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Admissions to top MBA programs the past few years has been downright insane. Just some anecdotes of people i know who have gotten rejected at HBS and stanford

1. VP at TPG who got rejected at HBS, now at wharton
2. summa at wharton undergrad, BCG consulting, international experience, 750+ GMAT, rejected at HBS and stanford
3. engineering undergrad at a top program (MIT, Stanford, berkeley), mckinsey consulting, 770 GMAT, rejected at HBS, stanford, wharton, kellogg, columbia

Comments (37)

  • macro's picture

    #1 isn't surprising, age is a huge discounting factor, especially for HBS. In general it has been brutal for PE guys in the past couple years.

  • jhoratio's picture

    Why the hell would a VP at TPG want to go to business school? Rejection is not suprising at all. That's like saying he was rejected from med school.

    2 is not completely surprising, shit happens.

    3 is the only real shock in the bunch.

  • Marcus_Halberstram's picture

    Just because these guys have gone to top schools and worked at prestigious firms doesn't in any way indicate they are capable of doing anything other than behaving like trained monkeys. Think about it... you read, study, memorize, regurgitate and do well in school... get into a good college. Do what you did in high school and try not to get sidetracked by your new found independence and get interviews at top firms. While the whole interviewing process is supposed to keep these book smart trained monkeys out of the system, interviewing itself can be mastered using the same read, study, memorize, regurgitate process. This time you're just learning to tell them what they want to hear.

    The above stats, while impressive on paper, don't say much to suggest that any one of those people are standouts who will leave a lasting impression in all their endeavors.

    Its not that surprising at all really. The above guys have gotten rejected and people with "less impressive" stats have gotten in... what does that tell you?

    These programs aren't seeking out students who can graduate with a 3.8 GPA and go back to McK with a pay bump... they're looking for the next Dimons, Kravis, Paul Tudor Jones, etc... Working at McK and having a top Ivey 3.8 ungrad GPA means absolutely jack shit in the real world.

    Many a monkeys have come to the same conclusion once leaving college. They graduate from a top school with a 3.9 and think their shit doesn't stink, then they get into the real world and a state school fucktard with a 3.5 is running circles around them and the essence of their being is shaken to the core.

    The stats you mentioned get the person's application looked at. Then the question is asked "what does this guy/girl have to offer?" Your undergrad school/GPA and firm you worked for do nothing to answer that question.

  • MoneyKingdom's picture

    This is a stupid post. Qualified people get rejected all the time from Ivey's HBS has like a 10% admission rate.

  • TNA's picture

    The guy is a VP yet he wants to sit in class and re learn financial accounting and marketing?? What purpose would an MBA suit this guy, his network has got to be insane and he is already well above they typical role a post MBA would start at. If anything this guy should be looking at an executive MBA or something if he really feels the need.

  • Marcus_Halberstram's picture

    Or maybe OP just wanted to whip up some make believe examples of "impressive" candidates who should be shoo ins to Stanford/HBS and thought a VP at TPG would be one of them.

    Graduate at 22...
    2-3 years in banking...
    2-3 years as a pre-MBA associate
    2-3 years as a senior associate
    Now you're a VP.

    28-31 years old, VP at TPG... probably making... I dunno, say 500-800K... you leave to go to b-school for 2 years? Forgo about 1M to 1.6M in compensation, spend about 150-200K on school... so total cost is 1.2M-1.8M for a degree you don't really need for where you are in your career... also if you're a VP at TPG, your network is already pretty solid... meeting a bunch of kids 3 to 5 years out of college isn't going to do enhance it much.

    This guys already a VP and at a megafund. He likely went to a top ivy. He's already on the buy-side and he's already at a top mega-fund. On top of that... his network of people working UNDER him are the top MBA graduates he's now going to join the ranks of? Doesn't make a lot of sense.

  • UncleKevin's picture

    I have to think that those situations exist. It's a status move. Let's face it. Once your over the "making a lot of money" hurdle (lets just say >400k) you're not going to B-school to up the money. You just want to be able to say "I went to Harvard," at the cocktail reception.

  • In reply to Marcus_Halberstram
    Brady4MVP's picture

    Marcus_Halberstram:
    Just because these guys have gone to top schools and worked at prestigious firms doesn't in any way indicate they are capable of doing anything other than behaving like trained monkeys. Think about it... you read, study, memorize, regurgitate and do well in school... get into a good college. Do what you did in high school and try not to get sidetracked by your new found independence and get interviews at top firms. While the whole interviewing process is supposed to keep these book smart trained monkeys out of the system, interviewing itself can be mastered using the same read, study, memorize, regurgitate process. This time you're just learning to tell them what they want to hear.

    The above stats, while impressive on paper, don't say much to suggest that any one of those people are standouts who will leave a lasting impression in all their endeavors.

    Its not that surprising at all really. The above guys have gotten rejected and people with "less impressive" stats have gotten in... what does that tell you?

    These programs aren't seeking out students who can graduate with a 3.8 GPA and go back to McK with a pay bump... they're looking for the next Dimons, Kravis, Paul Tudor Jones, etc... Working at McK and having a top Ivey 3.8 ungrad GPA means absolutely jack shit in the real world.

    Many a monkeys have come to the same conclusion once leaving college. They graduate from a top school with a 3.9 and think their shit doesn't stink, then they get into the real world and a state school fucktard with a 3.5 is running circles around them and the essence of their being is shaken to the core.

    The stats you mentioned get the person's application looked at. Then the question is asked "what does this guy/girl have to offer?" Your undergrad school/GPA and firm you worked for do nothing to answer that question.

    Although I sympathize with the general theme of this post, there is actually a pretty good correlation between college GPA and test scores and one's future earning ability. Someone who graduates from harvard with a 3.9 GPA may not be the next buffett or gates, but it does show employers that he is intelligent and hard working. The latter is especially critical in finance, where long grueling hours are to be expected.

    And for every state school kid with a 3.5 GPA who runs circles around ivy grads, there are at least a dozen who are in crappy jobs and whose social life is limited to drinking domestic beer on the weekends at a sports bar.

  • surferdude867's picture

    quantum:
    Admissions to top MBA programs the past few years has been downright insane. Just some anecdotes of people i know who have gotten rejected at HBS and stanford

    1. VP at TPG who got rejected at HBS, now at wharton
    2. summa at wharton undergrad, BCG consulting, international experience, 750+ GMAT, rejected at HBS and stanford
    3. engineering undergrad at a top program (MIT, Stanford, berkeley), mckinsey consulting, 770 GMAT, rejected at HBS, stanford, wharton, kellogg, columbia

    H/S/W have unlimited access to these blue-chip candidates. Top programs value diversity and they do not want an entire class of Bankers/Consultants. There is a disproportionate amount of ex-bankers/consultants applying to b-school right now, so if you belong to this category you are facing an uphill battle.

  • In reply to UncleKevin
    Brady4MVP's picture

    BCbanker:
    I have to think that those situations exist. It's a status move. Let's face it. Once your over the "making a lot of money" hurdle (lets just say >400k) you're not going to B-school to up the money. You just want to be able to say "I went to Harvard," at the cocktail reception.

    It would be stupid to go to HBS when you're a VP at an elite PE firm, just to say that you went to harvard. if you're hanging out amongst upscale people, especailly at a place like manhattan, your job and status will be more than sufficient to impress them.

  • In reply to Brady4MVP
    drexelalum11's picture

    jjc1122:
    Marcus_Halberstram:
    Just because these guys have gone to top schools and worked at prestigious firms doesn't in any way indicate they are capable of doing anything other than behaving like trained monkeys. Think about it... you read, study, memorize, regurgitate and do well in school... get into a good college. Do what you did in high school and try not to get sidetracked by your new found independence and get interviews at top firms. While the whole interviewing process is supposed to keep these book smart trained monkeys out of the system, interviewing itself can be mastered using the same read, study, memorize, regurgitate process. This time you're just learning to tell them what they want to hear.

    The above stats, while impressive on paper, don't say much to suggest that any one of those people are standouts who will leave a lasting impression in all their endeavors.

    Its not that surprising at all really. The above guys have gotten rejected and people with "less impressive" stats have gotten in... what does that tell you?

    These programs aren't seeking out students who can graduate with a 3.8 GPA and go back to McK with a pay bump... they're looking for the next Dimons, Kravis, Paul Tudor Jones, etc... Working at McK and having a top Ivey 3.8 ungrad GPA means absolutely jack shit in the real world.

    Many a monkeys have come to the same conclusion once leaving college. They graduate from a top school with a 3.9 and think their shit doesn't stink, then they get into the real world and a state school fucktard with a 3.5 is running circles around them and the essence of their being is shaken to the core.

    The stats you mentioned get the person's application looked at. Then the question is asked "what does this guy/girl have to offer?" Your undergrad school/GPA and firm you worked for do nothing to answer that question.

    Although I sympathize with the general theme of this post, there is actually a pretty good correlation between college GPA and test scores and one's future earning ability. Someone who graduates from harvard with a 3.9 GPA may not be the next buffett or gates, but it does show employers that he is intelligent and hard working. The latter is especially critical in finance, where long grueling hours are to be expected.

    And for every state school kid with a 3.5 GPA who runs circles around ivy grads, there are at least a dozen who are in crappy jobs and whose social life is limited to drinking domestic beer on the weekends at a sports bar.

    Actually, if you look at the correlations, the strongest predictor is where you apply, not where you go to school or how you do. If someone thinks they're good enough for Harvard, that means as much as if they actually go there.

    As for the VP at TPG, always possible he got let go, hence the decision to go to bschool. If he just wanted to get the brand name, pretty sure that's exactly the purpose of the EMBA

  • In reply to Brady4MVP
    Marcus_Halberstram's picture

    jjc1122:
    Although I sympathize with the general theme of this post, there is actually a pretty good correlation between college GPA and test scores and one's future earning ability.

    My point is that any graduate from HBS will by default have among the highest earnings potential. They are not seeking people who will be making 500K 3 years out of b-school... they're seeking the Mike Bloomberg, Len Blavatnik, Ray Dalio, Dan D'Aniello, Jamie Dimon, John Paulson, Steve Schwarzman type of alums. The game changers in the world. The guys who when being profiled being a Harvard MBA is just a droplet. Not the Richard Montgomery and Neil Phillips who graduated HBS MBA in '98 and are MD and parnters at IB and PE firms.

    The people contributing to the prestige and name of HBS are one of the above named alums.... not the guys who are making 7 digits as heads of M&A at a BB bank or as high up at a PE firm.

  • In reply to drexelalum11
    ringtailedlemur's picture

    drexelalum11:
    Actually, if you look at the correlations, the strongest predictor is where you apply, not where you go to school or how you do. If someone thinks they're good enough for Harvard, that means as much as if they actually go there.

    I'm pretty sure you're mis-citing this study (http://partners.nytimes.com/library/financial/colu...), where the authors found that high schoolers who got into ivy league schools, but attended state schools, did just as well as their ivy-league counterparts.

  • In reply to UncleKevin
    Otter.'s picture

    BCbanker:
    I have to think that those situations exist. It's a status move. Let's face it. Once your over the "making a lot of money" hurdle (lets just say >400k) you're not going to B-school to up the money. You just want to be able to say "I went to Harvard," at the cocktail reception.

    Exactly. Plus, b-school is apparently very fun and a nice break from sitting in an office all day.

    Hi, Eric Stratton, rush chairman, damn glad to meet you.

  • Otter.'s picture

    And another thing - don't know how true people have found this to be, but I've spoken to people who do admissions for HBS and they say that the competition to get in there from PE is ridiculous, more so than comparable job functions, because of the sheer number of PE guys that apply.

    Hi, Eric Stratton, rush chairman, damn glad to meet you.

  • MoneyKingdom's picture

    Why would it be stupid to go to HBS after TPG? This board is so "Exit-Opps" focused, that it deminishes the other main reasons why people choose a job or a business school. I work in PE, granted not TPG, but a respectable firm in the industry nonetheless, and I would pay double the tuition to go to HBS.

  • In reply to ringtailedlemur
    drexelalum11's picture

    ringtailedlemur:
    drexelalum11:
    Actually, if you look at the correlations, the strongest predictor is where you apply, not where you go to school or how you do. If someone thinks they're good enough for Harvard, that means as much as if they actually go there.

    I'm pretty sure you're mis-citing this study (http://partners.nytimes.com/library/financial/colu...), where the authors found that high schoolers who got into ivy league schools, but attended state schools, did just as well as their ivy-league counterparts.

    If you're going to cite a study, do me a favour and read the whole thing, ok champ?

    Dale & Krueger:
    More important, students who applied to equally selective schools revealed that they had similar aspiration levels and self-confidence. If the comparison is restricted to students who applied to equally selective schools -- regardless of whether they were admitted -- attending a more selective school is still unrelated to earnings.
  • In reply to MoneyKingdom
    Marcus_Halberstram's picture

    MoneyKingdom:
    Why would it be stupid to go to HBS after TPG? This board is so "Exit-Opps" focused, that it deminishes the other main reasons why people choose a job or a business school. I work in PE, granted not TPG, but a respectable firm in the industry nonetheless, and I would pay double the tuition to go to HBS.

    As a VP... yes it would be stupid to go to HBS. Its not because of a myopic exit ops focus... its because it would cost you $1.5 million and you would gain very little out of the experience considering where you already are.

  • In reply to Marcus_Halberstram
    MoneyKingdom's picture

    Marcus_Halberstram:
    MoneyKingdom:
    Why would it be stupid to go to HBS after TPG? This board is so "Exit-Opps" focused, that it deminishes the other main reasons why people choose a job or a business school. I work in PE, granted not TPG, but a respectable firm in the industry nonetheless, and I would pay double the tuition to go to HBS.

    As a VP... yes it would be stupid to go to HBS. Its not because of a myopic exit ops focus... its because it would cost you $1.5 million and you would gain very little out of the experience considering where you already are.

    Marcus, still I have to respectfully disagree. If you account solely for monetary losses, yes, you may or may not make up for that throughout your life time if you are a VP at TPG. However, the experience, the network, the education that HBS offers is spectacular. Also, a VP at TPG is most likely in Fort Worth, Texas... and maybe wants to move to a different city. Lateraling in PE, especially at the senior level is almost impossible without a top-tier MBA. This is a fact.

  • dipset1011's picture

    Moneykingdom,

    What value added education will the guy from TPG or the consultant from McKinsey need? Harvard B-school especially those that have been in high finance for a while is strictly relationship based and also put the stamp of approval on the resume. Nothing more.

  • jmcfadden's picture

    Few successful people go to business school because it is an economic decision. Even for a pre-MBA associate, you're looking at opportunity cost of nearly $1 MM ($300k annual cash comp = $600k total + co-invest/carry + $200k b-school expenses). You go because you think the experience and connections will SHAPE YOU PERSONALLY in a way that will pay off MASSIVELY in 10, 15, or 20+ years. Thinking about the 'pay bump' from 'getting a good job' after business school is utterly irrelevant.

    To some of the other posters, I WHOLEHEARTEDLY disagree that PE associates and/or McKinsey consultants have nothing (educationally) to gain from attending business school. Sure, these types already have the resume and skills to get high-paying jobs (or just continue down their current paths), but that doesn't mean they are ready to 'CHANGE THE WORLD.' Yes that last one's a GSB reference.

  • PiperJaffrayChiang's picture

    perhaps admissions doesn't think they have much to gain other than another resume line. looking at hbs profiles i see some accenture dude got in... so it goes both ways

    =========================================
    We are excited to formally extend to you an offer to join Bank of Ameria

  • MoneyKingdom's picture

    Don't underestimate the "stamp of approval" factor. Half of the reason why i even got into banking was bc i went to Cornell, and it sure didn't hurt me when I jumped to PE.

    Some people just need / want a break from work, and/or want to transfer to another city, another fund, meet a wife, or whatever. It is quite ignorant to think that if you have a great job, or if you have enough money then you shouldn't further your education.

    Instead of thinking how HBS can benefit a VP from TPG, think how a 24 yr old banker can benefit HBS. Chances are the TPG guy can offer much more insight on the case-only method courses offered at HBS. I feel that to further my career I will need to get my MBA at some-point, but even if I made VP at my fund, I would still heavily consider it, given the opportunity to come back.

    My 2c..

  • Marcus_Halberstram's picture

    This guy has Harvard MBA's working under him. You're going to tell me he will stay stagnant and they will surpass him because he doesn't have an MBA?

    I think its actually this line of thinking that is myopic and lemming-like. Most of our contemporaries never actually stop and think "should i be doing this?" "what benefit does this offer me?" "whats the alternative?"

    And the structure of this industry for junior people is such that it encourages this type of thoughtless career zombie-ism. 2 year banking program, 2 year PE program... well what the fuck do I do now? Most people never even stop to ask that question they just keep shuffling behind the people in front of them and start taking GMATs and applying to b-schools. Look at PE recruiting... people start preparing for PE recruiting and stressing about their PE marketability when they're not even 3 months into banking... they don't even know if they like it or not... they're just blinding jumping in head first.

    While it may seem like the majority of us are making some serious mis-steps, its my belief that what I describe above is for 99.99% of the population inconsequential. Its the Mavericks like Bill Gates and Paul Tudor Jones and Micahel Burry that actually stop and say "why the fuck am I doing this?" "whats my alternative?" "is this worthwhile considering what I could be doing instead?". Most people don't possess that level of talent, so this mindlessness in the b-school decision is inconsequential.

    IMO and I'm sure you'll disagree, its people like Bill Gates that Harvard wishes graduated from there. Then there's people like Jamie Dimon, who came out of Harvard kicking some major ass. Its upto you to actually sit down and do something this career doesn't encourage us to do: think. Think about if its actually worth the while. Is this something that will give you another a degree? Is this a way for you to finally say you belong to the elite group of Ivy (HBS at that) graduates? Or is this something that you feel will take you to the next level? Will it allow you to develop a skillset you feel is crucial to your success and which you feel you cannot cultivate anywhere else? (and that missing piece of the puzzle is not a network of HBS MBAs)

    I personally have always wanted to go to HBS. For a multitude of reasons, probably including some of the lesser ones I mention above. But as I get older, experience more, learn more and speak to some of the more accomplished people I look to for mentorship... as much as I've always wanted to go to HBS, I cant help but ask myself: are 2 years at HBS going to offer greater than what I'll acquire by not losing momentum and continuing on my current trajectory (which is not banking-centric)? (another thing people don't take into consideration, the loss of momentum) If your hopes and dreams are 2 years banking + 2 year PE/HF + 2 years MBA then back to PE/HF, then you're not really losing much momentum... but if you're shooting for something much bigger than that, much bigger than getting on a partner track at a PE firm, then there could be serious consequences of just going with the flow and going to HBS/Stanford/Wharton post-PE cuz thats what you're supposed to do.

  • In reply to dipset1011
    TNA's picture

    dipset1011:
    Moneykingdom,

    What value added education will the guy from TPG or the consultant from McKinsey need? Harvard B-school especially those that have been in high finance for a while is strictly relationship based and also put the stamp of approval on the resume. Nothing more.

    Completely agree.

  • Brady4MVP's picture

    jamie dimon is a badass. turned down more lucrative offers from goldman and morgan stanley to work at american express after HBS and eventually helped engineer the giant citigroup merger.

    on a side note, i knew a guy who briefly dated dimon's oldest daughter. she was way out of his league, but they worked together.

  • MoneyKingdom's picture

    Marcus, Anthony -

    At some point, people may just want a break from their jobs. Yes working at Texas Pacific Group is prestigious, but I bet it's also very stressful. Assuming he has built up enough money, a VP is probably indifferent to spending 2 years (out of a 40+ year career) at one of the finest institutions in the world for higher education.

    HBS may not add much to his resume, but it may offer him/her a multitude of happiness, and self-fulfillment that cannot be quantified. A MBA does not have to be solely for the purpose of career advancement. If I won the lottery and never had to work, but got a chance to go to HBS, I would go in a heartbeat.

  • TNA's picture

    Money, I agree people need a break, but going to H/W/S is far from a break. Your going to be in class with people trying to break in or trying to prove themselves. Needless to say, your going to be looking for a break and you will be thrown into an intense environment. If they want an MBA I would suggest an EMBA so that executive could be with his peers.

    But yeah, I am sure he is looking for a break or to do something else.

  • In reply to TNA
    Brady4MVP's picture

    AnthonyD1982:
    Money, I agree people need a break, but going to H/W/S is far from a break. Your going to be in class with people trying to break in or trying to prove themselves. Needless to say, your going to be looking for a break and you will be thrown into an intense environment. If they want an MBA I would suggest an EMBA so that executive could be with his peers.

    But yeah, I am sure he is looking for a break or to do something else.

    HBS is intense but still nowhere near the level of working at a top PE firm. most students at HBS thoroughly enjoy their experience: lot of networking with accomplished and interesting people, partying, traveling to various parts of the world, etc. It seems like a real blast and probably your last 2-year vacation before heading back into the "real" world.

    There are very few places in the world where you can meet the caliber of people as you do at HBS and in a structured environment that allows one to meet them rather easily.

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  • In reply to Marcus_Halberstram
    cplpayne's picture

    "One should recognize reality even when one doesn't like it, indeed, especially when one doesn't like it." - Charlie Munger