Saturday, June 02, 2012

The Ones that Got Away

At 5:00 p.m. yesterday I transferred $1,000 from my savings to my checking and paid the second tuition deposit at Chicago Booth.  If it wasn't already settled before, it definitely is now.  I am attending Booth in the fall.  I have already dived into being a Boothie.  I found a great roommate who also has an aversion to community laundry facilities; started three Booth class of 2014 fantasy football leagues; and worn my complimentary Booth t-shirts all over town (an alum even stopped his car to chat with me for a sec when he saw me sporting the maroon).  Best of all I am Random Walking to Fiji in August with The Keychain (mpg2011 from GMAT Club) and a dozen other Boothies.  However, in the midst of all the excitement and anticipation there are times when I find myself wandering over to Wharton's class of 2014 Facebook page or logging onto the Kellogg admitted students' website.  Sometimes in the quiet moments between all of the Booth hoopla I wonder what if I had chosen differently.

I will readily admit that choosing a school had me freaked out for weeks, but during those few weeks I belonged to three amazing schools.  I could claim ascending to the H/S/W trifecta, being part of the greatest marketing school ever (with an awesome culture to boot), and getting into the reigning #1 business school (according to Business Week).  Choosing meant letting go of 2/3 of that sparkle dust near my name.  My father still mourns not being able to tell people his daughter is going to Wharton (I'm not holding my breath for him to get over that any time soon).  While I do think he's being totally ridiculous a little bit of me shares his feelings.  Booth is an amazing school and it's where I want to be.  However, I will admit that there's just something about the name Wharton that makes people's ears perk up just a little bit more.  Sure, most of these people wouldn't know what McKinsey is and would likely tell you that The Pacific Group is a surfing team, but it still would be kind of cool if my family in Cameroon knew about Booth the way they know about Wharton.  I'm sure someday they will, but it's just not right now.  Ultimately, something in my gut told me that in spite of Wharton's cache it wasn't the best place for me to pursue my goals.  Even before the Wallman fellowship came into play I was leaning toward Booth.  I never want it to seem like I'm only at Booth because of the money because that is not the case.  The Wallman fellowship was just the cherry on top of a delicious hot fudge brownies sundae with caramel sauce.  I liken choosing Booth to ordering the brownie sundae for dessert but still slightly wanting a taste of the tiramisu.  The brownie is the perfect combination of everything you want in a dessert, but the tiramisu is it's own brand of yummy goodness making it easy to crave.

Letting go of Kellogg elicits a different feeling.  Changing my decision from matriculating to not attending was like letting go of a first love.  You know it's for the best, but it still hurts like hell.  Kellogg was my first everything: my first application, my first admit, my first admitted students weekend, my first tuition deposit (I'm really missing that $2,000 right now).  I still maintain that culturally, and career wise Kellogg is the best fit for me.  The other day my news feed told me that a friend who is matriculating at Kellogg in the fall is heading off to Chicago for a pre MBA internship.  Since I'm tossing around the idea of finding one for myself I asked him how he found his.  His answer, "Kellogg." Turns out a Kellogg alum worked with the school to create a program for incoming 1st years that includes an internship at his VC firm.  Although, I've heard of incoming first years at other schools (my roomie included) securing pre MBA internships, this was the first time I'd heard of it being facilitated by the school.  Kellogg does it again, proving why I've said that no school does career services better.  While other schools are touting 2-5 day programs sponsored by some top notch companies, Kellogg offered up the opportunity for a paid internship.  Seeing things like this make me wonder if I will be missing out on those served-up-on-a-silver-platter opportunities for jobs that are often hard to come by.  I am absolutely positive that I will get where I want to go from Booth and that I'll have a ton of support along the way, but I can't help but wonder about the SEEK management lab, Global Initiatives in Management, and the #1 Net Impact chapter in the country and feel slight pangs of longing for Kellogg.

Most of all I wonder about the people.  I met some really great folks at Wharton and Kellogg that I won't be going to school with after all.  I imagine what it would be like to live in Rittenhouse Square with the girls from Wharton who responded to my request for a roommate.  I damn near wanted to die when I found out that Jay-Z is hosting a music festival in Philly the first week in September.  Oh, how I wish I could be there.  Mbalady and the rest of the Kellogg crew are KWESTing in August and they are doing it without me.  Yes, I have met some cool peeps from Booth too and I'm looking forward to fun times with them.  However, I will confess that between all of the admitted students weekends I connected more with the people at Kellogg and Wharton.  While I'd known since Kellogg Diversity Preview Weekend that Kellogg people are MY people, I was pleasantly surprised to find how easily I connected with the people at Wharton.  When I was feeling completely out of place and despondent about being under dressed the first day of Wharton welcome weekend, current students and my potential classmates made me feel better and pretty soon I forgot all about the fact that I was in jeans and a cardigan while they were in suits, skirts, and stilettos.  I have fond memories of watching my DAK section leader at Kellogg throwing money at a cabbie after he accused her of not being a nice person (long story, he was in the wrong and she over tipped him anyways by making it rain onto his lap...priceless moment) and thinking to myself, I could totally be friends with her.  I think about the guy in Wharton's Lauder program I met who speaks way too many languages and rue the fact that we won't be plotting his path into the CIA.  Although I met people who I know I will be friends with at Booth's ASW, I also had quite a few of those awkward conversations that never get past, "So what's your name, where are you from, what do you do?" It was just easier with the people at Kellogg and Wharton to move quickly beyond that to laughing about the absurd number of costumes we were going to have to buy in preparation for the abundance of theme parties.

I think I feel this way because I never had my heart set on one school.  Each school gave me a different feeling and I liked all of them.  I have no regrets about my decision so far.  I know that Booth can more than make up for whatever I'm missing out on at Kellogg and Wharton, maybe not with an exact replica but with something that fits equally well.  I think of the other applicants that I know who had to make some tough choices and I am pretty sure that I'm not alone in my thoughts of What if? I think I just missing having all three.  Alas you can only go to one.  Even though Kellogg and Wharton will always have a piece of me I now bleed Booth.


mbaover30 said...

...and so the emotional roller coaster comes to a reflective, triumphant close; from wondering "will I get in anywhere"? to "OMG! I'm in! and In! and In!? to "Now which great program must I choose to miss out on?" to donning a new t-shirt and tribe; you gotta luvit.

Anonymous said...

Seems like you are trying hard to justify your choice of money over heart.

Anonymous said...

I feel your doubt. I too spent a nerve racking 10 days to decide between 2 wonderful schools and had to say no thanks to one of them. I will be going to a wonderful school where I will get the support that I need but in the quiet moments of the day I wonder...what did I do?

When god gives you the wonderful opportunity of a choice, he believes that you have the wisdom to make the right one!

Anonymous said...

I feel your pain. Choosing between the two Top 10 schools was probably the most stressful part of the entire MBA application process for me. Especially that week leading up to the deposit deadlines!

TheSenator said...

You know how I feel about Kellogg... you're lucky tho since you'll be in the Chi to hang out with the fam!