Should You Accept That MBA Admissions Offer?


Should You Accept That MBA Admissions Offer?

And you thought getting in was going to be the tough part?

Sure, you spent every spare moment studying for the GMAT. And you crammed a year’s worth of psychoanalysis into your essays.  But no one ever tells you what to do after you’ve been accepted. Once the euphoria passes, you have some real questions to ask. Do I have time to wait on the school I really want – or should I take the sure thing? Do I have the leverage to haggle over scholarship money? As you think about your job, home, and routine, you can’t help but ask: Am I really ready to give all this up?

You have options, no doubt. But with options come questions and second thoughts. More accurately, a defining choice rouses uncertainty – or what the kids now call FOMA (Fear of Missing Out).  You’re giving up two years – and a steady check – hoping to switch jobs or industries. Is it really worth it? Couldn’t you find what you’re ultimately seeking through other means?

The answers are different for everyone. As with any decision, the process starts with the right questions. And that’s what Chioma Isiadinso provides in her latest blog for Expartus, a leading admissions consulting and personal branding firm that she co-founded. Isiadinso, who previously served as the Assistant Director of Admissions at the Harvard Business School and author of The Best Business Schools’ Admissions Secrets, outlines four criteria for evaluating your choice: Fit, Career, Community, and Location.

According to Isiadinso, “Fit” means different things to different people. She describes it as “the peculiar intersection of your thoughts and values with the program’s culture and priorities.” To identify whether a school will truly bring out your best, she encourages clients to ask questions like these:

  • When you set foot on the campus, do you feel eager? Happy? Full of anticipation? Or do you feel uncomfortable, or even wary?
  • What do you feel you can contribute to the program?
  • Setting aside academics, what do you think the program can teach you? What do you hope to learn outside of the classroom?

Your program should also possess a track record of transitioning graduates into particular fields, functions, or companies. “You want a b-school that will provide high-level connections into the industry that you’re interested in,” Isiadinso writes. To start, she encourages applicants to review resources like employment reports. However, she also recommends that students further research the program’s faculty, alumni, and capabilities, paying special attention to these career areas:

  • What industries have the largest concentrations of recent alumni?
  • Which companies recruit at the school each year? Do your top choice companies seek out graduates from this program?
  • Are there existing student clubs that support your career path? Do they have a robust schedule of events?
  • Have any of the school’s faculty members worked extensively in your desired field?

Third, Isiadinso touts the value of the school community. Make no mistake: Your b-school peers (and alumni) will be key advocates in your network. They will open doors for you. Chances are, they will help fund one of your ventures someday. In other words, the better your network, the better your chances are for success. As you delve into your target schools, Isiadinso urges clients to keep these questions in mind:

  • Do students seem supportive of each other?
  • Do faculty members make themselves available to students?
  • What unique traditions characterize the school? Would you be excited to participate in those?
  • How have students characterized their social life?
  • Were you impressed with your fellow candidates? Could you see them as great classmates?

Finally, Isiadinso drives home the old real estate dictum: “Location! Location! Location!” It’s no secret:  Some industries are clustered in certain locales. Take entertainment, for example, where Los Angeles is drawing tech firms like Google, which are looking to become more involved in content creation. As a result, MBAs considering entertainment should look more closely at programs like UCLA (Anderson) or USC (Marshall). And that applies to other industries too. When it comes to location, here are some questions from Isiadinso to help you clarify what’s important to you”

  • Is there a strong business community nearby?
  • Does the local market incubate start-ups well?
  • Is there a convenient airport? Will you be able to travel easily? Will recruiters be able to reach the school easily?
  • What are some cultural attractions that interest you in the local community?
  • Does the community support the school, and vice-versa?

For additional questions, along with resources to help answer these questions, click on the Expartus link below.


Source: Expartus

  • peter pan

    I didn’t ask about Booth. And to be completely honest, as someone who is in IB outside of the US, most people think Chicago’s economics department is great but know/rate Columbia as a bit better. But I really don’t want to get into the petty rankings fights that seem to pop up on Booth vs Columbia/Wharton

    If Datacrunch is still around would appreciate any response to the original question.

  • XCnote100k

    That is just a minor hammer to drive the point home that the perception on Wall Street is clear. Finance = Wharton.

    This is the prevailing perception on Wall Street, which a couple of my former classmates at Stern has confirmed.

    Otherwise, this thread has actually been quite enlightening and is valid.

  • DCashflowKING

    The show itself is irrelevant. The striking resemblance to how it’s considered THE degree to have (either MBA or undergrad finance) on Wall Street is what makes it interesting.

    Also, Wharton kids are NOT all that arrogant – although there is a lot of kids coming from OLD MONEY with long Wharton lineages.

    Yes, they have an air of pretentiousness about them. But it’s not unbearable.

  • this is FUNNY


  • egoManiacS

    LOL this is exactly how this one VP at my firm behaves, and he emphasizes the first syllable of “WHAR–ton.”

    Their undergrads have even bigger egos – believe it or not!!

  • DCashflowKING

    It’s the reflection of the prevailing view in the finance industry. In every finance ranking possible, Wharton has dominated. They also have the vast majority of billionaires in finance, and the academic community widely agrees on Wharton’s superiority in finance.

    The show itself is irrelevant – it’s the summation of the underlying views in reality that make it significant.

  • UmNoJustNo

    Can we close this thread. We got people referencing shows on USA to justify their points – it’s absolute madness.

  • UmNoJustNo

    Are you seriously referencing a show on the USA network to justify why one school is better than another?? Yikes…

  • UmNoJustNo

    well, let’s not make sweeping generalization about thousands of grads based on one or two instances. I’m sure you can cherry pick terrible people from every school.

  • UmNoJustNo

    Finding out what Byrne is selling in each of his articles is like a where’s waldo game. 🙂

  • UmNoJustNo

    Booth seems like the nerdy miserable brother of Wharton

  • UmNoJustNo

    I…I…I don’t understand! You mean we’re not supposed to want to want to go into banking where everyone automatically becomes a happy billionaire?? I don’t understand!!

  • UmNoJustNo

    Wow. Just wow. The fact that you are referencing a script from a tv show just made me laugh out loud. Seriously, what are you smoking?

    Do you rank law schools based on Burn Notice episode dialogue? Or how about your opinion of undergrad – does that come from Gilmore Girls?

  • UmNoJustNo

    Pretty much everything you read about school rankings has an angle. This site is particularly invested in pumping up certain schools.

  • UmNoJustNo

    BW isn’t exactly the most robust ranking out there so let’s not go overboard.

  • UmNoJustNo

    True. I always laugh when I hear an old timer boast about going to HBS back in the day. Anyone who applied got in to HBS back then.

  • UmNoJustNo

    Wharton’s going to come back strong but it’s not going to have the same power it had pre-2008. Finance just isn’t that prestigious a field any more. i-banking specifically has been absolutely hammered in terms of comp due to the new regs.

  • UmNoJustNo

    How does that have any relevance? Just because some founder’s alma mater is Wharton doesn’t mean everything he touches turns to gold. That’s just silly.

  • UmNoJustNo

    Oxbridge are top undergrad programs but MBA programs? Not even close. They’re not even the top 5 in Europe.

  • UmNoJustNo

    INSEAD is losing it’s prestige fast. LBS is still the top but INSEAD is no longer the automatic #2. Plenty of smaller/stronger programs coming up.

  • UmNoJustNo

    Booth finance beats Columbia in the US and abroad.

  • laffytaffy

    lol. social security devolved into an unsupportable ‘Ponzi’ scheme only as demographics and policies shifted over time. It was quite an ingenious system at conception – but we simply didn’t want to take too much out of each paycheck like other socialist countries who make it work

  • Guguygtyfhvjhbuty

    Charles ponzi invented social security

  • peter pan

    What are your thoughts on Columbia? On par with LBS (in terms of perception in Europe?)

  • LITTup

    damnnn… Louis got LITT UP

  • cyclesover

    Exactly. This is why it’s foolish to debate which schools are better based on minor fractions and % statistics of the current sliver of time (which sites like this thrive on) – these are always changing.

    Statistics and application trends shift all the time. As W goes up in rankings, apps rise – note WH’s acceptance rate was MUCH lower throughout history, while most treated HBS as a joke – they specialized in “public administration” back then.

    History, like all things, are cyclical and these times will return.

  • thehumanity

    Lol that’s why Donald Trump always refers to his alma mater as the “Wharton School of FINANCE.”
    The school was actually named “Wharton School of Finance and Economy” when it was founded.

  • PTbarista

    <<< this.
    Not everyone enjoys chugging redbull and crunching numbers on spreadsheets all night.

  • wtf

    EXACTLY. Not everyone wants to go into finance and Wharton isn’t a perfect fit for everyone.

  • cdsArbitrage

    This is how arrogant Wharton kids are, rather a surprisingly accurate depiction of the ones on my trading floor. HBS kids with finance majors have a massive chip on their shoulder here, and these tools from Wharton are always giving them crapp about case studies

  • seriously

    I wish I was a whartonite. I’m a sternie, but even we like to poke fun at Booth. no harm intended.

  • Avinash Tyagi

    If you get into one of the top 7, you should almost certainly accept

  • sick of it

    This site provides a “disproportionate” amount of attention to “random” schools because a “disproportionate” amount of students either aspire to, are enrolled in, or have graduated from so-called “random” schools. Hundreds of thousands of students apply to b-school every year – only a tiny percentage of those ever enroll in even an M7 program. Honestly, how arrogant and self-centered can you be?

  • tenderX

    As universities, no doubt Oxbridge offer the ultimate quality and prestige. But for the MBAs there are lots of work to be done to be considered close to wharton or harvard let alone comparable to them.

  • why so serious?

    methinks thou doth protest too much…
    I always chuckle at these unprovoked shots at Booth by Whartonites, just proves to me that Booth is doing something right


    also don’t forget that WHARTON was #1 by BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK for 8 consecutive years before (4 times in biennial rankings).

    Harvard or Stanford have NEVER BEEN RANKED #1 by Bloomberg BusinessWeek. Confirm this yourselves.

  • fdsef

    Of course he “founded” ..

  • give me a break

    lmao are you really offering an episode of Suits as evidence in this discussion??? Jesus Christ, go back to your dorm room and come back out when you actually have something intelligent to say

    Self-aggrandizing pop-culture references are nowhere near insightful. It’s not a barometer for popular opinion – it’s some TV writer estimating what a couple of Wharton jackasses would say (right on the money, I’d wager!)

    While we’re at it, maybe somebody could jump in here an enlighten us as to the b-school preferences of Captain Kangaroo, Mr. Rodgers, and that guy from the Blacklist… Also, Blue Horseshoe LOVES Standford GSB…. get real

  • biased

    lol yep – he’s definitely majorly biased.
    I recall a couple of posts where he tried to convince respondents that Tuck was at the same level as Wharton! hahahaha. Tuck, in the middle of the forest with 51 faculty. haha

  • skeptic

    this is why when I read another author’s article, I take it at face value. but when I read John’s articles, my skeptic-radar is automatically on alert. each of his articles seems to have some sort of angle – trying to aggrandize or lower certain schools with almost no basis at all.

  • byrneburns

    Yes, John Byrne is biased. Fortunately, the other authors on this site are more objective. Anyone claiming Wharton’s finance crown is, or has ever been contested is way off the mark. They also have a very legitimate claim to being the world’s #1 premier business school.


    Wharton also dominated general rankings as well, and is poised to reclaim #1 in everything again – especially as the financial markets recover (which they’ve already done tremendously) and it becomes profitable again.

    Remember – generations and the financial markets have a short memory, and cycles (booms/busts) will happen OVER AND OVER.

    Just watch. Wharton will start getting #1 in USNWR – USNWR is a very old ranking, and Wharton was always #1 for decades before the most recent generation (and it’s always had #1 in USNWR’s finance rankings). It will be #1 in the future as well.

  • Datacrunch8

    Out of personal interest, I’ve taken some time to review John’s articles and posts over the past 18 months or so. Some of the pieces were interesting, others weren’t worth the (digital) ink.

    I can see why rational minds would conclude that he is biased, and why so many people have alleged this in the past with corresponding reasons.

    But I will stop short of actually accusing him as such.

  • Guest

    This has been eye opening, and my own research into Wharton’s background/history and prominence in finance seems to confirm all of this.
    John Byrne never mentions any of this. Maybe he really is biased?

  • youshallsee

    Google/YouTube the Suits scene. Clearly establishes Wharton as the pinnacle of finance and Wall Street.

    (scene with Wharton bankers – Tony Giannopoulos and his associate – the one who burned the $50k bearer bond just to make a point)

    “We’re investment bankers. We’ll call you for the paperwork. We didn’t go to harvard. We went to WHARTON, and we saw you coming a mile away.”

  • Warren

    Money industry is wharton, Rubish is INSEAD.

  • forstall

    Yes, everyone knows Wharton has the most history and was the only premier b-school until the 90’s. But things can change. You know what that’s called? Progress.

    It’ll hold onto the finance/econ throne, but other business fields are up for grabs.

  • guest88

    There was a FT article a couple years ago that analyzed how Wharton runs much of the financial industry in Europe – it may be worth a search and read, as it’ll give a good sense of just how much of a death-grip Wharton has on the world’s financial markets.

  • Datacrunch8

    Most of the hedge funds and PE shops are owned by Wharton alum – many are billionaires, some are more successful than others. If all you care about is breaking into PE, it’s worth noting that general rankings don’t mean anything – finance rankings are what our HR and hiring managers focus on.

  • Datacrunch8

    I went to LBS – it’s an awesome school. The only school that gets more attention and prestige in financial circles in London is Wharton. The majority of the quants at my buyside firm (I’ll exercise some discretion here) is from Wharton, and a few have worked their way up from LSE undergrad (second only to Wharton undergrad).

    Half the senior partners here are from Wharton with banking backgrounds, and Wharton is almost synonymous with “Wall Street” here.

    If you also want an excellent shot at breaking into PE/VC/HF but want to stay within the area, LBS is great – it’ll offer plenty of local networking opportunities here.

    If you want sheer prestige and recognition for finance and rigour, choose Wharton – but transitioning back to London will involve additional steps – you may be tempted to just go into Wall Street.

  • DrJ$$

    interesting discussion. I have an offer from Wharton and London Business School, intending to apply also to Said 1+1. I want to break into private equity/ finance in London, but worried about Wharton’s rep in Europe vs. LBS or even INSEAD (although I think the latter is a joke in terms of academic rigor). What would you recommend?

  • FishandChips

    a WHARTON alum founded the business school at Cambridge University – Judge Business School, by sir Paul Judge who studied an MBA at Wharton.

    But yes, Oxford and Cambridge rock.

  • whatisbooth

    Reaffirming that not many people know about “UChicago booth” over here. Every time Byrne tries to sell booth, he digs his own grave – undermining his own credibility and appearing unjustifiably biased.

  • SpadesAces

    I didn’t know the case study mocking was common in other firms as well.
    The whole, “let’s do a case study!” punch line when we run into a significant problem on a trading comps or LBO model, at Harvard’s expense.

    Yes, Wharton is the best for finance. No one will dispute that. So calm down.

  • 45cal

    Wharton does seem to attract wealthy family dynasties and finance titans.

  • prosNcons

    Actually, the people mentioned dedicated the majority of their careers to Wharton, including Taylor – who founded industrial relations. The fact of the matter is, a close look at history and contributions does show Wharton at the forefront.

    The only thing HBS has going for it is the H name of the broader university itself. The business school has not done much of significance. The cross-admits are due to misinformation and, again, the merely recent rise of other schools becoming even contenders – again, only using the name of the broader uni as pull (and the fact that most applicants have nothing else to go on). The situation was much different just some time ago, and will be moving on – it seems W is poised to start its reign on USNWR, Bloomberg BW, and others. But who knows. We will see.

  • Truth

    don’t go to HBS (though I sure as hell would accept an invite)

    I think if you look at most measures of business success HBS alums are doing quite well for themselves. That isn’t to say the Wharton alums aren’t. My point was that if you want a name that carries all over the world, Harvard is stronger. From what i’ve seen Harvard tends to turn more heads and gain one greater access (in large part due to the fact that Harvard as uni has more people in leadership positions across various industries).

    If we wanted to sit here an name the accomplishments of each schools alumni, we could be here forever. I’m sure both HBS and Wharton have no shortage of accomplished people. If that is going to be the deciding metric, I see no reason why Wharton would get the not

    If you want to believe that Wharton is obviously the best, go ahead. But I think you’ll have trouble convincing all the people who get into GSB/HBS/Wharton to choose Wharton over the other two (Wharton gets Slaughtered in cross admit situations.

    Lastly some of the people you mentioned were at for a very short time, or only taught there. Which is fine, but if you are going to widen the association game by that much, then you will have even larger problems explainging why Wharton is the best

  • Farina

    when it comes to unis, Oxbridge and STOP.


    And don’t forget the fact that WHARTON was ALWAYS #1 on USNWR’s Finance program rankings, both at MBA/undergrad level.

  • Datacrunch8

    but the main takeaway is that they are both excellent schools, and direct comparison is moot. Finance is basically Wharton, undisputed. Management/entrepreneurship – senior bank executives here scoff at grads who majored in these areas, which they consider to be nothing but common sense (a conclusion I disagree with).

  • Datacrunch8

    Wharton and HBS are both very good schools. But in terms of the international community, I’m afraid Wharton’s reputation is unmatched (especially for finance). HBS’ strongest point is the strength of the university as a whole, but that is the butt of many jokes directed against the “case studies” that are often derided in financial firms.

    Most of the VC/PE/HF/IM/AM/IB’s here look at Wharton first (they have a reputation for being sharks right upon graduation), then LBS and LSE undergrad. We also look at the finance programs at MIT/Princeton Bendheim centre for finance. Case studies require students to analyse data as well, but not at the rigour required by banks.

  • Paradoxmuch

    This is a joke – you clearly went to HBS. Wharton has always had a greater wow factor throughout history. It’s only in recent times HBS even became a contender, bolstered only by USNWR (owned by Wharton alum, btw).

    Wharton’s history and contributions are unmatched. They developed GDP, GNP, econometrics, corporate law, insurance, etc. Their alumni (Frances Perkins) established the entire social security system, the first minimum wage in the U.S., etc. They also account for the majority of Central Bank governors.

    In contrast, HBS’ history is artificial. Started out in the humanities department, and their “management” research output is seen as intellectually inferior and almost irrelevant by many economists.

  • truth

    When it comes to having a global reputation, though Wharton is a VERY strong name, HBS stands a level above the rest. Not only because of the quality of its MBA program, but because of the reputation of the rest of the uni. Wharton may be a more technically intensive degree (debatable), but no other uni has the same WOW factor as Harvard.

  • seriously

    lol. Booth will hire anyone who has shaken hands with a nobel laureate. Doesn’t mean a thing.

  • theUkranian

    Finally, someone who actually understands how things stand.

    Finance = Wharton. period.

    Management = You can’t teach this. Might as well just read management books.
    Entrepreneurship = Stanford, only because of their proximity to silicon valley.

    **But Wall Street also accounts for nearly the same amount of VC at some round stages.

    This site (and the authors) give a disproportionate amount of attention to random schools. If you go to the UK or HK and introduce yourself as a Tuckie (or whatever it’s called), you’ll only get blank stares. I guarantee this, being from the EU.

  • Datacrunch8

    this isn’t entirely fair. Booth is an amazing school too.
    It just doesn’t have the instant wow factor of Wharton over here in London, or in Hong Kong or global financial centres.

    And this is only because all of the old, senior executives (who are now entrenched in the upper echelons of financial firms) went to Wharton decades ago when no other school was even close.

  • Leacher96

    Not everyone who went to Wharton is “morally bankrupt” – you need to avoid generalizations.

    Peter Lynch – he is a legend by all accounts – every article describing Lynch starts out by including the world “Legend” in the title/opening sentence, including the updated “Intelligent Investor” (Benjamin Graham) . He did it all legitimately.

  • sonymbp

    all their courses are taught together – based on college confidential stories, undergrads and MBA students sit in the same desks/chairs and take the same lectures and exams. Everything after freshman year, so I would assume the education and faculty are the same. Either way, they are all mindless drones.

  • bwanamia

    Cohen was a Wharton undergrad.

  • sonymbp

    And don’t forget Steven Cohen, also went to Wharton where he sold his soul. SAC capital advisors had a ton of insider trading probes as well – just because the SEC couldn’t pin it on Cohen doesn’t mean he was oblivious to what was going on right under his own nose.

  • sonymbp

    Yes, Wharton is at the top for finance.
    But not everyone wants to study finance.
    Some of us actually care about making a difference in the world, not just staring at excel and concentrating entirely on our bank accounts.


    Wharton kids may make billions instead of millions, but they have no souls. Look at Rajaratnam (still a billionaire, but behind bars for the longest sentence EVER for insider trading). Also look at Michael Milken at Drexel Burnham. Burnham himself (also a Wharton alum) was not to blame, but his firm went belly up due to this moral bankruptcy. Who cares about money if you’re in JAIL

  • v12vanquish

    <— this is right on the money.
    I have no idea how things drifted off so far on this site, but Wharton is pretty much unparalleled in the international finance community in terms of reputation, especially in London. Reading through all of John's posts, his mentions of "Chicago Booth" made me laugh.

  • Financierboss

    If it’s Wharton and you want to go into finance, yes – accept that offer. If you want to go into consulting, W or H/S are pretty much on the same level – but you really can’t learn management in the classroom, and many Wharton finance faculty have contempt for these “social sciences.”

    If you want to work abroad (UK, Asia), Wharton is widely viewed as #1 because it absolutely dominated international rankings before the global financial crisis. You’d be surprised how little people know about USNWR, despite what P&Q will have you believe. They only focus on finance rankings.