Atypical applicant. Should I retake the GRE? (please say no)

Are the target school within reach? Is there a smart way that I should approach my applications that maybe isn't obvious?

GRE Score: 320
- Quant: 156, Verbal: 164
- AWA: Pending

Academic Background:
- Undergrad: University of Houston 2008 - 4.0 GPA, Majored in International Relations, English, with a minor in Entrepreneurship
- Grad: Law School, UCLA 2012, Specialization in Business Law - (have to double check GPA/rank)

Professional Life:
Note: I'm going to share some background information that I don't openly discuss. My intention is not to brag here. I want to get a better sense whether what I'm trying to accomplish is within reach, and I think this background will help evaluate that.

Current: in-house counsel at a major energy company. Distinguished as the youngest hire in the company's history. I am thriving in the company and am well regarded at a high level. I primarily focus on the acquisition, registration, and sale of aircraft. I've handled billions in transactions for the company without oversight. I also assist with the company's VC division. I have been practicing for 8 years (I'm currently 35).

Current: Co-founded a business in my last year of law school. The business helps address the food desert issue in the city that I am residing. The business currently has annual sales of 17 million, and we have 90 employees on staff. By next year (when we open our third location), we expect to have 150 employees. The majority of our employees have criminal backgrounds, including several convicted of murder. We provide career opportunities for these men and women. We are also an African American and female-owned business. My partner (I am one of three founders) is African American, and a key motivator for her joining us was the significant amount of community-focused work that we do. This work has been acknowledged by the city, and we are hoping to partner with them on our next location.

Previous: I used to be a professional web developer. I started an attorney referral service during my undergraduate career, and that experience is what made me decide to go to law school. After volunteering on Skid Row during my final year of law school (UCLA has a legal assistance program), I learned about food deserts. I then applied the profits from the attorney referral service and co-founded the business described in the prior bullet point. I handle the technical work for the business (eg, app development, database work, design, etc.), in addition to legal work for the company.

Why business school:
The business is of course something that I am very proud of, and I have been able to nurture it without compromising my work as in-house counsel for the energy company. I see a great deal of potential for the business, as well as the opportunity to do good. Currently, the business is being increasingly confronted by challenges that my partners and I do not have the sophistication or knowledge to address. Business school has always been something that I wanted to attend, but it's only now that it is feeling like something that I could directly apply to my professional life.

That said, considering the work involved and the fact that I will continue juggling my legal work with the energy company (unless I can take a sabbatical), as well as my obligations to the business, I really only want to go to an elite university. The brand-recognition of the university/school is also very important, as it will  help me develop my in-house counsel role into other areas of the company. I recognize that these are reaches:

Target Schools (note, I would prefer not to go the executive MBA route, but I am open to online if available):
- Harvard Business
- Stanford Business
- Columbia
- Oxford
- Yale

If you've made it this far, thanks. Your honest thoughts/suggestions are appreciated.

Comments (4)

  • Intern in HF - Other
Feb 14, 2021 - 12:04am

Your reasoning for why B-School seems puzzling and I really don't think you'll find what you're looking for there. Your ability to scale the non profit to this point indicates that you likely have sufficient business acumen and I think an MBA would be a waste of time. If you're truly stuck and have no idea what to do why not hire a consultant? That seems like it would be the best use of your time and resources. 

As a non target grad I understand the desire to get the ivy league brand on your resume but I don't think you need it. Building a nonprofit from nothing to generating millions of dollars is no small feat and if anyone discounts that because of your background I doubt those are kinds of people that you want to work with anyways.

If you want to stick with the MBA path I think your GRE is fine. You probably won't get into all of those programs but I'd think you'd get into at least one of them given your experiences. 

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Feb 14, 2021 - 4:47am

Yeah not sure why you'd need a MBA, but if you're dead set on one, your profile looks fine. HBS and Stanford are obviously a crapshoot, but you should have a good shot at CBS, Yale, NYU, and Oxford

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