Wharton shitting the bed

https://poetsandquants.com/2020/08/10/the-fyre-fe…

Sharing the above article for anyone considering going to Wharton now or in the near future. I'm currently a second-year MBA - can confirm that the administration's response to COVID has been terrible.

Frankly, Wharton was poorly run before COVID too - similar to many of the world's problems, COVID has served to exacerbate the underlying issues. Wharton's administration is incredibly fragmented and the decentralized nature of the organization leads to inconsistent and poor decision-making with absolutely nobody being held accountable. Each of Wharton's various departments sit around pointing figures at each other just like that old cartoon of Microsoft's org chart:

https://i.insider.com/50a25c45eab8ea8c41000000?width=589&format=jpeg

My business school experience has still been positive on the whole in spite of the administration, but it really feels like Wharton's been coasting off of it's brand reputation/prestige for several years now.

My career interests are in PE/VC, where Wharton still has a demonstrable edge over most other b-schools (other than HBS/GSB) because of its alumni network, but if I was interested in going into any other field (i.e. banking/consulting/tech) I really wished I'd gone somewhere where the administrators have their heads on much straighter.

Wharton just brought on a new Dean so hopefully she turns things around, but the people under her are all holdovers - Howie Kaufold (Vice Dean) and Maryellen Reilly (Deputy Vice Dean) are really running the show day-to-day and they are complete clowns. If they don't get fired, Wharton's going to go downhill fast.

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Comments (21)

  • Business School in PE - LBOs
Aug 12, 2020 - 4:22pm

I don't know if any other schools are handling it worse. I'd actually love to hear folks chime in - my SO goes to HBS so that's my main point of comparison, and I promise they're handling it much better.

Also even if [insert random Top 15 b-school] is handling things just as poorly, Wharton should be holding themselves to a higher standard if they want people to view them as a superior school (which is absolutely what they want their brand to be).

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  • Associate 3 in PE - LBOs
Aug 11, 2020 - 8:50pm

Also a Wharton 2021 (originally) here, aka a rising second year. Specific complaints, outside of the terrible communication re. remote+ -> full remote?

EDIT: Especially funny since our new dean specializes in crisis communications

Also, I am another IB -> PE -> MBA -> PE. Am I crazy for highly considering a gap year? Feels like the last chance in our life to do it.

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  • Business School in PE - LBOs
Aug 12, 2020 - 4:15pm

"Specific complaints, outside of the terrible communication re. remote+ -> full remote?"

Where do I begin?

Resources are prioritized ineffectively - we have an entire student life office sitting around planning dumb shit nobody cares about while the career advising office is understaffed. Half our academic experience consists of useless core classes and trying to waive them requires dealing with lazy academic advisors who ignore students' emails. The more exciting elective classes are scarce and hard to get into, which is a great example of a more general problem which is that most of Wharton's more exciting programs (Leadership Ventures, GIPs, LF program, etc.) that they hype up during the admissions process are extremely capacity-constrained, which creates an artificially competitive culture. I get that not everyone can do everything but because all of these programs are run disjointedly, I have to fill out a different application for everything. I spend more time filling out bullshit applications than actually doing the cool stuff that the applications are for. All of this creates a huge administrative burden that results in Wharton hiring more and more paper-pushers (which is why tuition keeps going up and they can't cut it even when a global pandemic prevents us from taking advantage of most of these programs).

Wharton also just loves to throw their hands up when there are gaps in their programming and tell the students to start a club to solve the problem. They market this as leadership opportunities for students but in reality it's just them lazily outsourcing their program management. A lot of the student-driven stuff is great but other stuff sucks because students sign up to run shit and then get lazy because they're after all, they're volunteers and can't be held accountable.

A lot of these complaints are admittedly minor, but the result is a highly uncoordinated clusterfuck. I'm sure Wharton isn't the only business school that has these issues, but my SO goes to HBS and it's night-and-day how much better they handle all this shit because their administration is so much more centralized and efficient.

Like I said, I've still had a good experience on the whole and I don't regret going to Wharton, but things could be run SO much better.

  • Associate 3 in PE - LBOs
Aug 12, 2020 - 4:41pm

All makes sense, and I agree - though I didn't have the time to type it out.

You didn't answer my gap year question, would be curious on your thoughts if you feel like sharing :)

Also, we're both anonymous right now but would love to connect - I met someone else active on WSO at Wharton, and it was a good to connection to build.

  • Associate 1 in IB - Cov
Aug 17, 2020 - 1:01pm

A lot of your complaints seem a bit unfair.

Core Curriculum
Don't understand the beef here. Most schools have a core with similar classes. Wharton seems more flexible than most about testing out.
The requirements for waiving are pretty explicit and communicated to you at the beginning. Not sure why you're emailing your advisers on this one - to get out, you take the exam during pre-term or you fill out the forms to waive by credentials.
If you ignored all of the emails, this one's on you.

Electives
Lots of great options within the finance, accounting and management departments that don't fill up. Even for the many of the more popular ones (e.g., the advanced PE courses taught by practitioners), everyone who was willing to ride out the wait-list eventually got in. Influence, Strategy & competitive advantage, etc., have all added multiple sections.

Capacity constraints
Pretty much everyone that wants a leadership venture or GIP that rides out the waitlist ultimately gets in - maybe not the top choice but to a program. I'm sure there's a better way to organize it. Always seems like the issue revolves around students signing up originally with no intention of following through.

Volume of Applications
Yeah, this one's annoying. Worth noting they're all read by students so not sure I follow the logic as to how this is what's causing increased tuition. I think this is meant to address the general problem of everyone signing up for everything and then dropping out last second, but it doesn't really work. Maybe it would be much worse if there were no applications?

Student run
Feel like this is a school culture thing and runs to the core of Wharton's program. Almost everything is student run and likely will always be. Some are run very well. Some are not. Upside is that it creates a ton of leadership opportunities for students and a huge variety of options. Downside as you mentioned is that too many Wharton students over-commit and under-deliver.

Career advising
Consulting and IB career advisors are phenomenal and are readily available.
The complaints I've seen here have been limited to PE. I don't know why Wharton has 1 advisor for all of PE recruiting, despite half the student population being interested. It's clearly nowhere near enough to meet demand.

  • Business School in PE - LBOs
Aug 18, 2020 - 1:47am

Point-by-point

Core

  • Yes, most schools require core classes - I assume that other schools take the effort to actually make them good. Do you actually think Wharton's core classes are good? Because I don't know anybody that woke up excited about MGEC and Accounting.

  • I didn't ignore any emails. I read them all, and requested to waive multiple by credential. I was rejected even though I had the right credentials, and after hounding them multiple times, they admitted they screwed up and deleted the documentation by accident. My point about the academic advisors is also more general. My academic advisor ignores my emails all the time, and I know several other students have had the same experience.

Electives

  • Yeah yeah yeah, there are some good classes - not enough and especially not enough this semester since a lot of the better professors chose to go on sabbatical rather than teach their classes online

Capacity constraints

  • "Pretty much everyone that wants a leadership venture or GIP that rides out the waitlist ultimately gets in."

This is a fucking lie. You know how I know that? Because I know plenty of people that didn't get one or both of those, including myself.

Volume of Applications

  • Some are read by students, others are read by the administration. Things would be a lot easier if they selected by lottery for everything. A centralized system for all of these would also work a lot better but that's infeasible because Wharton's organized in silos that don't coordinate with each other.

Student run
* Some things should definitely be student-run, but Wharton's far more laissez-faire than peer schools about a lot of these things, and less oversight often results in a worse experience.

Advisors

  • Consulting advisors literally just emailed the second-years a week or two ago and said that no appointments were available until September. Seems shitty given that full-time recruiting is literally around the corner.

Maybe some of these are nitpicks, but I guess I hold Wharton to a higher standard than you;.

Aug 16, 2020 - 12:12pm

Agreed. My SO is a rising 2nd year student at Stern and I literally went off when I heard that her school asked for more tuition when the whole experience will be remote. Like OP said for Wharton, many offices at Stern are disjointed as well and the lazy advisor would just point fingers to others but cannot really help anything meaningful.
In addition, they like to put a cap on many "interesting" projects, seminars, consortium etc. to pride the exclusiveness, which is totally a shit show at the end. For example, my SO showed me an email from the prof of "Endless Frontier Lab" or something similar, which basically is getting free MBA labor to help underfunded startups for a year. Its initial selection was marketed to be very selective as you have to write letters, and ask for recommendations etc. And then it seems to lack of interests or nobody was interested in, the prof just sent a ton of emails to different clubs, student body again and again, looking to fill up the class. Again this is a very isolated example but it just hit me as a school that is disorganized as hell.

  • Intern in IB - Cov
Aug 16, 2020 - 6:48pm

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