Ask Natalie from Accepted about Business School Admissions

WSO is excited to have the experts from Accepted on board to answer applicant questions in the business school forum. Here are messages from Natalie and Jen who will be checking this thread every few days:


I'm here to answer any questions you have regarding Business School Admissions. I am a former Admissions Dean and Director and currently a consultant with Accepted. While at Accepted, I've helped clients gain admission to top BBA, MBA, MFE, MF, MCF and PhD programs over the last 7 years and I'm happy to answer questions you have about Business School Admissions. - Natalie (@Natalie_Accepted")


I'm happy to answer any questions you have regarding business school admissions. I am a former Assistant Director of Admissions at Cornell who also worked in career services at Duke Fuqua. For the last six years as an Accepted admissions consultant, I've helped applicants gain admission to top MBA, EMBA, and MF programs. I'm delighted to answer your questions about business school admissions. - Jen (@jenweld")

If you would like a profile evaluation for schools, please provide the following info:
1) Brief description of your full-time work experience.
2) Your GMAT or GRE. Percentiles preferred.
3) College info: The name of the college, your GPA or grade average, your major, year of graduation. For any graduate degrees, please provide the same info. If you grades are low, please indicate if there were extenuating circumstances.
4) Significant college and post-college extra-curricular activities or community service, especially leadership experience.
5) Important certifications like CFA, CPA, FSA, or CA.
6) Your post-MBA goal.

Or if you just have a different question about MBA admissions, we'll do our best to answer it.

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Comments (1434)

Jul 1, 2015 - 3:21pm

Welcome! Have you worked with people applying to top PT MBA programs? I'm interested in Kellogg, Booth, & Ross part-time, but scored a 650 on my first GMAT attempt. Is this good enough? It looks like it is for Ross, but I'm not sure about Kellogg or Booth. Thanks for your help!

Jul 1, 2015 - 7:48pm

Hi Eskimo Brothers, I have successfully worked with part time clients for all three schools you list and also reviewed and made final decisions on applications for 12 years for part time applicants (also full-time and undergraduate) as an admissions director. Since GMAT isn't the only measure for schools, I'm happy to take this conversation off line and you can send me your resume. Just click on the link that says, "have Natalie contact me" and I can review your transcripts, work experience and we can chat about why you are interested in an MBA. I would also like to see your GMAT breakdown (Q vs. V) and if you want to share your AWA and IR, I'm happy to look at that as well. The Q has a much stronger correlation to your performance in the core courses. I realize that may not be a factor for Booth because they really only have one required core course. When you click on the link and get to me, please let me know that I met you through WSO. Warmest Regards,

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein
Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean
My bio | Contact Me

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
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Best Response
Jul 1, 2015 - 7:48pm

I already have an MBA, but am thinking of applying again for another degree for a two year vacation, a chance to share some of my experiences with the next generation, and to flex my gray matter a little bit. Also, I intend to drink all of my classmates under the table. Of course, I'll write something more constructive in my essays.

I've had a succesful career in trading and senior management positions in a global investment bank. But, as you may know, I also faced some challenges along the way.

My GMAT is stale, but assume I will score noticeably above the average at any school. I am also a touch older than the average candidate. My wife doesn't work, so I can move anywhere.

My questions are:

Do you think MBA admissions folks will value my unique background or will they shun me because of some of the (undeserved, in my opinion) bad press I have received over the years?

What schools should I be targeting?

Jul 1, 2015 - 7:59pm

Hi Dick,

Some schools welcome students that have MBAs for refreshers into their EMBA programs (and some do not). I don't remember drinking "classmates under the table" as being a prerequisite to any program, but I can tell you that Wharton's San Francisco program overly emphasized the bar in the hotel they use at a recent information session I attended. I would like to know more about you, why your experience is unique and also why you received bad press. In aggregate, admissions directors are somewhat risk averse. I need to know more about you before I can suggest schools. Please contact me by clicking on "have Natalie contact me" on my bio page and we can discuss schools to target.

Warmest Regards,

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein
Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean
My bio | Contact Me

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
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Jul 1, 2015 - 9:16pm

Hi Wilhug,

It's about the quality of experience that you have and how your public sector experience ties into your goals. I suggest you review our free special report The MBA Action Plan. It will also depend on the schools to which you plan to apply (some schools like younger candidates and some schools like more seasoned candidates). You are welcome to get in touch with me for more information by clicking on the have Natalie contact me link


Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
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Jul 1, 2015 - 10:01pm


I'm considering applying to MBA programs this fall (Anderson, Haas, and Warton [and maybe HKUST too]). I graduated from college 4 years ago, and I feel like I have a decent resume (GPA: 3.63, GMAT: 740, Top 30 Undergrad University, Double-major). I am concerned about things that may look bad on my app:
-11 months not working
-No leadership positions since college (I held two leadership positions in college though)
-Variety of jobs (engineer, actuary, technical consultant)

How poorly will those thing reflect on my admission chances?

Jul 1, 2015 - 11:57pm

Hi SuperAndy. The 11 months off is a concern. What did you do in that time? In terms of leadership, you're never too late. Get involved with your community or at work. Articulate your vision for the organization with your colleagues and subordinates and get buy in from your supervisors to push your vision forward. Admissions committees want to see that you've demonstrated leadership and can quantify your achievements. Did you increase revenues? Decrease costs? Increase efficiency? Increase market share? Increase shareholder value? If so, by how much. Think about your Deltas. What happened before Andy started with the organization and what happened after Andy left the organization (or completed the project). I also recommend you review Leadership in Admissions You can also contact me directly by clicking the tab "have Natalie contact me"

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
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Jul 1, 2015 - 10:12pm

What do you believe are some common characteristics (aside from the obvious good GMAT/GPA) that you see in applicants who are successful in getting acceptance at a top school?

I think- therefore I fuck
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Jul 2, 2015 - 2:13am

Worklikeamachine, you ask a great question. What is the secret sauce? Applying to school is very similar to blind dating. On the adcoms side of the table, they are trying to figure out if they want to have a 5 course meal with you or a quick coffee. Why would you want to have a 5 course meal with someone? They're interesting. They do things that are unique. They inform you about things you didn't know (you can educate the adcom). They keep you glued to their every word (both in the application and in person). In creating a class, the admissions director must take his or her applicant pool and make a beautiful mosaic out of these incredibly diverse pieces. Each fitting together to make a class that will demonstrate their leadership, their creativity, their foresight. Each school has its nuances and you need to get to know what the school values. If its not what you enjoy, then you may want to think about other schools. To summarize: the candidates that stand out show initiative and drive, a demonstrated record of achievement, collaboration and leadership, passion (not just for work, but for hobbies, activities and/or service), strong communication and interpersonal skills, courage, creativity, maturity and self-awareness. They are proactive, fearless and loyal. They are open to advice and conduct their research. They know their strengths and weaknesses and want to or already have begun to address those weaknesses. The secret sauce: you need to intrigue the committee and set yourself apart from your competition because of who you are, not just what you do.

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
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Jul 1, 2015 - 10:16pm

I plan on applying to Stanford GSB's Deferred Program this year (Rising Junior here). I've got a high GMAT (780) but due to a chronic illness my grades suffered this year and I have around a >2.0 GPA. With all else being potentially competitive (name brand internship, top school, nice recommendations, and essays) could I possibly have a chance at Stanford?

Jul 2, 2015 - 2:32am

OvercomeAll, I'm so sorry about your illness. As a former director/dean, my concern would be that I know you are bright, but is your illness going to impact your school work at Stanford? You need to figure out a way to convince Derek Bolton and his team otherwise. Also, I'm not sure what you mean by "nice" recommendations. I hope you mean they tell Stanford that you are the best candidate they have ever seen. Nice won't cut it. Having said all that, one of my favorite and most successful students had a 2.2 GPA and 780 GMAT. He wasn't ill, but someone in his family was ill. He did make an appointment to see me and plea his case. He was incredibly convincing because I admitted him and he graduated top of his class, became student government president, class president, gained a job at a top consulting firm and is now an MD at that firm. He was proactive in taking courses that made me less concerned about his drive to complete our courses successfully. He also recently received an alumni achievement award from the school. If you want to take this off line, please contact me by clicking on the "have Natalie contact me" link and we can chat this week.


Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
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Jul 2, 2015 - 12:18am

Hi Natalie,

Thanks for doing this. As a consultant from a top non MMB consulting firm, what would make me a more competitive applicant for Harvard, Stanford, or Wharton?

Option 1) 3-4 years consulting, business school sponsorship to return to my firm after I graduate.
Option 2) 2 years consulting, 2 years in industry or entrepreneurship.

The rest of the profile - 3.8 Econ degree from a California semi-target, started a college business, published author, 750 GMAT

Thanks in advance!

Jul 2, 2015 - 2:21am

Hi Vodka Redbull, Option 1 is common, but less risky and adcoms are risk adverse. However, in thinking about H,S,W you really want to set yourself apart. Option 2 depends on what you wind up doing in industry or entrepreneurship. Have you made a difference? Also see my comments to Worklikeamachine. It's not just about what you do. You need to stand out from the crowd beyond your work life. You need to be interesting. If you don't see the reply to Worklikeamachine, I'll send it to you on the next post. My clients that have been admitted to H,S,W have taken both routes (option 1 and option 2), but they are some of the most creative and intriguing people I have met.

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
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Jul 2, 2015 - 6:01am

Hi Natalie,

I am an International Student from India. I just graduated from an Non-Target university (Newark campus) in New Jersey. I majored in Finance and am currently in India figuring things out. I am either going to be working in ER/IB or I am going to be fully involved in a non-tech startup in India (working on the groundwork for the same). I had a average cum GPA with 4 internships on my current resume.

I haven't given the GMAT yet but will do so eventually. What are my chances of getting into a Top MBA (Finance) program (Would love NYU/Wharton). What score should I target to even stand a chance?

Thank you

If you fall down, make sure you get back up with a vengeance!
Jul 2, 2015 - 2:18pm

Mr. Mumbai, you don't give me any information to make an assessment. How can I determine chances when I have very little data on you? I do suggest some of our special reports particularly the "Against All Odds" report. And then, contact me directly when you figure out what you are planning to do for work, your GMAT, grades, courses, etc. You can get in touch with me directly by clicking on the "have Natalie contact me" tab

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
Jul 2, 2015 - 9:27am

Specifically on this site, most people entering top MBA programs have finance or consulting experience. Are there any other industries that are big feeders for MBA programs, or do most other students have diverse work experiences? What are some non-standard industries from which people have been admitted to MBA programs?

Jul 2, 2015 - 2:23pm

Skydiver, I've been seeing a lot of candidates coming out of tech, biotech, healthcare, consumer packaged goods, advertising, retail, real estate (about 50% finance related however) and a lot of entrepreneurs. Atypical, but often solid candidates: airline, heavy manufacturing, energy (dirty and clean), education, entertainment and law.

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
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Jul 2, 2015 - 9:30am

An actuary in Booth's part time MBA program once said that actuarial work experience isn't "prestigous" enough for admission to a full-time top MBA program. Do you agree with this assessment?

Jul 2, 2015 - 2:34pm

Skydiver, I've had actuarial clients gain admission to top schools. Please read my answer to WorklikeaMachine. It's not only about your work experience. You need the secret sauce. If you can find the post, let me know and I'll send it to you. Natalie

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
Jul 2, 2015 - 2:30pm

Skydiver, because women are underrepresented in business school (unlike other professional schools), B-Schools heavily recruit women and I do believe qualified women have a slight edge over men in B-School admissions. If you are a woman applying to business school, I highly suggest you join the Forte Foundation and the new 85Broads (they rebranded the network at ellevatenetwork) Warmest Regards, Natalie

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
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Jul 2, 2015 - 2:40pm

You have the right set of schools. ADcomms will feel more comfortable that you can handle the work if you passed the CPA on the first attempt. In terms of increasing your chances, you need to take on leadership roles both at work and in your community. Figure out your goals and if they are realistic begin networking in that industry. Review the Special Report "MBA Action Plan" Feel free to get in touch with me so I can understand how "low" your lower GPA really is by clicking on "have Natalie contact me" Natalie

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
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Jul 2, 2015 - 2:37pm

Thanks for doing this. I was curious on the Additional Information section of the application. For what circumstances should this be filled out? Should it be a high level summary or be more in-depth and descript (e.g., health reasons).


Play the long game - give back, help out, mentor - just don't ever forget where you came from. #Bootstrapped
Jul 2, 2015 - 2:46pm


Schools want explanations in the optional essay (or additional information section). They are interested in knowing about any gaps in your resume, why you didn't ask your supervisor for a recommendation, why you may have tanked on your grades or gmat. You do not need to disclose health issues because of HIPPA, however, if you need to delicately explain why you didn't have strong grades or gmat scores, you may have to reveal the a health related cause. Some schools don't want to hear TMI, I wanted all the data. You should understand the information each school needs learn about you in order to make a good decision. Feel free to contact me offline if you have unusual circumstances you want to discuss one on one by clicking on the "have Natalie contact me" tab

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
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Jul 2, 2015 - 2:46pm

I realize that you addressed a similar situation above but please weigh in: I'm looking to stay in CA w/ UCLA, USC, Cal, and possibly Stanford (long shot).

Current: Commercial Lender at well recognized regional bank
-2.5 non target gpa*
-770 GMAT
-will have CFA level 3 passed by time of application
-strong letter of rec(s) from executives at my current bank
-leadership roles w/ in fraternity
-extensive history of stock/ options trading success (30-100% returns y/y)

*Father was diagnosed w/ cancer during my sophomore year and ultimately succumbed to the disease. This sent me in a downward spiral, fortunately I was able to recover.

Jul 3, 2015 - 1:36am

Dear Outright, I'm so sorry to hear about your Dad. The GPA will be an issue, but easily explained. USC will be forgiving. However, the UC schools have a minimum 3.0 GPA requirement with which the board of regents burdened them by law. An admissions director can jump through hoops to get that 3.0 requirement waived and they may do that for you given your other attributes. Stanford is a long shot for everyone, but as private schools, neither USC or Stanford are bound to the minimum. Just an FYI, using GPA as a requirement is hog wash. A physics major or chemical engineer has a very different curriculum than a sociology major (no offense intended to sociology majors). Schools like Columbia and MIT don't pad their grades, but I know the schools that use a B as their median rather than a C. GPA is really a worthless measure, unless the adcom knows the context. Check out a webinar "Reality Check" that I conducted a while back (the information is still relevant) or our blog post on addressing poor grades…. Natalie

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
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Jul 2, 2015 - 3:25pm

Hi Natalie,

For finance professionals: do H/S/W still favor IB&PE profiles over S&T profiles? And why is that in your opinion?

Note: I got the feeling that S&T applicants oftentimes have insane stats (GMAT/GPA) but are nevertheless rejected (at least by H/S), simply because they started in S&T. IB&PE people on the other hand can afford to have lower stats but still get accepted by H/S, again simply because they did IB&PE. This in isolation does not make too much sense to me and I'd love to see your view on this.

Thanks and regards.

Jul 3, 2015 - 1:56am

Dear SpaceMarine, I actually do think that IB&PE are favored at many schools (not just H/S/W). As for my opinion, an applicant can make an IB deal or a PE portfolio company (and his/her role in it) sound sexier than S&T. Moreover, the perception is that IB and PE are more difficult positions to obtain than landing a job on a trading desk. Having said that, I've been able to work with my traders and make their jobs sound very sexy given the Big Data Analytics and New Financial Models. I also still think many adcomms have "The Wolf of Wall Street" or for that matter, the 1987 "Wall Street" greed is good mentality in their minds when thinking about S&T candidates and they would like to "believe" that IB and PE are above pushing garbage, which is predominately portrayed in movies and books about Wall Street. Having seen the bonuses my IB and PE clients earn, greed is everywhere. My 2 cents. Natalie

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
Jul 2, 2015 - 3:45pm

Hi Natalie,

Thx so much for this! Awesome that you are helping out the community on WSO.

Ok, question for you:
White male, 780 GMAT and 3.75 gpa from a non-target in math/econ
1 yr of financial operations, 1 yr of spreadsheet coding for financial operations at a top BB bank - recommendations will be top bucket (spreadsheet coding = using VBA/SQL to automate repetitive processes)
Very passionate about nonprofit work - ton of volunteering, serve on a couple of boards, etc.
Want to do IB post-MBA, feel like I'm well-positioned for this with my background, age, and stats; makes sense to go ASAP since I'm 100% committed to making this transition; overall reasons and story are tight

Applying to the top finance programs so Wharton, Chi, MIT, Col, Tuck, Stern, Yale, Cornell, UVA

In short, what could screw my application over? What do you see as the biggest possible shortcomings? I want to be in as strong of a position as possible when Sept/Oct roll around. Ty ty!

Jul 3, 2015 - 2:18am

Dear YoshilsAwesome, the good news: great stats, volunteer work (I think..I'm not sure what you've done on the boards) and good range of schools (you will get admitted to at least half of these schools). The bad news, fin ops isn't all that respected at the top MBA programs (I know that stinks). You need to make coding sound magical. I see a lot of techies automating processes, making things more efficient and cutting costs for the organization. But I also see so many programmers applying to b-school that you need to stand out from the crowd. What is your secret sauce? You need to have a tight elevator pitch, a interesting story to keep the committee focused on your best qualities, a strong IB network to take the burden off the career services office and a fabulous personality once those interviews start rolling in. Get Columbia's app done asap. They roll their admissions and reward early applicants (you can apply early for regular decision if you don't want to obligate yourself to attending CBS, however if its your top choice, apply ED and you up your chances by about 15%). Review our special report on the MBA Action Plan and contact me if you need help with your strategy.

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
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Jul 2, 2015 - 4:26pm

How have you seen Canadian students compete in American Post-grad programs? I'm currently going in to my junior year and was curious as to how Americans view Canadian post-secondary and financial institutions. Are there any suggestions for us northerners on how to improve our applications?

Jul 3, 2015 - 2:25am

Lordbendtner, Canadian students are held to the same standards as American students, so do well in school, lead inside and outside the classroom, make an impact at work (show your deltas), make sure you are not all about work, but also have outside interests that intrigue the adcomm and read, read, read (it helps you write, write, write). Read everything from classics to RSS feeds. Right now, read our MBA Special Report on The MBA Action Plan Good luck and stay in touch. Natalie

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
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Jul 2, 2015 - 6:20pm

2 questions:

How do schools view IR scores? I know it used to be considered new, but at this point they have a good amount of data on it. Is it more, less or roughly equally as important as the AWA. Do certain schools care more than others?

I'm interested in H/S/W as well as Sloan, U Chicago and INSEAD. I am a white male from a large state school with a 3.8 and a 750 GMAT. I'm working in a strong group at a lower tier BB and am looking to do mid market PE, then business school. I have a strong leadership profile from college (strong/unique internships, president of student orgs, international stuff, etc). What would you recommend I do over the next 2-3 years to further improve my profile besides placing into the best PE shop I can? What are some good "leadership" examples that you have seen from people that were working banking hours?

Thank you!

Jul 3, 2015 - 2:47am


Some schools still are not using the IR, but most are using them. For those that use them, it has about the same weight as the AWA, but in my opinion the IR reveals much more relevant information than the AWA.

Banking hours are an issue, but you can take one weekend a month and make a difference in your community. Don't just volunteer, lead an effort. For example, one of my former clients re-established a boys and girls club by getting people in his bank to volunteer with the kids and raised funding to reopen the club. He also came up with a financial instrument that ensured that the club could remain open for at least 8 years. Another former client took time off from his bank to lead a hike/climb in the Himalayas. He had great stories to tell from that hike that included turning back around when they hit the second camp because one member of the team was injured. You really need to think about what you are most passionate about and go for it. While the following client wasn't in IB, but in PE, she used her athleticism as a metaphor for her business success. This blog post is rather old, but I think it gives you the idea of why athletes stand out I have one other observation about athletes: they know how to size up the competition, understand leadership and teamwork and most importantly, they are dedicated to excellence. So have fun with your extracurriculars and do something that will make a difference...even on bankers hours (admissions directors have similar hours so they can relate). Good luck! Natalie

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
  • 1
Jul 3, 2015 - 2:33am

Ronald, this isn't tinder :-). You can contact me by clicking on the contact me button. You will be asked to complete a form (please submit your real name and email) and then Accepted will send you my contact information including my phone number. My husband insists that I make my WSO primates jump through at least one hoop to get to me. I insist that you email me for an appointment. I do have clients that already have appointments confirmed with me. Natalie

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
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Jul 3, 2015 - 4:35pm

How technical was your accounting major? What classes did you take? MF programs don't care as much about the extra curriculars. They are looking for really smart quants. Who inspires you? The 750 GMAT should help. I see a pretty good shot at both programs as long as you have the technical/quant background (accounting is not super technical; its more practical). Natalie

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
Jul 4, 2015 - 2:05am

Do M7 schools place a premium on candidates who did IB -> PE over those who only did IB? How much so?

Everything else being exactly the same, how much of an advantage does someone from a megafund have on someone from a mm fund? Obviously MF is more competitive and that's well known. But how large is that gap? Do adcoms look at AUM?

How important is brand name of undergrad institution? Is there a major premium on ivies and other top universities?

How do schools view reapplications? Have you seen anyone relatedly apply to only HSW and after a year or two of rejections break in? You'd think someone with a decent degree of flexibility could simply keep reapplying to top schools until they got "lucky"

How are entrepreneurs viewed? Is it all about results? Aka they want to see you actually got funded, turned a profit, or at least sold a good amount of units of product

How important is networking? I've heard before of senior guys who worked at highly respected firms being large donors to schools or sitting on alumni power committees. Do these types have the influence to be a deal breaker in an admissions decision at a top school? I've heard of "every person we take at least gets into XYZ top program" before. In the right situation, is that actually possible?

Thank you!

Jul 4, 2015 - 3:36am

Lion, I believe the varied experience of PE+IB helps candidates at HBS, Wharton and Columbia, but I haven't seen a difference in the impact at Stanford, Sloan, Kellogg and Booth. Each school has its own way of looking at experience and their are variations among the M7.

Adcomms at some schools look at AUM, but really they know what's hot from their alumni and students. I always suggest my clients educate the adcomm about what they do because we can't assume they will do the research when they are reading thousands of applications.

Schools will say their classes are diverse, but my Ivy and Ivy+ (non-Ivy's that are well regarded like Stanford, MIT, Johns Hopkins, Cal Tech, Chicago, Northwestern, Duke, Wash U, Vanderbilt, Notre Dame, Rice, Emory, Georgetown, Williams, Amherst, Bowdoin get into M7s with much more frequency than large state schools (with Cal, Virginia, Michigan, UCLA being exceptions) or small regional schools. Outside the US, Adcomms also look for candidates that come from the best schools. For example, IITs in India; Beijing, Fudan, Tsinghua in China; Oxford, Cambridge in Great Britain; Keio and University of Tokyo in Japan; Seoul National in Korea; Monterrey in Mexico; Technion in Israel. Why? The alumni networks and the companies that recruit as these schools are often top notch. Having said that, I've had clients from little known schools or with little cache gain admission to H/S/W.

The schools look favorably on reapplicants if they improve their application (it is important to gain feedback from unbiased sources as well as alumni and current students). I've had several clients in this position who have come to me after schools denied their admission. We work together on a strategy and my reapplicants have been very successful at gaining admission to M7 schools. You do have a diminishing law of returns. If you apply three times and you are denied each time, its unlikely you will get in the 4th time.

Entrepreneurship is viewed uniquely at each school. Results are important in any role, but particularly with entrepreneurs because there is a big difference between having a cool concept and launching/growing a thriving business (not just how much you raised in capital or how you value your company, but how you are penetrating the market and what your good or service does to make lives easier). Again, your essays need to demonstrate your achievement and if you failed, what you learned relative to your position in the company. One of my clients worked at one failed started up and launched another failed start up. He's attending HBS now and its because his essays were incredibly thoughtful and poignant about these experiences.

I'm not sure what you mean by your xyz example. Please be more specific. In terms of networking, it is extremely important to network with the students, faculty and alumni of the school, but you don't have to sit on boards nor do you have to get a recommendation from a board member. You want people who are willing to go to bat for you. Its also important to network with people in your post-MBA industry/function even before you begin your application. If we know you have a network, it puts us at ease in terms of what happens to you after graduation. For example, while at Cornell I would receive an annual call from the late Sam Johnson, the school's benefactor. He always gave me a list of candidates he wanted me to review. I always asked him if he would hire these candidates after school. If he hemmed and hawed, I took that as a big red flag. If he said absolutely, this candidate is the best thing since Johnson Wax, I took that as a green light. I reviewed these "flagged candidates" with my committee and also with my Dean. My Dean gave me complete control over the outcome but he always had my back. Making the results calls to Sam was sometimes difficult. I first had to contact the candidate to obtain permission to reveal the decision to Mr. Johnson regardless of outcome and all outcomes were not favorable. We only admitted qualified candidates and if Sam was enthusiastic about them, that was icing on the cake. I'm sure he did the same thing at Wharton because he was a Wharton alum (he sent his kids to Cornell, however, so I'm sure the new director is hearing from Fisk Johnson these days). However, if Susie Alumna class of 2000 called me with the same kind of recommendation, I went through the same process with her as I did with Sam Johnson. I trusted my students, alumni, faculty and staff to bring me the best candidates and I gave them my individual attention. So yes, networking helps. Thanks for taking the time to ask great questions! Natalie

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
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Jul 4, 2015 - 8:39am

It wasn't very technical as in having separate math classes but there was a lot of algebra and calculus embedded in finance classes. But I've taken semester courses in programming, calculus, algebra, statistics, and operations research from a different school

Jul 6, 2015 - 2:56pm

You sound like you have a solid profile for the schools you are selecting. You need to show your knowledge in the area on the application and in your Statement of Purpose. Did you take Matlab or C++? Natalie

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
Jul 5, 2015 - 8:31pm

1) Work Experience: 3 years of top BB ER (GS/MS/JPM)
2) GMAT: 750
3) College: Lower-Tier Ivy (Brown, Cornell, Penn)
4) 2 leadership positions in college, sigificant volunteer experience and leadership at non-profit. "Interesting" hobby that I dedicate 15+ hours a week to and received recognition (i.e. photography award, published writing)
Post-MBA Goals: Debating between tech or investment management long-term. Would leaning toward tech give me any advantages in essays because it is a "hot" area right now?

Goals: H/S/W and maybe MIT, chances? Should I be adjusting my focus? Thank you for your help!

Jul 6, 2015 - 3:12pm

Hi Winsle, I hope you had a nice holiday weekend.

Both tech and IM are overrepresented goals, so I don't believe either with give you an advantage. Rather you need solid reasons for entering the fields in which you are interested. So my suggestion is select the field you love for your post-MBA goal because you'll be able to back it up with passion for essay (if applicable) and interview (if invited). You can always change your mind once in school. H/S/W stretch for everyone. Also, you don't mention your grades, major (I know Brown doesn't offer GPA), but you are giving me insufficient information to evaluate you for H/S/W/MIT. My advice, have some match schools or safeties in your back pocket. If you want to give me more detail for an assessment, click on the contact me button at the end of this post and I'll evaluate your profile. Warmest Regards, Natalie

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
Jul 6, 2015 - 3:20pm

Hi Natalie,

Thanks for doing this.

African American male
Academic stats:
740 GMAT. (80 percent math and like 95 verbal)
3.73 accounting gpa (had a 3.0 first semester every other semester is around 3.8 or higher)
3.62 masters in accounting
Both degrees from University at Buffalo. Full scholarship for undergrad
CPA(very high marks. Don't know if this matters or if there is a place to report on application)

Work experience:
2 years at time of apps. 3 years at matriculation.
Big 4 advisory group. Promoted this summer.

Volunteer experience:
Formal mentor program meet weekly on Saturdays with a highschool student. Been doing this for a year.

Would love to know my chances at HSW? And also tuck/nyu through consortium applicants?

Any other school you recommend if hsw are too much of a reach?

Jul 6, 2015 - 4:19pm

Hi Alex, Solid stats. I assume you passed the CPA in the first round and can note that in the application under certifications on your resume or both. HSW are stretch schools for everyone. You need something unique in your profile because they see a lot of accountants applying to their programs (having said that, one of my most interesting clients was a forensics accountant and two of my favorite deans were accountants).

So fill in the blanks for me: Did you start the mentor program? or do you conduct one-on-one mentoring through an established program (you said formal, so I'll assume the latter)? What kind of leadership have you demonstrated? What do you want to do post-MBA? You are a solid candidate for the consortium (and the schools you chose). Ranking the schools to gain fellowship is strategic (see my consortium blog post…). You should also look at the Tiogo Foundation (application goes live in October and all 5 schools you mention participate in the program, however you will not be able to combine Tiogo and Consortium at Tuck/ or the other, but apply for both). If you would like to continue the conversation, please click on contact me and we can set up a time to chat.


Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
Jul 6, 2015 - 5:03pm

Hi Natalie,

Thanks for the response. Going to contact you but wanted to pose a question so that the group may see it and use your advice.

First to answer your questions joined the mentoring program. And I want to join MBB consulting ideally. I have a few leadership activities. Led project teams at work. Led a little bit. With my volunteer origination but nothing that I would consider remarkable.

Technically my title is risk consultant. But the work is more regulation/Dodd frank stuff. Is there any advantage to making my profile read more like one from an accounting background or one that is consulting.

Thanks again!

Jul 6, 2015 - 4:26pm

Hi Natalie,

Experience: 6 months management consulting to financial institutions (at a Big 4 accounting firm); 2.5 years credit analyst at a super-regional commercial bank, specializing in private equity sponsor finance (this will be 3.5 before matriculation). I feel that I can clearly and convincingly justify the quick departure from consulting: it wasn't the depth of financial experience I wanted coming out of college. Recs from my group director and vice president should be stellar.

GMAT: Taking this on Saturday. Likely 740-760, maybe higher.

GPA: 3.0 from a top-25 undergrad b-school. No real excuse for this, though I did hold 20+ hrs/week finance & econ-research internships for 3 out of 7 semesters.

MBA rationale: career transition into either (a) cleantech/utilities industry-side corporate development or (b) i-banking/project finance in the respective sector for a few years before moving into said (a) role. My essay will soundly and sequentially found this goal and future aspirations.

Applying for Fall 2016. Interested in top-25 programs with a Cleantech concentration (McCombs (my probable destination), Fuqua, Haas) or a higher-tier program that places well into finance (Wharton (legacy), Darden, Columbia, Stern). I'm a white male.

At which of these schools do I have a shot and at which will I waste an app fee?


Jul 6, 2015 - 4:49pm

Hi Darkstar. Good luck on the GMAT. Hitting a 760 or higher will mitigate concerns for your GPA. I don't think you'll have an issue with McCombs or Fuqua. A 3.0 is the minimum GPA UC schools require and Haas is the most selective UC school. Also, GPA alone doesn't give me the entire story. I would want to see what classes you took, what course loads you carried. You should note the 20-hour/week job in the optional essay. The legacy at Wharton will help (use it). I don't see an issue for Darden or Stern. Apply as early as possible to Columbia and have an interesting story to tell in your "what would your cluster mates be surprised to hear about you" essay because credit analysis is not very unique. In summary, if you hit the 760, Wharton (leg up with legacy) and Columbia (leg up with early app) may still be stretch for you. Haas is somewhere between a match and a stretch. Fuqua, Darden, Stern, McCombs are all very reachable and realistic choices. I hope this helps you. Natalie

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
Jul 6, 2015 - 4:00pm

White female
Big 4 advisory analytics consulting (2 years, just promoted to senior consultant)
UT Austin MIS degree, 3.5
650 (q - 57%, v 84%) (is this a concerning score?)
Involved in Junior League and financial literacy volunteering for women
Schools of Interest: UT, SMU, Duke (if I left Texas - still unsure about this/ my chances of getting in)
Goal is to get out of consulting and into strategy/marketing with analytics

I am concerned about the total cost of the MBA (not necessarily tuition but opportunity cost), but I see it as the best way to transition out of consulting and into a successful career in industry. What do you think of my chances to get into UT/SMU and for scholarships? Finally, I am debating timing of when to attend bschool. I am considering applying this fall and starting bschool with 3 years of consulting experience or considering waiting to apply until fall 2016 (gmat score expires in 2018). I know I want to leave consulting within the next 6 months but I could push myself to stay if I knew bschool was less than a year away. How much impact would another year of experience (in consulting or industry) have on admissions/scholarships? It seems like I am paying to get out of consulting, when most people in bschool are paying to get in.

Any advice is greatly appreciated :)

Jul 6, 2015 - 4:37pm

HI DFW, your quant will be a concern to UT (despite being an alumna) and Duke. Less so for SMU. If you are not yet a Forte foundation member, join Forte (they are based out of Austin) so as a UT grad, I'm assuming you are already a member. The schools you mention are all Forte sponsors and offer scholarships to Forte members (which, if you secure scholarship, will significantly lower your opportunity cost and increase your ROI).

As long as you are applying to Duke, you should also consider UNC. And as long as you are applying to SMU, you should also consider TCU Neeley (they have an accelerated program that would also lower your opportunity cost and both schools have deep pockets and are safe bets).

If you are serious about UT and Duke, you should consider retaking the GMAT and just working on your quant. You can get one-on-one tutoring for a couple of hours and it will make a huge difference in your quant score. Also, you will be able to find free lessons on Khan academy and Coursera. Contact me if you need more information. In terms of ROI, you do have an opportunity cost for leaving work and studying, but the network you gain will make it worth your while. Earning an MBA was the best decision I ever made. Natalie

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
Jul 6, 2015 - 4:07pm

Hi Natalie,

Thanks in advance for your thoughts on my odds -

1) 2+ Years in strategy & trading at BB Euro (DB, CS), 1+ Years at a Data Startup
2) 740 GMAT - 97th pct (49Q - 79th pct, 41V - 94pct)
3) Lower-Tier Ivy (B/C/D/UP) - 3.4 GPA in an applied science (i.e. space sciences, environmental sciences) - 2012
4) Several leadership positions on campus, active alumni, on a non-profit junior board and a leadership council. Also held leadership positions at BB bank
5) Certs: Series 7 & 63
6) Post-MBA - Merge undergrad major and career experience to break int nat resource banking/sustainable investments
7) Schools: CBS, HBS, Wharton, Yale, MIT, Stern
8) Additional Info/Questions: Latino Male, 1st Gen - Undecided on Round 1 vs Round 2

Thanks again!


Jul 6, 2015 - 4:58pm

Hi BCGi, I would be more interested to hear about your leadership and your grades. CBS has rolling admissions, so don't wait to apply. It really won't matter round 1 vs. round 2 for the other schools. You can always split them and if you gain admission into your top schools, you don't need to apply to the other schools. Apply to Yale and Stern through the Consortium Also apply for a Tiogo fellowship (all schools listed sponsor Tiogo) The application opens in October. You will not be able to combine a Consortium fellowship with a Tiogo scholarship. HBS/Wharton stretch for everyone. I may be able to fill in the blanks if you can give me more information on your background (click on the contact me button and we can chat offline). Unless your grades were abysmal or you are misjudging your leadership, I think the other schools are good matches for you. Natalie

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
Jul 6, 2015 - 4:14pm

Hi Natalie, thank you for taking the time to read and answer our questions!

Question: what do adcoms and adconsultants mean when they say that it depends on the quality of work rather than years of experience? I understand it on an abstract level but could you give concrete examples of someone who is ready to apply with few years of experience if they are a) an investment banker b) buy-side analyst c) consultant?
E.g. A) banker sourced $2B deal or B) lead analyst on two $500mn acquisitions, etc
Detailed examples would be really appreciated! How have you seen people achieve that level of work experience rapidly?

1 year of work experience, 2 by time of matriculation. Might wait another year if you recommend.

Working in a well-known asset manager (think Canadian Pensions, Temasek, etc) in the energy private equity department. People on team come from top 3 business schools and top undergraduate schools. Only a few are from non-target background including myself.

760 GMAT Q 97%/ V 93%
Regional non target school (not state)

Recent volunteer experience includes teaching in rural Africa

Lead and secondary analyst several large deals (each is in range between 250mn to under a billion)

International but not from India, China, SK
Goals: continue what I am doing (unless you recommend something different)
Target: Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, MIT

Thank you!!

Jul 6, 2015 - 10:28pm

mAD Analyst, you ask a great question! It is rather abstract to say,
"it's about the quality and not the quantity" or "I know it when I see it". That's not very fair to applicants and I must admit that I am at fault for using these phrases. Both of your examples pique my interest, but you don't give enough detail. In example A. Sourced $2B "oil & gas" deals should continue with the outcome "that we completed in April 2015". B. "MD appointed me" lead analyst on two $500mn "green energy acquisitions that enabled our clients to fill in the blank (why they came to you initially for the acquisition)". In other words, quantify your impact. You may have worked really hard on your pitch book, but that doesn't really interest an admissions committee. However, if your pitch book enabled you to help seal the deal and the deal is worth a lot to the firm, then I do want to know about it and I want you to be specific about your contribution to the deal. What is your delta (what happened before you joined the company/project/deal team and what happened after you joined the company/project/deal team)? I don't want a job description, I want impact. And that impact is different for each school you list. What I don't want to see is that you analyzed interest rates, analyzed market vulnerability or created 4 pitch books and don't describe what they did to impact the organization.

In terms of your profile. I think its strong. H/S/W stretch for everyone. I would love to hear more about teaching in Africa and how you wound up doing that. Why isn't Columbia on your list? You may be unique enough to get away with two years if you keep leading the analysis on large deals and can quantify the impact. I hope this helps you and is specific enough to answer your question. Natalie

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
  • 1
Jul 7, 2015 - 3:21pm

Thank you Natalie for your feedback. I did the teaching in Africa through a program at work. Right now I want to stay away from Columbia because of the location/campus/student body. I don't think it is the right fit for me. Is there anything else that I can do to strengthen my profile and for others to do in my situation? You are awesome.

Jul 6, 2015 - 4:26pm

Hi Natalie,
Thanks for doing this.

My stats:
International student (EU)
GMAT 700
Finance major, GPA 3.4, non-target, graduating this fall

Work experience:
PWM pre-college
Big 4 Advisory during last year of college (part-time)
Big 4 TAS FSO as of fall 2015

Passed CFA Level 1, Military experience, first generation college student, fluent in 4 languages, international experience

Volunteer experience
Mentor, AIESEC member, but no leadership experience.

My goal is to end up in ER or Corp Development of a financial institution. I'm looking at MFin programs in Europe (HEC, SSE, LSE, Bocconi) and MBA programs in the US (Tuck, Stern, Columbia, Cornell), but I'm not sure whether I have the slightest chance of getting into an MBA program already.

Thanks and regards

Jul 6, 2015 - 10:52pm

HI Danjut, most schools count military experience in your work experience. However, the MBA programs will want to see post-university work experience and what you do with it. Many MF programs don't care about work experience or leadership. They just want really smart people who have taken a lot of math and computing. However, having some experience will benefit you. Speaking 4 languages is a great skill that is uncommon in the US, but common in the EU. I love your AIESEC connection (great organization, I was a regional board a while back). Advice: you need to get some leadership under your belt before applying to US MBA programs. Quantify your achievements. Create opportunities out of problems and inspire your team to implement your vision to solve these problems. Think about 2-3 years of TAS work before applying to US schools (they do like EU candidates) and retaking your GMAT. Columbia is a reach, Tuck and Stern are between a reach and a match and Cornell is a match post additional work experience/leadership.

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
Jul 6, 2015 - 4:44pm

Hi Natalie, I have a question regarding what programs I should be targeting (along with how competitive I'd be), or what I could do to strengthen my application. My profile is the following:

-First generation American/college student (if that matters) (am technically also a URM, but I don't 'look it' per se)

-710 GMAT

-Mediocre GPA (3.1) from a top tier school (Williams/Amherst/Swarthmore/Bowdoin) in humanities major...was also an athlete who held on-campus jobs for finaid if that helps the story at all

-3 years WE in a family office/boutique as the only analyst/associate who does basically anything that needs to get done...'wearing many hats' (I do get to sit in on every meeting--including meeting with C-suite executives of clients and local regulators)

-Weekly volunteer at local homeless shelter

My end goal is IBD in a coverage group of the sector I currently work in. I'm thinking I should be aiming for Top 20-10 with some M7 as reaches. Thoughts?

Thanks in advance!

Jul 6, 2015 - 11:16pm

If you are technically URM, get involved with ML4T, Tiogo Foundation and the Consortium for networking and application. Schools you list are known as tough for undergrad, but I'd like to see the courses you took before passing judgement. Athlete and working will help mitigate the grades issue. I don't think IBD will sell if you are in a family business wearing many hats. How big is the business? Is it your family's business? If so, family businesses have played well for my clients in recent years, but they plan to return to the family business. If you do not work for your family's business, that will be a more difficult story to sell. What is your impact on meeting C-suite executives and local regulators? Just meeting C-Suite executives doesn't really mean anything to me unless a. You've impacted them and b. You now have a relationship with the C-suite that will help you during and post-MBA. I can't really say f you are being realistic about your choices because I don't really know what you do when you say you wear many hats. Let's touch base off line so you can detail this for me. Click on the contact me link and we'll set up a time to chat. I have a lot of questions for you. Natalie

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
Jul 6, 2015 - 9:42pm

Hi Natalie,

As everyone before me has said, thanks for taking the time to do this! I'd like to get your opinion on my chances at landing at a Top 25 school with the following stats:

Undergrad - polytechnic school in California, 3.1 GPA in Econ
W/E - 1 year as a staff auditor at a regional firm in SF; 1 year Risk Consulting in Big 4 Advisory (I plan to stay here for another 2-3 years, with a promotion or two in the mix, so will have 5-6 years total work experience at matriculation)
Post MBA Goals - Management Consulting
Extracurricular - 1.5 years as a captain of an adult ice hockey team, and I plan on continuing this until matriculation
GMAT - haven't taken yet, but ideally would be around 700-720

I'm hoping to get into USC Marshall, with UCLA being a reach, as I would like to end up in LA after b-school.

Thank you!

Jul 6, 2015 - 10:32pm

Hi Sealberg, I think Marshall is a great match school if you can get the GMAT you for which you hope. UCLA is a good reach school for you. Look to Irvine for safety. Natalie

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
Jul 8, 2015 - 12:25am

There is something to be said for work/life balance and given the amount of volunteer work you have in your life, I'm not sure why workaholism has become your philosophy. Now for the good news: Big Data Analytics is growing and B-schools are emphasizing the importance in their curriculum. Take the next couple of years to earn your leadership stripes (maybe you have done so already, but titles don't necessarily translate to leadership if you did the same thing as your predecessor and didn't add value to the organization). Solid GRE. Were your repeats in CC or at the UC? Congratulations on the body changes! Bottom line: use the next few years to develop your leadership (not clear if you've already done so because I you don't explain your deltas) and gain some interesting, unique experiences outside of work so you have good stories to relate in your apps. Smart move to look at European Schools. They don't get many Americans, so you'll be unique in the pool. H/S/W are stretch for everyone. Oxford, Cambridge and INSEAD are your best bets. Let's touch base when you are ready to apply to reevaluate your accomplishments. Natalie

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
Jul 8, 2015 - 12:51am

Also I hope your friend's company takes off and that you have an equity stake in it. That would be something to discuss in an app.

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
Jul 7, 2015 - 11:26am

Hi Natalie--thanks for your time!

1) At time of application, 5 years in big four audit (see below for follow up question)
2) GMAT : 710 (Q45/V42)
3) Large SEC state school, 3.82 undergrad, 3.75 grad
4) President of acct honor society, average involvement in other clubs while in college; average involvement in community since college (junior achievement, local church, etc.)
5) CPA
6) MBB/Big Four Consulting
7) Target schools applying to- Emory, Fuqua, Darden, Tuck

I have 2 specific questions:
1) re: my GMAT splits and how it will affect my chances in admissions / recruiting…I rationalize that my low Q is not too big of a hindrance for me given my degree and work experience (>3.8 GPA in Accounting /Finance with A's in Statistic and Calc classes, passed all parts of CPA on first attempt, and deal with numbers all day as an auditor). Do you agree with me?
2) how big of a 'bump' would it give my admissions / recruiting chances if I were to transfer into a TAS (transaction advisory services) role before applying?

Thanks again!

Jul 8, 2015 - 12:36am

I think your school choices are reasonable even with the GMAT. I've had a couple of clients transfer to TAS prior to applying and I believe it helped them gain admission to schools that were in your target school range (in fact the clients to whom I refer just graduated from two of your target schools). Turn your average involvement into something spectacular and I think you'll have multiple offers. Natalie

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
Jul 8, 2015 - 1:06am

H/W stretch. Apply early to Columbia (as early as possible). Stern will want to make sure that you have realistic expectations post-mba. Natalie

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
Jul 11, 2015 - 6:50pm

Don't be concerned about taking a few months off after graduation. Many applicants travel after graduation. Many applicants have summer start dates for their job. It's really very common. Natalie

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
Jul 8, 2015 - 1:52pm

Hi Natalie - Would like to get your take on whether or not I have a realistic shot at a top 10-15 MBA (not H/S/W) and if any in particular would be a good fit.

1) Started in 2 year rotational financial leadership program, 4 roles, international experience, high performer put into Corp Dev role working with most senior executives in major F500 industrial
2) 690 first attempt very limited study due to extenuating circumstances, no reason this cannot hit 720+ with reasonable prep
3) UCONN 3.5 overall (driven by lower grades in meaningless classes freshman yr) 3.8 Major GPA in Finance, President of business fraternity
4) Some volunteer work, pursuing coaching role, still have time to develop this portion - very open to suggestion
5) Passed CFA level 1, could pass all 3 prior to acceptance but likely perceive my situation to be MBA or CFA rather than both as the consensus I've seen is it is not extremely beneficial to admins (curious to hear your POV)
6) Run a Corp Dev dept or PE


Jul 11, 2015 - 7:08pm

Hi Chimp, thanks for your patience in awaiting my reply. I like the experience you present. I would like to learn more what you did as President of the business fraternity (your impact on the organization). You had an upward trend in your grades, so adcomms will give you some brownie points for trending upward. It's important that the volunteer work demonstrates your passion and/or your leadership. When you write, "coaching", do you mean athletic coaching? I ask because my clients often refer to me as their coach. You may be a coach at work, you may coach kids or adults and I think their are some minor nuances here that are perceived differently be each school. In terms of the CFA, I liked seeing the CFA (at any stage) in my applicants. It told me 1. they could handle the work (even if the GMAT was on the low side) 2. they could focus on a goal and achieve it. While we offered CFA training within the MBA that many students pursued, I actually think the CFA gives candidates a leg up in admissions. In terms of your goals, make certain that you are already networking in your post-MBA field (contact students at the schools from PE club, etc). Having said all that, I'm not sure the kind of MBA experience you want to pursue. Are you looking for small programs or large (having worked at both types, the advantage of a large program is a bigger network and the advantage of a small program is you get to know everyone on a very personal basis, including faculty). City, suburban, rural? I'm happy to suggest schools if you can narrow this down for me a bit more. Natalie

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
  • 1
Jul 8, 2015 - 3:12pm

Hi Natalie. Like the other members, I want to thank you for sharing your expertise with us.

I took the GMAT today and am trying to decide whether or not to retake it.
I'm interested in Stanford, Tuck, and Harvard
Relevant stats

  1. At time of application I will have two years of BB IB experience.
  2. GMAT 700. 55th Quant and 96 Verbal and 92 IR. (Disappointed with Quant got 71 on two practices)
  3. 3.8 in college, Finance and Chinese dual major. Semi target school (Vandy, UMich, Notre Dame type)
  4. Served as a TA for a 3000 level, internship with an industrial company, and BB IBD
  5. Relevant IB series tests
  6. Undecided but likely P/E or other Fin services.
Jul 11, 2015 - 7:16pm

I think you are going to have to move your quant score to be considered by Stanford, Tuck and Harvard. While you can mitigate concerns with your grades, work experience and IB series, schools are placing a higher emphasis on the GMAT than ever before. You may get waitlisted and then accepted, but I you are giving committees a reason to deny your admission right off the bat. Just work on the quant the next go around and you should be fine for Tuck. H/S are stretch schools for everyone. Natalie

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
Jul 8, 2015 - 3:54pm

Hi Natalie,

Thank you for your help here. Would love to better understand my chances of admit as well as the strengths/weaknesses of my background that i should highlight/address. I am planning on applying R1 this fall to H/S/W, potentially Columbia.

  • US-born, Asian male, will be 26 years old at matriculation
  • Father is an immigrant entrepreneur
  • 760 GMAT on first attempt
  • Attended Northwestern/Dartmouth/Duke, 2012 Grad
  • 3.72 GPA, honors with distinction, triple majored in math, pre-law, econ
  • ECs at school: started two companies that reached $100K revenue each; board of university venture fund; sprint triathlete
  • During school did 2 internships at technology VCs and worked with investment teams and portfolio company C-suite
  • Post school did 1.5 years in management consulting at LEK/OW/Monitor/Parthenon, 0.5 year secondment at india's most active social impact seed-stage venture firm focusing on technology, will have finished 2 years at technology pe/vc firm at matriculation
  • ECs today: official advisor/board member of 4 international-based and US-based startup companies; chair of local chapter Acumen Fund (social impact venture firm) and raised $10k+ donations during tenure
  • Post MBA goal: start a company

Thank you for your help!

Jul 11, 2015 - 7:28pm

Background looks very good. H/S/W stretch for everyone (I would add Columbia to your mix). I hope you have an idea for your company. You'll need to describe that goal in detail for S/W/C. Have you met Jacqueline Novogratz through your affiliation with Acumen Fund? Stanford will want to know. I think you can whip up a really good story given the variety of experiences you've had. Natalie

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
  • 1
Jul 8, 2015 - 8:47pm


Thank you so much for doing this..

-US-Born Pacific Islander Descent Male (Mother from Hawaiian Islands)
-Age: 28
-GRE: 327 (Q-163 V-164)
-3.1 GPA from USC; Grandmother who practically raised me was going through various stages of cancer and I couldn't concentrate in school because I would often go home/visit her in the hospital until her passing
-Fast-tracked at Fortune 100 Company in CPG Sales (Promoted 3 times in 4 years. Youngest person in my role by at least 5 years of age and currently manage 45 million P/L and have 12 full time sales associates as direct reports
-Leadership: Within work, very involved in internship program and represent my company at various recruiting events at local colleges. Currently mentor 2 full time associates every year.
-Actively practice the art of kick-boxing (Muay Thai) for over 6 years now and earned 2 trophy's from competitive fighting

Post MBA Dream: Break into Real Estate PE or IBD for 5-7 years-> Associate, then VP level, and eventually raising a modest ~50m private real estate investment fund of my own.

Chances @ M7, Yale, Cal, UCLA, Duke, Dartmouth? (Applying for Full Time MBA)
(Should I even waste money and apply for H/S/W? I've been told from friends to avoid those 3 altogether as my chances will be zilch!)

Jul 11, 2015 - 7:54pm

Guinness, I've very sorry to hear about your Grandmother's illness and passing. I understand that must have been tough on you and you can certainly explain your grades in speaking about your grandmother. However, your GRE quant is also a bit weak and I would want to know more about the quant courses you took in college. You may present a quant red flag, but I don't have enough information to make a determination. Your involvement in the internship program seems more like intra-organizational volunteer work, rather than leadership. They are taking advantage of your sales background by sending you to recruiting events. Try to find a way to work in the Muay Thai (even metaphorically) in your essays. USC has a good network of alumni in Real Estate PE. I do think H/S/W are stretches for everyone and given the grades and GRE, M7 will be rough going for you, but if you don't reach for the stars, you'll never know. The schools you are considering are all very different. If you are really great at sales that skill will benefit you in an interview. Do you invest in RE now? I think Yale, UCLA, Duke are reasonable choices, but I would also add Stern and safeties like UNC and Texas (also great RE finance program).

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
Jul 13, 2015 - 1:49am

Hi Natalie,

Thanks for the kind words of wisdom regarding M7 and also throwing in UNC/Texas. My family is heavily involved in RE and has an investment fund directly on behalf of institutions and ultra-high net worth individuals. Certain deals that my family has done have made on the pages of Yahoo! Finance, Bloomberg, etc, but nothing with my direct involvement, so I don't plan to talk about it in my essays. Over the past 2 years, I've been able to learn all facets of the family's business, including EB-5 Program (500k-1M investments from foreigners looking at creating 10 US jobs and obtaining a US Visa), but have not made any financial investments on behalf of the fund. I can "talk to the talk" per say and have access to incredible information, but don't have tangible experience in the family's business. I've personally used my personal savings to co-invest in various larger commercial deals in the past (extremely minority share.. think

Jul 11, 2015 - 9:57pm

If funding is a concern, you shouldn't be looking at M7. Look at schools that are lower ranked and have deep pockets. While M7 has deep pockets, they don't need to fund students as often as schools that are lower ranked and so unless you are really an amazing candidate and bring something unique to the table, its rare to see large scholarship/fellowship at M7.

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
Jul 9, 2015 - 9:57am

Does it work either for or against being a British candidate applying to US schools?

What is the single most important piece of the application for a successful candidate? Appreciate its a mix, but if you had to pick one only - GMAT, prior experience, essays, reason for doing MBA, etc?

In your honest opinion, if you're not going to a Top 10 school - is it really worth the time, money, etc?

Appreciate your time.

Strength & Honour Lads pass exams
Jul 11, 2015 - 10:13pm

Casanova, US Schools do not received a lot of British applications, so it will work for you. Unfortunately, there is no single most important piece of the application. Each aspect correlates with a different kind of success. GMAT heavily correlates to your ability to succeed in the first year core (particularly the quant GMAT and with quant core courses). Prior experience is often used to determine future success. Essays distinguish you from other candidates. I remember the best essays I ready from 20 years back. There is something to be said for someone whose words made such an impact that I remember them 20 years later. Needless to say, you want to distinguish yourself from other candidates (in a good way). Goals are important to some schools, but not all. Leadership is important to some schools, but not all. I am biased about education and particularly business education. My own MBA experience was transformational and I hear similar thoughts expressed from my alumni. Last week I received a text from an alum who is now a C-level exec in a tech company and he told me that I (and therefore the MBA) changed his entire adult life. Those words are extremely gratifying for me. I did not work at M7 schools, but the opportunities that are available through an MBA is unlike any other you will ever have in your life. So yes, I believe attending the school that best fits you is worth the time and expense. You need to figure out if attending an MBA is worth your while. It was definitely worth my while.

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
Jul 11, 2015 - 10:20pm

mshiddensecret, It's a myth. However, you do need to have enough quant in your background to show that you can handle the program. I was a liberal arts major (my husband was a language arts major). I typically brought in 40% non-STEM applicants, but I had no quotas or ceilings. The only programs I know that favor STEM are those that are geared toward STEM like Cornell's tech MBA and several of the one year accelerated programs in the US.

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
Jul 10, 2015 - 5:54pm

Hi Natalie,

Thanks for doing this!
I come from a super non-target with a 3.4 GPA. I have 1 year of work experience doing back office Operations at a bank and now am working in Business Analytics/Strategy at a tech company. My top choice is INSEAD as I would like to go work in Asia after bschool.

My biggest question is, how much of a difference does having 3 years of work experience make compared to 4 years?

I'd like to get straight into higher level work as soon as I can because I took 3 years off in the middle of undergrad to work (worked 3 years in Australia).

I also speak a second language fluently :)


Jul 11, 2015 - 10:22pm

Wannabe, The number of years makes very little difference. Schools will be looking at your impact. I've had clients with as little as two years and with as many as 12 years of experience gain admission to INSEAD. Natalie

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
Jul 10, 2015 - 10:48pm

Hi Natalie, thanks so much for doing this:

26 y/o first generation asian american male
3.5 GPA from USC
750 GMAT 6 AMA 8 IR first take
W/E 3.5 years at boutique ib
2 years finance and analytics @ large engineering firm
E/C Board member of a charity and started a free SAT tutoring service for kids that has gotten 3 kids to college who were not previous qualifiers

Post grad goal: IB
Chances at Columbia ED (applying this week), NYU, Yale,

Jul 13, 2015 - 2:28am

Hi Natalie,

I'm interested in applying at NYU, Ross, Mccombs, Cornell, and UNC through the Consortium program for an MBA. I'm a first generation college graduate and of Southeast Asian descent. Does applying through the Consortium improve your chances of gaining admission to an MBA program? Also, how should I show that I support the Consortium's mission? I've organized small charities for financially disadvantaged Southeast Asian groups, and I've also been a member of my college's Southeast Asian Business Club. Other than that, I'm not sure what kind of involvement they're looking for.

Also, I've noticed I qualify for the Toigo fellowship. I've read that out of 300-400 applicants, only 50-60 get fellowships. What does the Toigo fellowship look for in a successful applicant?

Jul 13, 2015 - 6:16pm

Hi Cubs. Great question. Ranking the schools can be tricky. You will have a better shot at schools you rank high on your list, but unlike the practices we used in my day, most schools now have access to your rankings and it shouldn't impact an admissions decision, but if you rank a school 6th and they know that you are competitive for 1-5, they may hesitate to make an offer. We actually looked blindly at admissions and then opened up the rankings when we selected our fellows. We only gave fellowships to candidates that ranked us 1st. I do have a client, however, who ranked a school 1, but after visiting his #2 school, preferred that option. I told him to call the consortium and the schools before fellowship decisions were made, but he was too late. Nevertheless, he was able to negotiate a fellowship from his #2 school after he described his visits and why that school was a better fit. Frankly, I've been involved with the consortium since 1987 and it was the first i heard of that kind of negotiation being granted. Moral of the story: it never hurts to ask.

They are looking for the kind of community involvement you describe. Maybe go outside your comfort zone and help other youth at risk with the model you've created for the financial disadvantage SE Asian groups. The more people you can reach the better and if the model is already proven, it can be duplicated in other settings. So partner with organizations that serve youth at risk from all walks of life and I know you'll have much more to talk about beyond charitable philanthropy.

Tiogo looks for the same thing for which business schools look (an ability to succeed in finance post-MBA) and in fact, the business school screen candidates ahead of time and send a list to Tiogo. So indicate your interest in Tiogo when you apply to the schools (they will ask you how you plan to fund your education and you can indicate you are planning or have applied to Tiogo/Consoritum, savings, loans, etc. The application opens in October (after some first round deadlines). You can contact the foundation now and get on their news feed. Note: you can't combine Tiogo and Consortium fellowships. You will only get one or the other. Tiogo has an amazing network in finance. The consortium has an amazing network in business. You can't go wrong either way. Both organizations are highly respected and you can still apply for the consortium and Tiogo, but you will need to make up your mind at a point, which option is better for you. Talk to fellows in both programs.

I hope answered your question. Natalie

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
Jul 13, 2015 - 2:44pm

Hi Natalie,

I'm interested in applying INSEAD and Top10 US schools

I am currently working as a strategy consultant with MBB in Germany. At matriculation I will have 3 years of experience incl. one promotion.
I am non-US from Germany. My GMAT is 720. Bachelor in business from a top university in germany, however, only a 2,2 gpa (top 10% of cohort) on the german scale (Should translate to a gpa of max 3.0). Studied one semester in Singapore at NUS.
EC are charity and involved in alumni association.

Thank you in advance

Jul 14, 2015 - 11:08pm

Grades may be a concern and you may want to mitigate that concern by retaking the GMAT. US schools love EU applicants. So you should have a shot at some of the schools H/S/W stretch. What do you want to do after the MBA?

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
Jul 13, 2015 - 7:02pm

Hey Natalie, any chance I could get a profile review? to add to my last post on the last page I am looking to go into global IB then direct investment (PE/VC) in NYC after that.

"Hi Natalie, thanks so much for doing this:

26 y/o first generation, born abroad, asian american male
3.5 GPA from USC
750 GMAT 6 AMA 8 IR first take
W/E 3.5 years at boutique ib
2 years finance and analytics @ large engineering firm
E/C Board member of a charity and started a free SAT tutoring service for kids that has gotten 3 kids to college who were not previous qualifiers

Post grad goal: IB
Chances at my #1 Columbia ED (applying this week), NYU, Yale, MIT"

Jul 14, 2015 - 11:11pm

I think you have a good chance at all of the above. Make sure you show your impact in the application. Review our special reports in the "when you apply" section (scroll down to the middle of the page). And best of luck. Let me know how it goes for you. Natalie

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
Jul 16, 2015 - 9:51am

Hi Natalie,

Thanks for doing this. I'm interested in attending top 10-15 schools (Booth, Kellogg, Darden, Fuqua, etc.) and am interested in how I may stack up.

1) Completed a F100 FLDP for an A&D company with exposure to FP&A, Global Business Services, and Corporate Strategy. I am now at a Big 4 Consulting firm as an S&O Consultant and have been here for two years
2) GMAT: 720
3) Top 50 Big Ten State School (PSU, Wisco, OSU) with a 3.3 GPA in the Finance program. Graduated in 2012. GPA is low, but it increased YoY and held leadership responsibilities within my fraternity
4) I have been involved in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program for the past two years with increasing responsibility
5) No certifications
6) Post MBA goal would be to re-enter consulting for 2-3 years then potentially start my own business

Just let me know when you get a chance.


Jul 16, 2015 - 11:28pm

HI Bg. The schools you are targeting seem to be within range for you. My only concern may be in what courses did you find yourself getting weaker grades? Did you have an upward trend? Natalie

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
Jul 16, 2015 - 1:37pm

Natalie, this is a more general question. I am waiting to know if I'll be accepted to Army Officer Candidacy School. If that doesn't go through, MBA may be another option, but I might not know until September-October. Realistically, is that too late to get the ball rolling on an application? I know some schools are opening up their application window in August.

My applications: Stanford (might as well apply and just see what happens), Columbia, NYU, then USC, UCLA, UNC, UT Austin, other top public schools

1) 4 years PWM in various roles, started as retail advisor then became an analyst on an investment committee overseeing about $600M AUM. Currently working in market risk at a major utility dealing with electrical power and nat gas, for about 1 year.
2) Expired score of 630 but that wasn't with intense studying. I think with intense studying I can get 700+.
3) Top public school (UCLA, UNC, etc.) with 3.0. Economics, 2009.
4) Help run one of the largest young professionals networking and social groups in my city, taught a CFA Program review class put on by the local CFA Society, write a finance and career development blog--one of my videos on the CFA Program just crossed 10k YouTube hits
5) CFA Charterholder
6) Buy side investment management and potentially open my own Asset Management firm one day

Jul 16, 2015 - 11:47pm

Julian, I'm going to answer this question jointly with my husband who served initially as an Navy Ensign (Army equivalent 2nd Lieutenant) and was eventually promoted to Lieutenant (Army equivalent of Captain... but you probably know all this). He said it took three months for his OCS approval for Newport, RI. Having said that, you now have my input. You will miss the first deadline, but not the second deadline. I just updated this blog post from 2010…, but we haven't posted it yet. The story hasn't changed all that much and the same rules apply regarding 1st vs. 2nd round. Applications for 6 of the M7 are actually open already. The rest of the pack will follow suit in August. You need to reach for that 700+ these days and unfortunately, I have found schools focusing more on the test score (the only constant in the application). I would definitely point to the YouTube success. Stanford and Columbia are stretch schools (apply early to Columbia even in the regular round...make this your first application). USC and UNC should not be a problem for you. The others are good matches (I would have had UT as a safety, but their apps were up this year and they were very selective in their admissions). Be open minded about your plan B for NYU (Isser wants his applicants to be realistic about the opportunities post-MBA). While you are waiting to hear back from OCS, study for you GMAT and get to know students that are attending the schools to which you plan to apply (their emails are typically listed on club pages...they are good contacts and they will serve you well in the future if you stay in touch). BTW, schools won't see your expired GMAT score, so you are starting fresh. Only concern may be what courses did you get lower grades? I hope this helps! Natalie

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
Jul 17, 2015 - 4:43pm

Hello There!

General question - I currently work for a top (BoA/WF/JPM) commercial bank in a credit analysis position. I was wondering how commercial banking is viewed from an MBA admissions standpoint.


Jul 19, 2015 - 12:39am

It depends on how you've made an impact as a credit analyst at a commercial bank and what you intend to do with your goals. I've had clients who worked for commercial banks and have gained admission at top schools, but they needed to think strategically about how they positioned their current role and their goals.

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
Jul 18, 2015 - 9:13pm

Hi Natalie, here are my stats.

25 year old white male
Went to top 3 liberal arts school
3.0 gpa Social Sciences
710 GMAT (48 M, 40 V), going to take 1 more time before Round 1( hoping for a 730+)
College athlete- 1st 4 year All american in college history, National Champion
Marketing in Healthcare, recently switched to a mortgage hedging firm
Looking to transition to Investment Management and IB/corp finance as a backup

I'm applying to Columbia ( weak legacy, not sure if it counts for much), Uchicago, Cornell( Strong legacy), Umichigan, and Duke. I was also considering applying to Wharton. I consider Columbia and Uchicago reaches and Wharton a very far reach. Is there even a small chance of me getting into Wharton or should I focus on a more realistic MBA program? Whats your take? Thanks so much.

Jul 19, 2015 - 12:43am

You do have a shot at Wharton, but as I tell everyone, its a stretch. BTW, all legacies and relationships can help you get in front of the Admissions Directors eyes (and that is a good thing). I like the athletics and the National Championship. I would question why you changed jobs recently: right before applying to B0school. I think you should give all of the schools a shot and I'm glad you have a plan B. Natalie

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
Jul 22, 2015 - 5:56am

Hi Natalie,

Thanks for your time helping prospective students out. I was wondering if you could give me advice on if I had a decent chance at a top MBA program (I'm thinking UChicago, Wharton, Duke, or Harvard.)

I graduated from Georgia Tech with a BS in Nuclear Engineering and a minor in Economics. I would have had a double major in Economics, but my advisor informed me it would take one more semester, and I already had a job offer that couldn't be postponed. It's been a long time since I looked at my transcripts, but I graduated with honors with around a 3.2-3.3. Nothing special, but Georgia Tech is notorious for terrible GPAs. I don't know if that is considered in an application.

I started my work experience as a Field Operator at a Nuclear Power Plant for ~2.5 years. Then I was promoted (essentially) to be a Senior Reactor Operator (SRO). To become an SRO, you need to complete a very intensive two year training program to receive a license from the NRC. This position is normally held by people with decade(s) of experience in Nuclear power, but my company decided I was ready very early on in my career. I have currently been a licensed SRO on duty for about 2 years, where I am a front line supervisor for about 15 operators on a shift. I am also indirectly responsible for every other department in the plant that does work on my Unit. In an emergency, I am the one responsible for managing the safe shutdown of the reactor/plant.

I have not take the GMAT yet, but given my history with standardized tests, I think I can reasonably expect a 720-730. Possibly even 750+.

I don't have any certifications most people would recognize like a CFA or PE, but an SRO license is the easily the most respected title and position in the Nuclear Industry.

I'm still not 100% sure what I want to do post MBA; I'd definitely be going for a career change though since I'm not too optimistic about the future of Nuclear power. I would like to work in a consulting firm, hopefully MBB.

The only notable extracurricular I have is I am a volunteer coach for a middle school wrestling team.

I'm a white male, 30 years old in case that's relevant.


Jul 22, 2015 - 9:30pm

Hi GTBanker, The rigor of the school and the inflation of grades or lack thereof is most definitely taken into consideration when applying to MBA programs. And GTU has a non-grad inflation reputation. Tough Major. If you had weak grades in your econ courses (doesn't matter if you majored or minored in econ), you may want to compensate. There is a huge difference between a 750+ and a 720 not only for schools, but also for MBB. H/W always stretch schools. Booth and Duke are good match schools if you can perform on the GMAT. Have you coached the wrestling team to win? You will need to tie in your background to your goals. It doesn't need to be in Nuclear power, but energy consulting is offered at MBB. Feel free to contact me if you need to strategize about goals. Natalie

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
Jul 22, 2015 - 12:22pm

Hi Natalie,

  1. 3 years total work experience, 1 yr in internal risk and control and 2 yrs in biz dev at a major global financial exchange. No direct managerial experience as I am basically responsible for a dedicated client-facing section of the business on my own, but I have led projects with other team members in the past.
  2. 710 GMAT. 88% verbal/ 78% quant
  3. 3.4 GPA, Finance major from a northeast semi-target (think Villanova/ BC/ Georgetown type)
  4. Extracurriculars- In college: 3 years playing club rugby, member of a community service fraternity, intramural sports. Led an economic analysis team as part of a real $ student managed equity fund for the school.
    Post college: Active volunteer with an organization that mentors underprivileged high-school aged kids surrounding the college application process and early development of a career path. Heavily into organized sports in the NYC area and active motorcyclist belonging to two track-riding organizations.
  5. Passed Level I of CFA
  6. Long term goal is to get into investment management/ portfolio management at a firm in NYC or CT. S&T would be a dream job, but I'm aware that MBAs are typically not a target for S&T desks.

My wish list:

I would also consider putting Wharton on there as an extreme reach. I'd love to hear your opinion on which programs I would be a strong candidate for, and if there are any others that I should consider applying to given my credentials and long-term goal of IM in the NYC area. Thank you for your insights!

Jul 22, 2015 - 9:34pm

Champs, I always reach for the stars, so throw Wharton into the mix with the understanding that is a stretch. Get on your Columbia app asap and apply ED. You need to spin the S&T for Columbia, NYU, Wharton and have a plan B. I think the others are good match schools if you offer them a strong, tight application. Let me know if I can help. Natalie

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
Jul 25, 2015 - 10:15am

Applying to the Master of Finance at MIT this year:

Undergrad: London School of Economics (First Class Honors; 3.8GPA(?))
Study abroad: US target school (3.7GPA)
Work: 1 Year at a top BB (MS/GS) in an M&A Group
GMAT: 670 (this is what I believe could be a major problem)
Extracurricular: Volunteer in Africa
Goal post degree: Asset Management in the US

Jul 25, 2015 - 8:33pm

Hi Lucky, First Class Honors is somewhere between a 3.7-4.0 in the US system. It would typically qualify you for summa cum laude. MIT's program is more applications oriented and less quantitatively focused (I find that ironic given MIT's quant reputation). I would recommend retaking the GMAT. Hire a tutor for 3-5 hours and concentrate on the sections that gave you trouble. They can pinpoint what happened and offer you short cuts. If you can crack a 710, you look good for the MF. Natalie

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
Jul 25, 2015 - 1:43pm

Pacific Islander Male

1) 2 years of experience at a boutique investment consulting firm (do not work on research side, but a lot of experience preparing client-facing deliverables almost in a junior consultant role)

2) 730 (Overall 96%, Quant 46 (68%), Verbal 44 (97%)); can retake to improve quant, did not prep much first time around. I think I could probably score 49 on Quant which could get me to 750 if I perform the same in verbal.

3) Top 100 university (think Vermont, Alabama, Michigan State, Florida State, San Diego, etc.) (large state research university, 3.2 GPA overall, 3.9 in business, Economics with Minor in Business, 2013 grad date. Strong upward trend in GPA (2.5ish freshman to 3.7ish senior)

4) During UG, member of D1 wrestling team for two years, and two-time qualifier for National University Powerlifting Championships, President of Fraternity (recognized by national fraternal organization with Outstanding President Award), Executive in Student Government (managed $20M budget); Post-Grad I've coached youth football and acted as the Asst. Director of Youth Football for a member organization of one of the largest non-profit youth sports organizations in the U.S. Focused on player development both in terms of athleticism as well as character.

5) Passed Level 1 of CFA Exam; Took Level 2 in early June.

6) Strategy Consulting, F500 Rotational, Corporate Development or Corp Strategy

Thanks for doing this!


We get the world we deserve.
Jul 25, 2015 - 8:51pm

Hi Shawn (if that's your real name, Treeclimber ;-)). While your overall GMAT is fine, I think the Q is a concern and it would be worth your while to retake. Worse case scenario, you get a lower score that you can cancel and the schools don't see the cancelation on their end. Work with a tutor to get that score in the 80-90% range. CFA will help mitigate the concern, but the overall GPA sets you back. I would love to hear what impact you had as present of your Fraternity (I typically see great leadership and networking through the Greek system). In managing the budget for Student Government, did you make improvements? Solid volunteer work. Coaching is a great way to demonstrate leadership. You don't mention the schools in which you are interested, but I think you will make an interesting candidate if you demonstrate your fit as well as your uniqueness in your essays. To understand how to do this better, take the time to watch one of Accepted's Get Accepted to (School Name). We've already done one on Columbia, HBS and Stanford. Wharton will be coming up on August 19 The other webinars are available to view on our website Good luck and let me know if you need help with your spin.

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
Jul 26, 2015 - 12:27am

Thanks Natalie. This is all great. I'm interested in HSW but realize that's not realistic. What do you think about schools like Berkeley, Columbia, or UVA?

We get the world we deserve.
Jul 25, 2015 - 3:08pm

Natalie - thanks for doing this. Curious to hear your take on whether or not I would be competitive.

Experience - 5 years. 2 years operations, the remainder in equity research (not your traditional research)
Undergrad - state school, poor gpa (~2.8)
GMAT - need to take, assuming I stand a chance
Target schools: Wisconsin (applied Security Analysis program), U VA, Cornell, duke, carnegie Mellon.
Redeeming things for gpa - just took L3 of the CFA, pretty serious individual investor, good story
Post mba goal - Asset Management/hedge fund

I'm on the pursuit of happiness and I know everything that shine ain't always gonna be gold. I'll be fine once I get it
Jul 25, 2015 - 8:57pm

Pkt, the individual investment will make little difference. The ER experience is interesting, but I don't know what you mean by non-traditional. The GPA is an issue. Take a couple of courses now to mitigate concerns. Ideally you should complete them before applying to demonstrate that you are proactive, but given the late date, you will need to indicate to the committee that you are currently enrolled in courses that will benefit you in the MBA (particularly if those courses gave you problems in undergrad). If you have other circumstances that explain the GPA, we should probably discuss off line. I don't think you will have an issue with Wisconsin. If you nail the GMAT, you may not even have an issue with the other schools. I had a client with a GPA below yours get into all the above mentioned schools, but he nailed the GMAT, so they were less concerned about his ability to handle the program academically. He did explain his poor performance in school and took accounting and micro before applying. I hope this helps you. Natalie

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
Jul 26, 2015 - 9:10am

Dear Natalie,

Due to your kindness to answer questions i decided to ask something myself for the first time.

I am at a point where i have to decide to pursue either at a MSc in finance since i don't have work experience or try to find a job and do an MBA.To decide i need to know how realistic it is that i will manage to get into one of the decent programs (besides HSW of course) including London Business School.If i find a job,that would be at one of the biggest banks in Greece for 3-4 years (investment banking of investment management division).

My question is: assuming everything else is ok,how will my work experience affect my chances?I am wondering if i will have a disadvantage compared to other applicants who have worked at MBBs and IBs in London and NY.

Thank you very much and please feel free to be completely honest.My feelings won't get hurt.

Good luck to everyone else who is thinking to apply!!!

Jul 26, 2015 - 1:15pm

Panie, I don't know your other stats, so the question is difficult to answer. I think working at a Bank in Greece given the recent circumstances and Germany's involvement could be interesting if you talk about it in your application. But I can't give you chances on zero knowledge about you. My first post asks you to provide the following for a profile evaluation and I'm not sure you can offer me much beyond 3 and part of 4:

1) Brief description of your full-time work experience.
2) Your GMAT or GRE. Percentiles preferred.
3) College info: The name of the college, your GPA or grade average, your major, year of graduation. For any graduate degrees, please provide the same info. If you grades are low, please indicate if there were extenuating circumstances.
4) Significant college and post-college extra-curricular activities or community service, especially leadership experience.
5) Important certifications like CFA, CPA, FSA, or CA.
6) Your post-MBA goal.

The MSF and MBA will lead you down different paths. The MSF is more targeted degree (are you thinking LSE, Oxford, MIT (less technical, more applications-oriented) or CMU, Princeton, Berkeley, UCLA (very quant driven)? I've also seen MSFs apply to MBAs 4-5 years after their MSF. It's the best I can do with the amount of info you provide me. I hope you find this helpful. You may also want to look at our Why MBA and Focus on Finance special reports These are free downloads.


Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
  • 1
Jul 26, 2015 - 3:26pm

Dear Natalie,

I did read the first post of the topic and i deliberately did not mention all that info because my concern is not if i can generally be accepted.My question is about the aforementioned work experience exclusively.If i could rephrase it,i would ask what my chances would be compared with someone with the exact profile (GMAT,gpa etc...) but with experience at a good company in London or NY.

however,i think you have answered my question at the beginning of your answer anyway so thank you very much!!!

Jul 29, 2015 - 5:12pm


Thanks for doing this. I'll try to keep it concise, but I've got a somewhat of a roller coaster background.

I graduated high school with literally lower than a 2.0 gpa. Realized I wanted more, and crushed it my first year at some state school and transferred into a top 20 undergrad business school.

Interned in analyst development program at large insurance company domestically, and then interned in Singapore at a Swiss biotech company's finance division. Graduated with a double major in finance and accounting with a 3.2 gpa. (No illness or anything, I just basically had a blast in college and wasn't applying myself)

Started full-time in an analyst development program at a top tier bulge bracket and got best rankings in my group that was relationship management function for institutional investors. Used that rank and reputation to transfer internally into a traditional investment banking analyst role (M&A, equity and debt) in a top group because I realized I could be, and wanted to be achieving a lot more.

Also the co-founder and CEO of a user based tech startup GMAT for a top 10, and 2. How do I spin my story? Is Stanford or Berkeley going to say, "you've clearly accepted average results and then gone to great lengths to make up for your actions time and time again, and we're okay with that"? Or do I need try and craft some angle and be dishonest about really not being fully engaged historically?

Thanks again! Really appreciate it.

Jul 29, 2015 - 10:53pm

Hi Kishardio, 1. I would need to see the classes that drove down your GPA before indicating if you need to take measures to mitigate adcomm concerns. Having said that, the top 10 GMAT averages fall in the low to mid 700s, so with a lower GPA, you will need to compensate and blow the GMAT out of the water. 2. Spinning a story is very different than being dishonest. I would never condone dishonesty. Do you need to address the grades? High School grades will never come up. You may need to address the undergrad grades, but be professional about how you address them. Put yourself in the adcomms shoes. In terms of spinning your story, you have some really interesting tales to tell, but understand when you are offering TMO (like you, I never had to join a sorority to be a social I understand what you are saying, but it never came up nor was it important to my b-school applications). Emphasize your uniqueness: living and working internationally and domestically, leadership, volunteer work. Networking your way into the functional area at work that interested you the most. And if your start-up takes off or is unique and fills a need, you have a lot of content with which to work. I hope this answers your question. If not, feel free to contact me. Natalie

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
Jul 29, 2015 - 5:12pm

Hi Natalie, I am a BBA at a target school, but I want to prepare myself for the future. How much of an impact does volunteering (and leadership positions in volunteering) have when applying to MBA programs? Do you recommend joining volunteer organizations on campus and then continuing those post-graduation?

Also, do you have any suggestions for me about mistakes I should avoid or things that I should do in undergrad based on your work with previous applicants?

Thank you so much!

Jul 29, 2015 - 11:18pm

Entrepreneur, I'm glad you are thinking about your future early. Leadership is a big part of the application process. Harvard looks for a "habit of leadership". The best way to form a habit is to practice the activity over and over again. Scientific evidence indicates that you should practice an activity for 21 days in order to make it a habit. So start with 21 days and then keep growing and reaching beyond your boundaries. Push yourself to try new things (and then do it again and again for at least 21 days). Leadership isn't just about holding offices in clubs. Leadership is about changing organizations, your environment, the world, people for the better and helping others do the same. If you enjoy the organization for which you volunteer on campus, continue it post-graduation (if possible) and if not, use the skills you learned in volunteering for the campus organization and apply those skills to other activities and organizations in your community post-graduation. Take the GMAT while in school (you can use it for 5 years). Network, network, network with students, alumni and faculty. Build on those relationships and stay in touch with them. Read everything and anything you can get your hands on and then have an opinion about it and let others know your opinion by writing about it. Listen, have fun, understand for what you would be willing to walk over hot coals or for what causes you would die. Make sure you ask for help when you need it. Listen to opinions that vary from your own and understand why you think about the way you do. Focus on your coursework, but don't let it be your only college experience.

Mistakes to avoid: taking the easy way out. Not challenging yourself. Getting into too much debt. Getting arrested. Being one dimensional.


Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
Jul 29, 2015 - 6:43pm

Hi Natalie,

Hoping to get a quick profile review and chances at my target schools. Thank you in advance!

BA Business Administration
3.48 GPA (upward trend), 3.83 Major GPA
Non-target Liberal Arts College in the Pacific NW

740 GMAT (48Q, 44V)

27 year old Native Hawaiian male (indigenous, not just born here)

4 years at a regional commercial bank (subsidiary of BNP Paribas) where I help manage bank's $600MM real estate portfolio. As a bit of context, it's the largest and oldest bank in the state, where "megabanks" (e.g. Citi, JPM, etc.) don't have a presence. Role includes both acquisitions and Asset Management activities of RE management. No official promotion in 4 years as my division consists of myself, VP and CFO, so nowhere for me to really be promoted to despite a lot of increasing responsibilities.

Prior to my current role, I was with a small telecommunications company for 7 months.

Extracurriculars include weekly volunteer work at a homeless shelter for the past 3 years teaching computer skills, helping create/edit resumes and help residents apply for jobs, competitive Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for the past 9 years, some club leadership and DIII wrestling in undergrad.

CFA Level III candidate this past June, will hopefully have CFA charter by matriculation.

Goal(s) is/are endowment/foundation management and/or impact investing. Would like to use MBA to career switch using RE experience + CFA to link to endowment/foundation/impact investing goals.

Targeting Wharton, Booth, MIT, Columbia, Tuck, Duke and Yale

Slightly worried about non-selective school, non-selective job at non-famous company with no promotions.

Would love to hear your thoughts and thank you in advance.


Jul 29, 2015 - 11:27pm

Moke, I'm not as worried about the non-selective school or non-famous company (plenty of my clients fit that profile and gain admission to top schools), but rather why you have had no promotions at a non-selective job. I like the goals and CFA will help. Indigenous Hawaiian is unique (and underrepresented). I like your extras. Up-play the positive and downplay the negative. Tell the stories well and you should get into several of your targets. Natalie

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
  • 1
Jul 30, 2015 - 7:05pm

Thank you Natalie for the review and advice. The no promotion bit is one of my biggest concerns.

When you say downplay the negative, do you mean the no promotion should be addressed in essays or not mentioned? I'm thinking it would be better to explain it up front. Although my title never changed over the past 4 years, my role has evolved and responsibilities have definitely increased. I could go on and on about why I was never promoted, but my hunch is that adcoms are less concerned about the why and more concerned about the actual progression. I think in my case the task is on me to explain the growth whereas a promoted person has the growth shown up front. Thoughts?

Jul 30, 2015 - 12:07am

Natalie - How do top (H/W/S) view hedge fund analysts? I don't see many people going to an MBA after a stint at a HF, though I assume most people want HF jobs coming out of MBA. Is Good Undergrad - > BB IBD --> HF --> MBA a difficult path versus going to PE first?

I know its difficult to generalize, but it would be good to get some insight on people coming from this industry, especially given you don't get direct leadership / mgmt experience like consultants do...

Jul 30, 2015 - 7:40pm

As of right now I want to stay in some sort of investing role PE / HF. I'm looking at the MBA as a chance to develop my network, switch firms, obtain a safety-net (esp. given the volatile nature of these positions) etc. Personally, my target is H/S (maybe W) - otherwise it would make less sense for me to go back to school. I still have a few years ahead of me before making this decision and I want to get a good sense of what my options are if I decide to take the step into HFs.

Jul 30, 2015 - 2:12am

Hi Natalie,

I'm very interested to see what you might have to say regarding my current situation. I hope you understand that I am deviating away from your response template - I hope you understand. To provide a bit of background, some general information is listed below to help you understand my demographic:

Sex: Male
Current Age: 29
Undergrad University: Top 50, Northeast public institution
Undergrad Major & GPA: Communications, 2.02/4.00 GPA
UG Business Courses Only GPA: 3.1/4.0 GPA
Graduate School: Small private institution in Northeast
Graduate Major & GPA: Masters of Accounting, 3.82/4.00 GPA
Current Occupation: Big 4 Accounting Firm, NYC, Sr. Associate (3.5 years total time)
GMAT: 690-730 (Practice exams)
Certifications: CPA, CFA 1
Volunteer: Coach youth basketball

Current Targets: UVA, UNC, Cornell, UCLA, NYU (Reach), Darthmouth (Hail Mary)

Overview: I did terrible in my undergraduate studies - immature, no direction, unable to cope with undiagnosed depression. By some miracle, the dean of my undergraduate college actually reached out to me and got me the help I needed to finish school. Though I almost flunked school, I was always active - I volunteered and completed two internships with two different, household-named, companies.

Post-college, I landed a job with a major financial services company doing basic service representative work. I obtained Series 7 and 63 at this firm but worked there for less than a year - I had realized I needed to go back to school to really have the opportunity and career I wanted. I enrolled at a small private university in the greater-NYC area and did very well there. I became a Dean's List scholar, was awarded scholarship, and worked as a graduate assistant focusing on research to broaden university curriculum. My studies were not limited to accounting but I also took courses in financial modeling, economics, valuation, etc. During this time, I successfully completed an internship with a Big 4 firm and accepted full-time offer in their audit line of service.

It's been 3.5 years in this capacity and I've done fairly well here. I've worked on some top-notch clients and seen some incredibly complex finance/accounting operations. My performance on my teams has always been good, I don't foresee any issue in obtaining my management's letter of recommendations. In addition, I obtained my CPA and have also progressed through some of the CFA curriculum. I have been studying the GMAT and taking some practice exams, scoring in the 690-720 range - I'm working to improve these scores to a target range of 740-770. On a more personal note, I've been seeing a therapist for the past year to address my depression and to work out my own issues - it's really been going well.

My interests surrounding the MBA are obvious. In my opinion, I think I have been establishing credibility and have shown that I can learn from my mistakes. With all of this said, I understand my undergraduate grades will act as a significant deterrence to being admitted to any #10 - #20 MBA program. I will be turning 30 within the next 9 months and the odds are against me. I've read through many admissions books and blogs but I can't shake the feeling that I still might have a shot at all - or I simply missed the boat on this one.

Once more, thank you very much for your time!

Jul 30, 2015 - 5:26pm

MBA-Throwaway, your username says a lot about the way you feel about yourself, so I'm glad you are getting the help you need. You are in a tricky position. Mental illness is still one of those taboo subjects and I typically encourage my clients to reveal that they were ill, treated and recovered to explain your low grades and then, your ability to do well in grad school and at work rather than reveal depression. Admissions directors will be nervous about a relapse given the pressure of business school. It's unfortunate that mental illness is taboo, but its the truth. So if you reveal illness (truth), treatment (truth) and recovery (I'm glad you're seeing a therapist to work out the issues. I hope your therapist is also working with you to understand your triggers and how to mitigate them so you don't fall back into a clinical depression. Having said that, I hope you have the coping mechanisms to state that you are recovered). You did not miss the boat in terms of age, although I must be honest that Darden told two of my 28 year old clients to consider their EMBA program. I certainly don't consider 28 or 30 for that matter, too old. Ahhh to be 30 again. My advice: go for it. Explain your grades without TMI. You've proven you can handle the work. You will get into some of these schools despite your grades. Although California state schools have a 3.0 cut off, so you may want to rethink UCLA or make certain that the Director is willing to override you into the program (there is a lot of red tape involved). On a brighter note, one of my favorite students of all time had a 2.2 undergraduate GPA. He was on our the Dean's honor roll every semester, president of student government, president of his class, became an associate with MBB and is now a Director. Look for the silver lining, MBA and change your user name to MBA-Headingyourway. Natalie

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
Aug 3, 2015 - 4:57pm

Hello Natalie,

My situation is a bit unorthodox, but here is my bio:

  • International student from Eastern Europe
  • Undergrad in Finance at a non-target liberal arts school in Midwest, graduated last May
  • Varsity athlete on a full ride
  • 3.7 GPA
  • Had a season-ending injury my senior year - got medical red shirt
  • Did an unpaid internship at a no-name boutique Investment Bank after graduation
  • Decided to stay in school and do my MBA at the same place to take advantage of an extra year of athletic eligibility and to improve my chances at H1B lottery with a masters degree (fall under a different cap, internationals will understand me)

- Will probably be joining the boutique investment bank I interned at upon my graduation in December.

So the plan is to work at this firm for 2-3 years and then go back to school to get a top tier MBA.
Would a top 10 business school even consider an applicant that already has an MBA?

Let's assume I'll have a solid GMAT (~700) and some good extra-curriculurs and other experience (captain of the varsity team, a few years playing the sport professionally, speaking a number of languages, etc)

My primary goal is to rebrand myself and position myself better in order to get into MBB, PE or Bulge Bracket/Elite Boutique banking.

I would really appreciate your feedback/advice.

Thank you.

Aug 6, 2015 - 1:33am

Hi Out there, as a former director, I dealt with Visa issues daily and I understand your concerns. I have had clients in the past apply to top 10 business schools after having earned an MBA, but those applicants typically have degrees from narrowly focused 1-year MBA programs from outside the US. Most programs state that a candidate should not apply if the candidate already has an MBA. However, both Wharton and Kellogg have been open to the MBA to MBA application in the past. You need to be well above the average accepted candidate to compensate for one of these elite schools to consider your candidacy for a second MBA. I would certainly mention the red shirt issue in your optional essay. As for the lottery, can you convince the boutique bank to sponsor your H1B? Good luck, Natalie

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
Aug 6, 2015 - 6:06pm


Thanks for your feedback, would SB if I could. The boutique bank is willing to sponsor my H1B, although it's still a lottery as you probably know. Fingers crossed I'm one of the lucky H1B candidates. What would you recommend me to work on in the next 2-3 years to position myself as well above average candidate? What are your thoughts on CFA? Also, what are your thoughts on running a small business on a side? I have plenty of time on my hands in the Fall and I won't be too busy when I start working full time. (I will average about 60-65 hours/week). I'm trying to build my story to distinguish myself from all those thousands of applicants coming from the top tier undergrad schools, with work experience at top tier investment banks, better gmat scores etc.

One of my professors from my non-target is also teaching at a top tier business school (top 5 ranking), so I actually took that class with him last Spring. Since I was more like a guest there, I can't really put the name of the school on my resume. However, I was graded on my assignments by XYZ school staff and I scored well above average in all of the assignments. Is there any way to leverage that experience?

I know you mentioned Wharton and Kellogg, but are there any other schools you would suggest to look into in my situation? Same goes for the schools I have no chance if I apply for a second MBA.

Thank you so much!

Aug 6, 2015 - 1:45am

Hi Philly, Where you obtain the masters will be important. An online degree from Carnegie Mellon is very different than an online degree at University of Everywhere. Also what would you learn from the MS that you didn't learn as an engineer at your top 15? Having said that, sometimes the grade issue gets in the way, but I don't think a 3.5 from a top 15 is going to kill your chances at a top MBA all else being excellent. If you rather spend your spare time working on developing non-profits than you should because you will have a lot more to talk about and you will be able to do it with passion. You will also be able to demonstrate your leadership. Early promotions do certainly stand out, but the ad coms don't see your performance ratings. They see 1. What you've been able to accomplish at work for you company and your clients (you will need to talk about these as well) and 2. You recommenders comments. Why is it an even/or? Can't you cut out time to do a great job at work and in your spare time, work on your nonprofits? Time management is an important skill you need to manage, but so is work/life balance. If you want more information on what adcoms seek in applications, review my webinar Reality Check and review our special report, Navigating the MBA Maze Good luck! Natalie

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
Aug 6, 2015 - 9:31pm

Hi Natalie,

I appreciate your insight in this thread and I'd love your feedback:

7yrs WE at matriculation in federal agency consulting:
-2 yrs DoD program management at IBM/Lockheed kind of place (first job out of college).
-3yrs management consulting at non-Deloitte Big 4 (second job) - focus on big picture strategic planning and connecting mission/strategy staff to operational/management staff (e.g. answering the question of 'how does a policy idea turn into a real, sustainable gov't project or program?').
-2yrs strategic advisory at a Deloitte/Booz Allen tier firm (current job) - current client is strategic planning office at a Justice/State/Treasury tier agency - directly advise agency senior leadership, lead internal strategy projects and liaise with staff from White House/Capitol Hill/other agencies regarding Department management/policy issues.

750 GMAT (47Q, 47V)

UVa undergrad, 2.7 GPA, economics BA, class of 2009. No extenuating circumstances for my GPA. However, I've learned a lot about myself and about the professional world from starting my career on the wrong foot. i've always been curious and driven, but I'm now substantially more diligent, opportunistic and grateful for the fruits of my labor than I was at 21. I wake up every day feeling like I have to earn what I have and prove that I can excel. I hope that my professional trajectory reflects that.

College ECs: Several that were recognized as being selective/influential - Honor Committee (dealing with cases of lying/cheating/stealing), Judiciary committee (conduct violations) and giving admissions presentations.

Post-college ECs: Nothing formal or branded, but I have been involved with mentoring several mentally ill individuals and I am fairly committed to several athletic endeavors (weight training and indoor rowing).

I feel like I need a top tier MBA at this point in my life to accelerate into the private sector corporate strategy. I want to work on big capital projects - infrastructure, energy, public-private partnerships - ideally in a F500 strategy/corp dev group or at a MBB. I want to work on serious projects and business operations that may involve significant public sector coordination/collaboration. I have some background in capital investment planning/analysis for big federal programs and I see myself taking it to the next level in the private sector.

Long-term I'd like to to keep the door open to jumping back into a high-level public sector leadership role.

I'm applying to Kellogg, Booth, Wharton, Tuck, Fuqua, Haas, Anderson, McCombs.

Aug 11, 2015 - 8:30pm

Aside from the grades, you sound well positioned to me. You will have problems with grades at Anderson and McCombs (both schools states mandate 3.0 gpa for entry, but a director can override if you are someone they want). GMAT should indicate that you have the aptitude for the work and that you just didn't apply it in undergrad. Wharton and Booth will be stretch because of grades. I think you have a decent shot at the others and you present a unique story to Haas because you of the non-tech background. Stick with the public private story and you are very appealing to adcoms. Good luck! Natalie

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
Aug 13, 2015 - 10:52am


Thanks for the feedback. Can you explain your comments about Anderson, Haas and McCombs? You've mentioned a few times in this thread that they have a statutory minimum GPA - something I haven't heard of in the past. Have you faced this hurdle with clients in the past or heard it directly from admissions staff at those schools? Do you think it's still worth applying? I can deal with selectivity as a function of limited class size and competitive applicant pool, but I'm concerned about facing strict bureaucratic hurdles.

Aug 10, 2015 - 5:56pm


I know it's early to be thinking about b-school but I just wanted see where I stand in the grand scheme of things. Here is my profile:

Graduated from large state school in the northeast (think UMASS, Rutgers) with a 3.6 in Accounting
Work exp: 2 internships, one Mid tier audit, one big 4 audit, and will be starting in a competitive Big 4 financial due diligence group.

-Leadership in fraternity - founded an annual social event to raise money. Also implemented new financial system which made dues collection and budgeting much easier
-Founded a consulting group that does strategy consulting work led by alumni who went to HBS / Sloan and work at BCG / McK.
--Led ~10 people through a 6 month strategy engagement. Will lead 1 more before I graduate and will be an adviser to the group once I graduate.
-pro-bono consulting (helped a start up app)
Passion: I really enjoy helping people at my school land consulting / high finance jobs since none of them recruit at my school.GMAT: Been practicing and seems to be around 650 unfortunately. Have not taken it officially.

If I stay at big 4 DD group, in 4/5 years, where do you think I'll have a good shot of getting in? I think with 650 the top 8 are a stretch and schools like georgetown, texas, etc are more likely. I will most likely be a CPA
Goal: MBB
I know I shouldn't be thinking about this so far out but I'm just curious.
Thanks in advance!

Aug 11, 2015 - 8:36pm

Get a tutor a conquer the GMAT. Texas and G-town have much higher average GMAT scores now too. The GMAT is only good for 5 years, so remember that when applying. CPA doesn't necessarily lead to MBB, so begin networking now. Solid leadership in school. Keep it up in your community and at work (take the opportunity to make an can do that with accounting particularly if your clients are interesting and you works makes them a better company). Let's stay in touch. In the meantime, review our "Before you Apply" Special Reports Good luck! Natalie

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
Aug 14, 2015 - 2:37pm

Hi Natalie, thanks a lot for doing this!

Looking to apply to the following schools: Chicago, Harvard, Stanford, Virginia, Berkeley, Tuck, Kellogg. Not sure if I'll do 1st or 2nd round.

  1. 2.5 Years at a multi family office of over 3Billion in AUM, 30+ employees. Work with a Hedge fund of funds of over $600M (3 person team) and $200M PE fund of funds (2 people team). Also took on an operations role and have helped design a lot of business processes and systems (small CS background). Wear a lot of hats. Will get awesome recommendations from my superior and CEO / Founder of the company.

  2. 750 (48Q, 46V) ... 98th percentile

  3. Public Ivy, top 5 undergraduate b-school programs. Graduated with two different majors in Math and Business Administraton (Finance Concentration)....Math drove the GPA down to 3.35, counting summer classes at other colleges near my home rounds it to 3.4 (not sure if i'm allowed to do this). Also took some CS classes and was close to a minor in it.

  4. Not much as I've tried to focus on work. Have coached some soccer teams and have done some volunteer work for organizations but nothing consistent.

  5. None

  6. Work in management consulting with a special focus on Latin America with the goal of eventually moving on and running my own company

As an aside, if it matters, I'm South American (born outside the U.S but became a U.S citizen 10 years ago).

Aug 15, 2015 - 2:25am

BlueSteel, if you are not going to be ready to apply in round 1, hold off until round 2. It makes little difference for the schools on your list and you would probably position yourself better applying earlier in round 1 than in round 2. I think you have an interesting background. HBS and Stanford are stretches, but you should do well at the others. Slam dunk your app and you should be do fine. Read the special report leadership in admissions before beginning your apps. Natalie

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
  • 1
Aug 15, 2015 - 3:35pm

Hi Vic, I think your challenge will be to discuss why the MBA is relevant for you without calling out the premium brand name goal (and you are right, many people are applying to M7s to get the stamp on approval on their resumes). The trajectory is important, so don't diminish it. I think you have a very good shot at Tuck, Duke, Darden (although Darden has been seeking younger candidates and told two of my 28 year old clients to consider the Darden EMBA, so they attended higher ranked schools :-)), Yale and Kellogg. Make certain that you emphasize your network, so they are not concerned about job placement post graduation. I think you also have a good shot at Haas and Sloan. Stanford is definitely a stretch, but athletes are welcomed at the school. Natalie

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
  • 2
Aug 17, 2015 - 10:54am

A Masters shouldn't disadvantage you unless it was an MBA at another institution or you performed poorly academically. Natalie

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
Aug 23, 2015 - 3:23pm

Hi Natalie:

Thank you so much for doing this, here are my quick stats and concerns-

1) Started a tech start-up with my friend during Junior/Senior year. Stuck with it, raised a seed funding and three years later we were profitable (~10 mln rev). Unfortunately at this point is when I had disagreements with my friend (the other co-founder) about the direction of the company and was ousted out of it (still got my vested shares though).

Then moved internationally to Asia and worked as the Investor Relations Director (worked with C-level execs / PM of top funds, foresaw one M&A of an American company and two equity financing rounds) for the past 2 years at a HK-listed software company.

2) GMAT ~ 720
3) USC, 3.2 GPA, Business Administration
4) Was in an elected position of student government, head of business club, leadership position at fraternity
5) I want to move into finance (P/E or HF)

My questions are:

1) How will they look at my startup experience? And about working overseas (I am 26 y/o Male Asian)? Is Investor Relations a really weird position...?

2) What are my shots at Harvard / Wharton / Stanford / Columbia / UCLA / NYU?

Thank you so much and hope to hear from you soon.

Aug 25, 2015 - 8:00pm

Hi Liudchris, I'm glad you received your vested shares. I've heard this story all too often and companies completely implode, so you are very lucky (and congratulations on getting the start up off the ground...sorry it caused a rift between you and your friend). I think working overseas is attractive. Start-up to IR is not the typical route to HSWC, but I don't think you'll have issues with UCLA or NYU. I've had several IR clients and they manage to use their network to their benefit. You will have to do that as well. Having said that, I still think you should go for the stretch schools as well as your match schools. The earlier you apply to Columbia, the better off you are (rolling admissions). Are you applying this year? Natalie

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
Aug 25, 2015 - 8:28pm


I'd be interested if you would help me handicap my chances at my R1 schools.

R1: Harvard, Wharton, Booth, Sloan, Columbia

GMAT: 730 (but 62nd % quant)
Undergrad: 3.49 across two universities, graduated from relatively prestigious semi target (think Johns Hopkins, ND, WUSTL, etc). Degree is in Economics. College athlete and worked PT during off season.
Work: F500 FLDP, then went to a smaller company in a corp dev role. Ended up selling the company and I was out of a job. Moved to FP&A role at BB (MS/JPM/GS). 4 years WE. 1 promotion at current role.
Extra Curricular: Involved in 2 committees at work, mentor and fundraise for an inner city youth program, organized events with a local homeless shelter. Led a volunteer/fundraising committee at previous job.
Demo: White Male.

Thanks, I appreciate it.

Aug 27, 2015 - 1:12am

All Day, are you planning to retake the GMAT? If not, you'll need to explain your quant. You've selected quant heavy schools (except HBS, but they don't need to overlook the quant). Use your athletics to explain your drive, determination and ability to size up the competition. How long were you out of a job (also may need to explain time off...for some, the time off has worked well if they use it to add value to organizations like NPOs). Apply to Columbia as early as possible and you will have a good shot. HBS is a stretch for everyone. You will need a great introduction that shows your uniqueness and value add to the school. You'll likely be fine with Booth. Sloan may find your quant an issue, but I think you can overcome that with a slam dunk app. Wharton is somewhere between a match and a stretch. If you know people at Wharton, ask them to give you a shout out to the adcom. I hope this helps you. Good luck. Natalie

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean bio | Contact Me
Aug 27, 2015 - 6:32am
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