Tougher Standards for Foreign Born MBA (Business School) Applicants?

A significant number of my clients are from India (non-US citizen). In my consulting conversations with them, the one thing I bring up with them is their status as an over-represented applicant group.   That is, there are a lot of applicants applying from India, probably more so than any other group.  Applicants to business school are not necessarily going to be compared against the whole pool but rather a subset.  Additionally, a majority of my clients  are from the IT consulting and operations arena within India, further reducing their opportunities to distinguish themselves from the pack.  While you many never hear an adcom talking about this phenomena, any grade, GMAT, work or extracurricular activity not up to snuff is a dealbreaker.  The Indian undergraduate institution is of particular importance to the adcoms as well.

This is why I spend devote extra time to the school selection process with my Indian clients.  If a particular client is “running with the pack” a good way to separate themselves is to detail at length their school fit and deep knowledge of a particular MBA program (in the essays).

Some adcoms or other consultants may argue with this point.  Think about it this way though, adcoms are seeking a diverse student body.  Indian applicants bring a lot to the table and it usually includes a high GMAT and GPA.  Anything less and you don’t get in.



  1. True. I feel a lot of candidates get ‘penalized’ due to this phenomenon. What’s worse is anything related to computers gets tagged as ‘IT’, even though the actual job function may be far different from writing programs / fixing bugs.

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  4. Tom

    I am an IT consultant who isn’t even Indian, and I unfortunately feel the oversubscription of IT consultants in the MBA application process as well. What I would recommend to fellow IT consultants is to put emphasis on non-work related activities. Do extra-curricular work, be active outside of the office. It’ll pay dividends.

    I was admitted into a top 5 program with an average GPA, GMAT, and an IT consulting background. I think my extra-currs had a lot to do with it.

    • Tom:
      You are exactly right. With IT applicants, they know you are smart and analytical but all pretty much cut from the same cloth. Show them something unique and meaningful and you just beat out most IT applicants who will only talk about a million dollar SAP or Peoplesoft implementation.
      – Paul

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