If you’re applying to Harvard Business School, an Ivy League undergraduate education is clearly an asset. So is a resume stamped by an elite, brand name company.
That’s the conclusion of a study of LinkedIn profiles of 893 of the 930 first-year MBA students HBS welcomed last year. The study, representing a 96% sample size, was done by Fortuna Admissions, a leading MBA admissions consulting firm.
For applicants to HBS, the big takeaway is that the winners of the annual HBS lottery are by and large an elitist bunch. If you have a degree from a public university or college, particularly an institution that is not known as a “public ivy,” or you work for a no-name company or organization, your chances of landing a seat in a Harvard class greatly diminish. That is not a total surprise or a change in admissions strategy. An earlier analysis by Poets&Quants of feeder colleges (see Top 25 Feeder Colleges to Harvard Business School) and feeder companies (see Top Feeder Companies To Harvard Business School) showed pretty much the same thing.
FEEDER COLLEGES & COMPANIES TO HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL PRETTY ELITIST
Overall, virtually half of Harvard’s Class of 2020 (49%) earned their undergraduate degrees from only 24 universities, each of which sent 10 or more enrolled students into Harvard Business School. Even more surprisingly, 14.1% or 124 students had worked at only one of two companies: the global management consulting firm, McKinsey & Co. or investment banker Goldman Sachs. In fact, 88 of the 893 in the sample, or a remarkable 9.9%, had received paychecks from McKinsey after they earned their undergraduate degrees.
Almost one in four members (23.2%) of Harvard’s MBA Class of 2020 boast an Ivy League degree, with Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania and Stanford clearly in the lead. In fact, Fortuna found that 46 members of the class, or 5.2%, had Harvard as their alma mater. Some 39 students, or 4.4%, earned their undergraduate degrees from Pennsylvania, while another 35 MBA students, or 3.9%, had gone to Stanford.
“In the Class of 2020 there are more graduates from Yale than from Brown and Columbia combined,” wrote Matt Symonds, a co-founder of Fortuna in an essay published by Forbes.com. “Duke was the sixth highest feeder college, with 23 students, just behind Princeton. Notre Dame tied with Cornell to send 18 admits, while Georgetown accounted for 14, the same number as Columbia. The US Naval Academy with 12 admits had a clear edge over West Point in the Class of 2020, with Canada’s McGill University the biggest non-US feeder college with 6 admits. Collectively the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) have provided 12 of the HBS Class of 2020.”
The data shows just how elitist admissions can be at the Harvard Business School.”I got a feeling the ‘feeder college numbers’ would be even more concentrated for white and Indian males, that is to say, my bet is, more URMs (e.g. Afro-American and Hispanic sur-name applicants, and possibly white women) are taken from non-feeder schools,” observes Sandy Kreisberg, founder of HBSGuru.com, a top admissions consulting firm. “Just a hunch, but if you are a non-feeder white male without any “adversity” story, well good luck getting in to HBS unless you have a knock-out resume e.g. you somehow went from No-Name college to Goldman and also had 750+ GMAT.”
When it came to the 37% of the Class of 2020 who qualify as international students, Fortuna found that only one quarter of them earned their undergraduate degree outside the U.S. in 40 different countries. Not surprisingly, Indian and British universities sent the most students (11% each), closely followed by Canada (10%). “The University of Cambridge won hands down over Oxford in the boat race to HBS. Chinese universities sent very few students – we identified only 7 admits among close to 900 – but that may indicate that more Chinese students pursue undergrad degrees in the US,” added Symonds.
“Nearly 5% of the class, or 44 students, earned their undergraduate degrees in South or Central America. Graduates from Chilean universities outnumber those from France, with University de Los Andes sending 6 grads. Admits from seven Brazilian universities are the most represented in South and Central America, with 17 admits. But there are also graduates with degrees from universities in Lebanon, Ireland, Taiwan, Ukraine, the Philippines, and Nigeria – just to name a few.”
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