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

by MBA Over 30 on Print Print

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.

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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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?

  • 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.


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