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Elite MBA Programs?

Couldn't Think of OneCouldn't Think of One 22 replies26 threads Junior Member
Hello CC,

I was just wondering if any of you out there got into an elite business school, like in a Ivy League school or something, after doing an undergraduate degree at a state university? I am going to a Cal State University right now with a reputable business school (I don't want to say which one because of internet stalkers and all that), and I'm majoring in accounting and finance. My cumulative GPA is 3.85, I am in several student organizations with leadership roles in some, I have a couple of on-campus jobs, and I have other extracurriculars. I would like to attend an elite business school to get an MBA, maybe in management or something like that, and I have been looking at USC, UCLA, Berkeley, and maybe even Stanford, or possibly out-of state programs that are also equally good, but I would prefer to stay in California.

It will be a while until I look into grad school, but I was just wondering if my background will prevent me from getting into an elite program? Like I said, I am doing very well, but I am afraid that me going to a CSU will look bad on applications for these grad schools. My school has a highly-rated business program, especially for accounting, but it isn't Harvard, you know? Also, I'm not an URM or anything like that, so I'm afraid that that will also weigh against me.

If any of you were in my shoes at one point, would you please give me some insight? I would appreciate it.

Thank you!

24 replies
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Replies to: Elite MBA Programs?

  • TomSrOfBostonTomSrOfBoston 15739 replies1052 threads Senior Member
    Attending Cal state will not keep you out of top MBA programs. Get a high GPA, high GMAT and a minimum of 2 years of post bachelor's professional experience, which is required by top schools.
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  • preppedparentpreppedparent 3341 replies10 threads Senior Member
    Do well on GMAT and you will do fine. Elite MBAs like to give opportuities to bent arrow type candidates who might not have had lots of opportunities, but you have to separate yourself from the crowd is some meaningful way.
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  • UCBUSCalumUCBUSCalum 1177 replies4 threads Senior Member
    Do your best, score high on the GMAT, i.e., 700+, and get quality work experience. Keep in mind that you are competing for limited spots with others who might have graduated from elite universities who also have high GPA's, GMAT and quality work experience. These people come from many diverse backgrounds and various college majors and experience (engineers, lawyers, teachers, writers, accountants, doctors, etc.).
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  • Couldn't Think of OneCouldn't Think of One 22 replies26 threads Junior Member
    Hi UCBUSCalum

    I am planning on studying to get my CPA license after I complete my undergrad, which is why I'm studying both accounting and finance, for the unit boost. I'm also considering studying for the CFA license, since I'm interested in finance jobs as well. Do things like this set me apart?

    Also, I have been tutoring for the last few years, and I work mostly with people with learning disabilities. Will something like this also set me apart?

    What kinds of things will "set me apart" from the rest of the applicants?
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  • preppedparentpreppedparent 3341 replies10 threads Senior Member
    CFA license is a narrow path. I think most would think you don't need an MBA with that certification. Some of the B schools think their strength is in management vs. this narrow focus. Distinguish yourself by either a life experience or a particular passion or hook.
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  • Couldn't Think of OneCouldn't Think of One 22 replies26 threads Junior Member
    Great, thank you for clearing that up for me.
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  • Couldn't Think of OneCouldn't Think of One 22 replies26 threads Junior Member
    Hey, I was just thinking; can I spin going to a CSU as my hook for those elite MBA programs? The reason why I went to one is because I can't afford to go out of town for college, so I stayed at home to go to college. If these elite schools see that I'm able to succeed with the resources given to me, would that set me apart from other applicants? I know that one of you guys said something about those schools liking to give chances to people in my situation. Would having a very similar educational and professional background to the "elite" applicants set me apart if I went to a CSU?
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  • UCBUSCalumUCBUSCalum 1177 replies4 threads Senior Member
    I think if you can score high on the GMAT, that is a factor which equalizes things, because some schools have a grade inflation reputation, while other schools are known to be difficult to get good grades. I would think the typical UC grads would generally score higher on the GMAT than the typical CSU grad because the UC's generally accepts a higher caliber of students than the CSU's. There are exceptions such as economics as you mentioned for yourself. That is why it is important for you to score high on the GMAT.

    As for the CFA, depending on your goal, I think it is a great credential. I have a few friends who are managing investments for very large household name firms. They have CFA's and Ivy League or Ivy League like MBA's. One is from Harvard and another from the University of Chicago. They both got their CPA licenses first with Big 4/Big 8 firms, then the top school MBA's and CFA's after that.

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  • peterquillpeterquill 67 replies0 threads Junior Member
    edited June 2017
    At the risk of doxing myself, I can tell you that the HBS alumni database indicates that when examining just the MBA alumni (for it seems as if you're not interested in the alumni of other HBS programs such as the doctoral programs, exec-ed, etc.), the following are the number who are graduates of the various CSU's

    California State University Long Beach (8)
    California State University Northridge (7)
    California State University Chico (5)
    California State University Los Angeles (4)
    California State University Sacramento (4)
    California State University Fresno (3)
    California State University Fullerton (3)
    California State University Hayward (2)
    California State University Stanislaus (2)
    San Francisco State University (9)
    San Jose State University (13)
    San Diego State University (20)

    Anybody who doubts these numbers and has access to the database is free to verify them here.

    https://www.alumni.hbs.edu/Pages/default.aspx

    You can consider that to be an 'existence proof' that there are indeed some people who graduated from CSU and then obtained their MBA's at Harvard.

    To put those numbers in context, the most common undergraduate program from which Harvard MBA alumni graduated is (surely to the surprise of absolutely no-one)...Harvard College(3420).
    edited June 2017
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  • VANDEMORY1342VANDEMORY1342 1061 replies15 threads Senior Member
    You need work experience, around 3-6 years would be ideal.
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  • NCalRentNCalRent 6383 replies14 threads Senior Member
    since something like 400k students attend CSUs, it won't be an effective hook. To complete for the top schools, you'll need interesting and compelling experience. GPA and GMAT are also significant factors but, can be overcome by a compelling story. Kick butt in your early career and NOBODY will care where you got you BA/BS.
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  • UCBUSCalumUCBUSCalum 1177 replies4 threads Senior Member
    @peterquill: regarding post #9, those numbers would be very impressive if they were for a single year or for a couple of years. I suspect that those numbers span over 10 to 20+ years.
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  • cbreezecbreeze 4729 replies92 threads Senior Member
    Since there are 84K+ alumni in that directory and in the last 10 years, HBS have enrolled about 1800 per year, so I would say the span is 50+ years considering in 1965, the total enrollment was around 700/year.
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  • peterquillpeterquill 67 replies0 threads Junior Member
    @cbreeze, the OP's specific question was "I was just wondering if my background [at a CSU] will prevent me from getting into an elite program". Asked and answered via counterexample: the data above clearly demonstrates that the answer to the OP's specific question is indisputably 'No'

    HBS have enrolled about 1800 per year

    Actually, HBS only enrolls about 900 MBA's per year. You seem to be counting both cohorts of the 2-year program.

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  • uskoolfishuskoolfish 2908 replies50 threads Senior Member
    @peterquill Are you using those numbers to say that going to a state school won't hold him back? Unfortunately I'm afraid those numbers tell the opposite story if they are from a span of many years. But it is only guess work unless we have the number of applicants who actually applied and compared their acceptance rate to other schools.
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  • UCBUSCalumUCBUSCalum 1177 replies4 threads Senior Member
    that was my point in post #12, I believe the numbers in post #9 probably span over many years.
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  • peterquillpeterquill 67 replies0 threads Junior Member
    @uskoolfish, whether a CalState will 'hold back' the OP was not the question that the OP asked. As I had already explained in post #14 - and requoting the OP - the OP's specific question was "[will] my background will prevent me from getting into an elite program?" Clearly the data indicates that a CalState will not prevent one's admission to HBS.
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  • peterquillpeterquill 67 replies0 threads Junior Member
    that was my point in post #12, I believe the numbers in post #9 probably span over many years.that was my point in post #12, I believe the numbers in post #9 probably span over many years.

    So what? Again, the question that the OP asked was whether a CalState will prevent him from admission to HBS. A single counterexample would suffice.

    To give you an analogy, if I ask the question of whether an integer that is prime is prevented from being an even integer, you would just need to find a single counterexample of a prime even integer.
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  • UCBUSCalumUCBUSCalum 1177 replies4 threads Senior Member
    Your math analogy is irrelevant. Prime numbers in math is defined from theorems. The answer to the OP's question relates to statistics and probability of getting into an Elite MBA program. There is no clear definition/answer whether OP can get in an Elite program or not.
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  • uskoolfishuskoolfish 2908 replies50 threads Senior Member
    @peterquill Not having an undergraduate degree, not applying at all or being dead will all PREVENT someone from getting into an elite MBA program. You are playing with words. The intent of the OP's question is whether going to a state school will lessen their chance for admission.
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