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The Indian Male MBA Application Guide

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The Indian Male MBA Application Guide


As some of you may know, I have dabbled in the application process more than the average Joe (or the average Indian Ram). I have applied to schools for 2 years, had tremendous ups and downs, and finally, had reasonable success this year. I am not going to go into details as to which program I got into and which program did not deem me fit for their class, but through extensive conversations and observing 6-8 rounds of this process, I have come up with a reasonably sound explanations of Indian-friendly MBA programs.

BUT Before You Go On: Please note that NONE of my analysis are quite backed by extensive data mining. Narenn does that stuff and while I think most of my findings are anecdotal,
you might find merit in following some of my approaches. It is entirely up to you to believe my hypotheses, and I will certainly not entertain questions such as "What is your source?" - the evidence is anecdotal and I leave it up to you to believe/trust my judgement. Having said that, I have been helping people on GMAT Club for almost five years now. I would not just say things


Top Schools That Have Predictable Admissions Processes


This is what I mean by predictable - If you have hit top 80-90%ile of their class stats - you should expect an interview invite unless you have written really crappy essays. These B Schools have had a traditional way to of selecting candidates for interviews and it could be reasonably assumed that if you hit these stats, you are in a good place for an invite. These are the stats that one would have to hit to score an invite (although note that predictability will vary based on schools as I mentioned in the graph below).

Favourable Stats for Indian Males
  • GMAT - 740 or above.
  • Undergrad- IIT top 5-7, non IIT universities include - BITS, NITs, Delhi University, SRCC, JU, ANNA U. These are universities I know[/i. Of course there are MANY others, and if your GMAT is 740+ your undergrad pedigree may not matter as much. Of course it will help if you are from these universities or some other well known ones (think top 25 in India)
  • GPA - does not REALLY matter in my honest opinion, unless you have a visible Fail grade in your transcript. I have a very strong suspicion that Indian undergrad GPAs are not weighed in the same way as other geographies because the grading scale is completely non standard. Even for a low GPA, I would not bother writing an optional essay to explain
  • Experience- Blue chip companies will help a LOT. Especially if your company is F100 or even F500 (unless you are in a dead end IT back support role), you have a very clear chance of being taken seriously. For smaller companies, working with international clients will help, as will having foreign work experience — client work and what have you. For non profit roles, make sure to explain the scale and capacity of your nonprofit. I worked in nonprofits for five years - both big and small so I had an extra hurdle to overcome.

My Predictability Rankings

Image


School Specific Tips


These are just the schools I have some idea about. Either I interviewed or know tons of people who did. As usual, take my advice with a bucketload of seasoning.

Wharton - While I did not score an invite myself, I know plenty who did. I think if you an Indian female with top scores and great pedigree in experience, you have a fairly decent shot here. However if you are an Indian male, I would be nervous unless you have a 750+ GMAT with a big name work ex and some international chops. Wharton has consistently kept its essays same over the last few years. I feel you can get away with mediocre school research (Wharton's website is overwhelmingly crowded so you will find something). I don't think networking will help a lot in Wharton. Wharton is a big school and it is not as insecure as a few others, so you don't have to work hard on build a pre existing network to the school. Also, culture is not really a thing a Wharton (Man, if a Wharton alum/current is reading this, I am sure he/she is rolling their eyes), so hard to go too deep there too.

MIT Sloan - I did interview at Sloan and had the liberty to a lot of research. I feel if you have innovation screaming from your resume, you have a decent shot at scoring an invite as long as you hit the basic stats of course. I would recommend reading/learning about their experiential labs and provide clear examples of how they will help you in your cover letter. Also, I am fairly confident with Sloan's trajectory of moving away from any video to mandating web cameras, they don't give a lot of significance to production quality. My video was basically an audition for the Blair-witch project.

Chicago Booth - I think Booth is really [i]really Indian friendly. 8-10 % of the class is Indian and that's saying something considering a pretty sizeable class size. I think Booth is pretty achievable for an interview invite if you hit ALL the stats - that means GMAT, Undergrad and Work Experience Pedigree. One additional insight I would recommend is really nail the Chicago Approach (I don't think essays matter as much before the interview stage - but more on that later) and that you are not afraid to challenge the status quo. But I think the picture collection that Booth uses gets worse every year so it might be tricky to fit that in at times. Booth also is trying very hard to push the image of its culture as one that fosters collaboration so if you are that type, perhaps Booth will like you even more!

UC Berkeley - I think Haas is one of the schools which really reads your entire application before calling for interviews. So essays are crucial here. I think stats will help here, but not as much. Your essays need to be top notch and you definitely have to show your well-roundedness more to woo Haas than other schools. I hope they do not bring the song essay back from the grave, but if they do, it would be an annoying glitch. Haas essays end up being pretty behavioural so lots of scope to flesh out strong ideas. I would recommend essays that talks about persuading others, leading people, resolving conflict through EQ. I also think Haas (in a tie with Ross) has the friendliest student community. I had a really good time talking to Haas ambassadors and they even volunteered to look at my essays. Unfortunately the class at Haas has 3-5 Indians, so unless you are super lucky, you will not get in.

Dartmouth/Tuck - This schools is all about outreach. In my reapplication feedback I was explicitly told by a certain Associate Director to show up for events/chats/classes to stand out. I also think Tuck may be a bit more lenient to GMATs (I mean a 730 might cut it), and I do think essays matter more here to score invites than other schools. I also feel that if you can successfully convey that you will live and breathe the culture at Tuck, certain weaknesses in your profile might get overlooked. I would network like crazy with Tuck, current students, admissions, mock classes, coffee chats and everything else they do.

Michigan Ross - Ross is BIG on culture too, and you have to show that that you love them. That means - attend events - network, show up at team exercise, ask for suggestions. Ross was REALLY kind to me and I fell in love with the school. I reached out to one kind admissions director after getting rejected last year and instead of giving me generic encouragement, he went through my file to give me specific feedback - a nonstandard practice at Ross. Also, I reached out to 2 current students and they proactively connected my to 10 more. I could not be more grateful. I really felt they were my partners in the process.

(I can keep adding a few more schools in the future based on demand)

Which schools to apply to:


Allstar 760+ Indian male with top undergrad and bluechip experiences/saving the world nonprofits/strong leadership in a new sexy industry type

Hard: HBS, Stanford, Sloan
Maybe: Booth, Kellogg, Columbia
Achievable: Ross, Darden, Duke, Tuck, Stern

If "in" at the maybe and achievable schools

Consulting Goals - I would recommend Kellogg, Booth, Tuck, Columbia, Ross, Duke, Stern, Darden in that order
Tech Goals - I would recommend Booth, Ross, Kellogg, Columbia, Tuck, Duke, Stern, Darden in that order
Other Goals - You are Indian. Don't flatter yourself.

730-750 GMAT, top undergrad, great experiences

Hard: HBS, Stanford, Sloan, Booth, Kellogg, Columbia, Darden
Maybe: Ross, Duke, Darden, Tuck, Stern
Achievable: McCombs, UCLA, Emory, UNC, Foster

If "in" at the maybe and achievable schools

Consulting Goals - I would recommend Tuck, Ross, Duke, Stern, McCombs, Emory, UNC, Foster in that order
Tech Goals - I would recommend Ross, McCombs, UCLA, Stern, Tuck, Darden, Foster, UNC, Emoory in that order
Other Goals - You are Indian. Don't make me repeat myself!

730-750 GMAT, top 30-40 undergrad, lack of bluechip/worldsaving nonprofits/strong leadership in a new sexy industry

Hard: Ross, Duke, Darden, Tuck, Stern
Maybe: Stern, UCLA, UNC, McCombs, Tepper
Achievable: Top 30-40 - I would recommend Kelley, Emory, Foster

Less than 730 GMAT, top 40 undergrad, no bluechip experience/strong leadership in a new sexy industry

Consider recalibrating your expectations. If you want to get into the top 25 US programs, I would recommend retaking the GMAT, seek leadership opportunities at work and definitely reexamine your career goals.

Some Additional Notes and Theories



    1. My observations may be completely flawed. Of course, I do not think that, but I am sure there are numerous examples that are exceptions to my observations.
    2. I have a sneaky feeling that essays do not matter much in the interview invitation process (saving schools such as Haas, Anderson, Tuck etc). I think interview invites are mostly based on stats, pedigree, branding etc. Once the candidates are interviewed, the essays matter a lot more - this theory makes sense from an ROI of reading thousands of essays of people who don't stand a chance at all = BAD for business perspectives. Plus schools such as Yale, Kellogg, and some others issuing invites within a day of deadlines make me nervous.
    3. Some schools such as Kellogg have a fairly random process of issuing invites to Indians. I am not going to share my thoughts except the fact that I am not a fan. Definitely messes up my predictability theories.
    4. Schools with ED rounds are MUCH more predictable and Indian-friendly (especially Fuqua, Tuck, and maybe Columbia) than later rounds. I think Fuqua RD round is harder to get into than any R1 peer school. Period.

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New post 07 Jan 2018, 09:22
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Good analysis of your application process, souvik101990 . A couple of points I wanted to add to round out Wharton and Booth considerations. I visited both, Wharton and Booth (interview and school visit) and felt the following:

1. Wharton definitely looks at the 'brand' value you will be bringing; thus for an Indian male, high chances of getting in if you are from IITs or top 2-3 NITs with 8+ GPA. TBDs are fun but not a good way of evaluating people. PI for Wharton was a hogwash. So make sure to have your essays of top notch quality.

2. Booth is trying to show its 'collaborative' and 'all encompassing' student body by heavily focusing on these aspects in its advertising material but I personally felt that the students couldnt be more disjointed. Its a great school but until it creates facets of its curriculum around team work and collaboration, these things will merely be catch phrases.

To clarify my own understanding of your graph above, there are no values assigned to the relative predictability of the applications but the relative 'levels' do tell us ,say, Ross and NYU Stern are of similar high level of predictability. Is that the correct interpretation?
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New post 07 Jan 2018, 10:30
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Your research helped me understand mba admission process in a nutshell. Good research
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New post 11 Jan 2018, 19:32
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Nicely summarized, Souvik. I've shared it on LinkedIn.

You are right about Wharton when you say: "I think if you an Indian female with top scores and great pedigree in experience, you have a fairly decent shot here."

In fact, from what I've seen, even the top score requirement isn't a must when the overall profile and experience is top notch.
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what about indian female application guide? ;)
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c513 wrote:
what about indian female application guide? ;)


Thanks for asking. I think it’s almost just as brutal for Indian women as it is for Indian men. However, candidly speaking, expect a 730 GMAT to get you into safe zone as opposed to a 750 for an Indian dude. If you have blue chip experiences with a high GMAT, I’d be very surprised if you don’t land up an invite.


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New post 24 Jan 2018, 12:59
"You are Indian, don't flatter yourself" hahahahahaha
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"Other Goals - You are Indian. Don't flatter yourself."

I can't stop laughing. See you in Ann Arbor.
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New post 09 Apr 2018, 23:55
souvik101990 wrote:
[color=#790000]

The Indian Male MBA Application Guide



Favourable Stats for Indian Males
  • GPA - does not REALLY matter in my honest opinion, unless you have a visible Fail grade in your transcript. I have a very strong suspicion that Indian undergrad GPAs are not weighed in the same way as other geographies because the grading scale is completely non standard. Even for a low GPA, I would not bother writing an optional essay to explain


I had 3 backlogs during UG, anyway have cleared it now. How eligible am I?

Posted from my mobile device
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nomoneynoMBA wrote:

I had 3 backlogs during UG, anyway have cleared it now. How eligible am I?

Posted from my mobile device


Backlog doesn't matter. As long as you cleared it.
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New post 11 Apr 2018, 06:51
Gnpth wrote:
nomoneynoMBA wrote:

I had 3 backlogs during UG, anyway have cleared it now. How eligible am I?

Posted from my mobile device


Backlog doesn't matter. As long as you cleared it.


I would question whether the backlogs appear on your transcripts. If they do, it might raise a few eyebrows.
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New post 11 Apr 2018, 07:27
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souvik101990 wrote:

I would question whether the backlogs appear on your transcripts. If they do, it might raise a few eyebrows.


I did have a couple of backlogs which is in the transcript but counted twice for each when I wrote those papers again to clear it.

For Indians- I feel as long as it says a first class in the transcript, we don't have to worry. But a distinction would be prettier. In my case, I lost the distinction because of 2 backlogs.
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New post 14 Apr 2018, 05:04
Are my chances very bad if I have a 740 or above score but not a great GPA(64%), not a top 20 UG, and no Blue Chip companies on my resume (I worked for a hospital which is the largest tertiary hospital in U.A.E.).
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New post 10 May 2018, 10:28
ENGRTOMBA2018 wrote:
Good analysis of your application process, souvik101990 . A couple of points I wanted to add to round out Wharton and Booth considerations. I visited both, Wharton and Booth (interview and school visit) and felt the following:

1. Wharton definitely looks at the 'brand' value you will be bringing; thus for an Indian male, high chances of getting in if you are from IITs or top 2-3 NITs with 8+ GPA. TBDs are fun but not a good way of evaluating people. PI for Wharton was a hogwash. So make sure to have your essays of top notch quality.

2. Booth is trying to show its 'collaborative' and 'all encompassing' student body by heavily focusing on these aspects in its advertising material but I personally felt that the students couldnt be more disjointed. Its a great school but until it creates facets of its curriculum around team work and collaboration, these things will merely be catch phrases.

To clarify my own understanding of your graph above, there are no values assigned to the relative predictability of the applications but the relative 'levels' do tell us ,say, Ross and NYU Stern are of similar high level of predictability. Is that the correct interpretation?


I am clearly an idiot to have ignored your question. Yes, while the values are arbitrary, through relative values I tried to elaborate that the predictability for Ross and Stern are quite similar. That does not mean they will take similar candidates, but that does mean if that if you hit their basic stats (with a 20% upward if you are indian) you will have a decent chance of scoring an interview, as opposed to, let's say, Yale which has a very unpredictable admission process.
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New post 12 May 2018, 17:19
Hi Souvik ,

Thanks for the great analysis , what would you suggest to someone with 740 in GMAT , 2 Years of Work Ex at a big 4 ( Lining up for back-to-back promotions ). I did my engineering from the Pune University ( the marking scheme is really stringent ) , with 70% aggregate , distinction with first class.

Thanks in advance
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New post 20 May 2018, 22:19
jayantk94 wrote:
Hi @souvik10990 ,

Thanks for the great analysis , what would you suggest to someone with 740 in GMAT , 2 Years of Work Ex at a big 4 ( Lining up for back-to-back promotions ). I did my engineering from the Pune University ( the marking scheme is really stringent ) , with 70% aggregate , distinction with first class.

Thanks in advance
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Re: The Indian Male MBA Application Guide &nbs [#permalink] 20 May 2018, 22:19
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