Similar Programs Culturally
Chicago (Booth). The most distinguishing factor of Chicago Booth’s culture is intellectual curiosity. Professors are not afraid to ask students to pull out calculators and do some calculus in class, and students are encouraged to question everything, even their professors and one another. So you tend to get more intellectual sparring and debating in the Booth classroom than at its rival to the north, Kellogg. Booth is located in Chicago’s South Side, which is not the best part of town these days, so students tend to live in clusters in other areas of the city. Although Columbia’s students are starting to cluster closer to campus these days, its student body is still more spread out around the city than at many other schools.
Penn (Wharton). Although Wharton is another school that’s made a concerted effort to cut back on its competitive reputation, students shouldn’t expect a lot of hand-holding through this large MBA program. Wharton’s class is even larger than Columbia’s, which means similar challenges in forming tight relationships with your classmates. Both schools use the cluster/cohort system with even smaller learning teams. Wharton students are known for considerable involvement in campus clubs, which is a trend that’s starting to catch on at Columbia as well. Years ago, students would quickly abandon campus to hang out with other friends across Manhattan, but now they are far more likely to get involved in student organizations.
NYU (Stern). Even though Stern is historically known for being much friendlier than its uptown rival, the schools share a number cultural similarities simply due to geography. Both schools have strong ties to New York City and emphasize this as a key aspect of their value proposition. The strong culture of New York permeates both schools. In addition, Columbia’s culture has been evolving quickly, so the gap between “friendly” and “cutthroat” has narrowed significantly.