I've been doing a lot of thinking about where I want to go to school. Sometimes when I'm facing a decision, I get a little "analysis paralysis"...think too much and over-analyze myself into a non-decision. However, for the biggest decisions I've made in life, all of which have had fairly positive results, I've been able to evaluate/decide/execute in pretty short order. After writing out a pros & cons list and having a long talk with my parents today, I feel like the decision of where to go to school is going to fall into the latter category. I'm definitely leaning one direction. My only concern is that it has happened a little sooner than I anticipated, so I'm going to really try to picture myself at each school in the next couple of weeks and sort of take each option for a pseudo test drive.
Now, on to my pros & cons list. Please keep in mind that these are my personal opinions. You may agree with me, you may disagree with me. That's fine. Just take them with a grain of salt. What's right for me may not be right for someone else. Feel free to leave comments if you have information that may be helpful.
Curriculum: Prescribed core with cohort system at UCLA vs. Flexible core at Chicago. Applied Management Research Program at UCLA (required) vs Management Lab projects at GSB (optional), both sound like really cool experiential learning opportunities that can be customized for desired function/industry. Leadership Foundations at UCLA (5 days pre-term) vs LEAD at GSB (quarter long lab class, only "required" class)…I could see myself really enjoying LEAD and being a facilitator in my second year. Really like the flexibility of the Chicago curriculum, the selection of classes, and the quant strength (I may pretend to be cool, but I’m really a nerd at heart).
Prestige: Rankings aren't perfect, but generally speaking Chicago is top 5, UCLA is top 15. Chicago has 6 Nobel prize winners. My old economics major advisor at WSU would be tickled pink about my scholly from Chicago (and he might die if I turn it down!).
Network/Career: Both networks are roughly the same size. BW rankings Chicago was #1 among corporate recruiters. While UCLA has some location & program specialization advantages with regards to entertainment/media management, either way I'm going to be doing a lot of the recruiting leg work myself if I‘m going to find a job in the sports business arena. Disney/Nike/Reebok recruit on both campus, plus Fox at UCLA and the Tribune at Chicago. UCLA’s network may have better representation in my desired industry, however those alums are probably more highly utilized than Chicago alums in that industry (i.e. I’ll be one of many pestering the same set of UCLA alums vs. one of few pestering Chicago alums). UCLA is great for opening doors on the west coast, not as strong elsewhere. Chicago will open doors west coast/mid-west/north east.
Advantage: Toss up
Climate: LA is sunny and 70 pretty much year round, very little extreme weather and very subtle "seasons". Chicago is more extreme, hot & humid summers, bitterly cold winters, and definite seasons.
Advantage: UCLA (by a mile)
Sports: LA has the Lakers, but I'm not a fan. Chicago has the Cubs & Wrigley Field. UCLA is a Pac-10 school, Chicago is Division III. Not sure that I'm ready to divide my loyalties between two Pac-10 schools (being a loyal Wazzu alum), but it would be fun to go to big time football & basketball games. UCLA has the advantage when it comes to collegiate athletics; Chicago has the advantage in professional sports. It's a toss up so the tie-breaker is length of wakeboarding season.
City Life/Housing/Transportation: La-la land = pretentious & plastic people. San Diego is a kinder, gentler version, that's why I live here and not there right now. A car is a must-have in LA, nice-to-have in Chicago. From what I hear, you don't want to spend time on an LA bus unless you absolutely have no other choice. Traffic sucks in LA, parking on campus is not an option, so you have to live as close to campus as possible (read: not cheap). Both campuses are beautiful, for different reasons. Much better public transit in the windy city. Slightly cheaper cost of living in Chicago. More down to earth people. Excellent restaurants.
Friends/People: LA is close enough that I would still be able to see my San Diego friends regularly. Already have a wakeboarding network established in So-Cal. A couple of my best friends from undergrad live in Chicago. Clicked a little more with the students/fellow applicants at Chicago than at UCLA during my initial visits, but I liked everyone I met.
Advantage: Toss up
Intangibles: I've lived on both coasts, but never in the middle. I will probably end up on the west coast in the long run because that's where my family is, so it might be nice to spend a couple of years somewhere else. I'm not a fan of LA, and I‘ve kinda “been there/done that“ as far as living in Southern California goes, but I liked the school. On the other hand, I loved the city and the school when I visited Chicago. Personality-wise, I think the school and the city are a better fit and most of my friends that I’ve told about UCLA & Chicago say they see me at Chicago. Plus, I don't know that you turn down 50 large from a top 5 school, regardless of post-MBA aspirations.
So yeah, I'm leaning towards Chicago and really looking forward to the admit weekend :) But nothing has been decided yet, and I'm still waiting to hear from Wharton. However, I do think I'm ready to decline the McCombs admit at this point.
Went to see In Good Company last night. I really enjoyed it. Topher "I'm too cool to shorten Christopher to Chris" Grace is really funny, and Scarlett Johanssen is beautiful as always. Great satire on coporate life and cute story about dads and their little girls. I'm definitely daddy's little girl and I always will be.
Oh, and on the BWBB front, another co-worker's last day with the company was Friday and he was having lunch with BWBB. He promised to say something to him about it. We'll see if the halitosis is kicking again tomorrow. For others facing the same problem, there are actually several bad breath solution companies out there that offer annoymous email services.