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.”
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