So, now that the 2012-13 MBA application season has been kicked off with Harvard Business School’s new application this week, I’m taking the next step in finalizing the programs that I will apply to sometime between Rounds 1 and 2.
I’ve recently added three additional programs to my target list, which includes Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Kellogg, MIT Sloan, and Berkeley Haas, bringing my total to nine. Will I apply to all of them? It’s possible, but I doubt it. And even if I apply, I may or may not finish the process for all of them; it will depend on what news I get from whom, when, and in what order.
I tend to make some of my better decisions as the result of rigorous side-by-side comparison. That keeps me from oscillating back and forth. Once I’ve scratched someone off the list, that’s pretty much it. I also do not plan on adding any additional schools after these final 3. So, let’s get right into who they are and why I’m looking into their programs.
YALE SCHOOL OF MANAGEMENT
I really like the social entrepreneurship bent of the Yale SOM. I’m also quite impressed with their new facility scheduled to open during the same year that I plan to matriculate ( into someone’s program; not necessarily Yale’s).
Ok, so I have a confession to make: I’m a facilities ho–but I have a pretty darn good reason for it. IMO, the care that a program puts behind its facilities is a sign of how much the program is valued by the school–not the actual program–but the umbrella university that said program falls under.
Shoddy facilities are a sign of either: 1) a larger university that does not prioritize that particular program/school 2) a broke university that doesn’t have the funds to do more 3) both. All of the above are deal breakers for me. Besides, when you consider the size of the financial investment that an MBA program requires, everywhere that I look should put a big smile on my face; Harvard, Stanford and Booth (we’ll get to them later) are all programs who easily meet (if not exceed) muster on that criterion.
The weak spot with Yale seems to be its network. Being that it is a relatively new school (with a small class size to boot), it has not yet had the opportunity to build a Wharton-like alumni network (or even a Dartmouth-like network). However, I think Yale may be a smart long-term play. They are attached to an undergrad institution that is Harvard College’s #1 rival. That means tremendous resources, a commitment to excellence and tons of experience in building a well-respected, prestige program.
The quality of the program at Dartmouth Tuck is a no-brainer. I’ve spent quite a bit of personal time swooning over their videos, listening to their faculty talk about their accessibility and high level of commitment to the students. I like their emphasis on rigor and taking action–especially form an entrepreneurial standpoint. Tuck also passes my new litmus test with flying colors–the same test that had me to pull the plug on other programs. And of course there’s that legendary Tuck alumni network that I’ve heard so much about. The good stuff just keeps on coming when it comes to Tuck.
With so many things to love about Tuck, there is just one major aspect of its total package that I will need to give some serious thought to–Hanover; New Hampshire, that is. The small rural town that is not only home to Dartmouth but over 2 hours from any remotely metropolitan area (at least Yale students can hop on a train and be in New York in an hour).
Don’t get me wrong–I love the outdoors. Skiing, snowboarding, running and biking are all things that I enjoy a great deal. Still, I have been spoiled for over a decade on the amenities of a major city.
I’m so accustomed to LA at this point that even when I visit major cities like Indianapolis or Charlotte, they still seem small to me. However, that doesn’t mean that Tuck is out; they’re quite in at this point, actually. It’s just something that I really need to think about. It may also require a first hand visit for me to really get a feel for whether or not it is something I can do.
Two different readers of mine (both Booth students) ended up suggesting that I take a serious look at this school within 48-72 hours of each other. After performing my own research I found that Booth is putting a tremendous amount of resources into future entrepreneurs; oh, and they have a bad ass facility as well.
Entrepreneurship is currently the second largest concentration in this program. Booth is now being compared to schools like MIT and Stanford when the subject start ups comes up; impressive.
Though the jury is out (and for a long deliberation, at that) on all 3 of these institutions, I really like what I’ve seen thus far from each of them.
MBAOver30 offers the perspective of a 30-something, California-based entrepreneur who is applying to Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, MIT, Northwestern, Berkeley, UCLA and the University of Southern California. He hopes to gain acceptance to the Class of 2015 and blogs at MBAOver30.
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