Does UNDERGRAD school reputation/prestige matter for B-School admissions?

bk13's picture
Rank: Senior Chimp | banana points 22

I graduated from a small liberal arts school in Michigan with 3.9 GPA majoring in Economics and Accounting and with a minor in Philosophy. I completed three internships while in school (one in Big 4 audit, one in a Fortune 50 company's accounting department, and one at a market research firm). I also played on the men's golf team for three seasons. For what it's worth, I scored a 31 on the ACT back in high school (not sure if that's even relevant now).

Post-college, I joined the Fortune 50 company and spent two years as a corporate accountant before joining another Big 4 firm in a specialty audit practice focused on derivative/hedge accounting (and will be promoted to Senior this fall). I have three years of total experience at this point and have been considering whether or not to apply to B-schools this fall for matriculation in fall 2017 (at which point I would have four years of total experience--so fairly close to the 5-years average most schools advertise). I am currently in the process of obtaining my CPA license (passed all exams, waiting on the license) and I have also passed Level 1 of the CFA, but haven't yet taken Level 2. I have not yet taken the GMAT.

I would like to attend B-school to strengthen my expertise in finance (other than accounting), to change my career-focus from accounting/auditing to finance/financial services, and also to gain access to a larger, more prestigious network of professionals. Like many others, I am interested in investment banking.

I am curious if applying to top-20 schools will be more difficult because my alma mater is not well known outside of Michigan/Midwest region. Seriously, my alma mater is VERY small - roughly 1,500 students per year. My top choices at the moment are Booth, Ross, Fuqua, Anderson, and McCombs. Any thoughts? I appreciate your help/advice.

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Comments (43)

Jul 18, 2016

don't worry about that stuff - you cannot change it anyways. All you need to do is position yourself well. 3.9 certainly works for your favor, but it doesn't really change the game - you're eligible at all those schools, but it really depends on your background, future goals, execution and some luck.

with that in mind, people from best tiers are most prone to self-select into the MBA application pool for sure, because a lot of the "nontargets" cannot see themselves "eligible" for highly regarded MBAs. when I was at my MBA interview, at least 1/2 of the applicants came from elite backgrounds of some sort....

But at the end of the day, you ought to get in because you're better, stronger and more prepared than others, if you work the work.

Jul 19, 2016

get a 720+ GMAT and you'll be fine. Booth is likely a stretch (although a 740+ will help there) but the other schools you mentioned should be in play assuming you perform on the GMAT

Jul 19, 2016

Probably not as much as GMAT/GPA/Work Experience

F50 and Big 4 experience would probably put you among the majority of students at programs ranked #4 - #15. Do well on the GMAT and execute on your essays and I'd take the over on you landing at any of your choices.

Jul 19, 2016

I'm at a non H/S M7 and the majority of students do not come from F50/Big 4 Audit backgrounds. There are very few I can think of in fact.

Jul 19, 2016

That's weird. I've met plenty of students who come from either one or the other (or both) all across the top 10+. I've found those backgrounds to be fairly well represented after the bankers and consultants.

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Jul 19, 2016

There are Big 4 people (mostly from Deloitte Consulting) but not many from audit

Jul 20, 2016

Focus on what is within your control (at least in terms of effort and planning):

  1. GMAT. 700+ at a bare minimum for top schools, a 720+ is good, and a 740+ ideally
  2. School selection. This comes down to expectations and knowing where you stand. Shoot for a few stretches and a few sweet spots - that way, you can feel assured that you should have a reasonable shot at getting into a decent school that you'd be happy to attend (sweet spot), but also giving yourself that opportunity to shoot for schools that may need a bit of luck but where it's still a possibility. In your case, it seems like your expectations are in line with reality (1 top 8; 3 top 16s, and a top 30). I personally think for an optional degree program like an MBA, a "safety" school is not worth applying to. But that's just me - so in your case, it may or may not be worth applying to Texas. Again though, this all comes down to your GMAT (if it's in range for the top 16 schools, then you can probably drop Texas).
  3. Applications. Doing the best you can on the applications: resume, essays, interviews, and rec letters.

That's it. As @whattherock said, you can't change your college or anything about your past, so it's not something to worry about - other than factoring into what range of schools you are competitive for. But once you've decided on the list of schools, then focus on what's in front of you. It sounds that simple, but it's amazing how many MBA applicants play so many unnecessary mind games with themselves, with the "what ifs", hypotheticals, and getting mentally bogged down on their past.

Again, as long as your GMAT is competitive and you do a good job on the applications, you should end up at one of the schools you listed. But also as long as you don't get in your own way.

Jul 20, 2016

it does not have much weight, but it will have some...it all depends on context

Jul 20, 2016

i mean, it's not bad (case western, as mentioned in the other thread) but certainly ibank's won't recruit from there. i'm just hoping that getting a good MBA will allow me to have a better interest with recruiters.

Jul 20, 2016

dude you have to stop coming on here asking people to alay your insecurities. you're going there anyway, if people say case western reserve sucks a big dick, are you going to stop going there?

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Jul 20, 2016

i'm not, otherwise i wouldn't have chosen my school yet. since i'm new on the forum and no one's talked about the school before, am i not able to even ask about it? heh, this is like my second time mentioning it so don't pull the trigger so fast.

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Jul 20, 2016

WHY CANT YOU WRITE COHERENTLY>>>PUNCTUATION>>>>> GRAMMAR>>>>> CLEAR QUESTIONS.

This entire thread should be deleted, you're making a mockery of this website.

Jul 20, 2016

Who put spoiled milk in your Cheerio's? How's that for a clear question? (Net Worth)

Jul 20, 2016

Net Worth is a little less compassionate than I.

First off, if your B-School essay is written like the above you wont get into the U. of Phoenix MBA program nevermind Emory.

I did not know that if you went to junior college that you could not just apply to a 4 year school. If you have to then yea take the SATs again, big whoop. Also, do not take any classes because Emory is not THAT good that they want you to prove yourself. Plus they know that if a 25-26 year old is reapplying the have to be a little serious and if you break 1300 on your SATS or well 1950 with the new scale you will be fine. Write a good Statement of Purpose and you will be fine, explain yourself. If you cannot pay $1,000.0 and get a professional to help and when you get to college TAKE WRITING CLASSES.

Once you are in work your ass off. Also, due to your situation I would be aimining ofr no less than a 3.6-3.7 because admission committees at B-Schools are going to want high caliber work from someone with your different background.

Once your done apply and you will do fine, it might even help you due to your background.

Also, start with internships during the year after you get adjusted first semester because companies will hire you because they will be getting someone with decent work experience for free or close to nothing.

In the summers get a summer analyst job or consulting job. Also, get involved on campus and your community that will show your seriousness. Hopefully you can make the direct transition right ot the B-School there or even somewhere better. If not work for a year after college or maybe 2 and then apply.

Good luck

Jul 20, 2016

I have acquaintances at HBS and Wharton who went to some shite undergrads. So it can be done, but you MUST have a good story strong reasoning for the choices you have made.

Jul 20, 2016

B schools dont give a crap where you went to undergrad. It's more about the quality of your work experience.

Top MBA students often come from better schools, though, as they have better chances getting that "quality" work experience straight out of ugrad.

Jul 20, 2016
Schumacher:

B schools dont give a crap where you went to undergrad. It's more about the quality of your work experience.

Top MBA students often come from better schools, though, as they have better chances getting that "quality" work experience straight out of ugrad.

True this. You do need to deliver the goods in work experience, GMAT, and essays. Keep your undergrad GPA reasonably high but otherwise the undergrad institution itself doesn't matter.

Better yet, get Richard Mantauk's book.

Jul 20, 2016

I think all of you guys have made good points, the main reason I'm looking to get into a good undergrad B-School is to have the opportunity to get the good internships and work experience right out of undergrad. By going to a FSU caliber school it seems like it will take more of my own hustle to get interships etc. Whereas Goldmans and Merrill heavily recruit at Emory each year.

Jul 20, 2016
sobepehopeful:

I think all of you guys have made good points, the main reason I'm looking to get into a good undergrad B-School is to have the opportunity to get the good internships and work experience right out of undergrad. By going to a FSU caliber school it seems like it will take more of my own hustle to get interships etc. Whereas Goldmans and Merrill heavily recruit at Emory each year.

This is a different goal. If you're pursuing post-undergrad employment, of course your undergrad school matters. I thought this was about getting into an MBA program.

Jul 20, 2016

pretty much every mba program wants that...

a few who are leaning now to straight from undergrad, but for the most part you need a few years real experience

Jul 20, 2016

I just stumbled upon this and like to point out that this whole post is 1 sentence. Good luck to the poster...Hope you are not an english teacher by now.

Jul 20, 2016

With your grammar you belong at Florida State.

Jul 20, 2016

Honestly OP, if what you say is true, then you have done extremely well for yourself, all things considered. Are you perhaps a very good looking person? Also, did you or did you not graduate?

Jul 20, 2016
TheFratPack:

With your grammar you belong at Florida State.

lol

Jul 19, 2016

you definitely need to address this in your essays - if you have a legitimate reason and you performed well in college/GMAT, you should be fine

Jul 18, 2016

why would you do MBA so early if you're just done with undergrad. Unless there's a gold reason, it's usually going to look stupid.

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Jul 20, 2016

It's just a question. I'm not applying right now but I will 3-4 years down the road.

Jul 20, 2016

Don't sweat it. Maybe think of a way to spin the time between schools but don't lie. They wont care as long as you have some great work experience and stats.

Jul 20, 2016

I finished undergrad at 25 and I'm at Booth. 3-4 years out is going to be fine for you, just crush life in the meantime. It probably does matter a little, but I think its more of a "explain this well in 2-4 sentences" type of situation in most cases. It shouldn't be a massive hurdle, nor should the time off be the main focus of your essays when the time comes.

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Jul 20, 2016

Thanks!

Jul 20, 2016

no, lots of top 5 mba students went to shit undergrads.

Jul 20, 2016

Agreed.

Jul 20, 2016

pretty much from what I've seen its 25% gpa,25% gmat score, 25% your work experience, and 25% your attitude.

Jul 20, 2016

a top undergrad degree helps, but isn't necessary

if you are not from a top school, you should have a high GPA to compensate

Jul 20, 2016

is equity research seen as good experience for getting into a top mba?

Jul 20, 2016

That way, if some has had a bad gpa but was fit for the all the rest, he can get into top school.

I always thought that GPA would be worth like 50% or more and 40% work experience.

Also can you please elaborate a little more on what do you mean by attitude?

Jul 20, 2016