To HBS From Randolph-Macon?

Harvard's Class of 2015 will have an alumnus of Randolph-Macon College

Harvard’s Class of 2015 will have an alumnus of Randolph-Macon College

If you did your undergraduate degree at Randolph-Macon College, a small liberal arts school in Ashland, Virginia, what are the chances that you would be accepted by the Harvard Business School?

Or how about Kettering University in Flint, Michigan, or the University of Cincinnati in Ohio?

If you said you have a snowball’s chance in hell, that would probably be a very good guess. After all, in the case of Randolph-Macon, it’s a school ranked with eight others at 112th on U.S. News’ list of national liberal arts colleges.


But Harvard clearly wants you to think you have some kind of chance. In the aftermath of our analysis of the top feeder schools into HBS, the school is now publishing a complete list of all the undergraduate institutions represented in the newly admitted Class of 2015.

All told, Harvard notes that this year’s admits hail from 264 different undergraduate institutions.  Truth be told, there are a good number of unexpected public schools on the list, including Louisiana State University and North Carolina State. And there is a wide variety of universities outside the U.S., ranging from Anna University in India to Zhejiang University in China.


There also are some unusual omissions. Betsy Massar, a Harvard MBA and founder of Master Admissions, points out that “Bob Jones made it this year, as did the University of Nebraska, which wasn’t on it last year (what would Warren Buffet say?) But other schools that didn’t make it that have alums are Colgate (164 HBS MBA alums in the directory), the University of Tennessee (about 50 alums), or even the third-ranked university in China, Tsinghua University (10 alums) (National Tsing Hua University is different, and in Taiwan).”

What to make of the list? “Probably not so much,” concedes Massar. Still, “This should cheer a lot of people up, figuring that if they didn’t go to an Ivy or a state-school Ivy like Michigan or North Carolina, that all is lost. Good Lord, that’s not true.”

It’s still worth pointing out, however, that the makeup of the newest class isn’t likely to be dramatically different from what we found two years ago when we analyzed profiles of the Class of 2013 on Facebook. About 30% of the HBS class came from one of the original eight Ivy League schools (slightly less than Wharton’s 33.1%). If you subtracted out the international schools in the sample, those eight institutions account for roughly 38% of Harvard’s entire class (versus 44% at Wharton). The vast majority of the students come from more expensively priced private schools.


Of the 918 admits in the Class of 2013, an estimated 49 students got their undergraduate degrees at Stanford, 45 from the University of Pennsylvania, 37 from Yale, 27 from Columbia, and 26 from Princeton. Moreover, it also was likely that even when an admit came from a lesser known school, it’s highly likely that the candidate had a master’s degree from a more selective university, a blue chip work history, or great connections.

“Pedigree of some kind really counts, as it should,” says Sandy Kreisberg, an MBA admissions consultant and founder of “As suspected, there’s no DeVry and no Brooklyn College (alma mater of Alan Derschowitz) — in fact, no Queens College, or even City College, so what we got here is an obvious conspiracy against online schmucks and smart kids from New York.  I mean, BITS (Birla Institute of Technology and Science) made it, and so did Bob Jones, although the BITS numbers compared to IIT numbers and the actual numbers for service acadmies would be interesting. It’s a great list, but to really dig it, you need to know how many admits  from each school versus the number of  applicants  from  that same school. That would weed out the one-offs.  The fact is, some schools on that list are actually not thought highly of by HBS, but to get to that, you need the total tally.”

Adds Massar: “A lot of students did come from schools such as Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Yale. But that’s partly a function of the number of students that applied, and partly a function of what people are ‘expected to do.’ In short, if you went to Dartmouth, does it mean you will automatically get into HBS? No. Does it help? Maybe. If you went to University of Nebraska, does it mean you won’t get in? Nope. If you got a 2.5 GPA at Penn, will you be looked at more than someone who got a 3.5 at Arizona State?
Probably not. But it depends on what you took, what that other student took, and on and on.”

(For the full list of undergraduate schools represented in Harvard’s Class of 2015 see the following page)

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