Stanford v Wharton for Undergrad

I want to go into IB or be a corporate attorney. I've now been accepted to UPenn Wharton & Stanford. Every time I think I've made up my mind by picking one, I go down a path of regret thinking I've made the wrong choice.

I like Wharton because of the location and academic drive of the atmosphere. I want to be in a city and around others who want to go into business. I don't like the fact that everything is on a curve and it's almost impossible to pull a +3.7 GPA because of it. Also whenever people talk about prestige, I always hear HYPSM and this makes me second guess wanting to go to Wharton as the UPenn brand is not as global.

For Stanford, I don't really like the paradise & relaxed vibe but I still feel I could thrive. The only downside is that it's not in a city and a lot of kids end up in the "Stanford Bubble". I don't know much about their Econ department or what type of companies recruit there. It feels like choosing Stanford would give me more of an advantage on the west coast tech firms but I want to work in the East. Also, I don't want my network to only be limited to finance as that seems to be the case for Wharton.
I would love any advice, just trying to make a good decision.

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Comments (21)

Most Helpful
Mar 29, 2020 - 9:25pm

1) To be honest, both schools will provide the pathway for you to get where you want to be. Graduating from Stanford or Penn will open doors that few in the US will have access to. In terms of what I recommend, if you want to go into Investment Banking go to Wharton. This is arguably the #1 school for IB on planet earth. If you want to go into tech, choose Stanford, although you could likely do both from either school (Elon Musk was a Penn grad). If you want to be a corporate attorney, you will need to get into law school post undergrad and that shouldn't be difficult with a Stanford or Wharton resume.

2) Don't sell yourself short. saying it's impossible to pull a 3.7+ is a terrible attitude. Also, GPA isn't everything, the IB networking opportunities at Wharton are world class.

3) To say that Wharton isn't a global brand may be the biggest joke of the year.

4) Not everyone at Penn does finance. There will be a lot of tech/consulting people as well.

Good Luck!

Mar 30, 2020 - 9:10am

Personally, would choose Stanford.

Wharton is a terrific program; there are advantages to the location (Wall Street proximity) and it always helps to do undergrad business if you want to go into IB. But, in my view, Stanford is a once in a lifetime experience. From both a networking and an intellectual growth and development standpoint, four years at Stanford will pay dividends that few if any other institutions can. In my view, you will have a broader, more diverse experience while not sacrificing a thing in terms of the professional opportunities available to you. Palo Alto is beautiful and you can return to the east coast right after.

How many other times will you have the chance to move to the West Coast for a finite and pre-determined period of time, to do something that will forward your life in such a meaningful way?

  • Associate 2 in IB-M&A
Apr 26, 2020 - 3:48pm

3.7+ at penn is easily achievable. my average-intelligence friends and I all swung 3.8s at Wharton, in finance, when we were there by carefully planning our non-core courses. Wharton classes are also deceptively easy. grades certainly should not be a stress factor at Wharton. also, if you want any chance at IB, Wharton's the only choice. Stanford's academic year literally doesn't even end before IB internships start. My junior summer at an EB the one Stanford kid in my group was taking finals first week on the desk lmao

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Apr 26, 2020 - 5:04pm

You're right that Stanford is on a quarter system, but saying that Wharton is your "only chance at IB" is false. Stanford will get you anywhere you want to go. It just happens that IB is self selecting and less Stanford kids go for it.

Stanford is a cut above Penn, even Wharton, in terms of prestige/recognition. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity. Can't go wrong between the two but imo, Stanford takes it comfortably

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  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Apr 26, 2020 - 5:15pm

Choose Stanford. Wharton is SLIGHTLY stronger for IB but nothing else - no opportunity that you will get at Wharton will be unavailable to you at Stanford. For any other career, Stanford is stronger. The global brand is better and I promise you that if you decide for any reason you don't want to have a 40 year career in high finance or high law, Stanford will set you up better.

Apr 26, 2020 - 6:22pm

Stanford. As others have alluded to above, professional opportunities, including investment banking, will not be lacking in matriculating to Stanford, and I believe the quality of the experience in Palo Alto extends far beyond the classroom. I can certainly appreciate the academic emphasis of Wharton, but your undergraduate years can be formative in ways separate from academic achievement and professional advancement too. I believe Stanford will do a better job at delivering on this.

Regardless of your decision, congratulations!

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  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Apr 26, 2020 - 9:16pm

Would choose Stanford here, every cross-admit I know chose Stanford over M&T and Huntsman let alone regular Wharton. It's definitely the bigger overall brand. If you do HBS down the road too you practically have the keys to the world. Wharton may be the better short-term decision over every school out there for finance, but schools like Harvard and Stanford are the better life-time decisions.

  • Prospect in Other
Apr 30, 2020 - 4:58pm

Honestly, hearing from my friends, it seems like the pre-professional culture at Wharton/UPenn is pretty toxic. I personally wouldn't mind that, but I feel like you would enjoy school more at Stanford. Stanford is truly a unique school, and its pedigree will not hinder you in terms of recruiting. Sure, Wharton may give a slight edge, but that's splitting hairs. The difference between the overall schools is greater than that.

And let's be honest. All top schools are in some kind of "bubble."

-MIT student

May 1, 2020 - 12:13am

Congratulations on your options. Most HS seniors would love to be in your position. Either route is going to give you everything you desire in your career as long as you perform well in college.

In the end, Its really about what you feel is the best fit for you.

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
May 1, 2020 - 1:36am

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