The Consortium for MBA Applicants: Should You Apply?

Consortium MBANow more than ever, there’s an urgent need for greater diversity in business schools and the business world at large. Recognizing this, many MBA programs have ramped up their efforts to increase enrollment for qualified candidates from underrepresented minority (URM) groups. One group working tirelessly to advance URM representation is The Consortium for MBA applicants. 

Each MBA admissions season, we guide several dozen clients through the MBA application process in parallel with the admissions process for The Consortium.  Indeed, multiple members of the SBC team are Consortium experts.

For instance, SBC consultant Erin is a former Board member of The Consortium who also served as an Admissions Officer at two top MBA programs. SBC consultant Jessica, meanwhile, was a Consortium Fellowship recipient herself while at Darden’s MBA program.

What is The Consortium?

“Historically, The Consortium initially focused on African American men but was later expanded to focus on all African Americans, Hispanic and Native Americans,” Jessica explains.

 “In more recent years, their mission has expanded to include not just minorities but anyone who can materially advance the mission of The Consortium: to further advance underrepresented minorities in the workplace.”

 Should I apply to the MBA via The Consortium?

We encourage clients to apply to MBA programs in conjunction with The Consortium if they meet either of the following criteria:

  • The applicant is targeting MBA programs that are member schools of The Consortium. Not all programs participate in The Consortium.
  • They have shown a commitment through work and/or community activism to advancing The Consortium’s mission and supporting URM causes. 

“The Consortium is URM agnostic,” Jessica explains. “Consortium wants you to support the mission, but you don’t have to be a minority. An applicant’s impact and advocacy experiences should support underrepresented minorities.”

 “It’s a case-by-case basis whether to apply to The Consortium, either based on URM background or the industry you serve towards URM,” she adds. 

“I would not necessarily encourage candidates with non-profit backgrounds to apply with The Consortium just because the industry background is social justice. 

For example, I worked for a non-profit for three years straight from college, but we didn’t serve the URM population. Also, while The Consortium tries to push its overarching message and guidelines to be consistent for each school and how they evaluate candidates, it will always be slightly subjective based on the MBA program’s admissions team.”  

 Curious if The Consortium is right for you? Request a free analysis of your candidacy here. SBC is the only MBA admissions firm with a complete panel of former Admissions Officers, of which several specialize in diversity candidates and The Consortium application.

Bringing In Diverse Prospectives

 According to its website, The Consortium values global exposure in applicants. The organization is “striving to reduce the significant underrepresentation of African Americans, Hispanic Americans and Native Americans in both our Member Schools’ enrollments and the ranks of global management.” 

Many of our successful Consortium admits have advanced minority causes in the US workplace. Whether The Consortium prefers US versus international impact work experience is a grey area. We tend to see that The Consortium’s mission is geared towards US-based organizations, although that could change.

The early and traditional Consortium deadlines correspond to the Round 1 and Round 2 MBA deadlines, respectively. Here are the deadlines from last season:

 Application Opens: Aug. 15, 2020
Early Application Deadline: Oct. 15, 2020
Traditional Application Deadline: Jan. 5, 2021
Admission Decision: Varies by school
Fellowship Notification: March 2021

 Is The Consortium the only avenue for minority MBA applicants?

Not at all! Many applicants are admitted and receive scholarships even if they didn’t apply via The Consortium. Applying through The Consortium is optional for any member schools, and the list of Consortium member schools excludes many of the top 10 MBA programs. At this time, only three such MBA programs are members of The Consortium. 

Within the top 10 range of MBA programs, Wharton (not a member school) has the highest minority student population at 34.1%. Meanwhile, seven of the top 10 schools are under 30%, and the average is 27.9%.  

Highly-ranked Consortium member business schools include NYU Stern School of Business, Yale School of Management, UV Darden School of Business, Cornell Johnson Graduate School of Management, Tuck School of Business, and others.

Nevertheless, all MBA administrators have made their commitment to diversity clear in recent years through increased scholarships and by boosting the percentages of admitted minority students in their MBA programs.

Is The Consortium application easier or consolidated across its member MBA schools?

Surprisingly, it’s more work for MBA applicants to apply via The Consortium. But it is worthwhile if the target schools are members and the applicant wants to maximize admit and scholarship potential. 

There’s no downside to applying through The Consortium, other than the added time it takes to fulfill The Consortium application requirements. This includes essays, academic requirements, and recommendations. 

Often, we see some overlap between the MBA application essays and The Consortium essays. Remember, The Consortium essays are in addition to the MBA program essay(s). 

As The Consortium says, “You will be required to write at least one school-specific essay for each school to which you plan to apply. Schools only see their individual essays. To complete these essays, navigate to each school’s supplemental page within your core applications.”

Consortium MBA Essays

Last season, The Consortium MBA application essays were as follows:

Core Essay 1: Please describe your short- and long-term goals post-MBA. How has your professional experience shaped these goals and influenced your decision to pursue an MBA degree?

Core Essay 2 (Optional Essay): Is there any other information you would like to share with us that is not presented elsewhere in your application?

Mission Essay: Please address the three questions noted below. Please use specific examples pertaining to our target populations and clearly articulate your involvement, actions and results.

  1. What will you do while enrolled in your MBA program to demonstrate your commitment to the mission? (1,000 characters)
  2. What will you do post-MBA with respect to community service and leadership involvement to demonstrate your continued commitment to The Consortium’s missions of diversity and inclusion? (1,000 characters)
  3. What have you done pre-MBA in your business, personal or academic life to demonstrate commitment to this mission? (2,000 characters)

 The Fineprint: The Consortium Application

Candidates can choose up to 6 schools to apply to through The Consortium. Applicants enjoy a financial benefit as there is only one application fee versus paying separate payments for each school. Candidates need to rank schools in order of importance for Fellowship determination. This ranking does not affect admissions decisions.

Applications are reviewed both by The Consortium (for admission into The Consortium) and each school. You may hear the results either from the school, The Consortium, or both. 

The Upside to being a Consortium Admit

Once admitted to The Consortium and the schools, candidates enjoy several significant benefits, including:

  • Scholarship money – full-tuition fellowships are typically offered to 70% of those admitted
  • Orientation Program (“The OP”) – a job fair of sorts held before school starts. Many students leave this conference with early internship opportunities, which often lead to jobs after graduation.

For guidance on whether The Consortium is the right path for you, request a free analysis of your candidacy here. SBC is the only MBA admissions firm with a complete panel of former Admissions Officers, of which several specialize in diversity candidates and The Consortium application.

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