Are we underestimating are chances here? : The B-School Application
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# Are we underestimating are chances here?

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Are we underestimating are chances here? [#permalink]

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04 Nov 2006, 23:21
As I have mentioned elsewhere, I'm a pessimist about the application process. But then I read something that makes me think maybe we are being too hard on ourselves here, and that even at top programs a large portion of the rejected applications just didn't know what they were getting themselves in to. For example, take the following question which was asked in a chat with Michigan adcoms.

"Can long working experience (more than 6 years) and quite a good GMAT (690) compensate for a very low GPA(2.36)?"

You guys can probably predict my reaction by now. The person asking this question just doesn't seem to get that 690 is BELOW the average GMAT for Michigan, so it's not really considered "quite a good GMAT" in this context. This person also seems to have no idea that the quality of the work experience is the most important factor, and that 6 years of nothingness will torpedo your application. Finally, that GPA is really really low. It's definitely well below the middle 80% and would probably be among the bottom 2% of students admitted to Ross.

So, ultra low GPA, below average GMAT, undistinguished (as far as we know) work experience, and no mention of activities. The adcom's response"? Standard spiel of course.

"All pieces of the application are considered as a whole. In addition to work experience, GMAT, and GPA, the essays, achievements, extracurricular activities, recommendation letters and interviews play an important role."

We know Michigan accepts about 30% and rejects about 70%. I'm beginning to wonder just how many are "easy rejects". You know, those that are way out of range for scores, do no research, write terrible essays and have poor work experience an extracurriculars. Of course, adcoms will still encourage them to apply.
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05 Nov 2006, 04:32
I think so...there seems to be a disproportionately high number of top b-school acceptances among the b-school obsessed (BW posters, bloggers, etc.)...just like everything, I think you get out of it what you put in. Also, that person's GPA may not be that bad...could be an international who picked an inaccurate conversion.
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05 Nov 2006, 06:00
How you calculate GPA from percentage
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05 Nov 2006, 08:46
As far as I know Michigan Av. GMAT is 700 and I know many people who got accepted at Michigan having 670. So 10 marks below Av. should not be a big concern.

If you persent your extras and work exp. "effecttively", then there is very high chance to get accepted, but no one knows.....

However, It is possible that adcom gives this kind of advice to increase the inflow of applications....
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05 Nov 2006, 09:02
If you look at historical info Michigan's avg is more like 660-680. I wouldn't worry at all with a 690.
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05 Nov 2006, 09:08
I think there is considerable truth in pelihu's statement- being unduly harsh in evaluating one's chances can be as damaging as over confidence. GMATClubbers seem to have a hard time believing me when I mention that many of the applications that top cluster schools receive are so weak that they are effectively headed on a one-way trip to the automatic reject bin. I don't mean "weak" as in 700 instead of the 710 average for a given school, I mean unprofessional essays rife with simple errors, obvious evidence of poor research, and heaping piles of academic risk.
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Re: Are we underestimating are chances here? [#permalink]

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05 Nov 2006, 09:22
pelihu wrote:

"Can long working experience (more than 6 years) and quite a good GMAT (690) compensate for a very low GPA(2.36)?"

The problem for this candidate is that years of experience mean nothing really. He should realize that next to him is someone who also has 6 years of experience but a 3.6 gpa and a 740 GMAT. Just having 'more' experience, doesn't in any way help his application.

I'm convinced that:

1) Some people do a bad job of answering the question posed. This seems to be very very common. (Every adcom mentions it)

2) Most people do a very poor job of making it sound like they actually want to go to the school. Canned generic statements about "great faculty" and "fabulous students".

3) There are an inordinate amount of "IIT" graduates working in India who want to go to school in the US. I'd heard this before, but I'm amazed how many of the essays I've seen are from essentially an identical demographic. Somehow, there seem to be a lot of indians on this website - I don't know why, so I don't know if it's truly representative of the population (that is, the sample I've seen) - but if so, I can understand why the "Indian engineer" is a hard app. Many have had similar aspirations too - come back to India to work on the family business. I'm not trying to discourage these applicants, but it seems like they really are everywhere.

4) In my conversations with current students and alumni, I'm shocked by how many immediately determine whether or not I'll be accepted based on my GMAT score. I don't know if they know something I don't, but a lot of them say "whats your GMAT?" and then respond "Oh, your getting in. Don't worry."

5) Lets be honest here. Schools want everyone to apply. 2.0 GPA? Sure. 550 GMAT? Go ahead. The reason is that so much of the PERCIEVED prestige (and rank) comes from the selectivity percentage. If they set a true GMAT cutoff - say 700 - how many applicants would never even apply? 41% of applicants to Kellogg are under 700 - 16% of applicants are under 640 but make up only 9% of the class. Thats almost 1000 applicants right out of the gate.. If you do the math, (http://www.kellogg.northwestern.edu/adm ... res_06.pdf)
assuming a 50% yield, were talking a 16% accept rate. And as I've mentioned before, below 640, the yield is probably much higher - closer to say 10% or 8% accepts maybe. At the 700-740 level, assuming a 33% yield - one in three, the accept rate would be 44% or so. (891 offers based on 45% of class (660) * 3 divided by 44% of 4500 or so about 2000 applicants). It's a napkin calculation sure, but it doesnt seem out of the realm of possibility. If Kellogg put a cutoff at 700, theyd lose about 1600 applicants, and have only 2400 or so left - bringing their overall accept to 21%, whereas without it appears its more like 12%.
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05 Nov 2006, 09:23
Yes... We have been discussing Cornell alot around here. I would assume Cornell's ablity to make such quick decisions (last interviews on the 10th for a 17th decision for example or 4 days before requesting an interview from me after receiving my completed app) drive from the fact that they get alot of apps that take no more than a second to decide upon.
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05 Nov 2006, 09:53
nm

Last edited by dukes on 06 Dec 2006, 10:04, edited 1 time in total.
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05 Nov 2006, 10:05
I've questioned whether they really care as much as they say about the break down. I think they look to that if they fear there is real "academic risk" but otherwise a 680 is a 680.
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05 Nov 2006, 10:25
To clarify, I am not saying that 690 is a low score. It is well within range for Michigan. My reaction came from the fact that this person believed that it was a the type of score that could offset weaknesses elsewhere in the application. It can't - 690 is below the average at Michigan and the average is going up. In fact, in a BW chat, Michigan's admissions director stated a goal of increasing the average GMAT score there.

So, I don't know how the GPA conversion was done, but 2.36 is off the charts low for an elite school and a below average GMAT will not help prove this person can cut the mustard. Adcoms will encourage everyone to apply regardless of how inconceivable it would be for them to be admitted, but if you read the BW forums and other message boards, you'll see that they have convinced a lot of people with absolutely no chance of getting in to apply.
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Re: Are we underestimating are chances here? [#permalink]

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05 Nov 2006, 11:02
rhyme wrote:
pelihu wrote:

"Can long working experience (more than 6 years) and quite a good GMAT (690) compensate for a very low GPA(2.36)?"

5) Lets be honest here. Schools want everyone to apply. 2.0 GPA? Sure. 550 GMAT? Go ahead. The reason is that so much of the PERCIEVED prestige (and rank) comes from the selectivity percentage.

Not to mention the $300 they get for each application.. If it takes them 5 min. to reject someone, they are making$3600/hour!!

(note my amazing quant skillz)
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05 Nov 2006, 11:15
Truly mind boggling Citalfo

Actually, I think I talked about the elsewhere, but I believe that Harvard gets the most "easy rejects' of any school. If seems when anyone wants to add a stretch school, it's always Harvard. If someone is applying to Chicago, Michigan, Duke and decides to add Harvard as a reach, that probably makes sense. But you also see a lot of people applying to schools ranked outside the top 25, even the top 50, who also throw in an application to Harvard just to give it a try. I wonder what portion of their admit percentage can be attributed to "dead meat" (to steal a term).
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05 Nov 2006, 12:57
pelihu wrote:
To clarify, I am not saying that 690 is a low score. It is well within range for Michigan. My reaction came from the fact that this person believed that it was a the type of score that could offset weaknesses elsewhere in the application. It can't - 690 is below the average at Michigan and the average is going up. In fact, in a BW chat, Michigan's admissions director stated a goal of increasing the average GMAT score there.

So, I don't know how the GPA conversion was done, but 2.36 is off the charts low for an elite school and a below average GMAT will not help prove this person can cut the mustard. Adcoms will encourage everyone to apply regardless of how inconceivable it would be for them to be admitted, but if you read the BW forums and other message boards, you'll see that they have convinced a lot of people with absolutely no chance of getting in to apply.

Maybe I am off base here - but I think you are wrong in saying a 690 cant compensate for a low GPA - this is almost the 90th percentile of the test, a 690 is a 690 - any school would be more then happy to take an applicant with that type of score if their app is good.

Also, I know 2 people who got into Wharton with some of the worst work experience you could find, one with basic data entry for 3+ years and the other had long stretched of being unemployed. Both had high GMATs, although I am not sure if either broke 700. There is a lot more to the equation then a GMAT, a GPA, and essays. I believe it is extremely competitive to get into any top 15 ranked school but I also think some people on this sight make it out to be nearly impossible for those with blemishes on their record. The reality is there just arent that many 3.7 GPA, 700+ GMAT, 5+ years of work experience out there. In fact - one ADCOM I spoke with told me that most applicants have no leadership or management expereince - if you dont have that I would say that could hurt you just as much as a low GPA or GMAT.
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05 Nov 2006, 13:29
OasisNYK wrote:
Maybe I am off base here - but I think you are wrong in saying a 690 cant compensate for a low GPA - this is almost the 90th percentile of the test, a 690 is a 690 - any school would be more then happy to take an applicant with that type of score if their app is good.

Also, I know 2 people who got into Wharton with some of the worst work experience you could find, one with basic data entry for 3+ years and the other had long stretched of being unemployed. Both had high GMATs, although I am not sure if either broke 700. There is a lot more to the equation then a GMAT, a GPA, and essays. I believe it is extremely competitive to get into any top 15 ranked school but I also think some people on this sight make it out to be nearly impossible for those with blemishes on their record. The reality is there just arent that many 3.7 GPA, 700+ GMAT, 5+ years of work experience out there. In fact - one ADCOM I spoke with told me that most applicants have no leadership or management expereince - if you dont have that I would say that could hurt you just as much as a low GPA or GMAT.

Are you serious? Wow. Was that person a underrepresented minority? Or did he/she have really good extracurriculars?
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05 Nov 2006, 13:39
Oasis,

I cannot agree with you anymore.. I hear a lot that gmat is seen as an indicator whether you are academically capable to handle the mba curriculum. The adcoms I spoke to in the infosessions said anything north of 650, you have crossed the barrier.. then its up to your rest of the app to prove that you are good...

i keep hearing in these forums that 690 is not too good etc... trust me its good.. go to the 80% range of the scores for most top schools, the range is 640 - 700
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05 Nov 2006, 14:34
This weekend I was visiting Haas and staying with a friend of mine in the area. His girlfriend is a first year there and happened to mention that she knows another first year student who spent the last three years playing online poker and it is the only 'work' experience he has had since college.

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05 Nov 2006, 14:38
That's just simply not true. The 80% range for the top 15 schools is 650-760 (give or take 10 points on either end).

The mean GMAT is 710 at every single schools in the top 10. Every one of them (look it up in the most recent BW article).

Over 17,000 people will score 700 or higher on the GMAT this year. When the average GMAT at a school is 700 or 710 (as it is at every school in the top 15 other than Darden & Cornell), then by definition a 690 is below average. It will not help you, it is something that must be overcome (or at best it will be neutral). I believe there are literally hundreds of thousands of students each year with GPAs at or above the average for top business schools.

Batchgmat hits on a very good point. Demographic matters a great deal - possibly more important than any other part of the application. I'm currently working on the Columbia application, so I have the numbers right in front of me. The middle 80% for GMAT is 660-750. That means that by definition, no more than 10% of the admitted students have GMATs below 660. You can be sure that those people are exceptional in other ways (probably including demographic).

Another example, middle 80% GMAT for Berkeley is 650-760. That means that fewer than 25 people (out of a class of 240) will have scores below 650. Even UCLA, which is probably somewhat less competitive, has a middle 80% of 650 to 760, a mean of 704 and median of 710. Of the 30 or so with GMATs below 650 admitted here, most will certainly be underrepresented minorities. Back to the original topic, Michigan's middle 80% score is 650-750, mean 701, median 710.

To say that the middle 80% range at most top schools is 640-700 is exactly the type of misinformation that I was targeting with the original post. Again, Cornell and Darden are the only schools of the top 15 where the middle 80% is not 650-760 (give or take 10 points). I'm going to say it again, a 690 will not offset a low GPA at a place like Michigan. It makes no sense that a below average score will help you. By definition it is something that needs to be overcome elsewhere in the application. If you are below the average in one aspect, you cannot balance that out by being below average in another aspect! The reason they would consider someone that is below average in one part would be if they were above average in another part. Otherwise, the average wouldn't be the average any more!

So, without a doubt, there are people that gain entry into top ten schools with 690 or 650 or even 600 GMATs. But they did not get in because of their GMAT, they got in in spite of it.

Finally, regarding the misinformation that anything north of 650 is exactly the same, consider the following quote from an online chat with the director of admissions at Columbia Linda Meehan. She was asked whether it would help someone's application if they could raise their score from 680 to 710. She did not say 680 is exactly like 710 which is exactly like 750. This is what she said:

"I can't make that decision for you. The 680 falls in the middle of the 80% range. The farther from the average or the top the less your comfort level should be...however we admit a number of 680's...it's in the range."

I'm gonna read between the lines here.
1. When she says "the farther from the average or the top" that means that clearly there is some benefit to being at the average, and some additional benefit to being towards the top of the range. All scores are not the same after some given level.
2. When she says "the less your comfort level should be" she is trying to dispel the misconception that all GMAT scores within a range are treated equally.
3. The way she says that they admit "a number of 680's", suggests that it is unusual. She could have said "we regularly admit 680's" or "admitting 680's is normal for us". The way that it is used, "a number" means not many. What she is saying, without actually saying it is that I'm not gonna tell you to retake the GMAT, but 680 is going to hurt your application. We might admit you in spite of your score, but if you're serious about applying you should re-take.
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05 Nov 2006, 16:53
I would agree that 690 or 680 or whatever it was COMPENSATES for anything at a top school. What I think it does is just gets you a read. Too far below and you probably just get tossed in the reject pile unless you fit in an under-represented minority. If you have a score in the range then they look at all the rest... Your GPA should be good, you should have some leadership experience (that doesn't necessary mean having reports, I have pretty good leadership experience but no management experience, there are other ways to have organizational impact), you should have some decent work experience and some stories to relate your point of view on leadership... Does 690 compensate for a 2.anything? Nope... but the 690 might get you a read. You better have something else to compensate for the low GPA though. A GMAT at the mean isn't gonna compensate for a damn thing. Is 690 good enough to get into a top school? Yup... but the rest of your app better be good.
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05 Nov 2006, 17:42
Once again, we are discussing GMAT in way too much detailâ€¦lets do a hypothetical analysisâ€¦.. If I am an adcom at Wharton and I have to read 50 applications in one week, here is what I would do:

First Application: Investment Banker (IB) GMAT 750 (who cares just another freakin IB, I will think about him later)

Second Application: India IT GMAT 720 (who cares just another freakin Indian IT, I will think about him later)

Third Application: Management Consultant (MC) GMAT 780 (who cares just another freakin MC, I will think about him later)

Fourth Application: Minority Guy GMAT 680 (Jesus Christ, he needs attention, minority and 680, reasonable essays, not bad at all, bring him in for an interview, immediate decision)

Fifth Application, 33 year old, GMAT 680, social sciences background, whole career in social sciences, post MBA goals also social sciences related (solid execution of essays, legitimate reason to pursue MBA, unique background, he is old but his whole career is consistently in social sciences so he is not bulshitting, who cares about his age, he need our help to address social problems, bring him/her in for an interview, immediate decision)

Sixth Application Minority: GMAT 640 (nice essays and well done application, I will think about him)

Seventh Application IB GMAT 690 (whatever DUDE, I have IB applications with a much higher GMAT score, yeah yeah yeah, you are spinning your essays really well but I know you are an IB and need an MBA for career progressionâ€¦PERIODâ€¦.rest is really bulshitâ€¦. you are trashed)

Eight Application Female, GMAT 670, OK essays (we need females, donâ€™t we, bring her IN for an interview)

Ninth Application MC, GMAT 750 (Whatever, I will think about him later)

Tenth Application Indian IT, 740 (Whatever, I will think about him later)

Ok fine..I will take a break hereâ€¦out of these ten applications, the guy with 680/unique social sciences background, the minority guy with 680/reasonable essays and the female with 670 are going to get an invitation, PERIODâ€¦.no question asked about freakin GMAT as long as it is above 650..

Now comes the harder partâ€¦.IB, MC and Indian ITâ€¦what to do about themâ€¦trust me, most of the IB and MC applicants will have well written essays because they are coming from an environment where they are surrounded among ultra elite MBAsâ€¦.so they know what it takes to get into a top programâ€¦.in such cases, adcom will put more value on GMAT/GPA to differentiate among themâ€¦..everyone knows that an IB or a MC needs an MBA for his career progressionâ€¦PERIODâ€¦.there will be nothing exceptionally unique in their essays (of course there will be few exceptions but when you work 80 hr a week, there is not much time left to do some thing exceptional)â€¦.so how to decide among themâ€¦lets see what is their GMAT and GPA â€¦. Same applies to Indian IT poolâ€¦.

In essence, it is pretty obvious that in some cases GMAT/GPA are relatively important whereas in many cases, GMAT/GPA play a secondary roleâ€¦.in the above example, the MC guy with 780 and IB guy with 750 will also get the invitationâ€¦... rest of them are going to the trash binâ€¦.there you goâ€¦five out of ten get Wharton invitations (50%)â€¦.

Now if an Indian IT guy with a GMAT of 780 thinks that he has a better chance than another fellow Indian who has a unique background with a GMAT of 680, he is terribly wrongâ€¦â€¦..it is all about diversity and by diversity school means to attract those candidates who can add value to the class discussionâ€¦.
05 Nov 2006, 17:42

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