It doesn't seem like a particularly controversial statement to say there are only a few reasons why someone from a top banking/consulting + private equity background would apply for an MBA:
- You think you want to stay on the path you're on, but kind of burned out and want to have a good time while you still can
- You think you want to stay on the path you're on, but you need to find a new fund via MBA recruiting
- You don't think you want to stay on the path you're on, and want some low-risk time to figure it out
I think I fall into the 3rd bucket; I've already got my brass ring from consulting and PE, but I don't think I want to do either long term.
Noticeably absent was learning skills and facts; both the senior people I work with and my friends at HSW say there's not a ton of new content they're getting from the classroom they wouldn't get on the job. It seems like every school has an international component, some sort of entrepreneurial project, and a similar curriculum.
There aren't huge differences in the metrics showing raw horsepower (grades, test scores) between HSW and the tier of schools just outside the M7. And while there are a bunch of people from top business backgrounds at HSW, there are also a lot of people from non-business backgrounds, who have horsepower, leadership, potential etc. Those people are going to exist at the Tuck/Darden/Haas type schools too, and I can't see them being all that different. I'm not sure how useful having 17 ex- ex-PE in my first year classes will be when I've been around those people exclusively for the last five years.
I know I could get back into consulting with or without an MBA, regardless of whether I go to HBS or Haas. And if I knew I wanted to stay in PE but switch funds, then I'd be more committed to applying to HSW, but given my interest and background, I don't think there are many funds out there with a better mix of investing philosophy/focus and culture/fit than the one I'm at. I don't get the sense it would make a huge difference to them whether I went to HBS or Tuck, for example. But as I said before, I may want to get off this path, and go into industry in a corp strat/corp dev role. For those kinds of roles, I don't get the sense there's a huge difference between HBS and a top 10-15 school, especially given my background?
So it comes down to $$$. I'd prefer not to pay full price at HSW when there's a decent chance I'll end up taking a pay cut from my pre-MBA job. It seems like schools just outside the M7 should be throwing money at people with my background (MBB and PE, honors grad from a top school, 750+ GMAT) because they probably don't get nearly as many applications that look like this relative to HSW. Is this the case? I don't have the best sense for how "merit aid" is distributed, or what schools would be most likely to send some my way.
So, am I just being myopic and maximizing short-term returns over something with longer-term benefits that's hard to see? Something I'm missing? If you were in my shoes, and had my goals, what would you do?