We received a request for our opinion on ASU in this former BSer’s Success Story and so today we are circling back as promised.
Arizona State is home to the WP Carey School of Business – which is unfortunately not the only bschool named “Carey.” Johns Hopkins also has a “Carey Business School” sometimes known as “Hopkins Carey” as a way to distinguish itself.
Setting aside the inept campaigns that came out of this school’s marketing department over the years (they did redeem themselves in our eyes with this one) we do have to applaud ASU for trying to innovate in certain ways.
They were one of the first business schools that we know of to offer an online MBA, which is part of the school’s broader initiative in online education. They’ve become recognized leaders in that area, though obviously the online format is not the same as a butt-in-seat on-campus experience. A future employer may or may not view an online MBA to be equivalent in training and transformation as a residency program. Sure, you maybe don’t need to specify on your resume that it was the online version, but it’ll likely be obvious when your employment history shows that you’ve been living and working in Cincinnati at the same time that you earned your degree in Arizona. We do give ASU points for being leaders in this segment of the education industry, however.
WP Carey is currently ranked in the Top 100 globally by the Financial Times (specifically, #76), and in the Top 50 by BusinessWeek (just barely, at #49). No, we don’t put much stock into rankings, but it’s one place to begin the discussion. Carey is what we call a “lower-ranked school” – even lower than the ones we normally discuss in that “lower” category here on the blahg. We don’t spend a lot of snarky space talking about these schools on the blahg because they’re simply not that competitive. This isn’t a slam on them. It’s just the marketplace realities. It’s not that they aren’t good programs or that you won’t get a good education there. It’s that there aren’t that many others clamoring to get in. You don’t need to cough up a bunch of money to an admissions consultant to help you land an entrance. If you do a good job on the GMAT (these schools are flexible) and you write a decent set of essays, then there’s no reason why they wouldn’t find a spot for you.
What WP Carey has going for it is there isn’t much competition in its region. It’s definitely a strong school regionally, partly because, well, there just aren’t that many others to choose from. It’s sort of like Foster in Washington State: A good school, but also a school that sometimes people default to because it’s the only game in town. Once you move out of the Midwest with Chicago and Kellogg and Ross, you face a veritable bschool desert (pun intended). Arizona is kinda the only one, until you get to the coast and the hyperselective situation with those Bay Area schools especially.
What else does Carey have going for it? Apparently they have some money to burn. They announced last year that all incoming first years coming to campus for Fall 2016 will get a free ride. They’re calling it the Forward Focus Scholarship and it’s coming from funding previously allocated by their namesake alumnus, Mr. Carey. It’s an effort for them to increase diversity in the class, by attracting students who otherwise might be turned away by the expense (the examples they’ve offered are single parents, people in non-profit, etc.). You can read up on it at the Wall St Journal and on Carey’s own website . The Forward Focus Scholarship is part of their new branding and coincides with the launch of a new cross-campus integrated curriculum which is also named Forward Focus.
So what’s our opinion on all of this?
Well, free is certainly appealing – but it all depends on personal priorities, right? We are confident that you’ll get a very good education at ASU. Personally, we love the desert, and Arizona is pretty darn beautiful. If you’re into that outdoors thing, you can’t go wrong. And oh yeah, it’s a dry heat.
In terms of the actual school? We wish we could offer something more insightful about WP Carey but we have little to go on. The most we can offer is that anytime a new curriculum is being rolled out, there are some growing pains, particularly with one as disruptive as this Forward Focus initiative appears to be. We love the innovation that is happening there (Yale SOM is the only other school we know of with an integrated offering and the Carey one seems different) but we don’t know what it’s like in practice yet – in fact, nobody does, because it’s not here yet. Anyone beginning their studies in Fall 2016 will benefit financially but the jury is out on how the new curriculum is being implemented here.
We don’t have anything else we can say. We’ve been distant observers, peripherally aware of ASU, but they’ve not been in our sights or capturing our attention (except for previous lame internet banner ads). We have only once or twice been involved with critiquing essays for any BSer trying for this place. It’s not that they’ll accept any applicant with a pulse – but it’s really not that hard to get an admit. They are always on the lookout for motivated candidates, and anyone who’s bothering to research their MBA such that they end up at the ‘Snark’s site, well, you’ve shown yourself already to be pretty motivated right there. With their wide range of MBA formats then that means there’s lots of room in their different entering classes. Their recent promotion with the free tuition thing also shows that they’re willing to be scrappy, and take some risks, and do something big in order to build buzz and get some momentum going. Those are all positives.
Lower ranked (or even unranked) schools can do big things. This list summarizes an innovation coming out of a bunch of places you’ve never heard of – California State University Northridge, St Joseph’s, U Queensland. Quality education and unique opportunities can be found outside of the Top 10. In the case of ASU, we’re guessing there’s an energy at the place that’s exciting, given these changes.
What about you? Anyone out there a student at ASU Carey? Anyone got an opinion based on direct interactions with students or alumni at this school? Please let us know in the comments – we’re always interested to hear about firsthand experiences!