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How important is where you did your undergrad?

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How important is where you did your undergrad? [#permalink] New post 27 Sep 2008, 16:17
As I'm sure you all are as well, I am planning on getting my MBA at some point in the near future. I am currently a 20-year old junior (still in undergrad) at Salisbury University. Their undergrad business program is nationally ranked, but it is low (like 130th in US News and World Report I think), and is recognized by AACSB international; however, I have a feeling this will not be enough to get into a top-10 b-school. My plan was sort of to get a bachelor's in business and save up as much money as I can, as I work full time with a mechanical contracting company. I got an associates at a local community college and now go to the university in the same city (I grew up there). My cumulative GPA is a 3.8, and I applied to University of Maryland, College Park, which is a much better ranked school (like 30-something), but I didn't get into their Limited Enrollment business program, probably because they take internal transfers before external (bc their GPA cutoff was like 3.45). I got a 700 (45Q 41V) on the GMAT with a 5.5 AWA, and I will probably take it at least one more time, and my GPA at Salisbury is actually a 4.0 and I think I can probably keep it that high. I was hoping I could get some advice, as I have two options come spring semester: go to University of Maryland as a non-business major (probably economics), or continue at Salisbury University and graduate from there. So the main question I have for anyone who can answer it is, how important is the undergraduate college you graduated from to MBA admissions people across the board, especially in the top-10 (or am I dreaming?)? would I get red-flagged for going to community college? should I major in something other than business or would this hurt my chances of getting into an MBA program? Any advice from anyone would be much appreciated...
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Re: How important is where you did your undergrad? [#permalink] New post 27 Sep 2008, 17:16
It could definitely be a factor, but if you have a really high GPA then you'll still have a shot. Majoring in something other than business will not hurt your chances of getting into business school. Business schools really don't care if you have prior business training, however they will want to see demonstrated analytical and quantitative skills.

If you have the opportunity, my advice would definitely be to go to the better school, but a 3.8+ GPA would be fine from almost any school (not community college, they will care about what you did after transfer).
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Re: How important is where you did your undergrad? [#permalink] New post 28 Sep 2008, 08:49
I think undergrad is more important than most people realize. I would say in my class the majority of students go to schools that were top 10 in their majors, for example there are lots of engineers from MIT. Since its in the midwest there are tons of U Mich, Northwestern, and U Chi folks. People that went to liberal arts schools went to top schools like Williamsl. I think there are 200+ schools represented in my class which sounds really impressive but remember students come from all over the world, so there may be only a handful of people from many of these different countries and often they went to the very best schools in their home countries. So there are roughly 600 students in my class, and its not like 3 people come from each school. The vast majority of students come from just a small number of the top schools.

The real reason schools is important in my opinion is more about jobs people get coming out than the difference in education. Yes if someone applies straight out of undergrad then where they went will be a huge part. Once you are out for 4 or 5 years its what you have done since you graduated. Going to a top undergrad gives you the best chance for a top level consulting or IB job, or a rotational leadership program at a fortune 100 or something along those lines. The people who went to no name schools tend to have either very interesting careers or have accomplished a great deal since college. So no matter where you go you have a chance especially with a high GPA, you really need to worry about your career moving forward.
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Re: How important is where you did your undergrad? [#permalink] New post 28 Sep 2008, 09:40
so I should go where I would have the best opportunity of getting an interesting and successful career after college? bc majoring in whatever would definitely hurt me in that area I'm sure... what do b-schools think of entrepreneurs? does anyone have any information on b-school applicants who started their own businesses?
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Re: How important is where you did your undergrad? [#permalink] New post 28 Sep 2008, 11:25
There are a few guys in my class I know that ran their own businesses, and they were pretty successful at it. If you are barely getting buy or running a little store its probably not going to do you much good. I think coming from a little known school with a business major is going to be tougher to get an interesting career since the top companies are going to hire from the top schools. While you can surely work for a smaller company you probably would be doing something that is similar to what people do at the major corporations. Engineering is a whole other beast, you could be an engineer from a no name school and go work for a small specialized company doing very interesting and unique things.

See what people from your school do when they graduate and then look at top business schools and see if there is anything that matches up. I dont know if transferring for a second time is going to do you a whole lot of good. A masters in something like finance or accounting from a very good program that will open more doors and might help more than another switch will.
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Re: How important is where you did your undergrad? [#permalink] New post 30 Sep 2008, 18:24
riverripper wrote:
The real reason schools is important in my opinion is more about jobs people get coming out than the difference in education. [...] So no matter where you go you have a chance especially with a high GPA, you really need to worry about your career moving forward.


I cant agree with you more ripper.

I think the most important is not the name of the school, but your GPA and what you've done with the tools and knowledge that the school gave you. So the brand of your undergrad does not have to be world known. I approached this problem with a question whether my undergrad school would be proud of an alum like me. And they definitely would be proud, I thought.
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Re: How important is where you did your undergrad? [#permalink] New post 30 Sep 2008, 19:45
My understanding is that if you have a top-notch GPA, your school won't matter as much because it shows that you did really well where you went. Where name of school matters is if you have a lower GPA. A lower GPA from a school recognized to be difficult (like mine, UC Berkeley) is a lot better than an equally lower GPA from a lesser known school.
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Re: How important is where you did your undergrad? [#permalink] New post 01 Oct 2008, 17:14
Even then your GPA and school name are not stand-alone deciding factors. Imagine you could attach a numeric value to different parts of your application, and you could run a multiple regression to find out the effect of a hundred different things on the outcome of the adcom's decision. The conclusion will most probably be that both the GPA and the name of the school would each only have very small R-squareds, and therefore will only contribute a little bit if at all.
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Re: How important is where you did your undergrad? [#permalink] New post 02 Oct 2008, 07:09
xerox wrote:
Even then your GPA and school name are not stand-alone deciding factors. Imagine you could attach a numeric value to different parts of your application, and you could run a multiple regression to find out the effect of a hundred different things on the outcome of the adcom's decision. The conclusion will most probably be that both the GPA and the name of the school would each only have very small R-squareds, and therefore will only contribute a little bit if at all.


That analysis is making the classic mistake of analyzing a limited pool of data and drawing conclusions that are too broad. I completely agree that the r-squares are small in both cases, but you're getting lost in the numbers. Yes, there are a multitude of factors (someone could probably identify dozens if not hundreds of relevant factors if they were inclined) and most have very little value, but GPA and school are not among these.

GPA and school though, should not be confused with the muck. The data missing from the analysis are the multitudes of people denied admission. To ascertain the importance of GPA and school, you can't just look at a sample of admitted students, which no doubt have a disproportionately high rate of high GPAs and a very limited sample size of schools. A more relevant sample would be admitted and denied students, as well as those that self-select and eliminate themselves because their GPAs are too low and/or their schools don't carry enough weight, and possibly even those that didn't even attend or graduate from college.

If you factor in the thousands each year who would love to attend a great business school (let's just limit it to college grads), a certain percentage, perhaps 50%, perhaps 80%, don't even consider applying because they don't have the grades or academic background. Take an informal poll of your college friends and think about how many would love to be in a position to apply to a top school. I'd say at least 50%, perhaps a lot more, are totally out of the running because of grades (I went to UCLA, which is a feeder school for most of the top business schools). But if you look at colleges in general, I'd say that 80% of college grads don't even consider top business schools because their academic profile is not competitive. That's a way more important factor that the r-square statistics for the admitted students.

So going back to the original point, GPA and school are both important. If you went to an elite school, then an average GPA might be enough. If you went to an average school you might need an elite GA to be competitive. If you went to a below average school, perhaps only a top 1% GPA will make you competitive. One should not analyze the admitted students pool and be confused that GPA and school don't matter because by and large all have very high GPAs and most come from a short list of top schools. The selection factors (self selection and admit standards) ensure that among admitted students these factors will be small - because they will largely be uniformly high and elite. Obviously though, a very large proportion do not have these factors and for these people, the deficiencies are extremely important.
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Re: How important is where you did your undergrad? [#permalink] New post 02 Oct 2008, 08:41
I don't correlate toughness of a school with prestige. Subject matter is the same across schools. If anything, higher ranked schools have more grade-inflation.

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If you went to an elite school, then an average GPA might be enough. If you went to an average school you might need an elite GA to be competitive. If you went to a below average school, perhaps only a top 1% GPA will make you competitive.


I am not sure I entirely agree with this premise. If you score the same GMAT as someone else that went to an elite school, you are on the same playing field. You went to a no-name college? Well if you happen to have great work experience, with the added hinderence of not coming from a top school to get that experience, with the gmat of someone from a top school, I think that is looked upon more favorably?

If people don't get accepted to b-school based on SAT scores when they were 16 (how people get into the top schools) then the whole process needs to be rethinked.
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Re: How important is where you did your undergrad? [#permalink] New post 02 Oct 2008, 08:52
Your undergrad doesn't exist in a vacuum, in general people who have achieved highly all their life also went to a top undergrad school. People that scored 1550 on SAT in 1999 generally can score 730 on the GMAT in 2005, the guy that got into Harvard with that 1550 is the same guy who is applying to HBS with 730. If you lived your whole life in Berkeley, CA and went to Berkeley City College for undergrad, there should be a good reason for not going to Cal.

That said, it is what it is and nothing more. Adcoms are pretty good about seeing through the fluff. Do you think a UCLA Anderson adcom is going to compare a UCLA alum app and a Stanford alum app and think, "man this UCLA degree is weak"? If you are a compelling candidate, period, and you think you would add to the MBA community, then you should apply and say why.
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Re: How important is where you did your undergrad? [#permalink] New post 02 Oct 2008, 14:00
Well, certainly some of the top schools are known to have grade inflation (Berkeley and UCLA are clear exceptions to this and are known to be highly rigorous in grading and very competitive). But, I don't begrudge the folks at Stanford or Harvard who benefit from grade inflation (not sure if these places have it, but I've heard rumors...). The fact is that these schools are extremely selective and as Tarmac pointed out are already stocked with the highest performing students. Sure, there might be some crossover (students admitted to both schools but selecting the the less prestigious) with a school like Berkeley because of cost, or perhaps a school like Williams because of intimacy, but the list is limited. There's zero crossover between the the student body at Stanford and the students at 95% of the other schools out there - it's a place filled with A+ students.

Certainly, there are lots of reasons why someone might be going to a no-name college, and some people show their stuff only have they get to college. I'll take California for example (I know it well). Students at Berkeley and UCLA get a lot of respect when it comes to graduate school admissions. One could make a plausible argument that quite a few students selected these schools because of cost and/or location; because other than Stanford a plane ride pretty far East would be required for substantial quality. The other UC schools are very good as well, with San Diego, Irvine, Davis and others regularly appearing pretty high in national rankings. Still, anyone that understands the dynamics within California knows that, for the most part students at these schools were passed up by Berkeley and UCLA. What about a Cal State school (LA, San Diego, Northridge, Hayward, and lots of others)? Well, students a these schools were definitely not the cream of the, they didn't survive the rigorous admissions process (there's not really a cost or location advantage). Certainly, some didn't find the beans to do well in school until they reached college, so people with 4.0 GPAs and such will get consideration; but a 3.0 from one of these schools? Not a chance.

Sure, work experience is a big part of the MBA application (as are many other things), but spend any time looking at a resume book from a top business school and you'll find that a large portion of students come from the expected schools, and the few that come from other schools much demonstrate their academic nuts with top grades signaled by lots of Greek and Latin words (Magna, Summa, Phi, Beta, Kappa). It's not really an argument as to whether this is right or wrong, the proof shows up in the profiles of the admitted class pudding.
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Re: How important is where you did your undergrad? [#permalink] New post 03 Oct 2008, 15:53
Thats what I was hoping to hear. I guess I would fall into the category of people who didn't start making the grade until post high-school (sports and other activities may have drawn from my scholastic performance before college), but as long as I don't get any Bs (or as few as possible) until graduation, I should be competitive in at least some of the upper-level programs?
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Re: How important is where you did your undergrad? [#permalink] New post 04 Oct 2008, 03:17
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...Engineering is a whole other beast, you could be an engineer from a no name school and go work for a small specialized company doing very interesting and unique things.


I went to a good state engineering school, nothing spectacular, but I work for a F500 and do work on projects that effect the bottom line of the company.

Is this what you mean by that engineering is a whole other beast? And why do you think this is the case for engineering field? Also, would this help my application or would my application be evaluated against other engineers applying to the same business school?
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Re: How important is where you did your undergrad? [#permalink] New post 04 Oct 2008, 13:48
tl;dr

It is what it is. You can't change it, and lots of people don't do their undergrads at top universities, so you aren't alone. Bottom line: don't worry about it.
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Re: How important is where you did your undergrad? [#permalink] New post 04 Oct 2008, 18:41
I have a question about the same subject matter. I am an undergraduate student (junior, 23 years old) and attending a non-rank University. I attended this University for about 3 years before transferring to Texas A&M Mays School of Business. The non-rank school I averaged a 3.7gpa, about 81 credit hours. At Texas A&M I got a 2.4 first semester, and a whooping 1.1 second semester (average 1.695). Shortly after moving to Texas A&M my grandfather who I am very close to got extremely ill. As spring rolled around the corner I found myself driving home 8 hours and coming back to school another 8 hours. I even drove back all night without sleep only to take a test that same morning. I was happy with my decision to not attend summer school and use that time to spend with my grandfather because he had passed away on July 5, 2008 :cry: .

The reason I even transferred to Texas A&M was because of the subject we are discussing on this thread. Unfortunately I did not discover the GMAT club to ask for advice until I was already at Texas A&M. The main reason I left to attend Texas A&M was because I was worried that if I decide to attend graduate school that I would not be a candidate because of the non-rank school. At that time my grandfather was in good condition.


How does my poor performance at Texas A&M affect me as a candidate if I enroll at another non-rank school and get a 3.7+ gpa?

I am mainly concerned with that because I know that If I work hard I can score 700+ on the GMAT. I am already working/looking for leadership extra curricular activities.

I plan on majoring in finance/International Business. Hopefully I got a chance for MBA school and this post helps anyone who is in my situation.

Any advice/help is appreciated.
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Re: How important is where you did your undergrad? [#permalink] New post 04 Oct 2008, 23:39
Miketx,

That is a really sad story and your grandfather's condition obviously effected your performance. However the GPA average os 1.695 isn't good news to Adcom. I feel it will be too low to explain it even in the optional essays.

Is there some way you can re-do what you missed out on?
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Re: How important is where you did your undergrad? [#permalink] New post 05 Oct 2008, 07:38
buffdaddy,

It was a difficult situation to be in especially when I never experienced it before. My grandfather is in a better place though, because he was on feeding tubes from Feb.-June. He kept asking for food but they couldn't because they were afraid he would choke. Now he can eat the steak he been asking for since then :wink: .

When I read post from Tarmac and Rhyme on their opinion on this subject it really encourages me. Tarmac brought up a point that "If you think you would add to the MBA community, then you should apply and say why." I will score 700+ on my GMAT, continue to find leadership both at work and volunteer services. Then write killer essays and show them after having a 1.1gpa how I rebounded to finish strong my last 2 years despite it being from another university and why I would be an asset to them. Makes me want to hit the books already :oops: .

edit, maybe I should apply to UT Austin for mba school since they may automatically except me for leaving Texas A&M since they don't like each other :P .
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Re: How important is where you did your undergrad? [#permalink] New post 07 Oct 2008, 04:30
i think ut austin would be happy to see someone switching allegiances from a&m.

do you think schools like if you went to their school as an undergrad and are applying to bschool there? like, if i attended dartmouth, would tuck like that? i feel that for certain schools its considered a plus, and for others a minus as they don't feel like accepting people who did their undergrad there translates to much diversity.
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Re: How important is where you did your undergrad? [#permalink] New post 07 Oct 2008, 09:12
EntrepreNeurIT wrote:
i think ut austin would be happy to see someone switching allegiances from a&m.

do you think schools like if you went to their school as an undergrad and are applying to bschool there? like, if i attended dartmouth, would tuck like that? i feel that for certain schools its considered a plus, and for others a minus as they don't feel like accepting people who did their undergrad there translates to much diversity.


When I visited the UT campus last year I spoke with some guy who admits students into their school. I joked with him that if I ever graduated from Texas A&M as an undergraduate if I can attend UT for MBA school. He replied "Anyone smart enough to leave Texas A&M is always a plus to me for undergraduate or graduate." I thought he was joking at first until I noticed he was for real :lol: .

If you attended Dartmouth and later applied to Tuck, they wont hold it against you, they will probably just poke fun of you etc. It can help you maybe joke about it in an interview, which can help bring out your personally and show Tuck the type of student you are. Of course there are other ways it can be played out but that is one of them.
Re: How important is where you did your undergrad?   [#permalink] 07 Oct 2008, 09:12
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