Undergraduate Business School or Great College?

I'm starting the college application process and I'm very interested in pursuing finance. Is it better to apply to undergraduate business schools like Wharton, McIntyre, Stern, Lehigh CBE, RBS, Lerner, Kenan-Flagler, OR are top universities just as relevant, like Duke or Columbia? I realize that Ivy League is Ivy League and means so much, but I'm questioning whether it's better to attend an undergraduate business school versus a great university. When you look at undergraduate business school rankings, Duke and Columbia don't show up. Thanks for your help!

Comments (38)

Nov 11, 2015

This is because Fuqua and CBS do not have undergraduate programs.
No one, NO ONE, Will question your logic of going to Duke or Columbia vs an undergraduate b-school. My advice would be:
1) ignore rankings. Look at undergrad placement prospects.
2) go where you fit. If you do not enjoy undergrad, you will not be as successful than if you do. It's really the truth.
Each system has its perks and downsides. Like an undergrad b school will have lots of resources and channels, but lots of competition. Or an Ivy will have the name and regular reputation, but won't have the clear cut programs a b school would. You can be extremely successful in both, so you need to figure out what works best for you.

Nov 11, 2015

Thank you for sharing your professional opinion! Any advice on taking substantial loans in order to go to these top schools vs going to a state school in NJ like Rutgers Business School or The College of NJ?

Nov 11, 2015

If you want to do consulting or banking, invest in the expensive top ranked schools - no banks or consulting firms will even look at students from Rutgers. If you want to be a doctor, you can go to a cheap public school.

Nov 11, 2015

Thank you for responding! I applied Early Decision to Wharton and will know mid-December. I'm working on my fallback plan and the schools I was considering applying to are, in no particular order, NYU Stern, Columbia, Lehigh, UVA McIntire, UNC Kenan-Flagler, Duke, U Del Lerner, Rutgers Business School, and The College of NJ.

Nov 14, 2015

This list makes no sense at all, usually if you're applying ED to Wharton you should have a profile that would get you in at a top 15-50 school, so I'm confused why Delaware and TCNJ are on your list. Add some decent, but not hyper competitive schools with undergraduate business programs, perhaps, BU, BC, Emory, Notre Dame, WUSTL, Cornell, Michigan, Indiana, Wake Forest and Georgetown. All have top notch undergrad programs and are all targets (Ross, Cornell) or semi targets. On the state school front Ohio State, Penn State, UF and Illinois are all much better than Rutgers or Delaware if you need safety schools.

Nov 11, 2015
  1. check MBA rankings than "undergraduate b-school" rankings. Harvard and Stanford don't have undergraduate b-schools, wouldn't it be stupid to not attend those?

except LACs, top-25 in P&Q MBA rankings carries the best schools in any field.

  1. also do some early action to protect your downside if Early decision doesn't fly.
Nov 12, 2015

Thanks so much for the great insight!

Nov 11, 2015

Top undergrad business schools are miserable and super cutthroat since everyone is gunning for banking... Do liberal arts at a top school and you'll get a dope job AND have a chill time in college.

I'm a liberal arts major at a target with a business school and have never felt disadvantaged in recruiting - scored FT offers from 2 BBs (MS/Citi/BAML/CS/etc.), 2 EBs (Evercore/Moelis/Lazard/Greenhill/etc.), and 2 MMs (Rothschild/Guggenheim/RBC/etc.).

    • 1
Nov 12, 2015

Thanks for the advice! Will take it to heart in my decision making!

Best Response
Nov 12, 2015
undefined:

Top undergrad business schools are miserable and super cutthroat since everyone is gunning for banking... Do liberal arts at a top school and you'll get a dope job AND have a chill time in college.

I'm a liberal arts major at a target with a business school and have never felt disadvantaged in recruiting - scored FT offers from 2 BBs (MS/Citi/BAML/CS/etc.), 2 EBs (Evercore/Moelis/Lazard/Greenhill/etc.), and 2 MMs (Rothschild/Guggenheim/RBC/etc.).

Respectively disagree. I went to top undergrad business school and it wasn't like that at all. I was able to be an athlete, be in a fraternity, and do other clubs and such and had a great time in undergrad.

OP, the advice to go where you fit is accurate. I got into some of the great programs mentioned that don't have a b-school, and I decided to attend a school that had undergraduate business instead. The reason for my choice: I had NO idea what I would have majored in. For better or worse, I had a very narrow focus of interests when I was looking at colleges, and I couldn't see myself happy studying anything not related to business. The only other topics I could see myself studying would have been political science or econ, and given the current political climate on college campuses, that would have been a HUGE mistake for me.

    • 3
Nov 12, 2015

Great advice. I'm focused on Finance and had a summer internship. But once matriculated, I will then be able to figure out exactly what I want to do. I may major in Economics instead with a concentration or minor in Finance, but I just don't know at this time. I've had so many liberal arts courses in high school, that I can't wait to study what I really want, though even the business schools have a core course requirement in liberal arts. Thanks!

Nov 14, 2015

If you're on the bubble at Wharton, odds are that you get decent scholarship money at Emory or WUSTL and can get in at Brown or Cornell or Northwestern.

Nov 14, 2015

you can get the job you want from pretty much any top 30 school. choose based on some combination of ranking, fit, and scholarships. I wouldn't go below top 30 and you shouldn't have a problem getting into several if Wharton doesn't work out.

Nov 16, 2015

Thank you for the info!

Nov 16, 2015

What is your advice regarding the amount of debt I should be willing to undertake for the 4 years? My parents can only give me so much since my sister is in college right now and there will be a 2 year overlap. Some of these schools are $65K to $75K a year. My parents look good on paper, but they are older, in their early/mid 60's, and both their jobs are tentative. They may be retiring soon and will need to be able to support themselves. Thanks in advance for your input!

Nov 16, 2015

It really depends on your options. If it's $70k of debt to go to Wharton or you can graduate debt-free from Rutgers, I'd still probably recommend Wharton. Same scenario, but you're looking at UVA, Duke, Columbia or Stern instead of Rutgers, then I'd take any of those schools instead. Regardless, I think anything around $100k+ is too much. If you're competitive at these types of schools, then you can probably break in from somewhere like Rutgers. It'll be harder and you might not enjoy it as much, but $100k of debt at 22 is no joke.

Nov 16, 2015

Thank you for the advice. It will be a big decision, regardless. Will know from Wharton "mid-December" and have my interview with an alumni next week. I'm hoping I don't have to look any further!

Nov 16, 2015
undefined:

What is your advice regarding the amount of debt I should be willing to undertake for the 4 years? My parents can only give me so much since my sister is in college right now and there will be a 2 year overlap. Some of these schools are $65K to $75K a year. My parents look good on paper, but they are older, in their early/mid 60's, and both their jobs are tentative. They may be retiring soon and will need to be able to support themselves. Thanks in advance for your input!

just remember that you will have living expenses and all. so really widen your choices by tiers... you could also risk a little by going to a lightly-ranked school, kill it for the first 1, 1.5 or 2 years and then transfer.

Nov 16, 2015

Thank you for your insight!

Nov 17, 2015
undefined:

What is your advice regarding the amount of debt I should be willing to undertake for the 4 years? My parents can only give me so much since my sister is in college right now and there will be a 2 year overlap. Some of these schools are $65K to $75K a year. My parents look good on paper, but they are older, in their early/mid 60's, and both their jobs are tentative. They may be retiring soon and will need to be able to support themselves. Thanks in advance for your input!

Like others have said, you can get pretty much any job you could want if you are in the top ~30 or so, and don't forget the liberal arts colleges. If you think an MBA is in your future, you may want to put more weight on going to a school in the 10 range. If you want a hard number to shoot for over 4 years, look at capping out at $50k; if you are competitive for Wharton you should be able to hit that at something in the WUSTL/Notre Dame range (#15 and #18 respectively). Don't forget to take internship pay or working during school into account.

Nov 17, 2015

Thanks for the info. $50K does seem reasonable for a 4 year degree. Whose undergraduate business school rankings are most recognized in the real world? P&Q? US News? BusinessWeek?

Nov 17, 2015

How about actually gaining admission to one of these schools before worrying about where to go? Odds are you won't even get into Wharton. Come back in April.

    • 1
Nov 17, 2015

With the cost of applications, it's really beneficial to gain insight from the pros ahead of time. Plus, I'm not worrying. Just gathering intelligence to make the best decisions.

    • 1
Nov 17, 2015

That's a fair point. Good luck.

Nov 18, 2015
undefined:

With the cost of applications, it's really beneficial to gain insight from the pros ahead of time. Plus, I'm not worrying. Just gathering intelligence to make the best decisions.

That was an incredibly mature, succinct, effective response

    • 1
Nov 18, 2015
undefined:

With the cost of applications, it's really beneficial to gain insight from the pros ahead of time. Plus, I'm not worrying. Just gathering intelligence to make the best decisions.

You are going to take on a rather large amount of debt in the very near future, what is the point of saving $50-100 now?
Secondly, top LACs (Williams, Amherst, Middlebury etc.) are SUPER expensive without financial aid. If you don't mind West Coast, you can always do the Junior College in CA for 2 years, get residency then pay in-state rates of UC Berkeley or UCLA.

Nov 18, 2015
Comment
Nov 18, 2015