4/20/17

Want to get everyone's thoughts on my upcoming B-school decision.

I'm a management consultant looking to make a career switch. I've loved my time at my company, but I've only ever been a consultant, and I want to try something new. I'm not tied to a specific role / industry post-graduation, but these are some of the things that are important to me that I'm considering during my decision.

  • Post-MBA Location: I want to live on the West Coast in the future. I could see myself in Norcal or Socal, Portland, or Seattle.
  • Lifestyle: I value work/life balance and I'd like to travel much less. My significant other will be moving with me post-graduation, and I don't want to ask her to move across the country only to be travelling for half the week. In the distant future, I can see myself with a family and wanting to spend quality time with them. Some folks I know are very good at juggling a family life with higher burn / travel jobs like consulting, but I don't think that's for me.
  • Post-MBA Roles I have client experiences in tech, and can see myself in product marketing management, but I'm also looking at other West Coast companies that, based on my network and outreach, I believe offer a good combination of an inclusive culture, good work/life balance, and are on the west coast. I realize I need to hone in and get specific on this, and quickly, but just wanted to point it out.

I am privileged to be choosing between Kellogg, Ross (w/ $40K total), and Anderson (w/ $50K total). I have attended / will be attending the admit weekend for all 3 schools and so far, I've thoroughly enjoyed my experiences interacting with students and alumni from each school. I think I'll base my decision heavily on how I feel / see myself fitting in with the other admitted students during the admit weekends.

I'll pre-empt some comments by saying that I've done my due diligence in terms of recruiting at each school through examining employment reports and speaking with current students / alumni.

What are some other key factors you think I should be considering in this decision? How would you approach it if you were me? Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

Comments (19)

4/18/17

It sounds like this decision is really between Kellogg (better pedigree / better colleagues) vs UCLA (better location, better price). Assuming you've done the research and feel good that you could get one of the jobs you're describing from either school, this largely comes down to personal preference in my mind. Is the additional Kellogg pedigree worth $50k to you?

If you were for sure going to work and live in LA the rest of your career, having the local UCLA network would maybe push me towards saying go for UCLA, but if you think it's just as likely that you'll end up in the Bay area or Seattle, it's probably worth the extra $50k to have the Kellogg name for the rest of your career.

I am curious to hear what others on WSO think about this though.

Accepted.com
4/18/17

Kellogg brand and recruiting opportunities are definitely worth more than $50K IMO. You'll have plenty of recruiting opportunities for West Coast at Kellogg. I'd only say Anderson if you really wanted to be in the LA area post-MBA

4/18/17

I'd reach out to the Kellogg admissions office and let them know about your other offers/scholarships and that cost is an important factor for you. They may not be willing to match at all given Ross/UCLA are a tier below Kellogg but it's worth a shot

Best Response
4/21/17

I think people below are underrating the regionality of bschool recruiting. Yes, from K (or HSW) you can absolutely recruit outside of the local geography, and I'm sure plenty of K grads go to the west coast. However, the UCLA network and OCR opportunities on the west coast will be much better than Kellogg's. I would absolutely choose UCLA if you want to be on the west coast. People below who are referring to "prestige" of Kellogg on your resume- 5 years post-graduation your work experience will matter far more than where you went to school. Students vastly overestimate how much school prestige matters vs. work experience.

4/21/17

As a Kellogg grad (clear bias here I know), you can easily get a job in those cities. Almost 1/3 of all grads moved there last year and I'm looking at the job postings from this year right now in their OCR system and it would not be an issue. Go live in Chicago 2 years, experience another great city, get the relatively better "pedigree" (all debateable) and then hit the coast. Plus, not being local gives you some sort of "exoticness" IMHO. Either way, can't go wrong. Congrats.

4/21/17

1/3 of Kellogg grads went to the west coast - 77% of Anderson grads did. That's a pretty large disparity. Yes, it will not be hard to get a west coast job from Kellogg. but it will be easier from UCLA. More west coast firms will recruit on campus, more alumni will be at west coast firms, etc. Also, $50k is a substantial amount of money to turn down. I didn't go to Anderson or Kellogg so I have no dog in this fight.

4/21/17

Can't help you as to the lifestyle aspect, since that's more of a personal choice. You're definitely going to have a hell of a lot better weather at UCLA than at either Kellogg or Ross, that's for sure.

Money-wise, though... think about it this way: At a 10% discount rate, all it would take for Kellogg to be worthwhile would be for it to get you an extra $5k in salary a year every subsequent year in your career, over a 30-year post-MBA career. If you've got some serious short-term cash flow problems then yeah, maybe the $50k now would make a difference, but long-term it washes out. I also recently met a few Anderson grads, and they've indicated that UCLA focuses a lot on Media & Entertainment, and on the RE space. Bit less so in tech.

For what it's worth, I turned down full rides (~$100+k) at some schools comparable to UCLA (i.e. in the 10-20 or 15-20 range) in order to attend an M7. I didn't mind moving wherever, though, and I went to a complete non-target undergrad so I needed the brand name on my resume. Your mileage may vary.

4/21/17

Haha - typical WSO. Posters says he has done his DD on recruiting and asks for other input, all posters respond talking about prestige/recruiting. So amazing.

Back to the actual question on other factors.

Weather - UCLA will be great year round, Chicago will be miserable - the best part of Chicago would be the summer months when you're at your internship anyway.

Kellogg Trip - I forget what's its called but Kellogg has that preschool trip where you get put in random groups on go on some vacation if you so choose. Seems pretty cool. Obviously costs money and by no means should be a reason why you pick the school but a nice little touch.

Culture - Kellogg is very team oriented and kids seem to party a lot there. I know people that have gone and really enjoyed themselves. Seems like a ton of ex-consultant types and people going for marketing/consulting gigs. UCLA is very social as well. Kids do weekend trips to Vegas/Mammoth/SF, lots at your finger tips.

Campus - UCLA is nice and new but kinda on the main campus, though tucked away, some undergrads have classes there on occasion. To my knowledge Kellogg is old.

Location/Living - UCLA kids will be spread out across the westside (brentwood/santa monica/westwood/etc), Kellogg is probably more concentrated. UCLA will might have less proximity to other students vs kellogg, but there is uber. Also, at UCLA you'll be driving to class, Kellogg probably walking.

Sports - UCLA you'll get to go to all the football games at the rosebowl and basketball games at pauley. Kellogg, I guess they have North Western but its not the same.

4/25/17

As a current Kellogg student, want to point out that Kellogg just opened a new building and it is amazing. While not a major decision factor, it does seem like more people are around the building more of the time (makes sense given the dungeon we used to be in), which has a positive impact on the community and student engagement.

4/21/17

If you're ok with Bill Walton providing "commentary" on your basketball games, then UCLA.

...

4/22/17
4/21/17

You'll have a lot more of the one off, niche, interesting roles for the west coast at UCLA. If you're looking to do the tried and true FLDP, corp strategy, ib, etc roles I don't think it matters or I'd personally edge Northwestern. But if you're interested in a wider range of potential opportunities out west UCLA probably takes it.

I know you've done some research on recruiting, I'd see if you could have a student or career services actually log you in to the recruiting database so you can see who recruited on campus for west coast roles, the reports you're getting are focused on companies that pay for formal OCR not the ones who use the job board for the school outside of OCR. A lot of the coolest roles come to campus that way (by cool, I mean unusually senior positions or those with a lot of responsibility at firms outside the usual F100 suspects). It sounds like these types of jobs might be of interest for you.

4/24/17

Thanks! I've mainly only talked to folks at Anderson with traditional roles, but many mentioned opportunities for internships during the school year at LA startups, which sounded interesting and was not something Kellogg or Ross folks mentioned. Do you have any examples of these unique coast roles?

4/25/17

No, you'll have to look in their job posting board.

The startup internships during the year are accessible at all top schools, a lot of people here at Booth do them. They'll be regional though.

4/21/17

Two additional things to consider in your specific situation:

  1. Is your significant other moving with you during b-school, or only afterwards? If the former, being in a large city like LA can be a big plus for two reasons: he/she will likely not go stir crazy (being a partner in a college town where you're not a student can get dull fast), and more importantly he/she can continue working full-time (not much of a job market in college towns). If you have kids and your partner wants to be a stay-at-home parent while you're a student, then the reverse is true: it'll be much easier/cheaper to do in a college town than a big city.
  2. There's a significant cost of living disparity between LA and Evanston/Ann Arbor. Especially if you want to live in any of the neighborhoods near campus (westside). LA rents aren't quite as expensive as NYC or SF, but it's getting pretty close (plus you'll need a car + insurance, and insurance can be expensive if you aren't driving regularly now i.e. you've had a gap in time without auto insurance). So that will eat into the $50K significantly. But, if your partner is going with you and will be working, the full-time salary your partner will draw will more than make up the difference (and probably make LA financially even better than going to Kellogg or Ross).
4/24/17

Thanks for the thoughts. She's only moving afterwards (current plan). I didn't get the impression that a car was absolutely necessary for UCLA as there are several apartments close by and on campus housing (priced similarly to places in Evanston and surprisingly Ann Arbor). I don't have a car now and don't plan to get one either. Do you think that's an issue?

4/25/17

ManifestDestiny2017: Hi can I borrow your cell phone for a sec. Need to send a quick email.
Friend: Sure
ManifestDestiny2017: Hey, I need to call for a takeout order. Mind if I borrow your cell for a sec?
Friend2: [pause] Sure
ManifestDestiny2017: Is there anyone I can borrow their phone. Need to text my friend an address.
Classmates: "..."

No replace phone with a car, and you'll see how essential it is in LA. Do this just a few times and your classmates will find you a bit annoying. Do this over just several weeks and you will be very lonely.

If there is one thing that irritates people in Los Angeles, it is people who don't have a car and having to constantly ask for a ride (or guilt you into it because... Uber adds up). You'll be seen as a leech or a free rider (frankly, a lot of us get irritated by out-of-town visitors who don't rent a car, and seem to expect their hosts to drive them everywhere as if it's not a huge deal - every city has their "unspoken rules/norms" and in LA being car-less is one of those).

The small handful of folks I know who don't have a car tend to live in DTLA (downtown LA) who don't need to go to the westside at all (i.e. those who live and work in DTLA, Hollywood, North Hollywood, etc) - and can get by with convenient access to the Metro. The Metro and public transit is improving, but given how spread out LA is, it's not quite there yet where you don't need a car. And frankly, the people I know who don't have a car have lived here (in LA) long enough to be set up in a living situation where they know they don't need one (and have lived here long enough to know how to get by without one without alienating themselves from others).

Housing is priced similarly to Evanston/Ann Arbor? Not sure what you're looking at, but it's if it's on campus housing, good luck with the lottery system (and also I'm guessing you're looking at undergrad dorms for freshmen).

Most MBA students live off campus in the surrounding westside neighborhoods, which happen to be amongst the most expensive (and lowest vacancy rates due to many factors) in the Los Angeles area. You're looking at $1,750 or so for a studio, around $2K for a 1-br, and maybe get by with $1.3-1.5K or so per person in a roommate situation. You could find cheaper rents but they're much further away, which means having to navigate traffic in and out of the westside as a commute which no one really wants to do.

If you decide to come to UCLA, get a car - so many newcomers to LA seem to fight this, and want to come here hoping they don't need one.

And expect to pay rents closer to NY/SF than other parts of the US.

4/23/17

That's a tough choice and congrats on having the multiple offers.

Like you I've also had the choice to decide among three schools. If I were you, I'd think about the following:

  • Do you plan to live in California for the rest of your life? If so, the alumni connections at UCLA would be larger and more concentrated. However, if your life takes you in a different direction, then the nationwide network of Kellogg would be more diverse.
  • Does your wife want to live in California long term? It would be easier to find a new job in LA and stay there for more than two years than it is to recruit twice over.
  • Where is your undergraduate degree from? After I graduated from bschool, I actually relied on my undergraduate network to take me back to my home city (for personal reasons) from New York, and my undergrad was from my home city (one of the largest 5 cities in the US). If you have an undergrad degree from CA, it might be redundant to get your graduate degree from there too, from an alumni database perspective.
  • Work/life balance. There are many opportunities that offer fantastic work/life balance that are in other states. Opportunities in Texas, Florida, etc. will provide your family with a great cost of living, large open spaces, and a more laid back southern culture (you can tell I'm already biased). It's great you've already figured it out.
4/24/17

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