Thursday, April 19, 2012

Response to "The Truth: The Consortium"

A few days ago I stumbled across this blog and post.

Anyone that REALLY knows me, knows that I cannot keep my mouth shut (maybe thats why I wanted to be a lawyer... a few years ago) and after debating with myself for 5 min, I responded.  For those of you who want the brief summary - these bloggers had some strong opinions on the Consortium (CGSM) and Underrepresented Minorities (URMs) that I strongly disagreed with.  Below is my response...feel free to make this a (healthy) debate

I understand some of the points that you are making but wanted to address a few of your points.  For some transparency I am also a URM, I applied to one Consortium school and the rest of my applications were non-Consortium.

To address your comment that“URM’s expect everything on a silver platter with the Consortium”, I recognize that both you and I probably know several URMs not only with the Consortium fellowship but other fellowships as well.  On the flipside, I know several URMS, one in particular from an ivy and another few from Top 25 UG’s who were rejected/waitlisted from CGSM schools.  I don’t think that most URM’s consider the fellowship as something OWED to them.  Rather it is treated as an HONOR.  This is why 2nd year CGSM’s mentor first years, they are leaders in their respective schools and why companies go after them. 

I like to think that the Consortium provides an opportunity.  If we look at the schools that are a part of the membership, bottomline they want to increase their diversity. Therefore, they provide a means to apply at a reduced cost and take on the ‘risk’ of joining the CGSM and evaluating the entire package. These schools see the upside of adding diversity to their class.  But by no means are they lowering their standards for admission.  Although people like you and I may be go-getters, I’ve encountered MANY URM’s stating that they would not dream of applying to top MBA programs and self-select themselves out of the process with sentiments like “I’m totally not going to get in” or “Applying would be a waste of money”….so in many ways I see the CGSM as an opportunity to take the gamble and (hopefully) increase odds.  Also, if you have encountered arrogant URMs what’s the problem?  I think this confidence/arrogance is the same across the board in every community.   I remember sitting at info sessions and waiting for interviews with very pompous people (maybe I was one of them? Lolol).  Sorry to break it to you…but that’s what Top Bschools attract!!!

Furthermore, I’m not naive, I’m sure all MBA programs (not just CGSM schools) are comparing URMS to other URMS rather than our white/Asian counterparts but please believe they are taking the crème de la crème of the URMS.  I have also spoken to a girl with a 630 GMAT getting the Consortium fellowship, but once again, that’s ALL I knew about that person.  I have no idea what her recommenders said, her essays, her interview style etc. and although most applicants are skeptical…we are ALL more than a number. 

In addition, applying to CSGM schools is also an option for EVERYONE (I’ve met both Asian and white CGSM fellows).  This past weekend at an admit weekend, the financial aid session was PACKED with all races/creeds/nationalities so EVERYONE cares equally about the cost of getting an MBA.  Perhaps URMS are more risk averse and decide to apply only to CGSM schools?  Perhaps our other counterparts are more prepared financially?  That is up for debate.  However, the CGSM mission is one I support regardless of what school I end up matriculating at and I’m happy for anyone that decides to go that route URM or non-URM.

Finally, to address a comment I read.  MLT and the CGSM provide a network and although its easy to compare them, they are two completely different organizations (which is another debate we can have at another time…this post is getting long).  Nonetheless  I wouldn’t say that either is a legup but just another means to navigate this process. They both present opportunities to meet other ambitious URMS that frankly I probably would never meet otherwise.   Coming from an area with few URM’s and a professional background where no one goes to b-school, every time I went to an MLT conference I felt energized and realized I wasn’t alone in the process.  Maybe this is different for people in major cities but for me that was one of best things about MLT.

Okay thanks for reading.  ::drops mic::

Let the debates begin.

P.S These are JUST my views and do not reflect other writers on this blog


alinsonpaul April 21, 2012 at 7:08 AM  

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Cheetarah1980 April 25, 2012 at 7:52 AM  
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Cheetarah1980 April 25, 2012 at 10:24 AM  

Hey Motown! Great response. Since I coauthored the blog post that inspired this entry, I figured I should comment. I want to be clear that I 100% support the Consortium mission and feel that it's a necessary organization. Being only one of three black female admitted students at an ASW last weekend let me see just how underrepresented we are. However, I stand by my statements that the full-tuition fellowship that accompanies many people's Consortium membership is sometimes (not always) treated like an entitlement. There are very few people, no matter what their race may be, who are unconcerned about the cost of an MBA. I do not think we are unique in our desire to get some help from the schools to reduce the price tag. What bothered me was some people's insistence that a school "make it rain." Statements like that don't come off as honored or grateful, just entitled. To see someone turn his nose up at a $20K scholarship like it's nothing is disturbing. Granted it may not be enough to make a school affordable but to call it "bullshit" is out of line. Add to this that this same candidate has significant weaknesses in their profile and it does raise a red flag. It's disturbing to sit down with potential applicants and tell them to shoot for a 700+ GMAT only to have another URM in our company tell them, "Just get your 650 and you'll be fine. I know a bunch of people who got full rides with less than that." And yes, many of those full rides came from Consortium schools. I just think it sets a precedent that doesn't encourage us to raise our game.

I know and fully agree that a person is more than their GPA/GMAT. The GMAT especially is not a predictor of career success. But the thing is we're not applying for jobs. We are applying to schools and the academic component of our candidacy should matter just as much as our business prowess and leadership potential. Obviously the GMAT is not the only criteria by which we should be judged, but I do think many URMs have been taught to be overly dismissive of it.

I do understand that the schools determine who they admit and who receives their allotted Consortium fellowships. However, it's the Consortium's application that supplies their applicant pool. I have heard that a top 5 school left the Consortium and others will not join because they are not satisfied with many of the candidates that the Consortium brings them. The comments I have heard is that the Consortium brings them many borderline applicants and then expects the school to reward them with not only admission but also a full tuition scholarship. While the school can admit who they want I am very sure that a member school would NOT really reject almost all of its Consortium applicants and then not offer the fellowship to any. They are going to choose from the pool that they are given. I am not saying that there isn't a strong contingent of minority applicants who apply through the Consortium, because there is. I am saying that for some reason several top schools have taken the position that they can find more high level talent on their own.

My point in the original blog post was that the Consortium has the right intention, lowering the barriers that keep many of us from attending top b-schools. I just think that there have been some unintended side effects that can reflect negatively on URM candidates as a whole. It is by no means indicative of the whole CGSM applicant pool, but it is there and can be addressed. While the Consortium exists to help schools increase their percentage of URM students I also think it can exist to help us raise our game too.

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