Kellogg | Mr. Multinational Strategy
GRE 305, GPA 3.80
MIT Sloan | Mr. Semiconductor Engineer
GMAT 750, GPA 3.68
Stanford GSB | Mr. 750
GMAT 750, GPA 3.43
Columbia | Ms. Cybersecurity
GRE 322, GPA 3.7
Wharton | Mr. Global Perspective
GMAT 750, GPA 3.6
Harvard | Ms. JMZ
GMAT 750, GPA 3.47
Harvard | Mr. Bangladeshi Analyst
GMAT 690, GPA 3.31
MIT Sloan | Mr. International Impact
GRE 326, GPA 3.5
IU Kelley | Mr. Businessman Engineer
GMAT 690, GPA 7.26/10
MIT Sloan | Mr. Surgery to MBB
GMAT 750, GPA 3.4
Ross | Mr. NCAA to MBB
GMAT 710, GPA 3.2
Duke Fuqua | Mr. National Security Advisor
GMAT 670, GPA 3.3
Darden | Ms. Teaching-To-Tech
GRE 326, GPA 3.47
Wharton | Mr. Data Scientist
GMAT 740, GPA 7.76/10
IU Kelley | Ms. Marketing Manager
GRE 294, GPA 2.5
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Consulting Analyst
GMAT 700, GPA 7.7/10
Stanford GSB | Mr. FinTech Engineer
GMAT 760, GPA 3.8
MIT Sloan | Mr. Hopeful CXO
GMAT 750, GPA 3.56
Stanford GSB | Mr. Deferred MBA
GMAT 760, GPA 3.82
SDA Bocconi | Mr. Hotel International
GMAT 570, GPA 2.8
Harvard | Mr. Renewable Energy Investing
GMAT 740, GPA 4.0
Foster School of Business | Mr. CPG Tech
GMAT 770, GPA 2.9
Berkeley Haas | Ms. Midwest Startup
GRE 328, GPA 3.51
Yale | Mr. Fencer
GMAT 740, GPA 3.48
INSEAD | Mr. Indian In Cambodia
GMAT 730, GPA 3.33
Tuck | Mr. South African FinTech
GMAT 730, GPA 3.08
London Business School | Mr. Indian Electric Tech
GMAT 620, GPA 3.5

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.”

DON’T MISS: THE TOP 25 FEEDER SCHOOLS FOR WHARTON’S CLASS OF 2013 or THE TOP 25 FEEDER COMPANIES FOR WHARTON’S CLASS OF 2013

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.