Harvard | Mr. MacGruber
GRE 313, GPA 3.7
Kellogg | Mr. Real Estate Finance
GMAT 710, GPA 3.0
Emory Goizueta | Mr. Multimedia
GRE 308, GPA 3.4
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Poet At Heart
GMAT 740, GPA 3.7
Yale | Mr. Ukrainian Biz Man
GRE 310, GPA 4.75 out of 5
Darden | Mr. Former Scientist
GMAT 680, GPA 3.65
Stanford GSB | Mr. Sustainable Business
GRE 331, GPA 3.86
Wharton | Mr. Microsoft Consultant
GMAT N/A, GPA 2.31
Yale | Ms. Impact Investing
GRE 323, GPA 3.8
Cornell Johnson | Ms. Food Waste Warrior
GMAT Not written yet (around 680), GPA 3.27
Stanford GSB | Ms. Future Tech Exec
GMAT 750, GPA 3.4
Georgetown McDonough | Ms. Air Force
GMAT 610, GPA 3.8
Harvard | Mr. Healthcare Fanatic
GMAT 770, GPA 3.46
Kellogg | Mr. Finance To Education
GMAT 730, GPA 3.4
Rice Jones | Mr. Back To School
GRE 315, GPA 3.0
Columbia | Mr. Aussie Military Man
GMAT 710, GPA 3.0 (rough conversion from Weighted Average Mark)
Harvard | Mr. Hopeful Philanthropist
GMAT 710, GPA 3.74
Stanford GSB | Mr. FinTech
GMAT Not Taken Yet, GPA 3.5
UCLA Anderson | Mr. Analytics Man
GMAT 740, GPA 3.1
Cornell Johnson | Mr. FinTech Startup
GMAT 570, GPA 3.4
Darden | Ms. Teaching-To-Tech
GRE 326, GPA 3.47
Chicago Booth | Mr. Future Angel Investor
GMAT 620, GPA 3.1
Wharton | Ms. Software Engineer
GMAT 760, GPA 3.84
Harvard | Mr. PE Strategist
GRE 326, GPA 3.6
Harvard | Mr. FBI To MBB
GMAT 710, GPA 3.85
Harvard | Mr. MBB Consultant
GMAT 730, GPA 3.9
Chicago Booth | Mr. Cal Poly
GRE 317, GPA 3.2

Playing The International Card

When Geir Bore, a McKinsey & Co. consultant in Oslo, Norway, was looking at a business school to attend two years ago, his first choice was to study at a U.S. school. But his knowledge of the MBA market in America was scant.

So he ended up applying to only four U.S. schools: Harvard, Wharton, the University of Virginia’s Darden School, and Cornell University’s Johnson School. He added one European option as a safety school: Iese Business School in Spain.

Passed over by Harvard, waitlisted at Wharton and accepted by his other choices, Bore trekked to Charlottesville, Va., to attend the Darden School last year. He says his expectations have been vastly exceeded by Darden in both the quality of the faculty and his fellow students, along with the opportunities that came his way. He did his summer internship at Goldman Sachs and already has a job waiting for him at McKinsey which will reimburse him for his entire tuition.

In retrospect, Bore says he wished he had known that most of the students in the leading U.S. schools had four years experience rather than his two. If he did, he might have taken up a possiblity with McKinsey to work for the consulting firm for an extra year in Malaysia. He also wishes he had a better knowledge of which companies recruited at the different schools, and what schools were known for throwing a lot of work on students. and which schools were known as party schools.

Bore, of course, isn’t alone. Many international applicants have only a bare bones knowledge of the biggest and most influential MBA market in the world. And the most important information they can have is hidden in the class profiles of the best schools: it’s how many students from each region of the world are enrolled in the full-time MBA programs of the best schools.

A new analysis by Poets&Quants, however, casts new light on the admission policies of the leading business schools that could significantly shift the odds in favor of some international applicants at leading MBA programs.

Many of these schools are trying to increase the percentage of students who hail from international locales. But they are also trying to balance students from diverse parts of the world. Some schools are clearly over represented by students from some world regions and under repesented in others (see table on next page).

Consider Asia. The business school reporting the most students from Asia is Indiana University’s Kelley School with 33%. By way of comparison, Stanford is on the low end of these leading schools with 11% and Harvard is next with just 13%–well below the 18% median. So U.S. business schools below the median representation of Asian students will be far more likely to be receptive to increasing their invitations to applicants from that region of the world.

Or consider Europe. The business school among these leading MBA programs reporting the most European students is Columbia Business School in New York with 13%. Harvard is next with 10% and Berkeley is third with 9%. The median for this group of schools is 6%. So following the same logic, qualified European applicants who apply to schools below the median number could well have an advantage over others.

The leading U.S. schools with the highest representation of Latin American students are Chicago (10%), MIT Sloan and Berkeley Haas (9%), and Duke’s Fuqua School of Business (8%). Below the 5% median for this group of elite schools are Harvard (4%), Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Business (4%), New York University’s Stern School and Virginia’s Darden School (3%).

Often, the biggest drawback many international applicants face is the language barrier. At the Darden School, where class participation accounts for half of your grade in a course, the admissions staff demands a mastery of the English language–not merely fluency.

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.