Best business schools for social life and alumni network


Hey guys, long time lurker first time poster.

TL;DR Which top 20 business schools have the best social life?

I'm trying to pick business schools to apply to and I have a bit of a dilemma. After high school I did a gap year working in my families business (its a small managed fund that also provides services to clients (HNWI's) mostly financial advice) I was working 6-7 days a week doing admin work/data entry/macro research/any grunt work that didn't need specialised knowledge. My family wanted me to work hard at everything to appreciate things and to learn the business well, and I would also try to go above and beyond my duties so that coworkers wouldn't feel as if I was abusing any nepotism. So I would do everything I could to help anyone and seeking out tasks the entire time. When it came to university the next year I went to a school in my city and would only go to class like one/two days a week, going to work before/afterwards and spent the days without class primarily working (lived at home not on-campus) with increasing responsibilities and rotating through job functions, averaging probably 60 hours a week on top of my study. After graduating I continued working about 7 days a week immediately doing 80-90 hours a week which was needed as the business was growing and going through organisational restructuring etc. I've been there full time after graduating for a couple years now and know the business very well. Things are starting to cool down for the moment and I'll be heading off to do an MBA. When I come back I'll be heading in to a GM type role and will eventually be taking over completely, but at this stage I just need help deciding where to go for business school.

Basically, after graduating high school, I've been super busy all the time and have had the worst social life. I have been working heaps to prove myself and learn as much as I could and help out the business as much as possible, and although it has been fulfilling, pretty much every aspect of my life has suffered from it (health/relationships/stress/friends). I have very few friends these days, as people from high school moved away/we drifted apart, and the people I work with are difficult to become friends with (for obvious reasons and also because of a huge age gap with nearly everyone), and I have no time for hobbies or anything. As a result, for business school I was wondering which schools in the top 20 or would be a good fit for me. I don't necessarily need to be in a big exciting city, but I'm looking for things like: a tight-knit cohort, a good social life, in a nice place to live, etc. I have a good GMAT (mid-700's) and a 3.8 GPA from undergrad, and my family are supportive of the idea of going to a business school that would be more enjoyable because of all the shit I have gone through over the last 7 years, as long as its at least a top 20 school. I kinda just want to slow down the pace for 2 years, learn some interesting stuff and do the things that I have missed out on in life so far, make new friends etc. Also schools with a good alumni network would be great. I'd rather go to a more general management education type school than a really finance oriented one, as I already majored in finance in undergrad and my job function in the future will be more of a GM type role.

So basically, I was wondering if anyone can recommend any schools I should start be looking at. I think somewhere like Tuck would fit the bill pretty well, but any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Sorry for the long post lol this is the first time I have ever really vocalised (well in this case, typed out) my thought process and issues.

Thanks so much in advance!


Comments (19)

Nov 17, 2017 - 9:18am

No such thing as the "best" business school for a social life. All the things you said are super general, and you can find what you are looking for in any of the top schools. Visit and talk to current students to find the right fit, it's the only way. How much friends or fun you will have will depend on you, not the school.

If tuck sounds appealing to you (middle of nowhere with much of the social life involving the outdoors), then Cornell is probably the closest.

Nov 18, 2017 - 11:31am

Apply to the best schools you can get in to in the best areas to live. See which ones you get in to. Then, attend all of the events leading up to decision date. Go with where you feel the best fit/make the most friends.

All top 15 schools have powerful alumni networks. Some are higher quantity (Booth, Kellogg), some are higher quality (tuck, stanford), HBS is probably the only one that I'd say is differentiated on quantity and quality. Regardless, this isn't really a differentiator within a tier of schools.

Cohort vs flexible structure might be worth exploring. I went to a flexible program (Booth) and personally feel like I made more friends than I would have at a cohort program, but a lot of people have different opinions on that front. The key either way is joining good clubs and being involved.

Nov 20, 2017 - 6:17pm

Impossible to answer this question, as I only attended one business school and hence cannot speak definitively about the social life of other programs.

There are a few things to keep in mind though.

  1. In general, business school is fun, so you should just go to the best program you get into. I have yet to meet someone from a top 15 program who did not enjoy his time there.

  2. The programs are very different from each other in terms of class size, location, and culture. So if you get into comparable programs, that may be a driver of your decision process. For instance, if you like big programs in cities, HBS, Wharton, Columbia, and Booth are a great fit. If you want smaller classes in more suburban/rural locations, Tuck, Darden, Fuqua, will be better.

Nov 20, 2017 - 10:22pm

Went to Chicago Booth, loved it. You can form really tight friendships with people, especially if you're in leadership positions at the same clubs/student groups. Getting hammered 3-4 times a week downtown is also always an option. But, it certainly is financ-y.

From what I understand, Kellogg, Fuqua, Darden may have better social scenes and make it easier to make friends more quickly. Also don't just mingle with your class -- get to know 2nd years as a 1st year and the 1st years as a 2nd year. B-school is what you make of it; take advantage of as much as you can, add value to others, and you'll really enjoy it and form long-lasting friendships. And possibly lose half your liver in the process.

Nov 21, 2017 - 4:46am

I work a decent amount with fund managers, and the breadth of undergraduate (and to be honest graduate) universities attended is far wider than what I saw when I was in IBD. With IBD most people went to well known schools, but for AM there are a lot of senior people who went to schools I've never heard of.

The focus seems to be what skills you can bring to the table, not pedigree. Of course, pedigree helps more than it hurts.

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