Students Respond to “What Wrong with Wharton?”

The Wall Street Journal published the article, “What’s Wrong with Wharton” on September 27th, claiming that Wharton is losing its luster because of declining admission numbers.  While there is little disagreement that the article lacked appropriate journalistic due diligence, it did spur a lot of discussion.  Mary Ellen Lamb, Deputy Vice Dean of Wharton MBA Career Management, Admissions and Financial Aid, claims that “Wharton is stronger than ever”, touting increasing employment statistics, and Adam Grant, Professor of Management, believes that Wharton needs to improve its image.  A post by Assistant Professor Laura Huang pokes holes in the article by mentioning several entrepreneurial-focused programs at Wharton, including the San Francisco campus.  However, the opinions that really matters are owned by those who are much more impacted by the WSJ’s article – Wharton’s students. Here are their thoughts:

 

 

“I’d say the article points out what I believe is the main reason for the decrease over the last three years: ‘Less people want to do investment banking as it lost its luster, doesn’t pay nearly as much as pre-crisis, and still has the same terrible lifestyle.  These candidates can no longer justify quitting their current positions given the lower ROI the MBA-to-banking combo now offers, and just don’t apply to business school at all. Wharton was likely more affected than HBS and GSB by this phenomenon due to the fact that Wharton is often considered the go-to-school for those who aim to head to Wall Street.’ Now, would these extra applicants have (1) gotten in, and (2) changed the profile of our class drastically? And if so, for the better? That Wharton, a historically finance-focused school, took a slight hit in application numbers following the greatest financial crisis in 70+ years should be no surprise; the School needs to keep on focusing its effort on broadening its brand image.”

Daniel van den Bergh, WG’15

 

“I actually think the article was quite complimentary and promotional of the things the administration is doing to expand the appeal of the school beyond finance-focused applicants. We have a Sirius channel? That’s awesome. This article also says nothing about recruiting outcomes, where we do as well as anyone. I’ll take this article over the one about HBS in the Times any day.”

Nick Hartman, WG’15

 

“I applied to other schools mentioned in the article, and I have to say that the Wharton’s application process was by far the most complex. Wharton now has the group interview, making the process one step more laborious, while HBS has moved to the other direction – I heard that you don’t even need to write an essay for class of 2016 if your grades and recommendations are representative of yourself.   My Wharton MBA took me about 4x more than HBS. Also, the article tries to reason why Wharton has lost its popularity, because finance is no longer cool (if it ever was). I disagree. Perhaps I-Banking is no longer as popular, but PE, VC and Hedge Funds / Mutual Funds offer a stimulating environment with great compensation and very decent work hours.   And Wharton does place very well in these categories. Like many people in our class, I got into other schools mentioned in the article and I ended up choosing Wharton after a) talking to people from industries that I am interested in, and b) realizing that I wanted to be with an older, more experienced crowd. I think there is a level of maturity between someone in a 2+2 program versus someone who is 29 and has 6 or 7 years of experience.  Can Wharton improve? Sure. Does it have an image problem? Well… that’s a tricky question… among business people it captures amazing respect, but among some civilians like my dad – many don’t even know what Wharton is.”

Anonymous, WG’15

 

“I think it is terrible for the Wharton brand and we, as students and future alumni, will have to bare the blow.  The administration should do more to help us understand what is happening within the school and arm us with the information to better respond to questions about this article.”

Ashwini Kumar WG ’14

 

“Wharton is still one of the greatest things that has happened to me. Not one single person, admissions statistic or news article can take that away.  I applied to Wharton because I wanted a business education and a transformational experience.  Wharton has delivered more than I could have ever imagined.  Despite the change and criticism, this is an opportunity to step up and show ourselves and the rest of the world what Wharton means to us. When times are hard is when steel is forged.  As a community we can embrace the challenges together, to make this a change for the better. We are Wharton.”

Amy Daschle, WG’14

 

 

“Applications are down, that’s a fact. But the author should have researched some of her other facts more thoroughly. For what it’s worth, the WSJ article prompted a flurry of opinions from alumni, admissions consultants and the general public which we couldn’t have asked for any other way. That’s just free market data. Wharton will probably be entrepreneurial the way it teaches us to be: discern the signal from the noise and iterate on market feedback while staying focused on its goals.  By the way, we’d love to have Melissa Korn at one of our Founders’ Club meetings.  The invitation is open.”

Carlos Vega WG ‘14

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