How much does Legacy/Letters of Rec mean for MBA admissions?

I have direct legacy through my dad at a top 5 MBA program and legacy through my aunt/uncle at another top 5. Will this play into my chances as much as it does at some undergrad institutions or is the difference negligible?

Another side question: Do letters of rec from alums do anything?

Comments (24)

May 9, 2014

in short to your two questions

1. negligible
2. not really

happy to give advice; no asking for referrals please

May 9, 2014

You should focus on your own merits and what you can bring to the table. Your dad and aunt had to work hard to get to where they are, so should you.

May 9, 2014

There's no doubt I will be working my ass off to get there. It's simply a question, not an acknowledgement that I will be sitting on the couch expecting to ride the legacy wave to success.

May 9, 2014

Chill out, having connections and working hard are not mutually exclusive.

    • 1
May 9, 2014

I think it is more based on the school. For example, HBS specifically asks you if your recommenders/family are HBS alumn, which would lead me to believe that they do put some value on it. That said, like the people mentioned above, it's probably way more about your story that and what you bring to the table than your family.

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May 9, 2014

Agreed. Either way though, unless your dad or your relative is a HUGE donor or on board at one of the schools it will probably not help.

If you've worked with an alum who has influence at the school, it would probably help more. They could more directly speak to your ability to perform at work.

May 9, 2014
acrew09:

Agreed. Either way though, unless your dad or your relative is a HUGE donor or on board at one of the schools it will probably not help.

If you've worked with an alum who has influence at the school, it would probably help more. They could more directly speak to your ability to perform at work.

Assuming you have decent stats, what do you think it takes to buy your way into Harvard? I'm thinking like $1mm donation?

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May 9, 2014

I think it helps on the margin. I had alums writing letters of rec for HBS and Stanford and I didn't even get interviewed.

May 9, 2014

Depends on who the recommenders are and how much $$$ they donate to the school. And even then they would have to be an outlier that donates heavily or has significant influence at the school or world.

Overall I agree, not as beneficial compared to undergrad. Also, your rec letters are best coming from people you have worked with directly. You can also ask for letters of support from alum or faculty that may help your application.

May 9, 2014

As others have said, your relatives will only matter if they're heavy hitters that can pick up the phone and do something for you. If not, basically nothing, although it may convince AdComs that you want to go there over another school if they have any worries about that.

As for alumni recs, I don't think they do much (again, unless a big time alum). The main instance where they can do something is schools that really care about fit, and the recommender can personally/professionaly express how you fit. I would say schools like Sloan, Tuck, Haas, etc. care a bit more about fit than some other top schools, so it may be useful there.

In the end, it's likely that neither will move the needle.

May 9, 2014

Definitely not $1 million. I know someone who asked what it would take to get into one of the ivys and they said you needed to donate a building. This was 10 years ago.

May 9, 2014

Hi, can I post a link to the article I wrote for Poets & Quants on this subject?
lots of hearsay, in the cybersphere -- this article has quotes from admissions directors and some tips for actually getting substantive recommendations.

In sum: all things being equal, the legacy doesn't hurt. But all things are NEVER equal
BUT: I do think that having both parents as alums helps

http://poetsandquants.com/2012/11/21/wrangling-gre...

PS: if any of the links in there are bad, tell me, please! I'll have them fixed

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-... Ask away!

May 9, 2014
Betsy Massar:

Hi, can I post a link to the article I wrote for Poets & Quants on this subject?

lots of hearsay, in the cybersphere -- this article has quotes from admissions directors and some tips for actually getting substantive recommendations.

In sum: all things being equal, the legacy doesn't hurt. But all things are NEVER equal

BUT: I do think that having both parents as alums helps

http://poetsandquants.com/2012/11/21/wrangling-gre...

PS: if any of the links in there are bad, tell me, please! I'll have them fixed

Alright, @"Betsy Massar", lets settle this. 720 GMAT, decent work experience and EC's. Overall, easily a Darden / Ross / Fuqua candidate. Does that person, with a $1mm donation to HBS, get in? What would it take? You've been in this business a long time, so I'm assuming you've heard some stories.

May 9, 2014

hi @"CorpFinanceGuy" thanks for the question, but I cannot play. There are too many variables and too many assumptions. If it is you, then let's talk through email. Otherwise, I'm just spewing predictions with too little information.
Not trying to be snarky, but don't want to my participation in this forum a guessing game.

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-... Ask away!

May 14, 2014

Just simply having a parent who is an alum will not have a major impact. On the other hand, if your parent is heavily involved with the school (serving on the board of dean's advisors, etc.) or has donated a significant amount of money to HBS (I won't mention a specific amount but it's definitely more than $1 million), it can have a huge impact.

Every year a handful of mediocre GPA, mediocre GMAT students but with well-connected wealthy parents get into HBS. Former President George W. Bush is a good example of this.

May 14, 2014

Having a relative be a teacher there also helps. My fiance's manager got into Columbia and he said that he ~3.0 in undergrad. His partner is a doctor/teacher at the medical school and I'm assuming that his scores aren't what got him in.

May 14, 2014

The info you provided isn't sufficient to answer your question. It matters more who these people are (less the relation to you). If your aunt is Sheryl Sandberg, Comp Banker's anecdote isn't particularly relevant for you.

Think about it, there are 1,000 people graduating from HBS every year, there is no shortage of HBS alums in the world.

What will inform the weight of the rec is how important that person is to HBS, is it someone they want to please.

May 15, 2014

I don't know about the top 5 (barring your family member having paid for a building on campus); however, Duke Fuqua for instance asks on its application if you have any family who went to Duke or Fuqua specifically. I've heard this can sway them to give in an interview if it is borderline...

May 16, 2014
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