Sanity Check: Just How Big is the URM Advantage at Top B-Schools?

EliteBanana's picture
Rank: Chimp | 5

Hey guys, hoping for a quick sanity check here.

So I'm a couple years out of UG, am a URM, and doing some research on MBA programs to potentially apply to within the next couple years. Main goals are OCR (either into top tech or MBB) and the network/pedigree a top program can provide.

The biggest problem is that I have an undergrad GPA of 2.86 (I know) from a state school. There is no extreme sob story to lean on here, but definitely a few contributing factors I could discuss/spin if needed. Despite lackluster academic performance I scrapped my way into a decent (albeit "lower tier" to a lot of you) tech consulting shop and have been a high performer so far, gaining a lot of responsibility and on track for advancement. I'm considering taking the GMAT soon and am aiming for a 720+ to be as competitive as possible and to compensate for the GPA. I probably won't apply anywhere if I get below 700 after a few tries, so let's use this hypothetical score for the sake of the question. I'd also take HBX core for an alternative transcript.

Anyways, my question: Here's where I wonder just how much the URM factor could help make up for obvious weak point in my profile... I can't tell if it's all hype or actually a distinct advantage. Anyone have any personal experience with this situation? How much would applying through The Consortium help here? Aiming for at least Top 15, and my targets are Tuck, Duke Fuqua, Yale, Cornell Johnson... Is this reasonable? Do I bother plunging into GMAT prep for the next few months to make this happen? Bonus question - if this all works out, will the UG GPA screw me in the end when it comes to OCR?

TL;DR - URM with low gpa, how real is the advantage? Surmountable with consortium/high GMAT?

Comments (5)

Jul 26, 2019

EliteBanana, hey, look at the bright side, at least you didn't get a ton of monkey shit thrown at is my best guess on threads that might be helpful:

  • Another Take on Target Schools: Representation at America's Elite B-Schools college is to see how many alums end up at elite business schools (M7) since it goes to follow that in ... the top feeder colleges to the M7 minus MIT and Kellogg plus Tuck ... (Harvard+Wharton+Stanford+Columbia+Chicago Booth+Dartmouth Tuck) Harvard: 192
  • How To Get Into The Undergraduate Program At NYU Stern: A Quick Guide I knew when applying to Stern. Being one of the only direct admit business school programs in the country ... NYU Business School Admissions This is a website ... and a top school for fina
  • Most Important Factor in B-School Admissions? important aspects of an MBA applicants package for top programs? Is it undergrad grades, GMAT, SOP, work ... I am current studying International Relations at a high level university doing a masters degree. ... considering an MBA as the next step after I finish my current degree. I was wonderi
  • Which B-School should I apply to this year?? recently (they just created it so my team is me + top few C-suite executives driving the business growth) ... uni, average grades lol but granted special leave. 5)GMAT 720 (aiming 750) I want to stay in the ... Northeast cos my fiance lives in NY but gna apply to the west anw. T 1) Wharton 2) MIT Sloan 3)
  • Need help selecting B-schools to apply to Hi, I'm in the process of selecting B-schools to apply to in the first round (Sep-Oct 2018), ... i'm ok to return back. So, my expectations of the business schools are, in order of priority: 1) ... US backup: Ross, Stern. The questions are: 1) Can you please adjust
  • Does UNDERGRAD school reputation/prestige matter for B-School admissions? B-schools this fall for matriculation in fall 2017 (at which point I would have four years of total ... CFA, but haven't yet taken Level 2. I have not yet taken the GMAT. I would like to attend B-school ... back in high school (not sure if that's even relevant now). Post-college, I joined the Fortun
  • Physics undergrad admitted to top b-school the first year of a physics BSc in Italy at Sapienza University (which is ranked 23th worldwide by QS ... the opportunities it seems to offer I decided to apply to a few b-schools in europe (Bocconi in italy ... will probably allow me to apply with good chances to all top b-schools for an msc
  • More suggestions...

I hope those threads give you a bit more insight.

Aug 14, 2019

I wouldn't worry about your UG GPA when it comes to OCR. Not saying they won't look at it but there will be many other factors more important to them, including GMAT which is used in OCR for MBB.

The #1 way to make up for a low UG GPA is GMAT. Yes you could be such an extreme baller at your job but normally the GMAT is what saves those with low UG GPA's. If your GMAT is 20-30 points above a schools average the school will be much more inclined to look past your GPA and even give you scholarships. Cornell has the lowest GMAT average of the schools you listed at 699, Yale is the highest at 728. 20-30 points over the average at a places like Yale and Tuck will be very hard as a 750+ is 98th percentile.

Most competitive MBA programs place applicants into "buckets." The white male finance bucket typically will have higher GPA's and GMAT's than the the URM consulting bucket. So looking at profiles on a forum like this one may or may not give you an accurate representation of what "stats" you need to be competitive. Overall the URM advantage is real as long as you aren't a male Indian engineer. The programs are aiming at specific URM and gender class %'s. Growth in these areas can significantly improve US News Rankings (see schools like USC). The data over the last decade indicates that the female URM bucket typically has the lowest stats and Indian/White male bucket usually has the most competitive stats.

Good luck, and only worry about things you can control, at the end of the day a 2.86 is within the "80%" range of most of your target schools list on their MBA class profiles.

Aug 14, 2019

Sorry to hijack the thread but for white/Asian males, do you have any advice for how to stand out and get into HSW?

Most Helpful
Aug 16, 2019

As an earlier poster wrote, yes, applying as a URM is an advantage because schools value diversity and they want to increase the percentage of URMs in their classes.

So the question becomes how to convince them to overlook a GPA. Even if there was no "extreme sob story," was there any trend? Was there a period where you excelled?

If you have done well as a tech consultant -- progressed at an above average rate, led projects that people at higher levels usually lead, and excelled in other ways that will help you both in admission and when it comes to recruiting.

Yes, the Consortium is a great idea. It reduces the cost of applying, offers fellowships, provides a supportive network, and also makes applying easier. For more info, please go to "The Consortium Can Help You Get Your MBA" . It's a little old, but still valuable.

A 720+ GMAT will help as will HBxCore providing you get High Honors. Another option is your local community college and A's in courses like Accounting 1, Stats for Business, Economics, etc.

Bottom line, Yes, the URM factor can help you overcome the low GPA, especially if the later is further mitigated by the steps you are thinking about as well as the other steps outlined in 5 A's for Your Low GPA .

In terms of OCR, your progression at work and MBA will be much more important that your grades from 8-10 years ago.


Linda Abraham
President, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting

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Aug 16, 2019
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