Sorebrek's Musings and Ramblings

In search of the holy grail of an MBA (class of 2008 hopeful), this space will hopefully chronicle the search and my other quixotic pursuits.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Jet lag buzz

Waiting at Changi airport in Singapore for local friends to come and pick me up so I won't die of boredom in the 8 hours before my connecting flight to India is due. In the words of resident Singapoerans, Singapore is one giant shopping mall; sorry if that sounds judgemental, I am not saying it, the residents are, the logic being if you're catholic I guess you can pull a funny one on the pope. Any way, I am sitting outside the baggage area in what might be termed a small island of seats in the middle of a wide corridor. Without much thought I had plopped on one of the seats. What didn't strike me at that time was that there were no other passengers in those set of seats; most had taken chairs by the walls. I soon realized why. I was sitting there with my hands locked behind my head and staring into space wih Brendel's Mozart to keep me company. It started as a trickle, but soon waves of humanity came washing down the corridor. They split into two columns right before me and walked around me. I was startled at first. Here I am sitting in a rather clueless, shall we say awkward position and hundreds of people are walking right up to me, staring at the guy in a funny hiker’s layering jacket and in what I take pleasure in pretending to be obeisance, give me the right of the way. In due time with a little help from Wolfgang and the fact that it has been 24 hours since I started my journey, I settle into a seance and actually begin enjoying myself. I can see me staring back emptily right through them, but taking in each and every one of them. Like flies they fell off my bleary-eye radar - the waddling nuns, the wild-eyed burqa-clad wives, the spiky hair-styled asian teen, the batik body-gloved flight attendants, the workers wheeling a barrow-ful of hard hats, the harrowed mother with three kids, the cute girl with calloused feet, the hard-to-miss americans, the gesticulating french, the young indian wife, the tired old parents with children of unbridled youth - they all pay reluctant homage to to me. The babbling brook of humanity divides itself into two startled tributaries at the island that was me on a natural high. It was almost as if I wasn't there; they were looking at a guy who wasn't me and strangely they seemed vulnerable as I looked through them. Guess I haven't felt like this in a long time. Guess I really need this vacation. It will be another 16 hours before I get home. It will be worth it, if only for my metaphysical experience.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Am I an anomaly in the MBA Matrix?

This started out as a comment to Brit-Chick’s excellent post. Her discussion is on whether non-profit applicants have an easier time getting a B-school admit. Here is a statistical viewpoint: I think the only true test for this theory is the empirical results, i.e. by comparing the acceptance rates for each of the applicant pools. In practice, assuming deliberately engineered demographics, the probability for the typical applicant to be accepted would be the same as the acceptance rate for her pool (because she would not be competing outside her pool). In order for the admit probability of a non-profit applicant to be the same as that of a consultant, the acceptance rates for both categories should be the same. I am afraid that may not be the case since this throws the door wide open for manipulation (e.g. representative candidates in a pool egging on several under-qualified candidates to jump in to the fray – who knows, I might right now be a muppet, a drone, someone’s MBA cannon-fodder :-)). The acceptance rates across pools would therefore vary and thereby the probability for acceptance should follow suit. So what am I trying to prove (besides trying to sound like I know what I’m talking about)? Just that the degree of difficulty in getting an admission from one category versus another cannot be the same.

Taking this one step further (and no more I promise), let us look within the pool itself. When talking about the probability for a category, I assumed that this is uniformly distributed across all applicants in that category. In practice, this is not the case since there is variance within the pool itself. My ‘aha’ moment: so this is the ‘differentiation’ that we’ve been hearing about! So effectively the applicant has to jump two hurdles: acceptance probability within her pool and the variance hurdle again within her own pool.

Hey did I just state the obvious – very likely, it is 2 AM in this neck of the woods. But going back to BC’s discussion, I am using my variance argument and going out on a limb by stating that certain categories, yes non-profit for instance, have better ‘tangible’ variance intrinsically than say, bankers with the uniform perception of being crunching numbers. So while the acceptance probability hurdle may not be steep for the non-profit applicants, the variance one might be. Would this even things out for all applicants? I guess we would never know.