through this process not long ago..

TienyChesney said...

Anon,
Valid points to be sure. Now let's see what my trip to MIT and HBS yields in the coming weeks. I have, however, found most stereotypes to be true in my experience. They exist for a reason, but obviously anomalies will always exist.