As many of my readers are no doubt aware, I'm currently preparing to go back to school this fall in order to get my MBA. The latest step in the process has been choosing a school, and it's been a hard decision. Each of my options had a lot to recommend it, which, as my future father-in-law very helpfully pointed out, meant that there was no wrong choice to make. That didn't make the decision any easier, but it did take most of the stress out of it.
Faced with a decision between three good options, I did what any military intelligence veteran and prospective MBA would do: I made a spreadsheet. I compiled a list of competing criteria, including everything from program rankings and student body attitudes to proximity of family and friends and survivability in a civilizational-collapse scenario. I rated each school on these criteria as impartially as possible, then ranked the criteria by subjective importance to me, had my fiancée do the same*, and multiplied the average of our rankings by the schools' ratings to come up with a value-weighted score for each school. And of course, my approach failed completely, leaving two of the three schools perfectly tied.
What next? Time to cook the books. I went back through the theoretically impartial ratings columns and adjusted them until one school started to pull ahead. Was I intentionally tipping the balance toward one school? Probably, but even in that case, my spreadsheet still did its job by revealing to me which school I truly most wanted to attend. And what was the result? Well, I'm happy to announce that I am now officially a member of the Wisconsin School of Business Grainger Center for Supply Chain Management Class of 2013.
It is a bit ironic, since I had initially considered it my third-place school, and I nearly didn't bother to finish the application after I was admitted to the school I had considered my number two. I only went to the interview and class visit out of a grudging sense of obligation to finishing what you start, but was so impressed during that visit that it suddenly became the school to beat. In the end, it was the only program I felt like I would regret missing if I went somewhere else, and that's what ultimately tipped the scales. I guess it's a good lesson in not closing doors or burning bridges.
So Madison-area friends, see you soon! And Chicago and Twin Cities friends, we'll only be a few hours away, and we're planning to have a guest room.
*My fiancée's independent prioritization of school selection criteria was nearly identical to mine. I'd say that's a good sign, no?