Applied 19x to Elite MBA programs.....this is what I learned
My background for context...
Undergrad: Mid-ranked State School/STEM-Business triple major/B-average GPA
Graduate: Masters degree in STEM field from top 30 private (non-IVY) university/A- average GPA
WE: 7+ years at NY sector-focused boutique IB, promoted-twice
EC: Founded non-profit focused on veteran's healthcare; raised $15k+
Since Fall 2018, I've applied 19 times to 10 different MBA programs.....all of the M7's including 3 others. I've been interviewed by three programs and waitlisted at a non-HSW M7 and by one other non-M7 program. I've spent thousands and thousands of dollars on GMAT fees, GMAT tutoring, App Fees, Admissions Consultants, etc. Here is what I've learned about the MBA admissions process...
1) The first and foremost priority for MBA admissions committee is "building a diverse class." This means that the boxes you check for sex and ethnicity are the most important factors influencing your admissions chances because you are competing against people whom look like you. You might be vastly more competitive that the most competitive applicant in a different ethnic group or sex but they will get a spot and you will not.
(Side note: If you are in an over-represented group, you better have strong GPA (major agnostic), solid GMAT and brand-name companies on resume. You may also be able to fool admissions into thinking you've done something super unique (guy I know latched onto a successful non-profit founded by his older brother as a "co-founder" and managed to get into HSW on the back of that "accomplishment")).
2) Admissions committees have absolutely no sense of how to compare the rigor of various majors from various undergraduate institutions so they choose to be agnostic with regards to field of undergraduate study i.e. accept humanities majors, STEM majors, business majors, etc. with little preference for one over the other with obvious preference for degrees from more prestigious institutions.
3) Admissions officers are always going to encourage you to apply. Idk if they are paid by how many applications they read or what…but you will not get an honest assessment of your admissions chances from them.
4) Very few schools offer feedback for rejected applicants as they are likely deathly afraid of being sued for racial/sexual bias in the admissions process. This is also likely why admissions is such a "black box." No school is transparent about the criteria for admission because they want to maintain the most flexibility in being able to build the class how they want i.e. discriminate on the basis of sex and or race. It seems admissions at elite institutions view it as their mission to cure social disparities on the basis of race and sex and seem to be okay with going about this by de-valuing merit. The SFA vs Harvard supreme court decision is going to have fascinating implications for admissions at both the undergraduate and graduate level.
5) Having taken the both the GRE for grad school and GMAT for MBA applications, acceptance of the GRE in place of the GMAT is a blatant effort by MBA admissions to devalue the Quantitative skills that might disproportionately detract from the applications of certain racial/sexual groups and make them less competitive. The GRE is a complete joke compared to the GMAT.
While I'm sure this comes off as vitriolic rantings of a spurned applicant who maybe just wasn't qualified…I honestly wish someone had told me these things in 2018 when I first set out on this disastrous journey. I've spent countless hours studying, writing essays, etc. and thousands of dollars on fees and consultants for nothing. I incorrectly assumed business school admissions decisions were heavily based on merit, that work experience in competitive, grueling positions like IB or consulting was valued and that, as a lot of admissions was supposedly based on "luck", persistence in the process would ultimately be rewarded (being interviewed and waitlisted enforced this). I was very wrong on all of these and would discourage anyone in a similar position as I was from following my path….