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Are admission decisions really random?

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Director
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Are admission decisions really random? [#permalink] New post 06 Jan 2007, 17:07
I mean.. lot of stellar people out here are on waitlists... What are the chances of lesser mortals like me?

I am really thinking of applying to a 15-25 rank school as backup (if that can be said as a backup..)

Any ideas guys? So many ideal candidates here are on waitlist......

Whats happening? Are the applications really increased so drastically and the quality of the apps are betteR?
Is 730+ common now?
I really cant wait to see the stats of next years class.
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 [#permalink] New post 06 Jan 2007, 17:11
The admissions decision can't be random. It's not like they decide who gets in by drawing names out of a hat. There's always a reason for someone being rejected, even if that reason remains a mystery.
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 [#permalink] New post 06 Jan 2007, 17:14
Lich wrote:
The admissions decision can't be random. It's not like they decide who gets in by drawing names out of a hat. There's always a reason for someone being rejected, even if that reason remains a mystery.


I know what you mean, but my thought was more on the line that there is no clear path on how to get into an mba school
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 [#permalink] New post 06 Jan 2007, 17:40
Business school admissions are not as straightforward as law school and medical school admissions where GPA and test scores pretty much determine the final result; but I don't believe business school admissions are random. Instead, I think the path to business school is pretty well defined, but people need to be realistic about what is expected.

For example, we know that business schools value work experience. Quality of work experience is a tough thing to pin down, but just like anything else, maybe 5-10% of applicants will have stellar work experience, while 50-70% probably have average work experience.

Same way with essays. Everyone thinks they have quality essays, but it's silly to believe that more than 5-10% of the people will knock adcoms down with the quality of their essays. 10-20% of applicants might kill themselves with poorly written essays, but the bulk of applicants will produce non-distinguishing essays.

Applicants that believe they will overcome others through activities, work experience and quality essays need to take a step back and asses the likelihood of this assumption. Did they compete for the most selective jobs after college? If not, then it's highly unlikely that they will have distinguishing work experiences that will gain them admission a the most selective schools. The same thing applies to activities and extracurriculars.

People should also consider how realistic it is to believe that they can write essays that will separate them from the pack. Do they really have defining experiences to write about? Do they really have the skill to separate themselves from the pack through writing?

So when judging parts of an application, it's easy to measure GMAT, GPA and quality of academic institution - each person knows where they stand. It's more difficult to self-assess other aspects of the application, but I believe it is a logical mistake that most people assume that other parts of their application will get them in to top schools. It's much more plausible for the majority of applicants to assume that other aspects of their application will be average.
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 [#permalink] New post 06 Jan 2007, 18:28
I understand where the original question comes from. I have a friend who got rejected at every single school she applied to - except HBS. It really feels like you're at the mercy of some fairly biased and fickle folks. When you have 2nd years reading most of the apps, I can't help but think that their mood and personal preferences play a big role in who ends up getting accepted.
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 [#permalink] New post 06 Jan 2007, 18:35
Don't forget the Quotas man..atleast for Internationals.

Take the example of an Indian/Asian IT Male and let see how many factors affect their chances

1. Bschools recruit intn'ls between 25-35 %, so you have defined set of seats

2. schools want diversity by country ..and they have a plenty of countries to choose from ..A Maldives citizen has a easy shot at Harvard..i doubt if any one from Maldives appear for GMAT :lol: ( Spent a month in Male( Maldives capital) - :lol: Never think they are into academics..more of running their resorts )

3. Then comes Career diversity...Asians are typically into Technology and again...diversity...Asian doctor or a NGO worker will have a better chance than a semi-conductor researcher from Taiwan..so plenty of careers to choose from

4. Male and Female..They want diversity here and a few african chick with sub 600 score has a better chance....I knew one gal( Ghana) with a score of 600, with admits from Wharton/Chicago ( The point is not to flame any sentiments but just the hard fact )

So the hard fact is Internationals have to go the extra-mile to differentiate themselves and one way is to get a high GMAT score
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 [#permalink] New post 06 Jan 2007, 20:01
I agree with Ozmba. I am an international student from Asia, albeit I do not belong to the India/China IT group. Nevertheless, after attending the info sessions and going thru the various schools' website, it dawned on me that one's background is an extremely critical factor in the chance for admission. It behooves the adcoms to take affirmative actions to ensure that the class is 'diverse'. I dare not imagine how many other applicants from Asia I am competing against.

I gave up trying to gauge my chances at the schools but just tried my best, wrote my best essays and hopefully, I will get into the school of my choice. :)

Good luck everyone.
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 [#permalink] New post 06 Jan 2007, 20:08
While I agree that demographics play a role, I would disagree that "internationals" in general have it more difficult. Some unlucky ones - typically the Indian / Asian IT - will have it more difficult. But some of the other ones - South America, Africa, Middle East, maybe even Europe - will definitely have it easier than the average US candidate.

Cheers. L.
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 [#permalink] New post 06 Jan 2007, 20:20
So essentially the summary of discussion - the whole admission decision is very subjective...

Looking at some many stellar rejections here, I am seriously considering schools ranked below 15.

Will persistance pay? Say if you decide on one school, can you keep applying there, and getting feedback on what needs to be done to get in?
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 [#permalink] New post 06 Jan 2007, 20:44
willget800 wrote:
So essentially the summary of discussion - the whole admission decision is very subjective...

Looking at some many stellar rejections here, I am seriously considering schools ranked below 15.

Will persistance pay? Say if you decide on one school, can you keep applying there, and getting feedback on what needs to be done to get in?


I think it really depends on whether you want to go to a school thats ranked between 15 and 25, or whatever you are trying to look at. If whatever you want to accomplish through an MBA cannot be done by going to a particular university then no point applying. I want to work in IT product development and marketing, so the only school I have considered below Top15 is UT Austin, but then I have not applied there as of yet...and not sure if I will....but im defininitely making sure my son gets Bhutan citizenship :lol:
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 [#permalink] New post 06 Jan 2007, 21:04
While there is obviously a level of subjectivity in the process, I believe that one aspect that is being overlooked is career goal and background. It seems to me that most individuals on GMATClub, BW, etc fall into a few categories.

Finance
Consulting
IT/tech

When it comes to these areas and perhaps marketing, there are so many qualified people that you're competing against, you're gonna get probably get a bunch of dings. One of my favorite profiles that I've seen in the forums the IT professional wanting to transition into investment banking because he(usually it's a he) likes the stock market. Well unless you're some type of Charles Dickens, you're not going to make it into Wharton with that profile.

As pelihu stated, one needs to realistic, and consider the competitiveness of one's "sub-group"

The fact that 70% of applicants can't really admit that they are just ok writers should be a sign. If you can't spot you're own weakness and talk about it, then your lack of self-awareness will be evident in your essays and that means ding.

On a side note, I can't wait to get dinged from all my choices. At least I've got the self-awareness down.
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 [#permalink] New post 06 Jan 2007, 21:17
Interesting view point pehilu and cmns18...

gmatmba, i cant agree more with you.. it seems like having the indian citizenship is going to hurt us big time :(
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 [#permalink] New post 06 Jan 2007, 21:30
cmns18 wrote:

On a side note, I can't wait to get dinged from all my choices. At least I've got the self-awareness down.


Yeah, I'm with you on this one. It's a tough task to break out of the pack and gain admission. That's why I'm applying to 8+ schools; I expect plenty of dings.
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 [#permalink] New post 06 Jan 2007, 22:16
willget800 wrote:
So essentially the summary of discussion - the whole admission decision is very subjective...

Looking at some many stellar rejections here, I am seriously considering schools ranked below 15.



Well, schools ranked below 15... by what standards is the question now.

Agreed that the ultra elite schools are excellent in almost all courses leading to your career goals but then there are lots of schools which are below the 'Top 15' brand that can cater to your course needs and career path, not to mention your preferred mode of study, living culture etc;.

I am not sure that rankings are the way to apply, especially there is no point in considering overall rankings. However you can use the rankings to customize your schools according to their strength in your speciality/desired courses!!That way you will see that most of the schools which are 'below top 15' actually figure in the top 5/10 of your shortlist.
It happened to me when i was shortlisting schools for operations/production management. No point applying to Columbia :twisted: ( a top 15 brand) if you intend to study logistics, supply chain simulation and distribution concepts.

Stellar profiles can get rejected anywhere if the candidate does not show fit with the school and program. :(

And this talk of Male/Indian/IT applicant pool getting tougher is going to continue for ages. Its crazy out there with all the top IT biggies in India recruting students like herds of cattle and many of these who find that within 2/3 yrs, their work is getting frustrating and BS type. Seach for alternatives to escape this chaos ends up in

1).Writing the CAT for IIM's in India.
2).Writing the GMAT aiming for US top 5.

Not everyone can get into IIM or H/S/W. It will make sense to apply realistically and give decent shots thereby increasing your chances of admit!! Whew..
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 [#permalink] New post 06 Jan 2007, 23:27
Actually I disagree with this completely. I think that unless you have very specific concerns (none of them related to the curriculum or the concentrations), it is always better to attended a school in a higher cluster.

Yes, if you want to go into consulting, Columbia, Chicago & Wharton will provide better opportunities than any of the elites. If you want to go into IB, Kellogg, Harvard and Stanford will afford you more opportunities than any schools other than fellow ultra-elites.

The same applies to the elites when compared with lower clusters.

Among the few reasons I can think of for choosing a school from a lower cluster would be cost (but think seriously before you do this), location (both in terms of while in school and alumni base) or some other personal reason (alumni, family, etc.).

All of the ultra-elites and most of the elites have broad based strengths, recognition and reach that give them clear advantages over schools in lower clusters. Unless you have a specific personal concerns, virtually all candidates should go for the highest possible cluster then rely on specific strengths to decide between schools of the same cluster.

mbadart07 wrote:
willget800 wrote:
So essentially the summary of discussion - the whole admission decision is very subjective...

Looking at some many stellar rejections here, I am seriously considering schools ranked below 15.



Well, schools ranked below 15... by what standards is the question now.

Agreed that the ultra elite schools are excellent in almost all courses leading to your career goals but then there are lots of schools which are below the 'Top 15' brand that can cater to your course needs and career path, not to mention your preferred mode of study, living culture etc;.

I am not sure that rankings are the way to apply, especially there is no point in considering overall rankings. However you can use the rankings to customize your schools according to their strength in your speciality/desired courses!!That way you will see that most of the schools which are 'below top 15' actually figure in the top 5/10 of your shortlist.
It happened to me when i was shortlisting schools for operations/production management. No point applying to Columbia :twisted: ( a top 15 brand) if you intend to study logistics, supply chain simulation and distribution concepts.

Stellar profiles can get rejected anywhere if the candidate does not show fit with the school and program. :(

And this talk of Male/Indian/IT applicant pool getting tougher is going to continue for ages. Its crazy out there with all the top IT biggies in India recruting students like herds of cattle and many of these who find that within 2/3 yrs, their work is getting frustrating and BS type. Seach for alternatives to escape this chaos ends up in

1).Writing the CAT for IIM's in India.
2).Writing the GMAT aiming for US top 5.

Not everyone can get into IIM or H/S/W. It will make sense to apply realistically and give decent shots thereby increasing your chances of admit!! Whew..
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 [#permalink] New post 06 Jan 2007, 23:53
Well, i did not at all mean to say that you should not apply to the ultra-elites nor should you turn down an offer from them in choosing a lower-ranked school. :o .. but the whole point is to think before you apply. I am very serious in saying that there is no point in appin to Columbia in my case coz there is no option for pursuing my desired courses there!!. However good it maybe for consulting and IB etc.. if it does not offer me what i want, then I will not apply. That does not mean i've completely excluded the ultra-elites..still've MIT on my list..

The point here is that we must know our own strengths and weaknesses and align it with the school's before applying. It is very tempting for everyone to apply to all of the ultra-elite schools. Take the typical IT indian case, most of 'em who apply to top10 are 4-6yrs IT, 730+gmat, decent acads, some communtiy service (dance group,tutorin..cumon.. :-D ). Give the schools a break, sure they want to have diversity, but they cant admit 50 students from India with the same profile in a class of 150, een though all if them are equally qualified. So, based on some subtelities( which only the adcoms know :) ).. some of them get admits and some of them get dinged.

Coming to the original discussion of applying to under-15 schools, there is no problem as long as the applicant is convinced that he/she can get what she wanted out of the school and make a successful career. There've been lotsa famous people who've graduated from under-15 schools. It's just that the number is more in case of the ultra-elites.

Generally speaking, (though i dunno if this is true), applicants with lots of work-exp are advised to app higher in the rankings to get maximum outta their MBA program. Well, it all boils down to your choices in the end, its your take and if you're destined for an ultra-elite, you'll be there else there are lots of other excellent opportunities which will await you.
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 [#permalink] New post 07 Jan 2007, 03:30
Well I think Indian IT Male is tougher is all over hyped
a gimmick by admisiion consultants to draw in some bucks from the ever ready to spend Indian IT male

There was a post by bannerjee_a Indian IT male with Wharton admit in the share your b-school admit experience actually a sticky.

Having good quality WE, Extra currics, GMAT/GPA and being able to portray urself well must be enough (though very difficult to do)

Portray urself well enough is essantially good essays and i feel if you dig deep enough you would ghave nteresting experiences to share

And as some one in the forum put it some people are good at acing the GMAt some are not same applies to essays as well.

Just my 2 cents

So generally I feel tht we are unable to write effective essays and but refuse to acknowledge the same and feel that even though we have good quality WE, Extra currics, GMAT/GPA we get dinged and say that the process is random
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 [#permalink] New post 07 Jan 2007, 06:47
Its so subjective...

I mean, just look at how this season has played out on admissions411...
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 [#permalink] New post 07 Jan 2007, 09:25
I don't think that one can truly draw a valid conclusion from the stats on Admissions 411. It's pretty obvious that stats don't get you into a school. They get you into the discussion but then you're background, career goals, and presentation need to carry you.

I'll agree the process is subjective, but only to a point. None of us know enough about the 750 consultant denied at Kellogg to say that it's just subjective. There are definitely reasons. It's just that some people don't want to admit there are reasons they didn't get into a school.
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Re: Are admission decisions really random? [#permalink] New post 07 Jan 2007, 11:01
I know that I am digressing a little but...

In recent months, I have started reviewing essays for some friends and other acquaintances. I think people try too hard to get in as many applications as they can and this ultimately results in poor quality. Unless, you have been researching schools for several months and have exceptional writing abilities, I fail to understand how people can do justice to 6-8 applications in a particular round. It took me alt least 8-10 drafts for each essay that I submitted. I am not a gifted writer but one improves with time and practice. It is easy to get lost in stats but the quality of your essays is extremely important. I think Rhyme posted a document which quotes an admissions fellow stating that he spends less than 10 seconds looking at the GMAT, GPA etc. You need to have a unique story and importantly MUST let your personality shine through in the essay. As for IT applicants, it is important to start viewing the MBA as a ticket out of engineering boredom. Please don't write how you want to be a technology entrepreneur and start a services company...YAAAAAAWN ! Be creative and try to tie in some of your personal interests to your future goals. You too can stand out...


willget800 wrote:
I mean.. lot of stellar people out here are on waitlists... What are the chances of lesser mortals like me?

I am really thinking of applying to a 15-25 rank school as backup (if that can be said as a backup..)

Any ideas guys? So many ideal candidates here are on waitlist......

Whats happening? Are the applications really increased so drastically and the quality of the apps are betteR?
Is 730+ common now?
I really cant wait to see the stats of next years class.
Re: Are admission decisions really random?   [#permalink] 07 Jan 2007, 11:01
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