Cornell Dyson (AEM) vs. Northwestern Econ (CAS)

Hello! I was recently admitted to both universities and recognize that I am blessed to have this decision to make. That being said, I was wondering if y'all could give me some information on the two. I'm interested in business in general; IB and consulting really interest me, but I'm not 100% on either. Which one places better into IB/consulting? Is the regional placement advantage recognizable for each? Is there going to be a substantial difference in the prestige/brand name? 

Another thing I'm interested to know is the difference between studying business and studying econ. I understand they're fairly similar, but what are the major differences in the actual studying/learning process? Any general information on the student experience at either school is welcome as well!

Thank you all so much for your time!

(completely off-topic but if you have the time: are either of these schools worth it if I have in-state tuition for UC Berkeley CL&S Econ? I received pretty much the same aid from every school.)

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Comments (11)

Apr 6, 2021 - 11:07pm

Not sure on Dyson, but my best friend from HS is in Northwestern now. So can share a bit about them:

Great for consulting, target for MBB. Good for banking, but only target for Chicago, not so much for NY. Most kids are very motivated so they do have good placement for those who tried. Placed in most if not all EB BB last year. They have an investment banking club which is trying v hard to help kids land IB jobs. With that being said, the econ but not biz situation means that you need to study all the technicals on your own (With the help of student orgs ofc). Also with limited alum you need to network hard to get first rounds.

TLDR: great school, great for consulting, good for banking but you need to put in effort

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Apr 7, 2021 - 2:21am

Did my undergrad in Econ (and a STEM double major) at NU. Tons of resources, clubs, and alumni to network with for consulting, big MBB feeder (for undergrads, not just MBAs). Less structured and somewhat weaker for banking as others have said, some BBs recruit on campus and others don't but usually the Chicago branches and to my knowledge often PWM or S&T rather than IBD.

With respect to the academic experience - NU Econ will be fairly theoretical, but there's a Business Institutions and Practices (aka BIP) minor that includes intro courses in accounting and corporate finance, so if you do that you'll at least get some basic training but would probably still have to self-study IB technicals far more than you would at a true undergrad b-school. Kellogg also offers undergrad certificate programs in Managerial Analytics (aka consulting track) and Financial Economics (aka finance track), if you really want to challenge yourself. These are pretty competitive to get into and offer a nice resume booster, although they will also force you to take harder classes and risk sacrificing a better GPA. Anecdotally, my friends who did these programs were the ones who had the best career outcomes among people I knew: Managerial Analytics people to MBB and Financial Economics people to EB M&A or BB equity research roles.

Location-wise, it's definitely harder to end up with a job on the East Coast right out of NU than it is at Cornell, all things being equal, so I would lean Cornell if you're set on working in Boston or NYC immediately after you graduate. Plenty of NU folks on the East Coast, but from my experience, many/most of them are in media, entertainment, or marketing rather than banking or consulting. Conversely, if you like Chicago and are OK living there, great, NU is your ticket to all kinds of cool opportunities in the Windy City (and other places in the Midwest, especially Minneapolis). And honestly, Chicago is way cheaper than NYC and still a world-class city - a great place to live it up as a recent grad/young professional.

Last point I'll make, and obviously biased here, is that the factors of being close to Chicago and having Big Ten sports (especially now that our football team is actually good) were huge positives for my overall college experience, on top of the standard social and academic experience that you'd expect to get from any comparably prestigious school (i.e. Cornell in this case). The flip side is that NU probably loses the prestige battle to Cornell, at least in terms of name recognition to the average person (your mailman, your grandma, etc.) - although I think the brand perception difference is nonexistent among people who will be interviewing you, and that's where it counts. That said, certainly frustrating from time to time correcting people who ask me how I liked going to college in Seattle or why I went to Northeastern instead of Boston College or whatever.

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  • Intern in RE - Res
Apr 7, 2021 - 2:45am

That last point sounds terrible. Like the classic Penn/Penn State mixup. I've heard anecdotally that while IB recruiting isn't extremely prevalent on campus, everyone that actually pursues IB (networking, studying technicals, etc) easily gets it. Can you speak on how true that is?

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Apr 7, 2021 - 3:03am

It's definitely not quite as bad as the Penn mixup haha. My brother went to Wharton undergrad and he always made sure to lead with that instead of Penn... joke's on him, my grandma didn't know what Wharton was anyway. And again, the name recognition thing is regional - everyone in Chicago, and most people in the Bay Area and, interestingly enough, DC, will know exactly what/where NU is. In the Northeast or Northwest, less so. Not sure about Texas or the South.

I also remember hearing that almost everyone at NU who wants banking gets it, but can't really confirm this as I pursued consulting and didn't interact with people who wanted to do banking enough to really judge whether that impression was true. And I do remember some people who wanted banking taking PWM jobs at Goldman or Guggenheim and counting that as success in finding a "banking" job even though they really wanted IBD. But those people tended to be slackers TBH. Overall I think if you're willing to work for it, you'll do fine, but I can't be confident in telling you it's a sure thing because I don't know enough about the specifics.

Most Helpful
Apr 23, 2021 - 7:42pm

Dyson literally has a ~3% acceptance rate. Easily top 5 undergrad b-school in the country. To me, this isn't super close unless you love Northwestern / hate Cornell or have plans of being in Chicago after graduation. Also worth noting Dyson is tiny so it's likely there will be more Northwestern alumni on here than Dyson.

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