I did not go to college after high school straight away. When I was finally ready (at 26), I enrolled at the infamous University of Phoenix and got to it. This was during the time when their accreditation was in question and it was uncovered that their recruiting practices on military bases was in contravention of stated guidelines. Thankfully, I picked my programs well and wound up with some terrific teachers who absolutely made me understand that I am not the name of the institution who conferred my undergraduate diploma. I got excellent grades while working full-time, participated in extra curricular activities, and made some connections that have already paid dividends.
I decided that I wanted to capitalize on the momentum and parlayed into an MBA (from an AACSB accredited school this time) program and have not regretted a moment of it.
Today (this evening), I write while packing for my first academic conference, the Southern Management Association's Annual Meeting at St. Pete Beach (look me up if you'll be there!). I'm pretty darn sure I'll be getting a PhD in a discipline related to Management or Public Policy in the near future; however, I am overflowing with ideas about many subjects that people seem to find interesting about and am super excited to put pen to paper regardless of the specific topic.
With all that, I would be straight-up lying to you fine folks if I said that I didn't want to get a PhD from Harvard, Columbia, or London Business School (my dream school); however, I would prefer for someone below to say "yes, don't bother sending them the fee" if that is how they truly feel.
I have some very strong letters of recommendation, one from a burgeoning leader in his research field, and another who would be able to attest to my ability to wrangle large data sets with sophisticated statistical and data analysis tools, among others.
So my questions are: (Assuming that I have GPA/GRE in excess of minimum requirements for all targets - generally the case)
Does my University of Phoenix undergrad degree make my application an instant rejection at elite Tier 1 Research Universities, ceteris paribus?
If so, should I really even care?
2.a. I don't think anything will dampen my enthusiasm or creativity; however, I would like an enriching of an environment as possible, and I assume that the institutions featured in the Worldwide - UTD Top 100 Research Rankings are more substance than flash, if you get my meaning.