The fourth person I sat with focused a lot of our conversation on the need to find a good fit between my interests and the school where I begin my studies. He asked me for the list of schools where I was applying, and he focused on Harvard. He explained something another professor had said to me, only he went into greater detail.
"Don't go to Harvard," he began. "They have a great reputation as an MBA program, but they have a terrible research program."
I let him know I wanted to know more about what he meant, so he continued.
"First, their professors are just never available to students. They're working on their own consulting or they're just never there. If a student needs to ask them an important question about a project, they're just not there to ask," he went on. "They also have a habit of working their doctoral students and junior faculty very hard on business cases. The problem is, no one else considers those cases valuable, so it's not helpful to a research resume. The important thing to look at is where their students are getting hired, versus where other programs are getting their students hired. Harvard doesn't fare well."
I applied to Harvard because I wondered if I could get in, but now I feel satisfied I should not go even if they accept me. As I said, other professors have warned me of the reputation, and now I understand it more fully. I had worried about the unlikely contingency that I might get in to Harvard and my other top choice, only to find myself obligated to go to Harvard. Now I feel sure I will gladly go to my top choice without remorse, regardless of Harvard's evaluation of me.
And no, I'm not rationalizing their failure to let me in before they do it. I am truly glad to not have to worry about Harvard anymore.
P.S.: Tomorrow, a career and a calling.