April 1 (Bloomberg) -- Harvard University admitted a record-low 6.9 percent of students seeking undergraduate admission after attracting the most applications ever, including almost 3,600 from seniors ranked first in their high school. Harvard College offered admission to 2,110 of this year’s 30,489 applicants. Last year, the Cambridge, Massachusetts, college accepted 7 percent."
Harvard is obviously very, very selective when offering admission to its applicants, but at least on some occassions, Wal-Mart is even more selective when offering jobs to its applicants.
(Crain's, January 2006) — The new Wal-Mart Stores location opening Friday in suburban Evergreen Park, Illinois received a record 25,000 applications for 325 positions, the highest for any one location in the retailer’s history, a company official says. Wal-Mart's Chicago-area manager Chad Donath said generally stores receive between 3,000 and 4,000 applications for about 300 to 450 positions.
That would mean Wal-Mart accepted only 1.3% of job applicants at its Chicago store, making it harder to get a job at Wal-Mart than gain admission to Harvard University. Of course, Wal-Mart's normal acceptance rate is closer to 10%, making it slightly less selective than Harvard on average.
Bottom Line: Just like Harvard has to be a pretty desirable place to attend college since it gets more than 14 applications for every opening, Wal-Mart must be a pretty desirable place to work if it routinely gets 10 applications for every job opening. And yet the standard assumption is that Wal-Mart's wages are unreasonably low. A Google search of Wal-Mart and "low wages" results in 47,000 hits.
But with Wal-Mart receiving 10 applications per position, you could actually make a stronger case that Wal-Mart's wages are actually TOO HIGH. That is, Wal-Mart could lower its wages considerably and still have too many applications.