Monday, February 21, 2005

One size doen't fit all 

I've been trying, and failing, to write something about DAK. In view of my lack of progress, I'm going to come at this in a slightly topsy-turvey manner and write about the reasons behind my decision first.

As is pretty ovbious from previous posts, I'd been narrowly coming down on the side of Wharton from an 'intellectual' comparisson of the two schools, and I'd really had a great time at Winter Welcome. I was very clear though that the deciding factor was going to be an emotional, or gut feel, one and I set off for DAK open to the possibility that I'd decide that Kellogg was where I was heading.

Having said that, on the plane I jotted down a short list of concerns, some that had come out of my previous visit, others that had arisen during the application and especially the post-admit phase. I'm not going to detail them here, not because I'm afraid of controversy, but because they're hard to articulate, and the way I found to express them to myself would blow them out of all proportion if I listed them in that way here. So suffice to say that they were a few little things about the nature of the community and how that related to me, and as such were as much a reflection on me as on the school. The first day reinforced my concerns on roughly half these, and the Dean's session on the second day reinforced the other half.

It's really difficult to describe why I didn't feel the fit was right. There was a feeling of some things being what some other admits described as 'a bit undergraduate' or ' a bit immature'. I think I'd go along with those comments to a certain extent, but only to the extent that they express 'I don't feel comfortable with that approach to doing things'. Related to that, I also felt there were somethings that 'lacked substance' somehow. On reflection, I think there are a couple of comments that maybe best sum up the divergence between me and Kellogg. One was from an alumnus speaker at the final dinner, who described Kellogg as having a 'cult-like' culture. By nature, I am a bit of a heretic and a lot of a questioner of orthadoxies, which means cults don't sit well with me. The second comment was one I made to someone else after a particularly enthusiastic presentation, which was 'I generally don't whoop'. Kellogg felt very 'whoopy'. Wharton didn't and, more to the point, I felt it would be perfectly OK for me to choose not to whoop, even if everyone else was.

There are some more concrete elements behind the choice. I am really impressed by Wharton's leadership programme, whih I think is something Kellogg is lagging behind in a bit. And although the social impact / non-profit side of things is less developed and less pervasive at Wharton, I'm really attracted by the possibility of helping to develop it.

If Kellogg was the only place I'd been accepted, I'd be very happy to go there, but I'd have a few concerns. As it is, Wharton left me with more 'wow' factors, and Kellogg with more 'hmms'. If I were at Kellogg, I think there'd be situations where I'd be thinking 'this just isn't me' or feeling that I needed to be someone other than who I am, whereas at Wharton everything felt very right.


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