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What Graduate Schools Think About Your College

Dave_BerryDave_Berry 492 replies2432 discussionsCC Admissions Expert Posts: 2,924 Senior Member
"Alumni of top-ranked colleges have a small edge in the admissions process, according to experts.

GRADUATE SCHOOL hopefuls often wonder if the reputation of their undergraduate institution will influence their odds of acceptance to their dream grad program. But experts say college affiliations are typically a minor factor in graduate admissions decisions.

'The name (and perceived prestige) of the applicant's undergraduate institution matters very little in the graduate school admissions process,' wrote Colleen Ganjian, the founder of DC College Counseling, an admissions consulting firm, in an email. 'If all else is perfectly, exactly equal – which is very unlikely given the number of metrics upon which candidates are assessed – a more competitive school might give that applicant a slight advantage.'" ...

https://www.usnews.com/education/best-graduate-schools/articles/2019-05-23/what-graduate-schools-think-about-where-you-went-to-college
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Replies to: What Graduate Schools Think About Your College

  • CupCakeMuffinsCupCakeMuffins 816 replies78 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 894 Member
    Is their any advantage for donors or no need applicants at top grad programs? Are elite grad programs need blind?
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  • bluebayoubluebayou 26529 replies172 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 26,701 Senior Member
    Generally need blind, but if an applicant already has an NSF graduate fellowship approved, that can be a big plus factor.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 76099 replies663 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 76,762 Senior Member
    There may be some dependency on what kind of "grad school" is involved. The linked page appears to be mainly focused on MBA programs.

    Some PhD programs may have opinions about the quality of the major department at your undergraduate school and include that as a criterion in admissions decisions.
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  • planitplanit 161 replies3 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 164 Junior Member
    Hogwash. Okay, maybe for some programs, but certainly not as broadly as the quotes in that article indicate. I know someone involved in reviewing admissions for a top-5 math Ph.D. program (not my daughter's), and she says they literally separate the applications into "H/Y/P/Chicago/Stanford/one or two others," and "everyone else." The fill as many spots as they can from Pile A and then turn to Pile B if space is available. If you look at the composition of their Ph.D. classes and, indeed, at every other one of the top 5'ish math programs in the U.S., except for the handful of international students, it's not hard to believe. What IS hard to believe is that 95% of the best math talent in the U.S. chose the same 5 or 6 undergraduate math programs. I can obviously only speak to math, but there is very much a bias at the tippy-top programs. My kiddo got into one of them despite the bias, but she is one of very few.
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  • CU123CU123 3263 replies55 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 3,318 Senior Member
    edited June 1
    If they admit to even the slightest edge then in fact it is most likely a very large edge. Schools don't like to admit any predisposition to favoring schools so its just as @planit describes. You just have to look at the Harvard case to see how much they don't tell you. Quoted directly from a Harvard AO "we give a feather weight in weighing legacy as a factor in admissions". No, more like a lead weight.
    edited June 1
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 76099 replies663 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 76,762 Senior Member
    planit wrote:
    I know someone involved in reviewing admissions for a top-5 math Ph.D. program (not my daughter's), and she says they literally separate the applications into "H/Y/P/Chicago/Stanford/one or two others," and "everyone else." The fill as many spots as they can from Pile A and then turn to Pile B if space is available. If you look at the composition of their Ph.D. classes and, indeed, at every other one of the top 5'ish math programs in the U.S., except for the handful of international students, it's not hard to believe.

    Not too obvious from https://math.berkeley.edu/people/grad . Went through A-C. Found relatively few who put up personal web pages; of those who did, only three named their undergraduate schools: 1 Cambridge, 1 Reed, 1 Michigan.

    Math PhD programs do have a reputation of preferring PhD program applicants from schools with what the PhD department considers strong (for pre-PhD students) undergraduate math departments. But that may not align exactly with the usual college rankings that are not math-specific.
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  • CU123CU123 3263 replies55 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 3,318 Senior Member
    @ucbalumnus I think you can see that HYPCS all have top math programs specifically, so in this case they do align.
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  • intparentintparent 36271 replies644 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 36,915 Senior Member
    There is a lot more to grad school than the MBA focus of that article.
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  • CupCakeMuffinsCupCakeMuffins 816 replies78 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 894 Member
    edited June 2
    They give weight to undergrad institution or is it possible those undergrad institutions have lots of high achievers which leads to higher acceptance rates for them.

    Are top grad programs (not only MBA) holistic or need blind? I know medical schools are need blind as well as holistic for URMs and rural applicants.
    edited June 2
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  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 41134 replies445 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 41,579 Senior Member
    @planit: any idea whether the "one or two others" include colleges such as Amherst and Williams, or public universities such as UCB and UMich?
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  • planitplanit 161 replies3 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 164 Junior Member
    @MYOS1634 , not Amherst or Williams that I've ever heard about. UMich grads show up once in a while because they have such a strong math program generally.
    @ucbalumnus , I would not include Berkeley in the handful of top-5 programs for this purpose only because it is not a private U and has significantly less money to lure students. (Of course it is a highly-ranked program by any other measure, including all of those that are more relevant than how much they can pay their Ph.D. students.) The schools I would definitely include are Stanford, MIT, Harvard, Princeton, maybe Chicago and Brown. There are huge discrepancies in the amount of money Berkeley and UCLA can throw at students versus what Stanford and Harvard can. Run through the current list of Ph.D. students at Princeton, MIT or Harvard, and you will find very few Big State U or small-LAC undergrads.
    That said, there are plenty of prestigious -enough math programs that are willing to admit outstanding students from a wider array of undergraduate institutions, and even the tippy-top private Us will let in a member of the great academically unwashed once in a while. But my point is that the broad generalizations in the posted article are so broad as to be absurd.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 76099 replies663 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 76,762 Senior Member
    edited June 6
    planit wrote:
    I would not include Berkeley in the handful of top-5 programs for this purpose only because it is not a private U and has significantly less money to lure students. (Of course it is a highly-ranked program by any other measure, including all of those that are more relevant than how much they can pay their Ph.D. students.)

    That seems to be changing the definition to fit your claim...
    planit wrote:
    The schools I would definitely include are Stanford, MIT, Harvard, Princeton, maybe Chicago and Brown.

    Going through A-C in the graduate student directories for mention of undergraduate school:

    Stanford ( https://mathematics.stanford.edu/people/graduate-students/ ): 1 Michigan State, most no information.
    MIT ( http://math.mit.edu/directory/profile.php?pid=1641 ): 1 UCB, 1 MIT, most no information.
    Harvard ( http://www.math.harvard.edu/people/graduate.html ): 1 Cambridge, most no information.
    Princeton ( https://www.math.princeton.edu/people/graduate-students ): no information.
    Chicago ( http://math.uchicago.edu/people/grad-students/ ): 1 Yale, 1 Princeton, 1 Fudan, 1 Virginia, most no information.
    Brown ( https://www.brown.edu/academics/math/graduate-students ): 1 UBC, 1 Colby, 3 no information.

    Of the mentions, there are 3 US private universities, 3 US public universities (1 non-flagship), 1 US private LAC, and 3 non-US public universities.

    Sample size of undergraduate schools from public information is too small and does not support as strong a conclusion that you are claiming.
    edited June 6
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  • Mom2aphysicsgeekMom2aphysicsgeek 4464 replies55 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 4,519 Senior Member
    I also think the claim that public Us don't have as much $$ to offer to grad students is a stretch. Our ds's offers from publics were quite generous.
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  • bluebayoubluebayou 26529 replies172 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 26,701 Senior Member
    edited June 6
    IMO, the advantages of top privates is two fold: 1) they have more $ to throw at undergrads, so the chances are greater of getting involved in undergrad research; 2) recs from a well known faculty member at a top undergrad may be also be personally known by the top grad profs in the same discipline. (If nothing else, they attend the same professional conferences and cite each others' work.) Thus, it is really easy to pickup the phone and inquire about a candidate.
    edited June 6
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  • PublisherPublisher 7381 replies76 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 7,457 Senior Member
    edited June 6
    This article is a bit confusing because it speaks broadly about "graduate schools", then gives somewhat specific observations about particular MBA programs.

    Admissions to elite MBA programs is primarily concerned about an applicant's work experience, successes while working, & one's career goals that justify the need for an MBA. Of course, this is just for the elite MBA programs as most MBA programs just need a pulse, an undergraduate degree, a GMAT or GRE score & a check.
    edited June 6
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