Why I’ve Chosen The Wharton School of Business


I’ve chosen to invest my next two years into building a company and earning an MBA in Entrepreneurship and Strategic Management at The Wharton School of Business at UPenn.

First World Problems

From the moment that I first got “the call” from Director of Admissions Ankur Kumar welcoming me to Wharton’s class of 2015, I began to lean strongly in Wharton’s direction for a number of reasons. I had received a similar call from Chicago Booth the day prior, and would get the nod from MIT Sloan about 5 weeks later.

Still, I really wanted to take my time to vet the pros and cons of each institution and make sure that I was making the right decision. I registered for both Wharton and Booth’s admit weekends right away. Since MIT’s decision date lagged the others by more than I month, I decided that I would plan for their R2 admit weekend instead of their R1 festivities.

I was only given a couple of weeks to prepare to attend R1 admit weekend for Sloan and I didn’t want to have to be on a strict budget on any given weekend, so I pushed that one out. I also figured that in doing so I would only take up that space at admit weekend if I knew that I’d be attending Sloan.

Choosing Just One

If you would have asked me to choose between these same institutions a year ago, my knee jerk response would have been:

1. MIT

2. Wharton

3. Booth

However, the past 3-5 months of research, welcome weekends, conversations with multiple students & alums, talks with professors, reading books, studying curriculum, meeting fellow admits, sitting in classes and throwing back shots with current students made things eventually shift to:

1. Wharton

2. MIT

3. Booth

Wharton vs. Booth vs. Sloan

While Booth was always a bit of an outlier in this decision, it was oh, so attractive and came with many things to like. I had a really hard time declining that offer on the 2/19 deadline. From Eddie Pulliam and the wonderfully welcoming admissions staff to Kurt Ahlm  to my close friend Cheetarah1980 and all of the fun, fantastic people that I met in Chicago, that community has just really been good to me. I also mourned passing up the opportunity to study under the likes of Craig Wortmann and Waverly Deutsche.

Ultimately, I felt that Booth had everything that I needed to achieve my goals, but that the breadth and depth of human capital, mentorship and network within the entrepreneurship space was both stronger and more relevant to my goals at Wharton and Sloan. So, I submitted my decline on Booth’s deadline and asked Wharton for an extension to continue to mull over Wharton vs. Sloan.

Wharton vs. MIT Sloan

The choice between the other two schools was a bit more hairy for me. Still, I felt that I had the info that I needed to decide. Though I had not visited Sloan, I knew more than enough about the institution to where I felt comfortable in my ability to make the right choice based on the knowledge that I had.

Next to Stanford, MIT is the most famed school for entrepreneurship; yet, my research brought me to conclude that Wharton would be just as good for what I wanted to do, and with less competition for the exact same resources.

I saw a greater diversity in the aspirations of the Wharton entrepreneurial community in terms of industry and market. At Sloan, most of the folks there are looking to do something quite similar to what I want to do; which means that we will probably end up bumping heads for the same resources, mentors and even business partners.

Could I make it work at MIT? Oh, hell yeah; but I decided that I’d rather do so in an environment where it would be easier for me to be more collaborative rather than competitive with the other entrepreneurs–an environment that had all that I needed without hordes of people clamoring to compete with me for it.

Then there was the love. I’ve developed a deep affinity to the Wharton community that I probably couldn’t shake if I tried. From Ankur to Kembrel to Pete Fader to my classmates to the Founders club et al, Wharton is just”where I wanna be”. Period.

Oh, How I Love Thee; Let Me Count the Ways

Deep affinity notwithstanding, there are some very specific people, faculty, thought leaders and resources that have made Wharton arise as the best choice for me.

Wharton's San Francisco Campus

Wharton’s San Francisco Campus

  • Bi-coastal Footprint – Currently, the top ecosystems for tech entrepreneurship and activity are the San Francisco Bay Area, New York and Austin. Boston is generally considered the next hottest area and Philly (to my surprise) is apparently a step or two behind that. Wharton’s east and west coast campuses and network give me fairly direct access to any of those places except Austin. Philly, New York and the Bay Area in particular (the 2 heaviest hitters and one secondary) are definitely within easy reach of a Wharton entrepreneur. Check.

Prof. Peter Fader in Action


  • Professors Peter Fader, Eric T. Bradlow and the Wharton Customer Analytics Initiative – I am about 99% sure that I will end up building something that deals with data. For that reason, I”ve been crosseyed about the prospect of working with Peter Fader, Eric Bradlow and the WCAI faculty since I stumbled into their area of the website some months ago while writing my essays (I wrote an entire essay on the WCAI). Professor Fader is one of the foremost thought leaders in the world on customer analytics–something that I have a ton of interest in and a good deal of experience with. Even if I were not looking to build a data-based company (most likely dealing with customer analytics), his knowledge is priceless to any entrepreneur; especially when one considers the fact that the #1 reason why most start ups fail is that they are not able to attract and cultivate a paying customer base prior to running out of capital. Then when I discovered how willing prof. Fader was to speak with me and how energetic he was when he realized that I loved his discipline, Wharton earned about 1,000 points. I felt it foreshadowed quite a bit about what my experience might be in engaging the right mentors. Check.
Professor Karl Ulrich

Professor Karl Ulrich


  • Professors Karl Ulrich, Christian Terwiesch and Innovation Tournaments – A while back, Ankur Kumar introduced me to Davis Smith, the 2011 Wharton grad who founded Baby.com.br Brazil’s (well funded and handsomely profitable) online Target for moms with babies.  Thing is, I’d been following the guy on Quora for months and didn’t even realize that he had gone to Wharton. During our talk, he introduced me to the concept of an innovation tournament–basically a data-driven method for selecting one to a couple of exceptional opportunities from a hoard of opportunities of various quality (generally as the result of either submissions or brainstorming). The phrase and book were the work of Wharton professors K. Ulrich and C. Terwiesch, who had also developed a free online tool called The Darwinator to implement the process. I set up a Darwinator account right away and have been playing with it ever since. The larger picture here is that I realized some time ago that a lot of my struggles in prior entrepreneurial ventures came from jumping into an idea that had inherent, mission critical limitations that I did not see because I was so adamant about “getting started right away”. In many ways, Innovation Tournaments provides an answer to one of my biggest developmental weaknesses that has haunted me for years. I’m great at operations but blah when it comes to idea creation and development. I need to learn from mentors who are leading thought in that area right now. Turns out they’re at Wharton. Check.
  • Negotiations Class at Wharton – Something else that Davis shared with me was that the Negotiations class that he had taken with professor Diamond (living legend) at Wharton had been worth the entire investment in his MBA. One of my c/o 15 classmates whose husband graduated from Wharton a few years ago and now works in gaming tells me that over time there is another professor who has matched and sometimes even exceeds Diamond in the demand for his Negotiations class. Either way, I’m fairly adamant about positioning myself under the tutledge of at least one of these professors for that very course. Check.
  • OPIM 654: Design of Web-Based Products and Services – I was tipped off by this course, taught by prof. Karl Ulrich, by Carlos Vega, a fellow Whartonite from the c/o 2014 who is also interested in data-based business models. I wrote in my essays how I wanted to build a company around Sotware-as-a-Serivce (SaaS). This course ties directly into much of what I will need to know to extend my existing knowledge and experience in this area. I must have it. Hello? What’s That? A Wharton MBA tailor made for me? I’m buyin. Check please!
  • The Wharton Brand and Network – There were several things that were high on my broad list of priorities for schools: 1) strong entrepreneurship network  2) the right faculty mentors for my goals  3) a strong brand  4) a deep and wide network in finance and private equity.  Wharton shone brightly in each of these areas, and even more so when I considered the aggregate power of its strengths in them all. Check. Check. Check. Check.
  • The Wharton Founders Club – Every top business school seems to have an entrepreneurship club, so there isn’t much there that can differentiate one from another. Wharton, however, has a Founders Club (started by Davis Smith) in addition to their entrepreneurship club for those who are sold out and serious about building a company right now. I talked about this in my admit weekend post a bit and have gotten to know a few members of this group. As LadyRoadWarrier (Tuck ’14) and Cheetarah1980 (Booth ’14) would say, these are my people. Check.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Wharton closes the widest gap between where I am/what I need and what I would stand to gain from the overall experience of being a part of that network over my lifetime. DECISION FINALIZED.

Thanks again to Ankur, Tiffany and the entire Wharton MBA admissions staff for choosing me. I neither take lightly nor for granted the significance of being chosen from such a talented and qualified pool of applicants from around the world; and to my Wharton classmates, I’ll see you in August for Pre-Term!


Would you like my help getting into your dream b-school? Well, there are two starting points for that:

1. Get a Free Profile Analysis (after receiving your information, I’ll let you know whether or not I think I can help you)

2. Get Help Now (If you already know that you want help and what you want help on, then just skip to here)

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About mbaover30

Wharton MBA and admissions expert

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76 Comments on “Why I’ve Chosen The Wharton School of Business”

  1. ladyroadwarrior Says:

    Congrats on finding your people. You’re in for a spectacular experience!
    I think there is a LOT to be said for choosing an environment where not everyone is trying to do the exact same thing as you are so that you can pursue the resources partners etc more freely. Woo!


  2. DR Says:

    Congratulations! See you in August.


  3. highwyre237 Says:

    Congrats on your decision and good luck at Wharton. I have spent a good portion of my career in the world of customer analytics and salivated over the WCAI when I first read about it. I fully understand your choice, and know that working with those leaders in the field will push you even further. Good Luck!


  4. Rachel Says:

    Congrats on making a very difficult decision! I’m disappointed we won’t cross paths at Sloan (if I decide to go there over Haas), BUT best of luck to you! You will do great!


  5. Morian Says:

    It has been fun following you down your MBA path and I want to thank you for inviting us along for the ride as I have really enjoyed reading about your experience. I assume that you intend to keep blogging about you preparations leading up to this fall? Either way I wish you all the best!


  6. Erica Says:

    Congratulations “Deacon Cole”!!!! Sweet, sweet, sweet. Tastes good doesn’t it???? Looking forward to this new stretch in your journey. If you ever get the chance, check out Shonda Rhimes’s interview with Oprah. She mentioned that one of the keys to her success is to thoroughly vet out her entire team when creating hit TV shows. In front of the camera, behind the camera, etc. Her standard is that if that person doesn’t gel with the chemistry, no matter who they are, she doesn’t hire them. PERIOD!!!!


    • mbaover30 Says:

      I agree! I’m so with Shonda on that. I don’t hire ANYONE on my team whose personality quirks seem like they would throw our chemistry off.


  7. Kofi Kankam Says:

    Welcome to the family. Don’t make us wait so long next time :). I’ll see you in Philly this fall when I roll down. I’m buying lunch – $10 limit!



  8. SD Says:

    Oh! I was hoping to see you at Booth…but you have made a very well thought out and informed decision. Wish you the best on the next phase of your journey 🙂


  9. futureMBA Says:

    It’s been a great journey to read all these posts. Congratulations on your decision and thank you so very much for giving me some personal and creative insight into a (at times) daunting process.

    I’m gearing up for the pony show as we speak. I’m excited to see what I can learn about myself during this application period.

    You’ll do great things!


  10. futureMBA Says:

    Oh and before I forget, from one brother to another.

    *Fist thrown in the air, victorious headnod*


  11. Sassafras (@SassafrasMBA) Says:

    Dang, I was wrong! Hahaha. I’m really excited for you and it’s obvious that you have thoroughly considered this decision to the point where there are no regrets or fantasies of what might have been.

    I admit that I liked the drama of your decision day and was looking forward to reading today. Congrats again!


  12. BK Says:

    Congrats mbaover30,

    I chose Wharton over Booth for many of the same reasons (plus the Lauder aspect for me), so it’s good to see someone make the same choice.

    BTW, when I interviewed on campus in November I sat in on Diamond’s negotiations course, and then read his book on the flight home. Last month I used the frameworks in the book to help my dad negotiate a $40k bonus. Not a bad ROI for one day in class and a $10 book.

    See you in August!


  13. cheetarah1980 Says:

    I knew this was coming but I’m still a bit sad not to see you at Booth next year. However, I knew even during admit weekend that Wharton was your place with your people. Say hello to Motown for me when you get there. I still mourn the fact that she and I didn’t get to be classmates.
    And I’m gonna kick your ass for this one: “I hate going to blogs that I really like to read day after day and finding no new posts for days or weeks because the author is busy – READ: Cheetarah1980.”


  14. Angie Says:

    Congratulations on your decision. It’s been a pleasure reading about your journey.

    Just remember to stock up on those winter clothes!


  15. kahlojud Says:

    Congratulations on your decision, but for some strage reason I knew you were going to Wharton- your voice, choice of words and “composure” changed whenever you would add a note about Wharton. Looking forward to reading your new blog.


  16. AP Says:

    Congratulations! I was personally rooting for you to choose Booth, but it sounds like you made the right decision for yourself. I bet it feels nice to put the admissions process behind you. Take a deep breath and enjoy the next few months. 🙂


  17. mbagirlr3 Says:

    Congrats!! I somehow knew you would pick Wharton 🙂


  18. Eurolady Says:

    Congratulations on making your decision, from your welcome weekend posts it seemed clear which school was the best fit for you. Hope you carry on blogging in school, I will be an over 30 applicant next year (32 at matriculation) and Wharton plus Lauder is my dream. Would love to hear about how you find everyday life at Wharton.


  19. xg Says:

    30+ congrats man! I really appreciate the breakdown of the thought process you used to pick your schools, I’ll probably read it next year to get some insight on what to do about my own apps/choices.


  20. embeeay Says:

    mbaover30, congratulations on your decision!! I’d say “good luck” but something tells me you’re the last person to need it. Definitely looking forward to your more “niched” blog in the future!


  21. Sheva Says:

    Congrats and not surprised by your decision haha… Missed you at both admit weekends but I guess I will see you in August!


  22. hbstimes Says:

    Congrats! The end of a 9 month process… I felt so relieved at the end of my admit process. Enjoy the Pre-start months… they’re the best!


  23. bzm Says:

    Hi! Congratulations! I hope that you will enjoy your MBA program 🙂
    Thank you again for sharing your experience, from the beginning of GMAT preparation to school choice! And for your advice!
    All the best!


  24. BeFrenz Says:

    Congratulations!!! you really had a first world problem… I’ve been following your blog for a while.. I’ll be exactly your age when i plan to apply this year. Hope you could share some insights on the ‘research the school part’. There is an information overload and it gets overwhelming.. So would appreciate if you can post some pointers on the same.. I’m an ERP consultant looking to transition into a Mgmt Consulting profile and then move to general management over the long-term.


    • mbaover30 Says:

      Thanks BeFrenz. The school research deal is a rabit hold. It starts out overwhelming, but as you delete schools from the list it gets easier and easier to become more granular in your assessment of those you are considering. Also, as your essays crystallize over time you will become more in touch with your goals and will get better at blocking out the noise of rankings, chatter, and others opinions and find your own “true north” based on what you care about the most in a school. Please feel free to keep me posted on your journey.


  25. Rachel Says:

    You mentioned in one of the comments on P&Q that you heard Sloan business students can be seen as “leeches” to the engineers for business ideas… can you please elaborate on where you heard that from? I am interested in start-up, and I have experience with commercialization as I currently work for a Fortune 100 “engineering” company, and I was interested in MIT due to the fact that I could work with engineers to commercialize ideas. At the admit weekend, the school really pushed this as a benefit to Sloan, so I am curious if you feel it is not an accurate portrayal of the school. Thanks!


    • mbaover30 Says:

      Hey Rachel. I never visited Sloan, so your best bet with vetting this is to actually visit, talk to the actual students and see what they say about it. The fact of the matter is that VC’s in general are more interested in computer science and engineering students than business students. That is true at UPenn, MIT and everywhere else. I have also heard that the engineers in general at all the schools are a bit wary of business majors, so first let me provide that context to my comment. I also, however, have been told on more than one occassion that the engineering students at MIT are even more wary than most. This does not mean that there are not MBA success stories of entrepreneurship at Sloan. That would be a ridiculous notion; however, it was one small data point that I did take into consideration while making my choice.


  26. Amrish Says:

    Congrats! I have been following your posts….very very encouraging.
    Thanks so much for sharing this…
    I am over 30 too. I have around 12 years of experience doing lots of hands-on technology and tech leadership with some great organizations, including Zynga and Yahoo!. Going further I wish to transition to high tech consulting with top consulting firms such as McKinsey, BCG, Bain etc.
    Do you think an MBA can help me ?
    Am I too old to be hired by these consulting firms on-campus ?
    Do they hire candidates with 12 years of experience ?


    • mbaover30 Says:

      Hey Amrish, 12 years of exp is generally a stretch for consulting but you might want to talk to some of the actual students/schools you are targeting and get their weigh in. I know that it has happened before; but it’s not common.


  27. Stanfordguy Says:

    Congrats!!! I just chose Stanford over Wharton. Though I am happy with my choice I would have loved to be your classmate. Good Luck


  28. Truegmat Says:

    Your blog was absolutely a delight. I have interviewed at booth and was hoping to get selected with you as class mate:) anyway best of luck for Wharn


  29. Sloanie14 Says:

    I am disappointed that you made your decision before going to Sloan’s AdMIT weekend. As a current 1st year there, I can tell you that some of your concerns are way off base. Not sure you really had the right sources answering your questions that led to your conclusions. Happy to talk to you about it offline


    • mbaover30 Says:

      Hey there. Thanks so much for commenting. Had MIT’s admit weekend been earlier I would have chosen to attend it over Booth’s more than likely. I know I made the right choice but it would have been nice not to have to interpolate about my Sloan decision.


      • Sloanie14 Says:

        Ok… well let me just say that this one comment you made is waaaaay off base:

        “I’d rather do so in an environment where it would be easier for me to be more collaborative rather than competitive with the other entrepreneurs–an environment that had all that I needed without hordes of people clamoring to compete with me for it.”

        This is the most insane and troubling comment I’ve seen. This couldn’t be further from the truth, and if you actually came to Sloan in person you would know what I mean. Sloan has one of the smallest class sizes (400) compared to other b-schools, and for good reason. And you will never come across sharp elbows for resources – the place is totally collaborative and competitiveness is not found in the culture at all. It thrives on student/faculty/alumni working together to solve some of the world’s biggest issues. Also, not EVERYONE at Sloan is going into entrepreneurship. Its a very diverse class. I actually feel sorry for you that you never made the effort to see it for yourself and based your b-school decision off of terrible information.

        I shouldn’t have to remind you that proper due diligence for a major life decision is somewhat key. You had rumors and misconceptions dispelled when you went to Booth’s admissions weekend, I think the same would have gone for MIT. Also, AdMIT round I was Feb 22….only 2 weeks after Booth.

        Not too late to sign up for admit round II and see what I’m talking about…. in the long run, the deposit you paid to W is just a sunk cost and irrelevant.

      • mbaover30 Says:

        MIT is a fantastic school with great resources. I apologize if the comments from my analysis were off putting. I’ve always leaned Wharton and was pretty much sold when I visited. The WCAI and the relationships that I’ve been able to build within that institute since becoming an admit are probably my main tangible reasons for choosing Wharton; but there were also a lot of intangibles that I don’t really see Sloan besting. I couldn’t have gone wrong either way; and I’m excited about what lies ahead.

  30. str1der Says:

    So that’s two for two – I correctly guesses sassafras and your schools! Good to know you’ll be going to Wharton. I think your term starts early August while mine starts late August. I will be camping near Philly (in Edison NJ) at my sisters for a couple of weeks before B School, and I have a friend who currently goes to Wharton who I have to come down and meet. So I’ll see you in Philly. Lemme know by when you’re planning on moving. All the very best, and I am sure its an excellent decision


  31. Cgcei Says:

    So glad to see someone in the same situation that I am. I will turn 35 on July 15th. Just got my offer for admission from Tuck! The only top BS that I applied, was my favorite place by far.

    Congratulations, your journey is inspiring. I hope we can share some experiences in the future. Not too many 34+ at the top programs.


    • mbaover30 Says:

      Congrats on an amazing admit! Tuck was one of my top choices as well. The only reason that I didn’t ended up applying was because I chose not to do R2 apps after my R1 went fairly well. our birthdays are exactly 1 year and 3 days apart. Let’s definitely stay in contact. I’ll reach out to you directly.


  32. Merchat of Venice Says:

    Congrats for getting admitted in a wonderful school.
    I m near 40, had a wonderful carrier in a government department and now looking to turn towards business. I will be looking forward to a transformational experience at a top business school. I like making money but getting the highest salary is not my only/ top priority: but gaining knowledge and experience are.
    Want to decide between EMBA and MBA. Please provide guidance on two points:
    1. Looking at long term value10-15 years EMBA is more beneficial or MBA?
    2. At my age when job placement is difficult, are experienced fellows/ alumni more beneficial or the younger classmates?


    • mbaover30 Says:

      Hey there Merchant of Venice. Your case is even more rare than mine; so I will do my best, but you might want to reach out to an admissions consultant. Most will be discouraging; I tend to trust Kofi Kankam of admitadvantage.com and Linda Abraham of accepted.com.

      At any rate, which holds more value depends on your situation. Full time is hands down better if you are looking to switch careers; however, if you are looking to grow or even “switch careers” within the same industry or organization you are already in, an EMBA will be the choice for you. Also, if you have lots of responsibility (family/kids, et. al) EMBA might be better for you. IMO, you can work either. You’re still going to have to sell yourself either way. I’d say focus on which programs you’d like to be a part of. As as high as possible; then look for who has both MBA and EMBA programs between those and reach out to the schools directly. Ask to be put in contact with alumni and current student who are doing what you want to do post MBA. If you go that route, I think you’ll chose right either way.



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