Admit Weekend II is happening on Friday & Saturday, and given my involvement in DSAC
, I'll be spending a lot of time interacting with admitted students. After hosting Vatsa last week and preparing for AWII, I was reminded of my decision process and a rather long message that I had sent to a fellow admit about a year ago. She was undecided, and asked me to articulate my reasons for choosing Chicago GSB. To give you a bit of background, at the time I wrote this, I was interested in consulting and perhaps remaining in the Healthcare industry. Here are excerpts from my response (in no particular order of preference):
- Strength in consulting: In 2004, 22% of GSB students went into consulting... GSB is on par with other top schools for consulting placements. If you haven't already done so, take a look at the employment statistics provided by the GSB and compare them to those of [other program].
- Strong emphasis on analytics/business fundamentals: The power of the GSB brand is that people assume that you have strong analytical skills. This is advantageous for a career in consulting and strategic management (what I'd like to do long term).
- Flexibility: I really appreciate having the ability to take classes and interact with 2nd year students. I believe that your network is strengthened not only by the same alma mater, but also having interacted with 2 years worth of graduates. The flexibility also means that you can take whichever classes you want to take, and not be held to a structured class curriculum. This is a positive and negative - you have to decide how much structure you want in the program. Having a structured class curriculum may not necessarily be a bad thing for those of us with a non-business background that wouldn't have the first clue about what to take. On the other hand, [you could be] taking courses in the structured class curriculum with hard-core finance majors who can wax poetic about black-scholes while you're still trying to figure out the basics on options...
The nice thing about flexibility is being able to take classes like "Law and Economics of Health and Health Care Markets" through Harris. Additionally, there is a certification that I am considering. I don't know how interested you are in the public policy side of healthcare, but take a look: http://gphap.uchicago.edu
- Career services: I have heard that GSB Career Services, simply put, kicks ass. I don't know how they compare to [other program], so I would suggest contacting them and talking to them about your specfic goals. I've been in contact with Julie Morton (head of Career Services), and here is a bit of what she has sent to me re: healthcare and career services in general:
"with regard to healthcare: i think you can most certainly pursue a successful career from here into healthcare. we have strong relationships with many of the big hc firms -- i'm sure you've heard that karen katen (one of the frontrunners for pfizer's head...) is an alum; baxter; lilly; wyeth; glaxo -- we have recruiting relationships with all of them.
we also have strong relationships with firms that consult to the hc industry and also finance ppl who cover that industry.
more importantly, i think the gsb does a great job at getting students "armed" to own their job searches. sure, we have lots of leads and support, but you'll develop skills and tactics to realize your own search."
- Size/Location/Facilities: I went to a very large undergraduate school (30,000 undergrad & grad students strong), so I was perfectly alright with attending a graduate program with a smaller number of people. However, I didn't want something too small. While I think a smaller program definitely fosters a stronger sense of community, a larger alumni network helps more in the long term. Will you be able to build your own community among the 550 at GSB or feel more comfortable with the [number at the smaller program]? I also wanted to live in an urban environment with plenty of culture and a strong public transport system (tired of driving around the bay area), and so Chicago location appeals a great deal to me. Lastly, when I say "facilities", I mean the resources and not just the building itself. It is a nice, new building but that's not the point. I like the fact that only graduate students are in the Hyde Park Center. Undergraduates are fun and do infuse a certain amount of vivacity into a location, but if I'm paying so much bloody money for a graduate program, I'm going to be selfish and want a building/program/career services/computer labs/etc. dedicated to me...
Having nearly completed my first year, there are many other aspects that I've come to appreciate about Chicago GSB, but these reasons still hold true. And there are certain myths about the GSB that have been dispelled (we're not all finance majors or quant jocks, nor are we antisocial or inept at interacting with others). You'll notice that I removed the name of the other program from this post, and I didn't make any judgement calls about the other program being better or worse. I did this for several reasons. One, the references to the specific program don't add much value in the context of this post since the post isn't about a direct comparison. Two, I didn't apply to that program, so I had no basis for judgement call or comparison to begin with. And three, although the decision process is a comparison game, there are certain tradeoffs no matter where you go. In comparing top tier programs, the quality and reputation is so high that the other metrics you use are not as clear cut. A good example is the size of the program, and how different-sized programs make for different (but not necessarily good or bad) experiences. IMHO, it's also best as someone affiliated with a program to talk about the merits of the program rather than be concerned with others. I want an admit to come to Chicago GSB because of what the program can offer, rather than worry about where other programs may fall short.
Now that I've relived the past, I'm looking forward to the future and meeting the admits at AWII!