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Kellogg vs. Columbia

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Kellogg or Columbia?

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Kellogg vs. Columbia [#permalink] New post 25 Apr 2011, 15:56
I've spent way too much time debating between these schools in my head and would love to hear your advice! I've seen similar posts out there, but my interests and goals are different than some of the others so I wanted to create a new post for this.

What I've figured out so far...

1) Academics: I want to do International Business and Management. Purely based on US News rankings, overall, Kellogg is #5, Columbia is #9. In specific areas, Kellogg is #3 for Management, whereas Columbia is #10. For International business, Columbia is #8 and Kellogg isn't even in the top 10. For those unaware of b-schools, they immediately assume Columbia is the better school... perhaps the Ivy name?

2) Social: I love the feel of Kellogg students and the environment. I also love New York City. Columbia students are stereotyped as generally more competitive than Kellogg students. Chicago is just not NYC to me. I have great friends in both cities, so it's a tie there. I could not go to Columbia Connect so I can only base my opinions of Columbia students from what I've read/heard, unfortunately.

3) Job prospects: I think I want to go into Consulting. I believe Kellogg is better for this than Columbia. However, I would eventually like to live in NYC so is it better to go to business school in the city where you want to work?

4) Alumni: I have loved all of the Kellogg alumni that I have met. They have been very excited about their school and have been very encouraging. On the other hand, I can't get anyone in the Hermes Society at Columbia to respond to me... I've also heard that it's harder to network with Columbia students than it is with Kellogg students (NYC vs. Evanston).

5) Tuition: Columbia has offered me a small fellowship and I am still waiting to hear back from Kellogg. I doubt the money alone would sway me, but it definitely was nice to hear.

Overall, I am leaning slightly more towards Kellogg, but I really could go either way. I appreciate the help!!
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Re: Kellogg vs. Columbia [#permalink] New post 25 Apr 2011, 17:03
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I would go to Kellogg.

You're talking about schools on the opposite ends of the spectrum (relatively speaking) in terms of student culture and cohesiveness -- with Kellogg being one of the most tight knit and friendly, and Columbia being the most cold and individualistic of all the top 8 schools.

I'll probably get in trouble by some angry CBS students/alums for saying this, but from the many clients over the years who have visited the school and given me feedback on their visits, there tends to be a common refrain: that it was the least friendly of all the schools.

Again, it's all relative. It's not like CBS is full of back-stabbing trolls, but given the environment and the lack of a strong student culture compared to other top schools, to be blunt the school has some catching up to do.

Columbia can take a cue from Booth. For the longest time, Booth had a lukewarm to bad rep for having a socially awkward student body that was devoid of cohesiveness, all located in a crappy part of town (sort of like Columbia not being located in the best part of NY either, although the area has improved a lot since the 1980s). But UChicago really made a concerted effort to change that. It's not about endowments or shiny new buildings (although that helps) or moving to a new part of town, but about an administration, admissions staff and student body collectively working together to make a real change. And that really starts with the administration. In a way, Booth took its cue from Wharton, which transformed itself similarly in the late 1980s when it had that reputation for being a hypercompetitive a**holish place full of Trump wannabes in a crappy part of town in an already rough city (Philly isn't as bad as people make it out to be, but some folks would have you believe it's like downtown Detroit) -- to a school that has a very cohesive, active and friendly student body (the MBA program at least!). Like Wharton, Booth never turned its back on its heritage or reputation (finance), but sought to expand and build upon it. Booth to this day may still be finance driven, but it's becoming more and more diverse and sort of is Wharton Jr. (and I mean that in the best way possible).

Even though Booth still gets saddled with that reputation for the "no fun geeky" school, in the last few years (esp. last 2 years), I've had clients who tended to be pleasantly surprised about Booth - that it's more cohesive than they expected, the people were more friendly and down-to-earth and sociable than they expected, etc.

Anyhow, back to Columbia vs. Kellogg.

Keep in mind that unless you're loaded, as you know NYC is a VERY expensive place to have fun. It's a city that is a lot more fun when you're making money than as a broke-ass student. Depending on the size of your fellowship, your total cost will still be significantly higher at Columbia than Kellogg simply because the cost-of-living difference between NYC and Evanston is quite large - and that's not factoring in the "fun" stuff (eating out, social events, etc.).

Of course, if you've got a lot of money, cost won't be an issue. But if it is, being in NYC and living like a student isn't as fun as one may think, especially compared to being a student in a college town where you'll likely forge stronger and broader friendships with your classmates since they don't scatter all over the city after class.

In other words, what is more important to you -- networking/having a great time within the b-school (irrespective of its home city), or living in New York City?

The fact that you've been able to get in touch with Kellogg alumni and have had no luck with the Hermes Society isn't a rare coincidence.

Columbia is a great school when it comes to academics (some amazing profs) and recruiting (especially finance), but when it comes to student culture, it has some work to do compared to its peers like Kellogg, Booth, Sloan and Tuck. Again, it's not bad, but it's not as strong as the others when it comes to student culture and cohesiveness. It has to stop touting the "New York Advantage" because it can easily become an excuse for complacency and not doing anything to improve the actual student culture and environment. I mean, NYU Stern could also claim "the New York advantage" in an even more compelling way since it's actually in an amazing part of the city, but instead it has managed to create a culture that in spite of being in a gigantic city - is actually quite laid back, down-to-earth, friendly and tight knit.

Again, Columbia can be a great choice if you're really focused on finance and you need or strongly prefer to remain in NYC for personal reasons (i.e. spouse/partner works and you don't want to live separately). But if either of these don't really apply to you, then you're probably better off going to another peer school like Kellogg if given the choice.

In sum, Kellogg will more likely give you the quintessential college town experience (in the best way possible) -- and while you can't always go and eat at Nobu, you will likely have more money in your pocket to go on weekend road trips (aka "benders" and have your own real life versions of "The Hangover" film) with your fellow Kelloggians to NYC. :)
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Re: Kellogg vs. Columbia [#permalink] New post 25 Apr 2011, 22:47
sratzi wrote:
I've spent way too much time debating between these schools in my head and would love to hear your advice! I've seen similar posts out there, but my interests and goals are different than some of the others so I wanted to create a new post for this.

What I've figured out so far...

1) Academics: I want to do International Business and Management. Purely based on US News rankings, overall, Kellogg is #5, Columbia is #9. In specific areas, Kellogg is #3 for Management, whereas Columbia is #10. For International business, Columbia is #8 and Kellogg isn't even in the top 10. For those unaware of b-schools, they immediately assume Columbia is the better school... perhaps the Ivy name?

2) Social: I love the feel of Kellogg students and the environment. I also love New York City. Columbia students are stereotyped as generally more competitive than Kellogg students. Chicago is just not NYC to me. I have great friends in both cities, so it's a tie there. I could not go to Columbia Connect so I can only base my opinions of Columbia students from what I've read/heard, unfortunately.

3) Job prospects: I think I want to go into Consulting. I believe Kellogg is better for this than Columbia. However, I would eventually like to live in NYC so is it better to go to business school in the city where you want to work?

4) Alumni: I have loved all of the Kellogg alumni that I have met. They have been very excited about their school and have been very encouraging. On the other hand, I can't get anyone in the Hermes Society at Columbia to respond to me... I've also heard that it's harder to network with Columbia students than it is with Kellogg students (NYC vs. Evanston).

5) Tuition: Columbia has offered me a small fellowship and I am still waiting to hear back from Kellogg. I doubt the money alone would sway me, but it definitely was nice to hear.

Overall, I am leaning slightly more towards Kellogg, but I really could go either way. I appreciate the help!!


I think its a bit of a gut feeling. Academics wise I think Kellogg is known to be very strong for marketing and Columbia for finance. I don't think rankings should matter that much, these things change yearly and more often I'd think your own individual character will differentiate you to a recruiter than you being a graduate of Northwestern vs. Columbia. I mean, as long as the school is in the top 15, McKinsey will make an appearance, its up to you to get hired.

Job prospects and alumni wise I think both schools will give you a lot of opportunities and I doubt you'll notice a significant difference in terms of your own marketability.

I've visited Columbia and after having visited UVA, UT-Austin, UPenn, Booth, NYU etc. I knew that Columbia was the program for me. I was very impressed with UVA's community, and Columbia had that same environment except not in the middle of nowhere :-p.. Everyone was incredibly friendly at EVERY stage of the decision process. I've spoken with current students who seemed incredibly tightly knit during class visits. Alum who interviewed me went out of their way to help me and sent very enthusiastic congratulatory emails after they heard of my admission. And I've already made friends with some of the incoming members of the class of 2013.

I can't vouch for other people's experiences, but I have not doubted my decision to choose Columbia at all and I hope that you'll join us too!
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Re: Kellogg vs. Columbia [#permalink] New post 27 Apr 2011, 12:52
sratzi wrote:
I've spent way too much time debating between these schools in my head and would love to hear your advice! I've seen similar posts out there, but my interests and goals are different than some of the others so I wanted to create a new post for this.

What I've figured out so far...

1) Academics: I want to do International Business and Management. Purely based on US News rankings, overall, Kellogg is #5, Columbia is #9. In specific areas, Kellogg is #3 for Management, whereas Columbia is #10. For International business, Columbia is #8 and Kellogg isn't even in the top 10. For those unaware of b-schools, they immediately assume Columbia is the better school... perhaps the Ivy name?

2) Social: I love the feel of Kellogg students and the environment. I also love New York City. Columbia students are stereotyped as generally more competitive than Kellogg students. Chicago is just not NYC to me. I have great friends in both cities, so it's a tie there. I could not go to Columbia Connect so I can only base my opinions of Columbia students from what I've read/heard, unfortunately.

3) Job prospects: I think I want to go into Consulting. I believe Kellogg is better for this than Columbia. However, I would eventually like to live in NYC so is it better to go to business school in the city where you want to work?

4) Alumni: I have loved all of the Kellogg alumni that I have met. They have been very excited about their school and have been very encouraging. On the other hand, I can't get anyone in the Hermes Society at Columbia to respond to me... I've also heard that it's harder to network with Columbia students than it is with Kellogg students (NYC vs. Evanston).

5) Tuition: Columbia has offered me a small fellowship and I am still waiting to hear back from Kellogg. I doubt the money alone would sway me, but it definitely was nice to hear.

Overall, I am leaning slightly more towards Kellogg, but I really could go either way. I appreciate the help!!


Although I am obviously biased, I'd like to share my two cents.

1) Academics - Rather than focus on the US News specialty rankings (which are essentially just polls and the methodology is highly suspect) I would focus more on the specific courses and programs available at each school which interest you. My sense is that this is a wash, but it really depends on your intended focus, IMO.

2) Social - The stereotypes about CBS students are very outdated and the school has clearly been working hard to change this. At Columbia Connect, I was amazed by all of the diverse personalities. Admissions seems to be really focused on building a class of outgoing, interesting people that really want to be here (side note: this is I think is the true purpose of early decision, not yield management). All of my interactions with students and alumni have been welcoming and this was a major factor in my decision. It's unfortunate that yours have not been as positive, but I would try to talk to more people before you dismiss the whole student body.

3) Job Prospects/Location - Kellogg is definitely more well known for consulting placement but CBS is actually pretty strong here as well. All of the top consultancies recruit here so it just comes down to your interviewing and case cracking skills. I'm not sure if any of the boutiques recruit at Kellogg but not Columbia, but if your goal is M/B/B your job prospects are not at all different. If your intention is to live in NYC after school, I think Columbia is a no-brainer. Sure, plenty of people from Kellogg will end up here, but bottom line you'll have a much deeper network and a two year headstart. This was one of my primary motivations for going to Columbia since I have relocated cross-country twice and have little desire to do it again after school.

4) Alumni - Again, your experience is much different than mine has been, but at the end of the day this is a gut decision. If you are in a place where you feel you will be happy, you will probably make better connections and the network will take care of itself.

5) Tuition - It is nice to be wanted, isn't it. :)

At the end of the day, you should go where you will get the most out of the experience and only you can make that judgement. I just get sick of reading these CBS stereotypes that don't jive with my experience and need to be debunked.

Alex - I love your writing and you have fantastic advice, but you need to take another look at CBS.
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Re: Kellogg vs. Columbia [#permalink] New post 28 Apr 2011, 07:38
My personal choice would be Kellogg, but I wanted to point out that from your post it sounds like you are more than leaning a little bit toward Kellogg. On every metric you cite Kellogg as having an edge and you loved the school environment when you visited. I love NY too and figured I wanted the best MBA experience and the city will always be there. Good luck with your choice.

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Re: Kellogg vs. Columbia [#permalink] New post 28 Apr 2011, 09:27
Wow, this really opened my eyes about Booth. I thought much the same about its student body after reading other posts at other BBs. Much appreciated!
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Re: Kellogg vs. Columbia [#permalink] New post 01 May 2011, 21:55
Thank you all for your views!! I definitely appreciate reading the different perspectives - helps me find clarity as well!

I'll admit, I have been leaning towards Kellogg since the beginning of the application process, primarily due to the student network and collaborative environment, but Columbia has been rising in my esteem since I visited the campus and learned more about the program.

As I said before, unfortunately I could not attend Columbia Connect (I was accepted a week after the event) and I unfortunately have only heard back from one alum - although he has given me glowing reviews. I did attend DAK and loved everything I learned about Kellogg (barring the old buildings, but I guess that's the same disadvantage for both schools)

When it all comes down to it, here's what I'm down to:

Location: Columbia wins
Students: Kellogg wins (for me - I have a better feel here)
Money: Columbia has the slight edge, although Alex's point that the higher cost of living wipes out that fellowship is very valid
Job Placement: I agree with all the other posters, for consulting, either school will be great. Both win here

The only thing I'm not sure about is reputation. Columbia appears to have the edge with non-business folk and has many distinguished alumni (although I must say, Warren Buffett is referenced WAY too often). I know Kellogg wasn't great 25 years ago, but how is its reputation now in the business world (globally)? I know rankings aren't everything, but I wonder why Financial Times always ranks Kellogg so much lower than all others.
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Re: Kellogg vs. Columbia [#permalink] New post 02 May 2011, 02:44
It depends on WHOM you want to impress with your MBA. Most Top 10 MBAs I've met have a view of Columbia that is strikingly similar to Alex's; their view of Kellogg is less well defined. Similarly, non-MBAs who come from elite US institutions repeat something akin to what Alex just wrote. However, in the wider community, Columbia's brand has much greater currency. So it depends what market you want to trade in, as always...
Re: Kellogg vs. Columbia   [#permalink] 02 May 2011, 02:44
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