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HELP! Columbia or Fuqua (or maybe Booth)?

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HELP! Columbia or Fuqua (or maybe Booth)? [#permalink]

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New post 20 Mar 2017, 14:51
Hey everyone,

I will try to keep this brief, however brevity has never been a strength of mine. :lol:

Here's the basic outline of my problem: I am going to business school in the fall, I don't know where. By matriculation I will have spent the past two years at a commodity trader and the two years prior to that at an oil company. Applied to five schools, admitted to Columbia, Fuqua, Darden, and McCombs (with 1/3 tuition scholarship), and wait listed (two rounds in a row!) at Booth.

I am experiencing significant difficulty deciding between these options, and the possible career paths that might follow at graduation.

When I started this process, I wanted to go into MBB consulting. While that's still a definite interest, I've discovered other avenues that sound interesting and gratifying. For example, some of the finance/management development programs are appealing, and there's still a tiny, unrealistic, masochistic part of me that thinks I could break into a middle market oil and gas private equity fund out of Booth or Columbia.

Essentially, at this point I am looking for any reason not succumb to the brand name of Columbia. The reputation and finance job availability is obviously tops of the schools that I've gotten into so far, but I have a strong aversion to living in NYC. Culturally, and going by gut-feel, Fuqua is far and away the best fit for me with Darden a close second. However, I assume that move would basically preclude my getting any non-banking finance job.

I guess what I am trying to get here is a reality check on what exactly is possible out of Columbia that may not be from Fuqua/Darden, and feedback on the reputations of each school irrespective of the rankings. MBB is possible from Duke or Darden, but it's at least as (slightly more) possible from Columbia. While I am somewhat geographically agnostic (Houston/Dallas, North Carolina, LA/Bay, Seattle), I have no desire to work in the Northeast after school, so one of the main draws and advantages of Columbia is undercut.

Am I fooling myself into thinking that these finance jobs for which Columbia is renowned will be accessible for someone with no finance experience? If that is a large part of why I would want to go to CBS, that may ultimately be ineffective if I wouldn't even be able to get those jobs regardless of which school I choose. If I am going to spend two years at a school and then end up in MBB or corporate strategy/development, I would much rather do it at Fuqua/Darden.

What are your thoughts? What would you do in this position? How would you personally go about evaluating this? Any help is much appreciated.

Last edited by hydrocarbons on 16 May 2017, 07:37, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: HELP! Columbia or Fuqua (or maybe Booth)? [#permalink]

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hydrocarbons wrote:
Hey everyone,

I will try to keep this brief, however brevity has never been a strength of mine. :lol:

Here's the basic outline of my problem: I am going to business school in the fall, I don't know where. By matriculation I will have spent the past two years at a commodity trader and the two years prior to that at an oil company. Applied to five schools, admitted to Columbia, Fuqua, Darden, and McCombs (with 1/3 tuition scholarship), and wait listed (two rounds in a row!) at Booth. I am experiencing significant difficulty deciding between these options, and the possible career paths that might follow at graduation.

When I started this process, I wanted to go into MBB consulting. While that's still a definite interest, I've discovered other avenues that sound interesting and gratifying. For example, asset/investment management is appealing, and there's still a tiny, unrealistic, masochistic part of me that thinks I could break into a middle market oil and gas private equity fund out of Booth or Columbia.

Essentially, at this point I am looking for any reason not succumb to the brand name of Columbia. The reputation and finance job availability is obviously tops of the schools that I've gotten into so far, but I have a strong aversion to living in NYC. Culturally, and going by gut-feel, Fuqua is far and away the best fit for me with Darden a close second. However, I assume that move would basically preclude my getting any of the even more selective non-banking finance job (IM/HF, etc.) Though I should still be able to land at a bulge bracket or boutique investment bank from either.

I guess what I am trying to get here is a reality check on what exactly is possible out of Columbia that may not be from Fuqua/Darden, and feedback on the reputations of each school irrespective of the rankings. MBB is possible from Duke or Darden, but it's at least as (or maybe more) possible from Columbia. While I am somewhat geographically agnostic (Houston/Austin, the Carolinas, LA/Bay, Seattle), I have no desire to work in the Northeast after school, so one of the main draws and advantages of Columbia is undercut.

Am I fooling myself into thinking that these finance jobs for which Columbia is renowned will be accessible for someone with no finance experience? If that is a large part of why I would want to go to CBS, that may ultimately be ineffective if I wouldn't even be able to get those jobs regardless of which school I choose. If I am going to spend two years at a school and then end up in MBB or corporate strategy/development, I would much rather do it at Fuqua/Darden.

What are your thoughts? What would you do in this position? How would you personally go about evaluating this? Any help is much appreciated.


I would hop on Linked In advanced search and pose these questions to the people you would be trying to sell your degree to - hiring managers for bulge brackets or boutique IB. I don't really think that the brand name is as important as location/recruitment for internships. However it drives me nuts when people make guesses at this when they could reach out to people who hold the answers. Either people in the job you want, hiring for the job you want or headhunters for the job you want.

So, make absolute certain that finance is going to fulfill all of your dreams. If it isn't what you imagine it to be, then the decision is fairly easy. Take into account the big picture - where you would be post graduation but also 5 years later, 10 years later. I think both MBB and IB are unsustainable career paths if you want a real life with people in it, so make sure to devise an exit strategy.

Would recommend you post this same thing on Wall Street Oasis forum, might give you some leads.
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Re: HELP! Columbia or Fuqua (or maybe Booth)? [#permalink]

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New post 22 Mar 2017, 12:07
i vote columbia because of how close you will get to the action and the dedicated curriculum that goes along with it.
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Re: HELP! Columbia or Fuqua (or maybe Booth)? [#permalink]

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New post 22 Mar 2017, 14:49
bkhu wrote:
i vote columbia because of how close you will get to the action and the dedicated curriculum that goes along with it.


Thanks bkhu, if I have no intention of/interest in working in New York, do you think this is quite as strong a differentiating factor?

Does anyone want to weight in on the intangible/down the road aspects of the three schools? It seems that the CBS name travels a bit further (geographically) than does Fuqua or Darden. Is this offset by how tight the networks are at the other two schools?

MBAPrepCoach wrote:
I would hop on Linked In advanced search and pose these questions to the people you would be trying to sell your degree to - hiring managers for bulge brackets or boutique IB. I don't really think that the brand name is as important as location/recruitment for internships. However it drives me nuts when people make guesses at this when they could reach out to people who hold the answers. Either people in the job you want, hiring for the job you want or headhunters for the job you want.

So, make absolute certain that finance is going to fulfill all of your dreams. If it isn't what you imagine it to be, then the decision is fairly easy. Take into account the big picture - where you would be post graduation but also 5 years later, 10 years later. I think both MBB and IB are unsustainable career paths if you want a real life with people in it, so make sure to devise an exit strategy.

Would recommend you post this same thing on Wall Street Oasis forum, might give you some leads.

Thanks! Appreciate the feedback. I actually posted this on WSO right before posting it here, and it's gone nowhere so far. :lol:
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Re: HELP! Columbia or Fuqua (or maybe Booth)? [#permalink]

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New post 22 Mar 2017, 20:04
i think it definitely means something more to go to CBS. not only will the faculty be top notch, but your future classmates are higher caliber candidates. i think you also have to think about branding. even if you choose not to live in NY afterwards, your brand will carry on with you. CBS isn't just well-known nationally, its well regarded globally. you won't get the collegiate atmosphere going there but that sacrifice comes with the advantage of being close to all the major finance institutions and in one of the top cities on the planet. i'm not in finance, but i know from just researching b-school websites/wso that those jobs are all about networking and that is much easier in person. good luck my buddy!
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Re: HELP! Columbia or Fuqua (or maybe Booth)? [#permalink]

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New post 26 Apr 2017, 11:09
Alright - attended Darden Days this past weekend (sadly, at the expense of Blue Devil Weekend) and absolutely loved it, and went to a class at Columbia yesterday afternoon and felt a resounding meh.

My main hurdle now is assessing just how big the difference in "prestige" is between Columbia and the other two schools. I hear CBS mentioned in the same conversation as HBS and GSB (though not as equals) and on par with Booth. That is pretty hard to ignore, as much as I may vehemently dislike New York and that lifestyle. Additionally, the difference in living expenses in NYC will likely near $50k cash out of pocket over two years. I feel like if am in an environment I really like I will engage more, get involved with more, and perform better, ultimately resulting in a better outcome.

tl;dr - My head says CBS is a better option professionally, but my gut strongly says Darden/Fuqua. If I go to one of those two, will I look back with regret in ten years at the doors never opened to me because of that decision?
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Re: HELP! Columbia or Fuqua (or maybe Booth)? [#permalink]

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i think its tough to justify darden/fuqua over CBS without any scholarship money. have you tried to negotiate with them using your CBS offer as leverage? they may be willing to offer some money to win a cross admit battle vs CBS
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Re: HELP! Columbia or Fuqua (or maybe Booth)? [#permalink]

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New post 27 Apr 2017, 11:00
jessepinkman wrote:
i think its tough to justify darden/fuqua over CBS without any scholarship money. have you tried to negotiate with them using your CBS offer as leverage? they may be willing to offer some money to win a cross admit battle vs CBS

That's actually a really good idea, thanks.

I took your advice and called Darden this morning. I was told that they do not renegotiate merit awards, but the woman I spoke with indicated that losing "highly talented candidates to other schools" because of that policy is a problem she deals with, and wanted me to email her so she could bring it up with the scholarship foundation and at least see what they say.

Spoke with Fuqua as well, and they do have a formal merit reconsideration process, so pleading my case with them as well.

These deposits are due next week, so hopefully their review is expeditious.
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Re: HELP! Columbia or Fuqua (or maybe Booth)? [#permalink]

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New post 27 Apr 2017, 14:39
hydrocarbons wrote:
jessepinkman wrote:
i think its tough to justify darden/fuqua over CBS without any scholarship money. have you tried to negotiate with them using your CBS offer as leverage? they may be willing to offer some money to win a cross admit battle vs CBS

That's actually a really good idea, thanks.

I took your advice and called Darden this morning. I was told that they do not renegotiate merit awards, but the woman I spoke with indicated that losing "highly talented candidates to other schools" because of that policy is a problem she deals with, and wanted me to email her so she could bring it up with the scholarship foundation and at least see what they say.

Spoke with Fuqua as well, and they do have a formal merit reconsideration process, so pleading my case with them as well.

These deposits are due next week, so hopefully their review is expeditious.


Good stuff - hopefully one of them is willing to offer a scholarship to make the decision easier for you. Best of luck!
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Re: HELP! Columbia or Fuqua (or maybe Booth)? [#permalink]

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Well Darden didn't get back to me before the deposit was due, so that's out.

Fuqua on the other hand just responded notifying me that they are giving me a scholarship. Add in cost of living differences compared to Columbia and I would graduate Fuqua with $80k (at least) more in the bank. Now that's pretty hard to ignore.

The Booth alum/coworker who has acted as a mentor through this process tells me (in gentler words) that I would be extremely foolish to pass up an elite school (CBS) for an extremely good school (Fuqua); that there will be doors open to me at Columbia that I won't even know about at other schools.

Thoughts anyone? Deposit deadline is Friday.

Still waiting (likely in vain) on Booth.

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Last edited by hydrocarbons on 03 May 2017, 15:59, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: HELP! Columbia or Fuqua (or maybe Booth)? [#permalink]

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New post 03 May 2017, 15:01
hydrocarbons wrote:
Well Darden didn't get back to me before the deposit was due, so that's out.

Fuqua on the other hand just responded notifying me that they are giving me a scholarship. Add in cost of living differences and I would graduate Fuqua with $80k (at least) more in the bank. Now that's pretty hard to ignore.

Thoughts anyone? Deadline is Friday.

Still waiting (likely in vain) on Booth.

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Miracles could happen at last minute with Booth. Otherwise, you are secured by Duke :-D

In your case, I will choose Duke and move on. You have great opportunities to enjoy.

Good luck
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Re: HELP! Columbia or Fuqua (or maybe Booth)? [#permalink]

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New post 07 May 2017, 10:24
CBS is the choice here unless you get into Booth. Great brand, finance recruitment, and access to recruiters. Also networking in NYC! Go to CBS
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Re: HELP! Columbia or Fuqua (or maybe Booth)? [#permalink]

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CBS is the choice here unless you get into Booth. Great brand, finance recruitment, and access to recruiters. Also networking in NYC! Go to CBS

Being in NYC is a huge negative to me, honestly. :lol:

The MBB placement seems similar between the two (with a slight edge going to CBS). See the attached comparison I made below, the 'full-time' tries to take into account sponsored students. In a few past years, CBS delineated the sponsored from each company and currently they note the total number in the class who are sponsored and give adjusted percentages by industry so I reduced their MBB numbers proportionately. I spoke with consulting club officers at both schools; CBS told me there are quite a few sponsored kids, whereas Duke mentioned that there is one from BCG and none from Mck/Bain.

If I want to end up in the South (Dallas, Houston, Atlanta) I feel like I will be equally successful from both schools, while enjoying my life significantly more at Duke. Certainly the cost difference between the two schools that will approach $150k (in pre-tax dollars, taking into account interest expense, etc.) makes a strong argument, no?

Am I delusional?
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Re: HELP! Columbia or Fuqua (or maybe Booth)? [#permalink]

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New post 15 May 2017, 23:09
hydrocarbons wrote:
VeritasPrepDozie wrote:
CBS is the choice here unless you get into Booth. Great brand, finance recruitment, and access to recruiters. Also networking in NYC! Go to CBS

Being in NYC is a huge negative to me, honestly. :lol:

The MBB placement seems similar between the two (with a slight edge going to CBS). See the attached comparison I made below, the 'full-time' tries to take into account sponsored students. In a few past years, CBS delineated the sponsored from each company and currently they note the total number in the class who are sponsored and give adjusted percentages by industry so I reduced their MBB numbers proportionately. I spoke with consulting club officers at both schools; CBS told me there are quite a few sponsored kids, whereas Duke mentioned that there is one from BCG and none from Mck/Bain.

If I want to end up in the South (Dallas, Houston, Atlanta) I feel like I will be equally successful from both schools, while enjoying my life significantly more at Duke. Certainly the cost difference between the two schools that will approach $150k (in pre-tax dollars, taking into account interest expense, etc.) makes a strong argument, no?

Am I delusional?


Hi hydrocarbons, how did you come up with the "Seekers" figure?
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Re: HELP! Columbia or Fuqua (or maybe Booth)? [#permalink]

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New post 16 May 2017, 04:56
Duke specifically lists students seeking employment in their report. Columbia lists full time MBA class size and total number of sponsored students (across all industries), though it's unclear if all sponsored students are in the JTerm or if some opted for the full time program. So it's a little harder to tell how accurate the Columbia figure is based on their report.
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NONE OF THIS MATTERS BECAUSE I JUST GOT INTO BOOTH!
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Re: HELP! Columbia or Fuqua (or maybe Booth)? [#permalink]

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NONE OF THIS MATTERS BECAUSE I JUST GOT INTO BOOTH!



BEST POST OF THE DAY! LOL! :thumbup:
Congrats and thanks to Booth for making this excruciating choice much much easier!
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Ah congrats!!! looks like your decision is made for you!


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Re: HELP! Columbia or Fuqua (or maybe Booth)? [#permalink]

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hydrocarbons wrote:
NONE OF THIS MATTERS BECAUSE I JUST GOT INTO BOOTH!

Big congrats to you! well done.
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Re: HELP! Columbia or Fuqua (or maybe Booth)? [#permalink]

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New post 17 May 2017, 20:31
Over the moon!

Thanks so much to everyone for the advice and feedback (and not least of all listening to my pedantic stream of consciousness), it is much appreciated!

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Re: HELP! Columbia or Fuqua (or maybe Booth)?   [#permalink] 17 May 2017, 20:31

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