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My MBA dilemma

March 4, 2009

Its time I shared with you what has been on my mind since the last 4 weeks. Never before have I been so sure and yet unsure at the same time. I have a choice between an Indian MBA (IIMC pgpex) and Emory. And then I’ve also not given up on Kellogg. In an attempt to bring structure to my thought process, I present here how each of them compare with the others.

a) IIMC pgpex
– Affordability – Good
– Risk – Low
– Continuity of work for my wife – yes
– Brand – Good in India
Strengths of the program – great professors, MBA in an Indian context, placement should be a non issue

b) Emory
 – Affordability – Manageable with the scholarship
– Risk – High as an international, but reduced due to scholarship
– Continuity of work for my wife – suspect, though possible (Atlanta)
– Brand – Decent in US, unknown in India
Strengths of the program – diversity, the kind of MBA program I’d like to be a part of, versatility in terms of career options

c) Kellogg (for the sake of my dilemma)
– Affordability – Gamble, though loans are available.
– Risk – High due to a huge debt in this economy. No risk otherwise.
– Continuity of work for my wife – suspect, though possible (Chicago)
– Brand – doesn’t get bigger than this
Strengths of the program – fit (or so I think), the program I love, huge leap in growth and career options.

This isn’t my dilemma. My dilemma is that I have not heard from Kellogg yet and would be forced to make a choice between a) and b) if it doesn’t happen soon. If I go with a), I need to resign from my work next week since the program begins end of March. If I go with b), it means a relocation to US for the next couple of years, so I need to know immediately whether its Atlanta or Chicago for my wife to get an assignment in time(since the city will decide which assignments she can start looking for from the present company, and its non-transferable). In time because I want to be together with my family, and don’t want to head for an MBA where my wife and kid have to struggle behind.

Ok, so its not such a big dilemma, but its good enough to keep me mentally occupied all the time. Plus the chances of converting the wait list are so slim that I shouldn’t even be worried about c). But thats the problem, I’m unable to give it up, unable to give up on the one program I loved, and now the time is closing in on me. I know the debt would bury me deep, I know the recession would toss me around, I know how difficult it would all be for my family.

I’m not blind to reason, yet I want to follow my heart – cos now I know what I would be up against and it’d make the challenge that much sweeter.

So you see, this is a strange dilemma. I’m more worried about the choice I don’t have than about those I do. At times I feel I’m certain whether its a) or b), but I know I’m not. I think of how difficult I’m making things for my wife, and then I feel bad. I look at my kid for answers but he’s too young to play this game. The way the economies are headed and the grim prospects they offer scare me,  but what scares me more is my excitement and determination despite it all towards pursuing an MBA.

This is my MBA dilemma, and I’ll solve it for good in 10 days from now.

17 Comments leave one →
  1. Happy Libran permalink
    March 4, 2009 11:20 pm

    Exactly. I can totally understand your situation as I am in same place, although from other side of the planet. I am facing challenge about moving back to India with such less time to a great program, or taking an offer in US which is practically free (I am sure of getting little more in assitantship with my previous contacts), my wife already working and can find job in phoenix, but not so recognized program (it is rising and getting recognition, but who knows!).

  2. Craig permalink
    March 5, 2009 2:01 am

    If I were you, I would choose a. In the meantime if I get c, would go for c otherwise continue with a.

  3. March 5, 2009 4:29 am

    You should read this post: .

    They talk about your very dilemma. In summary, they suggest paying the down-payment to secure a spot in one of the accepted schools, and then forfeit the deposit if you get into the school you are waiting for.

  4. ahembeea permalink*
    March 5, 2009 7:12 am

    Happy Libran – we are in similar shoes, hope you decide well and decide soon!

    Craig – flitting from one program to another is what I want to avoid since it won’t help things.

    Orlando – Thanks for your suggestion, yes I’ve seen that post. I have in fact made the down payments which am ready to forfeit, but I do need to finalize before program a) begins. The second deposit at the time of commencement of the program is too huge for me to forfeit again. Btw, thats a cool blog you’ve got going, with proper ‘Kellogg’ font and feel 🙂

  5. March 5, 2009 9:51 am

    Your best option is to go with A


    The economy is down and its time to make a smart choice.Think about the situations i.e. you have to take the family,the uncertain economy, financial issues.Finally at your experience unless you want a sudden change in career, a one year MBA will be better as you will start earning early.

  6. Anil permalink
    March 5, 2009 5:23 pm

    Prioritize the 4 variables, and remember, the choice you make will live with you for life. So there, #1 is brand. If I were you, I would defer IIMC, or even consider re-applying next year, until the Kellogg outcome is clear.

    If Kellogg doesn’t work out, then re-prioritize your variables. In fact, I might add a 5th variable and call it #1 location. Do you plan to continue in India long term? If yes, then either continue with the deferred admit or apply to ISB and other IIMs next year. This option might even come with an added bonus – you get to re-apply to Kellogg next year, but for R1 this time 🙂

    Hope this helps.

  7. anon permalink
    March 6, 2009 4:02 am

    I dont agree with “getting into reapplying” next year. There is no end to that. It is not as if you dont have good results now. You have awesomer results. If you cant make decision now and reapply next year, you are only delaying making decision. You will have many more variables to consider next year. Get it done this year.

  8. Anil permalink
    March 6, 2009 9:20 am

    I would imagine if he reapplied to Kellogg as a formerly wait-listed applicant, his chances would be very strong. Its not so much about getting it done this year as it is about choosing the right brand that will live with you for life.

  9. March 6, 2009 8:02 pm

    Where do you ultimately see yourself ending up? I.e., living? If you intend to stay or go back to India, then the IIMC program seems like the best choice, especially given Emory’s low brand recognition there. If you think you would like to be in the US for a while after graduating, then go for Emory since it has a stronger name here than IIMC does. Believe me, I know that it is hard because you want to factor in Kellogg. However, given the short timeline for you to make your decision, I think unless you decide you would want to reapply next year, then you should put Kellogg aside as an option.

  10. ahembeea permalink*
    March 6, 2009 9:57 pm

    Anil, Felish – thanks for your suggestions. Trying again next year is not an option for me – this is the right time for me to go for an MBA, both personally and professionally, so that part of the decision is made.

  11. March 11, 2009 12:37 am

    I would accept b and then beg for a deferral. Tell them you have a family situation.

    Also, you should call Kellogg, beg them to let you in. Tell them you’ll absolutely accept. You shouldn’t wait for them to get back to you, but harrass them to tell them that you have a decision deadline.

    If you can’t delay going to Emory in this economy or Kellogg turns you down, I’d scrap this for the time-being and reapply when things stabilize. Looks like you’ve got the application thing down to a science.

  12. March 11, 2009 8:41 am

    I think you should follow your heart and go with your dreams. Money comes and goes but you are clearly ambitious and got in a great US school. My assumption is that by the time your graduate the economy here will be doing better and you will be able to secure a job at a top firm. This, together with the brand of your b-school (either) will make it worth while. B-school is for people who are willing to take risks and go beyond their comfort zone…
    good luck ! I’m sure you’ll make the right decision.

  13. ahembeea permalink*
    March 11, 2009 5:56 pm

    mbamrs – thats an interesting suggestion. Will pay heed to it except for harrassing K. Its got to be mutual 🙂

    Yael – thanks. You’ve voiced my stream of thoughts. Your blog offers helpful insights as well and has got some very pertinent posts.

  14. MBA Aspirant 2010 permalink
    March 12, 2009 10:10 pm

    Hi Ahembeea
    As a future MBA student, I follow your interesting posts.
    So, what decision you have finally taken, between options A, b & C.

  15. March 14, 2009 6:21 pm

    thanks ahembeea 🙂

  16. March 17, 2009 8:54 am

    Hi Ahembeea,
    I’m glad you liked my blog 🙂
    So 10 days already passed – did you make a decision ? If you want to talk more about this feel free to email me and we can discuss over Skype…

  17. Back Home permalink
    March 26, 2009 4:02 am

    When you come back to India, people will give you strange looks at EMORY? WHAT? IIM or also ISB – you have the brand that can open you multiple doors of opportunity.

    Recruiters will ask, why not Wharton? You didn’t get into Kellogg? You will feel like a loser if you go to Emory and want to head back to India. If in Atlanta, Emory rules!

    Ask yourself, do you want to get into a speedboat (AKA Indian Economy) or a leaking boat (AKA US Economy)?

    Think again.

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