Am I crazy to choose Brown over Wharton?

Hi all,

Considering I want to go to Wall Street, I know Wharton is the logical choice. Can someone tell me how big of a mistake I would be making by going to Brown instead?

The reasons for this choice would be

  • The Wharton culture really turns me off. I like pre-professional to an extent, but it seems like their lives literally revolve only around getting prestigious internships, networking, etc. These are the most important things to me as well, but I don't feel like it's necessary to always be thinking/talking about it.
  • Brown would be easier for a high GPA; I would major in applied math (probably on the "mathematical finance" track), and I'm confident I could utilize their grading options to get essentially a 4.0.
  • Less competition coming from Brown.
  • The finance courses at Penn appeal to me, but I can't stand classes like "marketing" and "business development."

Bottom line, I think I would like Brown more, but if it's seriously a huge difference I'll suck it up.

Thanks for the advice, I appreciate it.

Comments (39)

Apr 10, 2018

Going to Brown instead of Wharton would be one of the biggest mistakes in your life. (Not shitting on Brown though. just saying it doesn't compare to wharton in terms of IB placements)

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Apr 10, 2018

Damn. You don't think the competition for the spots at Wharton compared to Brown somewhat erodes the placement advantage?

Apr 10, 2018

The problem is that the competition for the spots at Wharton is balanced by the fact that Brown doesn't have as robust of OCR as Wharton has (though of course numerous BBs/EBs recruit at Brown). Also, you have to hustle a little harder at Brown than Wharton because you won't be as much in the groove of recruiting, networking, and studying for technicals as the Wharton kids will be (since like you said, their lives revolve around it).

I know you probably aren't thinking this, but I will say it just in case. Don't get complacent that just because Wharton kids's lives revolve around recruiting, then that means Brown kids' lives don't. I'm sure there are still going to be a ton of kids recruiting for IB even at Brown.

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Apr 12, 2018

Yes, Wharton trumps in prestige but I went to this state school in TX and most of the people i knew who tried a bit had no problem getting IB placement (both NY and TX markets)

To OP, go with Brown, have a blast in life and maybe you end up not wanting to do finance at all!

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Apr 13, 2018

First of all, you're 18 years old and so choosing a college because of its placement into IB is not really smart move - especially considering we have no fucking idea where IB is gonna be in 4 years time.

I think choosing brown versus Wharton is fine if you prefer the school. Both are in the same overall tier of colleges. Yes, if you're already positive you want to be in finance, which seems impossible, Wharton is probably a better career choice. But brown is fine for finance and you can go to MBA one day if you want that credential.

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Apr 29, 2018

IB is still going to be around in 4 years time haha. The market goes through cycles and could be recessionary in 4 years or could be fucking amazing. Either way IB isn't going anywhere. And it's too difficult to completely automate the deal process considering every deal is very different.

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Apr 10, 2018

I'm a current Wharton student and I can tell you definitively that as long as you have a solid gpa, it will be easier to break into finance from here and from Brown. All banks and consulting firms come here to recruit, as well as most major hedge funds, private equity, VC, and prop trading firms that have undergrad and FT programs. Keep in mind that most of these firms will likely allocate more OCR slots to Wharton students than students at other schools, so that balances out the increased competition. I think a 3.7 GPA at Wharton is more impressive than a 4.0 at Brown given how easy it is to attain a 4.0 there according to friends who currently go there. If you're truly set on finance, then yes, I would say the difference is huge.

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Best Response
Apr 10, 2018

as much as i think wso is a valuable resource i STRONGLY BELIEVE that there is so much more to college decisions than just where you'll end up working in 4 years. i have friends from random liberal arts schools and mid-tier state schools that will be interning with me at a top BB this summer. there are so many other factors to consider and brown is an excellent school that sends a ton of people to great banks. go where you think you'll be happiest. i don't go to brown but i have a few friends who do--feel free to pm me

honestly, if you're smart enough to get into brown and wharton, as long as you put in the work you'll do fine at brown recruiting-wise

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Apr 12, 2018

I would go to Brown and I would venture a guess that everyone else on here over the age of 22 would advise that you do the same based on your criteria. Is Brown a great school? Yes. Will you still be able to get into IB? Yes. Is Wharton's culture somewhat obnoxious? Definitely. Most of all, you will be a happier, more well-rounded individual and you'll thank yourself for that later on, I promise. I'm not disparaging Wharton at all; this is an individual decision. Also, remember that if you go to Brown, be ready to put in all the legwork to get an IB offer on your own. Limited OCR for banking, especially relative to Wharton.

Edit: I want to add that for someone who knows, with a high level of certainty, that they want to make a career out of finance, there is no better place than Wharton. You live and breathe finance for four years and (naturally) have a leg up on everyone else. Your network is second to none in the finance world and your early advantage (greater knowledge base) will pay dividends throughout your career. Something to think about.

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Apr 10, 2018

I think you're right. Thanks, I really appreciate it.

Apr 10, 2018

I wouldn't overthink it - both are great schools. Who knows what you'll want in four years? Choose where you think you'll be happier.

Apr 10, 2018

Social scene at Brown? Sure, if you are a hipster. I actually like the professional aspect more.

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Apr 10, 2018

I'm not a hipster; I'm pretty conservative.

I talked to some Brown students and they said there's plenty of normal non-hippy people, and the stereotype is just overblown.

Apr 10, 2018

I have good friends at both school and what they do in their free time is pretty different. I am sure not all Brown students are hipster just as not all Wharton students are so career oriented or "obnoxious". However, if you think Wharton culture is not really your thing, why banking in the first place?

Apr 13, 2018

This stereotype is very overblown, there's plenty of room for the non-granola snackers. There's actually a pretty decent athletic social scene (obviously not big 10 status, but prevalent nonetheless). I know nothing of the Wharton social scene, but can also say that there is very fine placement into IB from Brown, having a decent amount of friends that have taken that route. I would say go with where you feel the atmosphere would be more conducive to not only your professional growth, but also your personal growth. To reiterate what others have already said though, be prepared to put in the extra legwork to compensate for less OCR presence/less nitty gritty technical emphasis in your coursework. Good luck!

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Apr 10, 2018

.

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Apr 29, 2018

some people actually do like the professional aspect. hence the reason why Penn is a great FIT for them.

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Apr 10, 2018

Here is my two cents coming from an ex-IB guy (non-target).

It's understandable that you are struggling with the pre-professional culture of Wharton, but you also have to think about your core interests. It appears that you have a genuine interest in business and want to succeed in the field.

From personal experience, alum from Wharton are amongst the most talented finance professionals I've come across. As you think about the university you attend, it makes a lot of sense to surround yourself with extremely talented and motivated people who will climb to the highest ranks of business. Additionally, the culture at Wharton is not as stiff as you may think, I'm friends with some pretty fun Wharton alum.

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Apr 10, 2018

Great post.

OP can gain a lot from being in an environment where you have a lot of motivated, focused individuals. It helps you bring up your own game, and gives you a good benchmark of expectations (e.g. where do I need to be grades/internships/polish/prep to get into a top PE/IB/EB/consulting firm out of undergrad?). It also encourages you to think about what you want out of a summer internship / full time opportunities, by talking to wider array of involved peers (in your grade or higher) and having access to a wide alumni base.

I have no familiarity with Brown and the program you would be joining, but it sounds like there's greater onus on you to hustle and stay focused on networking, prepping for interviews (in addition to school work), etc. Also, if the Wharton curriculum already covers a lot of relevant finance, accounting topics that are useful for interviews, you're killing two birds with one stone.

It's easier to stay on track for recruiting if others around you are immersed in it. It's almost like you're going to the gym and surrounded by fit people or personal trainers vs. staying motivated solo.

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Apr 10, 2018

You can do okay from Brown but the top opportunities out of undergrad won't be available and the long-term network isn't as strong. But if you'll be happier at Brown then that's probably where you should go.

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Apr 12, 2018

People will recommend not going to Wharton to try to rationalize that their life would not have been better if they went to a better university (i.e. 'my social life would have been worse' which probably isn't true on average)

Apr 12, 2018

Brown's not bad though right? It's not like I'd be going to Alabama

Apr 12, 2018

Just want to give you some insight as someone who went to Brown and went into IBD at a BB after graduation. There is still plenty of competition for Consulting and IB jobs, believe me. But you will definitely have a much better time there.

It's a great school, but don't be fooled about how easy it is. I mean, yes, it can be as easy as you make it. But recruiters in IBD who will be reviewing your resume are all alumni, and know all the GPA tricks people pull with the grading system. They have an understanding of how difficult your courseload is. So you won't be pulling a fast one on anyone. Recruiting time is stressful wherever you go, but if you set yourself up with the right networking and internships you'll probably be fine as an applied math major. And socially, I found that while there are certainly lots of crunchies there, it's only for those that seek it out. Plenty of people from all kinds of backgrounds, and plenty of shenanigans to be had.

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Apr 12, 2018

Wharton for IB.
And applied math major won't help you with accounting and excel.

It ain't what you know, it's who you know

Apr 12, 2018

No, you're not crazy. Both schools are excellent. There's a lot to be said for going to a college you enjoy. Sounds like you have a good head on your shoulders and will excel at either institution and land yourself a great gig when you graduate.

Apr 12, 2018

I think a better question to ask is why you want to go to wall st. Considering this, it would make your options easier. I mean if you want to use IB as a springboard to a different career then by all means, but if you want to pursue IB or banking for a long career in high finance then I think Wharton would suit your skills more. Not because of the name but because of the specialization that the school his in finance and business in general. If you compare coursework and programs it becomes apparent that a business school would definitely supplement your intentions of pursuing a career in finance, if that is your choice.

In either case, you can easily pull yourself through but I think it's best to assess your reasoning for wall st first.
Hope this helped!

Apr 12, 2018

If you would truly be happier at Brown because the culture at Wharton doesn't jive with you, do that. But just a warning, you may not be very happy in Wall Street since the majority of people basically emulate the Wharton culture.

Apr 12, 2018

When I was at a BB in IB we were looking at what schools to put more priority on for recruiting and which ones to scale back from. This was in ~2006. We had HR do a study to compare analyst performance (based on bonus bucket placement - we had 5 buckets at the time) by school. Wharton was #1 for average analyst performance (followed by UIUC - go Illini!) and Brown was either last or second to last. That doesn't mean you can't do well in IB coming from Brown, but Wharton clearly prepares you better.

Apr 12, 2018

Go wherever you feel is the best fit. Brown is still an Ivy league school and you'll be able to make it to wallstreet with good grades from Brown.

No reason to be miserable for 4 years to have slightly better chances at making it into finance/consulting.

Plus, you might decide you don't even want to do banking.

Apr 12, 2018

I agree, but to be clear most people at Wharton do generally enjoy their undergraduate experience quite a lot. Work hard play hard isn't fit for everyone, but it is also the culture on Wall Street.

Apr 12, 2018

Just go to Brown, you obviously want to go there and are just asking for validation. If you learn to grow a spine and think for yourself, that will be your most valuable lesson you can learn from this decision.

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Apr 12, 2018

been reading wso for many years and see your comments from time to time. have to say best comment i've seen you write.

Apr 13, 2018
FalconPluse:

been reading wso for many years and see your comments from time to time. have to say best comment i've seen you write.

That's the best backhanded compliment i've received in years.

Apr 13, 2018

I base all of my decisions on external validation.

Apr 13, 2018
AmICrazy2000:

I base all of my decisions on external validation.

I can tell.

Apr 13, 2018

People in business respect Wharton significantly more - I do.

Regular educated people think they're the same (non-HYP Ivies) - as I did, before getting into business.

That said, it's college. Have a blast. You want to go to Brown. Make the most out of it. It might change your perspective and you might not even want to go to Wall St/Corporate America anyway.

Apr 16, 2018

Would it be possible that after college you're not so interested in a business career? In that case wouldn't Brown be a better choice (more options)??

Apr 29, 2018
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"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

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Apr 30, 2018
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"Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there" - Will Rogers