Pruning down my school list!

Decisions, decisions! It was unbelievably hard for me to pick exactly which schools I should apply to. I had very happily assumed that my consultant would take care of this for me, unfortunately (and appropriately), he refused to make the decision for me based on my ‘chances of getting in’. I am usually a very decisive person, however this situation was made complicated simply because I am also very adaptable. I can pretty much live in cities or in the suburbs, I can handle hot and cold, I can do the case study method and the lecture method. I do have preferences of course, but if I see something else I like about the program, that instinct kicks in and all my perfectly calculated nuances go right outside the window.

I finally decided to stop meandering back and forth and make a scientific decision instead. Hello Excel sheet. I loosely based it on the one made by MBA Girl Journey, but I put my own spin on it. 

Took me so much longer than you would imagine.
Took me so much longer than you would imagine.

So I basically started by taking the rankings and kind of aggregating all of them to group schools into three classes. I removed the top 5 at the get go (Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Booth and Kellogg) and grouped the remaining in the 5 – 10, 10 – 15 and 15 – 20 category. I then assigned weights to them assuming that the lower ranked ones would be less competitive and thereby easier to get into. With that done, I needed to figure out what mattered the most to me.

In India, even if some of the larger schools are unknown, people have generally heard of the Ivies. This is an important distinction to make since I know I want to come back to India 2 – 3 years post an MBA. So the Ivies got multiplied by a factor of 2 just for that reason alone. I know my interests lie in consulting and although all the top schools act as feeders to the industry, I just highlighted the ones that seemed to have a better conversion rate. It was kind of difficult to do this objectively since the data is all over the place, but I tried. Next, location. I went to college for undergrad at this university town and I absolutely loved it. You could walk around everywhere, have the typical college experience, you would bump into 10 people you know just about anywhere and the feeling of camaraderie was just awesome. I decided that I would like to live on a campus town and not in a big city. This also led to a preference for slightly smaller class sizes (but this wasn’t an actual factor). Finally, the must subjective of them all… fit. I seriously wish I had time to visit at least some of these schools, but I just have to go by the stuff I read and hear from people. I spoke to a LOT of people from Yale and I love the sound of it. Darden is the one I’m not too sure about fit wise, but I have mailed a few current students and recent alumni to ask them about it, let’s see what I hear.

With all the factors in place, the maximum possible score was a 10 and as you can see, Yale ticked all the boxes for me. I have a really good feeling about Yale since it is ranked right where I feel like I would have a competitive chance. For me, it has that prestige of a Harvard or an Oxford, you know that old world charm and sometimes I can’t even imagine brown skinned me playing croquet or whatever on those green lawns. Luckily, that’s only my mental imagery and Yale is a beautiful mix of the old and the new. It is absolutely my number one choice. Next comes Tuck which by all accounts is a really great school. Again, it has that Dartmouth Ivy thing going for it apart from the obvious benefits… and their consulting stats look pretty good. Last two are Johnson and Darden, but I think I’m going to replace Darden with Said (Oxford) as I do want to throw a European school into the mix and I am only applying to four schools. I’m a little put off by the fact that Said is a 1 year program and I will barely squeak past the required 2 years of work experience, but consulting seems to be one of their strongholds and the Oxford brand is inimitable. 

This is what it looks like in order of priority:

  1. Yale
  2. Tuck
  3. Johnson
  4. Darden/Said

I think this is the final list, but I will probably run them by my consultant and see what he thinks of them. I would love to hear you guys’ opinions. Bring them in!