### 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.

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.

## 5 Comments:

At 10:56 AM, aregon23 said…

I strongly agree with the concept of "the applicant has to jump two hurdles: acceptance probability within her pool and the variance hurdle again within her own pool".

The best test for this theory is in a much represented bracket the Indian IT Engineer applying for BSchool. What is the probability of an average smoe getting an admit to a top school based up his/her credentials? Zilch, Nada, Zero. This type of candidate is considered to be two dimensional, has the horse power but the sheer numbers of the same make the candidacy a cliche and boring. BUT take the same candidate and add a hat of non-profit, accessorize with adventure sports, wear shoes made from rags to riches or small town to global career, and you have effectively taken a bland application and made it stand out in a crowd.

I think that due to the vast numbers of Ibankers, engineers and consultants who apply, any one from a slightely different milieu is considered unique and can waltz right in on two counts:

1. Adding a different dimension to the class

2. Due to the BSchool's need to seem more altruistic and helpful to society.

At 11:41 PM, Ekalavya said…

I noticed that you are an applicant for the class of 2008 from the Bay Area and that you are from India and are a software engineer. We have a lot in common! Keep up the good work!

At 11:52 PM, sorebrek said…

Ekalavya,

Sorry I missed this comment from you. I was on vacation for the longest time and still a bit behind with my e-mail and blogs. Drop me a line when you get a chance ek.oxo@xoxy.net. Glad to know you're in the hood.

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