Why I Chose McCombs – Center Stage Style

I’d guess that few people can say that they turned to a movie to assist them with their business school decision. Even fewer will admit to have seen the girly movie that contributed to my decision to attend McCombs – Center Stage. While most people may not see the connection between a movie about teenage ballerinas in New York City and the decision to attend a prestigious business school in Austin, it is this movie that awoke me to an analogy that greatly assisted me in my decision-making process.


I already knew that McCombs had everything I wanted in a school – an excellent reputation, an esteemed marketing program, a great class size, a refreshing class environment. What I hadn’t taken into account was that I had to find the right fit – because at first glance, it looked as if there were two schools that could provide me with similar experiences. And here is where Center Stage comes in. If you are unfamiliar with the movie (which is excellent and totally worth a watch, by the way), you’d know that ultimately, the movie ends with a decision. Should American Ballet Academy student Jody Sawyer accept a job with the prestigious American Ballet Company where she will spend her “best dancing years in the back of a corps waving a rose back and forth” or should she accept a job as a principal dancer at the new, currently unknown but potentially great company being opened by famous heartthrob dancer Cooper Neilson?

For those who haven’t been lucky enough to see this gem, I’ll leave Jody Sawyer’s decision out of it, because it wasn’t her choice that contributed to my own-decision making process. Drawing parallels between an imaginary ballerina’s life and my own, I saw my two business school options separate in front of me with a stroke of clarity. What it came down to was a choice about where I would fit into business school. Did I want to be a principal dancer – to go to a school where I felt that I could easily emerge from the crowd and stand out instantly? Or did I want to undergo the challenges of starting in the corps waving a rose back and forth with the potential for so much more? I knew that coming to McCombs would be extremely challenging for me – and I knew that it would take more for me to emerge as a leader here among so many talented, intelligent and creative individuals. But I knew I could do it, and I wanted to learn and grow and gain confidence along the way. Isn’t that what business school is for, after all? What it ultimately came down to was that if I didn’t come to McCombs, I would have wondered every day of my life whether I had made the wrong choice. I’ve already learned a lot in Statistics, but even before coming to McCombs, I knew that not even Cooper Nielson was worth that kind of risk.

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