An Acceptance From Kellogg Leads To Some Soul Searching

I am thrilled to share that I got into Kellogg yesterday! It was a completely different feeling: My acceptance to Yale was like being uncuffed from the shackles of anxiety; admission to Kellogg was like finally leaving my jail cell and seeing the light of day. As I noted earlier this week I was kind of a hot mess during the (seemingly) endless waiting season. On Monday, when I got the call, I was finally able to celebrate that my hard work had paid off. Although I’m going to take the holidays to think about which school to attend, I have some preliminary thoughts I want to share. Hopefully my readers will weigh in, too!

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.

Kellogg: 4
Yale: 5


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).

Kellogg: 4/5
Yale: 5/4

  • Integrus

    Picking Yale is too old. Because of the internet, we have more information about schools but not just general reputation. There are so many school rankings based on what you study, not just where you study. By looking at MBA itself, Kellogg has a long proven record but Yale does not. Your potential employer will look at not only the school name but “what” you studied where. If you are majoring Law or Architecture, Yale is hands down. MBA? Harvard, Stanford, Booth, Chicago, Kellogg, Columbia, and Wharton. I would look into Yale if I get accepted by Ross, Tuck, Darden, Fuqua and Haas.

  • TA

    What I’m trying to get at is , I’ve worked with an NGO for 2 and a half years and it is bloody difficult to get bottom line results if you really really wanna make an impact. For every $100 that the world has to spare, getting 1Cent out of them takes hours and hours of preparation , planning and execution. No one , absolutely no one parts with their money or time until they see a vested interest for themselves.

    So the shallow ranking perception, the brand recognition , etc all the superficial stuff unfortunately my dear friend does make a difference. That 1 cent might just become 2 cents based on your pedigree.

    There are exceptions of course.

  • ru-serious?

    agree with your post… this is a no-brainer… it should be Kellogg hands down!

  • GL

    I have a Kellogg MBA. Congrats on Kellogg and Yale SOM!
    I would suggest that you attend Yale next Fall. It fits you better, as you’ll need to impress non-business people with the Yale brand name. I would seriously have someone who is more excited and honored to be a part of the Kellogg community join the network.

  • Mr. NPO

    One and the same! It is very rare to find well written blogs about the application process from a non-profit worker’s perspective. I have enjoyed reading your postings, and have shared many of the same anxieties that you have so aptly described 🙂

    I’m applying in R2, and both Kellogg and the SOM are on my target list. Your situation is an enviable one – two fantastic programs from which to take your pick! I don’t think you could go wrong with either decision (for your career path), so I would leave it all up to ‘fit’ at this point.

  • I did some more research for the loan forgiveness program and found out that I had shared old and inaccurate information.

  • Thanks for the enthusiasm and for your comments. I am prone to agree with you that the rankings are a major point of obsession for people who aren’t in business school yet. Then once we’re out, it’s a lot more of a “cool, love that you went to that business school…next topic!” I’m pretty darn grateful to have this choice!

  • Thanks. If you’re the same Mr. NPO as before I am happy to see you’ve been following my story. I’m psyched!

  • I agree with some of your points (manner of thinking is super important–though I believe that race, class, culture, etc. have a direct influence on thinking; an MBA gives confidence to take risks; an MBA is a lifetime investment).

    Nonetheless, I disagree with a few statements. 1) “stop blogging; start introspecting.” I didn’t realize I couldn’t use my blog as introspection or that by blogging I lost all ability to introspect.

    “Credibility will help you have greater impact.” Credibility is not a skill and won’t make me more impactful, which I actually think is what your story about Ramanathan shows. Who he was (and his network, which is a result of people’s respect for him) got him to the place where he could make an impact.

    I don’t understand your last comment: “long drawn 5 year MBA, social work path.” I’m not sure if you’re assuming I’m trying to get into the for-profit world and am doing this do-gooder stuff as a front. And whose attention am I trying to gain? And for what purpose? ::confused::

  • Birchtree

    @ Sassafras,

    Congratulations on Yale and Kellogg!!! Two of the finest schools in the world – and making a decision between them, as hard as it will be, is certainly the good kind of problem to have!!!!

    I believe that you cannot make a bad choice with either. You will hear many argue passionately to attend the highest ranked school you are admitted to, which is undoubtedly and deservedly Kellogg in your case. Kellogg has well earned its reputation for excellence and is a signature player in the BSchool world.

    I would argue and have argued that “fit” is critical and it seems from your posts that Yale hits the “fit” buttons with you very nicely. I would further argue that over your lifetime of work/career, the delta in rankings at this time between Yale SOM and Kellogg, while real, will likely not amount to as much as some will argue.
    I believe that the brand of Yale Univeristy around the world is nearly unrivaled and will open many doors. Also, since your interests appear oriented towards non-profit anyway, I think an argument could be made that Yale would serve you better in that arena. And do not doubt that if you switch over to an interest in more traditional “for profit” business, a degree from Yale SOM will open plenty of doors….
    All I am saying is to enjoy the decision making process – but go where you are most excited to go – because that is where you will likely do and perform your best and then make the most out of it. Do not go somewhere just because that is the consensus – never the best recipe for success IMO!!!
    Congrats again…

  • Mr. NPO

    Congrats, those are two amazing schools!

  • Ta

    I wouldn’t even think twice about this .As cliched at it might sound go for the best school.

    Northwestern will lack firepower on the east coast but Kellog surely will not. And if there is any employer who thinks Kellog lacks firepower well then God Bless him/her and I hope that is not the kind of job you are interested in anyone. The other consideration is 60k versus 100k. Well I can assure you that sounds sketchy to say the least. It sounds like manipulated data on Yale’s behalf. Kellog however proabbly has the most transparent employment report one can imagine so I urge you to study those further.

    Lastly an MBA is an investment for a lifetime. One does not need an MBA to work in non profit or entrepreneurship or finance or marketing etc.

    In fact in an ideal world there would be no need for MBA’s . People would learn to manage on their own. But then again in an ideal world there would be no need for non profit organizations.

    These business schools work on brand name, network etc; as I’m sure you know; that manifests itself into every individual student as a lot of confidence. You feel like you have a huge safety net because of your vast network and that lets you be a confident person in the work space. – Its almost like indoctrination of sorts-It lets you take the risks you want to take. Keeping that in mind as a non profit business administrator , who will be taking on the world to try and secure success for your organization, you need the best possible network and brand equity you can get and that is something Kellog offers you a lot more than Yale SOM.

    Also diversity is a little over-rated. All these attributes, race , caste , culture, creed, educational background blah blah have little bearing.
    There is 1 and only 1 attribute that creates diversity and that is manner of thinking . i.e the sheer way in which your mind comprehends the world and sees the world around you. As someone who really wants to make an impact- get your ass on the line, get out there , maybe even go from Kellog to a Mckinsey or a Bain for 2-3 years because that will give you the credibility to your name, which will help you have a greater impact in the place that you work in.

    Just for the record, Mr Ramesh Ramanathan – who is a YALE SOM graduate and the founder of one of the top NGO’s in India , worked at Citibank for 15 years and was one of the top 10 people in the organization before he quit and headed to India to live out his passion and really make an impact

    I doubt he would have had that much impact if he didn’t have the network and credibility to his name that his stint at Citi gave him. Not to mention the financial stability he would have achieved through savings.
    Life isnt all milk and roses and I would stop the romanticization of b schools and the world after mba at about this moment. I would stop blogging and start introspecting and asking myself do I reallly really want to make a change. and if so , then which is the best path that puts me in a position to be able to do so.

    If you just wanna be another social contributor or worker then Im afraid you dont need an mba. If you are doing this to maybe gain someones attention then you are probably better off being direct and honest with that person and letting him/her know what it is you really feel as opposed to going about this long drawn 5 year mba , social work path.These are asssumptions of course.

  • NCISMike

    Yale SOM is like Harvard engineering….Yes the name of the home institution is big..but the school is a joke. Yale law – top class. Yale medical school – top class. Yale SOM – joke.