My interest in the University of Chicago predates my MBA career by over a decade—coming to Booth was a little bit of wish fulfillment, but it was also driven by many factors that make Booth uniquely fantastic.
Storytime: back in high school, I was torn between the University of Chicago and my alma mater, Dartmouth College, for college. Given my membership on the debate, model United Nations, and mock trial teams, UChicago’s unabashed academic bent was incredibly appealing.
I ultimately chose Dartmouth, but continued to meet impressive UChicago alumni during and after college. Not to mention, my middle school humanities teacher—who remains my favorite teacher ever to this day—was a UChicago alumnus, as I found out when I shared my college decision and he expressed disappointment that I would not attend his alma mater.
Fast forward to a fair few years later, and I was an applicant to the University of Chicago yet again. As before, I was impressed by the academic environment. Because I applied in the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, I attended a number of Chicago Booth’s MBA Masterclasses via Zoom to get a feel for the Booth classroom. Despite challenges of the virtual format, I found the Booth professors engaging, incredibly sharp, and obviously passionate about their subjects. The fantastic lecturers who I saw on Zoom were the top reason why I chose Booth.
However, there were other reasons for my choice of Booth, as well. Here are the remaining factors I weighed, in descending order of importance to my decision:
Strength of network
As the successes of an MBA program’s alumni are highly network-dependent, the Booth community’s robustness and enthusiasm for supporting each other was the second-biggest factor in my decision. In my conversations with Booth students, multiple people brought up the high response rate from alumni, even to cold outreach emails—to me, this indicated that Booth’s impact on alumni is lifelong.
Access to classes outside Booth
The fact that every Boothie can take up to six classes at other UChicago schools (and that the process for doing so is quite easy) was a major draw for me. Coming to Booth, I planned to explore classes at the Law School and Harris School of Public Policy. This quarter, I am enrolled in a Law School class and am eyeing a few Harris classes for the spring.
For those interested in healthcare, the Graduate Program in Health Administration and Policy (GPHAP) is a fantastic opportunity to earn either a Certificate in Health Administration and Policy or a Certificate in Health Administration and Policy with a Concentration in Global Health. The program is completed in the same length of time as the regular Booth degree, does not add to one’s tuition fees, and also offers the opportunity to connect with other program participants, who are drawn from other UChicago graduate programs (specifically Harris, the Pritzker School of Medicine, the Crown Family School of Social Work, and the Law School). As a former pharmaceutical consultant, GPHAP struck me as a great way to learn more about healthcare in a structured program without having to commit to a third year in school.
While I applied to schools in a broad range of settings, when push came to shove, I came to realize that I gravitated toward cities. As a New York resident for most of my post-college career, I was itching to be in a city again after relocating to small town Pennsylvania with my partner during the COVID-19 pandemic. In many ways, I believe Chicago is an ideal city in which to be a student, and the way that most Boothies live in the heart of the city creates a strong community in the downtown area. Despite being the United States’ third most populous city, Chicago is relatively affordable. Because Boothies are quite concentrated in a small number of buildings in the Loop, there is also a strong off-campus community due to our proximity to each other.