Anyone know anyone who lucked into a top MBA or J.D.

Does anyone know someone who had below avg. credentials for gpa, gmat (or lsat), and work experience...but is somehow in a top 10 mba or top 10 law program.

When those top schools say that they don't have established cut-offs, are they just trying to get applications to pour in so that their ranking goes up or do a few below average non-minorities every slip through the cracks?

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Comments (16)

May 18, 2007 - 11:11am

Year's ago we had some lady give us MBA coaching. Basically it boils down to your leadership positions. business schools get thousands of applications from random plebs.

So the business school has a list of plebs with nothing major that stands out, so they pick them based on company name etc. (i.e GS M&A over Accenture consultant)

If you're someone young who has taken on responsability (real responsability none of this banking BS) and have real leadership or initiative outside of work then you stand a good chance.

May 18, 2007 - 11:18am

Thanks alot. I'd imagine that differentation in the b-school pool is more in comparison to law. Law basically boils down to GPA & LSAT, the rec's and EC's can only hurt you if they're not present in your application rather than really push you through the door.

May 18, 2007 - 2:04pm

I have a law degree from a top-14 law school and can tell you that if you are a white male, you had better have a high LSAT score and good GPA if you want to get into a top school. Law schools put a premium on the brightest students. There were a few people who managed to sneak their ways in, but that was because they were from wealthy families that were tied to the law school or the associated undergrad institution.

Business schools take a different approach and do not put the same premium on getting the brightest students. Leadership abilities and extracurricular activites count for a lot. I read a message on another forum about somebody that got accepted at Harvard business school with a GMAT in the low 600s. If that person applied to Harvard Law School with a comparable LSAT, that person would be immediately rejected.

Mar 31, 2008 - 4:46pm
patents555:
Business schools take a different approach and do not put the same premium on getting the brightest students. Leadership abilities and extracurricular activites count for a lot. I read a message on another forum about somebody that got accepted at Harvard business school with a GMAT in the low 600s. If that person applied to Harvard Law School with a comparable LSAT, that person would be immediately rejected.

Thing is that B-schools cannot be that picky, as the kids with the best stats usually choose the MD, JD or PhD path. Therefore HBS and Stanford are on a youth-crusade to attract the UG superstars, meaning they tend to accept candidates with very little experience (2 years). HBS offers a 2+2 program, which means they accept the cream of the crop right after UG but they send them work for 2 years and then they enroll to the program. Plus, it is not only the stats that makes someone a good leader, so the extra factors are also important, so as a super duper w/e.

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Mar 31, 2008 - 5:42pm

IBWannaB, I gotta disagree. It is much more of a complicated issue than that. There are a few reasons b-schools and med/law take different profiles:

1) Professional necessity. If you want to be a lawyer, you must go to law school and pass the bar. Full stop. If you want to succeed in business, there are a thousand ways you can do this, and only a small percentage of those ways require (or even benefit from) an MBA. This means that every single person that wants to be a doctor applies to medical school, but only a smaller group of "businesspeople" apply to b-schools. This is interesting, but doesn't explain why HBS takes people with a 600 GMAT-they still get a crapload of applications, and I'm sure could fill there class with on 700+ (probably 780+, but I digress) students.

2) Timing. Because most people enter law school or med school immediately after college, there is little else to judge candidates on besides academic accomplishments. If you were editor of the school newspaper or a football player that's great, but it wouldn't make sense for ECs to swing the vote very far. in contrast, your typical b-school applicant has 5 years of accomplishments, leadership, teamwork, successes, failures, etc. to demonstrate their complete character and candidacy. Sure, they need to be smart, but why would what you did 6 months ago be less relevant than your freshman-year grades almost 9 years ago?

3) Focus/Required skills. The goal of law school is to learn the legal code, inside and out. The goal of medicine is to learn about the human body, diseases, etc. inside and out. Note that these both basically amount to studying a lot (of course I'm generalizing here). The goal of business school is to network and advance your career. Sure, you study things and learn things, but it is orders of magnitude less academic in nature. Thus, they want people who have strong career potential, an ability to lead and contribute to the class, and a personality that fits with the culture of the school.

Mar 31, 2008 - 10:45pm

AltESV, I would agree with most of your points, except that IBWannaB's point is valid as well (how's that -- both of you are right!).

Traditionally speaking, the college kids with the strong grades in Arts & Sciences tended to go to either law school or med school -- and the gigantic influx of engineers applying to b-school is driven largely by Indians (the flow of American engineers applying to b-school has been relatively flat).

When it comes to academics, the top law/med schools are full of "A" average students, whereas the top b-schools are full of "B" average students. If you look at the incoming GPAs, there is a marked difference (and also the fact that the GPA ranges are wider for top b-school admissions).

This is a function by design as b-schools' admissions criteria is a little broader (and arguably more ambiguous), but it's also a function of "you take in what you can get". The ideal candidate that b-schools want are the 4.0 GPA / 760 GMAT / pedigreed up the wazoo or the super overachieving types, but the reality is -- there's simply not enough of them applying to b-school for them to accept ONLY those folks. And traditionally the absolute top-notch kids who have this really only apply to HBS and Stanford (and more recently but to a lesser extent Wharton). That's partly why HBS, Stanford and Wharton are aggressively going after the younger set -- because they are targeting these super kids who would otherwise not even consider an MBA (because they've been dead set on either law or medicine) to apply. Ideally, these schools would LOVE to fill up the class with kids who are as academically bright and accomplished as their law/med peers, AND with leadership/team skills to boot on top of that. It's an ambitious and aggressive approach, but they really want to cherry pick the best of the young.

It's one of the reasons why HBS is starting the 2+2 program.

Going young also allows them to tap into another group -- the brightest young women who normally would be focusing on law or medicine. Most law and med programs are currently at 50/50 or close to it. B-school is still stuck at around 70/30, or at 65/35 at best.

Also, while there's still a lot of people who go to law or med school straight out of college, that's changing. Consider just Harvard Law School (HLS) and Stanford Law School (SLS):

HLS: 54% did not go straight from undergrad (47% 1 – 4 yrs experience, 7% 5+ yrs experience)
SLS: 69% did not go straight from undergrad (39% 1 – 2 yrs experience, 30% 3+ yrs experience)

I don't have stats for med school, but anecdotally from people I know in med school, roughly half the class aren't straight from college (lots of folks in their mid- to late-20s, some are married already, some had prior careers, etc.).

While the folks in law and med school are perhaps younger than what b-schools want, I don't think HBS, Stanford or Wharton will get to a point where half the class are fresh college grads, but they may probably shoot for 10-20%, with 80% having 3 years or less experience. In other words, they want to move closer towards the age/experience demographics of top law/med schools and away from the age/experience of executive MBA programs.

So while the demographics of these schools start to look like b-school (especially the older folks in med/law), the law/med school programs haven't seen a hit in their GPA, LSAT/MCAT averages - in fact, they've remained pretty steady particularly at top schools.

And that's what b-schools see -- they want a piece of that action.

I'm not making any value judgments as to whether this is the right thing to do, or that you can't compare medicine, law and business because they're different disciplines requiring different things, etc. The reality is, a lot of the bright kids who traditionally are going to law or medicine aren't that sure about the law/medicine profession anyhow - it's driven more by career as status attainment more than anything else (which may explain why the career satisfaction rates are pretty low for both law and medicine) - but that's another discussion altogether. And I think that b-schools recognize that -- they know that with b-school at least, even if you did the MBA for the "wrong" reasons (status attainment, money, hookers and blow, etc.), business isn't a specialized profession like law or medicine, which gives grads more flexibility and therefore be less likely to feel that the MBA was ever a mistake -- to use an extreme example as hyperbole, if a Wall Street banker with an MBA all of a sudden eschewed capitalism as we know it to become a Communist Party organizer, having that MBA would not hinder him from doing so and if anything (because unlike law or medicine, the MBA really doesn't lead to a predefined "profession" so to speak) - in fact, the knowledge of how to raise money, promote, and efficiently run an organization might even help Lenin's cause. Or to bring it back to reality -- there are plenty of MBAs in this world who walked away from their corporate careers to do something else completely different - work at a nonprofit, start a business, write a novel, go into politics, etc. without a feeling that the MBA was a hindrance or waste of time.

Alex Chu

Alex Chu
www.mbaapply.com

Mar 31, 2008 - 11:24pm

I have to agree with Altesv and disagree with the analysis put forward by MBAApply and IBWannaB....

1) It seems illogical to discuss how Business schools tend to take B-average students while Med Schools tend to take A-average students as your point of analysis. This is faulty reasoning where you use a sample statistic (which I am not sure how valid that stat is) and make wrong inferences from it. If you look at Altesv point that medical school and law school do not have work experience to go on and only your college stats, then you would come to the conclusion that the college stats are of huge importance for creating your comparative advantage for applying to med and law school. If you want to analyze this from an economic perspective, the college student looks towards their goals and then maximizes accordingly. I am not sure about your school, but at mine the typical business student has a lower GPA but a vast amount more extra curriculars and work experience because this is what is valued in business. The typical med school candidate does little more than maximize their GPA and work on the MCAT because they know this is the requirements they will be judged on. So while you try to make the argument that business school applicants are dumber, in reality they are maximizing their objectives towards their goal.

2) You seem to assume that the smartest kids would choose law or medicine where that also seems like an illogical choice for them UNLESS you finally come to the point where these people choose law or medicine not because they are smart but because that is what they want to do. If you think about it, only corporate lawyers and doctors stand to make comparable salaries to your top business professions (investment banking, trading, private equity, etc.) However, law and med school require an additional 3+ years of schooling and in the case of medicine a vast amount of time more before seeing any pay out. Your time commitment at work can still rival an investment bankers time commitment. It seems illogical if they are viewing these as a similar set of labor options with certain payouts. The fact is, individuals choose law or medicine because that is what they enjoy. From the start of their 4 years of college they figure out what is required to get into the top programs (which means competing on a high level in terms of your GPA and standardized test score) and then making sure to meet those requirements. This is sort of comparing apples to oranges and your statistics and analysis will always be skewed for that reason.

3) Both systems are radically different for structural reasons which have caused the difference between med/law school applicants and your B-school applicants. It may even make less sense the way in which law/med school is done today. In this case you take a test (which has an incredible amount of inefficiency in its ability to determine a good or bad candidate) to narrow down your applicant pool. Secondly you use GPA, which varies largely amongst schools and is only a very loose approximation for both ability and intelligence. This is actually a tool use more often to throw out a whole bunch of candidates for expediency and cost savings. In business, each individual firm reviews much fewer candidates and uses a much broader set of criteria such that it is not merely based on your GPA/Testing. If one day the business careers deciding to create a financial test (maybe the CPA) and made their choices on candidates based off of that test and their GPA we would see a huge amount of high GPA and high test score individuals applying to an MBA program.

4) The real smart kids are the math/science kids and they arent really in it for status or money....maybe status but not really

Apr 1, 2008 - 12:09am

Personally, I always thought of Law and Medicine as the easy professions for those who wanted some job security, a bit of status, and a decent salary. By and large, my friends and acquaintances who attended law or medical school were reasonably intelligent hard-working types who really had to grind out the grades (maybe with the exception of one or two who went to top 3 medicine or law programs).

The guys working for strategy consultancies, hedge funds, and private equity firms seem to be the brilliant types, and these are inevitably the ones that went to HBS or Stanford.

Apr 1, 2008 - 2:08am

Alex, a quick question for you...

I know that all schools claim that when one applies to a joint degree program, his application for each school is considered independently, but I'd like to examine a very specific situation.

Let's say that there is a candidate that is applying for an MBA/JD joint degree at Stanford-Stanford. He is extremely competitive for one degree, but is slightly flawed for the other. For example, the guy went the GS->KKR route, 750+ GMAT and 175+ LSATs, but has a "mediocre" 3.4~3.5 GPA (which is lower than the 20th percentile at all top law schools). If Stanford GSB definitely wants the candidate, Stanford Law does not, but Stanford GSB knows that HBS/HLS (or Wharton/Penn Law, for a Tier-1 MBA, Tier-2 Law combo) would definitely accept the candidate for a joint degree (and thus he'd choose going to another school over getting just an MBA from Stanford). Would this in any way influence Stanford Law's decision? Would Stanford GSB adcom advocate to Stanford Law on the candidate's behalf (given that Stanford GSB knows that the candidate has this other option)?

Apr 1, 2008 - 11:39am
b2:
Alex, a quick question for you...

I know that all schools claim that when one applies to a joint degree program, his application for each school is considered independently, but I'd like to examine a very specific situation.

Let's say that there is a candidate that is applying for an MBA/JD joint degree at Stanford-Stanford. He is extremely competitive for one degree, but is slightly flawed for the other. For example, the guy went the GS->KKR route, 750+ GMAT and 175+ LSATs, but has a "mediocre" 3.4~3.5 GPA (which is lower than the 20th percentile at all top law schools). If Stanford GSB definitely wants the candidate, Stanford Law does not, but Stanford GSB knows that HBS/HLS (or Wharton/Penn Law, for a Tier-1 MBA, Tier-2 Law combo) would definitely accept the candidate for a joint degree (and thus he'd choose going to another school over getting just an MBA from Stanford). Would this in any way influence Stanford Law's decision? Would Stanford GSB adcom advocate to Stanford Law on the candidate's behalf (given that Stanford GSB knows that the candidate has this other option)?

With joint degree programs, the admissions aren't co-dependent.

Keep in mind that universities are highly territorial places. Each graduate school within the university operates in its own silo. So in your case, it's entirely possible for this person to get into the MBA, but not the JD. Stanford b-school could really care less what the law school does, and vice versa.

The thing with joint degrees is that the whole is exactly the sum of its parts, nothing more. You are dealing with two separate schools, not "one" administration for the joint degrees.

Alex Chu
www.mbaapply.com

Apr 1, 2008 - 3:50am

that is very much not true...... especially given the high scores on the standardized test. The 3.4-3.5 GPA along with those test scores, however, indicate someone with high levels of aptitude but also a lack of desire to try to get better grades.

I would say though that given your experience..... the high LSAT and high GMAT....... that this would outweigh the lower GPA. Really Depends but i would try to talk to someone at the school administration or the admissions office to inquire about this issue given that you feel you are a very competitive candidate but due to this or that problem did not get a higher GPA in college.

Apr 1, 2008 - 8:04am

can't comment as to b2's chances for admission to joint jd/mba programs, but i do have to agree with him. it's very, very possible for someone with a 3.4 to get a job at GS. of all the banks, GPA matters the least at GS, so long as it's above a 3.0 - this being even more true in S&T than in banking.

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