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Comments (34)

Jun 7, 2016 - 1:03pm
Because recently there have been a lot of questions regarding European top school (undergrad), I'm wondering how much of a difference would there be between St Gallen, Bocconi, ESSEC and possibly RSM, WHU and ESCP?

It depends on where you are from and what you want to do and where you want to do that.
If you are German, HSG and WHU will probably be the best choices and allow placement in both London and Germany.
If you are Italian, Bocconi can't be beat.
In France, there are better schools than ESSEC, but ESSEC still gets a lot of guys into London.
RSM and ESCP I don't know very well, but I think ESCP has solid track-record across Europe.
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Jun 7, 2016 - 1:43pm

I thought that the best school for undergrad in France is ESSEC? HEC doesn't have any undergrad programs, right?
and what if I can't get into either HSG or WHU? Should I choose Bocconi (pretty much my safety) over EBS or FS?

Jun 7, 2016 - 2:34pm

You're right about ESSEC being the best option in France. As an international you can access HEC only through the MSc programmes, which require a bachelor first.

Bocconi is part of the HEC/Bocconi/St.Gallen tier which is at another level compared to EBS and FS (quite ironic indeed that Bocconi is your safety choice :D ), but you must first realize what you want to do: if you already know you'd like to work in Frankfurt, there is really no need to move down to Milan.

Jun 7, 2016 - 3:33pm
but you must first realize what you want to do: if you already know you'd like to work in Frankfurt, there is really no need to move down to Milan.

I agree with this, but it doesn't hurt your chances in Frankfurt if you didn't study in the region.
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Jun 8, 2016 - 6:10am

from all of these you should have quite good chances of getting a job in either Frankfurt, Zurich, London, Milan, Paris etc.

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Jun 8, 2016 - 11:02am

You can also look into doing a MiM or a programme in the region you'd like to work that allows you to go on exchange. That way you get your cultural enrichment, but suffer little downside for recruiting.

Jun 8, 2016 - 11:31am

Bocconi places really well in London, and in Milan 90% of IB/PE guys are from there aswell. But to work in Milan you need to speak Italian.

If you don't get into good programs in Germany, Bocconi is definetly a safe choice. I can't speak for the rest.

Best Response
Jun 16, 2016 - 3:10pm

UK undergrad is head & shoulders above anything in continental Europe. From personal experience, placement at Oxbridge, ICL, LSE and even UCL and Warwick simply is much, much better. One thing to watch for: all of these "best in country" continental places are highly culture specific. If you are a German and study at Bocconi or one of the French places, chances are you will be miserable and not get very far. Huge handicap in terms of in-country recruiting, alumni network, extra-curriculars etc. - Bocconi is a very different experience for an Italian than for a German. Not sure if you are German, but if you are and you are motivated and know what you are doing, got to HSG and do the Harvard exchange programme, biggest "wow" factor you can hope to get with continental business schools. If you like to be spoonfed, don't care about academics that much and your greatest dream in life is joining GS, go to WHU. It is a mostly insufferable place with some cool (20%) and many insufferable (80%) people, more of a job academy than a proper university, but ,by god, they do place well and have an insanely loyal alumni network. If you are genuinely smart and money is a factor, go to Mannheim, their recruiting has become pretty good for London as well and academically they are the best. Also consider whether you want to study straight business or economics and take some finance courses on the side (less bs, more maths, personal preference really, won't matter much for recruiting, most of the stuff they teach you as a business undergrad is pretty pointless anyways and you'll have to study for your technical interviews yourself no matter where you go (perhaps WHU preps you quite decently in that regard, not sure)).

So specifically for a German (which your name indicates):

St. Gallen: Best and most widespread reputation of the three, massive programme with little pre-selection, you are "on your own" but if you do it right it leaves you with the best options. Studying economics rather than business will help you get into grad school in the UK. Their Master in Banking and Finance is a great programme in terms of content, undergrad really depends on which courses you take and what you make of it. Lots of Mannheim and WHU grads in the Master in Banking and Finance programme, have never heard of anyone going from HSG to WHU or Mannheim for their Master's and that pretty much tells you everything you need to know in terms of reputation rankings. Downside at the undergraduate level: lack of selectivity at the undergrad level; you will have to deal with Swiss students that are so unbelievably dumb - as in barely literate and I am not exaggerating - that they will be the bane of your existence. 50%+ of them thankfully get sorted out after the first year but it is an annoyance and you have make an effort to meet talented foreigners (lots of 1.0 Abitur people; you just have to find them). Location obviously is not much good but neither are Vallendar or Mannheim; access to the Zurich job market is a plus if you decide to become a consultant after all (better pay, lower taxes and they will staff you in Germany half the time anyways; no chance of breaking in as a foreigner without a Swiss degree).

WHU: Excellent banking / consulting placement, academically mediocre, more of a "banking/consulting academy" than a university, however, seems to prep people pretty well by only teaching practically relevant content. People there will not be for everybody's taste. My personal assessment of the place is that it is more of a job academy than real university, their reputation overall is not that spectacular and quite a few people in the German business scene absolutely loathe the place, but their alumni are incredibly active and help each other out and that is what really pushes the school. Think of it as a degree granting fraternity, or a "Seilschaft". Alumni simply do a lot more than they'll do at state schools like HSG and Mannheim and that is how a tiny business academy founded by the Koblenz chamber of commerce became very relevant. It is a totally different way of becoming successful as a university than what has made an Oxford or a Harvard or even a St. Gallen or a Mannheim successful. It's a network with degree granting capabilities. But, if you are fine with that, they do teach you relevant stuff, are easy to get into and place ridiculously well. If you simply care about practical training and placements, this is probably the place to be.

Mannheim: Most rigorous programmes academically, pretty good placement, perhaps slightly below HSG reputation wise but you can definitely get into London from here. Cheap. Lots of genuinely smart kids. Good academic rep for grad school.

Bocconi: Certainly a great uni, but not sure why you would go there if you are German. If you want to go abroad got to the US or UK.

RSM, ESSEC, ESCP: Do not bother with these if you are German, they won't impress anybody in Frankfurt and good luck making president in a couple of on-campus clubs if you don't speak the native language and are not an "insider". Will also hurt in terms of how much of a connection alumni will feel with you.

Jun 9, 2016 - 9:05am

I think, if we are honest, academics at all of the three mentioned are at best mediocre (save perhaps Mannheim Economics / VWL). Nothing comes close to a Oxford PPE or LSE Bsc Econ in terms of rigour, workload, quality of teaching, quality of staff. You can be next to braindead and score near the top of the class at WHU (or any of the other business admin programmes) if you simply put enough time into memorising stuff; perhaps that is not due to WHU itself, but rather the nature of undergraduate business administration teaching. WHU, unlike Mannheim and St. Gallen, does not have an Econ department or an Econ undergraduate degree; while their research in supply chain management may be top-notch, I am not sure that qualifies as "academically excellent". I have seen very few people from there go on to LSE and have not yet come across anyone (not saying there are none) from WHU that was admitted to a graduate degree at Oxbridge. Happens for St. Gallen / Mannheim people, I know of one guy from HSG that cracked a Harvard PhD programme last year and there are quite a few HBS grads with a St. Gallen undergrad.

Jun 11, 2016 - 5:13am

I agree that coming from a top UK school gives you a competitive edge in terms of recruitment but it does not guarantee a job in the city.

I also agree that St. Gallen is a good school but saying that going to the "french places", Bocconi or RSM as a German gives you miserable chances is just incorrect. I'm not really sure what your information is based on but if you have ever worked in London at a BB, you will meet plenty of Germans that went to these schools. From what I have seen, HEC clearly tops st. gallen in terms of London recruitment even if you are not French. They have sent some kids (non-french btw) to MF such as Silver Lake directly without the usual BB/MBB track. Not really sure whether I have seen that from st. gallen but correct me if I'm wrong on this one.

I agree that WHU cannot be compared to Mannheim in terms of its academic track record and that it places much much better than any other German school in recent years. In terms of academic rigor, WHU uses a curve-grading approach. Getting into the top decile is therefore not a walk in the park.

Jun 11, 2016 - 6:36am
I also agree that St. Gallen is a good school but saying that going to the "french places", Bocconi or RSM as a German gives you miserable chances is just incorrect. I'm not really sure what your information is based on but if you have ever worked in London at a BB, you will meet plenty of Germans that went to these schools. From what I have seen, HEC clearly tops st. gallen in terms of London recruitment even if you are not French.

1) HEC effectively does not offer an undergraduate degree for foreigners. Their MSc is indeed top-notch and does place better than St. Gallen in London (or, at least more, might be for lack of St. Gallen students' interest in London, quite a few people are happy working in Zurich which given the extraordinary standard of living in Switzerland is a very rational choice - not sure anyone works in finance in Frankfurt / Paris (ok maybe Paris) out of their own volition (unless they love high taxes, a small market and a public that hates financiers)). However, Master's degrees are a somewhat different beast since they tend to be more genuinely international in general.

2) The question remains; why on earth would you attend RSM or Bocconi as a German? What is their advantage over Mannheim and St. Gallen? Go to the "best in country place" in your culture or go to a truly extraordinary programme in the UK or US. Makes no sense to pass up your own culture's academically mediocre programme that at least comes with personal fit and a network of alumni deeply entrenched in our country's business elite for another culture's academically mediocre programme that comes with less personal fit and a weaker network if you are a foreigner. Not bashing French/Dutch/Italian schools, makes no sense to go to St. Gallen or Mannheim without speaking German either. (side note: of course these are all fine schools, I mean to use the term "mediocre" in relation to Oxbridge, LSE, Imperial and the top US colleges)

3) Not saying it's easy to get into the top decile. Does not support the point about academic rigour though. You could make people memorise the phone book and it would not be easy to be in the top 5% if everybody puts a bit of effort into it. My point is that the stuff they teach you (perhaps in business admin in general) is ridiculously simple. It's not like a Physics graduate degree at Cambridge which perhaps less than 5% of the population are biologically capable of attaining. WHU (and the other business admin programmes) do not require that type of intelligence, they just requires effort. Now the difference between Mannheim and St. Gallen and WHU is that Mannheim and St. Gallen do have proper non-Management departments which offer mathematically rigorous courses and some decent research which you can choose as electives and be exposed to alongside you accounting and strategic management stuff. WHU is a pure-play business school, not a university (has both advantages and disadvantages). Studying accounting is nice and useful, but a few courses in proper economics or international affairs or some challenging mathematics on the side are good if you want to develop academically. Otherwise what you are getting is a more rigorous version of a Banklehre.

Jun 8, 2016 - 12:38pm

Alright, I need some safeties, though.
Bocconi and RSM would be easy to get into and incredibly cheap!
I'm also applying to Warwick and LSE (high reach). Bocconi, RSM, ESSEC, EBS, and FS are safeties but WHU would be my real target school. I'm also applying to HSG, Brown, Queens (Canada) and some other US schools.
I'm just worried about not getting into WHU.

Jun 8, 2016 - 12:44pm

A quick check on Linkedin will show you that ESSEC undergrad (BBA) is nowhere near their master in terms of placement. Nowhere near, and I would not recommend it at all.
Then, for Bocconi and RSM - those are two great schools, definitely target, but bear in mind that undergrad vs. master is very different. Whilst Bocconi MIF is top notch most of the guys I know from Bocconi undergrad don't have experience yet and have to do a master before going into IB.

But what has been said above is completely true -> UK schools are by far your best bet (for London IBD), along with German schools if you are German

Jun 8, 2016 - 3:40pm

As an international you shouldn't go to France for anything else than HEC. "Undergrad" does not exist in France. I presume you're referring to the BBA at ESSEC, which in all honesty will not get you anywhere close to a proper banking job. WHU and Mannheim are good, but they are pure working machines. Don't overlook student life.

Jun 8, 2016 - 5:13pm

So where do french students go if they want to have an banking gig?

HEC, ESSEC, ESCP, Science Po and the top engineering schools (X, Mines, Ponts et Chaussees). I think the issue that @SW7 was trying to raise is that the french system is very different. Aside from the engineering programs (which are among the best in the world), academics are not very rigorous (it is insanely hard to get in though) and programs are shorter so grades don't get used as much to filter applicants. Instead connections though on campus club leadership are key to recruiting which makes it really hard to stand out as a foreigner (unless you are 100% fluent in french, have lived there, etc).

Jun 8, 2016 - 5:12pm

In the Netherlands it is almost mandatory to have a masters if you want to recruit for consulting/banking. I'm guessing they hold the London jobs through the same lens.

Jun 8, 2016 - 5:51pm

It was explained above. You stay an extra 2 years in high school (prepa) to prep for entrance exams to the Grande Ecole programme of HEC, ESSEC, etc. Eventually they graduate with an MSc. in management with a major after 3 years and 1 year of internship.
What you have to do as an international if you want to get a degree that is worth something (i.e. not this BBA thing) is go through international parallel admissions after a bachelor's degree abroad. You can get into either the grande ecole MSc. program (which you'd join for 2 years + 1 year of internship) or the Masters in finance program (1y), which would both give you a good shot for recruitment.
For what it's worth I've seen plenty of ESCP people in London but not many ESSEC

Jun 14, 2016 - 4:17pm

Exactly. If you don't speak the local language, it is MUCH harder to get a job.

Jun 11, 2016 - 11:20am

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