Why I’m Going To Wharton–And Not Booth or Sloan

MBAOver30I’ve chosen to invest my next two years into building a company and earning an MBA in Entrepreneurship and Strategic Management at The Wharton School of Business at UPenn.

First World Problems

From the moment that I first got “the call” from Director of Admissions Ankur Kumar welcoming me to Wharton’s class of 2015, I began to lean strongly in Wharton’s direction for a number of reasons. I had received a similar call from Chicago Booth the day prior, and would get the nod from MIT Sloan about 5 weeks later.

Still, I really wanted to take my time to vet the pros and cons of each institution and make sure that I was making the right decision. I registered for both Wharton and Booth’s admit weekends right away. Since MIT’s decision date lagged the others by more than I month, I decided that I would plan for their R2 admit weekend instead of their R1 festivities.

I was only given a couple of weeks to prepare to attend R1 admit weekend for Sloan and I didn’t want to have to be on a strict budget on any given weekend, so I pushed that one out. I also figured that in doing so I would only take up that space at admit weekend if I knew that I’d be attending Sloan.

Choosing Just One

If you would have asked me to choose between these same institutions a year ago, my knee jerk response would have been:

1. MIT

2. Wharton

3. Booth

However, the past 3-5 months of research, welcome weekends, conversations with multiple students & alums, talks with professors, reading books, studying curriculum, meeting fellow admits, sitting in classes and throwing back shots with current students made things eventually shift to:

1. Wharton

2. MIT

3. Booth

Wharton vs. Booth vs. Sloan

While Booth was always a bit of an outlier in this decision, it was oh, so attractive and came with many things to like. I had a really hard time declining that offer on the 2/19 deadline. From Eddie Pulliam and the wonderfully welcoming admissions staff to Kurt Ahlm  to my close friend Cheetarah1980 and all of the fun, fantastic people that I met in Chicago, that community has just really been good to me. I also mourned passing up the opportunity to study under the likes of Craig Wortmann and Waverly Deutsche.

Ultimately, I felt that Booth had everything that I needed to achieve my goals, but that the breadth and depth of human capital, mentorship and network within the entrepreneurship space was both stronger and more relevant to my goals at Wharton and Sloan. So, I submitted my decline on Booth’s deadline and asked Wharton for an extension to continue to mull over Wharton vs. Sloan.

Wharton vs. MIT Sloan

The choice between the other two schools was a bit more hairy for me. Still, I felt that I had the info that I needed to decide. Though I had not visited Sloan, I knew more than enough about the institution to where I felt comfortable in my ability to make the right choice based on the knowledge that I had.

Next to Stanford, MIT is the most famed school for entrepreneurship; yet, my research brought me to conclude that Wharton would be just as good for what I wanted to do, and with less competition for the exact same resources.

I saw a greater diversity in the aspirations of the Wharton entrepreneurial community in terms of industry and market. At Sloan, most of the folks there are looking to do something quite similar to what I want to do; which means that we will probably end up bumping heads for the same resources, mentors and even business partners.

Could I make it work at MIT? Oh, hell yeah; but I decided that I’d rather do so in an environment where it would be easier for me to be more collaborative rather than competitive with the other entrepreneurs–an environment that had all that I needed without hordes of people clamoring to compete with me for it.

Then there was the love. I’ve developed a deep affinity to the Wharton community that I probably couldn’t shake if I tried. From Ankur to Kembrel to Pete Fader to my classmates to the Founders club et al, Wharton is just ”where I wanna be”. Period.

  • Dennis

    I recently was faced with this awesome dilemma and after some significant research, concluded that MIT Sloan is the best fit for me. In summary, MIT’s entrepreneurial and collaborative ecosystem are key differentiators but see the link for some more specific details.


  • Ty

    I’m looking to apply for Fall 2014, and I’m kind of facing this dilema. I’ve got about 8 schools that looks really good on paper, but I want to get that list down to about 4-5.

    The best way to do this would be visiting schools, but I probably only have the time or money to visit a couple. On top of that, there isn’t really much time between when they open up tours in the fall, and the R1 deadlines.

    I figure I’ll just do the best with whatever resources I have, and let the chips fall. Tough to balance everything though. Any tips on the process?

  • craig

    John – I’m disappointed that we lost the opportunity to have you at Booth, but I wish you the best of luck. Go kick some ass in whatever you do. – Craig Wortmann

  • avivalasvegas

    Speaking of diversity @ Wharton, have you read about the recent India Economic Forum drama? Sponsor after sponsor has blacklisted the school, which would be okay except that the soured relationships are with titans of industry and politics in that country.
    Personally, I’m not sold on the school. Every interaction I’ve had with a Wharton alum has been underwhelming or even unpleasant, especially when compared to folks from MIT and Kellogg, who are far more humble IMO.

  • lbarra

    wow, what an unnecessarily negative comment thread! congrats again mbaover30…excited to start a new chapter of life with you at wharton this fall. don’t let the internet trolls drag you down.

  • Very true. And yes, NYC projects are on another level altogether. My grandfather lived in some projects in Bed-Stuy that were so shady we visited him once and after that he had to come visit us at the homes of other family members either in other sections or NY or in NJ. I have never seen anything like that in my life. When I would watch “Good Times” reruns and see the episode about the kid who fell down the elevator shaft, I thought that was pure fantasy…UNTIL I went to Brooklyn! LOL.

  • WillyWill9

    I totally get it, and you’re right, I do have latino and black friends that are from the hood (I’m Nuyorican, fwiw) that have “made it” (I had a sociology professor tell me that once). It is common vernacular, which is why I wasn’t offended.

    And what you say is true: growing up I watched the Bill Cosby show, A Different World- while silly, it showed me people of color went to college. I didn’t know anyone who went to college, so I didn’t necessarily see it in my future (although my mother did, I’ll tell you that much.) Kids watch reality TV (but almost all reality tv is trashy.)

    In conversation, I bet these statements wouldn’t have stood out at all as it does on screen. Like it or not, you’ve become a voice/personality on a popular blog, your words will get twisted and scrutinized, so just something worth considering. You haven’t said anything hurtful, nor did you intend to. Like you said, it’s part of your humor/style, so in one sense it’s good to be true to yourself, and in many ways not be afraid to bring it to the mainstream, but online forums are the widest audiences imaginable. In short, keep being you, but just be prepared for similar criticism.

    And we call them the PJ’s too 😉 Although, my girlfriend is from west Georgia (near Alabama) and some of their PJs look nicer than our PJs!

  • I appreciate this perspective WillyWill. I may not have literally grown up in the PJ’s (what we call it down south) but was literally down the block and basically in the same neighborhood and strata, so I definitely know the deal. Where I grew up, it was a normal part of the neighborhood. In my post, I wasn’t directly calling Lebron or what he did ghetto (to this day, I haven’t even bothered to get the full story on exactly what happen with all of its full nuance. My point was that I don’t really follow the antics of celebrities and athletes because I generally think they are ridiculous and media starved. When I began listing some of those antics, I threw “ghetto” in there because it was appropriate for the list that I was coming up with…its a pretty ratchet list of things. At that point, Lebron was no longer the subject, but the fact that I didn’t really know about his deal because I don’t follow celebrity news in general because I don’t thinks its worthy news. That was my real point; however, some people were dead set on twisting that out of context as much as possible and next thing I know I’m being accused of attacking the poor–who were not even mentioned. Now, if you’re from the PJ’s and also on Poets and Quants, then I’m certain you have heard “educated” black people who are from “the hood” (projects or not) them/ourSELVES call someone or something “ghetto” when we think its just out of line. Its common vernacular and nothing that even ruffles a feather in a black environment. On this page, however, I think there have been a good deal of non-blacks who have taken the comment out of context (because they weren’t aware of the contexts in the first place) and have gotten on a soap box in an effort to be the PC police when there was no need to. Regarding me being edgy and going on a tangent…well, that’s just what I do. I do tend to “go in” a bit for the sake of making a point; but its generally either in jest or just as a matter of fact (or opinion). Thanks again for posting a rational critique of that portion of the post.

  • WillyWill9

    MBA Over 30 – I’ve read your posts over the past year, and am very thankful for your insight and for sharing your experiences. I found it encouraging to read about your GMAT improvement, and to read about the effort you put into touching and feeling the various programs. Knowing there were people out there such as yourself, helped me be sure to bring my A+ game to all career fairs, interviews, etc.

    For the record, I do not think your statements are racist, but I can see how they’re “edgy” so to speak. You have to wonder what that paragraph added to your overall post, and was it worth it? I wasn’t offended by anything per se, but you start to go off on a tangent and begin to pile it on at “ghetto, housing project…”

    Also, one minor quibble: I myself grew up in the housing projects in NYC, and I know ghetto. Based on your experiences in LA, I’m confident you do too. Lebron’s ‘decision’ event wasn’t ghetto. I know he was criticized, but he actually raised money for the Boys and Girls club. Was the “decision” event self-serving? Was it arrogant? Was it over the top? Yes, but I wouldn’t describe it (or LBJ) ghetto.
    (BTW, he still supports the Boys & Girls Club)

  • I agree that I can’t know for certain that he has or has not fabricated these things. I guess I subscribe more to an “innocent until proven guilty” mindset. Like I said, I think it’s cynical to doubt everything he says. I’d rather give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe I’m crazy, but that’s how I approach the world.

    I don’t have anything to say about the critiques of me here. I’m tempted to, but to each his own. My only question is this: what gives anyone else here more or less credibility? Most comments are from nameless, faceless people. Why should they be given credibility?