From time to time, we at mbaMission visit admissions officers from top schools, giving us the opportunity to ask rather frank questions. On a visit to a top-5 program, we pushed an admissions officer on the extent of alumni influence and ultimately received a surprisingly incredulous response: “We get ten letters each year from [globally famous alumnus whose name mbaMission is withholding], telling us that this or that MBA candidate is the greatest thing since sliced bread. He gets upset when we don’t admit ‘his’ applicants, but what makes him think that he deserves ten spots in our class?”
Many MBA applicants fret about a lack of alumni connection, and the myth abounds that admission to business school is about who you know, not who you are. Of course, the latter is more important, and a standout applicant who knows no one at all is still a standout applicant and should get in—just as a weak applicant who knows everyone is still a weak applicant and should not get in. Clearly, some extreme exceptions exist where influence can be exerted, but the “standard” applicant need not worry that every seat at top MBA programs is taken by some unseen elite, before he/she even applies.
Remember, the admissions committees want to ensure that a diversity of ideas and experiences is represented in the classroom. Every top MBA class includes people from different socioeconomic backgrounds, nationalities, religions, professional backgrounds, ages, etc. Harvard has 900 places in its class, and the vast majority won’t know a CEO or the president of a country personally. Who knows? These days, such connections could even be a liability.
Read Other Admissions Myths Destroyed:
- Admissions Myths Destroyed: I Must Get A 750!
- Admissions Myths Destroyed: At Least I Don’t Have to Rework My Resume
- Admissions Myths Destroyed: It’s All About My Work Performance
- Admissions Myths Destroyed: My Rec’s Grammar Will Ruin My Chances
- Admissions Myths Destroyed: They Won’t Notice My Weakness!
- Admissions Myths Destroyed: The Admissions Committee’s Glass is 99% Empty