1st-year Kelley MBA
It may have been the Kelley-branded umbrella that sealed the deal. It was a rainy day, my first day visiting the Kelley School of Business, and the lady at the front desk was kind enough to give me the umbrella as a parting present.
No, that feels a little silly saying my MBA fate came down to something as trivial as an umbrella.
Maybe it was those lengthy phone calls with a couple of first-year students, a faculty member, even a Kelley alum.
Actually, you know what it was? It was Experience Weekend – getting the chance to taste what life could be like as a Kelley MBA student.
The reality is, it wasn’t any one of those things. It was all of them–a thousand little signs that made it crystal clear where I needed to be. And then, there may have been a thousand signs at another premier business school (which shall remain nameless), that made it equally clear where I should not be.
After months of deliberation I had the benefit of visiting each of my top two schools within 24 hours of one another. Here’s an honest comparison of the visits.
Kelley: Validated parking pass in the attached parking garage
Other school: Racing in and out of the building every two hours to move my car and feed a street parking meter (I remember being so sweaty)
Kelley: My name, greeting me on a welcome sign outside the MBA office, and current students eager to interact
Other school: Signed myself in and sat quietly in a massive waiting room until having to remind the front desk that… I was still waiting. Even the Dean of Admissions passed by without saying a word.
Tour of building
Kelley: 45-minute walkthrough with two current students
Other school: Gave me a map of the building for a “self-guided tour”
Kelley: Conversational and holistic with a second-year student
Other school: Formulaic and literally clocked with an admissions officer
Kelley: Complimentary lunch with current students, in-class visit, and a personal Q&A session with admissions staff
Other school: N/A (I had to keep feeding the parking meter)
Who’d have thought an umbrella would factor into such an
important life decision?
It seems like you hear the word “culture” more than any other word when looking for the right business school. I won’t be able to tell you anything you haven’t already heard on the subject—culture is everything. This was the blatant comparison of cultures that I had between my top two schools.
It’s worth noting, by the way, this “other school” scores slightly higher than Kelley in most of the major rankings. And from what I could tell, they acted like it. They made me feel like I needed them, more than they needed me. At Kelley, on the other hand, I couldn’t have felt more at home. Every last detail was thought through. Even the umbrella.