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# chicago vs wharton

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Intern
Joined: 03 Oct 2007
Posts: 10

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19 Dec 2008, 10:35
how can you compare chicago and wharton
Senior Manager
Joined: 13 Jun 2007
Posts: 409
Schools: Wharton, Booth, Stern

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20 Dec 2008, 09:05
11
1
Last year, I had the choice between both schools - I got accepted at both. It was a very tough choice, so I guess you have to break it down in elements and assign weights to each element. Visiting the school IMO won't give you an honest view of the school, since these visits are marketing tools usually. Also, welcome week-ends are not only marketing tools but they are organized in the same time for both schools (it was the case last year and I'm sure it was no coincidence).

Back to the elements:

- Academics: tough one. Both have their lot of great teachers - and I'm sure, their lot of **** ones too (I know Wharton does). Yes Chicago has an important amount of Nobel Prizes, but: 1. are they going to teach you? 2. if so, are they any good at teaching? Very often, the answer to these questions is no. I'd put them equal, despite the fact that Wharton's curriculum is quite demanding - I can't judge Chicago's curriculum (demanding vs. other business schools: my undergrad was 10000x times more demanding than this in terms of exams, but that's another debate).

- Program: the big debate here is cohort system vs. cherry picking your classes. You've seen in the Wharton thread what I think are the pros and cons of a cohort system (103-t66548?sk=t&sd=a&start=780). At Chicago you can choose ALL your classes. It's a very good thing if you have a good idea of what you want to do, but it's hard(er) too meet people I guess. To be honest the core system gives you a good base to tackle the electives in the second year, which is good, and there are certain great classes I would have never ever chosen if I had to cherry-pick (ethics with Donaldson for example, a real eye-opener), but I still think that Chicago's system is very nice. I don't know how you get to get close to people though in that kind of system, especially considering the fact that EC activities are not that extensive from what I gather (more on that later). So basically here it's up to you to determine what works best for you. It's a tougher call than I would have imagined: in the beginning I thought that cherry-picking was brilliant, but now I see all the advantages of a cohort system, which I didn't see before.

- Brand name: this was the element that made me favour Wharton over Chicago (the weight was heavy on this one for me). I still believe that Wharton has a big edge in terms of brand over Chicago, especially in finance and outside the US (and even in the US for that matter). Although I do agree that Chicago has the momentum atm in terms of brand. I think that if it goes on like that, in 10 - 15 years they'll be challenging H/S/W. But that supposes that Wharton doesn't react. But at the moment IMO Wharton is still the best financial school in the US. That has an impact on the financial recruiters IMO.

- Geography: well, NY and DC are 1 hour away and AC is next door (not sure if that should come into balance but just mentioning ). The close presence of NY is a poisoned gift: that means that it's very easy to go and visit Wall Street firms and show your face and motivation, but that also means that the companies EXPECT you to do it. The closed list events for NY have been announced apparently, and the rumour goes that the most successful ones (the ones that got in >6 events) are the ones that were constantly there visiting companies (I think it's a complete aberration but blame the game, not the player). For me, applying in London only, it didn't change anything. In terms of tourism, obviously NY's presence next door is super exciting.

- International students: both schools are pretty international, but I think Wharton has an edge here, which is nice. 45% of students in my class are international, which is unparalleled in an MBA program in the US. The flip side is that this international presence is skewed towards Asia (the Indian-friendly reputation is not a legend), but it's by no means a disadvantage of course.

- Sports: I'm only going to talk about Wharton here, I don't know how Chicago is. The indoor infrastructure is great here: the gym is great, the fitness centre is huge and has everything you want: basketball courts, a (great) golf simulator, a pool, etc. The outdoor infrastructure however is a true calamity: it is embarrassing that a university like Upenn only has one or two "multi-purpose" grass fields. I know that the university is in the middle of the city, but still, that's no excuse. That's actually my biggest complaint about the school.

- Infrastructure: Chicago clearly has an edge here. They have a brand new building dedicated to the MBA students. Wharton's Huntsman Hall is gorgeous and pretty new too, but we have to share it with the undergrads (there's a story behind this but I wont go into details) and it's clearly too small for 2 big programs like ours. It's tough to book study rooms and it's tough to find sports in the study lounges, especially in the buy periods. However, there are plenty of other places where you can go and study on campus (and even meet those fit girls from law), but it's annoying that you can't do it in your own building.

- Student groups: I'll comment here on the 2 EC activities where I had interaction with other schools: soccer and rugby. Basically in both we crush Chicago! More seriously, in both sports we have sent 2 teams every time to each tournament. I actually can't remember seeing Chicago at ANY of those tournaments. It's not a big sports school IMO at that would have been (if I had known) a big deal-breaker. I also know that we usually have good teams in financial competitions (from what I heard), but so might Chicago (I don't know). But globally, due to the sheer size of the program, you'll find that student groups are bigger, which makes it nicer.

I'd also like to take a minute here to tell the admits that the best thing they can do is JOIN THE RUGBY TEAM. It's the largest sport at Wharton and by far the most fun. Don't worry if you've never played, 80% of the team members didn't play before. It's great fun, there's a fantastic team spirit (on AND off the pitch) and it's a great alumni resource (the rugby team is a very close network inside the Wharton network).

- City: well here I think Chicago has an advantage. Philly is not nearly as bad as people thinks, but it's still not great. Chicago is a big, lively city. Although Philly has a lot to offer too: all major sports are present, decently sized city where you can do most things by foot (an exception in the US), a decent selection of bars, etc. But in terms of choice I'm sure that Chicago outclasses Philly. Plus Philly - although apparently it's getting better - is still a fairly dangerous city (the Centre City is safe though). I won't go into too many details (don't want to scare anybody off), but it's definitively a difference compared to Brussels for example (where I come from).

Finally I'd like to finish here with the Wharton Leadership Ventures: the leadership ventures are great (although overpriced) possibilities to visit places where you will probably never go again: Antarctica, Kili, Cotopaxi, etc. That is something that I definitively took into account when I decided for which school I was going to go to. Chicago has its own pre-term trips, but I don't think that the selection they offer equals Wharton's selection.

Anyway, hope this helps!! I tried not to give the happy clappy story about my school and present a fairly objective image of the comparison. If you don't agree on some points please tell me. As usual, if you have any questions, feels free to ask.
VP
Joined: 09 Jan 2007
Posts: 1026
Location: New York, NY
Schools: Chicago Booth Class of 2010

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20 Dec 2008, 16:11
9
1
Using Audio's post I will put here my Booth perspective. Last year I applied at R1 to the then Chicago GSB, and if I weren´t accepted I would apply to Wharton at R2 (I believe from my peers accepted that I had a very good chance to be accepted there), but Chicago was my Top Choice (well, actually Stanford was my Top choice, but a long shot) all the way.

Back to the elements:

- Academics: I agree with Audio in that both are well recognized, but I will advise that Chicago's exams are hard if you decide to take advanced courses, and my undergrad was tough (Electrical Engineering in Telecommunication, integrals all over the place till my last day). And from the professors with prizes (Nobel or whatever) they do teach well, actually one of the most praised teachers is Kevin Murphy who will probably be a Nobel Prize a couple years from now, also these folks with prizes have to be good speakers, they had to defend their things to have their prizes. From talks with friends of mine at Wharton, the approach is different, but both will give you World Class education. If you can go to both places and watch a couple of classes. It is indeed a tough choice regarding here.

- Program: I'm a chooser, and I wanted to start with challenging courses. The "challenge everything" from Chicago is present almost everyday, instead of taking a basic class in a topic I already know (and pay 5 grands for this) I can pick a more advanced class and go further, learn more. It can be overwhelming though, as with choices you need to think ahead and think wisely. Another thing that is good for career switchers is that while in other schools people are learning basic stuff and going for summer internship interviews, you may go learning more advanced things - this is what a second year told me. Just keep in mind that it means that you will work hard, especially if you're like me (I decided to push myself). Regarding that making connections, I believe that all depends on you, it doesn't matter if one goes to Chicago, or Wharton or anywhere else, to make connections it depends on you.

- Brand name: Wharton still has a "heavier brand name" but The University of Chicago beats UPenn, in some countries - South America for instance - this makes a difference especially if you want to recruit for some rules and industries outside the mainstream. If you want to see what is better for you see the courses that each school offers, for me Chicago has an edge over every school for the thins I want to do after school (IM and Trading).

- Geography: Chicago is isolated, no doubt about it, but for \$150 bucks you can fly to NYC; however from Philly is much shorter and perhaps less expensive and by train. As Audio said location is sometimes a poisoned gift, I imagine how hard is to people in Columbia and NYU, they must go everytime to recruiters.

- International students: 40% in Booth, not that far from Wharton, and I can say it´s pretty balanced there, though Asians are majority, for natural reasons. I made good connections with people from all continents.

- Sports: The structure is good, but honestly, I haven't had time to benefit from it, I used the swimming pool once and played basketball once. I have a friend who's into Ironman stuff, and he's been everydays at the Ratner Center: http://athletics.uchicago.edu/facilitie ... center.htm

- Infrastructure: in addition to the Harper Center (main building), we can also use Gleacher Center in downtown Chicago. This building is shared with PT and Weekend MBAs, but it is good as we can use it to study, and next quarter I will have a class downtown. There are plenty of space to study, though during exams sometimes it's hard to book rooms, but nothing that I would complain.

- Student groups: Chicago is not a big sport school, everybody knows that Audio, stop remembering me though .
I am participating in 5 groups - Investment Management Group, Hedge Fund Group, Latin American Business Group, Public Speaking Group and DSAC (The group that helps prospective students). I may join another one the Media and Entertainment Group. I'd say though that 3 is the max number, I'm participating more in the first 3 I listed. Other groups participate in challenges such as the IPO, Consulting, etc, and I know that a groups is in the final phase of a marketing thing with Mozilla.

- City: Here Chicago has a BIG edge in my opinion, especially in Arts - my wife is a Fine Artist and only NYC beats Chicago. As Chicago is the "Midwest Capital" there are many options there in terms of bars, nightlife, restaurants, etc. Sports are not that good though, as the Chicago teams are not that good the the Phillies have just won the MLB. I've never had problem with Hyde Park, though people always advise not to go further south than campus. I was talking to rhyme a couple of weeks ago and I told him that Chicago is a city to live, not only study, for an urban person like me it's perfect. Also prices there aren't bad, actually comparing to my friends in Boston, Philly, NYC, Bay Area, Chicago is cheap. Some people don't care about 2 years, I do, 2 years will be, luckily, around 3.5% of my adult life for me and my wife this is a huge number. The weather is harsh, especially for a Brazilian like me, but hey I'd be screwed everywhere but California

In my opinion, it's a toss up, though if you want some specific areas - Health Care for instance - Wharton may be a better choice. Both schools are great, you will have practically the same opportunities in both schools. The Money shouldn't be the focus to untie here, right now it may semm big, but it's not, see where you better fit. Talk to people, because in the end is who are going to be your contact. And do what you're doing: ask, think, imagine, balance things...
Director
Joined: 25 Dec 2007
Posts: 519
Schools: Harvard '11

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19 Dec 2008, 11:40
3
this is actually a pretty easy choice. basically everything between chicago and wharton is a tie. academics, career opportunities, all that good stuff. the only thing that is variable from year to year is the students. here is how you make your decision:

1. go to both admit weekends
2. see how many girls you find interesting to talk to (i.e. there is a brain behind the face/body).

If Nchic > Nwhar, then go to Chicago. Otherwise, Wharton.

Of course, I am assuming that you are a straight single male. If you're not, then I have no idea.
Manager
Joined: 14 May 2008
Posts: 79

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19 Dec 2008, 11:53
2
zenzen wrote:
how can you compare chicago and wharton

Do you like hot dogs or cheesesteaks? Lovable losers or fans that boo a cure for cancer? Are you less comfortable being Indiana or New Jersey adjacent?
Director
Joined: 20 Aug 2007
Posts: 824
Location: Chicago
Schools: Chicago Booth 2011

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19 Dec 2008, 10:52
1
zenzen wrote:
how can you compare chicago and wharton

By visiting each school and looking at their websites.
Current Student
Joined: 02 Aug 2008
Posts: 112
Schools: HBS '11

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22 Dec 2008, 10:52
1
FYI, I was reading some blogs and came across this summary of one person's academic experience at Chicago: http://tombaornot.blogspot.com/2008/11/ ... -ugly.html
Senior Manager
Joined: 27 Jun 2008
Posts: 402
WE 1: Investment Banking - 6yrs

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22 Dec 2008, 11:22
1
Awesome post Audio & kwam! kudos..

This is brilliant, its gives perspective in selecting schools. Even though I have postponed my application to 2010, I really appreaciate your insights. It helps me filter my schools.
Current Student
Joined: 01 Apr 2008
Posts: 350
Schools: Chicago Booth '11

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19 Dec 2008, 10:55
I agree with Soni. Actually visiting the campuses makes a world of difference when trying to evaluate your fit with the program. I can tell you, based on my visits to both campuses, that although they have similarities in strengths, the programs are COMPLETELY different. With that said, both are excellent schools but one may be more appropriate to you than the other. Take some time to visit schools BEFORE you apply, if possible.
Intern
Joined: 03 Oct 2007
Posts: 10

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19 Dec 2008, 11:33
i already visited and applied to both schools. and i got into both. but i just can't decide. i will attend admit weekend but i'm trying to sort out my schedule so i guess i want to know now. i guess i'd rather know more about the cons of each program than the pros because the pros are always going to draw you. so i figure, it's the cons that determine which ones you're willing cope with and thus which school is better.

the reason i am so torn is because i feel that chicago is a better fit for me but i can't imagine turning down wharton.

any advice - other than visiting?
Current Student
Joined: 10 May 2008
Posts: 71

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19 Dec 2008, 12:08
Personally, I'd prefer hot dogs, lovable losers, and being adjacent to New Jersey.

Booth: 2, Wharton :1

Guess I should've applied to Booth instead
Intern
Joined: 03 Oct 2007
Posts: 10

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19 Dec 2008, 12:24
hahahaha if i were a straight single male - i probably would do just that.

but i'm not! maybe i'll try that anyways- can't think of anything else!
Current Student
Joined: 01 Apr 2008
Posts: 350
Schools: Chicago Booth '11

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19 Dec 2008, 12:38
I applied to both schools, and had already started trying to figure out which one I would attend in the event I was admitted to both. Luckily, I was dinged by Wharton, and thus my decision was made for me. With that said, the only reason I would consider picking Wharton over Booth is the (slightly) better brand name. I am more impressed with Booth's faculty, love the attitude of their students, and the Harper Center provides ample space for all the students. One of the most annoying things about Wharton to me was the ant farm feeling of Huntsman Hall.

Either way, you can't go wrong. As others before have said, it's all about personal preference. You aren't likely to have significantly better prospects coming out of one school vs. the other.
Intern
Joined: 03 Oct 2007
Posts: 10

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19 Dec 2008, 13:09
1
so i guess my question is: should i go to wharton just because of the better brand name? - i think this is all it boils down to.

i like how booth is so organized - the administration is so involved and everything is so structured/professional, the students are very nice and approachable, the harper center is dedicated to ONLY MBA students, the chicago area

cons - sharing teachers with part-time and weekend MBA students, bidding system is hard to get into a class with a good professor, no cohort - community may not be as tight

I just feel like booth is really going to continue to climb with its recent \$300m and because of obama's close ties to the school, will it surpass wharton in the next decade? will it become H/S/C??? instead of H/S/W?

i like wharton because of the brand name, prestige of getting into one of top 3, having a cohort, a learning team, close to NYC (for recruiting, networking)

cons - sharing huntsman hall with undergraduate program, people don't seem as approachable, administration doesn't seem as organized as booth's - in terms of the programs they offer (booth has new venture lab, pe/vc lab, management lab), it's in philly

in terms of recruiting - what are the differences?

in terms of alumni - it feels like booth alums are more willing to help.

any thoughts? i also got \$\$\$ from chicago
Director
Joined: 18 Feb 2008
Posts: 662

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19 Dec 2008, 13:24
i hope you choose Wharton. Granted Philadelphia isn't as nice of a city. But Chicago really isn't in the same class as Wharton.

From a broader perspective, however, I do believe people will end up where they destined to arrive no matter which path they choose. Either it's Wharton or Booth, you will still be you.
Senior Manager
Joined: 04 Jan 2005
Posts: 266
Location: Milan
Schools: Wharton, LBS, UChicago, Kellogg MMM (Donald Jacobs Scholarship), Stanford, HBS

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19 Dec 2008, 14:06
Based on your thought, I'd say go with Chicago.

There is nothing (job, network) you can get at Wharton and cannot at Chicago. It seems that it's only the superior brand of Wharton that is holding your decision.
Intern
Joined: 03 Oct 2007
Posts: 10

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19 Dec 2008, 14:17
but i'm a brand whore!!!
Intern
Joined: 19 Dec 2008
Posts: 29
Schools: Wharton, Haas, Anderson, Booth, Kellogg MMM, Stanford

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19 Dec 2008, 14:23
I am a long time lurker on gmatclub and finally registered because of this topic. The forum has really been a great source of information and super interesting to listen to everyone's perspectives.

Anyway, Booth had been the school I thought I wanted to attend most after all my research and having gone to GSB Live. Wharton was kind of a shot in the dark and I spent very little time on the application. So yesterday I got Waitlisted at Booth in the morning and I was pretty bummed. Then around noon I got an email to check my Wharton status and sure enough I was accepted (no phone call which I thought was weird). That definitely boosted my crushed ego, but now I don't know what to think. I have never stepped foot in Philly and admittedly haven't spent much time getting to know the school. I was pretty sure I would get into Booth and not Wharton and that would be it.

I was hoping someone could help me understand just how different the culture of the schools are (especially if you are from the west coast). I am going to pursue MC and feel that Wharton would be give me a great background, but I have scary visions of uptight ivy-leaguers in my head. This probably makes me sound like a douche, but I live by the beach in LA and Wharton just feels like another world. I want to be sure my two very expensive years off are really fun in addition to all the work.
Current Student
Joined: 28 Feb 2008
Posts: 370
Location: New York, Paris
Schools: Wharton '11

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19 Dec 2008, 14:25
zenzen wrote:
but i'm a brand whore!!!

Then I would say it depends on the money you got from Chicago. Is it big enough to make up for the perceived brand difference between the two? Only you can make that decision.
SVP
Joined: 11 Mar 2008
Posts: 1603
Location: Southern California
Schools: Chicago (dinged), Tuck (November), Columbia (RD)

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19 Dec 2008, 14:37
dayman wrote:
I am a long time lurker on gmatclub and finally registered because of this topic. The forum has really been a great source of information and super interesting to listen to everyone's perspectives.

Anyway, Booth had been the school I thought I wanted to attend most after all my research and having gone to GSB Live. Wharton was kind of a shot in the dark and I spent very little time on the application. So yesterday I got Waitlisted at Booth in the morning and I was pretty bummed. Then around noon I got an email to check my Wharton status and sure enough I was accepted (no phone call which I thought was weird). That definitely boosted my crushed ego, but now I don't know what to think. I have never stepped foot in Philly and admittedly haven't spent much time getting to know the school. I was pretty sure I would get into Booth and not Wharton and that would be it.

I was hoping someone could help me understand just how different the culture of the schools are (especially if you are from the west coast). I am going to pursue MC and feel that Wharton would be give me a great background, but I have scary visions of uptight ivy-leaguers in my head. This probably makes me sound like a douche, but I live by the beach in LA and Wharton just feels like another world. I want to be sure my two very expensive years off are really fun in addition to all the work.

dayman,

I feel your pain. I also live in LA and Booth was my #1 choice. I got rejected outright after an interview. Booth definitely comes across as a bit less stuffy than Wharton on the surface, but the reality is that you will find your group of friends or clique no matter where you go. Wharton has worldwide brand recognition. If you want to move back here to California after you graduate, Wharton will serve you better.

Congratulations - your post and results definitely serve as inspiration for those of us who got dinged from Booth. Last year, there was very few people on GMATClub that were waitlisted/dinged by Booth and accepted at Wharton, Harvard, or Stanford. Booth has a very high acceptance rate (they no longer publish it) and it was certainly demoralizing for me to get rejected, but that's life. This process is not very transparent and there are all sorts of things that go into it.
Re: chicago vs wharton   [#permalink] 19 Dec 2008, 14:37

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