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.
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!