Columbia vs Booth

Prepwise AnswersCategory: GMATColumbia vs Booth
Greston Wise Staff asked 4 years ago

Hi Kate,
First a little background about myself: I’m a 27 year old Hispanic male living in Texas and attended a Top 20 private undergraduate university. I had a 3.1 GPA and a 760 GMAT (Q50/V43). I currently work at a small healthcare valuation and transaction advisory firm in Dallas and have been promoted twice over my 5 years working here.
I am really struggling to make my decision between attending Columbia Business School or Chicago Booth. I got into CBS with a full tuition scholarship and Booth with a $120,000 scholarship, but I realize that the cost of living difference between NYC and Chicago basically negates the difference in scholarship between the two schools. I visited both admitted student weekends this past month and had a great time at both, and I feel like I definitely clicked with the admitted and current students at both schools. I love Chicago and my best friends all live there (and a few are first years at Booth), so I feel like I can see my life planned out perfectly attending Booth, getting a job in Chicago, and settling down there long term. However, I’ve always had this itch to try out NYC, and I feel like if I don’t do it now, I’ll always be wondering “what if?” My brother currently lives in NYC with his wife, and I have a few friends there too, and from speaking with them, it sounds like Columbia has the better network and reputation in NY even though Booth is higher ranked in most rankings. I’m really struggling with this decision because I really want to do consulting at an MBB firm with a focus in healthcare, and it seems like a lot of the healthcare focus for McKinsey and BCG is in the NY/NJ area. From speaking with current students at Kellogg and Booth, it seems like most of the MBB jobs they get are in Chicago whereas many of the CBS students get jobs in NY. From your experience, do you find one school being better than another. It does some like Booth sends more people into MBB internships, but will the name of a school really affect my situation, or would either school get me where I want to go if I do the work required to get there?

1 Answers
Kate McKeon Staff answered 4 years ago

HI Carlos,
Great question. So the background helps. While both booth and cbs send plenty of folks into MBB, I am not aware of a strong Health Care practice presence in Chicago but am very aware of one in/around NYC (and Boston and SF).
If you want to do health care, be in a health care driven area. If you want to do consulting, be near the office that runs the health care practice. Runs it. Not “sends folks into the field periodically,” but runs the HC practice. Where is the head HC MD located? Where are #2, #3? Be near them.
What do I mean by near? 
Location – sure. That doesn’t hurt, but I live blocks from Jerry Jones and we don’t hang. Location is only interesting if it opens the door for the introduction.
Esteem. If you are around the people those MDs esteem, you can connect far more easily than any amount of recruiting success. Often times their bschool faculty and the consultants they hire from a bschool are people they esteem. But you’ve got to do the legwork to figure out who these people are. 
Put another way, working with faculty who are driving decisions within health care – attached to the bschool or not, is a solid way in. If there’s an economist at booth who is driving decisions at Humana . . . that’s a faster “in” than the general recruiting process at any school. But this is where we get into the nitty gritty. Do you know who will help you make that jump? MBA recruiting is a great step, but it isn’t enough. Find a potential champion particularly if you want to go to McK. Esteem matters more to top posts than the general pool.
Now . . . the caveat. Columbia students have a hard time standing out in recruiting, according to former Columbia students. You will need to do more than everyone else to land those bulge roles. The NYC offices are less regional and more international than other outposts. You’re competing with the best candidates from all of the recruiting locations. As a consequence, I’ve watched dozens of cbs grads sit on the sidelines or roll back to a professional role they could have had if they hadn’t gone to bschool – being in NYC, building a network in NYC, not sufficient. Again, esteem.
Great work on the GMAT. Great work on the offers. I’d put aside the conversation about $$. It is a tiny drop in the bucket of what you’re expected to make in your 5 years post MBA. It seems like a big deal now, but it really, really isn’t. 
Re-evaluate your choices as though you are paying full price, because you are paying a good chunk in both cases, just not in cash. You are dedicating 2 years of your life – removing yourself from the active, engaged workforce – and hundreds of thousands of dollars of lost income. That’s a huge investment.
Let me know what you decide,