June 07, 2020

Joined: Jun 23, 2015

Posts: 80

Kudos: 45

Utterly Disappointing – Great University, Weak MBA Program


This review is for Johnson (Cornell)

Program Full Time MBA

Class of 2014

Experience during the program

Cornell University is a world class Ivy League school with a great brand that’s well respected. Johnson is highly integrated within Cornell; you can take classes across the largest Ivy League University. The fulltime MBA class size is small (280) and you get to know everyone in a collaborative approachable environment where everyone is friendly. Cornell U has amazing alumni events across the world and a very strong University culture. At Johnson, banking recruiting is highly structured and well developed, consulting comes in at a close second in placement efficacy (though mostly among the T2 programs or MBB regional offices). Less competitive programs such as marketing, LDP and internal corp fin are well regional represented. So called ‘high finance’ roles such as VC/PE/HF are inexistent.

The positives end at the University level. Johnson’s strong parent heartens an apathetic lethargic MBA administration that uses the Cornell affiliation to do the bare minimum for MBA students and alums. End result, Johnson is a weak MBA program with an inconsequential alumni network.

Program: While the culture is friendly, students lacks ambition or passion and average student quality is very weak. The top 20% of Johnson students are as good as any M7 student (the ones promoted in school literature) and lured in by $$$$. Top students focus on the banking/consulting. Placement is more difficult than better programs as alumni support and interview prep is tepid (good luck with case prep as most classmates struggle with finance 101), but students do land BBs/EB and MBBs/T2s roles. The problem is the other 80%, they fall into a ‘status quo’ mode, not doing what is needed to succeed nor having good backgrounds. Essentially 20% goes on to great things and 80% end up in middle management at F1000 (at best). The 80% make up most of Johnson’s alum base and the successful 20% grow disenfranchised with the program the further they’re out of school, given the alumni network is dysfunctional with limited a success rate there is nothing to bound successful alums to the school.

Alumni network: Regional Johnson alumni events are weak if any with minimum school communication. While this is offset by the greater Cornell’s strong alumni network, Cornell’s alumni associations are run by undergrad alums. Undergrad alums know of Johnson’s poor quality; and are less willing to help/accept them. If you’re looking for a lifelong successful network, Johnson won’t deliver it.

End result, no one really wants to be at Johnson for the program itself, either it’s the parent Uni, the money or they couldn’t get in anywhere else. This is furthered by a zero alumni MBA network and a broader Uni one that disregards Johnson alums. You can certainly land a top job from a Johnson MBA, but there’s no support system to get you to your eventual goals post-MBA. Johnson IBD associates may do well on wall street, but Johnson MDs at BBs is few…The same can be said for Johnson MBAs at the MBBs, good luck finding an alum partner at the major cities.

About professors, classes and curriculum

While peer MBA programs boost top tier academics, astonishing speakers, strong culture and determined students; on a relative basis this is lacking at Johnson. Cornell students have an inferiority complex driven by being one of the weaker Ivies. This is much worse at the MBA level, perpetuated by a weak student base and T10-T20 rankings. There’s an enormous sense of ‘we’re not good enough’ with zero sense of greatness among the student body as the administration constantly hides behind the parent’s Ivy League coattails. Success in business is confidence, Johnson MBA students and the admin lack it.

Rather than address the underlying sureness and student quality issue, the admin responds dumping irrelevant academics on students to make up for this and expanding the program by annually launching new graduate degrees. Students are force feed busy non-relevant academic work at the most inopportune times (i.e. busywork marketing group assignments due in the middle of consulting recruiting). This is compounded by recruiters and MBA peers that dismisses Johnson as second class. The school’s retort is to continue to launch a new graduate degree to expand its base rather than fix the underling core program.

Mixing all of this together: weak student base, an ineffectual alumni network, an overload of busywork academics results, professors who look at Johnson as a stepping stone to a better program, nearly a dozen of various MBA programs all cumulates in a poor MBA experience. Many point to their MBA experience as the best time in their lives, that’s not the case at Johnson.

About job placement process

Banking, Johnson shines. It’s a highly structured banking process that is very successful in placing MBAs to top BBs, EBs and smaller banks. Kudos to Johnson for getting this right, though still behind Stern and better ranked finance programs.

Consulting, decent among the T2s and regional MBBs. But struggles in popular cities (Boston), and relies on less demanded cities (Pittsburg).

Tech, weak. There was a pivot to Tech, but outside Cornell TECH in NYC, this is a major weak spot. CMC stats are misleading as Johnson buckets FAANG back office roles into tech ones. Students can not spend 1 semester at Cornell TECH unless they string together various weekend classes.

Marketing/LDP –Johnson does fine, inline w/ peer T20 programs.

High finance roles – PE/VC/HF, near zero chance of placement.

Startups – Not nearly as great as the school makes it sound.

Overall BSchool experience (1.0)
Schools contribution (1.0)
Classmates rating (1.0)

Strengths of the program:

Culture & Student Support

Best fit at this program:

Investment Banking

Can be improved:

Curriculum, Classes, Professors
Student body, diversity
Alumni Network
Career opportunities provided by school
Admissions Team

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