Why Stanford Is Beating HBS Among Dual Admits

Inside the new home of the Kellogg School of Management

Inside the new home of the Kellogg School of Management

Scorecard: Booth — 38% Kellogg — 27%


What about the rivalry between the University of Chicago’s Booth School and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management? Of the 113 people in BW’s sample, Booth won this battle but not by much: Some 38% of the admits chose Booth, while 27% picked Kellogg. Some 35% of these prospective students went elsewhere.

“This gap is about perceived academic rigor,” suggests Bauer. “Chicago’s image as the more analytical program — symbolized by a surplus of Nobel Laureates — implies greater impact on a graduate’s career capabilities and marketability. Kellogg’s kinder, gentler culture is attractive to many dual admits, but the enduring, tangible benefits of attending b-school in Hyde Park gives Booth an edge over its cross-town rival.”

Hoff has a slightly different view of this smack down. “I think this gap will have widened the next time someone runs the numbers, even with Kellogg appearing to make a big push this year to win some of these battles with massive scholarship offers,” he claims. “Kellogg is a great program, but Booth seems to have created some distance in recent years – and of probably 15 clients who have made this choice in the last three years, I think one of mine chose Kellogg over Booth.

“To me, the x-factor is the emergence of the South Loop area of Chicago as a viable (and pretty great) place for Booth students to live. Kellogg always had a community advantage because everyone lived in Evanston – so even though it wasn’t “in the city” it still felt so much more social. Now Booth has the same sense of community that is just a short train ride north of the school and it’s in the city. This really can’t be overstated. When I went to the University of Chicago for law school (2004-2007), grad students were spread out all over the city, making for tricky commutes and little sense of community. Now, overnight, the South Loop is a trendy Chicago neighborhood that is perfectly situated for U of C students.”

Scorecard: Columbia — 40% Booth — 30%

You’d think that in general higher ranked schools have major advantages over rivals when it comes to these admit decisions. But sometimes a counter-intuitive result can occur. Consider the match-up between Columbia Business School in New York and Chicago Booth in Chicago. Among the 91 students in the sample who had this choice, 40% decided to take up Columbia for a two-year stay in New York City, while 30% went to higher ranked Booth, even though Columbia is a laggard when it comes to scholarship money.

Says Bauer: “It’s mostly about geography: NYC vs. Chicago. Big Apple vs. Windy City. Upwardly mobile admits often believe that learning and living in New York will produce more career options than those available to their peers at Booth.”

Two other factors that need to be taken into account here: Columbia’s early decision program and its alternative January start date. “I’d be curious to know if Early Decision admits from Columbia are included in this data, because that would give them a huge and unfair advantage (as most would honor the rules of Early Decision and choose Columbia even if they would prefer Booth),” says Hoff.

“I also would be curious how many international students were polled. As with Wharton, it’s hard for me to imagine someone with global aspirations choosing Chicago over Columbia because the latter just has far more ‘carry’ it seems in international markets, regardless of rankings. Also, as with Wharton, the idea of staying on the East Coast – or specifically in New York – surely works as a trump card. If you can keep your life intact (many have significant others who work in NYC at the time of applying) and still go to a great MBA program, why turn everything upside down in hopes of a slight upgrade? Columbia has always done really well in yield across the board, due to both the Early Decision round and the massive ‘NYC Hammer’ they hold with many applicants.”

Scorecard: Columbia — 42% Stern — 23%

And what about that also big rivalry in New York between New York University’s Stern School of Business and Columbia Business School, with its Ivy League prestige? Columbia won this hands down, taking 42% of the 93 students in the sample to Stern’s 23%.

Hoff has a take on this battle. “It’s not surprising that Columbia wins against Stern, but I do think some would be interested to see that Stern gets the percentage it does,” he says. “You would think that anyone applying to both would have a clear Columbia-Stern order going in. I think this speaks to the spirit of Stern, which is very warm and inviting, and also the location down in the heart of the city.

“If I had to guess, I would say that candidates who are already living in Manhattan at the time of their application would probably lean toward Columbia as they can just keep their current apartment and life intact and just change their ‘work commute.’ International candidates would almost always pick Columbia because of the Ivy brand, but that non-NYC U.S. students might lean NYU in the end. Why? Because when you live in another city in American and dream about living, working, or going to school in New York, that dream looks a lot like Greenwich Village.”