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# H/W/S selection criteria

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22 Jan 2008, 14:16
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mNeo wrote:
obviously the first answer that you'll get is, "Well, GMAT itself means diddly-squat !!". But I think your question is deeper than that. Let me try to elaborate on your question (Please correct me if I am taking a different direction):

If one has fairly good experiences, great scores and good leadership skills, what can (s)he do to show that extra "spark" that H/S need (Without starting up companies, saving africa from starvation or finding the cure for cancer. How many MBA applicants have this kind of a background anyway?).

I read some posts by a girl (Intentionally not giving more details about her) who got selected in Stanford. Her sentence-formation and reasoning skills seemed quite ordinary to me (Although I do realize that people are not at their best when chatting on forums .. but I believe that your quality still shows). Without disrespecting her, I started wondering what kind of qualities she possessed that the school wanted her more than a lot of very strong profiles that we saw on GMATClub. I am not trying to diss her. I am just trying to find out in what areas I need to improve to be wanted by H/S.

ps. You may want to post this in the "The B-School Application" section also as a lot more applicants might have things to say and ask in this regard.

Found this old post from mNeo in another forum. I though it's a good idea to ask some people now what they think kept them out or got them in at H/W/S. I do want to share some of my thoughts:

I have personally known some people of this forum, great guys, great profiles, no admission to their dream schools. Were the dreams unrealistic? I don't think so. I do not understand what keeps them out. Adding to what mNeo mentioned about the girl at Stanford, here is one more piece of info: A GMATCLUB profile was assessed by one famous consultant (and I trust them) 2 years back to try for a school ranked beyond 25 in BW. The profile was written in detail. Guess where did that person go? Boston. No, not BU, but HBS.

Praet, can I share the profile evaluation link with others?
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27 Sep 2009, 09:27
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After talking with alumnae and admissions people at formal and informal sessions here is what my impression is about what the h/s/w look for:

Stanford alumnae are very genuine, and have at least one big WOW - as a STORY or Credentials that would make others sit and stare at them for an hour just listening. All alumnae in a line-up during a presentation agreed that each of their classmates is someone they heard say a story from that left their mouths open - whether it was saving a platoon in a middle of the desert, or dumping a Hollywood acting career to go back and save a family business in Georgia. Another common trait was that once they walk in the door of the school Stanford students are a VERY close-knit team. One that would adhere strictly to a grade non-disclosure policy, so that everyone could pursue the interesting aspects of Stanford - organizations, profit or non profit ideas, entrepreneurial hunches if you may - without fear that would affect their grades and future employment. To have that kind of team trust they make sure that everyone accepted is confident enough in themselves to not have to overstate or boast or pretend during applications - thus the very simple but deeply probing application questions. My impression was - Stanford accepts genuine people, confident in themselves and willing to give their best to others.

HBS's case method and classroom caters to fast decision making and diversity. What do I mean by Diversity? In the case method video online you can see HBS professors talking about how they pick the first people to cold-call in a case - no matter what the case, in that group of 90 they have someone with a background who can add depth to the discussion. So when applying, show them how diverse you are... what discussions would you add depth to? That is where the whole issue with overrepresented groups comes from. If you are teaching a group of 90 leaders and 30 of them are engineers or finance guys, the discussion may lead into teaching everyone the thinking of the most overrepresented or vocal group. The texture of the class defines what everyone will get out of it in the end - so they make sure the class is balanced. Also the age bias comes from a perception that people above 29 reach a career plateau and that there is a sweet spot at age 26 where students have some experience but still plenty of potential to be shaped and molded by the program in a way that would give them a strong boost afterward. The age curve drops steeply after 27, but there are are still people who make it. So if you are beyond that age bracket, don't think that you are not good enough for HBS, just see it as a school that caters to younger candidates and make sure to backup your options.

HBS and Stanford also share one very common thread - they look for people who want to leave a trace, a mark in the world. That is the legacy that the schools try to leave behind. The golden ticket graduates of those schools get is a scarce opportunity to do something. I think the schools put a heavy weight in the selection process towards those they feel will use the ticket to fulfill the school's mission - which is to make a difference somewhere.

Those are the two key commonalities I have noticed between S and H - What different perspective will you add? + What will you make of that ivy league degree when you walk out of the school?

Wharton appeared slightly different - the school left an impression with me as a program that takes people who are genuine, accomplished and passionate about Wharton, and gives them incredibly strong business skills when they walk out. The Wharton students also shared an amazing down-to-earth attitude and team spirit. The school is top-notch for Entrepreneurship and Finance but also because of the large size, it is exceptionally strong in practically every other area - they even have law classes within the program. Wharton has one of the richest MBA curriculums I have seen at any program. The few alumnae I have met from there are all most admirable business minds on top of being experts in their own field. As a program they seem to look for unquestionable achievements and character that would add value to a business classroom and can handle the heavily quantitative principles that everyone will walk out with. If H and S are seen as pedigree schools, Wharton is the strong brand, no-nonsense student driven business program that is incredibly responsive to student influence, and thus keeps a very current curriculum - it will make you a strong business person, no matter where you come from when you walk in.
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Last edited by MBAgirl2010 on 27 Sep 2009, 21:18, edited 1 time in total.
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24 Jan 2008, 12:57
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Darden,

I agree with you to some extent. If you believe that you are a H/S/W material, then going to any other top school won't harm your chances (Not significantly, at least) in changing careers or speeding up progression. So ONLY applying to H/S/W makes very little sense to common applicants (And they usually don't). However, I wouldn't say that anybody who applies to H/S/W is stupid. I keep finding posts judging and dissing others' school selections. Why do we have to do this? I think that Darden's comment was in a light mood .. so my post is not targeted at Darden.

There are people who apply
(a) only to H
(b) only to H/S/W
(c) only to top 10 schools
(d) only to top 15 schools
.. and so on ..

What's funny is that a person in group (c) will call a person in group (b) a ranking-whore or just plain stupid, conveniently ignoring the fact that a person in group (d) is calling the group (c) person a ranking-whore or just plain stupid.

People choose B-schools based on what they want to gain from the schools and how much they are willing to pay for the gain (Financially, Mentally, Professionally and Personally). For some people, their current situations may lead them to "I'll do an MBA only if I go to Harvard" .. and for some people, those may lead to "I'll do an MBA at any cost". The first person should obviously apply to Harvard only .. and the other person should apply to a set of reach-realistic-backup schools. People keep saying that we should apply to schools that "fit" us. But who decides which schools fit us? We do, right? So, if someone decides that H/S/W fit his/her requirements or that ONLY H/S/W fit his/her requirements, then who are we to judge it?

The bottom line is that we all get influenced by schools' reputations. How many of us deeply researched all AACSB accredited MBA programs to find the programs that best fit us? Honestly? And who says that reputation is not one of the elements of finding the right "fit" anyway? Wouldn't you find the most successful, diverse and competitive fellow students in a top ranked school? Wouldn't you find the most successful and respected faculty and the best facilities in top schools? Wouldn't you want the best possible network? Which schools will have stronger networks -- top ranked schools or others?

Last year I read about a guy who was applying to HBS every year. He said that he would either go to HBS or nowhere at all. I was not sure if this guy was a sheep or he was the one who was not a sheep. We don't know .. because we are not him. Take my example. I will be getting a green card in 1-1 1/2 yrs. An F1 visa is difficult for me because I've already shown an immigration intent. I am willing to risk my green card (To some extent) only for a few "reach" schools. I am not willing to risk my green card for schools that I won't be absolutely insanely excited about. So I applied to just a few schools. I would have loved to apply to Stanford too if I had one more month available. Does that make me stupid?

ps. Anybody who quotes "Does that make me stupid?" and answers "Yes" can be assured that I'll BAN him/her right away!
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23 Jan 2008, 12:17
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msday86 wrote:
sudden, I agree about the relative competitiveness. H/S/W must get many candidates from many different demographics, and not everyone can cure cancer/save Africa/start a $1m company. So, they take the best from each demographic...now what 'demographic' means is unclear to me, which is why admissions seems like a "black box". i don't know for sure, but i think demographic basically means people with similar work ex. are you an investment banker? then you're in the investment banker demographic. and so on. the schools won't say it, but we basically know they have soft quotas for different kinds of work ex. the top schools are going to take the best from each category and reject the rest irrespective of absolute competitiveness. if the best applicant in an underrepresented demographic "only" has a 3.0, 2 years of work ex and 650 GMAT, they will still probably beat out highly competitive people with much higer scores from other demographics (i'm referring to people who were good but not at the top of their demographics). if true, this is a unique phenomena to grad school (specifically MBA school) and is much different from undergrad school where everyone basically has the same profile with the only significant variation coming in the form of ECs (which now make up only one of three major categories -- academic: qual vs. quant; work ex; ECs). in my opinion, this is where a lot of people get into trouble when evaluating their chances because they tend to focus on the objective measures like GPA and GMAT. i think those measures are largely irrelevant on an absolute basis after you clear whatever hurdle the schools set out, but i think it's highly probable that they count a lot within your demographic since the schools are trying to select the best from each category. people seem to focus a lot on race, but in my experience that doesn't even come close to telling the whole story. i think that a lot of people fail to appreciate the meaning of diversity, which could mean a lot of things: Race Gender Type of Work ex Location of Origin Location of Work ex Location of College College Major and so on. i'd bet that, assuming similar scores and work ex, H/S/W would be all over an investment banker who doubled majored in finance and sociology than they would a "regular" investment banker with a "commodity" background. similarly, they probably prefer an engineer who also studied music theory in college than any other run of the mill engineer they are likely to see. those qualities won't make up for significant weaknesses, but if you are "in the mix" in all of the categories, then it probably does come down to fine degrees of difference (essays aside since there is no way for us to evaluate those amongst candidates). the interviews are used to evaluate which of these apparently best candidates really are the best. anyway, i applied to H/S/W and my strategy was to play up the diversity as much as possible: - Non-traditional college major before entering finance - Unusual geographic location within the U.S. - Unique finance interest (socially responsible finance) - Arts background that really influenced the charater of my essays i have no idea whether it will be enough, but i guarantee i will stand out amongst the finance crowd. i don't have perfect stats, nor do i work at goldman sachs, but if the schools want a diverse set of finance students (as i expect they do), then i may have a chance. otherwise i am ~$700 poorer and out a few weekends of my life i mean, if i know that i can't compete with the 780, 3.8 princeton, goldman sachs VP, then why market myself to compete with him? i think a lot of the process comes down to having some kind of niche and executing on it.
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31 Jan 2008, 09:56
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kryzak wrote:
HBS, I agree with the difference between me and others, and I have said that I am probably in the minority (though not one of the "rare" ones). But similarly, I can say the same thing about the difference between you (internationals) and those students in the US who went to a decent school or worked at a decent company (one could have went to UCLA and worked at GE, while not Ivys and Big3 Consulting, it's still pretty good), and say that there is quite a significant amount of people who do NOT need the brand name so much that they would pick brand over everything else.

I think your position might be rarer than you think, although I agree that the way you have approached your search is correct for you. You have some pretty impressive educational credentials already.

I think I am a good example of your description above. I went to a good quality state school, similar to UCLA. I work at a company that will be at least in the top 20 of the Fortune 500 this year. However, I work in IT, and while I am very good at what I do, I do not think that it is considered very prestigious. Therefore, while I sort of hate to admit, the brand of the school does matter to me. Not more than the educational quality, but it is an important consideration.

The aspect of "fit" that matters to me is where the school is located and whether it is good at educating people for what I want to do. Since I am mainly concerned with enhancing my general management abilities many schools qualify in the skills/academics area.

Take a look at where I applied: Stanford, Berkeley, UCLA, Chicago, Michigan, Harvard. They do not seem to share a common theme. Heck, maybe that hurt me at Berkeley, since they are the only school that asks you to explicitly state where you applied. However, they all make sense to me. They all (except for Michigan) are in a major metro area so my wife should be able to find a job. They all have strong recruiting ability on the West coast. They are all very good in general management and corporate strategy, and all are reasonably proficient in tech.

I am not as concerned about "cultural fit." I think in a class of 350+ people, there are going to be people of all different types, so I am sure that I will find people I work well with at any school. There will be intense people at Stanford, and chill people at Harvard. In fact, the people I met at Harvard were very friendly and laid back. My student guide did his undergrad from Georgia Tech, and really encouraged me to give HBS a shot despite my lack of "pedigree." Also, there will be people of all types in our future businesses, so I need to be able to work with people whether or not I fit in well with them.

When it comes down to it, I think that fit is mostly best for choosing between two similar quality schools. Personally, considering the cost and disruption of going back to school, I am going to go to the best school that I get into judged based on my opportunities upon graduation, including the ease of returning to the west coast. I think school brand/prestige/(whatever you want to call it) does play a role in that for someone like me.
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30 Jan 2008, 00:51
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Hjort, the question still is how does a school determine that a candidate has already achieved success. There are certain employers (World Bank, McKinsey etc) who are huge feeders to H. A certain amount of this success must be due to the fact that H believes securing a job in one of these places is in itself an achievement. This is what me and other posters on this forum call as being "pedigree hungry". Schools recognize success as long as it is represented in one of the forms they identify with. So, even if I worked for a company which is even tougher in terms of recruitment, it may not help me if H does not really understand the nuances involved.

So, I guess the question we are trying to answer is "What are some things that H perceives as successes?". Now, I know there are certain things that are not perceived as such. Like being from India and from IT. I take this example not to provoke any furore, but just to give an example. Similarly, someone who graduated from IIT would hold an edge over someone who made another school choice (based on fit rather than ranking. Isnt that what we recommend to people who come to this forum for advice?) which is less known to H. Therefore, lesser mortals like me who have no recognizable academic or professional pedigree search for answers in the hope that we can try our best to get into the best possible schools.

Hjort wrote:
I have seen that the students who stand the best chance of admission to the most selective schools are the ones who show they don't really need it- attending school X is not the difference between success and failure but the difference between being great and being superlative.

Furthermore, if HSW selects candidates who dont really need an MBA, then doesn't that defeat the purpose of an education. Isn't education a tool to achieve better successes rather than a reward for past accomplishments. Mind you, I dont disagree with the methods used by any school to select students. Its their prerogative to select whomever they want. But the said approach, if true, doesn't make sense to me especially when schools publicly place a premium on a strong Why MBA? answer.
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30 Jan 2008, 13:34
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let's accept this, NC: Admission process is there to show selectivity, and we support it because of a hoax named "Fit". None of us who wants to get into international business and has enough pedigree to get in Harvard will go to Moore School of Business or Thunderbird because of the program's focus on international business. None of us who wants a medical field related MBA will go to John Hopkins while having enough pedigree to get in Harvard or Stanford. Even if we do not have enough pedigree, we try.

The word "Fit" hs come in picture because of schools and has been nourised by our lack of strength to say that we have a dream to go to such and such school for what we can gain from there (including alumni and brand name) and don't care about "fit" for the time we study. I hear people on this forum, "I felt I did not fit in the culture there." ???? Do you really think one school has only one culture and other schools does not have the same? Come on, they don't care about FIT AT ALL when they select. How do we find "Fit"?

Fit is not necessary, or we will need a new school for every person. Schools know that, but still if they publish the exact selection criteria, H and S might be at 80% selectivity since only people with realistic chance will apply.

Tell me how many of us, applying to 6-7 schools, fit in each of those? And why most of us "find a fit" in only M7 or top 10 schools? Why almost nobody finds a FIT a schools ranked beyond 20 in all the rankings, if he has enough credentials to get in a top 10?
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31 Jan 2008, 09:45
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kryzak wrote:
HBS, I agree with the difference between me and others, and I have said that I am probably in the minority (though not one of the "rare" ones). But similarly, I can say the same thing about the difference between you (internationals) and those students in the US who went to a decent school or worked at a decent company (one could have went to UCLA and worked at GE, while not Ivys and Big3 Consulting, it's still pretty good), and say that there is quite a significant amount of people who do NOT need the brand name so much that they would pick brand over everything else.

, I consider UCLA and GE as good brands, Kry. When I said people with no pedigree need a brand , I referred to really unknown schools and companies.

kryzak wrote:
one that makes them happy and earns them a good amount of money. For most of us, that is what we're looking for.

kryzak wrote:
I believe our differences basically come down to "cultural" differences, in that many in the US are taught to go for what they *want* and what makes them "happy" from childhood on, instead of what has the best brand. There are definitely a good number of people who are pure brand chasers, but I would dare guess that many US born and raised people will tell you the reasons that they chose their undergrad or grad school is based on a myriad of factors (including prestige, fit, location, cost, culture, majors, etc...) and not just based on name. For Asians (East and South), many have a MUCH higher emphasis on brand name, and it's ingrained into them since childhood (I've seen and experienced the high school entrance exam frenzy). For the Chinese, many of us are told by our parents and relatives (thank goodness not mine) that if you don't get into the top 5 engineering/medical/law schools, then you're a failure and an embarassment to the family name (I'm exaggerating for dramatic effect ). That is probably what stems one's view of whether to apply only to UEs or whether there's a selection of UE/E/Trans-Es/Near E's that fit one person.

I disagree Kry. Cultural difference that impacts is not chasing brand, but different understanding of what is needed, and doing what makes one happy is not always the best choice. During childhood, had I studied where I fit and did what made me "happy", trust me, I would be on the receiving side of "Social Welfare", leave apart helping others.

I would say if one has an understanding of what one wants in life and better college makes it easier, it needs to be the better college. But if one has a thinking that time spent in school should be "fun" too, I agree with you that one should look for fit. It may be just my tangential thinking, but I do not care how much I do not enjoy as long as what I am doing is the best step towards my ultimate goal.
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22 Jan 2008, 16:05
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Quote:
But they generally have something out of the world like an olympic medal or a guiness record etc

OK, on second thoughts, scratch that comment about olympic medal. Since when did we start winning medals in the olympic. Those are even rarer than a H admit for a Male Indian IT
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23 Jan 2008, 09:46
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mNeo wrote:
I agree with pandeyrav. There's no way I am painting a bad picture of my parents just so I can get an admit. They are quite educated anyway. Sandy's suggestion seems to encourage people like that IITian who said that his lower-cast caused him a lot of grief from upper-cast students during his undergrad years. Sick !!

There are people that will use every advantage they can to get into a school, thats just the way it is. Its not really unethical for someone to say they grew up without running water and had to pull themselves to where they are...this is completely valid and I admit that shows character, and is a brilliant way to add another angle on your candidacy. My wife is the first college grad in her family, only one female in the previous generations of her family actually graduated high school. While my parents both have masters degrees, their parents had college degrees, everyone in my family went to college...whats more impressive me have my folks pay the tab for college, after they pretty much groomed me to graduate at the top of my high school class, be involved, and to nail the SATs, or my wife who got in on her own and paid for it herself, while her mother said she needed to find a husband. If my wife applies you better bet I will tell her to talk about her experiences growing up with a father who lost his job at a mill several times, while she struggled to pay for college.

Honestly you play the strengths you have, if you had to overcome a lot then by all means use it to the best of your advantage. If you work in an extremely odd job, sell that as well as you can. If you are unique in anyway maginfy that uniqueness so that when it comes to rounding out a class they say I want that kid who grew up hearding goats in andes mountains.

I think the process for most of the M7 is very confusing on how they choose people, not just H/S/W. Why are there people who get dinged by MIT but get into Stanford. Yes we all know some schools worry about yield control, but you see it happens often enough that someone will get into two or three of the M7 and not a couple others. So obviously schools look for different things, and its also the pool that self selects the school that you are competing against. An engineer is going to have a harder time getting into MIT than Columbia because far more engineers will apply to MIT. Schools want to round out there class, I am sure a place like MIT could fill its entire class with high scoring engineers with bluechip backgrounds but they want to round out their class so plenty of very qualified folks will get cut.

I think HSW have a much higher proportion of students that are 100% easy dings. I think Kry's "what if" statement hits this on the head. For everyone with on paper a realistic shot like Kry (strong everything) there is going to be 2 people who really stands no chance and just deciding to roll the dice like a game of craps. For every easy admit (the Goldman VP with a 780, and a 3.8gpa from Princeton, who is a director of a nonprofit), there are going to be 5 kids they can toss out right away. Its like an HR person at McKinsey going through resumes, they probably are able to eliminate a large percent of applicants immediately without much thought because in reality the person has zero chance of being success in applying.

As for the Indian caste system I know nothing about that really. The only thing related to it that I have heard about that in a b-school sense was from an alum of a top school...when I asked what was the one thing he didnt like about school, he named a single person. I guess this guy came from the top of the caste in India and was very rude to people that he felt were "beneath him" Needless to say he was very unpopular with most everyone at the school. Americans for the most part are extremely against the whole idea of the caste system because we like to believe in upward mobilitiy...so chances are if it ever actually came up then most everyone would side with the individual from a lower caste. I would not concern myself with this fear, no matter if you are from the upper or lower caste if you dont make an issue of it at school no one else will.

Once you are at a school, everyone is going to be an equal no matter what your background...how got there could be totally different but once your in you are all students as XXX.
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23 Jan 2008, 11:29
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hbs.aspirant wrote:
Do the opportunities for a person born in a family described in Sandy's message differ based on caste? No. As far as special considerations are concerned I compeletely agree with River on presentng our real circumstances and getting advantage of the same.

I agree that portraying your true condition is important and i would do the same. What i am against is that people portray some things worst than they were to gain advantage.

For example:
Person 1: even though my parents never had any formal education, they had rich real world experience and they built my career with great hopes so that i would achieve the success in life to make them proud.

Person 2: my parents are illiterate and have no contribution to my career. I lived in great stress among boorish people and my parents did not know better. I am what i am because of my hard work.

Essentially the above two people convey the same background; both social and economic. But the later degrades others to glorify oneself while the former presents a more positive picture and gives everyone credit where due. If one cannot be proud of ones past and roots, i really doubt that they will have lasting success in life. my 2 cents
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24 Jan 2008, 09:50
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solaris1 wrote:
there's quite a bit of truth in that, in fact most applicants admitted to the top b-schools are the kind of people who would have been successful in their careers even without an MBA - so yes, there is a fair amount of selection bias to begin with.

sonalbahl wrote:
their alumni are successful because they graduated from these schools, or because they were anyway cherry-picked and were among the best ?

i wonder about this because it begs the question: if you are really that successful, why bother to do an MBA in the first place? it seems to me that they take people who have demonstrated a good (but not amazing) amount of success and show a large amount of potential going forward. attending a top school helps unlock this potential.
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25 Jan 2008, 09:46
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OK-

As one of those who applied to the H/S/W triumvirate, I feel compelled to comment.

As I've made clear in other threads and posts, I'm not from a typical pre-MBA background, and I'm not looking for a banking/consulting job. So my reasons for applying to the schools I did are specific to me and my goals. That's the way it should be.

I'll go through H/S/W one school at a time and describe why I applied to each.

Wharton- The most outwardly obvious choice of the three for anyone interested in medical devices and biotech. The top health management program around, with terrific connections to industry.

Stanford- No organized health care management program. But an amazing atmosphere of collaboration between the business, medical, engineering, and law schools as well as a terrific entrepreneurial program. If you have a moment, take a look at the Biodesign Innovation site:
http://biodesign.stanford.edu/bdn/index.jsp
If I may borrow a phrase from Snoop, that's off the hizzle.

Harvard- A relatively new Health Care Initiative that's still finding its way. But keep in mind, it's linked to the #1 medical school in the world. I have friends in this program, and they're having amazing experiences.

Those are the career-specific reasons I applied to those schools. Outside of these reasons, I'm fully aware that I might change my mind when I get to business school. Why wouldn't I want to provide myself with the broadest set of options available? Any of these schools would give me an outstanding education, with ready exits into consulting or banking. And if I got interested in VC or (who knows, anything's possible) PE, H and S would give me the best shots at those fields.

This isn't to say that these are the best schools for everyone. I really think you have to come up with your own personal list of schools. I would've been thrilled attending Sloan (outstanding entrepreneurship) or Kellogg (great health/biotech management). And I really wish I would've had the time to take a look at Haas, which has great entrepreneurship and health management. As I'll explain whenever I get off my duff and write my "evolution of B-school pursuit" post, I came to this entire process quite late and had to rush it a fair amount.

In summary, I think everyone has to choose a list of schools that's appropriate to his/her interests and personality. For some people, that does include H/S/W
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31 Jan 2008, 07:16
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hbs.aspirant wrote:

I agree that this is best decision for you, or people like you, Kry. There is a huge difference between you and people who love brand name. You are branded with "Stanford" already hence you can talk about not considering brand name.

People from "no name colleges" and "small companies" would not care much about anything except Big Name, specially after going through admission process and realizing how harmful it is for one's career to carry only "unknown names".

I totally agree with solaris that "fit" is discounted way too much. I think people get too caught up in "brand" for MBAs. How far does the brand really get you? Are employers (after your first job out - and even for the first job I could argue that H/S/W could even hurt with all of the Goldman/PE/MBB grads who attend those three schools and return to their firms, taking up the school's most coveted jobs anyway) really going to hire somebody based on whether Harvard vs. Wharton vs. Kellogg vs. Sloan vs. Haas is on their resume? The brands at a top 10 school (especially M7) are all strong enough where its not going to make much of a difference in your career from a pure resume perspective. Sure, among your friends, you might get a "wow" factor from "Harvard" or "Stanford", but if vanity is driving your MBA decision, then I'm not going to be able to influence you anyway.

This is not to say that H/S/W might not be a better hands-down decision school for you than Kellogg, Sloan, Haas, etc. is. H/S/W might be perfect - but it shouldn't be based on the name as the single most deciding factor. One could even argue that H/S/W are each so typecast that the stereotypes could potentially be a negative (I know a stretch that I don't necessarily even believe, but the typecasts do exist). Harvard/Stanford/Wharton all have strengths and weaknesses just like every other top 10 school. I think people put on blinders to these differences because they're star struck - but you need evaluate these schools just like you would any other. At the end of the day, if you go to one of H/S/W just for the name over another school where you would thrive more, its going to hurt you more than help you.
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31 Jan 2008, 07:17
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Hi bsd, my intention there wasn't to blackball GSB.

My reasons for not considering GSB are based on the abstract and the anecdotal, so you may or may not be sensitive to the same issues. That's what I was trying to say about "fit" in the last post, it's a pretty individual thing and I would encourage everyone to look into it personally. I do realize that's really hard for internationals to do.

Therefore I won't be very specific here, but some of the things I didn't feel totally comfortable with at GSB were the feel of the MBA community around campus, the "perceived superiority" of some students over others and how edgy some MBA folks appeared to become once recruiting started on campus.

bsd_lover wrote:
solaris - For the benefit of us internationals who have not been able to visit the school, what is it about Chicago that you did not like ?
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31 Jan 2008, 08:35
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hbs.aspirant wrote:
I agree that this is best decision for you, or people like you, Kry. There is a huge difference between you and people who love brand name. You are branded with "Stanford" already hence you can talk about not considering brand name.

People from "no name colleges" and "small companies" would not care much about anything except Big Name, specially after going through admission process and realizing how harmful it is for one's career to carry only "unknown names".

HBS, I agree with the difference between me and others, and I have said that I am probably in the minority (though not one of the "rare" ones). But similarly, I can say the same thing about the difference between you (internationals) and those students in the US who went to a decent school or worked at a decent company (one could have went to UCLA and worked at GE, while not Ivys and Big3 Consulting, it's still pretty good), and say that there is quite a significant amount of people who do NOT need the brand name so much that they would pick brand over everything else.

Also, brand is relative. As I mentioned before, each tier of schools have a range of culture, programs, and fit that one can apply to at least 1 school in each tier that "fits" him/her, and apply based on their qualifications. Someone who likes case studies can apply to HBS/Darden/Trans-Elite schools versus someone who likes experiential learning can apply to Stanford/Haas/another Trans-Elite school. My point is similar to solaris and others in that even if you went to Darden, Haas, Ross, and other non-UE schools, it is NOT "harmful" to go to Elite schools or even some trans-elite schools for MANY people who are not internationals (I would even guess at 30-40% of a school's class). Those people apply to the best schools they can that FIT them, because one should always aspire to shoot for the top, but they do not apply across the board to all the UEs without regard to "fit" in all the aspects of what that word means. Saying that someone who has a top 20-30 undergrad (not Ivy or huge brand name), worked at a non Big 3 consulting firm (again, not a brand name), and ended up Duke or Anderson or McCombs (not UE) will have a very tough time in their career after b-school is misguided at best, and misleading at the worst. There are plenty of people who I've met and known that have gone to smaller schools and gotten MBAs at schools outside the top 10 or even top 20, and have had a successful career. Maybe not some crazy spectacular PE/MC job, but one that makes them happy and earns them a good amount of money. For most of us, that is what we're looking for.

We could argue this forever and forever, hbs, and would not come to a conclusion. You and I come from too different a background to really hold the same beliefs. Though having lived in Taiwan for many years, I have been exposed and immersed in the "take the standardized test and go ONLY to the best school your score can get you into" culture that India also shares, so I know where you're coming from. I believe our differences basically come down to "cultural" differences, in that many in the US are taught to go for what they *want* and what makes them "happy" from childhood on, instead of what has the best brand. There are definitely a good number of people who are pure brand chasers, but I would dare guess that many US born and raised people will tell you the reasons that they chose their undergrad or grad school is based on a myriad of factors (including prestige, fit, location, cost, culture, majors, etc...) and not just based on name. For Asians (East and South), many have a MUCH higher emphasis on brand name, and it's ingrained into them since childhood (I've seen and experienced the high school entrance exam frenzy). For the Chinese, many of us are told by our parents and relatives (thank goodness not mine) that if you don't get into the top 5 engineering/medical/law schools, then you're a failure and an embarassment to the family name (I'm exaggerating for dramatic effect ). That is probably what stems one's view of whether to apply only to UEs or whether there's a selection of UE/E/Trans-Es/Near E's that fit one person.

The discussion is not meant to draw conclusions, but to throw out different viewpionts, except I would caution making very generalized blanket statements about the perceived applicant behavior and adcom behavior regarding "fit".
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31 Jan 2008, 10:06
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Quote:
I am not as concerned about "cultural fit." I think in a class of 350+ people, there are going to be people of all different types, so I am sure that I will find people I work well with at any school. There will be intense people at Stanford, and chill people at Harvard. In fact, the people I met at Harvard were very friendly and laid back. My student guide did his undergrad from Georgia Tech, and really encouraged me to give HBS a shot despite my lack of "pedigree." Also, there will be people of all types in our future businesses, so I need to be able to work with people whether or not I fit in well with them.

This is exactly the way I look at it Bherronp. I think you put it much more eloquently than I did. So, free golf lesson for you
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31 Jan 2008, 12:09
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hbs, to each their own. I think you may have taken my comments a bit to the extreme. I'm not saying that one should not even consider brand. Otherwise, why would I bother applying to any school that would give me ulcers waiting for the decision?

Also:

hbs.aspirant wrote:
:-), I consider UCLA and GE as good brands, Kry. When I said people with no pedigree need a brand , I referred to really unknown schools and companies.

I apologize if I misunderstood what you meant, but from the sound of your first few posts, it gave me the "H/S/W or bust" feeling. I believe that even if you have no "brand" from UG or work, a good elite school will still help you achieve what you need. No one really NEEDS UE schools, in my humble opinion. It definitely helps, but in the long run, people will be judged more on what they've done in and after school than the school they went to (as long as it's above a certain level).

Our past experiences shape our views of the world, and it would be hard to put ourselves in each other's "shoes" . In the end, choosing schools to apply to is a very personal decision that one should make for him/herself. I'm not trying to convince anyone otherwise, other than to just throw out another data point and tell people that looking for "fit" (whatever it means) is an important aspect, though definitely on the "be all, end all" solution. For some people (like hbs and bher and dosa), the brand will help them succeed in reaching their ultimate goal. For others (like myself and river), brand is good, but fit is more important.

I hope this discussion (and bherronp's great post) has given future applicants a good view of all the people out there and what they seek in their b-school experience. Definitely go for the best school you can go for, and apply for some reach schools (just to challenge yourself), but if you can also consider the fit in terms of location, program, weather, people, culture, etc., definitely do that. If brand is of the utmost importance, then more power to you too.

Cheers to everyone who provided such a great discussion! I will try to capture both viewpoints in my own profile to archive it for future folks. This thread has already been added to the knowledge vault too. Kudos to y'all!
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31 Jan 2008, 19:59
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To build on what Kry said...to me brand is not that important. I understand some people care more about brand name that goes with them for their rest of their life than the two years they spend at a school. When I choose my undergrad my mother had a fit, I had an SAT that could have gotten me into any school, I was top 5% of my HS, had tons of AP classes, was very involved...yet I decided to go to a school that was so "below" where my peers in high school went that my mother cried. She wanted me to apply to ivy league schools not some crappy state school. I choose it for very specific reasons, my bro graduated #1 in his class and was probably the most focused person I ever met...I was the complete opposite I was a complete screw off. I mean I would skip classes to go skiing, and my studying and homework usually was done in home room or between classes. I personally made the decision to go to a military school where I would spend 2-3 months at sea a year, as much as it sucked at the time I know I would not be the person I am today without the discipline that taught me.

If someone needs brand to even out lack of brand pre-mba trust me that would be me. My background is about as unelite as it can be. I went to a school that most people that live within 20 minutes of it dont know it exists. I dont work for a big blue chip company...I work for the government. I do have an interesting career that relates to my future career goals. I know with some work any elite or near elite could get me to where I want, I have confidence that my passion for what I want to do and knowledge of the industry would help get past not having a fancy name. I have done it before, I could do it again, where I work they hirer fewer than 100-200 applicants a year and a lot of those are from "better" school than mine. Yes its easy to claim all this since i am going to be attending an UE next fall but I managed to get into Kellogg despite having names on my resume most people would roll their eyes at and think nothing of. So if I can get into Kellogg, I am confident I could reach my career goals without going there...but yes admittedly by being prescreened by an UE it will give me a huge step up finding that first job...from then on its all on my shoulders. 5 years after graduating no one will care where I got my MBA from other than where I went as they hit me up for donations.

Personally fit was THE very big deciding factor. H/S/W all would have fit everyones career goals but to be honest as great a school as HBS is I could never go there, no need to explain why since its all based on feel and not fact...basically I grew up near Boston and to me it has had such a negative image my whole life I could get past that. Wharton, the whole cultural rep didnt get me enthusiastic at all...another school even if I got in there is no way I would have taken it over Kellogg knowing what I know now. Maybe if I had met a Wharton student as passionate as Rhyme was with selling GSB (that guy all by himself probably got at least 10 people on here excited about applying to GSB) I would have applied but I didnt. I totally understand the vast majority of people go to the school held in the highest regard that they get into but like Kryzak I know I wouldnt.

I think in a way schools know who fits in well in their programs, my personality and background is perfectly matched with Kelloggs perceived reputation. I know I got that across fairly well in my essays, which is probably what really helped with my success. Even if you dont care about fit a lot of schools do. Yes HBS doesnt have to worry about fit as much since 90% of the folks that get admitted are going to show up. But for the rest of the schools where 1 in 3 people wont show up they want to maximize their yield and do that by admitting people who "fit." If you believe you fit at one school, then picking between it and a peer school you are going to pick the one that is most comfortable (lacking a scholarship).

I hate to say it but falling into a trap about just the brandname is probably going to lead to disappointment for most people. Fewer than 10% of folks will probably get into HBS this year, standford be lower than HBS. All the schools in the top 10 will bring almost the same exact group of recruiters. A lot of people recruiting at HBS also recruit at Duke/Ross/Darden. Yes they will take hire people but if they didnt hire people they wouldnt show up to recruit. So if you get into on of those you have great opportunities, you may have to do some more kissing up and work a little harder...but you can pull it off if you work at it. Also I think some people think that if they have the HBS name on the resume its going to get them every job they want for the rest of their life but thats not true...10 years from now you could have HBS top 5% student on your resume but if you dont do anything during your 10 years post MBA then some guy/gal who went to Duke and has accomplished far more since graduation is going to get that job over you anyday.
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26 Sep 2009, 16:33
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hbs.aspirant wrote:
kryzak wrote:
hbs.aspirant wrote:
The only reason I spend time making my story known is to encourage people to apply to schools for "fit" (location, programs offered, teaching method, class size, alumni behavior, collaborative vs competitive, etc...) and not just for the brand, rank, or prestige.

I agree that this is best decision for you, or people like you, Kry. There is a huge difference between you and people who love brand name. You are branded with "Stanford" already hence you can talk about not considering brand name.

People from "no name colleges" and "small companies" would not care much about anything except Big Name, specially after going through admission process and realizing how harmful it is for one's career to carry only "unknown names".

sorry for bumping such an old thread, but i just read through most of it for the first time and i read a lot of great discussion. first, in my opinion, the italicized (emphasis mine) text above is a huge factor in the decision for many non-elites (i.e. no mck/bain,no big bank experience, no ivy league undergrad, etc). i'm shooting for HBS almost exclusively, and a big part of it has to do with the name. i went to a tier 2 undergrad school and did well, but was only able to manage to land a job at a tier 2 company (so to speak). im in the middle of finding a new job - any job at least till next fall when school will hopefully start for me, but it's very tough.

i dont want to go through business school, graduate from a top 25 school, and then be in the same exact position the next time the economy decides to tank. id rather have the network and the name of a top 5 school (or ideally a top 3 school) to lessen this chance.

at some point, the thread derailed from 'what do H/S/W look for in candidates?' to 'why did you pick or not pick H/S/W?'. is the consensus, then , that your admit into H/S/W is really a black box? or are they looking to fill their quotas primarily?
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Re: H/W/S selection criteria   [#permalink] 26 Sep 2009, 16:33

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