Do M7 schools prefer some professions over others?

According to their latest data, 50% of HBS's new class came from consulting/financial services/PE/VC backgrounds.

Is it harder for someone not from one of those professions to get admitted to the top MBA programs, all else being equal?

And do I face a steep hill to climb if I am not from a prestigious finance/consulting field AND my company is not a well-known name (even if the other components of my application are very good)?

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Comments (213)

Feb 21, 2015 - 3:36pm

That's more self-selection. People from these fields are more likely to: a) afford top MBAs b) require MBAs to move up or advance, or c) want to switch careers entirely/gain access to recruiting to expedite career switch

All else being equal it's much better to have a blue chip background, but you'll find enough people without them that it isn't an impossible climb, certainly within the bottom half of the top 10. I've met people who came from start ups, Teach for America, military, F500, and a ton of boutique consulting/finance shops. Schools want a wide variety of backgrounds and so long as your apps are legit (gpa/GMAT/quality of undergrad/ECs, etc) you'll get a look.

  • 1
Feb 21, 2015 - 4:06pm

Keep in mind that a lot of these folks from finance/consulting graduated from target schools (Ivy/equivalent). where these very firms tend to recruit by the boatload. And as @"TheGrind" mentioned, it's self-selection within this pool as they are more inclined to apply to b-school after a few years (so while there's a ton who get in, there's also quite a few who don't get in).

What *can* work in your favor is if you went to these very same target schools, but rather than go the traditional finance/consulting route - you chose to pursue something else (blue chip tech such as Google, Facebook, Apple, etc, or film/tv, pro sports leagues/teams, non-profit, TFA, military, etc). This is what I call the "vagabonds" (those with undergrad pedigree but who did something different or unique after college) - the adcoms still have a basis for which to benchmark you (you and your finance/consulting peers started your adult lives in a similar place: at a top college).

Alex Chu
www.mbaapply.com

Mar 8, 2015 - 12:42am

MBAApply:

What *can* work in your favor is if you went to these very same target schools, but rather than go the traditional finance/consulting route - you chose to pursue something else (blue chip tech such as Google, Facebook, Apple, etc, or film/tv, pro sports leagues/teams, non-profit, TFA, military, etc). This is what I call the "vagabonds" (those with undergrad pedigree but who did something different or unique after college) - the adcoms still have a basis for which to benchmark you (you and your finance/consulting peers started your adult lives in a similar place: at a top college).

This is me. Top school with an engineering degree. Had tech and consulting experience while in school, but ultimately chose a tech startup that has since proliferated. How can I best market myself to a Booth or Stanford type of school and position myself so I can ultimately get into investment management or VC?

Mar 8, 2015 - 2:20pm

PENGUINCARL:

MBAApply:

What *can* work in your favor is if you went to these very same target schools, but rather than go the traditional finance/consulting route - you chose to pursue something else (blue chip tech such as Google, Facebook, Apple, etc, or film/tv, pro sports leagues/teams, non-profit, TFA, military, etc). This is what I call the "vagabonds" (those with undergrad pedigree but who did something different or unique after college) - the adcoms still have a basis for which to benchmark you (you and your finance/consulting peers started your adult lives in a similar place: at a top college).

This is me. Top school with an engineering degree. Had tech and consulting experience while in school, but ultimately chose a tech startup that has since proliferated. How can I best market myself to a Booth or Stanford type of school and position myself so I can ultimately get into investment management or VC?

With any of the top schools, start with the GMAT. It must be strong (700+ minimum, 720+ target, and 740+ ideally). With Stanford in particular, plenty of luck as well given that there are so few spots - beyond a certain threshold of stats, prestige, achievements, etc it still comes down to luck.

And obviously strong applications (essays, rec letters, interviews) but that's a given. Highlight your key strengths, and don't overthink it or try and get too cute with your narrative.

Alex Chu
www.mbaapply.com

Mar 9, 2015 - 12:29am

PENGUINCARL:

MBAApply:

What *can* work in your favor is if you went to these very same target schools, but rather than go the traditional finance/consulting route - you chose to pursue something else (blue chip tech such as Google, Facebook, Apple, etc, or film/tv, pro sports leagues/teams, non-profit, TFA, military, etc). This is what I call the "vagabonds" (those with undergrad pedigree but who did something different or unique after college) - the adcoms still have a basis for which to benchmark you (you and your finance/consulting peers started your adult lives in a similar place: at a top college).

This is me. Top school with an engineering degree. Had tech and consulting experience while in school, but ultimately chose a tech startup that has since proliferated. How can I best market myself to a Booth or Stanford type of school and position myself so I can ultimately get into investment management or VC?

Speaking from personal experience that go either for or against you very strongly.

The other thing I've been told by ADCOM members at several different schools (ranging from Ivy League to one hovering around 30 in the rankings) is some variation of the "class composition" message will strongly impact your chances. These things can either help you or hurt you depending on what they want percentage wise at each school coupled with the number of people who are applying. My luck just changed in that regards and right now it's looking like I'm going to get in to a top 25 program partly because they want to expand the number of military vets they have and not that many have applied yet.....and checking out the school online I've found several posts by people with 750+ GMAT's and GPA's much higher than mine(at more prestigious schools) who didn't even get an interview invite.

At another program I was dinged because (to paraphrase what their program director told me) they prefer that people have finance experience post-undergrad and they had already admitted about as many veterans they wanted to into next year's cohort.

While my example uses a military background the same is true of other professions.....ref: the discussions about HBS in this thread and people getting dinged because HBS wants to diversify the work backgrounds of their student body. Not that I have any moral objection to it. They're entitled to make up the class however they want but luck does seem to play a huge part.

Don't stress it too much. If you're smart and have good communication skills you can get into some top school. Another thing I might add is that even if you have a particular school targeted there's no telling what the next dean is going to be driving for when it's time for you to apply three or four years down the road. Again, HBS is the case in point as I'd imagine there's a few guys out there who chose well known finance firms because they were gunning for HBS but had no way of predicting the change.

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Mar 9, 2015 - 1:23pm

Work Experience for MBA (Originally Posted: 02/25/2016)

I have been trying to get more info regarding work experience for MBA. I have a good idea of what "good" experience is, but what constitutes "bad" work experience. Back office ops? Temp work? Just looking for a general idea.

Thanks in advance!

Feb 21, 2015 - 11:29pm

From what I understand there reason why high finance gets into the top schools is because of the caliber of the people that make up those careers. These guys are typically graduates from the best undergrad schools, have stellar grades, and therefore would typically have great gmat scores and what not.

Mar 9, 2015 - 1:28pm

What kind of work experience do Top 10 MBA's seek? (Originally Posted: 07/22/2013)

I have an opportunity to do an international rotation in audit with my Big 4 firm in Bermuda this coming year. But I'm trying to pick up experience that I would both enjoy and make me marketable to a Top 10 MBA program (note: I do not cream about the very top, creme of the crop e.g. Harvard, Wharton, etc. I'm leaning towards the two NYC schools in the top 10).

Possible paths:

  • Take international rotation (18 months) and add this experience to my current 2.5 years of audit experience. After rotation, plan is to get away from audit completely and pursue a Senior position in the Transactions group at my work. Then, after 1 or 2 years of working in this group, I will apply to top MBA.

  • Take a position at a different company in their internal audit department and kick ass to get a position somewhere else in the company, showing a clear career progression. This, coupled with my existing audit experience, would make for a diverse set of schools that I would bring with me.

What do, what do!

As for other stats:

  • Bachelors and masters degrees in non-target schools with a 3.5 GPA
  • Extracurriculars
  • Bust my ass to get a gmat score in the 680-720 range.

Thoughts? Thanks everyone!

Feb 21, 2015 - 11:59pm

freddyflintstone:

From what I understand there reason why high finance gets into the top schools is because of the caliber of the people that make up those careers. These guys are typically graduates from the best undergrad schools, have stellar grades, and therefore would typically have great gmat scores and what not.

With the exception of HBS. High finance is not doing too well at HBS since Nitin Nohria became Dean.

Feb 22, 2015 - 12:30am

snakeoil:

freddyflintstone:

From what I understand there reason why high finance gets into the top schools is because of the caliber of the people that make up those careers. These guys are typically graduates from the best undergrad schools, have stellar grades, and therefore would typically have great gmat scores and what not.

With the exception of HBS. High finance is not doing too well at HBS since Nitin Nohria became Dean.

Ya Harvard has seemed to quickly and drastically turned away from finance people.

Mar 9, 2015 - 1:34pm

Experience before B-School (Originally Posted: 03/17/2009)

I was wondering how many years of experience a top 10 B-School expects an applicant to have. I am going into IBD FT at a BB, so I'm looking at several years down the road. I'm just curious when I should begin the application process? Would 2 years be enough after my analyst program or would you suggest going for a 3rd year analyst position? Thanks in advance.

Mar 9, 2015 - 1:37pm

Tiny firm to M7? (Originally Posted: 11/24/2015)

Hey Guys,

I guess I posted this in the wrong forum before. So after a really long and stressful recruiting season, I was lucky enough to secure a FT position at a small family office through ocr. I wasn't really sure about what I wanted to do after graduation so I got the job while only having a limited boutique sophomore internship (among other scattered WE) and am super excited.

My question is: how would working at such a small firm impact business school admissions? I should graduate with around a 3.45- 3.5 gpa as a STEM and Econ major from a top 10 school. I have been planning on taking the GMAT before graduation and hope to get 730+ (i know it's far from guaranteed). Do you guys think M7 is out of the question given this scenario?

Would my exit opportunities be limited even after an MBA given my work experience?

Thanks in advance.

Feb 28, 2015 - 10:16am

Could someone give a little more insight on Nohria (Harvard) discouraging finance guys at HBS?

Mar 9, 2015 - 1:43pm

How is work experience reviewed in MBA admissions? (Originally Posted: 02/01/2015)

Hey everyone,

I have seen many posts here regarding how GPA and GMAT are viewed by admissions at MBA programs, but how about the logistics of the work experience criteria? What do adcoms look for when reviewing an applicants prior work experience?

Does it simply come down to the "brand" of firm(s) worked for and promotions/advancement or are the number of years/months of work experience heavily taken into account among other factors?

Mar 9, 2015 - 1:32am

@"Easy C"...how were you able to get Admissions to give you such candid responses? In my experience it's usually been radio silence unless you've got a specific "in".

RE: HBS I'll defer to Occam's Razor on this one by looking at the landscape; it could be that they're simply trying to diversify away from Finance given the following: The dramatic growth in Tech and Consulting and other changes in the preferences of elite students, The adverse impact that the Financial Meltdown had on top B-schools in general, and the new push for "Sustainability" - CSR and Venture Philanthropy, Impact investing, etc. The new Dean is HUGE on ethics and the school's been tied to too many stereotypical amoral borderline sociopathic finance douchebags in recent years, and probably no longer wants to be seen as a breeding ground for their development. Not like they need the extra fundraising.

Mar 9, 2015 - 1:50pm

Which work experience has the biggest impact on a B-School application (Originally Posted: 02/15/2013)

I am trying to decide which way I want to go in my career. One decision factor I have is B-School prospects.

In which area of a bank would 5-6 years of experience hold more weight on a B-School app, all else equal?

-Middle Office Trade Support
-Credit Risk
-Market Risk

These are my three options.

Of course there are other factors I am considering, but this is a major one.

Mar 9, 2015 - 10:55am

In one case it's because I caught them with a specific "after the fact" question and the lady I was talking to shared the notes they'd had on my application and in another it was due to a unique circumstance that required them to give me an interview and decision ahead of the standard notification timeline. The latter school was a very specific and candid interview where they shared directly what they did and didn't like about my application. It caught me a bit off guard because I was expecting their typical interview and instead they mostly wanted me to sell my fit for the program.

For your second point it's entirely possible......everyone on here who is from a more non-traditional background should take note about where HBS is heading and some people who might not think of themselves as that competitive should probably consider applying next year. That trend isn't that widely known yet.

Mar 9, 2015 - 12:14pm

Very interesting. So Nohria must believe that the highest expected return for HBS in terms of $ and notoriety is going to come from non-finance fields going fwd. This makes me think that HBS definitely does not see the current tech environment as a bubble... Interesting. There are a lot of finance applicants who would choose HBS over Wharton, but I wonder if this could change in the next 10 yrs.

Mar 9, 2015 - 1:57pm

What is seen as relevant experience for top MBA programs? (Originally Posted: 10/16/2012)

Other than the standard IB, consulting, and military, what do adcoms view as relevant experience?

Mar 9, 2015 - 2:02pm

How much work experience to be competitive for a top business school? (Originally Posted: 01/08/2014)

I have 1 years work experience in Silicon Valley as an engineer. How much work experience should I have to be competitive in applying to a top business school (Berkeley, UCLA, USC, Stanford, etc.)? Is it ok that its engineering experience?

Thanks.

Mar 9, 2015 - 2:05pm

work experience requirement for MBA (Originally Posted: 04/26/2007)

It seems to me that most reputable MBA programs prefer candidates with 5-8 years work experience. While I know this is an average and that many analyst's enter top-notch MBA programs after 2 years of BB work, how do you address the lack of work experience? It be helpful to get a sense of how people describe their BB experience in apps/interviews and why an MBA makes sense so early on?

Mar 9, 2015 - 2:12pm

How do business schools assess work experience? (Originally Posted: 10/05/2014)

Does it mainly come down to the recommendation letters from your last job, the prestige of your employer, and the promotions you've gotten?

Mar 9, 2015 - 2:18pm

Work Experience for HBS MBA (Originally Posted: 09/11/2014)

Hi,
I am currently studying Chemical Engineering at Imperial College London and have an offer for an analyst position in the Operations division at GS in London. One of my academic goals is to get an MBA at HBS and I was wondering if 4-year work experience at GS within the OPS division would be advantageous.
Thanks!

Mar 9, 2015 - 2:26pm

Previous experience before the MBA? (Originally Posted: 04/02/2011)

The majority of top business school sites seem to indicate that a large portion of the class come from PE/VC or high finance jobs. Such as with Wharton: http://www.wharton.upenn.edu/mba/student-life/class-profile.cfm

Obviously admission into the top programs is based on number of factors, which are discussed amply on this board, but it appears largely "unfair" since the people being admitted already have high finance jobs. I feel there is so little hope for generic engineers and such working regular jobs even if these "normal" people have high test scores. It is true that many engineering majors (about 1/4 of the class) are admitted, but based on employment, these majors seemed to actually go nto finance. Hardly any of the admitted have technical jobs!

This topic has been talked to death, but honest the percents on the above link lead me to believe one has to be extremely luck or have a Catch 22.

  1. Is admission extremely difficult for the non high finance applicants? I feel that the odds are stacked against both non social science majors and applicants without high finance experience.

  2. If two applicants from the same state university, gpa and test scores, one with an engineering degree and "good" job, one with an economics degree and comparable job and leadership both apply, and one has to be admitted, which one does the business school prefer? The engineer is probably a less common applicant, but according to statistics, the other would be admitted. Would more engineers be admitted if more applied, or do business schools show favoritism to economics majors always? Or is it only favoritism towards economics majors if they come from pedigree?

Thanks.

Mar 9, 2015 - 2:30pm

What are Desirable Professions before B-School? (Originally Posted: 02/26/2012)

I'm a recent college grad and just started at a new gig in financial information technology firm (think Factset, CapIQ, Bloomberg, Thomson Reuters). I figured that this was a foot in the door of the finance game, as I am interested in banking. I think that at this point I will need to go back for an MBA in a few years if I want to truly get a career rolling in banking.

Anyways, I ask you all: What, if not already an analyst in i-banking or consulting, are good professions and/or career moves to have or make before shooting for b-school? Thanks fellow monkeys!

"When you really are enjoying what it is you do, who needs balance? There's your balance!"
Mar 9, 2015 - 2:43pm

Best career choice to get into M7 MBA? (Originally Posted: 09/06/2015)

So I failed to get BB IBD or MBB coming out of my semi-target school. And I'm trying to find a job now before applying for M7 MBA programs.

Is it true that top business schools have rough quotas for people from every industry, and people from finance and IT are at a disadvantage because of the disproportionate amount of people applying from these fields (unless you're at a top BB/MBB)? If so, what kind of career path would yield a higher chance of admission, all else equal... should I drop everything and go work for a non-profit for the next couple years? After the MBA, I plan to try again for BB IBD. Thank you all!

Mar 9, 2015 - 2:47pm

Jobs to set me up for a top MBA (Originally Posted: 11/02/2015)

Hi all,

I just wanted to get some insight about what specific jobs are going to best set me up for a top MBA program and assist me in landing a gig in consulting or IB after. I am currently a junior this year at a non-target (CU). To be honest because my stats are not so great it is going to be very unlikely that I am able to break into IB straight out of undergrad so I was thinking of perhaps getting a corporate finance role after graduation. What are some programs and internships that you guys think I should be applying for right now? Currently, I am applying to all the relevant companies that recruit on campus but I am looking to expand beyond campus recruiting. Are there be any specific companies that are a "must apply" or highly recommended? Additionally, what is the perception of BO or MO roles pre mba?

Mar 9, 2015 - 3:07pm

Best job to prepare for MBA in Finance? (Originally Posted: 02/22/2015)

Hi all,

I'm currently learning about corporate finance and financial analysis and plan on returning to get MBA in a few years. My question is what is the best job to prepare me for this in the meantime? I finished my UG in Economics but am lacking the experience (and internships) to land myself an analyst position. I'm currently looking for work in commercial banking but do not want to lower myself to front-end sales positions (i.e. teller/client services). What's the best route to go? I've looked at discount brokers as well and am unsure what position would give me the best leg up once I apply for grad school.

-Newly hatched clinger
Mar 9, 2015 - 3:35pm

Which jobs/positions in investment banking field put kids to top MBA? (Originally Posted: 08/16/2012)

I hear that S&T people find it hard to get to an MBA program because it's unnecessary for their career path. Is it true? What about other positions(Operations,PWM,industry...)? Which ones are best for pre-MBA?

Mar 9, 2015 - 3:46pm

Is there an absolute best job for getting into a top MBA? (Originally Posted: 02/26/2011)

I know that business schools will pretty much take people from any type of job as long as they meet their standards blah blah blah, but do any of you guys look at a specific type of job as the absolute best to get into one? pe? entrepreneurial experience? whatever?

From what I've been reading, it sounds like getting into a good pe firm is a pretty good boost for your resume, but I'm wondering what you guys think...

note: I tried searching for threads like this and the results of this thread will not influence my future hopeful career, so save it

If your dreams don't scare you, then they are not big enough. "There are two types of people in this world: People who say they pee in the shower, and dirty fucking liars."-Louis C.K.
Mar 9, 2015 - 3:48pm

Jobs that I think would do better than PE in B-School admissions:

-Navy SEAL
-Olympic Athlete (with decent undergrad grades)
-Elected political official at State level or above

“Millionaires don't use astrology, billionaires do”
Mar 9, 2015 - 3:49pm

I understand the Navy SEAL (though should all special operations forces be included in this?) and elected officials. Being an Olympic athlete is impressive, but what does that have to do with b-school? My only guess is a lot of very hard work but it doesn't seem like that would be enough.

If your dreams don't scare you, then they are not big enough. "There are two types of people in this world: People who say they pee in the shower, and dirty fucking liars."-Louis C.K.
Mar 9, 2015 - 4:04pm
scottj19x89:
I understand the Navy SEAL (though should all special operations forces be included in this?) and elected officials. Being an Olympic athlete is impressive, but what does that have to do with b-school? My only guess is a lot of very hard work but it doesn't seem like that would be enough.

Being an olympic athlete IS hard work especially in combination with full time studies. Think back at your days at uni. then remove 6-8 hours of every day, this is the time you spend training. Then remove every weekend as you spend these at competitions or training camps. Then see to it that you get at least 8h sleep every night as it is needed for maximal recovery. Then remove another couple of hours a week for studying anatomy, bio-mechanics, nutrition and so forth in order to become better, faster, stronger. Not much time left for studying after you've been to your lectures and seminar, still most athletes are able to recieve very good grades as well.

Being an Olympian shows qualities of dedication, planning, time management, resilience, discipline, strive for excellence, goal setting & targeting, self improvement, team work, able to perform under pressure and maybe most important of all competitiveness.

As I myself strive to be an Olympian I really hope my merits as an athlete will be make up for the lack of internships as I spend my time off uni travelling the world for different competitions.

"It's a little like wrestling a gorilla. You don't quit when you're tired you quit when the gorilla is tired" -Robert Strauss
Mar 9, 2015 - 3:50pm

Pimp. It shows good management skills and a willingness to take risks.

looking for that pick-me-up to power through an all-nighter?
Mar 9, 2015 - 4:11pm

oneortheother, do you think that McKinsey, bain, and BCG consulting is more impressive than a pe job or were you trying to list them WITH pe/elected officials?

If your dreams don't scare you, then they are not big enough. "There are two types of people in this world: People who say they pee in the shower, and dirty fucking liars."-Louis C.K.
Mar 9, 2015 - 3:52pm

i will not save it. This has been written about 50 effing times.

But yes, the aforementioned "jobs" would be more helpful. No they have nothing to do with business school, but wtf would that matter. You're not learning advanced physics there. Schools like them because they add diversity to the class. Every adcom would love to say they have a fighter pilot, gold medalist, etc. The consultancies are often looked upon favorably but that's a considerable step down from the "cool" experiences.

In the end though, the "real' jobs, whether that be McKinsey or an ice cream shop, are are a minute portion of the admissions decision. If you were really born in 1989 you shouldnt be thinking about an MBA for several more years

Mar 9, 2015 - 3:53pm

I'm not, it was just something that I've been wondering for a little while now and instead of staying ignorant to this topic, I decided to ask a question... and what exactly do you put in the search function when you're trying to figure out "best jobs for mba"? cause apparently that's too specific? I dunno...

If your dreams don't scare you, then they are not big enough. "There are two types of people in this world: People who say they pee in the shower, and dirty fucking liars."-Louis C.K.
Mar 9, 2015 - 3:54pm

if your only goal is to get into a top mba (which isnt really necessary if you get the right job out of undergrad) you want to do something different than everyone else. start a company, volunteer in a third world nation, etc.

Mar 9, 2015 - 3:55pm

I think fluffers place well at HWS.

fdba Emory Blaine and BBA or otherwise trying to find the perfect pseudonym.
Mar 9, 2015 - 3:58pm

Giggilo to the director of admissions complete with photographic evidence. Done.

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford
  • 1
Mar 9, 2015 - 3:59pm

It depends on the type of job you are doing:

IB and consulting will be the only jobs where you don't need promotion to be competitive for admissions.

Operations (engineer, scientist) at a company: management role

Something special (non-profit, entrepreneur, athlete, navy, etc.): leadership role if possible (or management).

Mar 9, 2015 - 4:00pm

Is it sad that I was going to make the same exact comment as happypantsmcgee when I was reading through this thread?

The only surefire way into a top b-school is to have an extremely spectacular and simultaneously unique profile. Intelligent Olympic gold medalist or something of a similar ilk. If you are going to go to MBB route, you simply need to be better than your peers, which isn't easy when your peers are ivy league superstars with the same job.

CompBanker

Mar 9, 2015 - 4:01pm
CompBanker:
Is it sad that I was going to make the same exact comment as happypantsmcgee when I was reading through this thread?

Why so much hate today? Welcome to the dark side
If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford
Mar 9, 2015 - 4:02pm
happypantsmcgee:
CompBanker:
Is it sad that I was going to make the same exact comment as happypantsmcgee when I was reading through this thread?

Why so much hate today? Welcome to the dark side
There is no hate, clearly we were thinking along the same lines. However, I am coming for you...

CompBanker

Mar 9, 2015 - 4:05pm

I know it takes a lot of hard work, I just don't understand why it would make anybody better for a business school besides for the second paragraph... ps you said the same thing in 4 different words a couple times in that paragraph

n most athletes receive very good grades as well? really?

If your dreams don't scare you, then they are not big enough. "There are two types of people in this world: People who say they pee in the shower, and dirty fucking liars."-Louis C.K.
Best Response
Mar 9, 2015 - 4:06pm
scottj19x89:
I know it takes a lot of hard work, I just don't understand why it would make anybody better for a business school besides for the second paragraph... ps you said the same thing in 4 different words a couple times in that paragraph

n most athletes receive very good grades as well? really?

Because b-schools are much better at teaching "technical" knowledge (accounting, finance, marketing, etc.) to someone who already has a history of leadership, team/interpersonal skills, and crazy commitment/dedication (i.e. special forces, Olympic athlete, etc.) than they are in teaching some math/academically oriented person the leadership, team/interpersonal skills, and commitment needed to succeed in business.

In other words, b-schools feel it's easier to teach an ex-Marine how to do basic accounting (or any "hard"/technical knowledge), than it is to teach some hardcore engineer how to be a better public speaker (or any "soft skills"). And armed with even rudimentary business knowledge, chances are the ex-Marine will do better in just about ANY business career (finance, marketing, management, consulting, etc) than the hardcore math guy who may be crazy smart, but may have serviceable or even poor soft skills (and whose education on "leadership" and group skills is centered mostly on what he/she read in books, rather than real world experience).

You can't really "teach" leadership or a level of dedication required to be an outlier, but you can certainly learn it - through experience. And the military, sports and the arts provide better opportunities for young people to learn these things better than any academic environment, or even better than the "hardcore business nerd" who did undergrad business, worked in consulting/banking, but besides the work resume - has little else to offer.

In plain English, b-schools are better at teaching book smarts to an already street smart person - and can't really teach a book smart person any street smarts.

And frankly, business in the real world is about street smarts - hustle, dedication and that strong sense of competitiveness.

My advice to most college students (or younger) is to certainly focus on academics - do the best you can to get good grades, but not at the expense of everything else. Ideally, you should work hard enough to pull in respectable grades, while dedicating yourself outside of school to some meaningful activity at a high level -- whether it's sports, arts, nonprofit/community work. What this will mean is cutting back on a lot of the partying, but it is worth it in the longer run. You should only have enough free time to party it up on special occasions (celebrating some milestone), but not so much free time that you are partying to fill up your free time. Of course, this is easy to say, and very hard to do -- which is why if you are able to manage this delicate balance of academics and being dedicated to something special outside of school since childhood (all while having a smidgen of a social life) - you will stand out from many of your peers (and as a result, have a better chance of not only getting into b-school, but having more opportunities available to you in terms of your professional career).

Of course there's a lot of peer pressure -- if you're the kind of person who really wants and believes in getting strong grades, you will put a lot of focus on that, and to avoid being seen as "the nerd" you will try and party it up whenever you're not studying (and at the expense of accomplishing anything outside of academics). Or, you may be the person who doesn't give a shit about academics, and the grades suffer (regardless of whether you're doing something outside of school, or just partying it up).

Alex Chu
www.mbaapply.com

  • 3
Mar 9, 2015 - 4:07pm
scottj19x89:
I know it takes a lot of hard work, I just don't understand why it would make anybody better for a business school besides for the second paragraph... ps you said the same thing in 4 different words a couple times in that paragraph

n most athletes receive very good grades as well? really?

A bit repetitive, I must admit, was tired as fuck when i wrote the post.

To answer the issue of grades I've based it mostly on my own experience on people that I've meet. Of course they aren't representative for all elite athletes as most people I met are individual, European athletes in sports where you don't earn any BIG money as most of the Olympic sports are.

Further I've read a Swedish(where I'm from) study that athletes receive higher grades than average Joe. It was published in the magazine "Idrott och forskning"(Sports and Science) a few years ago, not able to find it online though.

I imagine that there probably is differences, for example, between European and American athletes, and between team and individual sports as well. But as I've been able to perceive it, athletes perform well in education.

"It's a little like wrestling a gorilla. You don't quit when you're tired you quit when the gorilla is tired" -Robert Strauss
Mar 9, 2015 - 4:08pm

I know some of my friends (here in the US) that were college athletes said their professors went pretty easily on them (college football and basketball, didn't hear anything like that from guys who played soccer or baseball)

"You stop being an asshole when it sucks to be you." -IlliniProgrammer "Your grammar made me wish I'd been aborted." -happypantsmcgee
Mar 9, 2015 - 4:09pm

I would say the riskiest and most likely way to gain admission to CERTAIN top MBA's, is to start and sell a company. You dont need to be Zucks, Pincus, D'angelo or Cuban, but being able to show that you can take something from idea stage to it being soo valuable a large company buys it, is a very desirable skill set. What all employers want at the end of the day is to know that if i pay you X you will generate x+1(y) for me in profits, and since MBA and all other schools are just employee factories, if you can find a way to prove you have high earning potential for your employer or school you will get in.

Mar 9, 2015 - 4:10pm

Met an Olympic Medalist MBA student recently. They exist. :(

Array
Mar 9, 2015 - 4:12pm

i didn't read through the responses above, but i know a few kids who went to work for GE Capital or the GE finance rotational program (might not be called that)....anyway, they all got accepted to HBS...despite only OK gmat/gpas. i think GE was made to send kids to b-school, they have dumb little awards, team building crap, organized community service, etc. i also think "sexy tech" ie: amzn, fb, goog, etc. will play very well, especially for Stanford. you also can't go wrong with mckinsey, bain, bcg.

Mar 9, 2015 - 4:13pm

I would think being IB or M/B/BCG would be harder if only because you are competing from among 100s of other applicants that look just like you... meaning, it is not sufficient to just be at a name brand firm. Plenty of dings with high stats from these places.

Probably easier/higher yield from PE (even larger shops - KKR, BX, GE shops like TA/S) and highest from VC firms. Just by virtue of fewer applicants/even getting into a shop like that is a quality screen in itself.

16% of HBS MBA Class of 2014 was from VC/PE, vs 20% from consulting (all types) and 12% from financial services (all types). For reference. But honestly, even if you have a good paper profile you need to 1) write great essays in an ever-shrinking space (basically ~1000 words across all essays for HBS), 2) get good, specific letters of rec from people who have a vested stake in you, 3) not be a tool in person. My HBS interview barely even talked about what I do for work.

Mar 9, 2015 - 4:14pm

BB Finance to Top Bschool (Originally Posted: 03/10/2015)

Read some articles about how M7 and the like prefer candidates with top jobs in finance or either people in other professions (engineering,tech).

Does the finance division at MS/GS qualify you in terms of work experience for Booth/Columiba/Kellogg? Or are they looking for only for S/T,IBD,ER? This is considering a GPA/GMAT that would be inline with the averages at these schools

Mar 9, 2015 - 4:23pm

Corporate Strategy better for MBA? (Originally Posted: 08/12/2011)

Considering some offers after my IB analyst stint, one of which is a corporate strategy role with huge responsibility and visibility in a $1B publicly traded company.

Coming from IB, will this make me more competitive for a top MBA over staying in finance?

I'm concerned about the grouping of adcoms. If I stay in IB, I'll be grouped with finance and I went to a non-target without stellar grades. Will choosing an interesting and unique role working side by side with the C-Levels and avoiding the "finance" grouping by the adcoms help my application stand out?

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