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Fact vs Fiction - What Adcoms Say vs What They Do

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Fact vs Fiction - What Adcoms Say vs What They Do [#permalink] New post 20 Jun 2008, 18:04
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Guys,

I've been reading a lot of Adcoms presentations, speeches, etc, and I'm wondering whether everything they say is 100% accurate. For example:

1. They (including Stanford) always say GMAT scores don't matter and that it is only one part of your app. However, Stanford has one of the highest GMAT averages. Additionally, a friend of mine who is now at an Ultra Elite school says that applicants who score below a certain number (650) are thrown into a "low probability" pile where the Adcoms will basically glance at your app for maybe 5 mins to see if there is anything absolutely outstanding. If not, then it's a ding.

2. "Apply to B-School when you are ready - there is no correct age." I was told this when I was 25 and considering B-School, and my boss at the time told me to get a few more years of experience. Now I'm too darn old to be competitive!

3. "Better to get a recommendation from you direct supervisor rather than an alum." Is this true? My friend tells me that alum recommendations carry a lot of weight.

What do you guys think of the above? Are there any more Adcom "myths" out there?

BTW, it's funny to see so many MBA applicants giving their time so generously to community service, etc. You would have thought that this selfless quality would carry on post B-School, but when I asked four MBAs whether they still do community service work, each one said no. One even cracked up and said called me a newbie MBA applicant! It was the conversation with him that prompted this thread. He basically said Adcoms say one thing, but do another, and that a guy with a good undergrad, good GPA good GMAT, and experience at McKinsey but very little community service would do better than a guy with average undergrad, GPA, GMAT and work experience but had exceptional community service.
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Re: Fact vs Fiction - What Adcoms Say vs What They Do [#permalink] New post 20 Jun 2008, 18:07
Just realised I violated the rule of parallelism! Sacre bleu! I should have titled the post:

Fact vs Fiction - What Adcoms Do vs What They Say.

Thanks to Kaplan and the GMAT .... you've now made it impossible for me to read anything without checking these silly grammar rules in the back of my mind.
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Re: Fact vs Fiction - What Adcoms Say vs What They Do [#permalink] New post 20 Jun 2008, 18:36
Im pretty sure that the whole "we only look at your highest GMAT score" thing is bogus. If somebody takes the test 5 times and gets 430, 420, 410, 440, 660....that 660 starts looking weird. Or if you score 710, 710, 720, 730, 780....it shows them that you might be crazy :wink:
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Re: Fact vs Fiction - What Adcoms Say vs What They Do [#permalink] New post 20 Jun 2008, 21:03
Yea, they don't exactly tell the WHOLE truth. But you might as well buy into it now, since it will help you to handle the more BS thrown at you later.
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Re: Fact vs Fiction - What Adcoms Say vs What They Do [#permalink] New post 21 Jun 2008, 02:17
BSchoolorBust wrote:
Guys,

I've been reading a lot of Adcoms presentations, speeches, etc, and I'm wondering whether everything they say is 100% accurate. For example:

1. They (including Stanford) always say GMAT scores don't matter and that it is only one part of your app. However, Stanford has one of the highest GMAT averages. Additionally, a friend of mine who is now at an Ultra Elite school says that applicants who score below a certain number (650) are thrown into a "low probability" pile where the Adcoms will basically glance at your app for maybe 5 mins to see if there is anything absolutely outstanding. If not, then it's a ding.

2. "Apply to B-School when you are ready - there is no correct age." I was told this when I was 25 and considering B-School, and my boss at the time told me to get a few more years of experience. Now I'm too darn old to be competitive!

3. "Better to get a recommendation from you direct supervisor rather than an alum." Is this true? My friend tells me that alum recommendations carry a lot of weight.

What do you guys think of the above? Are there any more Adcom "myths" out there?

BTW, it's funny to see so many MBA applicants giving their time so generously to community service, etc. You would have thought that this selfless quality would carry on post B-School, but when I asked four MBAs whether they still do community service work, each one said no. One even cracked up and said called me a newbie MBA applicant! It was the conversation with him that prompted this thread. He basically said Adcoms say one thing, but do another, and that a guy with a good undergrad, good GPA good GMAT, and experience at McKinsey but very little community service would do better than a guy with average undergrad, GPA, GMAT and work experience but had exceptional community service.


I am in the same boat some day ago when I did not know what is Gmat. Now Gmat helps me think critically, what should I believe and what should not! Clearly, Gmat does matter even your life! :lol:
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Re: Fact vs Fiction - What Adcoms Say vs What They Do [#permalink] New post 21 Jun 2008, 08:33
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I don't think those are myths, per se, but rather partial truths where people are taking things out of context or just choosing to ignore things at their own discretion.

For example, most schools do say they will take the highest score, but most also say that you should take it no more than three times. I know UCLA, for example, specifically says that if you take it more than twice, they will "look at all scores" or something like that. You can't just take one part of a comment and ignore the rest. If you take the GMAT two or three times, most schools will look at just the highest score.

As far as Stanford, I'll say that I've never heard an Adcom or any source with authority say anything like that. In fact, it won't take much digging to find out that very few people get into Stanford with GMATs below 650. You'll find that people who make it are underrepresented minorities, affiliated with big donors and/or have truly amazing, unique and relevant accomplishments. Otherwise, you know what the average scores are, and common sense and a little basic math will tell you that they can't really admit very many people with scores well below their average and still maintain their average; that's why it's the average, 'cuz there'd be a different average if all the below average scores were common and all the currently average scores would then be well above average. Git it?

For a school like Stanford, with what, a 720 average GMAT, for each person admitted with a 650 they will have to admit someone with a 790 (multiple 750+s, etc.) to maintain their average. Stanford probably gets enough quality applications with high scores that they can afford to give the GMAT less weight if they choose, but other school need to consider the impact of a 640 or even 600, and consider whether they can convince enough 770+ scorers to balance and maintain their averages.

I've gotta say I've never heard of #2 either. Some people say 30 is too old, but I have heard (in application consultant blogs) that 32 is the drop dead age. After that, you're an outlier and will have a much tougher go. It's not impossible (I made it), but I think you've got to be a lot more convincing. Again, you can't just take some random comment from some random person (like your boss) out of context and assume that it is 1) correct and 2) applies to all schools. Is there a right age? No, but somewhere between 3-7 years experience will put you squarely in the mix, but again it varies by school.

For #3, I think that is true. I have in fact heard many adcoms say this, and I do in fact believe it to be true. It's much better to have a recommendation who knows your work well than some random alumni. Now, it's even better to get a recommendation from an alum that knows your work well, and it's even more gooder to get a recommendation from an alum who is a huge donor and knows your work well, and it would be great it the huge donor was your dad. But, a recommendation from someone who knows your work well is the first step. It would be great if the person writing the recommendation is familiar with what MBA schools look for, and even better if they write very well (pretty uncommon actually). But, I'll say this one is not a myth.
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Re: Fact vs Fiction - What Adcoms Say vs What They Do [#permalink] New post 22 Jun 2008, 09:49
Another BS adcoms tell applicants is that they look at all academics fairly, but that's not true. 9 out of 10 times, they will take the higher GPA but crappier school over low GPA but much tougher school (all else being same). They say you can take classes, and if you worked part time then they take it into consideration bla bla, but at the end of the day they simply want to maintain their high average GPA.
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Re: Fact vs Fiction - What Adcoms Say vs What They Do [#permalink] New post 22 Jun 2008, 10:50
aceman626 wrote:
Another BS adcoms tell applicants is that they look at all academics fairly, but that's not true. 9 out of 10 times, they will take the higher GPA but crappier school over low GPA but much tougher school (all else being same). They say you can take classes, and if you worked part time then they take it into consideration bla bla, but at the end of the day they simply want to maintain their high average GPA.


To a certain point. If the GPA difference is drastic (say 2.5 at Harvard vs 3.9 at mid-range state school), then the 3.9 will probably have a higher chance. But if it's 3.1 at Harvard vs 3.7 at state school, then I would not be as confident to say that they will take the state school over the Harvard grad for sure.

But great answers Peli, kudos!

I think the reason why adcoms say what they say (the partial truths) is because they don't want to discourage ANYONE from applying. Beyond the application fees and the larger applicant pool (thus giving them a better admit rate), they don't want to discourage a "diamond in the rough" who may not apply because he/she got a 600 or even a 550 on their GMAT, but have done spectacular things in his/her life. True, those instances are very RARE, but I think as an adcom, they don't want to risk eliminating the chance to admit someone like that.
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Re: Fact vs Fiction - What Adcoms Say vs What They Do [#permalink] New post 22 Jun 2008, 13:33
pelihu wrote:
it's even more gooder to get a recommendation from an alum who is a huge donor and knows your work well, and it would be great it the huge donor was your dad.


I believe the correct terminology is, "double plus good." Pel, you're grammar has deteriorated since entering bschool.
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Re: Fact vs Fiction - What Adcoms Say vs What They Do [#permalink] New post 22 Jun 2008, 15:44
aceman626 wrote:
Another BS adcoms tell applicants is that they look at all academics fairly, but that's not true. 9 out of 10 times, they will take the higher GPA but crappier school over low GPA but much tougher school (all else being same). They say you can take classes, and if you worked part time then they take it into consideration bla bla, but at the end of the day they simply want to maintain their high average GPA.


I must say I completely disagree with this. I mean if someone has a weak GPA (-2.7) from Yale then yes it probably will hurt them but if someone has a decent one 3.0+ then the name school will always have the advantage. Its not necessarily the school on the resume that makes a difference but its the doors that school initially opened and the job they most likely got coming out of school. Someone coming from Yale has a much greater chance at getting a prestigious job coming out of undergrad than someone from a school barely in the top 100 universities. Its like MBAs, people recruiting at the top 10 is drastically different than who recruits in the 25+ range...no matter what you do at school and academically you arent going to the same companies.

Going through the list of schools where my future classmates went I can tell you that its dominated by big name schools...Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, U Penn, etc. The "crappier" schools represented are generally regional schools ie state universities from the Midwest. The few no name schools probably are diversity folks, people with unusual backgrounds bringing more to the table than where they went. I know I am one of those folks and can tell you there was probably not another applicant to any top school this year with anything remotely like my background, my school was also extremely different so that probably was a bigger factor than my completely mediocre (by b-school standards) 3.4gpa.
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Re: Fact vs Fiction - What Adcoms Say vs What They Do [#permalink] New post 22 Jun 2008, 17:55
riverripper wrote:
I know I am one of those folks and can tell you there was probably not another applicant to any top school this year with anything remotely like my background, my school was also extremely different so that probably was a bigger factor than my completely mediocre (by b-school standards) 3.4gpa.


Since when is a 3.4 mediocre, even by M7 standards? Unless there was a downward trend the last 2 years, I wouldn't think that anyone with a 3.4 would be harmed at all during the application process.
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Re: Fact vs Fiction - What Adcoms Say vs What They Do [#permalink] New post 22 Jun 2008, 18:03
terp06 wrote:
riverripper wrote:
I know I am one of those folks and can tell you there was probably not another applicant to any top school this year with anything remotely like my background, my school was also extremely different so that probably was a bigger factor than my completely mediocre (by b-school standards) 3.4gpa.


Since when is a 3.4 mediocre, even by M7 standards? Unless there was a downward trend the last 2 years, I wouldn't think that anyone with a 3.4 would be harmed at all during the application process.


Well mediocre I was implying that a 3.4 from a no name wouldnt be considered in the same light as a 3.4 as MIT. A 3.4 is slightly below average at the M7 these days, so its not bad but its not going to help you get in.
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Re: Fact vs Fiction - What Adcoms Say vs What They Do [#permalink] New post 22 Jun 2008, 19:58
kidderek wrote:
pelihu wrote:
it's even more gooder to get a recommendation from an alum who is a huge donor and knows your work well, and it would be great it the huge donor was your dad.


I believe the correct terminology is, "double plus good." Pel, you're grammar has deteriorated since entering bschool.


:lol: I'm actually laughing particularly hard because of something that happened at work today. (yes, bankers work on Sundays, but these days it feels better to be busy, buy anyhow...) I turned in a few pages for a pitch and the guy reviewing called me over and to comment on my writing. He asked me if I read a lot and chuckled that most bankers don't write like English Lit majors. I told him I was an English Lit major (he didn't know), and he responded "oh, that explains it". So I said "but give me a couple of weeks and I'll adjust." Then he said, "no, don't dumb it down" and laughed. Business school and beyond does not typically require great writing skills.

Regarding the school GPA thing, I definitely agree with RR that most of the top business schools (and grad schools in general) are filled with students from the big name undergraduate institutions. In fact, I would say that for top business schools, people coming out of no-name schools almost have to be at the tops of their classes to get any consideration. Think about it there are hundreds and hundreds (thousands actually) of 4 year colleges, yet the majority of the students at all of the top business schools come from just a few dozen (I'm just talking domestic here). Ivy's, public and private elite, a few flagship schools from the region, and some of the top liberal arts colleges and military academies. Per hundred business school students at E/UE schools, perhaps five or ten will be from any place else.
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Re: Fact vs Fiction - What Adcoms Say vs What They Do [#permalink] New post 23 Jun 2008, 05:24
Thanks guys, this is very helpful.

BTW, when people say Ivies for undergrad, which schools are they usually talking about? (I'm not from the US). Wikipedia tells me that Brown, Cornell, Columbia and Dartmouth are Ivies too ... but people don't seem to refer to these schools when they say Ivy. Instead, they include other schools such as Stanford, MIT, Caltech, Berkeley and UCLA.
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Re: Fact vs Fiction - What Adcoms Say vs What They Do [#permalink] New post 23 Jun 2008, 07:26
kidderek wrote:
pelihu wrote:
it's even more gooder to get a recommendation from an alum who is a huge donor and knows your work well, and it would be great it the huge donor was your dad.


I believe the correct terminology is, "double plus good." Pel, you're grammar has deteriorated since entering bschool.



Pelihu fail Enlgish? That's Unpossible!

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Re: Fact vs Fiction - What Adcoms Say vs What They Do [#permalink] New post 23 Jun 2008, 07:48
BSchoolorBust wrote:
Thanks guys, this is very helpful.

BTW, when people say Ivies for undergrad, which schools are they usually talking about? (I'm not from the US). Wikipedia tells me that Brown, Cornell, Columbia and Dartmouth are Ivies too ... but people don't seem to refer to these schools when they say Ivy. Instead, they include other schools such as Stanford, MIT, Caltech, Berkeley and UCLA.


Yes, as Wiki describes them to be the ivy league schools. There's a top three even within the ivy leagues -- Princeton, Yale & Harvard (no particular order). Then the other top schools are commonly (maybe not) referred to as Tycoon U -- Stanford, Carnegie Mellon etc.

The non-pc evaluation: If you fall in the top 10/15 undergrads, you'll stand out; top 50, you're ok; anything below, is all crap.
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Re: Fact vs Fiction - What Adcoms Say vs What They Do [#permalink] New post 23 Jun 2008, 08:09
BSchoolorBust wrote:
Thanks guys, this is very helpful.

BTW, when people say Ivies for undergrad, which schools are they usually talking about? (I'm not from the US). Wikipedia tells me that Brown, Cornell, Columbia and Dartmouth are Ivies too ... but people don't seem to refer to these schools when they say Ivy. Instead, they include other schools such as Stanford, MIT, Caltech, Berkeley and UCLA.

keep in mind that the ivy league is a sports conference, just like the big ten, acc, etc. it is a very old one so all the schools have a rich history. they are not all equal, nor are they all above non-ivy schools. mit and stanford are more reputable than all but HYP.
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Re: Fact vs Fiction - What Adcoms Say vs What They Do [#permalink] New post 23 Jun 2008, 10:14
I would like to add that UC Berkeley (as a university) is also more reputable than most of the Ivy's, based on pure academic reputation (not including other things like class size, student professor ratio and alumni giving).
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Re: Fact vs Fiction - What Adcoms Say vs What They Do   [#permalink] 23 Jun 2008, 10:14
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