Commoditization in Business Schools? (US)
Dear WSO Community,
My name is Alex and I am an economist from LatAm looking to apply to business school () in the coming months.
I want to share with you a story that left me with a bitter taste of the people representing a well known b-school abroad.
Last week I attended for an info session in Madrid (lucky me since the registration was already closed). The event had 4 alumni in the panel and a host that I can't remember his name, but has a french accent. The people in the panel were mostly old, meaning that their graduation year was in 90s and 2013, which for me was ok mostly because in my country you don't get to see such events happening, but at the same time it was hard to really get a sense of the school beyond the class dynamic.
What do I mean by that? Of course they described very well the case method and the resources available in school, however, lots of their insights I'd classify them as part of a wishful anecdotes that wanted to make you feel part of the community. Although I get that was the purpose of the reunion I was looking for something extra.
As you can tell, considering a MBA degree from a legacy school in the US is all you can think of but improvised. Every piece of information you put together will be part of your argument to ultimately select which school is the right fit. For that reason I went there even without the confirmation on hand. When I approached people after the session to tell why they wanted to go to "that school" the main reason I got was the rankings, legacy, very few said faculty and so on. It was difficult to find among the people the spirit of the school. As someone digging into this type of information I finally asked the host what was the spirit behind the thinking of, lets say, the dean and the team when they think about the school in the future, how a student can reassure that the program will keep up to date with what is happening in the world and the main problems, etc, etc.
His answer on that was like if I disrespected him: "we've been here almost for 2 hours talking about the school, and now you come to me with that question like if you didn't hear what we were saying. If "this" is not the school for you that's perfectly ok. There are many options around that might be a best fit…I don't have to sell you the "school"
This very last comment resounded to me since actually this kind of events are intended to sell the program's experience. I'd say that they failed doing that, simply because during any point in the conversation you were able to change the school name for any other school and the story will match and be ok. And in the end I was the one who felt disrespected.
After this, I find myself in a point where I have difficulty in selecting which school to apply. There are people telling me that XYZ program is better than other to land a job in IB, but then again you think about these people with sort of an entitlement complex to be your friends in the future. Should I be more loyal to my principles and go for a school which values are similar to mine, or should it be more transactional in order to get what I want in the future faster? As I take the time and reflect more on this matter, I think that ultimately what really defines a school's spirit and ideology is their alumni, so as an international student I'm looking here for any clues that lead me to a better sense on the stereotype of the people in the top MBA programs in the US.