Monday, January 28, 2008

Why Wharton Part II

School Brand & Alumni Network:
Wharton: I evaluated this in terms of the brand in the geographical area in which I want to live and work post-graduation: Philadelphia metro or Mid-Atlantic. As I already mentioned, around here Business School = Wharton. Most people are also aware of Harvard, but it's probably not the first business school they think of. I believe part of the reason for this is the quality of Wharton's undergrad program and its popularity in the area. Once I got in, I could not believe how many people I knew had Wharton undergrad degrees that I didn't know about. My husband's family in particular is full of lawyers and businesspeople that went to Wharton, and those that didn't are doctors that went to Penn. (And when they found out I got in, it was like I had just joined a secret club. Suddenly everyone wants to have lunch with me or talk to me about business. It is surreal!) Layered on top of that are the Health Care Management alumni and Wharton alumni clubs, which are very strong locally despite the fact that most graduates don't stay in the Philly area. Apparently those alumni that do stay here stay very involved, which is important to me.
Kellogg: Well, it hardly seems fair to compare Kellogg to Wharton in Philadelphia. Having lived in Chicago, I can say that I believe Kellogg's brand is similar to Wharton's in that area (at least based on what I experienced). However, I don't plan to live in Chicago long term, so it doesn't do much for me. That's not to say the brand isn't good here. It is just limited in reach to those in the marketing field, which at this point is my chosen field. There is an alumni club in Philadelphia, but they don't have any upcoming events so I'm not sure how active they are.

Cultural Fit:
Wharton: I attended an event at Wharton in September entitled "Explore : Diversity in Action." (As I woman, I fit into an "under-represented demographic" in the MBA world) The event was great. It was really informative and definitely showcased Wharton's strengths well. Another thing I liked is that it didn't feel pretentious. There were several student panels as well as an alumni panel. Everyone involved was very impressive, but at the same time approachable and down-to-earth. There was no feeling that I might not belong, which I was afraid I might feel. I also met with staff and students from the Health Care program and discovered that, somewhat like Wharton's Lauder program, the HCM students have a community within Wharton that provides an additional level of camaraderie. Bottom line, it just felt right.
Kellogg: I made sure to schedule an on-campus interview so that I would have a chance to visit Kellogg and get a feel for the place. A friend of mine who recently graduated set me up with a bunch of 2nd years that he knew, and I was able to schedule time with all of them to discuss the school. I definitely felt that I would fit in with the student body. Everyone I met was enthusiastic about the school and even more so about the experience. Kellogg is definitely a very social place and I'm sure it is a really fun place to pursue an MBA. Somehow, however, I just didn't get the same feeling of fit that I did at Wharton. I felt that I would have a great experience if I went, but it was still just a close second for me in terms of the feeling I got there.

So there you have it! Kellogg is an awesome place and I was really excited to get in. BUT, once I found out about Wharton, I knew I would not be able to pass it up! But before I jump in with both feet, I'm going to attend Wharton Winter Welcome and meet some of my potential classmates. If you are one of them - I can't wait to meet you!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Excuses, Excuses ....

I know I promised a continuation of my "Why Wharton" post, and I still intend to do one! But the universe was conspiring against me, or at least against my blog ;)
First I got a horrible cold that knocked me out for several days. Even though I was home from work, I just didn't have it in me to put together a thoughtful post. Then, the wireless card on one of our computers went kaput. Hubby has been working very hard on his GMAT studying, which means he needed to use the one computer that did have wireless and that I was out of luck for internet access. Finally, we have procured a new wireless card and I am back online! But, it is getting late so "Why Wharton Part II" will have to wait for another day or two ... sorry!

The reason I have to get to bed early is I have a meeting with The Bob's in the morning. Yep, my company has hired a Top Management Consulting Firm to "find" some money for us, which means we have to go in and convince them not to put our names on any lists. I'm not too worried, but I should get some sleep and actually get to work on time (which I admit has been a challenge lately with the winter duldroms in full force). I wonder, should I ask them if any of them went to Wharton? Haha.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Why Wharton? Part I

Well, I'm 99.9% sure that I will be matriculating at Wharton. Here's why I am choosing it over Kellogg, based on the aspects that are important to me.

Wharton: I live in the Philly suburbs, Wharton is in Philly. Hubby and I grew up here, and want to remain here after graduation. One consulting gig a few years ago gave me the chance to work and live (out of a hotel) in the city, and I kind of wished that I could have a chance to live there. But, since we wanted to buy a house, we couldn't afford the nice parts of the city. Wharton would give us a chance to live in the city for 2 years, as long as we can rent our house in the suburbs. Also, staying here will allow Hubby to stay at his current job and will keep us close to our family and friends.
Kellogg: Hubby and I lived in Chicago for 3 years after college and loved it. The idea of being able to go back there for a few years is definitely enticing. We still have many friends there, and there are plenty of things we never got to do while we lived there. However, Kellogg isn't quite in Chicago, although Evanston isn't too far. Students say they rarely leave Evanston though since there is so much going on there in the Kellogg social scene. Moving to Evanston would definitely be more of a hassle than Philly for us. Finally, Philly isn't exactly warm, but Chicago is darn cold in the winter!

Health Care Curriculum:
Wharton: One of the first things I liked about Wharton is the Health Care Management major. It is really everything that I want out of my MBA experience from an academic perspective. I will have the chance to learn about the entire industry, which I really need to understand to be able to operate effectively in pharmaceutical marketing. Also, the program is solid and established with a great reputation in the industry, an extensive and tight alumni network, and additional career services on top of the regular MBA career services (the program puts out a glossy resume book each year). They really make an effort to create a community within Wharton, through special health care events and by building learning teams that are health care only. Health Care students must apply specifically for the major, and must interview with the coordinator to make sure the student and program are a good match. Yet, health care students are not separate from the rest of the MBA community.
Kellogg: Kellogg also has a health care major (called Health Industry Management). While the coursework seems comparable, it doesn't seem to have the structure that Wharton has. When I inquired about Wharton's program, I was directed to the program coordinator, who sent me hard copy materials and invited me to come in and meet with her. When I went to Kellogg for my interview, I inquired about the HIM major and was told they didn't have any materials. I managed to find a map of the building and wandered in to the HIM office. A secretary handed me a small packet containing a course syllabus, but that's all they had. I have to admit that I was disappointed. If I hadn't had such a great impression of Wharton's program, maybe I would have been more impressed. But unfortunately for Kellogg, Wharton set the bar pretty high. One other thing - Kellogg's program is open to not only 2-year MBA students, but also part-time students. This means that, not only is the community therefore more fragmented at Kellogg, but it also means that many of the classes are only offered in the evening - not exactly a selling point for me!

Marketing Curriculum:
Wharton: I think I saw Wharton ranked 2nd for marketing somewhere at some point, but now I can't find that ranking. Regardless, most people I've talked to that went to Wharton believe that its marketing program is probably under-rated. With the school being so well known for finance, it is natural that something like marketing would be overshadowed. Many people also told me the marketing curriculum is probably more quantitative and data-driven than at other schools, but I have no way to really substantiate this. I did sit in on a couple marketing classes and I was impressed.
Kellogg: Kellogg is as well known for marketing as Wharton is for finance. In marketing circles, it is widely regarded as the best. I sat in on a class here too, which was great. "Brand" (as in brand management) is one of the top careers students choose, and many companies recruit there specifically for that reason. Also, while I was there, the marketing club was in the middle of the annual marketing competition, where students compete to market real products to their classmates. There were advertisements everywhere, and it seemed really cool environment to be a part of.

Ok, I've got to cut this short so I can watch some American Idol (Philly auditions!) I promise to continue this ....

Sunday, January 6, 2008

On Plagiarism, and Other Tidbits

I just caught up on my blogs after the weekend, and found this. I can't for the life of me fathom why someone would plagiarize a blog post. What could be gained?? It's just so odd to me, and yes, concerning to see proof that people like that may be in the same applicant or student pool as me. Creepy actually.

Hubby has decided to take the Manhattan GMAT class and take a stab at the GMAT in the Spring. I am very excited for him. His plans have yet to play out, but he's going to take advantage of this little lull in our lives to give it a shot. Good luck hubby!!

I just pulled out my Montauk book again to check out the chapters "What to Do Once You are Accepted" and "How to Get the Most Out of Business School." Two things jumped out at me:
1) He mentions a strategy of asking for a deferment from your second choice school, even if you get into your first choice, just in case something goes wrong with the first choice. That seems like a strange and rather unethical plan. I have heard of people doing this when they don't get into their first choice so that they can reapply to their first choice the following year, which I think makes a little more sense (but still isn't really ethical, but I'm not judging). I guess what struck me more is ... what does he mean by something going wrong? Should I be concerned??
2) Montauk recommends several books on each of the typical core MBA classes so that those from non-business undergrad background can read up before school starts. Wharton students on S2S have repeatedly said this is not necessary, unless you have no calculus background (I have plenty). I am confused about this. Should I use the time I have to prepare myself to hit the ground running academically? Or should I instead focus on completing some other priorities in my personal life (like downsizing all my stuff so I can squeeze into a student budget-friendly apartment, reading the novels and other fun books I have been eyeing since I won't have time come Fall, immerse myself in my hobbies, etc). Anyone out there able to speak from first-hand experience? Anyone receive good advice on this subject?

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Good Luck Round 2 Applicants!

I just wanted to give big GOOD LUCK to all R2 applicants!

I know first hand how nervous you are/were to hit that submit button, and how hard it is now to go into the waiting phase. Some will say you should relax, because (other than your interview) it is all out of your hands now. For me, and I'm sure most applicants, that is exactly why it's so hard!! If you had some control you could at least DO something!

I'd say you should take this opportunity to catch up on some good TV. But if you live in the US, there isn't much to look forward to with the writers strike going on. Of course, during this one period in the next several years when we'll actually have time to watch TV and there is nothing on, right?! Except, of course, American Idol (blah) and a little bit of Lost (yay!).

In all seriousness though, the only thing that got me through the waiting game with some sanity was to keep myself distracted with other projects. I recommend you try to do the same :)

How I Chose My Schools

When I first got my GMAT score, people immediately started telling me: "You should apply to Wharton!" I live in the Philly metro area. Around here, business school = Wharton. At first all I could do was tell myself to keep an open mind. I was so ready to go to a local part time program that it took some time to break myself out of that mindset.

There were a few reasons I eventually came around and decided to apply to full time programs:
1) I like my job, but I don't love it. People told me when I got into this supply chain function that I would get tired of it, and I feel like I am getting to that point. The path forward from here is to either get deeper skills and more responsibility, eventually leading to senior management, or try to break into another area. My industry, however, really seems to value specific experience over potential. It would be theoretically possible to move into, say, marketing, from where I am by networking hard and making a few strategic moves. But it wouldn't be easy or fast. I do like pharmaceuticals though, and I want to stay in it.
2 ) I've been successful in my current role, but I have not felt a lot of upward movement since I left consulting. It seems that one needs to be a "teacher's pet" to really go far in my department. It's just not in my nature to try to position myself that way.
3) I began looking through Wharton's website and found two things. One: While banking and consulting are the overwhelming majority of post-graduation jobs, there is a strong contingent of grads going into marketing and/or pharmaceuticals. I'd been there, done that with consulting, and I have no desire to try anything relating to finance! But I hadn't really considered something like marketing .... Two: The Health Care Management program! I was amazed to find that Wharton has a very strong program focusing particularly on the industry I am interested in. Cool!

So I began researching further. I wanted to stick to top schools only, because for me it would not be financially worth it to forgo two years of my salary otherwise. For so-called Tier 2 schools, the post-graduation salaries are too close to what I already make.

The only other school I could really see myself at was Kellogg. It also has a Health Care major (Health Industry Management). It's also obviously very strong in marketing, and it's located very close (though not in) a city Hubby and I used to live in and absolutely adored. And I really liked Kellogg's focus on teamwork.

So I decided to move forward with 2 round 1 applications, telling myself I would regroup after submitting and pick some round 2 schools.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008


It's January 1st, an appropriate day to reflect on the year past and the year ahead. It's also a good time to catch up on some neglected items, such as the RSS feeds in my Google Reader!

One blog I subscribe to is It's a cool site that focuses on productivity. One post I read today I think speaks to both the theme of New Year reflection and links well to my personal experience with the MBA application process, 20 Questions to Help You Reflect the Past Year. The post discusses 4 facets of prosperity (material, spiritual, physical, and social) that you can evaluate for yourself by asking some key questions.
I can honestly either answer yes to many of the questions or at least say that I made some concerted efforts to make progress in those areas last year. I believe one big reason for this is the MBA application process. Simply acknowledging to myself that I want this, and I'm willing to go for it, and following through gave me a great feeling of satisfaction that I believe I still would have maintained even if I didn't get accepted to the programs I wanted. That is because I believe I've learned that the process of taking action toward a goal is much of the battle in terms of remaining in control of my happiness. In other words, success lies in the journey, not the destination (as they say).
Another unexpected benefit from the process is the huge amount of self-reflection that is necessary to craft a good application. I realized I hadn't thought back on my college accomplishments in a long time. I actually had to pull out old resumes to find activities that I had been involved in because I'd forgotten about them! I also realized that there are many accomplishments and worthy pursuits that I've accumulated since college that have truely impacted me and my happiness that I've never really reflected on. The end result, in addition to the essays, resumes, and completed application packages, is the confirmation for myself that I really do have a great life. Even before I heard back from schools, I felt lucky for what I have, proud of what I've done, and excited about the future. It's a really great feeling.