Pages

3/29/12

WSO is excited to have the experts from the Clear Admit team on board to answer applicant questions in the business school forum.

We encourage all of you to check out their great resources:

1) Clear Admit has been providing MBA admissions consulting services for over 10 years.

2) Clear Admit focuses its consulting services exclusively on the MBA admissions domain.

3) Clear Admit counselors are former admissions officers and MBA graduates from the top MBA programs.

4) Clear Admit has been featured in the WSJ, Economist, Forbes, BusinessWeek and more.

5) Clear Admit has a full library of popular e-books that have been applauded by applicants and admissions officers alike.

This thread will also be used by Clear Admit to answer any questions you have about their services. Can you get into that top MBA program? Drop your stats in here and see what the experts have to say!

Good luck to everyone applying to business school!
Patrick

Comments (528)

3/29/12

Thanks for the warm welcome to the WSO community Patrick!

We're thrilled to offer our expertise here. Feel free to post your questions about MBA admissions and we'll do our best to offer prompt replies.

As a means of background, my name is Graham Richmond and I am a former MBA admissions officer from the Wharton School. I also completed my MBA at Wharton. As such, I have seen the admissions process as an applicant, a student and an admissions officer. I have also counseled hundreds of successful applicants to Harvard Business School, Stanford, Wharton, Kellogg, MIT, Chicago, LBS, Columbia, NYU, INSEAD (and more) over the last 10 years.

For more information on my profile: http://clearadmit.com/graham

Best of luck to everyone who is contemplating the pursuit of an MBA from a top program!

Regards,

Graham

Accepted.com
3/29/12

What has your experience been with applicants from F500 rotational programs (GE FMP etc)?

1. Do you consider them in direct competition with those applicants coming from financial services (IB, PE etc)?

2. Do you see additional experience past the normal 2 years of these programs as vital to admission?

3. Have you noticed a particular trend with those admitted to M7 schools from F500? (ex: higher GMAT, international experience, business development roles)

Thanks!

3/29/12

What can someone going into the middle office at a large/renowned firm do to compete against FO applicants at the M7, whether it be on the job (obviously look for leadership opportunities) or off the job?

Thanks!

3/29/12

Hey Graham quick question on my chances for a M7?

Stats:

3.4 CGPA with 2.9 GPA in Econ (Big 10)
Current Position: IT Sales
GMAT: 640

I know my stats aren't t impressive, how can I improve my chances? Thanks in advance mate.

3/29/12

What is the best thing that older applicants (28-30) with otherwise very strong profiles can do to increase their odds at H / S / W? Thanks!

3/29/12

Hi Graham - thanks for joining.

Some background info:

- CPA at BB PE's arm (here about 2 years, 3 1/2 years total work experience, no big 4)
- 3.6 double major in Finance and Accounting from CUNY
- some volunteer work
- have yet to take GMAT
- kinda all over the place in terms of what I would like to do post MBA, I'm interested in ER but also MM PE because of my current job

All that said, do I have any chance at NYU or Columbia? If not, would you recommend Rutgers or Pace, or NYU part-time?

Thanks

3/29/12

Hi Graham,

Thanks for joining us on WSO.

Stats:

Employer: F100 Tech Company Financial Analyst, has promotions, ( 5 Years )

Undergrad: 3.6/4.0 BS. Finance Large State School, Leadership Experience, Alumni Board

GMAT: Not Taken

Extra: Dual Citizenship, CFA L1, local awards in a sport,

Question:

What MBA programs are best for candidates interested in corporate development, treasury, strategy, for a F500? Do MBA programs value a candidate more or less if they want to go the non-traditional finance route of going into a F500 rather than consulting / IB?

Does the CFA carry any weight? If so, can it compensate for a low GMAT?

How much does volunteer work factor in? Does everyone need SOME volunteer work?

3/29/12

Hey Graham quick question on my chances for a M7 (esp Harvard, Booth, Sloan, and Tuck)

Stats:

3.86 GPA from U of Maryland
Current Position: M&A Advisory PWC
GMAT: 730

Extras - Former CEO of fairly successful start-up and Founder of non-profit focusing on education and serve on Exec Board of other Non-profit

3/29/12

how haard is it to get into oxford

ty

In reply to theBEEGEES
3/29/12

BeeGees,

Thanks for your questions!

My thoughts are as follows:

1) The folks coming from F500 rotational programs are NOT typically in competition with the I-Banking/PE crowd. While it likely goes without saying, this is a major advantage for the rotational crowd.

2) This depends on several factors - like which school you are targeting (even within the M7) and what you have actually accomplished in your two years. I've worked with folks who've managed several rotations (both domestic and international) in just a short period of time and those candidates can often make a compelling case to head right to b-school. Another factor to consider is your post-MBA plan. If you are returning to your current employer, you may have a better case at the two year mark than if you are a career changer who needs some additional experience to facilitate a jump.

3) The main trend I have seen over the years is that people from great rotations (J&J, Amex, GE) usually do quite well in the process - largely because they have a diversity of experience and can often present slightly less common career plans. I would not say that this group has trended towards scoring more highly on the GMAT or having international experience (although neither of these traits hurt). I will say that one of the key differentiators tends to be caliber of experience (exposure to senior leadership, client-facing roles, leading small projects, etc.) - whereas many in IB or consulting often feel more cookie-cutter. It's also often the case that this group has better/more developed outside activities and interests (presumably due to slightly less insane work hours when stacked up against the finance or consulting worlds).

Feel free to send your resume to [email protected] if you'd like to take a deeper dive on your specific profile. Clear Admit offers a free initial phone assessment with one of our counselors to anyone who reaches out to us.

Best of luck and thanks again for the great questions!

Regards,

Graham

theBEEGEES:

What has your experience been with applicants from F500 rotational programs (GE FMP etc)?

1. Do you consider them in direct competition with those applicants coming from financial services (IB, PE etc)?

2. Do you see additional experience past the normal 2 years of these programs as vital to admission?

3. Have you noticed a particular trend with those admitted to M7 schools from F500? (ex: higher GMAT, international experience, business development roles)

Thanks!

In reply to Ravenous
3/29/12

Ravenous,

Thanks for your question.

While each of the three schools on your list assess candidates in a slightly different fashion, there are a few things you can do to help your chances across the board as an older applicant:

1) Make it clear that you have a lot to add to classroom discussion (diversity of experience, etc.) without sounding like an 'old dog who cannot learn new tricks'.

2) Convince your admissions reader or interviewer that you are likely to be VERY active as a student (beyond showing up for class and going through the recruiting process). Showcase your capacity to lead specific activities/clubs/conferences on campus.

3) Hit things out of the park on the numbers front (GMAT, GPA).

4) Express a career plan that your target schools' career services office can get on board with. In other words, if you are a 30-year old IT Consultant with no exposure to Wall Street (beyond a hobby of investing in stocks or having taken a CFA exam), don't pin your goals around joining an investment bank or PE fund. Put yourself in the shoes of the recruiter at your post-MBA target firm and ask yourself if that firm would be interested in your CURRENT profile. If the answer is 'no' revisit your goals.

There are many other things you could do, but this list should provide a good start! Feel free to reach out to Clear Admit directly if you'd like to learn more about your services.

Best of luck,

Graham

Ravenous:

What is the best thing that older applicants (28-30) with otherwise very strong profiles can do to increase their odds at H / S / W? Thanks!

3/29/12

Graham,

Thanks for taking the tme.

BA Economics - Top 25 USA School- 3.4
MSC Finance - UK Based Top 5 school

2 years at a bank, (founded and sold startup on the side)
1 year equity research
2 years in current venture captial role

What is the min GMAT for M7?

In reply to blastoise
3/29/12

Ty,

Thanks for your question.

On the whole I would say that Oxford/Said has a fairly competitive admissions process. Is it as hard to get into as INSEAD or LBS? Not quite, but the program's small class size means that they don't need the applicant volume of an INSEAD to be highly selective. Of course, the real answer to this question depends heavily on your profile, since some populations are less represented in the pool than others.

Here are some basic stats on the school's class of admitted students:

Class size: 248
GMAT average: 690
Work Exp: 6 years
Avg. Age: 29

Read our insider's guide to the school as well: http://clearadmit.shop.studylink.com/product.cfm?p...

Best of luck!

Graham

blastoise:

how haard is it to get into oxford

ty

In reply to blastoise
3/29/12
blastoise:

how haard is it to get into oxford

ty

hahha

3/29/12

Graham,

Thanks for thoughts.

Had a question on how a masters in finance taken right after undergrad affects a profile.
Is this viewed as a positive or negative? Would there be more emphasis placed on undergrad grades or MSF grades separate schools?

Also - GMAT 700 GPA 3.6 - worth taking the GMAT again?

Thanks.

3/29/12

Just curious, I don't have an application question in particular and I don't plan on applying -

How do the MBA applicants of today compare with the applicants from 10 years ago? Specifically, what was the avg GPA/GMAT back then versus today? How about work exp? I am sure there is difference since MBA admissions seem to get more competitive over time, but I want to hear your perspective.

Also, have the criteria for admissions evolved as well? Do adcoms look for a different type of class profile then they did 10 years ago?

No need to get too specific and don't feel obligated to answer. Like I said, I am just curious. Thanks.

Man made money, money never made the man

3/29/12

Can you point me to the profiles of your consultants?

- Bulls make money. Bears make money. Pigs get slaughtered.
- The harder you work, the luckier you become.
- I believe in the "Golden Rule": the man with the gold rules.

In reply to YellowRanger
3/29/12

Hi YellowRanger,

Thanks for your question. My thoughts are as follows:

1) If your goals are presented well in your materials/interviews, the top schools will actually value the non-traditional element. As long as your goals come across as being feasible/logical given past experience (shouldn't be a problem for you) and as long as the school feels like they can help you land the post you are targeting (check out the employment reports of your target schools to see if F500s are hiring in the role(s) you seek at your target schools) - you should be fine.

2) Your general stats (GPA, years of exp., etc.) look competitive. The GMAT will be important - since it will be used to 'benchmark' your GPA/the caliber of your undergraduate degree (and since you are likely to be in a fairly competitive portion of the applicant pool).

3) The CFA is viewed as a professional (NOT academic) credential. It will not help compensate for a low GMAT (the GMAT is viewed as a measure of academic aptitude). [Note: this is a great question - and a subject that so many applicants fail to fully grasp when it comes to admissions strategy.]

4) The schools care about outside interests/activities - e.g. what you do when you are not at work (or not in class as an undergraduate). As such, it doesn't actually matter that much if you are serving meals in a soup kitchen or playing drums in a jazz quartet with your spare time. They key is to show consistent, passionate involvement outside of your professional life. There are MANY ways to do this.

Feel free to reach out directly by sending your resume to [email protected] if you'd like a more in-depth assessment with one of our counselors.

Best of luck,

Graham

YellowRanger:

Hi Graham,

Thanks for joining us on WSO.

Stats:

Employer: F100 Tech Company Financial Analyst, has promotions, ( 5 Years )

Undergrad: 3.6/4.0 BS. Finance Large State School, Leadership Experience, Alumni Board

GMAT: Not Taken

Extra: Dual Citizenship, CFA L1, local awards in a sport,

Question:

What MBA programs are best for candidates interested in corporate development, treasury, strategy, for a F500? Do MBA programs value a candidate more or less if they want to go the non-traditional finance route of going into a F500 rather than consulting / IB?

Does the CFA carry any weight? If so, can it compensate for a low GMAT?

How much does volunteer work factor in? Does everyone need SOME volunteer work?

3/29/12
3/29/12

Hi Graham,

thanks for taking the time.

What do you think are my chances of getting into HBS or GSB? These are the only two bschools where I think that the time spent would be more beneficial for my career than to keep working.

Stats:
Age: 25
BSc and MSc at two very well known European universities.
GPA in the top 10-20% area
GMAT 740-760 (haven't taken it yet but test GMAT scores were 750 and 770)
Work exp. at the time of my application: 2 years at a highly known strategy consultancy but not MBB
Extra curricular: Nothing since I started working, lots of sports in high school (national team level, smaller things during university - tutoring, active in university societies,...)
Lots of international experience in Europe, Asia and the US (university exchange, internships,...)

Does it help that my employer would pay for the MBA if I promise commit myself to keep working there afterwards for at least two years?

In reply to Ske7ch
3/29/12

Ske7ch,

Thanks for your question. You can see the profiles of our consultants here:
http://www.clearadmit.com/mgmt.html

As you will see, we are a small team of full-time admissions consultants. We work with a select group of applicants each season and have been getting folks into top schools for over 10 years.

You can read more about our firm on the site's press page in case you are curious what independent sources like Forbes, WSJ, Economist, BusinessWeek and the Washington Post think about our expertise:
http://www.clearadmit.com/news.html

Thanks again for your question!

Regards,

Graham

Ske7ch:

Can you point me to the profiles of your consultants?

3/29/12

Hi Graham,

Was wondering on what your thoughts are on a trader applying to a top MBA program (H/S/W)? Does the admission committee deem traders unfavorable? Lastly, from your experience do many traders apply to MBA programs?

Thanks

3/29/12

Graham,

Thanks for taking the time to answer questions.

Would an extremely strong GMAT make up for a weak GPA? If so - how strong of a GMAT would be needed to cancel out a 2.8 GPA? Assuming slightly over 2 years of finance work experience and a few years of volunteer work.

3/29/12

Hey Graham,

Stats:

Undergrad GPA - 3.3 in Finance from a large state school in Texas.
GMAT - aiming for 700ish
Work Experience - Financial Analyst at a fortune 5 oil company for the past 14 months, On top of my daily responsibilities I led a group of analysts on a year-long project. I am now about to start my second rotation in a BO/MO risk role supporting our NGL traders.

Will have a few EC's under my belt before MBA (United Nations Association member, volunteer at the public school district I was in as a child, member of Toastmasters International)

I want to start my MBA in the Fall of 2014. I will have around 3.5 years of experience by that time (will probably have completed 3 rotations by then).

I think M7 is a long shot but I'm interested in the next tier of schools (Duke, McCombs, Ross, NYU, etc.). I am looking to get into IB/PE after MBA at the associate level.

What schools do you think are realistic and how do you think I can better my application?

Thanks for doing this!

"Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a Champion" - Muhammad Ali

3/29/12

Hi Graham, really appreciate you taking the time to do this.

Shooting for M7 schools.

Undergrad GPA: 3.28 overall 3.6 upper level. B.S. Chemical Engineering top 20 engineering school

GMAT: 690 first time, going to retake to boost quant (aiming for 720+)

Extracurriculars: VP of student AIChE chapter, founding Treasurer of Entrepreneurship Society.

Work Experience: Internships in chemical process engineering and refining. Currently working as a deepwater drilling engineer in the GoM responsible for coordination of operations on the rig. Will have 3-4 years at matriculation.

I plan on applying in about 2.5-3 years (age 25-26)
I realize that my essays and letters of recommendation will be very important, any other tips to improve my chances?

Thanks.

Rise early, work hard, strike oil.

3/29/12

Hi Graham,

First of all thanks for taking the time. I'm planning on applying to B school for fall 2013. Below are my summary stats. I'm planning to apply to (HBS/Columbia/Wharton/Stanford) would appreciate if you could tell me my chances on getting in as well as other schools where I might be a good fit. Your help is much appreciated.
I am a Puerto Rican male bilingual (Spanish)

Academic:
Middle Tier Boston Business Undergrad (Think BU/BC/Bentey/Babson) GPA: 3.2 Finance GPA: 3.8 (had very strong upward trend after initial issues)
Co-founder and treasurer of Puerto Rican Student Association in college
Passed all CFA exam levels (I,II, & III) in a row by the age of 23
GMAT will take next month: I expect 690-740

Work experience (US Caribbean):
1.5 years as Special Assistant to Government Pension Fund Administrator and Chief Investment Officer While it was undergoing restructuring efforts and merging the administration with other local pension plans. (When I left I was offered the position of Director of the investments division (i.e. Deputy Administrator) but turned it down in order to be an analyst in a Private Equity Firm a job that was not as prestigious but it was where I saw myself in the future given my long term goals.

1.5 years analyst in Small Cap US Caribbean Private Equity Firm ($125 AUM) (The firm has been investing for over 20 years; very reputable in the region top quartile performance)
Good experience and will have excellent recommendation from the head partner, job function has evolved in to a more senior role. I have a lot of responsibilities and have had opportunities to lead (manage) projects and deals on my own; I will also be supervising some more junior people that are to come in in a couple of months.

Extracurricular activities all on-going:
3 years as Director at my brother's Company's Board just two directors me and my brother
We have weekly Sunday meetings; company is expected to break the $10 million in sales this year
Company has had very strong growth over 35% per year (100% bootstrapped no private capital); recently recognized by the Governor who issued a press conference honoring my brother

7 months as Member of the board/committee of a yearly fundraising wine and food festival for scholarships in my old high school, this past year net income from the festival totaled 65K

All help is greatly appreciated! Thank you for joining WSO, it is very hard for us in the Caribbean to get good solid advice relating to MBA applications.

Best

SL

3/29/12

Hi, I had a quick question. I plan on attending a one year Master of Accounting program right after undergrad, then going into banking post-grad. For MBA admissions, do my MAcc grades matter, or is it just undergrad GPA and GMAT?

Thanks

3/29/12

Thanks Graham.

Applied this year and didn't have such good results (Dings at H/S, WL at Kellogg).

I think my stats are competitive...

GMAT: 770 (48V, 49Q)
GPA: 3.8 in Econ from top LAC (think NESCAC)
WE: Almost 2 years MBB, top quarter of class (so I would assume recs were strong)
Leadership: Captain of varsity sport in college, led a club and a student govt. committee

Probably going to re-apply in the fall...what can I do between now and then to get more competitive (other than get a year older)? I'm on track for a promotion this summer and likely going abroad for my next project.

Also thinking about expanding my list a bit to ensure I get in somewhere...of the following list, which school do you think is most like Stanford and/or Kellogg, in terms of the type of people and overall vibe? (anyone else can comment here as well)

Tuck, Darden, Ross, Yale

Life, liberty and the pursuit of Starwood Points

In reply to graham_richmond
3/29/12

Thanks for you help Graham! Solid advice.

graham_richmond:

Hi YellowRanger,

Thanks for your question. My thoughts are as follows:

1) If your goals are presented well in your materials/interviews, the top schools will actually value the non-traditional element. As long as your goals come across as being feasible/logical given past experience (shouldn't be a problem for you) and as long as the school feels like they can help you land the post you are targeting (check out the employment reports of your target schools to see if F500s are hiring in the role(s) you seek at your target schools) - you should be fine.

2) Your general stats (GPA, years of exp., etc.) look competitive. The GMAT will be important - since it will be used to 'benchmark' your GPA/the caliber of your undergraduate degree (and since you are likely to be in a fairly competitive portion of the applicant pool).

3) The CFA is viewed as a professional (NOT academic) credential. It will not help compensate for a low GMAT (the GMAT is viewed as a measure of academic aptitude). [Note: this is a great question - and a subject that so many applicants fail to fully grasp when it comes to admissions strategy.]

4) The schools care about outside interests/activities - e.g. what you do when you are not at work (or not in class as an undergraduate). As such, it doesn't actually matter that much if you are serving meals in a soup kitchen or playing drums in a jazz quartet with your spare time. They key is to show consistent, passionate involvement outside of your professional life. There are MANY ways to do this.

Feel free to reach out directly by sending your resume to [email protected] if you'd like a more in-depth assessment with one of our counselors.

Best of luck,

Graham

YellowRanger:

Hi Graham,

Thanks for joining us on WSO.

Stats:

Employer: F100 Tech Company Financial Analyst, has promotions, ( 5 Years )

Undergrad: 3.6/4.0 BS. Finance Large State School, Leadership Experience, Alumni Board

GMAT: Not Taken

Extra: Dual Citizenship, CFA L1, local awards in a sport,

Question:

What MBA programs are best for candidates interested in corporate development, treasury, strategy, for a F500? Do MBA programs value a candidate more or less if they want to go the non-traditional finance route of going into a F500 rather than consulting / IB?

Does the CFA carry any weight? If so, can it compensate for a low GMAT?

How much does volunteer work factor in? Does everyone need SOME volunteer work?

3/29/12

What are the most impressive extracurricular activities one can partake in to stand out? Are there certain activities people think are more beneficial in the eyes of adcoms than they actually are? Thanks.

3/29/12

Hi Graham,

I was wondering how political experience is typically viewed by B-School admissions. I am going to work for a MBB consulting firm starting in January, but plan to work for an election campaign from May-November (Democratic, if it matters). My questions are:
1. Will this be viewed favorably by an admissions committee, or seen as a random add-on/EC?
2. What sort of experiences should I seek out for maximum impact? I assume that leadership experience is a must, but would (say) a role in overall campaign strategy be viewed more favorably than field organizing?

Stats: Semi-target liberal arts school, 3.9 GPA with quantitative double major, expect ~740 on GMAT

Thanks!

3/29/12

Hi Graham,
I have been working for four years at one of the big players in physical commodity trading (Glencore,Trafigura, etc). I was involved in a Graduate Programme, working in different areas such as Operations, Risk Analysis and Deals Desk.
Do you think that my experience in this field makes me a viable candidate for an MBA in an Ivy League university?
Thanks !

3/30/12

Thanks for doing this Graham, the answers so far have been great!

"You stop being an asshole when it sucks to be you." -IlliniProgrammer
"Your grammar made me wish I'd been aborted." -happypantsmcgee

3/30/12

Hey great thread.

Just wondering about my potential strength as an applicant.

From small peripheral european country
non-traditional background for university entry in my country
2.1 from top university in my country
manager in Big 4 TAS (Started in my home country moved to London)
Extra currics include marathon running
CFA qualified

This is hypothetical and I have not sat GMAT yet.

3/30/12

I am 2.1 Master's Degree holder (Financial Economics) (Valedictorian) from South Africa/Nigeria (Dual-citizen) (+2 Bachelors degrees), with a CFA, 720 GMAT, 3.5 GPA equivalent and 5 years IB experience at global firms with International experience, speak 4 languages and entrepreneurial experience with solid extracurriculars.

I'm keen on European schools such as IE, INSEAD, Said, Judge and LBS.

Which one is a good "fit" for me?

I wonder which ones are generous on scholarships for Africans?
Not sure if the extra year and USD 80,000 is worth spending at Stanford, Columbia or Wharton.
If they are more keen on sponsoring Africans than European schools I might consider applying in the US.

- Ostende Mihi Pecuniam -

3/30/12

So I think my strong points are

- Solid Education: 2 Bachelors degrees (Actuarial Sci & Investment Management)+ Masters( financial economics)

- Entrepreneurial: Started a business tutoring MBA candidates's (at an South African business school) statistics, financial maths, accounting, economics, etc..

- Philanthropic: I'm a volunteer maths teacher at a school in an underprivileged neighbourhood and I provide free financial services to small businesses

- Travelled: I've worked on deals and lived in over 10 African countries

- Adaptive : Speak 4 languages

- Ostende Mihi Pecuniam -

In reply to inspireddude
3/30/12

Dear Inspiredude,

Thanks for your question. A few thoughts:

1) While front office roles are typically viewed as more glamorous/prestigious/harder to get, they are also far more plentiful in the applicant pool for top-tier schools. As such, one benefit of your middle office role is that it will be less common.

2) As to how you compete with the front office types, there are many ways. On the work front, the key will be to showcase leadership experience, projects you've initiated, creative solutions you've devised, etc. You should also be sure to "own" your career path - and showcase a passion for what you've done (as opposed to more of an "I wish I was front office" mentality. Academically, you should strive knock the cover off the ball when it comes to the GMAT. It would also help to have a great ugrad GPA from a reputable/top-tier undergraduate institution.

3) Of course many candidates in the pool from all kinds of posts/industries bring strong experience and numbers to the admissions process - so the key to you success will likely come down to some of the intangibles like your personal background, outside interests, travels, community involvement, etc. - and how these elements are represented in your essays, recommendations, data forms, resume and interview.

Best of luck,

Graham

inspireddude:

What can someone going into the middle office at a large/renowned firm do to compete against FO applicants at the M7, whether it be on the job (obviously look for leadership opportunities) or off the job?

Thanks!

In reply to go.with.the.flow
3/30/12

Dear GoWithTheFlow,

Thanks for your post!

My thoughts are as follows:

1) Your overall GPA of 3.4 is in the ballpark for top schools, albeit a bit below the average at the top-end of the M7.

2) Your GPA in Econ (presumably your major) is worrisome - not because the adcoms typically focus on GPA in major (in fact most of them don't even ask) but because they do examine transcripts and comb them for evidence of quantitative skill/exposure to MBA 'foundation' subjects (like economics, accounting, statistics, calculus). If you have some low marks in these areas it might be a bit of a red flag - even if your job is highly quantitative (since work experience does not really count in their measurement of your academic aptitude).

3) Your GMAT score of 640 is well below the average for M7 schools and is currently a liability in your file. This result will also color the perception of your undergraduate institution and could ultimately lead to a 'discounting' of your GPA (depending on which Big 10 program you attended and how the adcom feels about that school).

4) I would need to know a lot more about your role in IT Sales to offer insight. Do you work for a well known firm? Have you moved up in the ranks? Trained others? Made major contributions to the bottom line?

Assuming you are a white male (e.g. part of an over-represented portion of the applicant pool), I would say the odds at the M7 are stacked against you with your current GMAT result. How many times have you taken the test? What were the percentile results for math and verbal? Are you planning to take it again? Pushing through the 700 mark could do wonders for your case.

Of course, there are many other aspects to your profile that I would need to know to really pin down your odds with the top-tier MBA programs (perhaps you grew up in Indonesia and speak 4 languages, etc.). Feel free to send your resume to [email protected] if you'd like to have a chat with one of our counselors about your chances.

Best of luck,

Graham

go.with.the.flow:

Hey Graham quick question on my chances for a M7?

Stats:

3.4 CGPA with 2.9 GPA in Econ (Big 10)
Current Position: IT Sales
GMAT: 640

I know my stats aren't t impressive, how can I improve my chances? Thanks in advance mate.

3/30/12

Hi Graham. Thanks a lot for doing this.

Target: HBS. The JD/MBA program to be specific. I've already been accepted to Harvard Law.

My stats:-
Graduated summa/magna from an Ivy.
GPA/Major: 4.0/Econ.
LSAT: 178
(Expected) GMAT: 770+

WE: 2 years; BB IBD Analyst.
Recs: Was top-bucket, so probably strong.
ECs: Mentor severely under-achieving high school kids. I had a 2.3 GPA in high school, so this ties together quite well with my overall story. However, I do not have ANY other post-college ECs. Had leadership positions in a couple of clubs in college though.

Goal: Land a post-MBA PE position.

Thanks again.

Calling Ron Paul an isolationist is like calling your neighbor a hermit because he doesn't come over to your property and break your windows.

3/31/12

Hi Graham,
How much work experience do you suggest a PhD in biology from a target school w/CFA L1 should get before applying? Is one year sufficient? I don't know if the graduate degree cuts you some slack in that area. Do grad schools like science PhDs (for diversity reasons or whatever)?
Thanks!

4/2/12
4/2/12

Hello everyone!

My name is Kevin Chen; I am a Senior Admissions Counselor at Clear Admit. Now that the craziness of round two applications has subsided somewhat, I will be here to answer your questions on business school admissions.

In terms of my background, I graduated from Princeton University as an undergrad and obtained master's degrees from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. I also have worked as a consultant at McKinsey, as a reporter/editor at Reuters and as a marketing executive at the NBA. Since joining Clear Admit five years ago, I have combined my consulting, marketing and editing expertise with Clear Admit's in-house admissions office knowledge to help hundreds of domestic US and international applicants get into top business schools such as Stanford, Harvard and Wharton. For a full description of my profile, please click here: http://www.clearadmit.com/mgmt.html.

I look forward to hearing from you, and best of luck with your applications!

Best,
Kevin

In reply to suchislife
4/2/12

Kevin,

Thanks for taking the time, could you please help me out with my profile eval see below, thanks!!

suchislife:

Hi Graham,

First of all thanks for taking the time. I'm planning on applying to B school for fall 2013. Below are my summary stats. I'm planning to apply to (HBS/Columbia/Wharton/Stanford) would appreciate if you could tell me my chances on getting in as well as other schools where I might be a good fit. Your help is much appreciated.
I am a Puerto Rican male bilingual (Spanish)

Academic:
Middle Tier Boston Business Undergrad (Think BU/BC/Bentey/Babson) GPA: 3.2 Finance GPA: 3.8 (had very strong upward trend after initial issues)
Co-founder and treasurer of Puerto Rican Student Association in college
Passed all CFA exam levels (I,II, & III) in a row by the age of 23
GMAT will take next month: I expect 690-740

Work experience (US Caribbean):
1.5 years as Special Assistant to Government Pension Fund Administrator and Chief Investment Officer While it was undergoing restructuring efforts and merging the administration with other local pension plans. (When I left I was offered the position of Director of the investments division (i.e. Deputy Administrator) but turned it down in order to be an analyst in a Private Equity Firm a job that was not as prestigious but it was where I saw myself in the future given my long term goals.

1.5 years analyst in Small Cap US Caribbean Private Equity Firm ($125 AUM) (The firm has been investing for over 20 years; very reputable in the region top quartile performance)
Good experience and will have excellent recommendation from the head partner, job function has evolved in to a more senior role. I have a lot of responsibilities and have had opportunities to lead (manage) projects and deals on my own; I will also be supervising some more junior people that are to come in in a couple of months.

Extracurricular activities all on-going:
3 years as Director at my brother's Company's Board just two directors me and my brother
We have weekly Sunday meetings; company is expected to break the $10 million in sales this year
Company has had very strong growth over 35% per year (100% bootstrapped no private capital); recently recognized by the Governor who issued a press conference honoring my brother

7 months as Member of the board/committee of a yearly fundraising wine and food festival for scholarships in my old high school, this past year net income from the festival totaled 65K

All help is greatly appreciated! Thank you for joining WSO, it is very hard for us in the Caribbean to get good solid advice relating to MBA applications.

Best

SL

In reply to pacman007
4/2/12

Hi Kevin,

I posted this earlier. Can you please comment on my chances...

Thanks for doing this.

pacman007:

Hey Graham,

Stats:

Undergrad GPA - 3.3 in Finance from a large state school in Texas.
GMAT - aiming for 700ish
Work Experience - Financial Analyst at a fortune 5 oil company for the past 14 months, On top of my daily responsibilities I led a group of analysts on a year-long project. I am now about to start my second rotation in a BO/MO risk role supporting our NGL traders.

Will have a few EC's under my belt before MBA (United Nations Association member, volunteer at the public school district I was in as a child, member of Toastmasters International)

I want to start my MBA in the Fall of 2014. I will have around 3.5 years of experience by that time (will probably have completed 3 rotations by then).

I think M7 is a long shot but I'm interested in the next tier of schools (Duke, McCombs, Ross, NYU, etc.). I am looking to get into IB/PE after MBA at the associate level.

What schools do you think are realistic and how do you think I can better my application?

Thanks for doing this!

"Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a Champion" - Muhammad Ali

4/2/12

Hi Graham,
I have been working for four years at one of the big players in physical commodity trading (Glencore,Trafigura, etc). I was involved in a Graduate Programme, working in different areas such as Operations, Risk Analysis and Deals Desk.
Do you think that my experience in this field makes me a viable candidate for an MBA in an Ivy League university?
I am asking this questions because there are few people in this field with an MBA degree.
Thanks !

In reply to Amphipathic
4/2/12

Hello Kevin,
Could you please tell me what you think of my chances (profile below)
Thanks!

Amphipathic:

Hi Graham,
How much work experience do you suggest a PhD in biology from a target school w/CFA L1 should get before applying? Is one year sufficient? I don't know if the graduate degree cuts you some slack in that area. Do grad schools like science PhDs (for diversity reasons or whatever)?
Thanks!

In reply to hockey1316
4/2/12

Kevin, posted earlier...tell me what you think

jwalsh16:

Hey Graham quick question on my chances for a M7 (esp Harvard, Booth, Sloan, and Tuck)

Stats:

3.86 GPA from U of Maryland
Current Position: M&A Advisory PWC
GMAT: 730

Extras - Former CEO of fairly successful start-up and Founder of non-profit focusing on education and serve on Exec Board of other Non-profit

4/2/12

Hi Kevin

I posted earlier as well:

I am 2.1 Master's Degree holder (Financial Economics) (Valedictorian) from South Africa/Nigeria (Dual-citizen) (+2 Bachelors degrees), with a CFA, 720 GMAT, 3.5 GPA equivalent and 5 years IB experience at global firms with International experience, speak 4 languages and entrepreneurial experience with solid extracurriculars.

I'm keen on European schools such as IE, INSEAD, Said, Judge and LBS and perhaps Columbia.

Which one is a good "fit" for me?

I wonder which ones are generous on scholarships for Africans?
Not sure if the extra year and USD 80,000 is worth spending at Columbia.
If they are more keen on sponsoring Africans than European schools I might consider applying in the US.

So I think my strong points are

- Solid Education: 2 Bachelors degrees (Actuarial Sci & Investment Management)+ Masters( financial economics)

- Entrepreneurial: Started a business tutoring MBA candidates's (at an South African business school) statistics, financial maths, accounting, economics, etc..

- Philanthropic: I'm a volunteer maths teacher at a school in an underprivileged neighbourhood and I provide free financial services to small businesses

- Travelled: I've worked on deals and lived in over 10 African countries

- Adaptive : Speak 4 languages

- Ostende Mihi Pecuniam -

4/2/12

I wish the monkey formerly known as Brady for Most Valuable Player were here for this. Pouring out a splash of my banana hooch for the fallen homie.

In reply to suchislife
4/2/12
suchislife:

Kevin,

Thanks for taking the time, could you please help me out with my profile eval see below, thanks!!

suchislife:

Hi Graham,

First of all thanks for taking the time. I'm planning on applying to B school for fall 2013. Below are my summary stats. I'm planning to apply to (HBS/Columbia/Wharton/Stanford) would appreciate if you could tell me my chances on getting in as well as other schools where I might be a good fit. Your help is much appreciated.
I am a Puerto Rican male bilingual (Spanish)

Academic:
Middle Tier Boston Business Undergrad (Think BU/BC/Bentey/Babson) GPA: 3.2 Finance GPA: 3.8 (had very strong upward trend after initial issues)
Co-founder and treasurer of Puerto Rican Student Association in college
Passed all CFA exam levels (I,II, & III) in a row by the age of 23
GMAT will take next month: I expect 690-740

Work experience (US Caribbean):
1.5 years as Special Assistant to Government Pension Fund Administrator and Chief Investment Officer While it was undergoing restructuring efforts and merging the administration with other local pension plans. (When I left I was offered the position of Director of the investments division (i.e. Deputy Administrator) but turned it down in order to be an analyst in a Private Equity Firm a job that was not as prestigious but it was where I saw myself in the future given my long term goals.

1.5 years analyst in Small Cap US Caribbean Private Equity Firm ($125 AUM) (The firm has been investing for over 20 years; very reputable in the region top quartile performance)
Good experience and will have excellent recommendation from the head partner, job function has evolved in to a more senior role. I have a lot of responsibilities and have had opportunities to lead (manage) projects and deals on my own; I will also be supervising some more junior people that are to come in in a couple of months.

Extracurricular activities all on-going:
3 years as Director at my brother's Company's Board just two directors me and my brother
We have weekly Sunday meetings; company is expected to break the $10 million in sales this year
Company has had very strong growth over 35% per year (100% bootstrapped no private capital); recently recognized by the Governor who issued a press conference honoring my brother

7 months as Member of the board/committee of a yearly fundraising wine and food festival for scholarships in my old high school, this past year net income from the festival totaled 65K

All help is greatly appreciated! Thank you for joining WSO, it is very hard for us in the Caribbean to get good solid advice relating to MBA applications.

Best

SL

Hi SL, thanks for your inquiry. As long as you get a competitive GMAT score, the only thing that would be a red flag on your profile is your overall GPA. But, this is mitigated by your upward trajectory and your strong finance GPA. Although many schools do ask you to list your GPA by year and therefore the upward trajectory should be clear, I would still suggest that you point this out explicitly in the optional essay or additional information section of each application, especially if there were understandable issues early in your college career that caused your mediocre academic start.

While your professional record is strong overall, keep in mind that many top schools are veering away from the "pure finance" applicants, and instead prefer finance applicants who can demonstrate that they have impacted their companies and/or clients/portfolio companies in more strategic ways beyond just finance (e.g., a private equity professional who has been involved in the operations of a portfolio company). So, make sure you demonstrate this kind of accomplishments if you have any.

Of the schools you listed, your best chances would be Columbia in early decision, as Columbia likes to accept a large number of applicants in the early decision round to improve their yield. However, Columbia also tends to favor early decision applicants with above-average GMAT scores, so whether you score in the lower or upper end of your expected GMAT range definitely would impact the strength of your profile. The next school on your list would be Wharton, followed by Stanford and HBS being the hardest ones. Given your strong finance background, other schools you may want to consider include Chicago and NYU.

Hope this helps! Feel free to contact us at [email protected] for a more in depth analysis of your profile.

Best,
Kevin

In reply to hockey1316
4/2/12
jwalsh16:

Kevin, posted earlier...tell me what you think

jwalsh16:

Hey Graham quick question on my chances for a M7 (esp Harvard, Booth, Sloan, and Tuck)

Stats:

3.86 GPA from U of Maryland
Current Position: M&A Advisory PWC
GMAT: 730

Extras - Former CEO of fairly successful start-up and Founder of non-profit focusing on education and serve on Exec Board of other Non-profit

Hi Jwalsh, thanks for your inquiry. You certainly have the raw numbers and a distinctive non-professional profile that would make you competitive at top schools. But of course not all M7 schools are equally hard or easy to get into - for most applicants, HBS and Sloan are tougher to get into than Booth and Tuck. Whether or not you are ultimately successful will depend on how you position stories and "market" your background. For example, can you be more specific about how "fairly successful" your start-up was? What were some quantifiable impacts that your non-profit has achieved? How do these partipications and your M&A job relate to your future goals? You don't necessarily have to tie all your major experiences into one neat package that tells a singular story, but it can be effective if done credibly.

Lastly, while your GMAT is strong, it is not strong enough to distinguish you from other accomplished applicants to the very top schools. In other words, your GMAT is strong enough to be a non-factor in your application, but it's not strong enough to be a positive factor. Is 730 the best you can do, or have you left some points on the table? If it's realistically close to the best you can do, then I do not suggest focusing more on the test, and you should move on to strenghten your profile in other ways. However, if you feel that you have left points on the table (e.g., that a 750+ is a possibility), given that we are still months away from the R1 deadlines, you may want to consider giving the GMAT another shot. When someone scores a 750+, schools start to look for excuses to admit that person :) It does make a difference on the margin.

Hope this helps! Good luck!

Best,
Kevin

In reply to Amphipathic
4/3/12
Amphipathic:

Hello Kevin,
Could you please tell me what you think of my chances (profile below)
Thanks!

Amphipathic:

Hi Graham,
How much work experience do you suggest a PhD in biology from a target school w/CFA L1 should get before applying? Is one year sufficient? I don't know if the graduate degree cuts you some slack in that area. Do grad schools like science PhDs (for diversity reasons or whatever)?
Thanks!

Hi Amphipathic, thanks for your inquiry. Unfortunately, MBA adcoms will not "cut you some slack" in terms of work experience just because you have a PhD. An MBA is a professional degree meant for the working world, not a scholarly pursuit meant purely for academia (it would be a different story if you were pursuing, say, a PhD from a business school). So, at the end of the day, an MBA adcom wants to evaluate your potential for professional success outside academia. Of course if, like some PhD students, you have been doing some really amazing professional things either as part of or in addition to your PhD work, the adcoms will weigh these things in your favor, especially if these things show that you have succeeded and will continue to succeed in the non-academic realm. So, having a science PhD and relevant experiences could help with the diversity card, but it only will help if you can show how the PhD experience is relevant to your business school studies.

Hope this helps. Feel free to send your resume to [email protected] for a more detailed evaluation of your profile. Good luck!

Best,
Kevin

In reply to PanAfricanBanker
4/3/12
PanAfricanBanker:

Hi Kevin

I posted earlier as well:

I am 2.1 Master's Degree holder (Financial Economics) (Valedictorian) from South Africa/Nigeria (Dual-citizen) (+2 Bachelors degrees), with a CFA, 720 GMAT, 3.5 GPA equivalent and 5 years IB experience at global firms with International experience, speak 4 languages and entrepreneurial experience with solid extracurriculars.

I'm keen on European schools such as IE, INSEAD, Said, Judge and LBS and perhaps Columbia.

Which one is a good "fit" for me?

I wonder which ones are generous on scholarships for Africans?
Not sure if the extra year and USD 80,000 is worth spending at Columbia.
If they are more keen on sponsoring Africans than European schools I might consider applying in the US.

So I think my strong points are

- Solid Education: 2 Bachelors degrees (Actuarial Sci & Investment Management)+ Masters( financial economics)

- Entrepreneurial: Started a business tutoring MBA candidates's (at an South African business school) statistics, financial maths, accounting, economics, etc..

- Philanthropic: I'm a volunteer maths teacher at a school in an underprivileged neighbourhood and I provide free financial services to small businesses

- Travelled: I've worked on deals and lived in over 10 African countries

- Adaptive : Speak 4 languages

Hi PanAfricanBanker, thanks for your inquiry. It is difficult for me to suggest which schools are a good "fit" for you without knowing more about your personal and professional goals for getting an MBA. On the other hand, being an African applicant certainly will work to your advantage in applying to any of the target schools on your list, as African students are severely under-represented in virtually all MBA programs, and MBA adcoms are especially attracted to your background as an African applicant with strong stats, rigorous work experiences and wide international exposure. In terms of Columbia, if you prefer a shorter MBA, you may want to consider their January program, which allows you to start school in January 2013 and get your degree by Fall 2014 (same end date as one-year European programs that begin in Fall 2013).

Hope this helps! Feel free to send your resume to [email protected] for a more detailed evaluation of your profile.

Best,
Kevin

In reply to kchen95
4/3/12

Kevin,

Thank you very much for the help, I will definitely try to highlight my operational experience as well as try to score the highest I can on the gmat. Thanks for the suggestions, I will look into Booth and stern as possible targets.

Thank you once again!

SL

kchen95:
suchislife:

Kevin,

Thanks for taking the time, could you please help me out with my profile eval see below, thanks!!

suchislife:

Hi Graham,

First of all thanks for taking the time. I'm planning on applying to B school for fall 2013. Below are my summary stats. I'm planning to apply to (HBS/Columbia/Wharton/Stanford) would appreciate if you could tell me my chances on getting in as well as other schools where I might be a good fit. Your help is much appreciated.
I am a Puerto Rican male bilingual (Spanish)

Academic:
Middle Tier Boston Business Undergrad (Think BU/BC/Bentey/Babson) GPA: 3.2 Finance GPA: 3.8 (had very strong upward trend after initial issues)
Co-founder and treasurer of Puerto Rican Student Association in college
Passed all CFA exam levels (I,II, & III) in a row by the age of 23
GMAT will take next month: I expect 690-740

Work experience (US Caribbean):
1.5 years as Special Assistant to Government Pension Fund Administrator and Chief Investment Officer While it was undergoing restructuring efforts and merging the administration with other local pension plans. (When I left I was offered the position of Director of the investments division (i.e. Deputy Administrator) but turned it down in order to be an analyst in a Private Equity Firm a job that was not as prestigious but it was where I saw myself in the future given my long term goals.

1.5 years analyst in Small Cap US Caribbean Private Equity Firm ($125 AUM) (The firm has been investing for over 20 years; very reputable in the region top quartile performance)
Good experience and will have excellent recommendation from the head partner, job function has evolved in to a more senior role. I have a lot of responsibilities and have had opportunities to lead (manage) projects and deals on my own; I will also be supervising some more junior people that are to come in in a couple of months.

Extracurricular activities all on-going:
3 years as Director at my brother's Company's Board just two directors me and my brother
We have weekly Sunday meetings; company is expected to break the $10 million in sales this year
Company has had very strong growth over 35% per year (100% bootstrapped no private capital); recently recognized by the Governor who issued a press conference honoring my brother

7 months as Member of the board/committee of a yearly fundraising wine and food festival for scholarships in my old high school, this past year net income from the festival totaled 65K

All help is greatly appreciated! Thank you for joining WSO, it is very hard for us in the Caribbean to get good solid advice relating to MBA applications.

Best

SL

Hi SL, thanks for your inquiry. As long as you get a competitive GMAT score, the only thing that would be a red flag on your profile is your overall GPA. But, this is mitigated by your upward trajectory and your strong finance GPA. Although many schools do ask you to list your GPA by year and therefore the upward trajectory should be clear, I would still suggest that you point this out explicitly in the optional essay or additional information section of each application, especially if there were understandable issues early in your college career that caused your mediocre academic start.

While your professional record is strong overall, keep in mind that many top schools are veering away from the "pure finance" applicants, and instead prefer finance applicants who can demonstrate that they have impacted their companies and/or clients/portfolio companies in more strategic ways beyond just finance (e.g., a private equity professional who has been involved in the operations of a portfolio company). So, make sure you demonstrate this kind of accomplishments if you have any.

Of the schools you listed, your best chances would be Columbia in early decision, as Columbia likes to accept a large number of applicants in the early decision round to improve their yield. However, Columbia also tends to favor early decision applicants with above-average GMAT scores, so whether you score in the lower or upper end of your expected GMAT range definitely would impact the strength of your profile. The next school on your list would be Wharton, followed by Stanford and HBS being the hardest ones. Given your strong finance background, other schools you may want to consider include Chicago and NYU.

Hope this helps! Feel free to contact us at [email protected] for a more in depth analysis of your profile.

Best,
Kevin

4/3/12

Kevin,

By the time of my application, I will have had 1.5 years of M&A experience at a solid middle-market firm, as well as 3 years of M&A and PE experience at a boutique with a fund. I received a 3.5 GPA in finance from a top 50 undergraduate school and have a 680 GMAT. I took the GMAT without any prep and am confident that I could score in the 720-740 range. Will I be competitive at Tuck/Sloan/Yale SOM with my current profile? If I were to score higher on the GMAT would that make me a competitive candidate?

Thanks

In reply to craigmcdermott
4/3/12
craigmcdermott:

I took the GMAT without any prep

680 without any prep? I'm impressed. Well done man!

In reply to craigmcdermott
4/3/12
craigmcdermott:

Kevin,

By the time of my application, I will have had 1.5 years of M&A experience at a solid middle-market firm, as well as 3 years of M&A and PE experience at a boutique with a fund. I received a 3.5 GPA in finance from a top 50 undergraduate school and have a 680 GMAT. I took the GMAT without any prep and am confident that I could score in the 720-740 range. Will I be competitive at Tuck/Sloan/Yale SOM with my current profile? If I were to score higher on the GMAT would that make me a competitive candidate?

Thanks

Hi Craig, thanks for your inquiry. Your overall profile should make you a competitive candidate at your target schools, although Sloan will be harder to get into than Tuck and Yale. On the other hand, your numbers (GPA and GMAT) are not high enough for schools to start looking for reasons to admit you - and your 680 GMAT actually will be a slight negative factor, though certaily not a deal breaker. Top MBA programs tend to treat a GMAT in the low 700s as a neutral factor - namely, that score is neither a plus nor a minus, and the adcom simply moves on to evauate the rest of the applicant's profile without any pre-determined preference for rejecting or admitting the applicant. A GMAT in the high 600s tends to be a slight negative factor; the adcoms will still give the applicant a fair look, but the applicant will need to deliver something more special in the application to warrant admission. A GMAT in the mid to high 700s, on the other hand, will incentivize the adcoms to start giving the applicant a special look and inteprete the rest of his/her profile with a more positive slant. These thresholds vary somewhat depending on the applicant's demographic group, but the general concept applies. So, if you got a 680 without any preparation, I definitely would suggest that you do some prep work and see if you can move your GMAT from a slight negative to a neutral or even positive factor.

Hope this helps! Feel free to contact us at [email protected] for a more detailed assessment of your profile.

Best,
Kevin

In reply to Macro1
4/3/12
Macro1:

Hi Graham - thanks for joining.

Some background info:

- CPA at BB PE's arm (here about 2 years, 3 1/2 years total work experience, no big 4)
- 3.6 double major in Finance and Accounting from CUNY
- some volunteer work
- have yet to take GMAT
- kinda all over the place in terms of what I would like to do post MBA, I'm interested in ER but also MM PE because of my current job

All that said, do I have any chance at NYU or Columbia? If not, would you recommend Rutgers or Pace, or NYU part-time?

Thanks

4/4/12

Hello Macro1,

At a base level you do have a chance at NYU and/or CBS. Given that you have ample time before the NYU R1 deadline and CBS ED deadline you have time to improve your profile. The GMAT will be of particular importance, in part because CBS tends to be quite focused on this number and because, despite your strong GPA, the adcom will likely not view CUNY as competitively as the programs from which other applicants will have received their education.

At this stage in the process it is certainly okay to be considering both ER and MM PE. However, a successful application to this programs will require you to present a well-defined interest and path so I suggest conducting informational interviews this spring to begin to narrow down your interests.

I am glad to hear you've taken on some volunteer work. I recommend ensuring you are using this time to lead an effort, not simply volunteer your time.

With that in mind, it is always wise to apply to a few schools that both excite you and are reasonable targets.

Best of luck!
Graham

In reply to RE Capital Markets
4/4/12
RE Capital Markets:

Just curious, I don't have an application question in particular and I don't plan on applying -

How do the MBA applicants of today compare with the applicants from 10 years ago? Specifically, what was the avg GPA/GMAT back then versus today? How about work exp? I am sure there is difference since MBA admissions seem to get more competitive over time, but I want to hear your perspective.

Also, have the criteria for admissions evolved as well? Do adcoms look for a different type of class profile then they did 10 years ago?

No need to get too specific and don't feel obligated to answer. Like I said, I am just curious. Thanks.

Accepted.com
4/4/12

Hello RE Capital Markets,

We have seen changes over the last decade. To begin with the average GMAT has risen. At top schools 10 years ago the average GMAT was moving just above 700; today, it is often a solid 20-30 points higher. We've also seen an increase in the number of women attending and the average matriculating student is more likely to have had some international work experience.

Best,
Graham

In reply to bryan521
4/4/12
bryan521:

Graham,

Thanks for taking the tme.

BA Economics - Top 25 USA School- 3.4
MSC Finance - UK Based Top 5 school

2 years at a bank, (founded and sold startup on the side)
1 year equity research
2 years in current venture captial role

What is the min GMAT for M7?

4/4/12

Hello Bryan,

Overall, your background seems quite sound. With that in mind, I wouldn't want you to apply with less than a 730. Of course, the answer depends upon how solidly above the average you'd like to be. Given that time is still on your side, and the outcome of the GMAT is still within your control, aiming higher would put you more solidly above the average. Of course, a number of other factors will impact the outcome, ranging from the significance of your accomplishments at work to the magnitude of your start-up success.

Keep in mind that the GMAT will have the new Integrated Reasoning section beginning June 5th so you'll want to plan your GMAT studies accordingly.

Best,
Graham

In reply to KennyPowers
4/4/12
KennyPowers:

Graham,

Thanks for thoughts.

Had a question on how a masters in finance taken right after undergrad affects a profile.
Is this viewed as a positive or negative? Would there be more emphasis placed on undergrad grades or MSF grades separate schools?

Also - GMAT 700 GPA 3.6 - worth taking the GMAT again?

Thanks.

4/4/12

Hello KennyPowers,

Unless you performed poorly, the MSF won't be viewed as a negative. Though, you will have to articulate why you need a 2nd graduate education. Keep in mind that the adcom will expect you to have performed better in for graduate program than in your undergraduate program given that your pursuit of this education was ostensible in keeping with a keen interest.

Assuming you have reason to believe you can score at least a 720, and that you're aiming for a top school, I do suggest retaking the GMAT.

If there are other factors you feel would influence your candidacy, I suggest you reach out to us for a more nuanced view of strong next steps by sending your resume to [email protected].

Best,
Graham

4/4/12

Graham or Kevin,

I have a math/econ double from a top public (UVA/Berkeley/Michigan) with a 3.6 GPA with a Ph.D. in a hard science from HYP. GREs are 770Q/700A/730V. About two years work experience as a postdoc, one in research, two in a consulting shop (Deloitte/Accenture/Booz) with heavy government focus. Distinguishers: I have published about 20 scientific papers, have led successful pitches for about $85MM worth of government contracts for my clients, top bucket in consulting, and invented a new model for fraud detection.

Problem is that I left the consulting gig on not ideal terms (started a new client who loved my work but three months in I left for a much higher paying position; I don't think my ex-employer was happy). I can probably get another manager to write me a rec from that gig, but i am considering leaving it out.

My odds and my strategy?

Thanks.

In reply to fermion
4/4/12
fermion:

Graham or Kevin,

I have a math/econ double from a top public (UVA/Berkeley/Michigan) with a 3.6 GPA with a Ph.D. in a hard science from HYP. GREs are 770Q/700A/730V. About two years work experience as a postdoc, one in research, two in a consulting shop (Deloitte/Accenture/Booz) with heavy government focus. Distinguishers: I have published about 20 scientific papers, have led successful pitches for about $85MM worth of government contracts for my clients, top bucket in consulting, and invented a new model for fraud detection.

Problem is that I left the consulting gig on not ideal terms (started a new client who loved my work but three months in I left for a much higher paying position; I don't think my ex-employer was happy). I can probably get another manager to write me a rec from that gig, but i am considering leaving it out.

My odds and my strategy?

Thanks.

Hi fermion, thanks for your inquiry. When you say your "odds", what are your target schools? You are well qualified for any top MBA academically and intellectually, but keep in mind that MBA adcoms are more interested in your professional rather than your academic accomplishments. This means you will get more mileage out of the government contracts you secured for clients than your paper publishing.

Also, what is the new position for which you left consulting? As that position presumably is your current/most recent job, the adcoms will be most interested in your level of success at that position, especially if you left a well-known consulting firm to take up that position. In terms of recommendation letters, it would be ideal if you could get letters from your current direct supervisor as well as from a former manager at your consulting firm. Some adcoms may not believe you if you claim that you can't get a letter from, say, Deloitte, because you left that firm on bad terms given you left in the middle of an engagement. The assumption is that well-known consulting firms like Deloitte are very used to their consultants leaving at any time for another job, and therefore these firms don't typically hold a grudge against someone who left unless that person was a poor performer to begin with.

Lastly, while your GRE score is strong, most adcoms still have a slight preference for the GMAT because it is easier for them to benchmark your GMAT score. So, if you are a naturally good test-taker and can spare the time, you may want to consider giving the GMAT a shot.

Hope this helps! Feel free to send your resume to [email protected] for a more detailed evaluation of your profile.

Best,
Kevin

In reply to anonymouse393
4/4/12

Hi Graham or Kevin, thanks for taking the time to do this. Would love an answer to this question:

anonymouse393:

Hi Graham,

I was wondering how political experience is typically viewed by B-School admissions. I am going to work for a MBB consulting firm starting in January, but plan to work for an election campaign from May-November (Democratic, if it matters). My questions are:
1. Will this be viewed favorably by an admissions committee, or seen as a random add-on/EC?
2. What sort of experiences should I seek out for maximum impact? I assume that leadership experience is a must, but would (say) a role in overall campaign strategy be viewed more favorably than field organizing?

Stats: Semi-target liberal arts school, 3.9 GPA with quantitative double major, expect ~740 on GMAT

Thanks!

In reply to ChEM3
4/4/12

Hi Kevin, posted earlier and wondered if you'd give me your thoughts.

Thanks!

ChEM3:

Hi Graham, really appreciate you taking the time to do this.

Shooting for M7 schools.

Undergrad GPA: 3.28 overall 3.6 upper level. B.S. Chemical Engineering top 15 engineering school

GMAT: 690 first time, going to retake to boost quant (aiming for 720+)

Extracurriculars: VP of student AIChE chapter, founding Treasurer of Entrepreneurship Society. Member of industry professional associations post graduation but no leadership positions yet (hard when you're offshore half the month)

Work Experience: Internships in chemical process engineering and refining. Currently working as a deepwater drilling engineer in the GoM responsible for coordination of operations on the rig. Will have 3-4 years at matriculation.

I plan on applying in about 2.5-3 years (age 25-26)
I realize that my essays and letters of recommendation will be very important, any other tips to improve my chances?

Thanks.

Rise early, work hard, strike oil.

In reply to atleastimnotabanker
4/4/12
atleastimnotabanker:

Hi Graham,

thanks for taking the time.

What do you think are my chances of getting into HBS or GSB? These are the only two bschools where I think that the time spent would be more beneficial for my career than to keep working.

Stats:
Age: 25
BSc and MSc at two very well known European universities.
GPA in the top 10-20% area
GMAT 740-760 (haven't taken it yet but test GMAT scores were 750 and 770)
Work exp. at the time of my application: 2 years at a highly known strategy consultancy but not MBB
Extra curricular: Nothing since I started working, lots of sports in high school (national team level, smaller things during university - tutoring, active in university societies,...)
Lots of international experience in Europe, Asia and the US (university exchange, internships,...)

Does it help that my employer would pay for the MBA if I promise commit myself to keep working there afterwards for at least two years?

4/4/12

Hello atleastimnotabanker,

Based on the background you've shared, including your expected GPA, it appears reasonable that you would apply to HBS and GSB. While I can't convince you of the value of other programs, I do think limiting yourself to these two schools would be a risky venture.

1) Your GPA appears strong, but not stellar by comparison. Note that you're talking about applying to schools where the top of the top are admitted, and you're stated GPA doesn't fall in this range.

2) I am also concerned about your extra-curriculars as you've labeled them. As you've pointed out, you have not involved yourself in any activity other than work since you graduated but it also seems as if the activities you were involved in lacked depth. You've been broadly involved with little to no leadership in any of them.

Your recommendations will play an important role in your candidacy since these adcoms will expect you to be performing at the top of your consulting class. In this regard, I'd expect your company's willingness to fund your education will contribute positively to the strength of your recommendations.

Feel free to email us at [email protected] if you'd like to discuss the specifics of your candidacy with one of our admissions advisors.

Best,
Graham

In reply to pacman007
4/4/12
pacman007:

Hey Graham,

Stats:

Undergrad GPA - 3.3 in Finance from a large state school in Texas.
GMAT - aiming for 700ish
Work Experience - Financial Analyst at a fortune 5 oil company for the past 14 months, On top of my daily responsibilities I led a group of analysts on a year-long project. I am now about to start my second rotation in a BO/MO risk role supporting our NGL traders.

Will have a few EC's under my belt before MBA (United Nations Association member, volunteer at the public school district I was in as a child, member of Toastmasters International)

I want to start my MBA in the Fall of 2014. I will have around 3.5 years of experience by that time (will probably have completed 3 rotations by then).

I think M7 is a long shot but I'm interested in the next tier of schools (Duke, McCombs, Ross, NYU, etc.). I am looking to get into IB/PE after MBA at the associate level.

What schools do you think are realistic and how do you think I can better my application?

Thanks for doing this!

Kevin or Graham, what is your opinion on this profile?

Thanks.

"Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a Champion" - Muhammad Ali

In reply to wsj
4/4/12
wsj:

Hi Graham,

Was wondering on what your thoughts are on a trader applying to a top MBA program (H/S/W)? Does the admission committee deem traders unfavorable? Lastly, from your experience do many traders apply to MBA programs?

Thanks

4/4/12

Hello wsj,

The adcoms at H/W/S don't inherently hold biases against traders! In fact, I know some traders who are attending these very schools right now. While it is not the case that "many" traders apply to business school, I find that those that do are typically looking to make a career change.

I've also found that one of the difficulties traders face in the admissions process is that their work doesn't always afford them opportunities to highlight leadership or management skills. So given that it's still early, assuming you plan to apply next year, consider how you can demonstrate these skills outside of work.

Best,
Graham

In reply to mettawp
4/4/12
mettawp:

Graham,

Thanks for taking the time to answer questions.

Would an extremely strong GMAT make up for a weak GPA? If so - how strong of a GMAT would be needed to cancel out a 2.8 GPA? Assuming slightly over 2 years of finance work experience and a few years of volunteer work.

4/4/12

Hello mettawp,

While the adcom will review your GMAT and GPA together, as part of the review of your academic record, the GMAT won't "make up" 100% for a weak GPA. After all, the GMAT represents your performance over just a few hours while your GPA represents your performance over many years. That said, a strong GMAT coupled with other strengths in your application will enable the adcom to value what you do bring to the table which, in their entirety, can help the adcom look past a weak GPA.

If you want to discuss the specifics of your candidacy, such as just how "weak" your GPA actually is, or the particular subject areas in which your record is of concern, please feel free to email your resume to [email protected]. Don't forget to mention WSO!

Best,
Graham

In reply to pacman007
4/4/12
pacman007:

Hey Graham,

Stats:

Undergrad GPA - 3.3 in Finance from a large state school in Texas.
GMAT - aiming for 700ish
Work Experience - Financial Analyst at a fortune 5 oil company for the past 14 months, On top of my daily responsibilities I led a group of analysts on a year-long project. I am now about to start my second rotation in a BO/MO risk role supporting our NGL traders.

Will have a few EC's under my belt before MBA (United Nations Association member, volunteer at the public school district I was in as a child, member of Toastmasters International)

I want to start my MBA in the Fall of 2014. I will have around 3.5 years of experience by that time (will probably have completed 3 rotations by then).

I think M7 is a long shot but I'm interested in the next tier of schools (Duke, McCombs, Ross, NYU, etc.). I am looking to get into IB/PE after MBA at the associate level.

What schools do you think are realistic and how do you think I can better my application?

Thanks for doing this!

In reply to pacman007
4/4/12
pacman007:
pacman007:

Hey Graham,

Stats:

Undergrad GPA - 3.3 in Finance from a large state school in Texas.
GMAT - aiming for 700ish
Work Experience - Financial Analyst at a fortune 5 oil company for the past 14 months, On top of my daily responsibilities I led a group of analysts on a year-long project. I am now about to start my second rotation in a BO/MO risk role supporting our NGL traders.

Will have a few EC's under my belt before MBA (United Nations Association member, volunteer at the public school district I was in as a child, member of Toastmasters International)

I want to start my MBA in the Fall of 2014. I will have around 3.5 years of experience by that time (will probably have completed 3 rotations by then).

I think M7 is a long shot but I'm interested in the next tier of schools (Duke, McCombs, Ross, NYU, etc.). I am looking to get into IB/PE after MBA at the associate level.

What schools do you think are realistic and how do you think I can better my application?

Thanks for doing this!

Kevin or Graham, what is your opinion on this profile?

Thanks.

4/4/12

Hello pacman007

Your extra-curriculars sound intriguing. However, as you pointed out, you're not currently involved in any of these activities and if you maintain that trend through the 3.5 years you expect to work prior to attending school, this will be a weakness in your candidacy. So I would allocate some time to demonstrate your leadership in an activity that you are passionate about and that, hopefully, builds upon one of the activities in which you've previously been involved.

Generally speaking, you seem to be targeting schools in an appropriate "tier" but I suggest you tie your choice more closely to your post-MBA goals. Consider which schools can offer you the blend of academic, career, geographic, etc. criteria that will help you to advance along your chosen professional path. Ross and NYU, for instance offer very different possibilities. If you want to continue to build a career in the energy industry, for instance, you may not find that NY city offers you the best options.

Best,
Graham

In reply to ChEM3
4/4/12

Gonna try this one again, for either Graham or Kevin:

ChEM3:

Hi Kevin, posted earlier and wondered if you'd give me your thoughts.

Thanks!

ChEM3:

Hi Graham, really appreciate you taking the time to do this.

Shooting for M7 schools.

Undergrad GPA: 3.28 overall 3.6 upper level. B.S. Chemical Engineering top 15 engineering school

GMAT: 690 first time, going to retake to boost quant (aiming for 720+)

Extracurriculars: VP of student AIChE chapter, founding Treasurer of Entrepreneurship Society. Member of industry professional associations post graduation but no leadership positions yet (hard when you're offshore half the month)

Work Experience: Internships in chemical process engineering and refining. Currently working as a deepwater drilling engineer in the GoM responsible for coordination of operations on the rig. Will have 3-4 years at matriculation.

I plan on applying in about 2.5-3 years (age 25-26)
I realize that my essays and letters of recommendation will be very important, any other tips to improve my chances?

Thanks.

Rise early, work hard, strike oil.

In reply to ChEM3
4/5/12
ChEM3:

Gonna try this one again, for either Graham or Kevin:

ChEM3:

Hi Kevin, posted earlier and wondered if you'd give me your thoughts.

Thanks!

ChEM3:

Hi Graham, really appreciate you taking the time to do this.

Shooting for M7 schools.

Undergrad GPA: 3.28 overall 3.6 upper level. B.S. Chemical Engineering top 15 engineering school

GMAT: 690 first time, going to retake to boost quant (aiming for 720+)

Extracurriculars: VP of student AIChE chapter, founding Treasurer of Entrepreneurship Society. Member of industry professional associations post graduation but no leadership positions yet (hard when you're offshore half the month)

Work Experience: Internships in chemical process engineering and refining. Currently working as a deepwater drilling engineer in the GoM responsible for coordination of operations on the rig. Will have 3-4 years at matriculation.

I plan on applying in about 2.5-3 years (age 25-26)
I realize that my essays and letters of recommendation will be very important, any other tips to improve my chances?

Thanks.

Hi chEM3, thanks for your inquiry. Considering that you won't be apply until two or three years down the road, your profile is still a work in progress. Aside from getting the highest possible GMAT, you should be focusing the next years on boosting your leadership profile both in your professional and extracurricular capacities. This is especially important for engineering applicants, who often are viewed by adcoms as very smart and analytical but lacking in leadership and managerial accomplishments. So, you should aim to seek out opportunities that would allow you to dispel this negative stereotype (e.g., by demonstrating how you successfully manage teams to work towards a common goal for the benefit of your organization or clients). These leadership accomplishments are especially important for the very top schools such as Stanford and Harvard.

Hope this helps! Good luck!

Best,
Kevin

4/6/12

Kevin or Graham,

As others have already mentioned, thanks again for your time, it is greatly appreciated it.

Graduated with a 3.0 from a UC (University of California, not Cal or UCLA) in Biotechnology
Worked the past 5 years in biotech field (bench work), with two different companies and increasing responsibilities but more or less hit the glass ceiling in my field without a PhD.

Interested equity research (biotech focus) but also open to investments and consulting. Mainly interested in Wharton, Sloan, Columbia, Kellogg, Booth and maybe NYU (currently reside outside the city). In the process of studying GMAT and applying this year. Assuming I have a 700+ GMAT (I know big assumption) how much will my undergrad GPA hurt me? My plan was to apply regardless and hope for the best however if I was not accepted I had a few things I am hoping to boost my application and am curious on your thoughts:

1. Start taking courses through NYU SCPS professional certificate programs. I know it is not degree granting but I am hoping it would show my interest/passion for investment/finances (I was going for the portfolio management certificate)

2. Pass level 1 CFA. I was originally going to take this in June anyways with hopes of using it to break into ER but instead will take it in December. Again I know it is not huge but hoping as a non-traditional/biotech guy it will help distinguish me/show my interest.

3. Try to break into consulting, I've heard it is much easier to go the consulting route and then ER rather then ER first. Also, I am pretty much over my job now so I wouldn't mind the change.

I am hoping I get in on the first round before taking any of the above steps but in case I need to reapply those were my options, what do you think, anything else I should add? To reiterate all of the steps above I was going to take anyways regardless of my admission status but am hoping they would boost my application.

In reply to TOB2020
4/8/12
TOB2020:

Kevin or Graham,

As others have already mentioned, thanks again for your time, it is greatly appreciated it.

Graduated with a 3.0 from a UC (University of California, not Cal or UCLA) in Biotechnology
Worked the past 5 years in biotech field (bench work), with two different companies and increasing responsibilities but more or less hit the glass ceiling in my field without a PhD.

Interested equity research (biotech focus) but also open to investments and consulting. Mainly interested in Wharton, Sloan, Columbia, Kellogg, Booth and maybe NYU (currently reside outside the city). In the process of studying GMAT and applying this year. Assuming I have a 700+ GMAT (I know big assumption) how much will my undergrad GPA hurt me? My plan was to apply regardless and hope for the best however if I was not accepted I had a few things I am hoping to boost my application and am curious on your thoughts:

1. Start taking courses through NYU SCPS professional certificate programs. I know it is not degree granting but I am hoping it would show my interest/passion for investment/finances (I was going for the portfolio management certificate)

2. Pass level 1 CFA. I was originally going to take this in June anyways with hopes of using it to break into ER but instead will take it in December. Again I know it is not huge but hoping as a non-traditional/biotech guy it will help distinguish me/show my interest.

3. Try to break into consulting, I've heard it is much easier to go the consulting route and then ER rather then ER first. Also, I am pretty much over my job now so I wouldn't mind the change.

I am hoping I get in on the first round before taking any of the above steps but in case I need to reapply those were my options, what do you think, anything else I should add? To reiterate all of the steps above I was going to take anyways regardless of my admission status but am hoping they would boost my application.

Hi TOB2020, thanks for your inquiry. Adcoms at top schools generally draw a mental dividing line for GPA around 3.0, so while your GPA is less than ideal, it is not a deal-breaker. It does, however, mean that you should try to score above average on the GMAT to compensate, as adcoms tend to consider the GPA and GMAT in conjunction - if one is below average, they like to see the other above average.

As for the steps you're considering, taking additional classes would help to mitigate the low GPA if you do well. In terms of CFA, as Graham may have mentioned in an earlier response, adcoms generally consider the CFA a professional designation, not an academic accomplishment. As for getting a job in consulting or ER, it would strenghten your profile because adcoms prefer applicants who already have made substantial progress in their post-MBA industries of choice. On the other hand, if you do get a new job, keep in mind that adcoms also like to see applicants stay at a new job, especially one in a totally new industry, for at least two years before leaving for b-school, so this may further delay your MBA plans.

Hope this helps. Good luck!

Best,
Kevin

In reply to anonymouse393
4/8/12

Going to try this one last time... again, thanks for your insight.

anonymouse393:

Hi Graham or Kevin, thanks for taking the time to do this. Would love an answer to this question:

anonymouse393:

Hi Graham,

I was wondering how political experience is typically viewed by B-School admissions. I am going to work for a MBB consulting firm starting in January, but plan to work for an election campaign from May-November (Democratic, if it matters). My questions are:
1. Will this be viewed favorably by an admissions committee, or seen as a random add-on/EC?
2. What sort of experiences should I seek out for maximum impact? I assume that leadership experience is a must, but would (say) a role in overall campaign strategy be viewed more favorably than field organizing?

Stats: Semi-target liberal arts school, 3.9 GPA with quantitative double major, expect ~740 on GMAT

Thanks!

In reply to anonymouse393
4/10/12
anonymouse393:

Going to try this one last time... again, thanks for your insight.

anonymouse393:

Hi Graham or Kevin, thanks for taking the time to do this. Would love an answer to this question:

anonymouse393:

Hi Graham,

I was wondering how political experience is typically viewed by B-School admissions. I am going to work for a MBB consulting firm starting in January, but plan to work for an election campaign from May-November (Democratic, if it matters). My questions are:
1. Will this be viewed favorably by an admissions committee, or seen as a random add-on/EC?
2. What sort of experiences should I seek out for maximum impact? I assume that leadership experience is a must, but would (say) a role in overall campaign strategy be viewed more favorably than field organizing?

Stats: Semi-target liberal arts school, 3.9 GPA with quantitative double major, expect ~740 on GMAT

Thanks!

4/10/12

Hello Anonymouse393,

An admissions officer won't inherently find political experience favorable or unfavorable; their view of your experience will depend upon the broader context surrounding the experience. If, for instance, your political experience ends up as one of four or five random jobs you hold before you submit your application it would appear, well, random. If, on the other hand, it is a clear extension of an interest you've demonstrated throughout college or continue to demonstrate, in some fashion, while you're in management consulting, then I'd expect an admissions officer to value it. To take it one step further, in my experience working with clients holding politics experience, if your experience reflects your career ambitions, it will have greater relevancy - so long as you can relate it to the business school experience.

With regards to your second question, I envision an admissions officer valuing work in both campaign strategy and in field organizing. I suggest you pursue whichever role you feel you'd most enjoy as you're more likely to excel and you'd then be more likely to "extract" value for your application. You could also consider choosing to pursue one of these roles based on whichever you're less likely to have exposure to in consulting; the difficulty with this approach is that you may wind up having exposure to both broad strategy and group organizing at a consulting firm.

Best,
Graham

4/11/12

Hey Graham,

Interesting question for you: How important can having a past alum / someone in with the ad com pull some strings for you as H/S/W? Say for an average candidate (3.5 GPA 700 Gmat in finance) who most likely wouldnt get in otherwise? I am sure you have ran into some stories or encounters with this across you b school consulting travels...

Thanks

4/11/12

Going to try posting again...

GMAT: 770 (48V, 49Q)
GPA: 3.8 in Econ from top LAC (think NESCAC)
WE: Currently almost 2 years MBB, top quarter of class, almost all consumer/retail experience
Leadership: Captain of varsity sport in college, led a club and a student govt. committee
Short term: keep going in consulting for a couple years (I'm sponsored)
Long term: Intersection of sports, strategy and consumer/retail...would love to work in a team's front office, but realistically would be very happy with a strategy-type sr. management role at a sports-related consumer or retail company.

I was rejected from H/S and waitlisted at another M7, who basically wanted to know "why now?" since I am on the young side. Am thinking that waiting another year is a good idea, but probably going to re-apply in the fall...what can I do between now and then to get more competitive (other than get a year older)? I'm on track for a promotion this summer and likely going abroad for my next project.

Also thinking about expanding my list a bit to ensure I get in somewhere. Thinking maybe Sloan + either Darden, Tuck, Ross and Yale. Any other ideas (must have a collegial student body and the ability to help me get where I want to be)...thoughts?

Life, liberty and the pursuit of Starwood Points

In reply to Leonidas
4/11/12

What are my chances? And how much more value do you think a HBS degree is going to add, if I already have a HLS degree?

Leonidas:

Hi Graham. Thanks a lot for doing this.

Target: HBS. The JD/MBA program to be specific. I've already been accepted to Harvard Law.

My stats:-
Graduated summa/magna from an Ivy.
GPA/Major: 4.0/Econ.
LSAT: 178
(Expected) GMAT: 770+

WE: 2 years; BB IBD Analyst.
Recs: Was top-bucket, so probably strong.
ECs: Mentor severely under-achieving high school kids. I had a 2.3 GPA in high school, so this ties together quite well with my overall story. However, I do not have ANY other post-college ECs. Had leadership positions in a couple of clubs in college though.

Goal: Land a post-MBA PE position.

Thanks again.

Calling Ron Paul an isolationist is like calling your neighbor a hermit because he doesn't come over to your property and break your windows.

In reply to Dunleavy89
4/12/12
Dunleavy89:

Hey Graham,

Interesting question for you: How important can having a past alum / someone in with the ad com pull some strings for you as H/S/W? Say for an average candidate (3.5 GPA 700 Gmat in finance) who most likely wouldnt get in otherwise? I am sure you have ran into some stories or encounters with this across you b school consulting travels...

Thanks

4/12/12

Hello Dunleavy89,

A business school alum can have a positive impact on an applicant's application but the degree of impact is typically minimal. There are typically more alums than applicants in any one admissions cycle and since most applicants are admitted without knowing an alum, you can imagine the impact is minimal.

The most obvious manner in which an alum can impact your application would be if they were to write one of your recommendations. The value they bring to your application in influencing the outcome is that they are uniquely positioned to reflect on how your strengths would match those of the institution to which you are applying. That said, an alum would only be in a position to do this, of course, if they've worked with you closely. It would be detrimental to your candidacy if you were to choose a recommender primarily on the basis of his/her alum status, yet he/she couldn't write about you with specific knowledge. This would apply, for any applicant, "average" or not.

Best,
Graham

In reply to petergibbons
4/12/12
petergibbons:

Going to try posting again...

GMAT: 770 (48V, 49Q)
GPA: 3.8 in Econ from top LAC (think NESCAC)
WE: Currently almost 2 years MBB, top quarter of class, almost all consumer/retail experience
Leadership: Captain of varsity sport in college, led a club and a student govt. committee
Short term: keep going in consulting for a couple years (I'm sponsored)
Long term: Intersection of sports, strategy and consumer/retail...would love to work in a team's front office, but realistically would be very happy with a strategy-type sr. management role at a sports-related consumer or retail company.

I was rejected from H/S and waitlisted at another M7, who basically wanted to know "why now?" since I am on the young side. Am thinking that waiting another year is a good idea, but probably going to re-apply in the fall...what can I do between now and then to get more competitive (other than get a year older)? I'm on track for a promotion this summer and likely going abroad for my next project.

Also thinking about expanding my list a bit to ensure I get in somewhere. Thinking maybe Sloan + either Darden, Tuck, Ross and Yale. Any other ideas (must have a collegial student body and the ability to help me get where I want to be)...thoughts?

4/12/12

Hello petergibbons,

I think the list of schools you're currently investigating is a strong set of schools. I suggest you expand your research to schools which are team-oriented, given your desire for a collegial student body, such as Kellogg or Duke. Since it is mid-April, you should have ample time to conduct this research and still complete a full set of applications by R1.

As I reflect on the brief information you provided, I certainly hope you know there is nothing inherently wrong with what you bring to the table. A promotion may make your application stronger, but that is typically only the case if your promotion is accompanied by increased responsibility and leadership. I anticipate your likely work abroad will also enable you to build stronger cross-cultural team-based skills, which may reflect well in your essays or recommendations.

I would be reluctant to ascribe your results simply to the fact that you're a young applicant, since others with limited experience do get admitted. For that reason, I suggest you have an experienced eye review the finer details and nuances of your candidacy so that you can raise your level of awareness around what you did - or did not - portray in your applications this past year. These details would also enable you to consider specific approaches you could take to improve your candidacy. Feel free to email [email protected] for a free 1/2 hour consultation; be sure to mention WSO.

Best,
Graham

In reply to Leonidas
4/12/12
Leonidas:

What are my chances? And how much more value do you think a HBS degree is going to add, if I already have a HLS degree?

Leonidas:

Hi Graham. Thanks a lot for doing this.

Target: HBS. The JD/MBA program to be specific. I've already been accepted to Harvard Law.

My stats:-
Graduated summa/magna from an Ivy.
GPA/Major: 4.0/Econ.
LSAT: 178
(Expected) GMAT: 770+

WE: 2 years; BB IBD Analyst.
Recs: Was top-bucket, so probably strong.
ECs: Mentor severely under-achieving high school kids. I had a 2.3 GPA in high school, so this ties together quite well with my overall story. However, I do not have ANY other post-college ECs. Had leadership positions in a couple of clubs in college though.

Goal: Land a post-MBA PE position.

Thanks again.

4/12/12

Hello Leonidas,

Based on what you've written, it makes sense to submit an application. While there's no such thing as "a sure thing," on the basics, you're in the ballpark. Depending upon the questions in next year's application, you may have to address why you chose to attend HLS. I'd anticipate that an MBA would help you in your pursuit of a career in PE, given the skills that PE shops typically seek in their hires. Of course, it depends upon what you hope to be doing in PE. Given that you're at HLS, it makes sense to tap into the alum base to connect with the alums in PE to seek their perspectives. You might also reach out to your contacts from your BB IB work to seek their opinions - especially those of folks who have moved into PE.

Best,
Graham

4/13/12

Thanks Graham...I'm on the WL at Kellogg right now, so that definitely makes sense.

Plan is to re-apply at S and K, and either HBS or Sloan (Boston is really attractive for personal reasons, but not sure HBS is a great fit) and one more school.

Will definitely keep that offer in mind.

Thanks,
Petergibbons

Life, liberty and the pursuit of Starwood Points

In reply to petergibbons
4/16/12
petergibbons:

Thanks Graham...I'm on the WL at Kellogg right now, so that definitely makes sense.

Plan is to re-apply at S and K, and either HBS or Sloan (Boston is really attractive for personal reasons, but not sure HBS is a great fit) and one more school.

Will definitely keep that offer in mind.

Thanks,
Petergibbons

4/16/12

Hello Petergibbons,

Your reapplication ideas sound good; given that you're young, you're still in a position to apply to many hard-to-get -into schools, as opposed to older applicants who may have to take a more "risk-adverse" strategy.

You may find our Waitlist Guide useful for Kellogg: http://clearadmit.shop.studylink.com/product.cfm?p.... Or, one of our admissions advisors can offer you feedback specific to your application so you learn the strengths and weaknesses of your actual Kellogg application.

Best,
Graham

4/26/12

Hi Kevin and Graham, thanks for the responses.

Quick Profile
Age: pushing 30 **very concerned about this**
GMAT: 760(1st attempt), 780 (2nd attempt)
LSAT: low 170s
Under GPA: 3.6 (BigTen, not Umich or Northwestern)
Law School GPA: 3.5 (lower T14)
Current position: associate @ Vault top 50 law firm, Cap Mkts. Group (4years), with international experience
Previous experience: started my own company (mixed results) and operational role in a F500 company
Ethnicity: Asian/Pacific Islander

My goal: I like being an attorney but I desire being a banker more. I find myself wanting to know more about the valuations and structuring the financial economics of a deal. However, my finance experience limited to passing CFA exams I & II and an undergraduate finance degree

My schools and why: NOT HBS, SBS because I am almost positive its shooting for the stars, especially given my age.

- Wharton (stretch)
- Columbia (would consider ED)
- Tuck
- Sloan
- Oxford
- Cambridge

Also what are your thoughts on pursuing an MFin? It seems like that degree is targeted for an even younger age group.

Thanks in advance

MishaSofi

4/29/12

it is true that it is extremely difficult to get into a top MBA program with no work experience. Almost all successful candidates have extensive experience. The average level of work experience ranges from 4-6 years.

In reply to mishasofi
4/30/12

Hi MishaSofi, thanks for your post. Quite frankly, the "pushing 30" part is not going to be a problem for most schools not named Stanford or Harvard. And, even for those two schools, we've seen plenty of applicants get in if they can submit applications that demonstrate impressive accomplishments and maturity.

As an older student, you will need to demonstrate more impressive accomplishments than a younger applicant to be competitive for admissions at top schools; that's the flat-out reality. Furthermore, it would not be a good idea to give the impression that you want to use business school as a career "reset button" to chart a completely new path. Instead, it would be important that you can present your post-MBA plans as something that would allow you to leverage the experiences and skills that you gained pre-MBA. For example, you may want to consider stating that, as an attorney, you've had extensive experience working in corporate finance from the legal side. Now, you want to further your corporate finance career by becoming more involved in the business/strategic side of the industry. You certainly don't need to choose this story if it really isn't what you want to do, but whatever story you do choose, again, make sure it is related to the experience and skill-sets that you already have accumulated.

The fact is, your impressive numbers (especially the GMAT) mean that adcoms will be looking for excuses to admit you; a 780 does not mean the same thing to an adcom as, say, a 740. Even adcoms at the very top schools are attracted to high numbers, regardless of whether or not the reason for the attraction is completely rational. So, now that the adcoms are pre-disposed towards accepting you, your goal is to present your profile so that you come across as a high achiever beyond the GMAT, with definitive future goals.

Hope this helps! Feel free to contact us at [email protected] for a more in-depth analysis of your profile.

Best,
Kevin

mishasofi:

Hi Kevin and Graham, thanks for the responses.

Quick Profile
Age: pushing 30 **very concerned about this**
GMAT: 760(1st attempt), 780 (2nd attempt)
LSAT: low 170s
Under GPA: 3.6 (BigTen, not Umich or Northwestern)
Law School GPA: 3.5 (lower T14)
Current position: associate @ Vault top 50 law firm, Cap Mkts. Group (4years), with international experience
Previous experience: started my own company (mixed results) and operational role in a F500 company
Ethnicity: Asian/Pacific Islander

My goal: I like being an attorney but I desire being a banker more. I find myself wanting to know more about the valuations and structuring the financial economics of a deal. However, my finance experience limited to passing CFA exams I & II and an undergraduate finance degree

My schools and why: NOT HBS, SBS because I am almost positive its shooting for the stars, especially given my age.

- Wharton (stretch)
- Columbia (would consider ED)
- Tuck
- Sloan
- Oxford
- Cambridge

Also what are your thoughts on pursuing an MFin? It seems like that degree is targeted for an even younger age group.

Thanks in advance

MishaSofi

4/30/12

Hi Graham

I am an undergraduate student (3rd year) major in Finance (Top 3 University in China)
GPA:3.6/4 Rank:22/390 Toefl: 106 s24 r29 l 25 w28 GMAT:750
Summer intern experience in Top 4 commercial bank in China
Some E/C but not very impressive
Exchange student to Canada Queen's U for one term

I am quite interested in the 2+2 MBA program In HBS since I really have a strong desire in doing business after graduate...I wonder do you think it is possible for me to be accepted? if not...could you recommand some programs for me? Thanks for your kindness help......

4/30/12

Hey Guys,

GPA: 3.7/4.0 - Double Major Math and Comp Sci at a top 10 public school. Heavy courseload in statistics, operations research, and took a few graduate courses. Excellent programming skills.TAed a few undergrad courses as well.
GMAT: haven't taken yet. No idea what to expect exactly
Published some mathematical research with some mildly-prominent professors. 2 years of varsity athletics. Treasurer of fraternity. Extracurriculars weren't stellar beyond research.

Work: ~1.5 year quantitative research at a premier prop trading firm.
Took the next 8 months off and did some traveling. Nothing highly productive, unfortunately.
Current: VP with top BB IB risk, almost 2 years of experience. Quant-heavy job with much programming.

Recommendations should be excellent. One from a professor I took several classes and did research with. The other 2 from MDs in my group.

Do you think I have a shot for HWS, providing I can get a >720ish GMAT? I'm worried about my short work experience, and kinda dull extracurriculars.

Thanks

In reply to ksdl
5/1/12
ksdl:

Hi Graham

I am an undergraduate student (3rd year) major in Finance (Top 3 University in China)
GPA:3.6/4 Rank:22/390 Toefl: 106 s24 r29 l 25 w28 GMAT:750
Summer intern experience in Top 4 commercial bank in China
Some E/C but not very impressive
Exchange student to Canada Queen's U for one term

I am quite interested in the 2+2 MBA program In HBS since I really have a strong desire in doing business after graduate...I wonder do you think it is possible for me to be accepted? if not...could you recommand some programs for me? Thanks for your kindness help......

5/1/12

Hello Ksdl,

Your academics would put you in range of this program but I'd anticipate that other elements of your candidacy would ultimately be the deciding factor. So, your weak extra curricular activities are worrisome. Of course, if you've demonstrated extreme leadership in your internships, that might help.

Other programs you might consider would be Stanford (thought it would be similarly competitive): http://www.gsb.stanford.edu/mba/admission/college_... and Yale's Silver Scholar's Program: http://mba.yale.edu/MBA/admissions/apply/college_s....

Best,
Graham

In reply to stardog
5/1/12
stardog:

Hey Guys,

GPA: 3.7/4.0 - Double Major Math and Comp Sci at a top 10 public school. Heavy courseload in statistics, operations research, and took a few graduate courses. Excellent programming skills.TAed a few undergrad courses as well.
GMAT: haven't taken yet. No idea what to expect exactly
Published some mathematical research with some mildly-prominent professors. 2 years of varsity athletics. Treasurer of fraternity. Extracurriculars weren't stellar beyond research.

Work: ~1.5 year quantitative research at a premier prop trading firm.
Took the next 8 months off and did some traveling. Nothing highly productive, unfortunately.
Current: VP with top BB IB risk, almost 2 years of experience. Quant-heavy job with much programming.

Recommendations should be excellent. One from a professor I took several classes and did research with. The other 2 from MDs in my group.

Do you think I have a shot for HWS, providing I can get a >720ish GMAT? I'm worried about my short work experience, and kinda dull extracurriculars.

Thanks

5/1/12

Hello Stardog,

Your work experience and (expected) academic record seem strong though I am more concerned about your seemingly limited leadership experience given that your work appears highly programming-oriented. While it might make sense to target a stretch school like HBS, Wharton or Stanford, I do suggest you expand the set of schools to which you will apply.

I'm sure one of our admissions advisors would be happy to discuss the specifics of your candidacy if you email your resume to [email protected] and mention WSO. For instance, there might be more leadership in your candidacy than you are suggesting, through your varsity athletics or fraternity experience. I suggest, too, that you reconsider using a professor as a recommender.

Best,
Graham

5/3/12

Hello Graham et al, thanks for your time.

Age: 33 or 34 upon enrollment
GPA: 3.1 overall, 3.92 last 45 hours (first stab at undergrad was bad, but 10 years ago, 2nd part was about 5)
GMAT: did not take, GRE instead, 710v 800q on old scale, 167V 166 Q on new, equal to 750 GMAT

Experience: teaching for four years, two abroad, two in the US, two additional years working at the marketing dept for a Chinese state owned enterprise in Beijing. I have four years abroad in both S Korea and China, and can speak rudimentary Korea and business Chinese at a rather high level of fluency. Have taught Business English and leadership for four years. Can demonstrate working knowledge of Mandarin and show bi-lingual leadership experience (I'm basically the point man on any document/event involving English and have set up two retreats so far for training)

I think I'm definitely a non-traditional student, and I'm not looking to do investments or consulting, more interested in federal consulting/biz development. . I'm worried that my lack of hard quant experience and circuitious route through undergrad will hurt me. My top three choices are Kellogg, Ross and Darden, with UNC and Texas in the mix too. I think my language experience and timing will help, I didn't start learning Mandarin until 29, and think this will mitigate the "old dog/new tricks" stigma I might get. What do you think of my profile? I plan on taking a Calculus and maybe one other quant class, hoping that my 800Q will allow me to stand out a little bit from most GRE takers. Thanks in advance!

In reply to zilong
5/4/12
zilong:

Hello Graham et al, thanks for your time.

Age: 33 or 34 upon enrollment
GPA: 3.1 overall, 3.92 last 45 hours (first stab at undergrad was bad, but 10 years ago, 2nd part was about 5)
GMAT: did not take, GRE instead, 710v 800q on old scale, 167V 166 Q on new, equal to 750 GMAT

Experience: teaching for four years, two abroad, two in the US, two additional years working at the marketing dept for a Chinese state owned enterprise in Beijing. I have four years abroad in both S Korea and China, and can speak rudimentary Korea and business Chinese at a rather high level of fluency. Have taught Business English and leadership for four years. Can demonstrate working knowledge of Mandarin and show bi-lingual leadership experience (I'm basically the point man on any document/event involving English and have set up two retreats so far for training)

I think I'm definitely a non-traditional student, and I'm not looking to do investments or consulting, more interested in federal consulting/biz development. . I'm worried that my lack of hard quant experience and circuitious route through undergrad will hurt me. My top three choices are Kellogg, Ross and Darden, with UNC and Texas in the mix too. I think my language experience and timing will help, I didn't start learning Mandarin until 29, and think this will mitigate the "old dog/new tricks" stigma I might get. What do you think of my profile? I plan on taking a Calculus and maybe one other quant class, hoping that my 800Q will allow me to stand out a little bit from most GRE takers. Thanks in advance!

Hello Zilong,

You certainly do have an unusual background for a business school applicant. While your 800 will help you I encourage you to take at least 2 quantitative classes, not just the calculus class you're currently enrolled in. And you will want to score top marks in all of these classes to show both your quantitative aptitude and your dedication to academics at this stage in your life. This is particularly important as an older applicant and as one who has a spotty undergrad record.

Articulating a well-reasoned case for your goals will be instrumental to your success, as well as highlighting not just the turning points of your work but your achievements along the way. Let me suggest that you consider Georgetown as well, given your interest in federal consulting, perhaps instead of one of the schools on your list which location-wise won't offer you easy access to DC-based firms. From what you've written it seems that Kellogg would be a stretch, but I don't expect I have all of the details of your candidacy, such as what other activities you're involved in outside of work. Feel free to email our office your resume via [email protected] to set up time to speak with one of our admissions advisors.

Best,
Graham

5/9/12

Clear Admit Publishes Free, Objective Overviews of 27 Leading MBA Programs for Business School Applicants

We are excited to announce the release of the Clear Admit "School Snapshots" series, a new publication line designed to give prospective applicants concise overviews of leading MBA programs - for free - as they begin the process of finding the right business school.

This new series of guides was created especially for early-stage applicants with limited knowledge of MBA programs at leading business schools. Each School Snapshot provides essential information about a given school's MBA program, including faculty, curriculum, campus life, career services and job placement statistics, and more. Together, the Snapshots provide an excellent, objective introduction to MBA programs in the United States and abroad, making them the perfect resource for candidates who are trying to determine which business schools' strengths and offerings best fit their needs and goals.

"The Clear Admit School Snapshots deliver need-to-know information that's easy to read and free of marketing spin," says Clear Admit Co-founder Graham Richmond. "They're the perfect way for applicants to learn about a school before delving into deeper research."

The Snapshots series is the most recent addition to Clear Admit's line of critically acclaimed publications, which also includes more extensive School Guides, Interview Guides, and School Selection Guides, as well as a Strategy Series providing step-by-step guidance through the application process. School Snapshots of more than two dozen top MBA programs are now available for free download in the Clear Admit Shop.

Here is a complete list of titles in the Clear Admit School Snapshot series:
*Chicago Booth School of Business
*Columbia Business School
*Darden School of Business
*Fuqua School of Business
*Haas School of Business
*Harvard Business School
*IESE Business School
*INSEAD
*Indian School of Business
*Judge Business School
*Kellogg School of Management
*Kenan-Flagler Business School
*London Business School
*MIT Sloan School of Management
*McCombs School of Business
*McDonough School of Business
*NYU Stern School of Business
*Ross School of Business
*S.C. Johnson Graduate School of Management
*Said Business School
*Stanford Graduate School of Business
*Tepper School of Business
*The Wharton School
*Tuck School of Business
*UCLA Anderson School of Management
*USC Marshall School of Business
*Yale School of Management

To download any of these guides for free, please go to:
http://clearadmit.shop.studylink.com/index.cfm?sea...

Good luck!

Best,
Kevin

5/11/12

How to Get Into a Top MBA Program- Tip #1
Christina Mabley, the Director of MBA Admissions at McCombs School of Business, offers this advice to applicants who want to get into a top MBA program--specifically, the McCombs MBA program:

"Applications that stand out are ones that complete a good story. Everything in the application should provide a consistent story about why an MBA, why now and why specifically an MBA from McCombs. The application should tell us what you want to get out of the program and conversely, what you feel you will bring to the program."

How to Get Into a Top MBA Program- Tip #2

Admission reps from Columbia Business School say your interview is your chance to stand out:

''The interview is an opportunity for applicants to demonstrate how they present themselves. Applicants should be prepared to discuss their goals, their accomplishments, and their reason for seeking an MBA.''

How to Get Into a Top MBA Program- Tip #3
The Associate Director of Admissions at Ross School of Business offers this advice for getting into their top MBA program:

"Show us through the application, resume, and especially the essays, what is unique about yourself and why you're a good fit for our school. Be professional, know yourself, and research the school to which you're applying."

How to Get Into a Top MBA Program- Tip #4
Isser Gallogly, the Executive Director of MBA Admissions at NYU Stern School of Business, had this to say about getting into NYU Stern's top-ranked MBA program:

"At NYU Stern School of Business, our MBA admissions process is holistic and individualistic. Our Admissions Committee is focused on three key areas: 1) academic ability 2) professional potential and 3) personal characteristics, as well as "fit" with NYU Stern. Throughout the process we provide our applicants with continual communication and personalized attention. Ultimately, we want to ensure that each student who enrolls believes that Stern is the right fit for his or her personal and professional aspirations.

Many applicants think the Admissions Committee wants to hear what we write on our website, which is not what we are looking for. Ultimately, what makes candidates stand out is when they are self-aware, know what they want and speak from their heart in their application. Each person's story is unique and compelling, and each applicant should tell his or her story. When you read over 6,000 essays in an admissions season, the personalized stories are the ones that make you sit up in your chair."

Hope this help

Regards

NextPay is an innovative global Secure Online Processing company

5/12/12

Hey guys,

I'm graduating from undergrad this week and was wondering, based on my stats, what I could do to improve my chances over the next few years. I don't want my life to revolve around going to b-school, but I would like to know if you have any tips for things I should look into on the side. I would like to go to H/W/S or Haas/Anderson if I do not meet the H/W/S criteria, but was wondering where you feel I would be most competitive if I don't fit the bill for any of those.

My stats:
- Starting with an elite buyside equity research firm (~$100 bil. AUM), would like to matriculate in 4 years
- 730 GMAT (48 Q, 42 V), just took it
- 3.65 GPA in Finance from unranked state school (Magna Cum Laude and Beta Gamma Sigma)
- President of undergrad Finance club, Treasurer of Fraternity, several awards for leadership
- 5 undergrad internships - 1 in IB M&A, 1 in IB public finance
- Private Pilot
- Starting professional prep. non-profit for highschool students

I know it's a little early to be thinking about this, but I'd love to hear your opinion on what I could do to improve my application. Thanks in advance for your help!

5/12/12

Guys on the Clear Admit team,

Thanks for coming by to offer this quick and dirty consulting service. I'd definitely consider using your services when the time comes for applications (as you'll see below, I will need all the help I can get). If you can give me any indication of where I might be competitive, it would be very helpful. I dont think, however, that I would bother attending a non-top 10 school.

- 2.3 GPA from a small and unheard of liberal arts school. No alumni in finance. No alumni in major MBA programs.
- 1540 GRE. 800q 740v. I could take this again and definitely get higher. Should I bother? Do I NEED the GMAT?
- 3.5 GPA at a 1-year MSF at a large public university.
- 2 internships at brand name finance/consulting institutions
- 1 year at Wells Fargo in Corporate Banking (basically pitching/executing syndicated debt)
- 2 years at a very desirable coverage group at a bulge bracket (not UBS or BAML, lol)
- Will be 25 by the time I finish up my 2 years in banking
- Lots of finance extra-curriculars during the MSF program. I guess I need to start doing volunteer work as well, and can start that up soon.

Ideally I'd like to go to an MBA that doesnt rank or award GPAs. As you can see from my academic background, I dont care much for academia. I've also already taken many corporate finance MBA level classes during my MSF, including tons of case studies. I'd be attending purely for the network and brand name.

5/13/12

I was wondering if you could please match me with some top business schools -- I have the following profile:

~3.3 GPA (Finance & International Business major) top 20 private school
760 GMAT (50 Q, 42 V)
IBD Analyst at Top MM (really good industry group)
Asian male

Also, what community service/"extracurriculars" do you think would most add to my application? I was considering the university alumni association as well as a couple commserv organizations that I am highly interested and personally vested in.

Thanks!

In reply to eriginal
5/17/12
eriginal:

Hey guys,

I'm graduating from undergrad this week and was wondering, based on my stats, what I could do to improve my chances over the next few years. I don't want my life to revolve around going to b-school, but I would like to know if you have any tips for things I should look into on the side. I would like to go to H/W/S or Haas/Anderson if I do not meet the H/W/S criteria, but was wondering where you feel I would be most competitive if I don't fit the bill for any of those.

My stats:
- Starting with an elite buyside equity research firm (~$100 bil. AUM), would like to matriculate in 4 years
- 730 GMAT (48 Q, 42 V), just took it
- 3.65 GPA in Finance from unranked state school (Magna Cum Laude and Beta Gamma Sigma)
- President of undergrad Finance club, Treasurer of Fraternity, several awards for leadership
- 5 undergrad internships - 1 in IB M&A, 1 in IB public finance
- Private Pilot
- Starting professional prep. non-profit for highschool students

I know it's a little early to be thinking about this, but I'd love to hear your opinion on what I could do to improve my application. Thanks in advance for your help!

Hello eriginal and congratulations on your upcoming graduation!

While it might seem obvious I do think it is worth stating for the record, the most important thing you can do over the next 4 years is to focus on your professional accomplishments. Whether you choose to stay in equity research or move elsewhere after a few years, schools will be examining your trajectory and degree of success as compared to your peers. This work should also help you gain clarity and develop a vision for your future professional interests - something else you will be judged on in the application process.

While I appreciate that you've held leadership positions through school it is often valuable for you to demonstrate leadership outside of the workplace. Since you anticipate applying in roughly four years, the admission committees will be looking for more recent leadership successes. This isn't to say you should let your life revolve around this goal. In fact, I think it is the other way around. I think you should find something you care about and develop your leadership in this arena. This will breed success which should emerge in your applications. Finding time to do this outside of your equity research responsibilities will be difficult but depending upon what you do, your efforts here could very well be a differentiator.

There's no reason to assume at this stage that you won't be competitive at either the top schools you mentioned or at others you haven't mentioned. Assuming you maintain an increasingly successful trajectory that demonstrates leadership and vision I think the question will come down to details that relate to fit, the nature of the strengths you demonstrate and type of education you seek. As you begin to research schools you'll find that even H/W/S seek very different candidates.

Best,
Graham

In reply to Cries
5/17/12
Cries:

Guys on the Clear Admit team,

Thanks for coming by to offer this quick and dirty consulting service. I'd definitely consider using your services when the time comes for applications (as you'll see below, I will need all the help I can get). If you can give me any indication of where I might be competitive, it would be very helpful. I dont think, however, that I would bother attending a non-top 10 school.

- 2.3 GPA from a small and unheard of liberal arts school. No alumni in finance. No alumni in major MBA programs.
- 1540 GRE. 800q 740v. I could take this again and definitely get higher. Should I bother? Do I NEED the GMAT?
- 3.5 GPA at a 1-year MSF at a large public university.
- 2 internships at brand name finance/consulting institutions
- 1 year at Wells Fargo in Corporate Banking (basically pitching/executing syndicated debt)
- 2 years at a very desirable coverage group at a bulge bracket (not UBS or BAML, lol)
- Will be 25 by the time I finish up my 2 years in banking
- Lots of finance extra-curriculars during the MSF program. I guess I need to start doing volunteer work as well, and can start that up soon.

Ideally I'd like to go to an MBA that doesnt rank or award GPAs. As you can see from my academic background, I dont care much for academia. I've also already taken many corporate finance MBA level classes during my MSF, including tons of case studies. I'd be attending purely for the network and brand name.

Hello cries,

You'll be hard-pressed to find a Top 10 school that doesn't care about academics in the manner you've suggested. At the end of the day, you're applying to an academic institution and the admissions committee members as well as other institutional staff that have a say in the decision-making process, such as professors, care that you have the ability and commitment to perform well. The good news is that you've demonstrated an upward trajectory in your MSF degree and that all of these schools also care about your performance outside of the classroom.

I do think there is value in taking the GMAT. Beyond your GRE, it will demonstrate subtle straits such as how much you understand what is important to adcom members (they generally prefer the GMAT over GRE) and your ability at this stage to commit yourself to study, which is particularly important given your GPA.

I agree with you that you want to demonstrate success outside of work but it doesn't mean you have to do volunteer work. For instance, applicants who express an interest in entrepreneurial activities often start a venture on the side, which both showcases their leadership success as well as their genuine professional interest.

Best,
Graham

In reply to Bob Loblaw
5/17/12
Bob Loblaw:

I was wondering if you could please match me with some top business schools -- I have the following profile:

~3.3 GPA (Finance & International Business major) top 20 private school
760 GMAT (50 Q, 42 V)
IBD Analyst at Top MM (really good industry group)
Asian male

Also, what community service/"extracurriculars" do you think would most add to my application? I was considering the university alumni association as well as a couple commserv organizations that I am highly interested and personally vested in.

Thanks!

Hello Bob,

I commend you for considering how to add to your application outside of the basics. I think your idea to do something that genuinely interests you will be the key to your success. So, if serving your university alum association excites you, you should pursue this interest. I strongly advise you to do something that requires leadership, not simply show up at events and volunteer your time.

Regarding your request for a match, the information you've shared isn't sufficient to guide you in this multi-faceted and nuanced decision. I suggest you email your resume to [email protected] so you can schedule a conversation with one of our admissions advisors.

Best,
Graham

5/30/12

Thanks for all the good info so far.

I was wondering what my chances of getting into some more specific schools mainly in the Southeast (for personal reasons) based on my profile. Specifically I wanted to apply to Duke, UNC, Emory, UVA and Georgetown. I think out of all the program UNC would be my best fit but I like the other programs as well. Here is my background:

-3.95 GPA with 4.0 in finance and an honors student at a state school that is not well known but attended to play a dvision 1 baseball (which I played for three years) and because I received an academic scholarship
-Operations role with a risk management component at regional bank (think Sun Trust, BB&T, USB) and manage a team of 20 people.
-Expected 680-720 GMAT
- I have coached a little league baseball team the last three years and have started an alumni association for the academic scholarship I received while in my under grad
- Post MBA I would like to leverage my experiences to do IB

Thanks

In reply to Warren_Graham
5/31/12
Warren_Graham:

Thanks for all the good info so far.

I was wondering what my chances of getting into some more specific schools mainly in the Southeast (for personal reasons) based on my profile. Specifically I wanted to apply to Duke, UNC, Emory, UVA and Georgetown. I think out of all the program UNC would be my best fit but I like the other programs as well. Here is my background:

-3.95 GPA with 4.0 in finance and an honors student at a state school that is not well known but attended to play a dvision 1 baseball (which I played for three years) and because I received an academic scholarship
-Operations role with a risk management component at regional bank (think Sun Trust, BB&T, USB) and manage a team of 20 people.
-Expected 680-720 GMAT
- I have coached a little league baseball team the last three years and have started an alumni association for the academic scholarship I received while in my under grad
- Post MBA I would like to leverage my experiences to do IB

Thanks

Hello Warren,

I understand your interest in staying in the Southeast, and I won't sway you too much from that. But based on the little you've written I think you're underestimating where you might be able to be admitted. Now, this of course depends upon whether or not your GMAT falls in the upper or lower end of the range you anticipate. But if it falls in the 720 area your options will certainly be broader. Duke and UVA would be reasonable schools to apply to - and the others certainly seem safe enough. I simply suggest you conduct enough research to know if the other programs you've mentioned will really open the doors you want in IB. If not, I do think you can consider alternatives.

That said, even at the lower end of your GMAT range, given your academic background and leadership, I believe your list of target schools is reasonable.

Best,
Graham

6/1/12

Hello,

I am planning to apply to business school and was wondering what my odds might be and whether I should hold off for more work experience.

UG: Northwestern, Industrial Engineering
GPA: 2.98, erratic, no uptrend/great excuse
GMAT: 760 (q49, v45, awa5.5)
Alternative Transcript: 4 A's in Grad Business classes at University of Chicago
Work Experience: 3 years, 1 in boutique Consulting firm, 2 doing project management & strategic operations at a top HFT firm.
Other: Volunteer as a tutor & serve on several Not for profit boards.

Leaning towards NYU Stern, Booth, Columbia, or maybe a school in the UK (LBS?).

A few questions:

1. What would be appropriate reach, target and safety schools?

2. Is there anything further I can do to address my GPA other than the optional Essay?

3. What is your take on getting an MBA in the UK? Pros & Cons?

Any tips or thoughts on my chances would be much appreciated.
Thanks so much!

In reply to Ccs569
6/4/12
Ccs569:

Hello,

I am planning to apply to business school and was wondering what my odds might be and whether I should hold off for more work experience.

UG: Northwestern, Industrial Engineering
GPA: 2.98, erratic, no uptrend/great excuse
GMAT: 760 (q49, v45, awa5.5)
Alternative Transcript: 4 A's in Grad Business classes at University of Chicago
Work Experience: 3 years, 1 in boutique Consulting firm, 2 doing project management & strategic operations at a top HFT firm.
Other: Volunteer as a tutor & serve on several Not for profit boards.

Leaning towards NYU Stern, Booth, Columbia, or maybe a school in the UK (LBS?).

A few questions:

1. What would be appropriate reach, target and safety schools?

2. Is there anything further I can do to address my GPA other than the optional Essay?

3. What is your take on getting an MBA in the UK? Pros & Cons?

Any tips or thoughts on my chances would be much appreciated.
Thanks so much!

Thanks for your inquiry. While your GPA isn't ideal, it isn't a deal-breaker, especially considering you went to a top school and studied in a difficult major - it certainly is better to have a 2.98 GPA as an industrial engineering major than in a less quantitative and rigorous major. The fact that you did well in business-related classes at Chicago also will help mitigate the negative impact - be sure to point out this alternative transcript in your optional essay.

In the optional essay, it will be important for you to acknowledge the mistakes you made in college that led to the low GPA, rather than make excuses. For example, if participating in too many extracurrciular activities contributed to your low GPA, you should state that you failed to manage your time properly and/or that you failed to prioritize your academics. On the other hand, you should not state, or even imply, that despite your low GPA, you don't regret joining those other activities because they allowed you to grow in other (non-academic) ways. Adcoms really frown upon the argument of "even though I didn't do well in classes, frankly, it was worth it because there were other more important things".

As long as you can address this issue, you should be a competitive applicant for all the schools on your list. You especially should consider applying to Columbia under the early decision program. Columbia tends to be attracted to applicants with high GMAT scores, and on the margin, early decision is easier to get into than regular decision.

As for LBS, the main issue to consider is your post-MBA goals. If your goal is to remain in Europe, then LBS would be a great choice. But if you want to return to the US, then purely from a professional standpoint, I would favor a comparable US school.

Hope this helps! Feel free to send your resume to [email protected] for a more detailed assessment of your profile.

Best,
Kevin

6/17/12

Hey Kev and Graham,

Really appreciate your help for this. Just wondering what my chances are at H/S/W/MIT/Kellogg/Booth

- Age: 26
- Undergrad GPA: 3.6
- Majored in Economics at UMich--Ann Arbor
- GMAT: 700
- Work experience: Deloitte summer internship during my junior year, 4 years with Deloitte after graduation.
- First Generation (not sure if that matters though?).

6/19/12

Hi,

I will be graduating this fall and am curious what my chances will be in a few years and what I can do now to improve them. My profile:

Age: 24 now, probably 26/27 when applying
Undergraduate: double major physics and mathematics, GPA ~3.4 (this is a little hard to compare since I'm from Europe but according to my uni this is it, I would estimate top 25% in my class)
Master: physics, GPA ~3.8
ECs: International exchange year, organization of three large events at uni (budget ~EU300,000 each), tutoring, volunteer work at a large national organization, semi-professional mucisian, internship at a strategy consultant (non-MBB)
Work: I'll be starting at MBB after graduation
GMAT: not taken yet

I am looking to apply for an MBA in a few years, and wondering about
1). How competitive is my profile?
2). What schools would be realistic combined with what GMAT scores?
3). What can I do the coming years to differentiate myself from all the other consultants applying?

Thank you so much for your insights!

6/19/12

Hey Kevin/Graham,

Thanks for taking the time. I'm applying this fall to M7 (H/S/W/MIT) with safety schools (Tepper/Johnson). My questions are:
- How competitive is my profile for M7? esp without an elite undergrad or MC/IB experience?
- Any thoughts on "best fit" schools based on my profile/goals?

My long-term goal is to launch and lead IPO-level tech startups. There are gaps in my education and experience (namely VC, corp dev, marketing) that I would like to close through an MBA and the post-MBA job. I believe corp-dev at a tech company would be a good fit post-MBA, but I'm also open to VC or MC as alternate paths.

Age: 27
Undergrad: 3.98 in Computer Engineering with Business Administration minor from a non-top public school (think Texas A&M)
Graduate: 3.88 in Systems Engineering from a top-tier engineering Ivy school
GMAT: Not taken yet. 750+ based on practice tests

WE:
Worked 5 years in computational sciences and engineering at a Fortune 5 energy company. Two promotions with increasing responsibilities. International experience. Managed small teams (~5 people) and portfolio of engineering projects (valued at couple of millions). Launched an internal technical consulting group by pitching the idea to management and securing funding. Minimal external-facing role and no C-level exposure.

Founded a software startup with a strong charitable/educational arm that funds schools in impoverished countries. Received several awards/press.

As part of class project, consulted to a tech company that led to > $1M annual savings. For another class, led a startup team and pitched a business plan that finished in Top 3.

Extracurricular:
- Started a student group / project fund in college, and continue to contribute each year.
- Multi-year leadership positions in Toastmasters International
- Red Cross, startup advisory, photography, outdoors

Thanks!

J.N.

In reply to justnorth
6/20/12

Hi J.N., thanks for your inquiry. Based on the information you provided, I believe you should be a very strong applicant for M7 schools, and Tepper/Johnson should be legitimate backup schools. You are in a somewhat unusual position of being an engineering/tech applicant who not only possesses the quantitative skills typical of applicants from this demographic group, but also features substantial managerial and entrepreneurial accomplishments - an area that is traditionally a knock against engineering/tech applicants.

Of course not all M7 schools are equally difficult to get into; Stanford and Harvard are going to be your hardest schools, even though your tech and entrepreneurial profile does make you a potential fit, especially with Stanford. The key will be how you tie all your various experiences and accomplishments to articulate a coherent message that resonates towards your future goals.

Good luck on your GMAT! Feel free to send your resume to [email protected] for a more detailed analysis of your candidacy.

Best,
Kevin

justnorth:

Hey Kevin/Graham,

Thanks for taking the time. I'm applying this fall to M7 (H/S/W/MIT) with safety schools (Tepper/Johnson). My questions are:
- How competitive is my profile for M7? esp without an elite undergrad or MC/IB experience?
- Any thoughts on "best fit" schools based on my profile/goals?

My long-term goal is to launch and lead IPO-level tech startups. There are gaps in my education and experience (namely VC, corp dev, marketing) that I would like to close through an MBA and the post-MBA job. I believe corp-dev at a tech company would be a good fit post-MBA, but I'm also open to VC or MC as alternate paths.

Age: 27
Undergrad: 3.98 in Computer Engineering with Business Administration minor from a non-top public school (think Texas A&M)
Graduate: 3.88 in Systems Engineering from a top-tier engineering Ivy school
GMAT: Not taken yet. 750+ based on practice tests

WE:
Worked 5 years in computational sciences and engineering at a Fortune 5 energy company. Two promotions with increasing responsibilities. International experience. Managed small teams (~5 people) and portfolio of engineering projects (valued at couple of millions). Launched an internal technical consulting group by pitching the idea to management and securing funding. Minimal external-facing role and no C-level exposure.

Founded a software startup with a strong charitable/educational arm that funds schools in impoverished countries. Received several awards/press.

As part of class project, consulted to a tech company that led to > $1M annual savings. For another class, led a startup team and pitched a business plan that finished in Top 3.

Extracurricular:
- Started a student group / project fund in college, and continue to contribute each year.
- Multi-year leadership positions in Toastmasters International
- Red Cross, startup advisory, photography, outdoors

Thanks!

In reply to mike25
6/20/12

Hi Mike, thanks for your inquiry. You have the fundamental ingredients to be a competitive applicant to top-10 schools. But, a lot of it will depend on details that you have not given. For example, what extracurricular/community service activities have you performed? What roles have you served at Deloitte - e.g., accounting or consulting (consulting is generally more favored by adcoms)? What ethnicity and nationality are you (the more underrepresented your ethnicity/nationality, the better your chances are)? Based on the limited information you gave, my hunch is that you will be competitive for schools like Kellogg and Booth, but H/S/W/MIT will be very difficult because those schools tend to look for applicants who are superstars in one or more application categories, rather than applicants who are above average across various categories but do not stand out as a superstar in any category. But again, I may be misreading your profile, as you have not provided certain information.

Hope this helps! Feel free to send your resume to [email protected] for a more detailed analysis.

Best,
Kevin

mike25:

Hey Kev and Graham,

Really appreciate your help for this. Just wondering what my chances are at H/S/W/MIT/Kellogg/Booth

- Age: 26
- Undergrad GPA: 3.6
- Majored in Economics at UMich--Ann Arbor
- GMAT: 700
- Work experience: Deloitte summer internship during my junior year, 4 years with Deloitte after graduation.
- First Generation (not sure if that matters though?).

In reply to lilyinwonderland
6/20/12
lilyinwonderland:

Hi,

I will be graduating this fall and am curious what my chances will be in a few years and what I can do now to improve them. My profile:

Age: 24 now, probably 26/27 when applying
Undergraduate: double major physics and mathematics, GPA ~3.4 (this is a little hard to compare since I'm from Europe but according to my uni this is it, I would estimate top 25% in my class)
Master: physics, GPA ~3.8
ECs: International exchange year, organization of three large events at uni (budget ~EU300,000 each), tutoring, volunteer work at a large national organization, semi-professional mucisian, internship at a strategy consultant (non-MBB)
Work: I'll be starting at MBB after graduation
GMAT: not taken yet

I am looking to apply for an MBA in a few years, and wondering about
1). How competitive is my profile?
2). What schools would be realistic combined with what GMAT scores?
3). What can I do the coming years to differentiate myself from all the other consultants applying?

Thank you so much for your insights!

Hello lilyinwonderland,

It's great to see that you're strategizing about your MBA application process well in advance of both the GMAT and your actual application. We often work with candidates in advance of their application cycle and such folks really have a strong grasp of how high the admittance bar truly is!

Without knowing the quality of the academic institutions you've attended it is difficult to gauge the adcom's reaction but, without question, your undergrad and graduate GPAs will stand you in good stead. If you can round this out with a high GMAT score (700+) your academic record will likely be competitive at many top U.S. and European schools. Certainly, your interest in physics will stand out, and how it relates to your professional path will be of interest to the adcom.

It seems as if you've been very active outside of the classroom; the adcom would expect your extra-curricular activities to continue to show more and more leadership, though not necessarily across such a broad range of activities. Of course, finding time to do so while working at top consulting firm will be difficult. Certainly, you could stand out against other applicants in this arena if you continue to excel. But excelling at work should be your priority. If you have an opportunity to work abroad I'd suggest this would help you too. But at this stage what you do depends upon your goals. If you plan, for instance, to specialize in a certain region, running off to another region won't match other aspects of your candidacy. So going forward, what you do to improve your candidacy can't be considered in a bubble, but rather as part of your larger professional plan and goals. Once you have those more solidified, I suggest you send your resume to [email protected] and speak to one of our admissions advisors to understand the specific things you should consider doing to improve the opportunities available to you.

Best,
Graham

6/21/12

Hey Kevin/Graham,

My history is very non traditional...

Undergraduate:
3.6 from top ten undergraduate private b-school. Will be applying as a 31 year old senior in undergraduate.

GMAT:
Not taken

Age:
31/32

WE:
Army infantry combat vet, 7 years as a law enforcement officer with big name federal agency (non management). Completed undergraduate while employed. Various law enforcement and military leadership and operational experience.

Goals:
Short term: Get into management consulting.
Long term: Exit consulting to reenter the gov in a management role.

Which schools would i be competitive at? I really have no idea.... HBS/W/CBS/HAAS/Anderson would be my dream schools.

In reply to BLIZBAN
6/21/12
In reply to BLIZBAN
6/21/12
BLIZBAN:

Hey Kevin/Graham,

My history is very non traditional...

Undergraduate:
3.6 from top ten undergraduate private b-school. Will be applying as a 31 year old senior in undergraduate.

GMAT:
Not taken

Age:
31/32

WE:
Army infantry combat vet, 7 years as a law enforcement officer with big name federal agency (non management). Completed undergraduate while employed. Various law enforcement and military leadership and operational experience.

Goals:
Short term: Get into management consulting.
Long term: Exit consulting to reenter the gov in a management role.

Which schools would i be competitive at? I really have no idea.... HBS/W/CBS/HAAS/Anderson would be my dream schools.

Hello Blizban,

You are correct, your experience is non-traditional! But if you communicate it well, the schools will value the fact that you've managed the experience of educating yourself and pursuing your military interests at the same time!

With the little information you've provided it is hard to pinpoint which schools in particular would provide you with the strongest fit. Certainly a GMAT score will help to narrow it down but examining other, more nuanced elements to your candidacy would be essential. It seems you would benefit from knowing, for instance, just how extensive your leadership is versus other military applicants. In addition to sending your resume to [email protected] to discuss the particulars of your candidacy, I suggest you reach out to the many Vets that are on school campuses or are B-school alums. I know that many of my clients have found them helpful in making the transition.

In the meantime, since most schools provide a nice pathway into management consulting firms, I suggest you look at schools that typically admit more experienced applicants. Consider, for instance, Tuck, which isn't yet on your list.

I suggest you begin your research by reading our free school snapshots: http://clearadmit.shop.studylink.com/index.cfm?sea...
You'll find demographic information on the schools in these guides as well as directly from many schools.

Best,
Graham

7/4/12

Hi,
Do you mind adivising on my chances of getting into b-school (INSEAD- #1 choice, Kellogg, LBS, Haas, NYU)? My end goal is to break into management consulting at MBB.

-Female, Indo-Canadian, 27
-GMAT Score: have not taken yet, but assume 700+
-Undegrad & Masters- Accounting & Finance at a top CDN School w/ a 79% average (3.6 GPA)

-Work experience:
-Big 4 (Audit)- internships from undergrad, double promotion to Senior Associate upon full-time hire, seconded to risk consulting, worked on IPO for major manuf. company
-Fortune 500 (top ranked- think #1/#2) Corporate Strategy- worked on various initiatives (including a high-profile sustainability initiative that had tons of media attention), developed a strategy for a product linethat was incl. in our strategy playbook presented to the chairman, identified as an exceptional performer, presented at conferences and trade shows, nominated to meet the Chairman of the company,
-Fortune 500 (same as above) Business Turnaround- recently promoted to role of "Strategy Leader" for failing business, will be reporting directly to M.D

ECs:
-Part-time advisor at the Clinton Foundation (Climate Change Initiative)
-Finance Program Development at an Adult Private College (program being approved by Ministry of Education)
-Regional exec. at an international not for profit
-Founder of an affinity network at the company I currently work for

Thank you!!!

In reply to ash123
7/8/12
ash123:

Hi,
Do you mind adivising on my chances of getting into b-school (INSEAD- #1 choice, Kellogg, LBS, Haas, NYU)? My end goal is to break into management consulting at MBB.

-Female, Indo-Canadian, 27
-GMAT Score: have not taken yet, but assume 700+
-Undegrad & Masters- Accounting & Finance at a top CDN School w/ a 79% average (3.6 GPA)

-Work experience:
-Big 4 (Audit)- internships from undergrad, double promotion to Senior Associate upon full-time hire, seconded to risk consulting, worked on IPO for major manuf. company
-Fortune 500 (top ranked- think #1/#2) Corporate Strategy- worked on various initiatives (including a high-profile sustainability initiative that had tons of media attention), developed a strategy for a product linethat was incl. in our strategy playbook presented to the chairman, identified as an exceptional performer, presented at conferences and trade shows, nominated to meet the Chairman of the company,
-Fortune 500 (same as above) Business Turnaround- recently promoted to role of "Strategy Leader" for failing business, will be reporting directly to M.D

ECs:
-Part-time advisor at the Clinton Foundation (Climate Change Initiative)
-Finance Program Development at an Adult Private College (program being approved by Ministry of Education)
-Regional exec. at an international not for profit
-Founder of an affinity network at the company I currently work for

Thank you!!!

Hello Ash,

Thank you for your inquiry.

The primary elements of your candidacy certainly seem to be in order (assuming your GMAT is successful) and I feel you're targeting an appropriate set of MBA programs. It seems to me that the strength of your candidacy at this stage will rest on your ingenuity in selecting and incorporating various elements of your experience (IPO work, sustainability initiative, etc.) with the specifications of each candidacy. This very nuanced work is time consuming so I advise you to work directly on your applications early, of course, without compromising your GMAT preparations. You might want to touch base with an admissions advisor to begin to tackle the strategic task of determining the best essay topics (please send your resume to [email protected]). Some of the schools - such as your first choice - often look for significant international work experience so if you can expand your project work in this fashion, I do recommend it.

Best,
Graham

7/8/12

Hi Kevin,

I put these questions to Stacy Blackman earlier, but also thought Clear Admit might be able to help somewhat; I haven't seen anybody on these forums with circumstances remotely close to mine. Thank you!

I'm aiming for entry either in 2013 or 2014, and have a slightly unusual case that I was wondering if you could assess? (I'm thinking of hiring a consultant in any case, owing to my slightly strange career path!)

I graduated in 2009 from an Oxbridge college (I'm a UK citizen, white ethnicity) with what would translate to a major in History (which would work out at around a 3.6 GPA, I'm informed), and a one-year course in Management. However, my grades in some of these topics - especially Operations Management - would translate pretty poorly. Courses in Econ, Finance etc significantly better, but still not great. Since then, however, I've done some pretty quant work professionally, and am thinking of taking an external calculus course.

After graduating, I worked in a civil service role (essentially graduate level admin) at the House of Lords in UK Parliament for a year - mostly thanks to good money and stability in the depths of the recession. I then did a 5-month internship in sales and trading at a large French investment bank, followed by, for the past year, a combination of journalism and more quant-based analysis for an international energy intelligence group. I would have been doing this for 2-3 years by the time of entry.

My questions are, essentially, whether or not I would be able to spin all of this into a compelling story for adcoms, and whether or not I can compensate for some less-than-brilliant performances in a few management-related courses? I'd hope to get a 700 on GMAT/GRE after studying. The schools I'd be aiming for would be Emory Goizueta, UNC Kenan Flagler, Duke, UCLA.

Many thanks,

In reply to jt360
7/9/12
jt360:

Hi Kevin,

I put these questions to Stacy Blackman earlier, but also thought Clear Admit might be able to help somewhat; I haven't seen anybody on these forums with circumstances remotely close to mine. Thank you!

I'm aiming for entry either in 2013 or 2014, and have a slightly unusual case that I was wondering if you could assess? (I'm thinking of hiring a consultant in any case, owing to my slightly strange career path!)

I graduated in 2009 from an Oxbridge college (I'm a UK citizen, white ethnicity) with what would translate to a major in History (which would work out at around a 3.6 GPA, I'm informed), and a one-year course in Management. However, my grades in some of these topics - especially Operations Management - would translate pretty poorly. Courses in Econ, Finance etc significantly better, but still not great. Since then, however, I've done some pretty quant work professionally, and am thinking of taking an external calculus course.

After graduating, I worked in a civil service role (essentially graduate level admin) at the House of Lords in UK Parliament for a year - mostly thanks to good money and stability in the depths of the recession. I then did a 5-month internship in sales and trading at a large French investment bank, followed by, for the past year, a combination of journalism and more quant-based analysis for an international energy intelligence group. I would have been doing this for 2-3 years by the time of entry.

My questions are, essentially, whether or not I would be able to spin all of this into a compelling story for adcoms, and whether or not I can compensate for some less-than-brilliant performances in a few management-related courses? I'd hope to get a 700 on GMAT/GRE after studying. The schools I'd be aiming for would be Emory Goizueta, UNC Kenan Flagler, Duke, UCLA.

Many thanks,

Hello JT360,

Graham here, rather than Kevin. But we wanted to get back to you as quickly as possible.

While you didn't ask this, I highly recommend you take the GMAT over the GRE. It is still the standard at top business schools and given that part of your "job" in the application process is to demonstrate your fit with the MBA environment, I feel you should start by presenting a GMAT score.

Also, while discerning one's tone in a quick write-up is a bit difficult it feels to me as if you are approaching this slightly too negatively. You are correct that your path differs from other more traditional paths but based on what you've written here I anticipate that you'll be able to present a highly-engaging application. And yes, you'll have to be strategic in what you choose to incorporate but I don't see it as negative as the "spun" you seem to suggest. I'd look forward to reading about your experiences thus far.

Assuming you score at or above the range you're targeting for the GMAT, I expect you'll have a strong candidacy. In fact, I suggest you revisit your list of target schools and despite your academic concerns, aim slightly higher. Of course, the devil is in the details (of your candidacy). You might consider working with an admissions advisor even a few years out to ensure you're making the right strategic moves at this stage in the process. (Feel free to send your resume to [email protected].)

Best,
Graham

7/19/12

I'm looking for advice on when to apply to an MBA program. I just started as a consultant with IBM. I am wondering if I sould apply to B-School so that I would enroll after 2 years there or 3? Also, how would it look if I switched to Deloitte S&O during that time? Would it be better to stay put?

In reply to hkavery
7/23/12
hkavery:

I'm looking for advice on when to apply to an MBA program. I just started as a consultant with IBM. I am wondering if I sould apply to B-School so that I would enroll after 2 years there or 3? Also, how would it look if I switched to Deloitte S&O during that time? Would it be better to stay put?

Hello Hkavery,

I can offer you some general advice but it seems that you're missing much of the nuance involved in making such an important decision. Your candidacy is unlikely to rest upon whether or not you worked at IMB for two versus three years. So, generally speaking, working for two or three years at IBM could both be acceptable. Factors other than the number of years should drive your decision - and these factors would also influence the quality of your application. You'll want to consider the quality of your experience, the degree of the challenge you face throughout your tenure, the pace of advancement, exposure to international opportunities, etc. Likewise, it would also be acceptable to move to a new role at Deloitte. There is certainly no general rule that says you should, or should not, "stay put." Ultimately, you'll want to make these decisions thinking more about what is best for you professionally and, most likely, your decisions will also wind up being the best for your applications as well.

Best of luck in your new role!
Graham

7/23/12

Hey Everyone,

I was hoping to get an unbiased view of my chances at a good to great MBA program. Right now I feel I have a lot of quirks in my profile and I'm not sure how they'll be viewed by adcoms at the programs for which I'm applying. I'm most worried about my work history. While I had big plans for myself after finishing my undergrad and interviews lined up at Goldman and Ford, family issues kept me in Albuquerque, where the closest thing to Wall St. is selling mutual funds to retirees. Seeking to find a challenge and a use for my finance degree other than quickbooks, I ended up working at a start-up that did well at first but eventually fizzled out with the market in 2009. I'm now at fortune 500 medical distribution company working as a financial analyst.

Here's my stats:
+30 years old
+720 GMAT
+Finance/Marketing undergrad- 3.2gpa
+7 years working experience
+Extra-curriculars: worked as a volunteer at a hospice for 2 years, organized sports
+Am planning to spend a lot of time working on essays.

I can envision myself with 2 career paths, and have targeted schools I think will get me in the door to these professions. I would love to get in at boutique VC firm in the Eurozone/Latin America focusing on tech or green tech. I want to apply to IE and IESE. Both programs are located in Europe, provide me an opportunity to perfect my Spanish, and are top programs that aren't as competitive as other top programs. Also, both (IE in particular) stress their commitment to entrepreneurship, which I hope will mean they are more understanding when I explain the risk I took working for the startup out of school. I feel like my experience at the startup could be what I bring to the class.

In college I had an internship in the US Senate I really enjoyed, working on upcoming trade legislation, and could see combining geopolitics with banking in a career at the World Bank, IFC, or a similar organization. My thinking is that Georgetown would be a logical choice here. Situated in DC I would hope for lots of opportunities for networking with people from those institutions, and the school itself is still a top-25 program.

Given my background, which of these 2 career paths would you consider more realistic? Can I really expect to get into the schools I've listed? Even if I do, will my lack of experience kill my chances of pursuing my targeted career paths after graduation? Should I come clean to the admissions officers and just admit I'm looking at B-School as a boost to a better career path?

Thank you for any opinions you can provide.

7/23/12

Thanks for doing this. How do you look at people from Australia with first class honours in finance (I was required to write an academic thesis on risk management) from a non Australian G-8 university (I assume this is a GPA 4/4??) + 5 internships (all top big 4 accounting firms and 1 Australian bank) + 2 years work experience in a new boutique equities research firm (7 people) + CFA + a strong GMAT (I have not done this yet)? Also, how can I improve my candidacy from this position?

Thanks.

7/24/12

Posted this in another thread

As of my January 2012 submit:

- 720 GMAT
- 3.577 UC GPA
- Graduated P.S, History from UCLA
- 2 years of work experience as a Business Development Associate at a medical technology startup
- Internship at an economic education non-profit
- Interests in weight lifting
- Gave a decent interview
- Essays were well written, although perhaps a tad bland

Applied for FEMBA in their second round and was weight listed. Since then I've taken Accounting and Finance classes, but have not received any word (wait list oblivion).

I'm thinking of moving on for next year and applying for full-time at a number of schools including Anderson and higher. Again my biggest weakness will be 3 years of work experience by Fall 2013 rather than say the average 5. My hope is that at least with the full-time programs I'll be in their range of work experience.