The Truth: The Consortium

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The following posts were co-authored by The Senator and Cheetarah1980, author of an MBA Blog called “The Brain Dump”.

Cheetarah1980:

Let it be known that I 100% support the mission of the Consortium for Graduate School Management. Minorities are woefully underrepresented in senior level and executive management positions across all industries. Blacks, Latinos, SE Asians, and Native Americans are also scarce at top business schools. Identifying and recruiting talented candidates from these groups is critical. However, while I support the Consortium’s mission I am wary of its methods.

By lowering the cost barrier to entry at top business schools (reduced tiered application fees, full-tuition fellowships), the Consortium does make earning a Top 25 MBA attainable for many people who it would otherwise not be. However, from my observations the benefits that the Consortium offers seem to create a sense of entitlement (sometimes unearned) amongst minority applicants. It troubles me to hear candidates talk about a Consortium fellowship as though it is something that is owed to them, but this is often what I hear. What is even more troubling is that I often hear these comments from candidates who prior to getting the coveted admit call were not even sure they could get into the school due to their stats (i.e. GPA, GMAT, Work Experience) being significantly below the school’s averages? While stats are not the total picture of an applicant, they are significant pieces of the puzzle that cannot totally be ignored to focus on an applicant’s “story.” Yet too often I feel as though minority candidates feel that simply because they are minorities that these factors can and should be overlooked. I am not saying that minorities are the only applicants with weaknesses in our profiles. The perfect applicant is kind of like a unicorn. However, I have noticed that there seems to be an attitude that our weaknesses shouldn’t touch us. The thing is the Consortium has often given people evidence to back that up. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard, “Well I know a girl who got into Ross/Johnson/Tuck/pick a school with a 630 GMAT and she got a full ride, so I think I’m fine with a 620.” My issue is that the Consortium has set up a proposition where minorities expect to be rewarded for mediocrity. I have seen URM applicants turn their noses up at a $20K fellowship that their white and Asian counterparts (who happen to have a higher GMAT and GPA) would kill for simply because their friend got a full ride with a 620 and 3.1 and they feel that they should too.

The Consortium could be doing more to encourage URMs to bring more to the table than their story and leadership experience. Instead it seems to bring many borderline candidates to top schools and then asks those schools to give out hundreds of thousands of dollars. I am by no means saying that all Consortium applicants, admits, fellowship awardees are borderline candidates, but let’s not pretend that many are not. The numbers don’t lie. The average GPA and GMAT score for Consortium members are significantly lower than the member schools’. While the Consortium is providing means for talented people to attend business school, it’s also adding fuel to the fire of opposition to diversity initiatives. Just like MLT requires a minimum GMAT score (practice test or real) to be eligible, maybe the Consortium could institute cut-offs to be eligible for the fellowship. Yes, people are more than their GMAT score, GPA, work experience, background, or goals alone. All of these things together make each applicant unique. Just like schools don’t have minimum admissions criteria I don’t think the Consortium should either. Anyone who wants to apply can. But a free ride to a top MBA program should require going that extra mile. I believe it’s a copout to downplay the significance of the stats, especially GPA/GMAT. Minorities are just as capable of doing well in these measures and we shouldn’t want nor expect for it not to matter for us. I mean just because someone got into HBS with a 490 last year doesn’t mean that any of us should strive to be that person.

The Senator:

I want to preface this post with a few statements:

  1. This is in no way meant to slight the Consortium any Consortium students, member schools or prospective candidates.
  2. I believe in and support the mission of the Consortium 110%. I also believe in affirmative action on the whole.
  3. I am considering joining the Consortium myself, so what you are about to read is not only a reflection of what I believe, in many respects it’s a reflection of my own shortcomings.
  4. I encourage comments both positive and negative, and I won’t filter comments as long as they are not personal attacks ( I may even allow some of those to slide).

So let’s begin, the past weeks I’ve really struggled with a truth I felt deep inside, and after a conversation with a soon to be MBA colleague I felt like it was almost a duty of mine to pen this post. I want to be clear and say, that I, The Senator, am a beneficiary of affirmative action. I graduated with a less than stellar GPA from High School, scored extremely well on my standardized tests and found myself walking the grounds of a public ivy University the following fall. When I arrived there I was shocked to see that there were so few people who looked like me – a problem that remains to this day.

As a result of the ensuing identity crisis, I was motivated to prove to myself that I could represent my race (naively so) and perform on a level that was equal to or better than my white and Asian colleagues. In some classes I did, but in many I fell flat on my face. It became clear to me that the fire in my belly was misguided and I needed to refocus on what it was that I loved. Fast forward several years and a 3.65 UG GPA later, I found myself applying to some of the best business schools in the country. I did my research, figured I would have to get a certain score on my GMAT to pass through the filter and write some kick ass essays to boot. After settling for a 700 GMAT, which I was disappointed with, I prioritized and pressed on.

I had my bucket list of Top Tier Schools I wanted to go after, and then I came across the Consortium – what a great opportunity. In the following months after the find, I would spend plenty of time beating the tar out of my keyboard on essays and pressing the submit button for most of them in October and November. As things began to unwind I met a lot of people who had applied or were applying through Consortium either in person or through an online community. What became apparent was NOT the fact that from a side-by-side comparison I was a strong candidate, rather the sense of entitlement a lot of us who are minorities exuded about getting into a Top Tier school just because we were persons of color. Imagine the irony…

In many cases, being a black man is a disadvantage (ehem, Trayvon Martin), let’s just be honest about that. But in the school application game it’s perceived as an advantage, and one that many under represented minorities have no beans about exploiting. Applying through the Consortium is not just about nesting yourself in a Top MBA Program it’s also about money. Yes folks, let’s call a spade a spade – a vast majority of Consortium applicants are motivated by prestige and money. Now, before you go sayin’ this guy is an ass for writing this I want to be clear. I don’t think prestige and money are inherently bad or evil motivations, however, I DO believe if your profile is ‘up to snuff’ meaning is at the median or exceeds the median, regardless of your race you have every right to think (not expect) you have a shot at admission and hopefully a deal sweetener at the end.

Plenty of you are going to say, “well you’re not considering work experience or leadership”, so I’ll address that now. As a person of color who is well-educated and well-rounded I do feel a sense of obligation to my community and I make every effort to actively address the plight of those who are not in the same position as I am in. I do it honestly, artistically and earnestly not expecting anything in return for service – and I firmly believe that many Consortium candidates give back in the same vein. What I don’t agree with though is using the former statement as an escape ladder for poor performance in other aspects of your application. There are A LOT of well qualified candidates that got rejected from the same schools I did that have lots of leadership experience and better stats. I don’t believe I got into the schools I did because I’m multi-ethnic but it definitely helps my case.

I guess my point is this, I think the Consortium (to me at least) is every bit about getting access to the Top MBA Schools in America as it is allowing ourselves to expect because we are minorities we may not have to achieve on the level of our peers who and in the majority. Sadly, it’s validated right on the Consortium website where they publish overall statistics of the incoming Consortium class in their annual report. We fall into this trap of believing that inherent our strength lies in leadership and life experience and not academic merit and performance. As a group of people who will soon become the majority in this country we need to flush that mindset – because someday it won’t pass through the filter. Consortium Member schools are 100% right in supporting the mission of the Consortium and offering financial incentive in some instances. I’m not going to sit here and allege I know one candidate from the next solely based on numbers that I see, because that’s not the complete picture. However, from observation and interaction I’d be a liar if I wasn’t disappointed in the prevailing unspoken truth that surrounds the Consortium (myself included).

I want the Consortium to continue for the sake of my kids, but I don’t want it to merely be a reward for comparative mediocrity. We must challenge ourselves to do better and I like MLT’s approach as opposed to the Consortium which in many respects is akin to dangling something shiny in front of an infant. I’ll acknowledge this post has ruffled a few feathers and I’m ok with that. I’m also not going to just be critical of the Consortium, wait for comments and leave it at that – I do have specific suggestions that I believe will improve the process, the organization and the achievement of students who are applying through the Consortium. Why? Because you can’t cast stones without catching them at the other end.

As a final note, everyone should be extremely proud of their accomplishments, no one can take that away from you. You’ve done well and as my admissions packet from Tuck states, you’re “not just admitted, you’re Wanted”. We’ve all worked very hard to get this point, and I know for the future we will all challenge ourselves to do even better.

Comments
20 Responses to “The Truth: The Consortium”
  1. armymba2012 says:

    i always really enjoy reading blog posts by both you and cheetarah… this post kind of makes me sad (for lack of a better word).

    first, let me say that i definitely agree with both of you that we (minorities) should never settle for mediocrity. i also agree that consortium should institutes minimums, much like MLTs does, especially since people are competing for full-tuition scholarships.

    second, (not meant to be snarky or mean) i think its easy for someone with a 700+ gmat score to make statements reference GMAT, GPA, etc.. without really understanding why people have the scores they do. as someone who has a less than 700 gmat score (i took mine while deployed to afghanistan and ended up with a 640, 46Q), i definitely felt like it was my responsibility to prove to the schools that i could handle the course load and the work. not once did i ever think i was entitled to an opportunity simply because i was black. my score stayed at 640 due to my circumstances and because i made a decision to put forth more effort in my applications – not because i knew i met the cut for consortium or it’s school. plus, i’m fairly confident that if i studied for and took the GMAT one more time, my husband probably would have left me! (j/k) (i just thought about money9111 who ended up with a 640 GMAT, consortium membership, with no fellowship, but busted his behind preparing for that GMAT – i forgot how many time he took it)

    i say all of that to say what… i don’t know. lol. but seriously though… the stats are not entirely the consortium’s problem — the stats are a result of SCHOOLS accepting said students with these stats and then deciding to give them money. consortium provides students with a medium to apply – nothing more, nothing less. they don’t even provide coaching or mentoring (like MLT). just a common application. the schools make the decision who they will/will not admit and who they will/will not give money to – not consortium. consortium just checks the block that you meet the standards for membership. AND you don’t even have to have an interest in consortium to apply through their application and gain admittance to a member school (enter non-minority applicant who just wants to save money on application fees).

    during this year long b-school journey, i have not come across a single “entitled” individual. everyone i’ve met has been extremely humble and grateful for the opportunity (i know i am!).

    i’m sad because you both have met these people (the sense of entitlements ones) and that there are people out there who actually feel as though they DESERVE to get into these schools simply based on their demographics… it would be a shame if, at the end of the day, the good that this organization is trying to accomplished for a large population of people, is overshadowed by the egos and sense of entitlement by the few.

    sorry for just rambling on! i hope my point wasn’t lost in all of the fluff, but i do have 4 months until school to work on it!

    good luck to both of you on your final decisions! just have trust and have faith that you’re going to end up exactly where you’re supposed to be🙂

    • Army,

      I appreciate the comment and want to say that I don’t believe it’s the norm for many Consortium applicants to feel entitled – but it’s like the old adage, “one bad apple spoils the bunch”. It’s unfortunate I’ve heard the gloating and been in direct conversations where it become all about the money without the package to back it up.

      Both cheetarah1980 and I are not posting this merely as a slap on the wrist. We should all come together to improve on a good thing in the Consortium and also hold ourselves to a higher standard. There are always stars out there who bring something so unique to the table that I would even say the stats are less relevant, but those are one off cases and should be treated as such.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts – I hope more people follow your example.

      • method says:

        Appreciate the post and blog for sure, so thought I would contribute my little bit to the discussion.

        For full disclosure, I am a non-URM Consortium admit (Asian), so although I had many disadvantages growing up, I cannot speak with any real credibility about the road traveled by Blacks and Latinos specifically. Asians live with different prejudices and challenges than each of the URM pools, so I won’t comment on any race specific issues discussed here.

        Here is the singular thought I had, however. When I visited Tepper, one of our mock classes was How to be a STAR performer, led by Professor Robert Kelley. At the beginning of the class, he passed out a questionnaire with maybe 10-15 true or false questions that asked whether some attributes were essential, or predictors, for exceptional, outlier-magnitude, positive performance. Among them, is IQ one of those predictors? Now IQ is certainly not a 1:1 correlation with GPA or GMAT, but it’s in a somewhat similar vein with GMAT. GPA, arguably, is more a function of major difficulty, work ethic, and intelligence, but nevertheless, the focus here is essentially intelligence or academic excellence as a predictor of exceptional performance.

        He told us that he spent some two or three years completing research at Bell Labs. They tried every possible attribute everyone had always thought of being correlated to awesomeness. And in the end, his answer was this: there was no correlation at all. Three years of research: wasted, because no journal publishes negative findings.

        But, he and Bell Labs didn’t stop there. Why was there no correlation? In retrospect, the answer was obvious, and is the point I will end this reply on.

        Our success is not determined by what attributes we possess, but HOW we use them. No amount of GPA/GMAT axis reading is going to tell you HOW someone uses their gifts. But leadership stories might. Success stories might. Recommendations might. And that is exactly what I am so happy the Consortium does not hang its hat on numbers, but instead hangs it hat on the personal qualities of its applicants.

        -method

  2. philgover says:

    I perhaps have a bit to add to this – from a personal but also a professional perspective. I have spent the last seven years since graduating from college working in higher education, and college admissions more specifically. I’ve worked for a range of schools in terms of selectivity & prestige (UVA, George Mason U, and now Dartmouth), and I while I have zero B-School admissions experience, I’m close enough to my colleagues at Tuck to know a bit about the selection process and of course I have a lot of experience making decisions in a ridiculously selective context (D’s admit rate this year is about 9.5%).

    There are a lot of analogs between what happens at the most selective colleges & universities and what I suspect happens at the top-tier B-Schools. First off, both processes applicant pools skew overwhelmingly upper middle class, suburban, & white. B Schools have a big problem with the relative lack of women in the pool too, which is a problem none of the most selective schools have. Secondly, both processes prospective applicant pools place a pretty inordinate emphasis on the value of test scores in the process as a universal indicator of ‘what one deserves.’ But one of the things my career has taught me is that the most selective institutions enjoy an important luxury all of the others don’t – they get to admit whomever the hell they want. We (or they) have gigantic pools and relatively few spaces and we get to be architects of a class nearly from scratch – and our decisions are, in my opinion, broadly reflective of our values as institutions.

    In a process this selective you can be assured there are very few truly ‘mediocre’ people. Scores are going range wildly, but so are stories, personal & professional experiences, goals, employability, and various kinds of intelligence. In fact, it’s my experience that peers that disappoint the most tend to be the ones that were admitted as a development mechanism, probably because they’ve had to work for very little in their lives. But you’re going to meet people like that at any elite institution, it’s one of the many ways the elite stay elite.

    Being an admissions officer, I’m rather sensitive the charge that AA (or the Consortium or any other program that targets under-represented minorities for admission to top tier anything) dims the future achievements of the beneficiary. I think that the answer to that is pretty clear – just kill it. Clearly someone with decision-making authority and likely years (and in the case of an ad com, decades) of cumulative experience believes in your potential. They are undoubtedly aware (perhaps more so than anyone in the institution) about what it takes to succeed in their program (be it quant, communication skill or personality). What you do with that opportunity is pretty much up to you, though it’d be a shame if you wasted it. Take nothing for granted, make lots of allies, and take this opportunity as your turn to move the ball down the field toward a more equitable and just world. That’s seems to be the implication of the Consortium mission to me.

    I have a lot of other thoughts, on your post, but I’ll go through it paragraph by paragraph, I’ll just post this a ruminate a bit.

  3. philgover says:

    TheSenator says:
    I had my bucket list of Top Tier Schools I wanted to go after, and then I came across the Consortium – what a great opportunity. In the following months after the find, I would spend plenty of time beating the tar out of my keyboard on essays and pressing the submit button for most of them in October and November. As things began to unwind I met a lot of people who had applied or were applying through Consortium either in person or through an online community. What became apparent was NOT the fact that from a side-by-side comparison I was a strong candidate, rather the sense of entitlement a lot of us who are minorities exuded about getting into a Top Tier school just because we were persons of color. Imagine the irony…

    Me:
    I didn’t really have this experience with other prospective Consortium applicants, though perhaps I wasn’t really looking for it. One of the things I was struck by was that at the ‘diversity weekend’ type programs I went to I kept running into the same people. Made the whole ‘being brown & applying to B-School’ thing seem like a pretty tiny little world. Personally speaking, I didn’t really approach the process with a sense of entitlement, knowing what the admit rates are, but then again my background wouldn’t necessarily lend itself to arrogance or self-entitlement. I could see how some people who spend time in business walk away from the experience with those traits, but then again maybe that’s an unfair stereotype about the typical B-School applicant.

    TheSenator says:
    In many cases, being a black man is a disadvantage (ehem, Trayvon Martin), let’s just be honest about that. But in the school application game it’s perceived as an advantage, and one that many under represented minorities have no beans about exploiting. Applying through the Consortium is not just about nesting yourself in a Top MBA Program it’s also about money. Yes folks, let’s call a spade a spade – a vast majority of Consortium applicants are motivated by prestige and money. Now, before you go sayin’ this guy is an ass for writing this I want to be clear. I don’t think prestige and money are inherently bad or evil motivations, however, I DO believe if your profile is ‘up to snuff’ meaning is at the median or exceeds the median, regardless of your race you have every right to think (not expect) you have a shot at admission and hopefully a deal sweetener at the end.

    Me:
    I think a vast majority of B-School applicants to top MBA programs are motivated by prestige and money, so I’m not sure why one would hold brown folks to a different standard. Not saying it’s a requirement to want to go to a top-tier MBA program, but I’d estimate that roughly 80% of the people I’ve met while going through this process (regardless of color or creed) are motivated most by some combination of those two things. That’s not really my thing, but then again, I also suspect I’m going to learn a lot from my peers who have a more traditional background before going back to school and so I’ll get something out of it too.

    TheSenator says:

    I guess my point is this, I think the Consortium (to me at least) is every bit about getting access to the Top MBA Schools in America as it is allowing ourselves to expect because we are minorities we may not have to achieve on the level of our peers who and in the majority. Sadly, it’s validated right on the Consortium website where they publish overall statistics of the incoming Consortium class in their annual report. We fall into this trap of believing that inherent our strength lies in leadership and life experience and not academic merit and performance. As a group of people who will soon become the majority in this country we need to flush that mindset – because someday it won’t pass through the filter. Consortium Member schools are 100% right in supporting the mission of the Consortium and offering financial incentive in some instances. I’m not going to sit here and allege I know one candidate from the next solely based on numbers that I see, because that’s not the complete picture. However, from observation and interaction I’d be a liar if I wasn’t disappointed in the prevailing unspoken truth that surrounds the Consortium (myself included).

    Me:
    I guess I don’t quite understand where you’re coming from here. I think what you’re saying (and correct me if I’m wrong) is that because some Consortium members & fellows have GMAT scores below the mean, minorities everywhere hold themselves to lower expectations. First of all, this is an odd judgement if you know nothing about how the broader pool of Consortium members actually fare once they get to school (if they kill it, who gives a crap if their GMAT scores were below the mean?). And secondly, I would hope that regardless of one’s GMAT score, one would believe that their strength lies in leadership & life experience as opposed to a number on an exam that, while undoubtedly important, ultimately says very little about the kinds of skills that will likely you make ultimately successful in your given field of choice.

    I suppose I don’t understand the obsession with what the numbers ultimately say about you in a process as selective as this. I mean, they certainly say a bit, but in the total context of everything that goes into your app? That doesn’t really jive with what I know about how ridiculously selective education application processes work. There are just too many outstanding scores in such a large sample pool to worry a whole helluva lot about how you stack up.

    Also – congrats on Tuck! If you want a perspective on the Upper Valley from a brown guy who’s lived here for years, I’m happy to give one.

  4. philgover says:

    Oh yeah, I had one more thing to say – it seems odd for you to say, ‘I’m not going to sit here and allege I know one candidate from the next solely based on numbers that I see, because that’s not the complete picture.’ – and then basically go and do exactly that.

    I would say, if you choose to join the Consortium, wait to meet your peers at OP, and perhaps more specifically the other members at Tuck (or another school if you could have membership there). The Consortium Fellows I’ve known from Tuck have been some pretty damn impressive people, both in Hanover & post-MBA and I say that with almost no knowledge of their GMAT scores.

    Maybe OP will change your mind, maybe it’ll confirm everything. But I haven’t met enough actual people with membership/fellowship offers to pass any kind of substantive judgment of motivation, personality & worthiness of distinction. But I do look forward to it, a lot.

    • Phil, I’m looking forward to Tuck – have met almost everyone in the cohort from there and they’ve all been spectacular, I honestly can’t wait to see them again.

      I do want to correct you on one point, the rest is fair and I’m not going to rebut anything you’ve said. I disagree that I’ve passed judgement on any individual candidates based upon their stats. Clearly there is the ‘total picture’ and that’s why if you look back a few posts to “Do You Deserve an MBA?” you’ll see that I’m definitely not an advocate of assuming you are a shoe-in based upon lofty stats. It also happens to be something I’m against on the flip side as it pertains to a sole reliance on leadership and work experience.

      As I said, I like MLT’s approach – offer a mechanism to excel in all aspects of your application. It’s something that I truly believe not only makes you a more well rounded candidate, I think it also makes you a higher performing MBA in the future.

      I also want to add that perhaps my opinion is clouded by the fact I’m the forum moderator on gmatclub and I’ve gotten several Private Messages akin to the ‘pay me’ variety that may leave me slightly jaded. In person people may not express their true feelings, but under the veil of anonymity the truth bubbles to the surface…

      • philgover says:

        Fair enough.

        As for better models or models that the Consortium could/should be inspired or influenced by, I manage Dartmouth’s relationship with the QuestBridge organization. Their National College Match process shares a lot in common with the Consortium app process (but has a lot of the things you stated in a previous post you wish the Consortium had). One of the ways QB funnels applicants into their the NCM pool (which has grown by double digit percentages year after year) is they have this thing called the ‘College Prep Scholarship’ or CPS. CPS is targeted at HS juniors (who apply in the winter) and those picked are invited to a special day-night stay at one of three CPS site across the country. This year the sites are Stanford, Northwestern & Princeton. At CPS all of the QB member schools send reps to basically put these kids through the ringer so far as app prep is concerned & to answer lots of questions.

        I’ve found it to be quite effective. Dartmouth uses visitation programs to great effect – our three programs pre-screen a group of students from across the country, fly them to the College for 4 days, and basically give them an in-depth boot camp on the application process led by the admissions officers who will be helping to make their decisions.

        As for gmatclub (that’s how I found your blog), I only found it the day after I heard my decisions, heh. So it wasn’t of much use in my specific case & I’ve only spent a few weeks perusing it. And it seems heavy on the ‘I’m Reeeeeeeeeech Biatch!’ types. It’s useful, but strikes me as a slightly (only ever so) less neurotic version of the CollegeConfidential Ivy League forums. I imagine ad coms peruse it occasionally and chortle.

      • That sounds like a great program – I was lucky enough to have an experience like that before college and I think it definitely helped me get focused when it came time for college.

        Hope you’re enjoying the blog, and I invite you to guest blog… I really think your perspective as an admissions expert could bring some depth to the readers.

        E-mail me at: thesenator2014@gmail.com if you’re interested.

  5. ladyroadwarrior says:

    I haven’t interacted with enough Consortium applicants and members to have a well formed opinion on this, but I will say a few things. I’m not eligible in any regards for membership in the CGSM, however I support its mission, specifically the aim to increase access, which I believe is critical. But mostly, I want to commend Cheet & Senator for speaking frankly and honestly about an issue that can be sensitive or contentious. As I read it, they both support the Consortium’s mission wholeheartedly but find some tactics which they’d like to see reconsidered. I think that’s an important and honorable discourse to have.

  6. Shirhedi113 says:

    I do believe you both present a very valid point about people having a sense of entitilement due to URM status, but I do not think that the Consortium is to blame for this (as Armymba pointed out). I just want to point out that the stats on the consortium site represent a wide range of schools, some of which are not ranked in the top 20 bschools; therefore, I think that using the consortiums stats as a marker for lower standards is not exactly a fair assessment. And also some people are admitted to the consortium without a fellowship, so the stats don’t necessarily speak for the students getting the fellowships and their stats-which could be on par for the school they were admitted to.

  7. glorioussilver says:

    Senator and Cheetarah,

    Good to see you two posting as I’ve definitely been slacking here on my end, lol. Just a few humble thoughts (not sure they’re really points):

    While I know there are Consortium applicants who may not be putting their best [GMAT and/or GPA] foot forward, I’m not sure that it’s the Consortium’s problem because, correct if I’m wrong, I believe the member school’s make the admit decisions and award scholarships. The Consortium basically provides a common app, well sort of/not really – depending on the schools you decide to apply to, it can feel like completing up to 6 different applications anyway.

    The GMAT/GPA disparity is a much broader issue that won’t be solved by the Consortium, and I think if the Consortium did anything to address that (e.g. implemented GMAT/GPA requirements), the effect would run contrary to it’s mission, which is to increase the representation of minorities in management by increasing the number of minority MBAs. I can’t find the link anymore (maybe because it was controversial), but the GMAC recently published the 2010 or 2011 results for African-American GMAT test takers (something like 10,000 scores). It showed that something like 1% of us score +700 and only 2-3% will score 650+. If you combine this with the numbers/percentages of African Americans in the top 20 business programs, I have to conclude that the Consortium and the member schools are simply doing the best they can with what they’ve got (and the percentages are still low!). So while we may have a free-rider/entitlement issue here for some people, I hope that it’s only a few applicants who take advantage of the system.

    I think most people think that we’re given some sort of free pass on test scores without recognizing that business schools don’t try to attract minorities for the sake of doing so or as a result of some random act of kindness. There are social and economic reasons. As someone who is in financial services, the economic reasons are fairly obvious to me. My clients are diverse and they want diverse service providers (just look at the company sponsors/partners of the Consortium and MLT). These companies, my firm, and my firm’s clients instruct our recruiters to find this diverse talent. The recruiters visit the top business schools who attract these high-performing URMs. Simple. Regarding the social incentive, URM MBAs are more likely to serve URM communities – for the same reason you’d want to see minority doctors, lawyers, teachers, etc. Anyway, anyway, anyway…

    I think this market demand for talented URMs causes the adcoms at the top b-schools to take more time to look through the applications of URMs for evidence (outside of GPA/GMAT) of our ability to succeed in the classroom and in our careers. I would argue that adcoms overuse the GPA and GMAT as a filter for non-URM applicants because so many more of them apply and adcoms don’t have the manpower or desire to thoroughly review each application. Don’t get me wrong though, I think GPA and GMAT are very important; I just don’t think it should be used as a filter. If I could do an experiment, I would hypothesize that the admitted GPAs and GMATs would be statistically lower for Non-URMs (in general, not lower than URMs) if adcoms spent the same amount of time reviewing everyone’s story and leadership experience.

    One more thing, to Senator’s comment, I sincerely hope that our kids don’t need to participate in the Consortium, MLT or similar program (at least as an applicant) because frankly they shouldn’t need the help, especially with parents who have already gone through the process and who are successful in their post-MBA careers (knock on wood). Numerous studies show that when you adjust for economic status and education of parents, race becomes irrelevant to a student’s academic perfomance – so I really hope that our children will have the GMATs and GPAs and the guidance from us to successfully apply to business schools without having to join these programs. In my opinion, just as bad as the person described in this post a.k.a. “Entitled Under Represented Minority” (see cheetarah’s 12/19/11 post) is the “entitled under represented minority” who came from a wealthy family and went to boarding schools. This type of applicant doesn’t need the help.

    Great post, guys! And it clearly generated some thoughtful discussion. Heck, I rarely post comments, especially ones this long lol.

  8. Motown says:

    I’m just seeing this post but here are my comments:

    I understand some of the points that you are making but wanted to address a few of your points. For some transparency I am also a URM, I applied to one Consortium school and the rest of my applications were non-Consortium.

    To address your comment that“URM’s expect everything on a silver platter with the Consortium”, I recognize that both you and I probably know several URMs not only with the Consortium fellowship but other fellowships as well. On the flipside, I know several URMS, one in particular from an ivy and another few from Top 25 UG’s who were rejected/waitlisted from CGSM schools. I don’t think that most URM’s consider the fellowship as something OWED to them. Rather it is treated as an HONOR. This is why 2nd year CGSM’s mentor first years, they are leaders in their respective schools and why companies go after them.

    I like to think that the Consortium provides an opportunity. If we look at the schools that are a part of the membership, bottomline they want to increase their diversity. Therefore, they provide a means to apply at a reduced cost and take on the ‘risk’ of joining the CGSM and evaluating the entire package. These schools see the upside of adding diversity to their class. But by no means are they lowering their standards for admission. Although people like you and I may be go-getters, I’ve encountered MANY URM’s stating that they would not dream of applying to top MBA programs and self-select themselves out of the process with sentiments like “I’m totally not going to get in” or “Applying would be a waste of money”….so in many ways I see the CGSM as an opportunity to take the gamble and (hopefully) increase odds. Also, if you have encountered arrogant URMs what’s the problem? I think this confidence/arrogance is the same across the board in every community. I remember sitting at info sessions and waiting for interviews with very pompous people (maybe I was one of them? Lolol). Sorry to break it to you…but that’s what Top Bschools attract!!!

    Furthermore, I’m not naive, I’m sure all MBA programs (not just CGSM schools) are comparing URMS to other URMS rather than our white/Asian counterparts but please believe they are taking the crème de la crème of the URMS. I have also spoken to a girl with a 630 GMAT getting the Consortium fellowship, but once again, that’s ALL I knew about that person. I have no idea what her recommenders said, her essays, her interview style etc. and although most applicants are skeptical…we are ALL more than a number.

    In addition, applying to CSGM schools is also an option for EVERYONE (I’ve met both Asian and white CGSM fellows). This past weekend at an admit weekend, the financial aid session was PACKED with all races/creeds/nationalities so EVERYONE cares equally about the cost of getting an MBA. Perhaps URMS are more risk averse and decide to apply only to CGSM schools? Perhaps our other counterparts are more prepared financially? That is up for debate. However, the CGSM mission is one I support regardless of what school I end up matriculating at and I’m happy for anyone that decides to go that route URM or non-URM.

    Finally, to address a comment I read. MLT and the CGSM provide a network and although its easy to compare them, they are two completely different organizations (which is another debate we can have at another time…this post is getting long). Nonetheless I wouldn’t say that either is a legup but just another means to navigate this process. They both present opportunities to meet other ambitious URMS that frankly I probably would never meet otherwise. Coming from an area with few URM’s and a professional background where no one goes to b-school, every time I went to an MLT conference I felt energized and realized I wasn’t alone in the process. Maybe this is different for people in major cities but for me that was one of best things about MLT.

    Okay thanks for reading. ::drops mic::

    Let the debates begin.

    -Motown
    P.S These are JUST my views and do not reflect other writers on my Blog

  9. ChilliBox says:

    I really enjoyed this blog entry. very well balanced debate.

  10. jumbo says:

    My experience interacting with the consortium students at NYU has been quite interesting. NYU has about 25-30 students from the consortium and I have to say some of them are super smart, I have doubts about many others but they are not dumb or non deserving to be at NYU in any way.

    Where I have my doubts about the Consortium are the candidates that they are picking. Half the people who came in to NYU through the consortium have undergrad Ivy League degrees, had excellent jobs working at companies such as Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Booz, Deloitte etc. As much as these smart people deserve to be in business school, they do not deserve to be part of a program that promotes affirmative action. These people do not need another push to get in to business school and get a free ride. There are 1000s of other people, who are smart but did not have the privilege or the opportunity to go to an ivy league school, they perhaps went to state schools, got mediocre jobs after graduation. These people would be successful and climb up the corporate ladder even if they did not receive a full scholarship.

    My question is, then why is consortium helping these people and not the 1000s of other people who did not have these advantages, but are just as deserving to be a part of that pool? Maybe they did not have am amazing work experience, because they did not go to an amazing undergrad school, because they went to an average public school, maybe in the ghetto.

    As much as I am pro affirmative action, I don’t think that Consortium is helping people in need, it is merely just giving more money to the ones who already are well off.

    I am a minority, but the reason I did not even apply to consortium was because I would rather have someone who deserves the money more than me get it. But after seeing the kind of people who are part of it, I just feel stupid for not applying for it.

  11. Anonymous says:

    The assumption in this article is that minorities are as advantaged as their white counterparts when they are not… These standardized exams are catered to a certain demographic. Most blacks do not have the same elite educational backgrounds as their white counterparts so how can we expect for them to perform at the same levels. That does not make much sense to me. Their stories are a major contributing factor to why the results are the way that they are. It’s unfortunate and a lot of things that are going on in our society today can be traced back to slavery days. We didn’t make the story but we are living it and playing with the cards we were delt.

  12. Bigdan6 says:

    (Sorry for the typo’s, writing this during my lunch break.)

    Wow, great dialogue dialogue here. There are too many layers to this conversation to address in one fell swoop, however, Senator does make a great point regarding the sense of entitlement on the part of many URM’s. As an applicant this year, I have made the diversity weekend rounds and have too met quite a few applicants who feel entitled to a ticket at an elite MBA program, despite lacking the qualifications/credentials of other URM’s. Let me explain.

    First, we should not treat all URM’s as a monolithic ethnicity or demographic because, really, they are quite differentiated. Within each ethnic demographic there are a myriad of socioeconomic/origin/linguistic backgrounds (and therefore privileges) that are subsumed under the URM banner. Were we take a closer look at candidate profiles, we would see that many of those who feel “entitled” are those who themselves had the benefits of phenomenal mentoring throughout their formative years, who were aware of the rules of the game well in advance of many others, and who have parents who obtained higher education. In my humble opinion, these are the folks who have all the advantages of non-URM’s yet continue to seek the preferred status when applications are due. Ironically enough, many of these folks have sub-par or below median GPA’s and GMAT’s (which don’t constitute a great measure of potential anyways). To offer a contrasting and genuine example, I have a sub-par 3.38 GPA partly because I came from an inner city school, parents didn’t graduate from high school in Central America and I had to quickly adjust to a fairly rigorous academic college program. My GMAT is a 730 (decent, but not mind-blowing). My work experience has been in finance (ibanking) and I’ve been fortunate to have been promoted. I am a URM and my background is certainly not one of privilege. Now, there are other URM’s who have had all the benefits (English was their first language, parents went to college, they attended solid high schools) and will have the same preferred status as other applicants who have not had a clear, linear path to academic and professional achievement. I should add that many of these folks have GMAT’s around 670-700 with similarly below-median GPA’s yet somehow view numbers as exceptional. To me, this is the definition of a sense of entitlement, if not outright opportunism.

    Perhaps this dialogue raises greater questions regarding affirmative action, but in my opinion, Philgover hits it right on the head. We should not use only numbers to assess a candidate’s eligibility; we should take a closer look at his or her story in order to determine their relative achievement and potential for professional success. The fact of the matter is that society is changing and we can’t view all URM in the same light. For Pete’s sake, we’ve twice elected a black president. The dialogue has to change fundamentally so that we do not reward the underachievers or penalize the all-stars. (side not: If anything, it is MLT, not the Consortium that is responsible for creating a sense of entitlement among other members).

    Some may say, “here you go dividing us”, but I’m just being honest and looking at the situation with business goggles, not those for culture politics. If we can re-examine the URM demographic not only in the context of academic numbers, but in terms of relative achievement, than we can identify those who will be standpoint successes when given the opportunity. In all frankness, there are candidates who have numbers that may not stack up favorably compared to mine or to Senator’s, but they are just as deserving of a seat as anyone else, if not more so. Truth be told, some people start life on 1st base and others on 3rd base; therefore, in analyzing URM candidates, we must look at all of the intangible layers of privilege and background so that we can identify the true talent for the future.

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  1. […] month, The Senator and Cheetara1980 sparked some serious debate with a post they co-authored on the merits and flaws of the Consortium. This week, Motown shares her strong disagreement with the other bloggers’ assessment and […]

  2. […] it collegial, folks!—The earlier conversation on the merits and flaws of the Consortium generated quite a bit of feedback for The Senator, who has appreciated the uptick […]

  3. […] continued studying for the GMAT. The Senator teamed up with fellow blogger Cheetarah to discuss the pros and cons of the Consortium. The Applicationist was relatively unfazed by a Stanford zap, but had stronger emotions about […]



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