Raise Your Glass to the Best

Last week, a colleague and I penned a controversial post re: The Consortium. As promised I wouldn’t leave our opinions undone and after some superb commentary from responders I want to offer some suggestions that I think would improve an organization that I wholeheartedly support and believe in. Before you read, I’d like to add this is not an exhaustive list — if you have additions comments are a great way to voice your opinion!

  1. Encourage Consortium Member Schools to share accepted student data with the Consortium (either ranges and/or mean/median) and afford this transparency to the public (particularly future candidates and corporate partners).
  2. Offer (not enforce) a baseline threshold for Consortium Fellowship candidates in three main categories: GMAT, GPA, CGSM Mission Essay Score and Mission Statement Score. (This would mean implementing a scoring system for essays).
  3. For students who do not meet a suggested threshold for GMAT and GPA, offer an opportunity for reduced GMAT prep courses through a sanctioned partner OR reduced fee consulting through a partner who can help bolster an applicants candidacy. -I understand this is a cost prohibitive option for many (including myself). However, the benefits of getting a brief consultation prior to applying can only help, not hurt.-
  4. Reduce the maximum number of schools one can apply to to four and increase application fees accordingly. We all need to learn to prioritize and not just throw darts at the wall — the penalty for being a schizophrenic applicant (like I was) is too low. Increasing fees will help applicants think twice before throwing ‘Hail Marys’ or ‘drop passes’.
  5. Require ALL Consortium applicants to complete a Skype Interview with a Consortium Alum. I think the CGSM interview is a critical component to the process and the suggestion I pose below is the reason why.
  6. Add a  short answer question to the Common Application that includes: “What is your motivation for applying through the Consortium?” or “Why do you really want to attend a Consortium School?” -I want to underscore this last point because I believe it’s critically important to facilitating the actual mission of the Consortium as well as addressing a primary concern of entitlement that (I feel) is growing amongst applicants.-
  7. When a student is accepted to the Consortium, just like National Black we should all be responsible for a membership fee. Perhaps this stance is contrary to reducing ‘the barrier to entry’ however we are getting access to resources that are unprecedented in the MBA world. I’m a firm believer in putting skin in the game. Frankly, $300 is the cost many of us paid to apply to Wharton or Stanford — it’s a mere drop in the bucket considering the investment we’ve made and are about to make. Think about it, with those app fees to other schools, we didn’t get a four-day week in a major metro city, an additional career network and a possibility at an internship prior to even starting school. It makes sense, and it also helps pay for a lot of the suggestions I made above.

I want to see the Consortium ditch the focus on MORE applicants and shift the focus to ‘better’ applicants. Let’s leave a legacy of producing the highest quality candidates that support the Consortium Mission, rather than employing a ‘kitchen sink strategy’. If we work together to make sure we are competing at a level that’s at or close to that of our non-CGSM peers I believe Consortium will become a more credible, relevant and performance oriented organization. We’ll be able to attract the not only the best talent but also the best schools AND the best companies that want to recruit that talent.

So raise your glass to making the Consortium Graduate Study for Management the best it can be.

6 Responses to “Raise Your Glass to the Best”
  1. method says:

    1. Dislike because it overemphasizes numbers. Transparency is good, but the application process is about so much more than numbers.
    2. Never going to get an established threshold for Fellowships because they’re made at the university level. You can’t create a common threshold that applies to both Tuck and Kelley, for example, they’re too far apart. Each university already has an internal matrix, I assume.
    3. I’m anti-GMAT emphasis, per my comments on your last post, so I dislike this point.
    4. Agree on limiting the number of schools down to 4.
    5. Don’t like this option. You never know what you’re going to get with different alums. Too much on the line. Why is convincing one alum worth a grain of salt? If you’re true to the mission it should shine in multiple pieces of your application already.
    6. I answered this in my Consortium essays already, so I don’t see the need for one more. After it was all said and done, I was sick and tired of explaining at every stop that I wanted to save the world. I think they got it via Consortium essays, Consortium rec, professional recs, resume, and interviews.
    7. No extra fee is necessary. Consortium has donation goals, and we’re all expected to give. If you want to give $300, give $300. The system already exists.

    I guess it’s safe to say that I really like the Consortium process as it already stands. I think there should be more transparency on data without undue emphasis, and more transparency about the role of ranking schools. I met one guy who had no clue the order of schools even mattered much for anything, and I felt really bad for him.

    But I maintain a level of rejection about emphasizing GPA and GMAT too much. I’d much rather have someone who understood how to work with people than someone who has a 750 GMAT.

    Perhaps, as an idea to counter the entitlement you are observing, every Consortium applicant must attend a webinar pre-submission that outlines the attitude and expectations of applying through the program.


    • Fair enough on the disagreements. I think the webinar is a virtually useless though — it’s such a passive interaction format. I’ve sat through dozens of webinars and rarely do I internalize the information long-term. The other thing to point out is that Consortium actually does offer a webinar through accepted.com that outlines all this — it’s a great piece of additional information but that’s it.

      Seems like there is a focus on the numbers, but that’s the piece that’s missing here. I work in higher ed and recruitment and fundraising are obviously critical. I evaluate student applications regularly and even though your gut reaction is, “Let’s not focus on the numbers.” The people that are applying and those who are funding want to know; then they expect you to integrate a subjective component to balance out the evaluation — this is the way it works. Bottom line, if I tell my supervisor they didn’t pass through the filter my job is on the line (Just to point out these thresholds are relatively low, and one can still evaluate on a case-by-case basis).

      Yes there are flaws in all systems, but when I ask funders for money I make sure to have what they think is relevant and what we feel is relevant as part of the entire equation so that we can consider the bigger picture.

      • method says:

        Sure, the webinar may not be the correct medium. The point is to emphasis, upfront, an understanding to approach the application process with your best effort, whatever that effort may turn out to be numerically.

        It seems to me that the crux of your solution to solving entitlement is to emphasize numbers in some way, so perhaps I’m just not reading you correctly. I think you solve entitlement by emphasizing the important of the mission, and coaching applicants to approach the mission in a professional way. Talk about the path of those who’ve gone before, and how our performance as candidates affects the process for those still to come. I don’t see how using numbers of any kind rectifies entitlement. If you set a bar at 750 GMAT, for hyperbole’s sake, and I hit 750, couldn’t I still feel “entitled” to a fellowship?

        I don’t know that the Consortium has any issues with funding. A recent metric says 341 of the 1000 CGSM applicants got a fellowship offer somewhere, numbers be damned. That’s an incredible result.

        Regardless, what I think would be far more compelling to would-be funders is a long-term study about the job performance of CGSM graduates benchmarked against non-CGSM graduates at the same school, with a notation about the correlation of GPA/GMAT to see what is really indicative of what companies want: leadership and success.


  2. I kind of dropped a bomb and then left the room as I haven’t participated in the conversation after blogging. It’s about time I participate. The reason I think that GPA/GMAT are so important is because this is business SCHOOL. Yes, we all know that we’re going to HBS/Tuck/Kellogg/Yale/Ross/etc. to get further our careers. However, these schools are not the jobs; they are academic instititutions. Academic performance (past and present) should matter. I’m not saying that a high GMAT or GPA makes someone more successful in business. It’s not an indicator of how successful someone will be in their career. It simply indicates if someone can handle the ACADEMIC rigor of b-school. While it is valuable for a person to be able to recount their tales of leadership to their classmates, it’s also equally important that they be able to complete a discounted cash flow analysis or a statistical model of whatever for class assignments.

    I often see people jump ahead of the school aspect and immediately point to career success to say that GPA/GMAT are not that important. When it comes to getting a job, I 100% agree. Although the purpose of pursuing our MBAs is career related, the means to that degree is academic and cannot be glossed over. I’m not saying GPA/GMAT are the end all/be all. They are not. I know many people (regardless of race/ethnicity/gender) who have weak spots on these measures. I simply wish that some URMs weren’t so blase about it because as I have heard some of us say, “our bar is lower.”

    • philgover says:

      Good points Cheetarah, and I’ve been waiting for you to jump back in. A few thoughts…

      I have problems with the idea that academic performance matters in the context in which you judge it. A lot of your assumptions seem to based on the idea that Consortium fellows/members can’t compete academically with their peers. You’re focused on the idea that clearly because someone has a 3.5 & a 650 GMAT, they must obviously be either inferior or not as well-prepped as some other student with a 3.8 & a 750. I’m not sure you’ve proven that this is the case (that’s being generous). Are there scores of Consortium members failing out of the program and not receiving a 2nd year of the fellowship? Are there demonstrable patterns of fellow MBAs looking down upon Consortium members because they drag their study group/team/etc. down with their very poor accounting skills (or fill in the blank skill)? Are Consortium members generally way less successful than their similarly situated GPA/GMAT peers who they attended class with?

      You point to specific things like being able to ‘complete a discounted cash flow analysis’ – I’ve never done that, but then again I’ve never tried, so who knows if I’ll be an asset in this particular aspect of a case or not, but how do you know if I’m able to do it? Because of my GMAT/GPA? Really? And you’re qualified to make that judgment based on what expertise? You’re cumulative decades of experience in business school admissions?

      Which, I guess, is all a way of saying this seems much more of a neurosis than an actual substantive critique of your Consortium member peers. I think we’re all nervous about these things, hell, I think most people are. A lot of us haven’t been in a classroom in years, some of us don’t even have a business background. This is true of Consortium members and lots of non-Consortium members.

      I’m all for transparency as TheSenator has called for, it makes institutions better, and certainly institutions as venerable as the Consortium ought to show how their intervention has produced real movement in the stats I’ve brought up here, at least at a ‘blind stat’ level, which is something my office does regularly to test effectiveness of outreach programming. But your tack is wrongheaded in some ways, at least in my view.

      • Zil Nabu says:

        Phil, I think you’re misunderstanding what I was saying. My point is that admissions committee look for evidence that an applicant can successfully complete the school’s academic requirements. They have an idea of how rigorous the curriculum is and use GPA/GMAT/Work Experience/etc. to determine if a candidate can handle it. I mentioned a discounted cash flow simply as an example of something students might learn in b-school, not as some litmus test of ability. I am not talking about how one performs while in school, but moreso the screen applicants face to get into school.

        My blog post and subsequent responses have never really been about whether or not schools should admit URM applicants with lower GPA/GMAT and award them scholarships. If I felt that schools shouldn’t admit candidates (regardless of race) with weaker GPAs or GMAT scores then I’d be saying that they shouldn’t admit me. I am all about the holistic process and believe that anyone who has been admitted DESERVES to be. What I am disagreeing with is SOME (not all) people’s attitudes and sense of entitlement surrounding admissions and more importantly scholarship awards. It bothers me to hear people point to someone who had weaker GMAT/GPA stats and did get into school with a fellowship and then expect the same thing for themselves. It’s even worse when they use it as justification for not trying to improve or shore up those profile weaknesses. When I was in the middle of applications I was scared to death that my GPA would prevent me from getting into any schools. I worked hard to get a good GMAT score to offset it and still was a nervous wreck. A friend said to me, “Look I got into X school with a 640 and a 2.6. You’re black and you’re a woman so you’re fine.” He didn’t encourage me to do more, but instead told me to sit back and let my race and gender do the work for me and pointed to himself as evidence that it would work. I readily acknowledge that being a black woman definitely played a pivotal role in my admissions success this season. I knew it would. But I also never thought it was a reason to be comfortable in my candidacy either. I think there is a line between acknowledging and leveraging top schools’ desire to increase URM representation vs. taking that desire to mean you don’t have as much to prove. The majority of URM applicants that I have met understand this and work their butts off to present the best picture possible on all fronts. I am only talking about a vocal minority who I have encountered.

        Do I think that having 3.9 GPA and 750 GMAT makes someone a better student? No. Not at all. Do I think that a 3.9 GPA and a 750 GMAT entitles a person to admission and/or money? NOPE. Not at all. It’s the whole package. I just worry that the more evidence given that URMs do not have to bring more to the admissions game from a GMAT/GPA standpoint then the more it gives diversity opponents more ammo and also causes SOME URMs to lower their expectations for themselves. The Consortium just happens to set up a proposition where this is more publicized. I’m not saying that the Consortium encourages anyone to slack; I am just saying that from some conversations I have had it does seem to have unintentionally given SOME people the idea that they can.

        I hope I’m being clear. I in no way want to disparage the Consortium’s mission or members, URM applicants as a whole, or diversity initiatives in general. I agree with them. I support them. I am one. I am just saying that we all need to be aware of SOME people’s attitudes and be sure that we aren’t internalizing them either.

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