Rice Jones | Mr. Simple Manufacturer
GRE 320, GPA 3.95
Stanford GSB | Mr. Mountaineer
GRE 327, GPA 2.96
Stanford GSB | Mr. JD To MBA
GRE 326, GPA 3.01
Kellogg | Mr. Pro Sports MGMT
GMAT GMAT Waived, GPA 3.78
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Real Estate Developer
GMAT 740, GPA 3.12
Tuck | Mr. Mega Bank
GMAT 720, GPA 3.3
London Business School | Mr. Commercial Lawyer
GMAT 700, GPA 3.7
Yale | Mr. Yale Hopeful
GMAT 750, GPA 2.9
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Microsoft Consultant
GMAT N/A, GPA 2.31
Columbia | Mr. MD/MBA
GMAT 670, GPA 3.77
Harvard | Ms. Tech Impact
GMAT 730, GPA 3.8
Harvard | Mr. Data & Strategy
GMAT 710 (estimate), GPA 3.4
Harvard | Mr. MedTech Startup
GMAT 740, GPA 3.80
NYU Stern | Mr. NYC Consultant
GRE 327, GPA 3.47
INSEAD | Mr. Dreaming Civil Servant
GMAT 700, GPA 3.2
Tuck | Mr. Tech PM
GMAT 710, GPA 3.3
Stanford GSB | Mr. Future MBA
GMAT 740, GPA 3.78
London Business School | Ms. Social Impact Consulting
GRE 330, GPA 3.28
Stanford GSB | Mr. Filling In The Gaps
GRE 330, GPA 3.21
Ross | Ms. Business Development
GMAT Targetting 740, GPA 4.0
UCLA Anderson | Ms. Triathlete
GMAT 720, GPA 2.8
Columbia | Mr. Oil & Gas
GMAT 710, GPA 3.37
Kellogg | Mr. Digital Finance Strategy
GRE 327, GPA 3.47
Harvard | Mr. Banking & Finance
GMAT 700, GPA 3.8
MIT Sloan | Ms. Canadian Civil Servant
GRE 332, GPA 3.89
Wharton | Ms. Energy To Healthcare
GMAT 740, GPA 8.4/10
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Air Force Vet
GRE 311, GPA 3.6

Getting Into Wharton: Does College & Work Pedigree Trump Merit?

Wharton did accept at least three Johns Hopkins graduates in this fall’s entering class, but each appears to have had an advantage by having worked at well known organizations that are breeding grounds for MBA applicants: Hopkins graduate Deepa Gandhi worked for both Lehman Brothers and Polo Ralph Lauren; Lauren Allen worked for PA Consulting Group and the International Finance Corp., and Erik Philipp, who has a BS in civil engineering and an MS in environmental engineering from Hopkins, was a captain in the U.S. Air Force.

When applicants from public universities gain acceptance, they, too, invariably have work experience at well-known organizations. The four Wharton admits in the sample from Purdue University this year worked at McKinsey, General Electric, Booz & Co., and Caterpillar. The three admits from Rutgers University in the sample hail from Accenture, Barclays Bank, and H.I.G. Capital, a private investment firm with a family of private equity and venture capital funds. H.I.G. itself has a cream-of-the-crop pedigree, having been founded by former partners at The Blackstone Group and Bain & Co.

Jana Blanchette, a former senior admissions director for the University of Michigan’s Ross School and now president of Inside MBA Admissions, has a less judgmental view. She believes the predominance of elite universities and companies is little more than an effective screen. “A great undergraduate school a key indicator of an applicant’s likelihood of success,” says Blanchette. “It’s an indicator that when they come to your program, they will do well. And if you can get promoted at a firm like McKinsey, an admissions director can rely on McKinsey telling you this person is good.”

For Goldberg, at least, the rejection leaves him standing outside a firmly shut door. He has since returned to the U.S. and hopes to try his luck at a top ranked school again next year. This time, Goldberg says, he just might hire an MBA admissions consultant to help him spin his story. “I didn’t do it last time because I had some ethical qualms about it,” he says. “But maybe that will help next time.”


About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.