I applied to Oxford in the second round as a backup plan (I did not know I had been admitted to MIT at the time). I never really intended to go to a second tier school, at least not when I have a terrific offer from MIT. But life goes its own course, and I was admitted to Oxford. It seemed a no-brainer – MIT is ranked higher and is in fact a better school. I did not go into all this trouble to end up in a second tier school nobody knows.
However, Oxford is a well-known name, a one year program in Europe. My wife would have a work permit there. It will cost me half the price, and looking at the Placement Reports I saw that the vast majority of graduates find good jobs with good salaries (in the UK they pay in pounds!). I decided that I wanted to see it with my own eyes, so I flew all the way to London, and visited the school.
MIT vs. Oxford
I made a list of pluses and minuses. The criteas were: Prestige of school (affects the possibilities to find a good job, and improves personal feeling of knowing you studied in the best school you could); Length of program (affects the cost of both tuition and living expenses. Also in that time I can't work); Internship; Cost; Location (both distance from Israel, time differences, and opportunities after graduation); Internationality (how foreign I would feel in the school, and how focused the school is on international business); Visas and Work-Permits (both for me and my wife, and how complicated it is); Employment Report (how much salaries I need to expect after graduation, how easy it will be to find a job; at what sectors); Program Nature; Israelis (how alone I would be).
- Prestige – MIT is ranked 4 in the world. Oxford around 20. MIT is a top-ranked school, while Oxford is a second tier school (all the university is well-know around the world).
- Length of program – MIT is two years and Oxford is one year.
- Internship - In MIT there is a summer internship, while in Oxford there is a consulting project.
- Estimated Cost – Oxford should be around 50000 pounds for the year, while MIT is 180000$ for the two years (not including the cost of not working, and the internship).
- Location – MIT is in Boston and Oxford is in UK.
- Internationality – MIT has 60% American students, while in Oxford the class is 100% international.
- Visas and Work Permits – You need them in both US and UK. But in US it is much more complicated, and my wife will not be able to work. In the UK it is much easier.
- Employment Report – Pretty much the same salaries and the same possibilities after graduation (according to the schools Placement Reports). Almost all the students find jobs.
- Program Nature – MIT approach to Technology more. The entrepreneurship is strong in both. Probably studying at Oxford is more busy and difficult.
- Israelis – There are at least 10 Israelis each year at MIT, while in Oxford I will possibly be alone.
If I look forward where I would be in 2-3 years from today, in Oxford I will hopefully be with 2 years of experience working in London, while the degree costs me half the price, so I would probably earn back a large portion of the funds I had spent on the MBA. The living expenses in the UK are a little higher than in the US, but I will have the chance to work in other parts in Europe (once I get passed the work-permits and language barriers) - also the salaries are in pounds as well. My wife will be able to work if I go to Oxford (a very big factor in my decision). She is an attorney so she might be able to work in her profession.
MIT has several advantages: Ranking, prestige, Israelis, and Technological orientation. However, the cost, length of program, employment possibilities in Europe, distance from Israel, and working possibilities for my wife – MIT is not better than Oxford (and even has severe drawbacks).
INSEAD Comes Into Play
So I decided to go Oxford (amazing, right?). I almost went to the bank to pay 4200 pounds non-refundable downpayment. The night before, I received a mail from INSEAD announcing that I had been admitted to the school from the waitlist. That changed the whole picture for me.
- Prestige – MIT is ranked 4 in the world. INSEAD is ranked 7. Oxford around 20. MIT and INSEAD are top-ranked schools, while Oxford is a second tier school. However, INSEAD is not well known among common people while the other two are brand names.
- Length of program – MIT is two years, while Oxford and INSEAD are one year.
- Internship - In MIT there is a summer internship, in Oxford there is a consulting project, and in INSEAD there is no internship.
- Estimated Cost – INSEAD is around 80000 euros for the yearm Oxford should be around 50000 pounds for the year, while MIT is 180000$ for the two years (not including the cost of not working, the internship, and earnings of my wife).
- Location – MIT is in Boston, Oxford is one hour from London, and INSEAD is one hour from Paris.
- Internationality – MIT has 60% American students, while INSEAD and Oxford is 100% international.
- Visas and Work Permits – You need them in US, UK, and in France. But in US it is much more complicated, and my wife will not be able to work. In the UK it is much easier. In France my wife won't be able to work, but the program is only 10 and a half months – and I can get a work permit after graduation in the UK.
- Employment Report – Pretty much the same salaries and the same possibilities after graduation (according to the schools Placement Reports). Almost all the students find jobs. INSEAD is like an oiled machine when it comes to finding jobs after graduation.
- Program Nature – MIT approach to Technology more. The entrepreneurship is strong in all. INSEAD is a crazy program of 5 semesters in 10 month, and almost no vacations.
- Israelis – There are at least 10 Israelis each year at MIT, 20 at INSEAD, while in Oxford I will possibly be alone.
The only advantage of Oxford over INSEAD is the automatic work permit for my wife. But since INSEAD has such a short program, we can adjust. Also I don't know a word in French, so this is a minor disadvantage. INSEAD is a better school, older (the B-School I mean), with more students (almost 4 times as much), and top-notch career services. The cost is the same more or less.
When I compare INSEAD to MIT, they are both top-10 schools. INSEAD is half price, and a much shorter program. However there is no summer internship. US have more bureaucracy, but the language is English. My wife will prefer INSEAD because of the length of the program and the distance to her family.
Going to INSEAD is the natural choice. While it has almost all the advantages that Oxford had over MIT, it is a Top 10 school.
The only problem is the explenation that I need to give to everyone that asks me: "You chose to go to some unknown school in France over MIT and Oxford??? What are you - CRAZY???"