The Consortium Game

I remember reading the Consortium 2011 thread this time last year on A reoccurring admonishment from the future Class of 2013 was, “Don’t game the system”, “Don’t try to strategize your rankings”, “School X will reject you if you rank them below 2.” A year later, after coming full circle myself, I echo some of these sentiments, but also somewhat disagree with others.

Let’s just get this out there. I have no regrets that I applied through the Consortium, I would do it over again in a heartbeat. So I don’t want this to be misconstrue with dogging CGSM. Quite the contrary, I want this process and the Consortium to become better and stronger, so that by the time my children are ready to get their MBA Consortium will be who they turn to. With that said, there are some much-needed adjustments to the system that I think the majority of Consortium applicants would actually agree with.

  1. Starting from the top. The Consortium for Graduate Study for Management needs a newer, better and tactile website. It’s 2012 and since the financial crisis of 2007 interactive media and transparent accessible information is necessary. A tutorial video on approaching the Consortium application is a good starting point. Additionally, how about some accessible statistical data so prospective students can understand a level of transparency necessary when looking at school(s). This is a benefit for everyone, not just applicants.
  2. For Pete’s sake, figure out a way to hide rankings from schools, or at least let candidates have the option of shielding rankings from all schools. Some institutions (like the Ross School of Business – University of Michigan) black out there rankings, other schools like UC-Berkeley Haas, Darden, and most other schools see where you have ranked them in preference for the Consortium Fellowship. It has not been confirmed that any school actually takes their Consortium ranking into consideration when gaining admission, but I know if I were an admissions director I would tap my staff on the shoulder and ask, “Where did they rank us?”
  3. Continuing my point from above, let’s call a spade a spade. Elite business schools MUST worry about their yield in order to stay elite. Sometimes, this is what keeps you from Number 11 to Number 9. When an adcom ‘accidentally’ sees Consortium Rank 4 for an Elite school it raises the yellow flag. Are you going to offer admission to a student who is only ‘kinda’ serious about Yale or Darden as opposed to really serious about Tuck or Cornell? Consortium we need to fix this, not because it leaves people feeling mad, but moreso because many of us actually have change of hearts from November (or January) to March of where it is we may want to go to school – I know I did.
  4. Limit the # of schools you can apply to, to 4. This may just be a personal preference but I’d like others to weigh-in and leave comment. Business school is about decision-making, if we can’t exercise enough decision-making skill to narrow our choices down to 4 schools it’s going to be one of the first lessons we learn when we get there. I myself applied to six schools and it was a big mistake. My Number 2 school (Berkeley-Haas) I would have never even bothered to apply to after I submitted my app. And I ended up withdrawing from my Number 6 school before I even interviewed. I wasted $50 bucks but so what. Instead, I speculate that ended up probably ruining my chances at other great schools that were in latter slots.
  5. Finally, don’t try to hide ‘draft day’ from candidates that are applying. In fact, I think @cgsm_mba should hype it up even more… think about it: If your goal is to get 1500 applicants by 2015 and expand the CGSM network, this (outside of OP) is your biggest marketing tool. A $21 million dollar draft that no one knows about? A wasted opportunity for promotion and free PR for @cgsm_recruiting. Peter Aranda, for 2013 make sure you post a video on YouTube. Have Poets & Quants, Forbes, and the Wall Street Journal promote the draft, then maybe tease us a bit with the setup of the draft. You can send a Thank You Card to #thesenator in 2015 when you get your 1500 candidates.

In all seriousness, the Consortium for Graduate Study for Management ( is a superb organization that I am deeply grateful for. It’s absolutely amazing that students of color, like me, and those who support us have a resource like Consortium. I will no doubt be a voice of adoration and adulation for the rest of my life.

This week is a huge week for most of my Consortium brethren. I’m confident most of you will get great news and reflect on this journey as one of the best in your life. So often, as I did, we fixate on the destination. Unable to truly appreciate the ups and downs of the path you took to get there. We blithely brush it aside reciting the name of a certain school over and over again in our head denying ourselves of what’s really important: reflecting on your hard work and resilience hat got you to where you are in the first place.

Personally, I took a massive risk several years ago that’s finally paid off and has landed me squarely positioned at my intended destination. Never did I think I would get there. Now I have arrived – now I spend the next four months appreciating what got me here – you should too.

2 Responses to “The Consortium Game”
  1. armymba2012 says:

    Great Post! I completely agree and second all of the points you made above, especially about limiting it to 4 schools. I only applied to 4 not because I couldn’t think of 6 schools I wanted to attend, but for the exact reason you listed above. Business school is about making decisions and I knew I would be in a much better position casting a smaller net than a huge, wide net. Yes, it’s only a difference of 2 schools, but I also didn’t think my #4 would be sad being 4/4. Where as 6/6, why bother? Especially for schools that are sensitive to rankings and their yield. I wasn’t gaming the system, I just made a conscious decision to figure out where I really wanted to be.

    Great point about having a change of heart between November and March – I know I did!! I went into application season knowing I was not going to visit a single school without an invitation to interview (I was coming from Germany). And after I visited each school and met the people, I realized I really loved the schools I ranked lower more and liked my #1 choice less.

    In my opinion, I think once you get your Consortium membership, you should send these comments forward. As always, when raising an issue, it’s always great to bring a solution/suggestion to the table – especially if it’s an awesome one 🙂

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