Amherst or Wharton

It seems that Wharton is regarded as the best option for an undergrad who is certain on finance. I am set on finance but am having a hard time deciding between Wharton and Amherst College. I understand the liberal arts vs. finance specific education argument, and also understand getting a job out of either place is very plausible. But does the prestige and mentality that Wharton is top tier for finance completely outweigh the situation at amherst? Obviously there are other factors to choosing a college but I'm just asking about the academic/internship/job placement side of it. So I guess the bottom line is.. is Wharton heads above Amherst?

Comments (53)

Apr 2, 2013 - 11:33pm

I would tend to agree with simpleton above, yet I do wonder what the network of these smaller new england schools is like. I've seen a lot of successful people with Williams, Amherst, Hamilton, etc. on their resumes. Could it be that H/S/W is played out among the elites?? Better play it safe and just go to Wharton ;)

Apr 2, 2013 - 11:35pm

Wharton is hands-down the better choice if you only consider finance placement. Is finance placement your number one deciding factor?

I'd probably choose Williams (but not Amherst) over anything but HYP, but I'm a douche who thinks trade schools are silly.

Apr 2, 2013 - 11:39pm

yeah , I think right now my goal is to work at a hedge fund. It seems everyone is overwhelmingly Wharton. I don't mean to say that I don't feel confident in Wharton. I'm just trying to see if there is a significant difference that would make it dumb not to go to Wharton.

Apr 2, 2013 - 11:42pm

I know they are completely different, and there is much more going into the decision than just the academic side of it, like sports and distance from where I live. Just looking for thoughts on the academic side of things, everyone on here seems to have interesting opinions

Apr 2, 2013 - 11:45pm

I know they are completely different, and there is much more going into the decision than just the academic side of it, like sports and distance from where I live. Just looking for thoughts on the academic side of things, everyone on here seems to have interesting opinions

Sports are a real consideration? Are you a recruited athlete, or planning to walk on or something?

Apr 2, 2013 - 11:46pm

I know they are completely different, and there is much more going into the decision than just the academic side of it, like sports and distance from where I live. Just looking for thoughts on the academic side of things, everyone on here seems to have interesting opinions

The differences on the academic side should be obvious...neither is academically superior, they are just COMPLETELY DIFFERENT.

Apr 2, 2013 - 11:42pm

It's not like you're looking at Dartmouth, which has the same liberal arts feel but a substantially more powerful alumni network and on-campus recruiting scene. In that case, if you really valued a liberal arts education, you wouldn't be passing up that much. You would lose the chance to recruit at some shops that will only take 1-2 kids from the top of the Wharton class--e.g. Silver Lake--but pretty much everything else would still be open to you. Amherst? You're closing a lot of doors if you go there. That said, you can still end up at a great place, but it may be tougher.

Apr 2, 2013 - 11:51pm

You can still take plenty of liberal arts classes at Wharton.

While the recruiting advantage of Wharton is somewhat overrated on these forums - some people seem to think all you need is a 3.5 and BB's will be lining up to interview you - its finance placement is still head and shoulders above Amherst's. Also, Penn probably has a better social scene.

Apr 3, 2013 - 12:36am

For finance, Wharton is the obvious choice. It's certainly true that the top schools are hyped up beyond recognition on these boards; that said, you'll regret not going to Wharton if you're certain about doing finance.

"For all the tribulations in our lives, for all the troubles that remain in the world, the decline of violence is an accomplishment we can savor, and an impetus to cherish the forces of civilization and enlightenment that made it possible."
Apr 3, 2013 - 1:17am


[quote=Dirk Dirkenson]Shut up already. Your mindless, reflexive responses to any critical thought on this are tedious. You're also probably a woman, given the name and "xoxo" signoff, so maybe the lack of judgment is to be expected.[/quote]
Apr 3, 2013 - 2:21am

It depends on a number of factors.

Recruiting. If you're entering college with the sole intent of getting the best job you can out of school, Wharton wins. It isn't exactly what this forum glorifies it as (automatic interviews at any firm you want), but if you do well academically, pursue leadership opportunities, make use of the strong network the school has, and aren't a complete mouth-breathing moron with no social intelligence, you would be hard-pressed to not get a job.

College experience. Do you want to be one of thousands of students, or one of

Alumni network. Do you want to have an immediately recognizable, global brand behind your name forever, or is that less important than the story you craft for yourself at a smaller institution? Amherst is certainly a prestigious school, but the number of people who even know where it is will certainly be far smaller than the number who know your Ivy. That will play out when you're looking for people further ahead of you in life to help you out. A smaller school might mean someone cares more and is more strongly incentivized to help out, but the chances of finding those people are lower also.

I'm getting tired of typing, but you've basically got to realize that this is really comparing apples to oranges. If you're comfortable with the idea of what is essentially a vocational school, you should consider Wharton. You recognize that its recruiting opportunities destroy those at Amherst, you say you want to work in finance ... that is the path. You say you're a recruited athlete but don't know if you can play at Penn; that seems to be a really easy fix to me. Call the people at Penn and see if you can extort extra scholarship funding. You'd be surprised how often you can more money for your 2nd-4th years even if you weren't recruited out of high school. Hopefully all the comments here will be helpful in your decision process.

I am permanently behind on PMs, it's not personal.

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Apr 3, 2013 - 11:10am

If you're sure about Finance, clearly Wharton. Wharton undergrad is considered better than an MBA. You don't ever have to go back to school when done.


Yeah, I'm not sure it's that powerful. I am evaluating going back for an MBA because in certain paths there is a ceiling that can only be broken with an MBA.

[quote=Dirk Dirkenson]Shut up already. Your mindless, reflexive responses to any critical thought on this are tedious. You're also probably a woman, given the name and "xoxo" signoff, so maybe the lack of judgment is to be expected.[/quote]
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Apr 3, 2013 - 3:09am

One of the things that have not been touched upon is that if you choose Wharton or Amherst you still have to be at or near the top of your class. Considering that in mind pick the school you think is the best fit for yourself. Also, realize that it is not where you start that matters but where you end up that matters. I would also suggest choosing whichever school you like, working hard and taking responsibility for that decision.

Apr 3, 2013 - 8:17am

PM if you want to have a more in depth discussion of liberal arts vs Wharton. I went to a top 3 liberal arts college and had friends who went to other more "nationally recognized" schools (and will actually be headed to Wharton for my MBA). I don't think any one I went to college with would've gone somewhere else - its truly an amazing experience.

Do not underestimate the power of the alumni network, I have my current job because of alumni help. Off of the alumni list, I can usually get at least a 50% response rate to cold emails. Most people going into finance end up in investment banking first and there are alums high up in most of the BBs who will pull you through to second round interviews (after that its up to you anywhere). More importantly though, college should be a time where you try to figure out what you want to do. I went in thinking I wanted to be a doctor, realized that wasnt the case after freshman year, ended up majoring in econ, then consulted in Boston for two years and now am in PE. School choice should be about how it will help your career, but also how it will help you explore your own interests.

Apr 12, 2013 - 4:10am

There are some corporate jobs that "require" an MBA: Proctor & Gamble Brand Manager: gotta have one. Senior consultant at McKinsey: gotta have one.

On Wall Street and in finance you don't, and they especially know and recognize that the Wharton undergrad degree in Finance is as good or better than most MBAs and advancing on The Street with a Wharton undergrad degree in finance is purely optional and your personal choice to have flexibility to leave Finance entirely someday.

But if you're sure Finance is your future, you can't argue for an Amherst bachelor's on career grounds. (I have my own opinions on whether a Wharton business degree makes for a "well rounded person" and whether I would want my son to do that, but that wasn't the question.)

Apr 12, 2013 - 4:11am

Wharton or Amherst (srs) (Originally Posted: 12/09/2015)

So i'm getting recruited to play a sport at Amherst College but think that I have a solid shot at Penn/Wharton. What do you guys think is the better school for the best shot at IBD/ finance.. Obviously Wharton is a great school, but on a per capita basis Amherst is almost just as good if not better.
Looking at career stats from last year, Amherst sent 7 to Goldman, and 9 to JP Morgan JUST for IBD, Penn sent 32 to Goldman and 14 to JP, but this includes ALL functions and I have a hard time believing that 32 out of Goldman's 100-something IB class comes from Penn. Also, on a per capita basis, each Amherst class is 450 vs 2500 for Penn, so adjusting for size, if Amherst had 2500 students that would be the equivalent of them sending 40 to Goldman and almost 50 to JP. Not to mention amherst is a LAC and most people aren't gunning for finance.

Apr 12, 2013 - 4:12am

You're missing the biggest reason why you should choose Wharton: the network. Amherst is an amazing school, don't get me wrong, but when it comes to business, especially finance, I would say that only the HBS network rivals Wharton's. At the junior level of finance Amherst and Wharton may be equal, but as you move up, finance becomes much more relationship-driven. The easiest way to connect with someone is if you have something in common, and if you're a finance grad from Wharton, you have something in common with many people in finance.

Apr 12, 2013 - 4:14am

Wharton. Run those numbers again on basis that Wharton has 500 kids per class. Obviously you have a couple engineers and ECON college kids take some of those spots but all thinks considered Wharton / Penn would provide greater exposure to IBD.

You also have some kids from Penn that are going straight to PE and very very few going straight to HF so I think you'll be exposed to more aspects of finance. Also consider that GS / MS's main competitor for new hires is not JPM or other banks but actually MBB so you have a ton of opportunities there. I think if you bucketed your jobs as top tier jobs whether that be IBD + PE + HF + MBB / Class size, Wharton probably comes out on top.

I actually hate to admit this. I was Penn undergrad but liberal arts. I just saw it first hand and was able to leverage Wharton's network with all the on-campus info sessions / recruiting.

For the record Amherst is a great school and if playing sports is a big deal to you, that's a big decision. Depending on the sport though, I imagine you may be able to walk on or get recruited at Penn.

Apr 12, 2013 - 4:15am

If you're one of those people who knows he wants to do IBD at age 17, Amherst is not the right place for you.

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Apr 12, 2013 - 4:16am

don't athletes with good grades get alot of love in finance, especially IB? don't athletes also get love in MBA admissions? the way I see it you could have your cake and eat it too


Apr 12, 2013 - 4:21am

1) You haven't gotten into both yet, so this conversation is pointless.

2) You and every other poster here so far are idiots. Amherst and Wharton/UPenn both offered DRAMATICALLY different college experiences. One is a liberal arts college in a very rural area in MA; the other is in one of the biggest metros in America. One recently banned Greek life; the other has a vibrant - albeit exclusive - Greek life. One is undergraduate focused; the other prides itself on its graduate programs (MBA/law).

The type of students both attract are very different, and you need to take this into consideration. Amherst is a fine school and anyone who says you can't catapult Amherst into high finance and thrive using its small but incredibly close knit alumni network (seriously, LAC alumni will jump in the front lines for fellow students) probably has no idea what they're talking about or are incredibly narrow minded.

The point is to go to a school you think best suits your academic, social, and extracurricular interests. At the end of the day, the kids who are killing it at school are the same ones who kill it in recruiting - there's a very casual relationship there. Visit both schools, do some research, ask yourself some tough questions.

Apr 12, 2013 - 4:22am

I'd go with Amherst, depending on the sport, srs.

Only because your college life at Amherst is going to be AWESOME being an athlete and assuming you'll be able to hold the work load really well. Just know that going in you, you're going to be at a disadvantage recruiting wise, but if you know that day 1... you can mitigate for that with networking and building an impressive financial presence at your university.

Everyone here is going to say Wharton, but that's because they care more about the end than the means. I'd say that you can achieve the same ends, but with a much more enjoyable means to it going with Amherst.

LAC's also have some of the finest, promiscuous women I have ever met.

So my 2 cents.

"It is better to have a friendship based on business, than a business based on friendship." - Rockefeller. "Live fast, die hard. Leave a good looking body." - Navy SEAL
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Apr 12, 2013 - 4:23am

Agree with this. If you play football, just be prepared for people at LACs to think you are retarded. Frankly, it's known as the sport with the lowest academic standards for recruiting.

Best Response
Apr 12, 2013 - 4:24am

Hey guys,

Do you think it would better if I was a U.S. senator or New York governor? I haven't actually run for office for either one yet, but I think I have a good shot at both.

Apr 12, 2013 - 4:32am

Ahem, peasant: P(Acceptance to Wharton and Amherst) = P(Acceptance to Wharton) x P(Acceptance to Amherst | Acceptance to Wharton) = P(Prety low percentage) x P(Pretty High Percentage) = P(Pretty Low Percentage).

Kids these days failing to do conditional probabilities smh

Apr 12, 2013 - 4:28am

I have a 36 on the ACT and am valedictorian so I think I have a decent shot at both since I would be supported by the coaches.. and lol I visited Amherst and I defintely missed seeing the abundance of fine, promiscious women.. However, its actually right down the road from Umass, Mount Holyoke and Smith, so the male: female ratio in the area is literally like 8:1

Apr 12, 2013 - 4:29am

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