AMA - Non-ranked undergrad 'ORM' with a 660 GMAT who got into multiple top 20 programs

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TwoThrones - Certified Professional
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Mod Note (Andy) - we're reposting the top AMA's from 2015, this one was originally posted 1/18/2015.

I hope everyone is doing well. I just wanted to give back to the community who really helped me out more than I could ever ask for. Quick shout out to a few members who greatly helped me on my journey (Mod Note - I moved the shout outs to bottom of the post).

I got into multiple top 20 programs with a 660 GMAT, no name undergrad (decent GPA), and I am an OverRepresented Majority (ORM). I don't want to get into school details yet, but I'm sure I will reveal where I end up going and try to help out the community onwards.

My Abridged Story:

I went to an unranked undergrad that had door to door sales for AT&T come for its OCR. I majored in business and accounting and loved it, but had no idea how to search for a job when I graduated (never did an internship either). I was EXTREMELY fortunate (lucky) to get a job at a startup about a month after I graduated. The pay was horrible, the hours were horrible, but the work itself was pretty good. The CEO closed the company down some time later, and I was back hunting for jobs (which I had no idea how to do). I thought it would be easier with experience, so I just shot my crappy resume all over monster and online into its black hole.

I was thinking of applying for an MSF since I struck out, so I started studying for the GMAT. Studied for a long time and got a 660. A friend told me that I might have had jitters because I was doing much better on practice, so I took it again 31 days later and got a 650!

It's nice to have good friends, and one in particular saved me by getting me an interview at his company. I got the job in FP&A (F500) and this literally was my saving grace, especially since I bombed (in my eyes) the GMAT a second time. Things went well after that though, as I liked my job and transitioned to another F500 company where I am currently at.

I decided to apply to FT programs this year, so studied for the GMAT again and got a 640! I was crushed but talked to a few mentors who gave me amazing encouragement. I decided to apply to 8 programs to maximize my chances. Keep in mind that every single school I applied to was a stretch (only have one rejection so far, the rest were acceptances or waitlists).

GMAT Tips (for whatever they are worth)

I scored abysmal on verbal, but got a 49 on quant. Here are some quick takeaways for anyone struggling.

- I believe that everyone has the mental power (at least on this site) to score AT LEAST a Q45 by studying Manhattan GMAT and really practicing, so if you're not here yet, make sure to understand the basic concepts.
- Once basic concepts are understood, I think a Q47-48 is possible through mastering finishing the questions timely and understanding where to let go.
- Do not bother studying Combinatorics or Probability beyond the basics, you'll max get 3 (I never got any in all 3 of my exams) in an exam. If I ever did get them, just guess and move on so you have an extra 2-3 minutes to spare
- To get a Q49-50, you must master LOGIC, and not mathematical concepts. Take some GMAT Club Tests to see what I'm talking about. No formulas will help you here, just your true reasoning skills. I believe this can be taught, because I scored in this range and I'm a loser.
- A Q51 is not worth the time or effort in my opinion, because that time can spent on verbal which can greatly improve your score (now that I think of it, since I suck at verbal, maybe I should have tried for a Q51).

The GMAT is not the be all end all. DO NOT spend too much time on it (like I did). That time is better spent on other things like essays or doing something fun.

Do not let the GMAT or any other weakness get to you. The way to succeed is to be confident. DO NOT make excuses for your perceived weaknesses, the adcom might not even think it is one.

My Thoughts on Admissions Consultants

Waste of money with their fake smile staring through your phone screen. $3,000 is a crap load of money, especially for those who will be applying to b-school and every penny counts to avoid debt. I'll quote what I posted in another thread.

Here comes Devil's Advocate. Why do you need a consultant? If you have piss poor writing skills, I would hire an essay editor. I think the best bang for your buck (read: spending zero) is to make friends with current MBA students or alumni from your target schools and run your story by them. Fine tune your story based on their feedback and you'll be fine. Sorry to voice my opinion, but I think admission consultants are not worth the high price point, especially since their services are basically available for free elsewhere.

Affirmative Action

By the way, I'm not suggesting Static Shock got super powers just because he was black. He also had a 760 GMAT and worked at Goldman.

We have discussed this issue in many forums and I thought I'd weigh in as someone who is NOT a URM. I'll agree that it is not fair for us who get bucketed into a different...uhm...bucket, but if you can't beat them, join them.

I basically tailored my story to working with African Americans and Hispanic in my volunteer work extensively. Everything I said was true, and I think by not being part of that demographic helped me differentiate myself. My next advice would be to apply through the Consortium (no M7 schools FYI, but everything from 8-20 minus Duke) if applicable, to maybe be bucketed differently.

The above advice won't apply to everyone, but the gist of it is to do something "outside of your bucket." So those of you who are Indians looking to apply, look for ways to differentiate yourself without using IIT or working in IT. You can have those on your resume, but maybe tailor your story in a totally different way (away from stereotypes is what I'm basically saying).

Basic Advice

Be the Outlier

Everyone will have awesome stats and amazing experiences, but you need to be out there. This advice is very risky, because it can work well (it did for me at multiple schools) or not (one of my interviews went pretty sour due to this, ended up getting waitlisted). I think what is more important than that is to show real interest and excel in it.

What I mean by this is not necessarily to be the one who talks about his love of monkeys and creating a business site out of it, but to ground yourself in reality and connect it. Try something new for yourself and you might find yourself having a great time and it could be beneficial for applications (although I won't say do it FOR the application, do it for yourself). So you don't have to be eccentric (although I was somewhat), just believe it (or show that you believe it).

Connect Your Story Realistically

Build yourself a brand and coherent story. Everything MUST tie together. One of the earlier posters had a great story. He did consulting pre-MBA and played a sport in college. He tied them together and made his goal to do sports consulting. Try to make everything that reads on your application tie in some way. I work in for-profit, have extensive volunteer experience in non-profit and education, my goal is to bring the two together.

Your goal must be realistic. If you get a 650 on the GMAT, then don't put your goal as working at MBB, they won't buy it. Again, make sure it ties fluidly to your story and when you explain your goal, the application reader will think, "Huh, I hadn't thought of that but it makes perfect sense." Don't be afraid to have an out there goal (mine certainly is), but here's a pro tip. Find people from the school on LinkedIn or wherever and talk to them, then name drop them into your essays and interview. At one of my interviews, the interviewer told me my goal would be hard. I countered saying XYZ person did it, and another person is interning their now. She was impressed.

My first story was going to MBB, but my mentor totally shut it down. I told him my long term goal, and slowly I developed it into a clear path. It took me about a month of talking to at least 15-20 MBA students to develop it. It was unique enough that when I was sitting down for lunch with interviewees of the school, we went around the table and told our story. When I told mine, everyone looked at me with eyes like a deer in headlights and someone said, "Wow, that is an awesome story." Your goal is to do that. Remember that it doesn't have to be what you will do, most people will change their mind. That doesn't matter, what matters is that it makes sense.

Brand Matters

Prestige to a certain extent matters to adcoms. Try to get some brand names on your resume, from school to work to volunteer, it helps tremendously. My first job was at a no name startup and I transitioned to one of the most revered companies in the F500. That was infinitely more helpful in landing my current role, and opened a lot of doors. If you can show progression at a brand name, that is even more helpful. The majority of current students that I met had at least one brand name employer on their resume.

Human Connection

Stay in contact with the adcoms and try to make them know you by face and name. I would say one per school is enough. When they are doing their deliberation, he/she might bat for you, you never know. One of the schools I visited five times (it was nearby), so it doesn't hurt to keep coming (I got accepted to this one). Just make sure you are NOT annoying. There is a clear line, and searching for networking threads on this site will definitely help.

Miscellaneous

Here are some thoughts I gathered in older posts that I think might be helpful.

1) One of the resources I used for essays said to write too much and then edit down. I almost disagree with this advice, because the most time I spent on essays was editing down, and it was by far the hardest part and most time consuming. Looking back, I would have written a short outline that has all the details I want to talk about and then try to make a tight story at the beginning rather than writing 800 words and condensing it down to 300.
2) Choose recommenders who know the MBA application process well/went through it themselves. This makes a huge difference in the quality of your recommendation. I did choose the people who worked closest with me and who knew me well, but I wish I didn't have to micro manage them. This took up more significant time than I would have ever imagined.
3) If you are applying to similar type of schools like I did, don't waste your time visiting every school. Once you visit 2 or 3 schools, you'll have a general feel of business school life. I would reach out to students in the school you are applying to and just pick their brains for a few minutes. This was infinitely more beneficial, especially since a few of them even offered to read my essays. If you are a Consortium applicant, I would say just do the diversity events at every school, some even offer an open interview to those who get in. I wish I knew about those beforehand, but I did end up getting into one diversity event (no interview though).

I'll be happy to field any questions. In fact, I'm so excited, I might run you over

Quick shout out to a few members who greatly helped me on my journey
@"Flake" for the laughs
@"BGP2587"
@"hamm0"
@"shorttheworld"
@"kingfalcon"
@"TheGrind"
@"mbavsmfin" as entertaining as he has been, he has been equally helpful
@"UFOInsider"
@"OpsDude"
@"Masterz57"

And of course to:

@"AndyLouis"
@"Wallstreetoasis.com"

Sorry if I didn't mention you. There were definitely many more and if I didn't get a chance to thank you, here it is. Thank you. And now is my time to pay it forward.

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Comments (70)

Jan 12, 2015

great post! will frontpage this afternoon

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Jan 12, 2015

Congrats! I'm glad that I could be of some help despite all the hate that i get on this forum. Best of luck.

    • 1
Jan 12, 2015

Great post. A lot to take away here.

Did you get any money? What are your plans post-MBA (if its not what you said was part of your "story")? Finally, how many years have you been out of school?

Jan 12, 2015
da chief:

Great post. A lot to take away here.

Did you get any money?

I did not get any money yet. Consortium has a scholarship they give out in March so I'll know more by then. It's anyone's game though, so I'm not sure where I stand there.

da chief:

What are your plans post-MBA (if its not what you said was part of your "story")?

Although I am definitely interested in my story (non-profit post MBA), I'll mainly be recruiting for consulting and other strategy roles. Who knows, maybe I can have another AMA of me getting into MBB with a terrible GMAT :). I'd mainly be targeting tier 2 realistically (or even nonprofit consulting). Haven't fully ruled out IBD either.

da chief:

Finally, how many years have you been out of school?

I've been out of school for 5 years. I graduated a semester early and while that did not help with internships (took classes every summer), I think it showed adcoms the intellectual horsepower to get decent grades at an accelerated pace.

Jan 12, 2015

Thanks!

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Jan 12, 2015

Best of luck on that scholly

Jan 12, 2015

Congratulations! I always love a good underdog story.

Few questions:
What type of startup did you work in and what was your job function? I'm assuming relating to FP&A?

What industry was the F500 you worked in?

And how many years of experience did you have before you applied?

Jan 12, 2015
Manks:

Congratulations! I always love a good underdog story.

Few questions:

What type of startup did you work in and what was your job function? I'm assuming relating to FP&A?

Thanks for the kind words. It was a marketing firm that worked with small businesses. Actually nothing to do with FP&A. I had an accounting background, so I was staffed with working on the finance aspects of our clients. My role was director of operations, and for small businesses that meant hand holding clients in everything. I spun my experience into my finance projects that helped me move to corporate finance.

Manks:

What industry was the F500 you worked in?

I was previously in tech and now am in automotive, but working in the tech space.

Manks:

And how many years of experience did you have before you applied?

I will matriculate with about 5 years of experience. So currently around 4 and some change.

Jan 12, 2015

Well done. It's refreshing to see a non-target but more importantly a non-asshole succeed through some very hard work.

    • 1
Jan 12, 2015
Flake:

Well done. It's refreshing to see a non-target but more importantly a non-asshole succeed through some very hard work.

Thank you kind sir. And please never change your avi.

Jan 12, 2015

Sincere congratulations and best of luck TwoThrones. I always appreciate your feedback regarding the F500 threads I've made and read through.

Jan 12, 2015

Awesome congrats

Jan 12, 2015

congrats man, good job! It's an important lesson: There's always a way if you're willing to put in the effort.

Jan 12, 2015

Thanks for the write up!

What would you say the cut off would be for investment banking and top consulting firms GMAT wise?

Jan 12, 2015
Withoutapaddle:

Thanks for the write up!

What would you say the cut off would be for investment banking and top consulting firms GMAT wise?

You are definitely most welcome. And thanks to everyone else for the well wishes.

As for your question, I don't think I'm the right person to answer this. From some other threads, I believe the general consensus was that your GMAT doesn't matter for investment banking. Consulting I've heard 700 or 720 being the unofficial cutoff, with those with different (minority, knowing someone important) circumstances getting a chance with lower than that. Hopefully that's me. The more experienced people on here can definitely correct me here.

Jan 13, 2015

I've also got a question regarding pursuing IBD with a lower GMAT. From reading multiple threads here, it seems that getting into IBD via OCR is mostly about networking, "jumping through the hoops," etc. Did any of the conversations you had with current students confirm this? I've got a similar gmat score, so I'm still wondering how much of a barrier it would be.

Jan 13, 2015
VanillaGorilla:

I've also got a question regarding pursuing IBD with a lower GMAT. From reading multiple threads here, it seems that getting into IBD via OCR is mostly about networking, "jumping through the hoops," etc. Did any of the conversations you had with current students confirm this? I've got a similar gmat score, so I'm still wondering how much of a barrier it would be.

Yes, as a matter of fact I have a friend at a top 15 recruiting for banking with a GMAT lower than mine. He has been doing really well so far and told me they never asked for his GMAT. Another student had an even lower GMAT then him and interned at a middle market this past summer.

Besides those, other students I have talked to seemed to confirm that the GMAT is not very important for banking. I wouldn't worry too much about it. And if anything, the way you can spin your story is to show that you got in with a low gmat score. And some others have said that if test scores do matter, they care infinitely more about quant (unless you are international and have trouble speaking English).

    • 1
Jan 13, 2015

Good to know! Thanks.

Jan 13, 2015
TwoThrones:
VanillaGorilla:

I've also got a question regarding pursuing IBD with a lower GMAT. From reading multiple threads here, it seems that getting into IBD via OCR is mostly about networking, "jumping through the hoops," etc. Did any of the conversations you had with current students confirm this? I've got a similar gmat score, so I'm still wondering how much of a barrier it would be.

Yes, as a matter of fact I have a friend at a top 15 recruiting for banking with a GMAT lower than mine. He has been doing really well so far and told me they never asked for his GMAT. Another student had an even lower GMAT then him and interned at a middle market this past summer.

Besides those, other students I have talked to seemed to confirm that the GMAT is not very important for banking. I wouldn't worry too much about it. And if anything, the way you can spin your story is to show that you got in with a low gmat score. And some others have said that if test scores do matter, they care infinitely more about quant (unless you are international and have trouble speaking English).

I'll write about this more when I do my Kellogg AMA, but it has surprised me how little GMAT has mattered for consulting recruiting. I know white/asian people with below 700 GMAT who got into MBB, and I know 760 GMAT white/asian people who didn't get even get on the closed lists (although, it's easy to bid into all of them anyways).

    • 1
Jan 13, 2015
OpsDude:
TwoThrones:
VanillaGorilla:

I've also got a question regarding pursuing IBD with a lower GMAT. From reading multiple threads here, it seems that getting into IBD via OCR is mostly about networking, "jumping through the hoops," etc. Did any of the conversations you had with current students confirm this? I've got a similar gmat score, so I'm still wondering how much of a barrier it would be.

Yes, as a matter of fact I have a friend at a top 15 recruiting for banking with a GMAT lower than mine. He has been doing really well so far and told me they never asked for his GMAT. Another student had an even lower GMAT then him and interned at a middle market this past summer.

Besides those, other students I have talked to seemed to confirm that the GMAT is not very important for banking. I wouldn't worry too much about it. And if anything, the way you can spin your story is to show that you got in with a low gmat score. And some others have said that if test scores do matter, they care infinitely more about quant (unless you are international and have trouble speaking English).

I'll write about this more when I do my Kellogg AMA, but it has surprised me how little GMAT has mattered for consulting recruiting. I know white/asian people with below 700 GMAT who got into MBB, and I know 760 GMAT white/asian people who didn't get even get on the closed lists (although, it's easy to bid into all of them anyways).

Thanks so much. This is awesome information and I can't wait for your AMA!

Jan 16, 2015

Seconded with your AMA! I always cringe when I see that low GMAT - no MBB shit on here. I'm American-raised but have a considerable amount of work experience consulting in my country, so I was hoping to use that whole "Latin market so let me in with

Prove them wrong for me!

Jan 16, 2015
egsc:

Seconded with your AMA! I always cringe when I see that low GMAT - no MBB shit on here. I'm American-raised but have a considerable amount of work experience consulting in my country, so I was hoping to use that whole "Latin market so let me in with < 700 GMAT" route.

Prove them wrong for me!

I hope you are talking to me. If so, I will prove them wrong, they won't see me coming!

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Jan 12, 2015

Admissions consulting is a scam. I'm glad TwoThrones did not fall for the trap.

Jan 12, 2015

Great story. I am happy for you. I kind of feel like you and I are walking a similar path, albeit I didn't even start studying for my GMAT yet.

What school did you get into? I think I overlooked it.

Jan 12, 2015
TheKid1:

Great story. I am happy for you. I kind of feel like you and I are walking a similar path, albeit I didn't even start studying for my GMAT yet.

What school did you get into? I think I overlooked it.

I didn't mention which schools in the post, so you didn't miss anything. For now I got into programs ranked 8-20, and I'll just leave it at that. Don't want to give out too much information yet, I need you guys salivating for more.

Jan 12, 2015

Was curious to hear how everything panned out. Congrats on the great accomplishment!

Jan 12, 2015

@"TwoThrones"

Congratulations! Agree with your view on admission consultants.

Now that you have a few 8-20 offers in hand, do you feel regretful that you didnt apply to better ranked programs? What are your top deciding factors in picking which program to enroll?

Jan 12, 2015
So Doge:

@TwoThrones

Congratulations! Agree with your view on admission consultants.

Now that you have a few 8-20 offers in hand, do you feel regretful that you didnt apply to better ranked programs? What are your top deciding factors in picking which program to enroll?

Excellent question. I actually was planning to apply to 3 M7 schools in Round 2, but I got extremely lazy during the holiday (our company shuts down, so I got 2 needed weeks off to actually relax). At first I felt regretful, but after doing more research since, I feel fine with my decision and feel like things will fall into place. I did target schools with good placement in consulting, and got into two of the better consulting schools outside of the M7.

I have a few factors for enrolling. I might detail a post later on explaining them in more detail. My factors were placements, sense of community, ways to get involved, extensive travel opportunities, humbleness of the school (weird, I know), and alumni network, in no particular order. I wanted to take advantage of 2 years off work, because I'm already getting sick of corporate life. And since my undergrad was a commuter school, I definitely missed the "experience" and do want to relive it, as corny as that sounds. Those are the main reasons I absolutely did not consider Columbia and NYU, aside from the fact that their GMAT requirements are more stringent.

Speaking of which, for every school I applied to with the exception of one, I was within the 80% GMAT range, barely. But I was in it. I knew that H/S/W were long shots. The funny thing is that since I "beat" the system for top 20 schools, I think my profile would have been solid for H/S/W and M7 if I had gotten a 700+ GMAT. Maybe, maybe not.

Jan 12, 2015

congrats

Jan 12, 2015

Thanks everyone for the questions and the congrats so far. I really appreciate it. I just wanted to give motivation to some people with low gmat scores. I always see threads across the web about people who got in with low GPAs, but to be frank, overcoming a low GPA is much easier than the GMAT. The only examples I could find of people with low GMATs were those who were URM, female, or in the army. I am none of the above. Here is one example I hope can give motivation to others to at least try.

Jan 16, 2015

Waiiiiit.... only low GMAT's you could find were female or in the army? I'm not understanding... how does one's gender have anything to do with their gmat score?

    • 1
Jan 16, 2015
savory:

Waiiiiit.... only low GMAT's you could find were female or in the army? I'm not understanding... how does one's gender have anything to do with their gmat score?

Females are an underrepresented population in the business school world, just like minorities and those in the army. Because of this, their barrier to entry into these schools are lower IN GENERAL than white/asian males. So it is more rare to find a white/asian male with a low gmat score who got into these programs. Just stating how it is, not implying one demographic is smarter/better than the other.

Jan 16, 2015
savory:

Waiiiiit.... only low GMAT's you could find were female or in the army? I'm not understanding... how does one's gender have anything to do with their gmat score?

You haven't heard of affirmative action?

Jan 16, 2015
Bullet-Tooth Tony:
savory:

Waiiiiit.... only low GMAT's you could find were female or in the army? I'm not understanding... how does one's gender have anything to do with their gmat score?

You haven't heard of affirmative action?

I am blessed by your presence in my thread. It took me a while to find you with your new picture and new username peinvestor.

Jan 17, 2015

Agreed, women are underrepresented in business school's... I'm a woman currently working on my MBA and I see it firsthand. I also agree with everything you said TwoThrones... just sounded like the OP was implying women get lower scores because they're women. Sure women get discriminated against because they are women, but gender does not determine intelligence and/or how well one tests on the GMAT. I get that the business/finance world is still mostly a boy's club and women aren't represented well, don't get paid nearly as much bla bla bla... Just wanted to confirm whether my interpretation what what the OP meant...

    • 2
Jan 12, 2015

@twothrones Happy to help. Please let me know if you need anything else as you make your decision!

Jan 12, 2015

Glad to have been mentioned on such an inspirational thread. Good luck and keep us posted about your final decision(s)!

Jan 13, 2015

Awesome story- congrats!

Jan 13, 2015

If u were a URM this thread would quickly devolve into 660 GMAT how did u get into a top 20, but since you're not this thread is omgee good job on the hard work. Not to take away from your post, much congratulations, but it goes to show the stat whores that ppl who get in with lower stats aren't necessarily there due to the evil affirmative action.

    • 1
Jan 13, 2015

Nice addition to the convo bruh

Jan 13, 2015
paidoff:

If u were a URM this thread would quickly devolve into 660 GMAT how did u get into a top 20, but since you're not this thread is omgee good job on the hard work. Not to take away from your post, much congratulations, but it goes to show the stat whores that ppl who get in with lower stats aren't necessarily there due to the evil affirmative action.

Thanks for the congratulations. I do think diversity is important especially when you are considering a few weaknesses in your application. But diversity does not necessarily mean the color of your skin, it also includes your experiences and background (professional and personal).

I took a step back and looked at my profile with a magnifying glass to find all my faults. I found quite a few, so I knew that I would have to make it up somewhere else. I think the general consensus is that for H/S/W you cannot have any glaring faults (except for Dominique Foxworth), for M7 you can have max 1, and T15 about 2-3 but they should be made up somewhere else.

Jan 13, 2015

I always find it funny when there is a comment about International Students' English abilities. What about International Students from the UK/Australia?

OK, OK...I am being very annoying here. But there are a few Internationals who can speak English, and you wouldn't know English wasn't their native language.

Jan 13, 2015
snakeoil:

I always find it funny when there is a comment about International Students' English abilities. What about International Students from the UK/Australia?

OK, OK...I am being very annoying here. But there are a few Internationals who can speak English, and you wouldn't know English wasn't their native language.

I will say, there are a few internationals who do not have adequate english skills. There's even more who are unwilling to contribute to class discussions or group projects because they are too quiet for cultural reasons.This is the main reason Kellogg is expanding the video essays.

Most internationals are really cool and smart though.

Jan 13, 2015
OpsDude:
snakeoil:

I always find it funny when there is a comment about International Students' English abilities. What about International Students from the UK/Australia?

OK, OK...I am being very annoying here. But there are a few Internationals who can speak English, and you wouldn't know English wasn't their native language.

I will say, there are a few internationals who do not have adequate english skills. There's even more who are unwilling to contribute to class discussions or group projects because they are too quiet for cultural reasons.This is the main reason Kellogg is expanding the video essays.

Most internationals are really cool and smart though.

Doesn't Kellogg give interviews to every interested applicant? (If I'm willing to make the trek to Evanston)

All I wanted to say not all of us International have poor English/social skills you know. Most, but not all!

Jan 13, 2015
snakeoil:
OpsDude:
snakeoil:

I always find it funny when there is a comment about International Students' English abilities. What about International Students from the UK/Australia?

OK, OK...I am being very annoying here. But there are a few Internationals who can speak English, and you wouldn't know English wasn't their native language.

I will say, there are a few internationals who do not have adequate english skills. There's even more who are unwilling to contribute to class discussions or group projects because they are too quiet for cultural reasons.This is the main reason Kellogg is expanding the video essays.

Most internationals are really cool and smart though.

Doesn't Kellogg give interviews to every interested applicant? (If I'm willing to make the trek to Evanston)

All I wanted to say not all of us International have poor English/social skills you know. Most, but not all!

The issue they've had, and other schools have had, is that alumni doing interviews in their home countries will switch from english to the native language, even though they aren't supposed to.

Jan 13, 2015
snakeoil:

I always find it funny when there is a comment about International Students' English abilities. What about International Students from the UK/Australia?

OK, OK...I am being very annoying here. But there are a few Internationals who can speak English, and you wouldn't know English wasn't their native language.

I definitely agree with that. I guess this has more to do before face time, and may apply to off campus recruiting. Just as @"SSits" mentioned in his resume thread, when you have a non-American name, the question of their English speaking ability goes off in their head, justified or not.

And in my visits to schools, I met quite a few internationals (even though they don't participate as much as domestic students in things like tours, interviews, etc.) and was really quite shocked at some of their English abilities. In my head, I thought they must be geniuses since they struggle to speak English but still are able to learn in it (and do better than me in verbal ha).

Jan 13, 2015

Neat story. How did you decide on how many and which schools to apply to? What is the balance between 'being realistic' given your application's strength and the schools which best match your interests? You certainly seemed to have defied realistic expectations.

Thanks for the AMA!

Jan 13, 2015
tangent style:

Neat story. How did you decide on how many and which schools to apply to? What is the balance between 'being realistic' given your application's strength and the schools which best match your interests? You certainly seemed to have defied realistic expectations.

Thanks for the AMA!

You are welcome. This is another great question. I originally decided on 11 applications (8 top 20 first round, 3 M7 second round) because I wanted to see if I could muster up the strength to get into the first 8, and if I did, try my luck at higher ranked schools after my applications were more polished (and easier to do). I first looked at every schools middle 80% range and saw if it included a 660. I cut out schools that really stress GMAT. For example, I think Wharton's middle 80% is 690-770 or something. That means that really no one gets below 700, so I didn't want to think too idealistically. And some schools like NYU and UCLA really stress GMAT, so I knew they weren't worth the effort. It's kind of funny to think that I am competitive at schools like Ross and Duke but not at UCLA. Admissions can be a funny thing.

At that point, fit kind of came together. I was looking for schools with a smaller class size and more intimate environment. If I had a chance at Harvard, I would have applied but the large class size and being close to the city didn't really resonate with me. Schools like Tuck, Darden, Cornell, and Duke were pretty awesome to me. I knew I had to play the numbers game, because my profile was hard to judge. I wanted top 20, and decided that the "lowest" ranked school I would apply to was Kenan-Flagler. From there, it was really about tightening my story and always thinking that I had to take some risks to make up for my glaring weakness.

My brother is an excellent writer, and when he read the first draft of my essays, he told me they were good but...standard. I was mad because this was exactly what I was trying to avoid. I went back and really thought outside of the box. I don't think adcoms will ever see essays like mine again (my interests were out there).

I think the advice that you apply to 2-3 stretches, 2-3 realistic, and 1 safety is still excellent advice. I would make sure that you actually would go to the school you consider a safety, or else why apply? For balance, you definitely have to research the schools. I knew the schools who really emphasize nonprofit work were going to be interested in me regardless of GMAT. Some other schools I visited brushed off their nonprofit people to a little corner, and I knew those schools would be pretty hard to get into. Make sure to talk to 2-3 people at least per school to get an idea. Even better, talk to the president of the club you are interested in. Mine was Net Impact, so I had some awesome conversations. My best conversation was actually with the president at UT Austin, but I ended up not applying there due to their relatively weak consulting placement.

By the way, I did have people who told me I have no chance and to consider applying to lower ranked schools. I didn't let that get to me, and that actually made me work harder. I also took advantage of open interviews wherever I could, because I didn't really know the strength of my profile until I started getting invitations to interview. Hope this answers your question.

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Jan 14, 2015

Thank you for the detailed answer!

One more, if you have time: do you think the smaller class sizes (I also prefer this) outweigh the size benefit to your network?

Thanks again and best of luck!

Jan 14, 2015
tangent style:

Thank you for the detailed answer!

One more, if you have time: do you think the smaller class sizes (I also prefer this) outweigh the size benefit to your network?

Thanks again and best of luck!

No worries, keep the questions coming. I think the smaller class size might outweigh the benefit of the network, especially at a school like Tuck, where they are known to have the most responsive alumni. That's what its all about, so if you go to a school with a bigger alumni base but only get a 40% response rate, I'd argue that the smaller more responsive alumni base might be better.

Jan 14, 2015

What were your EC's outside of work like (if any)? And since you classify yourself as an 'ORM', what do you think stood out in your profile?

Also, congrats!

Jan 14, 2015
nkhanlegend:

What were your EC's outside of work like (if any)?

My EC's were extremely heavy. I guarantee you I wouldn't have gotten a second look in my application without them. And actually, the one denial I have so far is due to the school having one professional essay only (at least I think it is). I don't want to go into too much detail, but basically I was a board member for a nonprofit (much deeper involvement and less bs than most applicants), and made a decent impact in education for a recognizable name. Tying this with my professional goals was icing on the cake.

You can only change so much at the time of applying. GMAT is the most popular, but I wasn't about to take it a 4th time. Work is really about how you spin your experiences, and since I currently work with C-level executives on projects, it was nice to name drop them (even though my work wasn't very sexy).

nkhanlegend:

And since you classify yourself as an 'ORM', what do you think stood out in your profile?

Also, congrats!

Definitely my volunteer work. Some schools do not emphasize it (MIT for instance does not have a volunteer section on their application) so I knew I had to find schools that matched my preference. Also, with my life experience being very diverse (like I mentioned before, it would be hard for people to replicate my interests), I think that really stood out and brought a very different perspective on business. I was sitting with an adcom before applying and told him my story. He liked it because he could connect with it. He told me that we were very similar (even though our experiences were very different), so it had to be my diverseness but grounded in reality where people can empathize with me. He was the adcom I stayed in contact with throughout the process and he was the one who called me with good news.

And thank you for the good words.

Jan 14, 2015

That post was really encouraging... Thxs for sharing...

Feb 6, 2015

The average GMAT score of women has consistently been 20+ points below that of the average male test taker. That's not to say women don't get 700+ scores, but given this disparity, women can get into top schools with lower scores than men can.

http://www.gmac.com/~/media/Files/gmac/Research/GM...

Feb 7, 2015
Frank Slaughtery:

The average gmat score of women has consistently been 20+ points below that of the average male test taker. That's not to say women don't get 700+ scores, but given this disparity, women can get into top schools with lower scores than men can.

http://www.gmac.com/~/media/Files/gmac/Research/GM...

This is interesting information. You can see Chinese and Indian test scores have a much higher average in general than other countries.

Jan 2, 2016

I don't get it - why is this an AMA? Top 20 programs include schools like UNC, Kelley, Olin some of which have like 35-40% acceptance rate, not terribly difficult to do with a 660.

Congrats to the OP, but I'm sure most on this website are aiming at or above that caliber anyway.

And why is a 660 GMAT giving advice on how to study for it?
Plus the advice on admission consultants is terrible.

I used a consultant and got into a couple M7 schools that I would have had much worse odds with had I not used him. I highly recommend him and if anyone wants to know more PM me.
You are about to drop 150k on an MBA and are worried about the extra 3k to get into a better program?

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Jan 5, 2016

Sorry I'm not as elite as you my friend. I used Top 20 just to be broad, as rankings are all different. The worst ranked school I applied to was actually UNC. And considering UNC's average GMAT is 700 (higher than Duke), I would say that its an accomplishment to get looked at.

And sorry for the GMAT advice, I'll defer to you next time.

Jan 5, 2016
TwoThrones:

Sorry I'm not as elite as you my friend. I used Top 20 just to be broad, as rankings are all different. The worst ranked school I applied to was actually UNC. And considering UNC's average GMAT is 700 (higher than Duke), I would say that its an accomplishment to get looked at.

And sorry for the GMAT advice, I'll defer to you next time.

Okay thats good to hear. I have sales experience at a top startup like that and a 740+ GMAT so I wasn't sure if being 'sales' and specifically being at a 'startup' would hurt my chances.

"It is better to have a friendship based on business, than a business based on friendship." - Rockefeller.

"Live fast, die hard. Leave a good looking body." - Navy SEAL

Jan 2, 2016

Do you think brandname is harder with startups.

Example do you think AdComms really know whats going on with companies like Zenefits, Slack, Box, Palantir, etc.

"It is better to have a friendship based on business, than a business based on friendship." - Rockefeller.

"Live fast, die hard. Leave a good looking body." - Navy SEAL

Jan 5, 2016
UTDFinanceGuy:

Do you think brandname is harder with startups.

Example do you think AdComms really know whats going on with companies like Zenefits, Slack, Box, Palantir, etc.

The best way to think about this is to think of AdComms as normal people who follow tech like you or me. So in that case they most likely have heard of the above companies. In my opinion, brand names are not harder with startups. If anything, I can argue that they probably have a better brand name. Imagine a candidate working for Yelp vs. PG&E. I think Yelp carries a stronger name with increased responsibility.

Jan 5, 2016

Wow, can't believe its been a year since I wrote the post. I'm happy to answer additional questions if anyone has any. I might post an update about b-school experience, but probably not until summer. Honestly, I feel like the first semester is not a good representation of what b-school is like.

Apr 17, 2018

Man, it has now been over three years since I wrote this post. Happy to answer any more questions if they come. My life is very different than I thought it would be three years ago. I might have to start posting here more often.

Apr 17, 2018

Can you tell us which school you ended up going to and which career path you're taking?

Apr 17, 2018

I ended up going to Ross. Got into Duke, UNC, Tepper, Ross, and Cornell, waitlisted at Tuck and Haas, and rejected at Darden.

I'm in Product Management at a tech company in the bay area. Interned at the most prestigious design consulting firm (pretty easy to guess), and rejected an offer at an MBB.

Apr 18, 2018

haha I had a huge hunch you went to Ross for some reason, I could just tell from all your comments. GREAT choice... I grew up in metro Detroit.

Why'd you turn down MBB? decided it wasn't for you?

Congrats, that is awesome.

Apr 19, 2018

Sick (wo)man! I grew up there myself.

I had an epiphany in business school that life really matters. I couldn't justify traveling 4 days a week and also be working in such a corporate culture. Tech's lifestyle is just too hard to pass up. On top of that, there is still decent money to be made and I also wanted to see the fruits of my labors rather than passing a powerpoint to a client.

Apr 17, 2018
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