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April 14, 2008


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The only thing I would add is that its really hard to know you're going to do a MBA when you haven't even started undergrad. I bet if you polled incoming freshman on their intentions to get an MBA at a big name school, you would find that many more intend to do so at that time, then actually wind up going. Having said that, I would aim for the best undergrad degree I could on the chance that I won't have a brand-name MBA to back it up.

One question I have is: Do your undergraduate internships affect the Duke application?

Duke attracts some of the top business firms in the country to their intership/career fairs. I'm not saying that UGA doesn't, but being an undergrad student at Duke will boost your chances of getting an internship each summer with top business firms.

Also, Tim is correct. Plans change after 4 years. Maybe you decide to get your MBA after you have a few years under your belt (your company might also pay for it). If that is the case, you are in a better position for a job with a Duke BBA.

PS... I'm assuming everything else equal.

Those who don't put value into the undergraduate institution clearly have not done any hiring or recruiting of any kind. (Self disclosure, I did B.S. @ Columbia; M.S. @ George Washington; M.B.A. @ Fuqua). Having recruited and hired employees, I know that the quality of the undergraduate program is definitely a weed out factor. When you have 30 minutes to narrow the field of people you want to interview and you have stack of 100 resumes on your desk, school is definitely an easy way to narrow the field. Its not fair, its not perfect, but sometimes you just don't have time to carefully read each resume to understand the 'hidden value' of the person.

I agree with the previous two comments (Tim and Tom). Something else to think about though is that as I interviwed for positions (I have a business degree and an MBA), employers tend to like if you go to different schools: one for your undergrand and one for your grad. You get different perspectives, etc. Something else to think about.

Here's what I would do: make an appointment to go and talk with the people at Georgia's Honors Program. Ask them a whole range of tough questions. Find out who recruits students out of that program and where students who go to that program have gone to do graduate work in all disciplines. See how many have gone on to your "dream" schools for MBA, etc.

Bottom line: if you think that the Honors Program is legit and well-regarded, you might be in just a fine position for graduate school (or whatever else you want to do). FMF is right, most people don't care one bit where you went as an undergrad, as long as it was reputable and you did well there, once you have got your MBA or grad degree. The biggest question is how MBA programs will receive your undergrad choice. Typically, the less prestigious of a place, the better you will have to do there. So be prepared to kick butt as you might not receive the same forgiving looks regarding a less than stellar grade point as you might at a Princeton, etc. But if you are going to likely be paying for this with mostly loans (I'm assuming you have already heard from financial aid and that's factored into your comment about the price difference), I'd think a solid honors program at UGA could be a great financial decision. I did something similar. I can't imagine what my financial situation would be like today if I had both law school and undergrad debt.

Take it from someone who is still in undergrad (at a state school)... go to the "name brand" school for undergrad. I can attest to the fact that plans change in 4 (or 5, in my case) years! You don't really know what you'll be doing in 4 years, and if don't end up going the MBA route, at least you'll most likely be able to secure a good job with a "name brand" company after graduation--partly because of the exposure that you'll receive at Duke. (pending you don't screw things up on your own ;))

I'm also assuming everything else is equal.

One thing to consider is where do you want to live after you graduate? If you know for sure that you want to live in Georgia, then it might be more helpful to go to UGA versus Duke since I'm sure there's a lot more UGA alums in Georgia who look favorably upon those who when to their alma mater.

Having recently graduated from a couple very expensive universities, I thought I'd throw in my two cents and see if it helps anybody. I went to Columbia University for undergrad and the Harvard Graduate School of Design for grad. Both are extraordinarily expensive, and truthfully, I wonder the worth all the time, considering there are a number of architects at the firm I'm at who went the state school route, have no debt, and are every bit as capable as me.

Here are some things I've thought through:

1. Picking your school is definitely a balancing act. If you have people who can help you with tuition to the tune of something like half, it definitely helps and was enough to push me towards the big name schools.
2. Justifiably or not, having the names of schools like these has given me the benefit of the doubt every time they come into play. Employers will give you a second look. It's up to you after that.
3. The program I did at Columbia kept the books on graduate application success rates, and over 90% of kids who went through the undergraduate program there got into graduate architecture programs at the top 5 universities. This is something to look into before you decide.
4. One huge thing to think about is alumni connections. When applying for graduate school they will look into your summer work experience. I got many of my summer jobs through alumni connections, and they were excellent jobs.
5. School debt isn't that bad (or that high of interest if you get government loans), particularly if you're thinking of going into a high paid field after. If you end up with 150,000 in debt after undergrad and grad, but get a job that pays 150,000 a year, that'll get paid off really quickly.
6. My current job is wonderful and is at a firm headed by two professors at Harvard. I got the job largely because I went there, and they both knew my work. This is not to say that this can't happen from any school, but many of the professors at my school had decent sized firms and were very well connected, making it very easy to get a job.

Even with all the advantages, I feel like I could have gotten to the same place through much more affordable schools. I am not sure I would have gotten the same caliber of summer work though. Ultimately, I'd say go the expensive school if you're planning on making a lot of money after because then the debt really doesn't mean anything, and the name can only help you. One last thing that helped me was to question where I would have rather gone 20 years from now when all the debt is paid off.

Go to Duke. I completely agree with Michael K. The name of the school is often the first cut (because it's the easiest). Picking one undergrad because of the MBA program he wants to go to in a few years (don't go straight through!) is crazy. Plans change, as many have said. Even those who worry about being a double Dukey discount the possibility of going to a different MBA program (yes, there are a (very) few better programs). Maybe it's regional bias, but in NYC, it's a lot easier to find a job when you were a Duke undergrad than to overcome the perception that you're a UGA yokel (Honors program or not, that's going to be the first reaction).

I have to agree with pretty much all of the sentiment above: going with the bigger-name school can only help you, so long as you don't have some other reason to want to go to UGA more (proximity to home, etc.) When landing my first job out of college (BA from Notre Dame) I was recruited on campus and was able to get my foot in the door because of where I went to school. Of course, it was what I had done (both in class and out) while there that actually landed me the job, but this place was very forthcoming about the fact that they explicitly used the undergrad you attended as a prerequisite in the hiring process. And it was a really, really good job that I was fortunate (okay, lucky) to get. (My starting salary at that place is still paying dividends in the form of higher compensation years later.) Just my $.02...

Plus, Duke Basketball. Need I say more?

If you're planning to get your MBA then THAT is the alma mater that will matter the most (connections made, employer recruiting, career center resources, reputation on your resume, etc).

So if you want to get into Duke MBA, then you should go wherever will give you that best shot. Maybe Duke undergrad - or maybe not if you'll be struggling for B's at Duke but acing your coursed at UGA with little trouble. You'll already be in the honors program there, which looks great on a resume.

Plus if you're using loans for undergrad, GO TO UGA. You won't regret it.

As an aside, I chose a non-ivy league school where I was in the honors program and was free to have fun while maintaining a good GPA. I have never regretted it, even though I was accepted to more well-reputed schools. What really matters in the end are the connections you make.

I have cousins making this type of decision right now and it kills me when people tell them to choose cost over ranking when making this decision. While name recognition of your school doesn't mean everything, it will mean a lot and will follow you forever. Yes if you end up at Duke or Harvard for MBA that will be the most important thing they look at post-MBA, but you have to think about what is likely to get you to that point to go to those schools. Your internships and post-undergrad jobs are going to be largely influenced by the name recognition of your undergrad school. Certain employers won't even consider you if you aren't in the top 20 programs in the country. I think it is extremely shortsighted to trade a lower cost school in the short-term for possible decreased future earning potential in the long-term. Yes the bigger name school doesn't guarantee success, but why not give yourself the best chance of success possible? In the end the difference in cost over the next four years will not matter that much10 - 15 years out.

Best college advice I received pre-freshman year, followed and now *highly* recommend to others:
-> Work really hard on academics your first 2-3 years so you can let up and enjoy the social scene the last 1-2 years. (That's much easier than the other way around...consider the difficulty of trying to turn a 2.0 into a 3.0 GPA versus allowing yourself to "slide" from a 3.5 to a 3.0.)

I'll also second the advice above about getting involved in campus activities (think leadership opportunities) and trying a multitude of different jobs (via work study and internships.) The school you choose will mean less than what you do with your time there.

Finally, suggest that you read the book "Do What You Are" by Drs. Tieger as you look to match your personality and interests to a course of study and ultimately a future career.

Best wishes!

This is going to be hard to say, as a Georgia Tech alum, but go to UGA. They have a pretty good Business school, and since you will be in the Honors program, I'm pretty sure that you would qualify for the HOPE Scholarship - which basically gives you free in-state tuition as long as you maintain a 3.0. You'll still have to pay for room, board, and books... but that's a lot better than room, board, and books PLUS tuition at Duke. Save your money for the MBA later on.

Also, a major role in your decision should be where you plan to live and work immediately following undergraduate school. Depending on what industry within business you want to go in, a lot of executives in the metro-Atlanta area are Bulldogs (take it from a Georgia Tech graduate that runs into them on a daily basis) and not so many are Blue Devils. Now, if you want to go up North (with all those Yankees), then the Duke degree may be a better fit (some in the college scenes see it as the place that Northerners go when they can't get into one of the Ivies).

No matter which school you choose, the best advice is to work hard, play hard, and meet as many people as you can. You won't have many more chances in your life to meet people that can have such an affect on your career. It's a great chance to network - fellow classmates, professors, business people that are associated with the school through various means. Get good grades and if you end up at the top of your class, very rarely will it matter if you went to one school over another, unless it is something really presitgious.

And as far as Duke Basketball, as mikeb said, who needs to say more? You get to camp outside in miserable conditions just to paint yourself blue (and be hated by the ACC). Or then again, you can do the same for Georgia football and paint yourself red (and be hated by the SEC). Six one way, half a dozen the other.

Staying in-state with the HOPE scholarship was the way to go for me. I ended up with no student loans or debt coming out of undergraduate school... which let me start my own law practice when I was done with law school. Since I stayed in Georgia, I also made a lot of connections that have since led to much legal work.

One more comment on tuition costs... Just to give some perspective:

I graduated in undergraduate in 1995. Tuition, room, board, at that time: $23K per year. I graduated from Fuqua in 2003. Cost of entire executive MBA program: $73K.

Point: I thought both programs were CRAZY expensive back then. But after 13 years since undergraduate and 5 years for MBA, both now seem like a bargain given their current rate. I think Columbia now costs about $47K per year and the same Fuqua MBA program is now $102K.

I'm a graduate of UGA's Terry College of Business and I was in the Honors program. I can't recommend it enough. I've been working for 10 years now and I can honestly say that unless you plan on going right from undergrad to grad school, there won't really be much difference between the kinds of jobs waiting for you when you graduate UGA vs Duke. Excel wherever you go and you'll be fine. Come out of school energized and ready to learn anew everything that you'll really need to know. Trust me, except for trivia night, most of what you learn in college is not directly applicable to your average daily job. A Duke education and college recruiting program will prepare you to work in the North Carolina area. UGA's programs will probably cause you to move to Atlanta after school.

My advice is this: stay in state and save the money. You'll get out of your education what you put in. Be someone who puts in the hard work along with the late night parties and beer. Come out, get an education in the real world, and then reassess the graduate program. Some careers - it's not necessary. Trust that in 10 years after you graduate, you won't be doing what you imagine you'd be doing when you enter school. You'll be fine.

I am set to graduate soon and have seen how recruiters drool over the honors students. I am at a state school. I think any ground you lose by going to UGA instead of DUKE will be made up for by the fact your in an honors program. It means a lot. Keep those grades up and make sure your diploma has that honors designation on it. There's no reason not to get A's in a business program.
I think how much you put into it matters more than how much you spend getting it.

I personally see way too many people pay way too much for undergrad, not know what they really want to do, and then have no money left for a graduate degree. It is amazing to me how many of my friends went to spectacular undergrad schools and then went to State for their MBAs. ???? Were financial decisions, but makes little sense to me.

Likewise, I went to State school and have no need for a MBA in my particular career. I had to say my experience was that the local State school had one of the best business programs locally AND since I did stay in the area, most businesses preferred hiring from this school. So the comments that allude to this I think are very fair.

Then hopefully you would have the means to pursue a MBA at Duke later if that is still what you wanted. But if the undergrad program is good and you plan to stay locally, I wouldn't rule out the value of UGA. It might leave you more options later.

Likewise, I see little point to get a MBA and undergrad business degree at the same school. A lot of overlap there. I guess it depends on the school.

I would hesitate before going to the same school for an undergrad business degree and an MBA. My batchelor's is in Finance, and I was taught by the same professors using the same syllabi that are used for MBA classes (we took a semester to do what MBA candidates would do in a quarter). If I were to get my MBA from the same school, it'd be a re-tread of the same cases and approaches.

This is not to say you should or should not choose Duke. If you want to go to an MBA program "like" Duke, the undergrad degree from there will certainly help you on your way. If you want to go to Fuqua specifically, experiencing an alternative approach during undergrad may be helpful.

I advise undergrads at UGA (not in Business), also, grad students. Obviously UGA is quite a financial deal, esp. if you are in state, because of the HOPE scholarship. We have undergrads that go on to Northwestern, Johns Hopkins, Duke etc., and they didn't necessarily need to be a 4.0 OR an honors student to get there. It's really what you do, not where you go as an undergrad, although certainly you do want a reputable school. One note-- you have a while to prepare for grad school, but graduate school recommendations from regular, tenured faculty DO usually count more than recommendations from temporary or part-time instrucors who may teach some of your classes. Getting to know your faculty and getting involved in your major (and keeping up your grades) will help you in the long run.

Duke doesn't have an undergrad business degree, the closest you can come to that is Economics with the Markets and Management certificate. Additionally, some grad level programs frown upon students that went to the same university for undergrad. Go to Georgia, especially if they actually offer a business major.

If you still want to go to Duke, I question the griping about the cost. I went to Duke because it was cheaper than the state schools (and I didn't want the NC legislature in charge of my education). Nobody should pay full list price and few actually do. Call the school and negotiate. Is it too late to apply for 100's of small scholarships? There's no reason someone who can get accepted these days couldn't get enough scholarship money to cover tuition. Most people there a few years ago were on financial aid of some sort and last year they expanded aid even more.

If you want to major in business, go to UGA because Duke doesn't have an undergrad business degree. I personally think you'll do just as well if you go to UGA and do a lot of impressive things. Kick ass in school, find leadership opportunities, do interesting things to make yourself stand out, and make friends with your professors. If you really want to go get your MBA later from a top-tier business school like Duke, your GMAT and experience AFTER undergrad are going to matter just as much if not more than where your actual degree is from. I do believe where your undergraduate degree is from matters, but UGA isn't a no-name school that no one's ever heard of, so I think you'll be fine. You'll have plenty of access to good professors, internships, study abroad programs, classes, etc.

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