Searching for the right business school is online dating. Not “similar to” or “just like,” no, it is. How can I say this with such certainty, you ask? Because I have extensive experience in both arenas, that’s how.
First, spoiler alert here, a new blog mini-series I am working on chronicles my online dating adventures. I’ve titled it “The Chronicles of OKC.” I dated a few handfuls of men before (and well, after too) finding Joe, and I can say it’s a cool thing. You down select through reading different profiles, creating specific criteria “only show me men aged 24-35 that are taller than 5’6″,” and through some light messaging. Only the lucky few are awarded a date.
Compare this to the business school search. You look at tons of business schools online, finally getting a better understanding of what your search criteria is “I want class sizes smaller than 50, the ability to gain international experience, and for it to be a top-tier program.” Now you are left with only a handful of schools, with whom you thoroughly review via profiles, feedback from others, etc. Maybe you even exchange emails with the admissions folk. When you are ready to take that next step, you set up some in person meeting. Campus visit? Local information session? The median doesn’t always matter, but the feelings you get while on this “date” can be very telling about how your personality will fit with the institution.
Let’s take tonight as an example. Kellogg was in town doing an information session of their full-time programs. I’ll admit, I was a little lax in saying “yes” to this proposal, knowing little about the school. However, they are ranked number four according to US News (read: 6’0″, masters holding professional, living in a condo downtown), so I just went with it. Right off the bat, they impressed me with highlighting the MMM program. While I still don’t know what it stands for, I know it is a dual-degree program, resulting in an MBA and a masters in engineering in two years. The engineering degree can be focused on innovation and design and doesn’t require students to have a CS (computer science, folks) undergrad degree. Holy cow, sign me up. It’s like all that I’ve ever wanted to accomplish wrapped up neatly into two easy years!
After diving more deeply into the university though, I found myself comparing everything they said and did to Stanford. “Oh, well Stanford has a better partners program…” What does this mean then? Are Stanford and I meant to be? Maybe, but I need to stop looking lustfully at their profile and sending quirky messages back and fourth – we need to meet on their turf. We met in that group setting a while back, which was great, but I want something more… intimate. Who knows, it might not be a good fit, but I’m not making any friends by going on all these info sessions with Stanford on my mind.
My overall opinion on Kellogg? We would make great friends. A lot of the program sounds great, they value involvement, alumni engagement, designing your own education through many elective options, etc. However, I don’t feel that spark. I’d go visit them on campus or even consider applying (especially to the MMM program!), but my after-the-first-date gut feeling: it will never be more than a friends (maybe with benefits) type of relationship.