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Ask Natalie from Accepted about Business School Admissions

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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:

Natalie

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)

Jen

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 (1438)

Mar 12, 2017

Dear Shinobi,

Here are answers to your questions:

  1. Aim for 720+. Applicants with finance backgrounds are over-represented, so you need to have a strong GMAT score to make the cut. It helps that you are doing the CFA, since that is a difficult test.
  2. You mentioned that you volunteer. I would suggest becoming more involved with one of the groups you volunteer with - take a leadership role, oversee a project, etc. Top schools like to see individuals that are go-getters in every aspect of their lives.
  3. WHAT you do matters much more than WHERE you do it. Here is a blog post I wrote about what counts as good work experience that you might find helpful: http://blog.accepted.com/qualifies-good-work-exper....
  4. While of course it would not hurt to have some alums of these top programs willing to put in a good word for you, what matters more is showing your commitment to the school by engaging with it - visit, go to info sessions, meet as many folks from the admissions office as possible, so they (hopefully) will remember you and already have a positive impression when they review your application.

Here is another resource from our website - how to stand out in your application: http://reports.accepted.com/9-secrets-to-stand-out

Jennifer Weld, Consultant, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting

    • 2
Free Consultation

We know you have questions as you prepare to apply to your target business schools. What are your chances of being admitted? How can you differentiate yourself from so many other applicants? What is the best way to showcase your accomplishments or mitigate your weaknesses? Start getting answers to all your questions by taking advantage of a free 30-minute consultation with an expert from mbaMission’s Senior Consultant team. Learn more.

Oct 9, 2017

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Mar 12, 2017

Dear Epiphany,

You clearly have amazing stats which will get you noticed, as well as work experience at a top consulting firm. What will be most important is how you present yourself - what makes you stand out from others with top-notch academics and work experience? It seems as though your goal of moving into biotech is differentiating. It would be great if you had some other differentiating characteristics - unique hobbies, life story, extracurriculars (I see you aren't doing anything right now - not sure if you can add something in). You will be considered an international applicant, though with previous access to H1B you have an advantage that others applying from your country without that experience do not.

Jennifer Weld, Consultant, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting

    • 2
Mar 20, 2017

Hi Jen, I really appreciate the helpful answer! It sounds like the key is differentiation. Nice to her that the H1B is an advantage!

Mar 9, 2017

Hello Jen

I also have a question regarding my profile for Bocconi (MSc Finance). I am planning to apply for next year's intake (Sep. 2018).
I am an Electronics Engineering student in Brazil, from a top engineering university (known in Brazil but unknown abroad). My graduation is planned to happen in mid-2017.
Profile :
- 22 y.o. (will be 23 when applying)
- EU Citizen (Italian), brazilian but with dual citizenship
- Languages: Portuguese, English, German, Italian (basic)
- GPA : 7.6/10 (Brazil's grading system, probably equal to 3.1/4)
- Scholarship withholder for giving free courses of robotics to children from public schools
- Experience abroad: International german summer course in a German university, duration of 1 month
- 2 Internships: 2 years in a multinational manufacturer and 1.5 years in one of top 3 TV broadcasters in the country (none of them was finance related)
- Member of the university's finance and investment club
- Experience managing my own and family's investments

Regarding GMAT, I am planning to get 650+ (not taken yet). For the TOEFL, it would have to be 100+.

I would like to know if you think my profile is viable for Bocconi's MSc Finance. I would appreciate any comments or sugestions aswell.

Thanks!

    • 1
Mar 12, 2017

Dear Big Boy,

You certainly have an interesting background. The only thing I would be concerned about from an admissions perspective is why you want the degree - with a degree in EE, work in robotics, and internships not in the field, it is not clear why you are interested in it. I would make sure you have very sharp goals to make it clear why you are moving away from your undergrad degree expertise and into finance. As long as you do a good job of explaining that, I see no reason why you wouldn't be taken seriously.

Jennifer Weld, Consultant, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting

    • 2
Mar 13, 2017

Jen,

Thank you very much for your answer. Do you think my exposure to finance in extra-curricular activities is enough motive for me to pursue the degree? That's where pretty much all my interest has grown.

Thanks!

Mar 13, 2017

As long as you have a coherent argument as to why the switch, there should be no reason to not take you seriously.

Jennifer Weld, Consultant, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting

    • 1
Mar 9, 2017

Hi Natalie and Jen!

Thanks a lot for taking the time to do this. I'm aiming for HBS, GSB, Sloan, or Booth. What do you think my chances are?

Asian, US Citizen, Male, 25

1) 1 year at tier 2 consulting firm, doing management/strategy consulting. 2 years at a early stage VC firm, as an associate. Also worked extensively with portfolio companies doing strategy, biz dev, and product management during this time. Helped launch major product for a portfolio company, and led channel sales strategy. Sourced and invested in two deals.
2) GMAT: 99th percentile- 770
3) College info: U. of Georgia. GPA: 3.2, Major: Operations Management. Grad: 2014. Had 5 internships.
4) VP of service fraternity in college. Currently volunteer with pro-bono organizations providing advice to local businesses. I also play chess competitively. Work related, but a mentor at various local accelerators.
5) No major certifications
6) Post MBA I'd like to either 1) join a larger VC fund, and do my own deals or 2) join a promising start-up as head of growth

Mar 13, 2017

Dear mc2030,

Since generally it will be hard to differentiate your work experience (finance/consulting), focus examples that show significant leadership and broad skills wherever possible (the product launch seems particularly "meaty"). Also showcase your volunteer experience, since it sounds like you are very involved in the community. The schools you are looking at accept folks who are tenacious and go-getters in every aspect of their lives, so really accentuate that. You are obviously academically qualified, the only issue is standing out in a crowded pack. Here is a free report from our website that can help with that: http://reports.accepted.com/9-secrets-to-stand-out.
Please feel free to reach out to me privately (contact info below) if you have interest in working together on your applications.

Jennifer Weld, Consultant, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting

    • 2
Mar 12, 2017

Hi Natalie and Jen,

Would really appreciate your thoughts on my profile and what I can do better to have a shot at Columbia / Sloan / Booth / Wharton / HBS (target -> reach):

Asian (not from India or China but an emerging market country), prefer to matriculate next year or 2 yrs from now

1/ WE: I have had IBD experience plus strategic consulting experience. Joined an BB bank in New York out of undergrad as an analyst in an IBD coverage group, worked there for a year then didn't get H1B Visa. My bank relocated me to London and I spent a year working in a strategy role for the CEO of the bank overseeing S&T and IBD. Just got back to the States late last year on H1B, now working for the Head of IBD in a strategy role (got asked to do it the minute I landed in New York thinking I was heading to my old group) then will be joining IBD M&A shortly

2/ GMAT: 700, but will retake soon and think would be able to get 730+

3/ College info: No-name state school that is now not even in top 100 of USNews Regional ranking (Yep, the regional ranking not the national one). 3.98 GPA, Finance major.

Applied for HBS 2+2 when I was a senior but did not have an interview

4/ EC: Student senate, president of the school chapter of a honor society when in college; occasional volunteer through company's volunteer initiatives but will be doing a lot more with an organized group

5/ No certification

6/ Post MBA I would like to join a Growth Equity firm or VC firm, but also open to founding / joining a startup

Mar 13, 2017

Dear beeschool,

You have a lot of great work experience (international, strategy, multiple departments), so that breadth of experience will serve you well. Glad you did phenomenally well in college - boosting the gmat score to the range you are targeting will alleviate any concern about lower-ranked school).

I would focus on extracurriculars to stand out and get involved as soon as possible (you don't want it to appear as though you are padding your resume to look better to an admissions committee right before applying). Take on as substantive a role as you are able - serve on the board, oversee a major project, etc. - to cement your commitment.

I would imagine you have an interesting personal story as well, coming from an emerging market country. If you are comfortable, when it comes time, insert as much of that into open-ended essay questions to really give the admissions committee a well-rounded sense of you.

Beyond that, feel free to contact me when the time comes if you would like some assistance in putting together your application.

Jennifer Weld, Consultant, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting

    • 2
Mar 13, 2017

How is working in the public sector investment management viewed upon in admissions? ie.. Calpers/Calsters. Any difference between that and public educational endowments?

I have ~5 years in the industries above. No GMAT yet, 3.5 overall GPA (3.7 finance) non-target. Currently lack leadership positions.

Want to stay in public / non-profit.

Target schools (if I was to apply) - Duke, UT Austin, UVA, Rice, Georgetown

Mar 13, 2017

Hi TimWSO,

Your background is a different angle to finance than most applicants, so that will serve you well. The name of the game is differentiation, differentiation, differentiation, so wherever you see it in your profile, accentuate it. Seems like you should work on getting involved with at least one extracurricular to also help with that. I think you have a good consideration set of schools, so just focus on that differentiation and you should have a decent shot (aim for 700+ on the GMAT).

Jennifer Weld, Consultant, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting

    • 1
Mar 13, 2017

Hi Natalie and Jen, thank you very much for taking the time to answer questions!

1) Work: Military Officer. Rocket propulsion systems program manager.
2) GMAT: 690 (86%) / 47Q (65%) / 38V (85%) / AW 6.0 (90%) / IR 7 (82%)
3) Undergrad: Service Academy. Business management major, minor in Spanish. GPA - 3.30 (3.69 major). Department of Management Distinguished Graduate (top 10% of 300+).
4) Extracurriculars: In college, 4 year starter on varsity basketball team, team captain senior year. Member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). After graduation, I've coached at local high schools, represented the nation in the World Military Games, and chaired local officer's council. I've worked part-time at a boutique investment bank for 1.5 years (20-25 hrs/week).
5) None
6) Career Goals: Investment banking/private equity.

I am targeting M7 for fall 2018. I'll be 27

Mar 13, 2017

Dear falconhoops,

Right off the bat you will have an advantage as a military officer. The discipline, skills and experience of officers are very sought after by business schools. You know a thing or two about keeping calm under pressure - something that future leaders need to know something about! Have you been serving in the military and doing work at the investment bank? Just curious as to why the part-time.

I think you've got a decent shot at the schools you are looking at. The couple things that could enhance your candidacy would be a somewhat higher GMAT (700+), and if you have current EC experience (I can't tell from your explanation if you have current experience or not).

Feel free to contact me offline in answer to the questions I posed.

Jennifer Weld, Consultant, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting

    • 2
Mar 15, 2017

1) 3.5 years big 4 audit experience, moved to FP&A position at small fast (150 people) growing (30% YoY) clinical research organization (CRO) YoY and will have been there for about 1.5 years a time of application.

In addition, I built e-commerce site generating 15k in profits in 2 years and sold for a multiple of revenue. In 2017 I created online courses (Udemy) on corp finance and accounting generating $2k revenue/month (and really profit) and growing.

2) Estimated 650
3) Undergrad from a not very respected state school, a whopping 2.3 gpa - BS in Econ. Ms in accounting from the same school, 3.9 gpa.
4) VP Finance of beta alpha psi and Graduate business association.
5) CPA Licensed 2014 (Passed all 4 on first attempt)
6) Finance/Strategy Manager, senior FP&A position, or Corporate Development associate. Goal is moving to a strategic finance position driving big picture corporate decisions.

I am almost solely focusing on UNC/Duke - either full time or executive MBA, and mainly curious about what would be a reasonable GMAT needed for full time vs weekend exec MBA.

Mar 16, 2017

Hi Soros,

I don't see you as having a competitive profile for Duke or UNC's FT programs. Your GMAT should be north of 690, preferably 700 if you want to try for those programs. You should also address the low GPA. (see 5 A's for Your Low GPA for tips on how to do so.)

Regarding Duke's weekend executive program or UNC's : For UNC your masters degree may get you a GMAT waiver at UNC's Executive MBA program. Duke requires either the GRE or the GMAT for its Weekend EMBA, and unfortunately I couldn't find any test score info for their EMBA program. I would say give it a try. A 650 would keep you in the running.

Best,
Linda

Linda Abraham
President, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting

    • 1
Mar 16, 2017

Thank you for your response!

Regarding low GPA (I read through the post - thank you for that), I worked ~30 hours a week in undergrad but the truth is honestly immaturity - I imagine that will not go over well and will need to find a better story?

Also, I immediately started the MSA after undergrad and worked around 20 hours a week, graduated with 3.9 and completed the CPA exam before graduating. Should this help with the low GPA? Assuming I have a competitive (~700) GMAT?

Mar 16, 2017

Soros,

You're welcome.

I don't think you need a "better" story. Working 30 hours a week while going to school full-time provides necessary context for that UGPA. Immaturity shows honest reflection on your part. It's also you taking responsibility for that record. And your grad GPA and subsequent success all show that you grew up. Finally, working 20 hours per week makes your grad GGPA even more impressive and again shows that you grew up.

I really do deal with quite a bit of this in the podcast I recommended above.

Linda Abraham
President, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting

Mar 19, 2017

To what extent does grad GPA offset an ugrad GPA?

GoldenCinderblock: "I keep spending all my money on exotic fish so my armor sucks. Is it possible to romance multiple females? I got with the blue chick so far but I am also interested in the electronic chick and the face mask chick."

Mar 14, 2017

Hi Natalie and Jen - thanks so much for continuing to do this. I'm aiming to matriculate in 2020 (when my associate contract is up) and target schools are HSW. Wondering if that's in range, given that I fall into a very stereotypical finance path with no real finance brand names on my resume, and am also an Asian male (US citizen, 23 y/o).

1) 2 years as an M&A Analyst in a non-BB investment bank (along the lines of Wells Fargo/RBC) and will start a 2 year-role as an Associate in a midmarket consumer+retail PE fund this summer.
2) GMAT: 770 - 89% Q; 99% V; 6/6 AWA; 8/8 IR
3) Penn (Wharton) - 3.6 GPA in Finance
4) Three years of DI varsity athletics until injury, post-graduate experience with mentorship volunteer organization
5) Would like to transition into a strategic ops role in a consumer company, especially one related to fitness or health & wellness

Thanks again!

Mar 16, 2017

Hi Creative Banker,

I think you are being a little hard on yourself. While yes you will need to show you target programs ways in which you can contribute there is nothing in what you wrote that says you can't be accepted at your target programs. You should make a commitment -- perhaps to that mentorship volunteer organization -- such that you take a leadership role in it before you apply. That can be running an event, assuming responsibility for membership or fund raising -- something like that. Also, if travel appeals to you at all, try to add an international dimension to your profile. Basically create a track record of contribution and have experiences that will distinguish you from "stereotypical finance" types.

Prep for Bschool may be of help to you. It's a free download for those interested in applying 2-5 years away from applying to MBA programs.

Best,
Linda

Linda Abraham
President, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting

Mar 16, 2017

Thank you Linda. I'll definitely keep your advice in mind over the next couple years!

    • 1
Mar 15, 2017

Hi Jen and Natalie, thanks a lot for doing this. Really looking forward to what you have to say.

1) Had a BB S&T internship in college which I turned into a full time offer. All my time has been in fixed-income trading, but I'm becoming more and more interested in transitioning to IB or consulting (want an MBA to make the switch). Not sure how schools would view trading. Also, I'm in the Army National Guard as an aviation officer (helicopter pilot). Should have good recs from military and bank.

2) 720 GMAT with strong quant scores and a history of doing very well in all math classes.

3) Graduate from Penn State with a BS in Finance in 2013, minor in Military Studies. Beta Gamma Sigma and Magna Cum Laude.

4) Army ROTC in college, had some very good leadership positions within that and took a leadership role in an ROTC club. Started an org to get vets prepared for business careers. Small leadership positions in a business fraternity. Also involved in many of the finance clubs. Took a 30 day cultural/humanitarian trip to a very poor European country and also did an alternative spring break trip to Miami with Deloitte and United Way. I've also done a lot of mentoring over the years with kids in ROTC and finance. Small amount of volunteering experience, kind of think of being in the National Guard as "do-gooder" type experience.

5) Passed CFA I

6) As I mentioned, really interested in making a career change to IB or consulting, on the fence right now. I'll definitely bring up one in the application and explain why a MBA makes sense. If consulting, I'd be aiming for MBB maybe in strategy and operations.

I'd love to know my chances for these schools:

Reach - Harvard
Target - Wharton, Booth, Columbia, Tuck, Yale, MIT

Thanks!

Mar 16, 2017

What was your GPA at Penn State?

Linda Abraham
President, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting

Mar 16, 2017

Whoops, missed that. 3.90

Mar 16, 2017

Hi Nitanny,

Excellent.

You have a chance at all your target school, including HBS, and are applying appropriately, but they are all tough programs to get into. S&T isn't the most desired financial services background, but your leadership in the ROTC will help you.

I would add a program like Duke or NYU Stern, perhaps round 2 if you don't get in R1 to your current targets. These two schools also support your goals, but may be a tad easier to get into.

FYI, I had a series of webinars last fall on getting into H/S/W, Booth and CBS. If you are interested, here are the links:

Best,
Linda

Linda Abraham
President, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting

Mar 19, 2017

Hi Linda

Thanks for doing this. Just had a question for you out of curiosity.

Is it possible for a student to appeal their case for admissions into a HSW-tier B-School to the school's adcomms, in spite of poor academics, all other parameters being equal (research work, MBB consulting job, extra-curricular leadership roles)? I mean, is it possible to literally go to the offices of the adcomm team, after booking an appointment perhaps, and appealing in person why one's application is unique and ought to be considered, way before admissions season? And does it actually work?

GoldenCinderblock: "I keep spending all my money on exotic fish so my armor sucks. Is it possible to romance multiple females? I got with the blue chick so far but I am also interested in the electronic chick and the face mask chick."

Mar 20, 2017
Frank Quattrone:

Hi Linda

Thanks for doing this. Just had a question for you out of curiosity.

Is it possible for a student to appeal their case for admissions into a HSW-tier B-School to the school's adcomms, in spite of poor academics, all other parameters being equal (research work, MBB consulting job, extra-curricular leadership roles)? I mean, is it possible to literally go to the offices of the adcomm team, after booking an appointment perhaps, and appealing in person why one's application is unique and ought to be considered, way before admissions season? And does it actually work?

Frank, a candidate can always ask for reconsideration and the worse case scenario is that the school will say, "thanks, but no thanks". It is extremely rare, but not impossible for a school to turn a decision around. It is also extremely rare to get a one-on-one post-mortem meeting with an H/S/W director. Again, rare, but not impossible. I had one client that successfully met with Dee Leopold, former admissions director at HBS for a reject review. She had interviewed him for the program (so he made it that far in the process) and he knew people who knew people at HBS. Dee suggested my client reapply to the program after addressing his one very small weakness, but she also recused herself from the committee when my client was reviewed the following year. In terms of H/S/W, they turn away thousands of qualified candidates and even one weakness may be enough to give them reason to deny admission. These requests are typically made in writing initially and not in a face-to-face meeting, unless, like my former client you know people who know people. H/S/W are not typically known to offer feedback to denied candidates. Consider gaining an outsiders opinion of your weaknesses through reject review services. We offer such a service http://www.accepted.com/mba/services/rejection-rev... Accepted and we would be happy to help you understand why H/S/W denied your admission. We will also be very candid about your likely success should you choose to reapply. Best of Luck to you, Natalie

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein
Admissions Consultant & Former MBA Admissions Dean
www.accepted.com/mba
My bio | Contact Me

    • 3
Mar 22, 2017

Hello

I am planning to apply for MBA schools in the scond round of this upcoming year (for summer 2018). The schools I plan to apply to are: Georgetown, UVA, USC Marshall, UMich, Cornell, Northwestern, UChicago, UPenn.

  1. Currently working in Sales & Trading at an Investment Bank in NYC. Been working here for 2 years since graduating in 2014
  2. GMAT: 710 (91%)
  3. Went to Drexel University, large private school in Philadelphia. Studied finance and graduated in 2014
    College activities: Founder & President of non-profit student organization for twp years during undergrad. Also was a founder and treasurer for another finance organization for on year.
    GPA: 2.5. Reason for my low GPA is I had epilepsy for most of my life and had brain surgery right before entering college. Also worked 30hours/week to financially support myself for two years.
    Since my undergrad GPA was low, I took 3 courses (Financial Accounting, Microeconomics, Business Statistics) at a college nearby and received an A in all the courses.
  4. Post college: Involved with two non-profit organizations. Epilepsy Foundation of America & World Vision
  5. N/A for certifications
  6. Post MBA goals: I'm looking for a career change. Looking to work in managerial consulting, preferably in Washington DC. My #1 choice is Georgetown because I would like to move to DC.

Thanks!

Apr 12, 2017

Dear mb_2,

Great move on proactively addressing your low GPA by taking relevant courses for business school. You should still write the optional essay to explain the low GPA, but any academic concerns should be alleviated with the course grades and the GMAT.

You have a good list of schools to consider, obviously Wharton and Booth will be the most challenging. Since I am sure you are very passionate about your work with the Epilepsy Foundation, I would bring that out wherever possible in the application. Schools like to see that initiative, as the hope is you will be similarly involved while in the program and after graduation.

Here is a link to a podcast on how to stand out: https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/58291/Linda-Abraham...

Jennifer Weld, Consultant, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting

    • 1
Mar 29, 2017

Hi, I am a senior applying for deferred MBA programs. I was wondering if you think I should include in my admission essay that I had an open heart surgery?

  • non-target school (full academic scholarship)
    -GPA: 3.96
    -Passed CFA level 1
  • GMAT 730 (96 percentile)
  • 3 internships+ several part-time jobs : 1st: BB Bank (credit research); 2nd Large HF (valuation); 3rd Healthcare VC (deal team analyst)
  • Started my own charity and raised $200k. Built 2 schools in Jamaica + support several girls in Afganistan, Rwanda, and Jamaica.
    -not US citizen (lived in 4 different EU countries)

Thanks,

Apr 12, 2017

Dear Alex,

You have excellent stats and impressive extracurriculars. In terms of whether or not to mention open heart surgery, it comes down to what you want to mention it for. If it drives you, or if it affected grades or other circumstances while in school it makes sense to. Why don't you contact me offline and we can discuss further. You can reach me at [email protected]

Jennifer Weld, Consultant, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting

    • 1
Mar 30, 2017

Just curious, If one already had a MSF and was looking to get an MBA, could you apply with your GPA from your MSF program? Or would they still factor your undergraduate GPA into their decision. Thanks

Apr 12, 2017

Hi slippy777,

All MBA programs will ask for transcripts from any degree-granting institution, especially undergrad.

Jennifer Weld, Consultant, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting

Apr 6, 2017

Hi Natalie and Jen,
I am seeking for a msc in financial engineering/math fin in the US. Please help me evaluate my profile:
- My undergraduate GPA is 3.57 with major in finance. My university is National Economics University in Vietnam (i also got a scholarship).
- 3 internships exp (1 is equity analyst intern). I'm considering the Consulting internship in PwC but i'm afraid that it is irrelevant to Financial engineering/math fin.
- I am a CFA level II candidate
- My GRE score is 170/160/3.5 (Quant/verbal/AWA), and i got 7.5 IELTS.
- I got a C++ certificate of Baruch college, and got some knowledge about MATLAB, python and R (self-study).
- I am preparing for the GRE subject (math) in September to strengthen my profile.
- Extracurricular activities: Got 2 gold medals in basketball.
My target are Cornell, NYU Tandon, UCLA and Chicago, but i think my profile is not good enough to get into these schools. If i got high score in GRE subject, will I have any chance of getting into these schools?

Apr 20, 2017

Hi ho-nguyen,

Just wanted to verify first - have you graduated yet? And are you planning to apply for Fall 2017 or 2018? I am assuming the latter considering how late it is, but just checking.

Thanks,

Jennifer Weld, Consultant, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting

Apr 21, 2017

Hi jen,

I will graduate on August 2017, and i am planning to apply for Fall 2018. By the way, my GPA just increase to 3.64.
I also got some certificates from Coursera ( Some calculus certificates, R , gonna try to get Python certificate). I target >= 75 percentile in GRE subject Math as well.

Thank you for your help.

Apr 21, 2017

Hi ho-nguyen,

It sounds like you are doing all the right things to be a competitive candidate - improving your GPA, taking extra courses, and improvements in GRE. I see no reason why you wouldn't be considered a serious candidate at the schools you are looking at.

I actually think the consulting internship is a good way to go. It shows that you aren't simply a technical person - to be successful in consulting you have to have a lot of different strengths - strategy, operations, and so forth. Since I presume long term you might want to do the management track, this is a great way to build up a skill set.

Please feel free to contact me offline if you'd like help in developing your story for the applications when the time comes.

Jennifer Weld, Consultant, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting

    • 2
Apr 21, 2017

Hi Jen,

I will try my best to improve my background, and I will contact you when that time comes. Thank you very much for your help.

Apr 5, 2017

Hi Natalie and Jen,
I am looking to work in IB in NYC after graduation and have to decide between three schools for my undergraduate degree:
- Cornell for the School for Hotel Administration, but I plan on transferring to Dyson either my second semester, or second year. (Does anybody know how easy this would be?)
- NYU Stern
- UVA, I will be applying to transfer into McIntire sophomore year
I also got into Carnegie Mellon Tepper Business School, but I do not know if I should even consider it.
Money is not an issue because they are around the same price for me. Also, lets say ten years down the line will it make a difference if I have an Ivy like Cornell as my alma mater over any of these other schools?

Apr 21, 2017

Dear dorloss,

Cornell probably has the strongest reputation of the schools you are looking at (with NYU a close second with their strength in finance). With the Cornell College of Business just starting up (Hotel School, Dyson and Johnson all coming together), the need to "transfer" might not even be an issue. I would look more closely at what that would do for you.

Jennifer Weld, Consultant, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting

Apr 5, 2017

Hi Natalie & Jen,

I went to a semi-target for 3 semesters before taking a break to get my financial house in order (took about 6 years) and I'm now back at a non-target finishing my UG in Fin. My grades 6 years ago were not great (about a 2.5 GPA) but my cumulative at my current university is a 3.9.

My question is, will a top-20 school completely disregard me because of my transgressions 6 years ago, or will they see someone who got his act together and finished strong?

Apr 21, 2017

Dear spthib01,

Schools will look at you in total, so they won't disregard you because of your earlier academic transgressions. Be sure to explain the situation in an optional essay and it will be a non issue. Hopefully you will have a high GMAT (700+) to counteract any lingering perception as well. Not that you need this, but here is a podcast from Linda Abraham about how to deal with a low GPA: http://media.blubrry.com/admissions_straight_talk/...

Jennifer Weld, Consultant, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting

    • 1
Apr 5, 2017

Hi Natalie, thanks for doing this. Quick question, when applying to B-Schools, does have a minor matter at all? I'm a Finance major. Would a minor be helpful at all in materially improving my chances of B-school admissions, or is it not worth the time (unless I have personal interest in it of course)?

Apr 12, 2017

Hi therealgekko,

Helping Natalie out on this. A minor will not significantly improve your chances, other than to show that you pursued rigorous academics, and if you did well, that it showed maturity and focus.

Jennifer Weld, Consultant, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting

    • 1
Jul 8, 2017

Thank you so much for the help.

Apr 21, 2017

Hi jackdonaghy26,

You look to have a pretty stellar background in all areas - academics, work experience and extracurriculars. Your multicultural background is a big asset, too. While your short term career goal will not be terribly unique compared to other applicants, your long term goal to work in politics certainly is. Bottom line - keep on doing what you're doing!

Here are a bunch of webinars that Linda did about acceptance into some of the M7 Schools, and here are the links:

Feel free to reach out to me offline if you'd like to discuss further.

Jennifer Weld, Consultant, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting

    • 1
Apr 22, 2017

Thank you so much for the help and the links! (I sent you a pm asking some follow up questions)

Apr 16, 2017

Have you had many experiences with clients in the Reserve/National Guard applying without having done any active duty time? Do you know how admissions usually view this? I'm assuming it's not considered very equal to active duty. Would the view change much if you had deployed or otherwise achieved the legal veteran status?

Apr 19, 2017

Hello,

Thank you wholeheartedly for providing your insight.

1) Brief description of your full-time work experience.

Title: Process Engineer
Achievements: 220K lean six sigma cost savings
Duration: 12 months
Company: F500 Med Device (top 10 by market cap)

2) Your GMAT or GRE. Percentiles preferred.
GRE Quant: 170
GRE Verbal: 160
Total: 330

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.

College: Columbia U
GPA 3.65
Major: BS ChemEngineering, BS Chemistry
Graduation: 2016

4) Significant college and post-college extra-curricular activities or community service, especially leadership experience.
* I'm a NASM CPT (personal trainer) and private STEM tutor with 7 years client exp (> 100 clients, many yearlong commitments)

5) Important certifications like ...
None relevant I believe. Only cert I hold is Six Sigma Green Belt, soon Black Belt in 2 months.

6) Your post-MBA goal.
Although engineering industry has provided an opportunity to actively focus on efficiency improvement, cost savings, product improvement, and helped develop strong analytical data-heavy skills, I am looking for something more fast-paced in terms of career progression.

Post MBA goal: Associate at McKinsey, Bain, BCG
... possibly in healthcare (relevant to job exp)

Thank you very much :)

Apr 21, 2017

Hi TCD,

Can you tell me more about the schools you are considering, and when you are thinking of applying?

Thanks!

Jennifer Weld, Consultant, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting

Apr 26, 2017

Thank you very much for your reply, Jen.

That is a good question. I am trying to maximize my chance of getting into an M7 and am considering the following paths:

  1. 2 more years as engineer -> apply for MBA
  2. Transfer to an Analyst role NOW at Accenture, McKinsey, etc -> 2 years in consulting -> apply for MBA

    Which option would be more attractive to an admissions committee given my stats?

Once again, my goal is to enter MBB as an Associate.

I neglected to mention for my ECs, as part of my engineering role I've volunteered to travel to several African countries and set up lab clinics to help with AIDS testing and improve clinical practices.

Greatly appreciate your help,
- TCD

Apr 21, 2017

Thank you for your time - I was hoping you could assess my profile and maybe help me decide for or against using a application consultant and to what extent.

White Male, 25 y.o., total 4 years experience upon entering Fall 2018 class. 1.5 years tier 2 strategy consulting, 2.5 years MM Tech-focused PE. Great project experience on the consulting side which helped lead the transition to PE. PE deal experience has been OK with one sell-side transaction, one secondary equity round with debt refinancing, but no new deals, but solid portfolio company work and fund that has a great reputation and performance.
740 GMAT but a 3.2 GPA in Economics from top 15-20 school, but near minors in all three math, comp sci, and physics - was late major switch from engineering to econ.
Extracurricular involvement has waned since transitioning into PE but were formerly weekly tutoring at a local high school, leading a junior board of non-profit.

Ideally targeting Booth, Kellogg, Ross, and McCombs with potentially a reach to Stanford or Sloan and a safety of Tepper. Trying to center on midwest and look for a tech focus. Would pursue opportunities in strategy consulting and PE upon graduation trying to stay in the tech sector.

I was planning to hire a consultant, but when should I reach out to them? If I plan on applying to 4-5 schools how many essays should I have reviewed? Should I purchase counsel 1 application at a time to guarantee attention?

Also, I am worried that asking my current employer for a letter of recommendation will cost me my annual bonus because it is a small firm, and I have heard from former employees that went to MBA that it has happened to them. Is this common? How can I work around this or do I have to bite the bullet? (50% of comp is bonus)

Thank you in advance!

    • 2
Apr 21, 2017

Hi Vincent,

I am sure you are aware that being a white male with a finance background puts you in a pretty big pool of MBA applicants. As such, an admissions consultant can be very useful in terms of figuring out how best to present your story in such a way as to grab the attention of an admissions committee. You have some positives in your profile that can and should certainly be highlighted (and no doubt there are more than what you wrote here).

In terms of when to book with a consultant, that depends on when you plan on applying (I would suggest round 1 and certainly no later than round 2 considering your demo). If round 1, all essay questions and application instructions for schools should be out by around June 1st, so whenever after that you are ready to get started is when you should sign up. I usually suggest working on the application that has the most essay questions first, as then you will have a library of content to adapt for subsequent schools (most schools have a question or two that are pretty similar in nature). Beyond that it depends on your budget and how confident you become after completing that first application. At Accepted we are sure to provide the attention you need for as long as you need it!

Finally, it is a big red flag to not have a recommendation from your current employer. Unless you have a convincing argument against that you put forth in an optional essay, you should bite the bullet (and unfortunately the chance of missing out on a bonus won't be a very convincing one).

Please feel free to reach out to me offline if you would like to consider working with Accepted.

Jennifer Weld, Consultant, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting

    • 3
Apr 21, 2017

Hi Natalie and Jenn,

Thank you for all your help with this.

I am targeting Columbia, Booth, Sloan and Tuck.

Indian Male, Canadian Citizen, 28

1) 4 years at Big4 Accounting firm (2.5 years in audit and 1.5 year in transaction advisory services) (Analyst to Associate promotion)
3 years in corporate development at a large Canadian bank. (Associate to Manager promotion)

2) 760 GMAT

3) Top Canadian University, 3.6 GPA, Business/Accounting

4) 2 years as a mentor for a financial literacy program and board member/Treasurer for small not for profit charity

5) CPA, CA

6) Joining an established FinTech Company in a finance role (M&A, business development,) or doing FIG IB

May 8, 2017

Dear PrinceofStreet,

As I am sure you know, you are part of a well-represented demographic as an Indian male. Since you are not in engineering/tech that gives you some differentiation, but you will have to work harder than others to really stand out. Delighted to hear that you have experience at a Big4, and the high GMAT. Not sure what the nonprofit work is, but that sounds promising for further differentiation. If/when possible, focus on that type of stuff when crafting your story and essays.

To learn more about how to stand out as an Indian male, here is a guide from our website: http://reports.accepted.com/against_the_odds_india...
Please feel free to get in touch offline if you are interested in admissions consulting. My contact info is below.

Jennifer Weld, Consultant, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting

    • 1
May 1, 2017

Hi!

Thank you in advance for taking the time to read this post. I would like to see how my profile is shaping up for when I pull the trigger. FYI, my dream schools are UCLA, HBS, NYU, COLUMBIA, STANFORD, and USC. I'm hoping to get an expert opinion.

I went to a top 30 liberal arts school. I graduated Phi Beta Kappa, Summa Cum Laude, 3.9 GPA with a double major in Econ and Film and finished my degrees in 3 and 1/2 years. I was an RA, played club sports, did theater and wrote screenplays. During undergrad, I worked in entertainment at three Academy Award winning production companies and for WME as an intern. When I graduated early, I got a job at Ernst and Young as a consultant in financial advisory which I did for 8 months before shifting back to the entertainment industry where I currently work (at a top 4 talent agency in the Film Finance and Sales group) i was promoted out of the finance group to work for the head of our motion picture group. I will either stay here until I apply to B-school in the fall of 2017 or 2018 or I will shift to a Studio, preferably in the strategy or marketing space or back into consulting, but at the senior level with an entertainment/media focus.

My main question is should i apply in 2017 and have 2.5 years or WE at matriculation of apply in 2018 and have 3.5 years WE? Will that extra year make a huge difference. Plus, if i were to get a new job next January, would three jobs pre-MBA look really bad if they all are in an upward direction and fit my goals?

on the GMAT side: Tough road of studying but pulled out a 710! 47 Math, 40 Verbal. 6 AWA and 6 IR.

Throughout the next two years, I plan on doing volunteer work with my company and on my own. I also am an active stock options trader on the side as a hobby. I am a white man FYI and only 22.

With all that info, do I have a shot at any of my dream schools listed above?

Thank you for your time and response!

May 8, 2017

Dear Gold1994,

You have great work experience - truly unique! Entertainment industry folks are few and far between at business schools, so you have a real advantage there. In terms of the 2.5 years vs. 3.5 years, I think it would benefit you to get that extra experience. By that point you may have had some experience with management, and in order to truly get everything out of an MBA program, having had some of that experience in advance will be helpful. Context is really beneficial, so the broader the set of experiences you have at matriculation, the more you will glean from the program. As long as you continue an upward trajectory and can articulate well the reasons for the many shifts in your career at such an early stage, it shouldn't be an issue.

Jennifer Weld, Consultant, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting

    • 2
May 8, 2017

Thanks Jen, really appreciate your thoughtful response. It's crazy how competitive the business school app process has become. My dad went straight from undergrad to Vanderbilt with a 550 GMAT and 3.0 GPA! How times have changed. Great to hear I am on a unique path - definitely hoping I can gain acceptance to UCLA (which is the dream school out of my list). I appreciate your thoughts that an extra year of work could be the difference maker. I will either stay at my current agency or look for work in that strategy consulting space or studio space. Being an assistant offers some insanely cool experiences and really teaches the business, but the poverty and crazy life style definitely gets exhausting! Especially working for a partner/department head (which is the equivalent of EVP or C-level officer)

Thank you again!

    • 1
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May 2, 2017

Hi Natalie/Jenn,

Curious to hear your thoughts on my chances...

I graduated in 3.5 years from one of the smaller business focused UG schools in New England (Bentley/Bryant/Babson). I did this because I got married to my wife, at a pretty young age (21). I graduated in December of 2009 (obviously a tough year for finance majors) with a ~3.3 GPA. I struggled to find direct finance work (nor did I have a family who knew anything about business or finance pushing me to the "right" jobs) and took a fund accounting role for a year, then moved to another state for 2 more years (all while supporting my wife while she completed her UG program). During that time, I completed 2 of the 3 CFA exams and was able to land with a strong regional firm investing in private credit (senior secured, mezzanine+ private equity co investments). I also finished my CFA and received the charter. After spending three years there, we moved (for my wife's work) and I took a job in a similar role at a bank (think SunTrust/Regions/Capital One/Wells Fargo), but focused on senior secured lending to middle market and large corporate clients where I have been for the past year as an Associate. I am on track to be promoted to Assistant Vice President by the end of 2017 (with a bump in compensation to ~$150k inclusive of bonus).

I know I am getting old for an MBA program as I will be 30 in October,, but wanted to get your thoughts on my chances at Tuck/Yale (want to be in Boston long term) and would be seeking an Associate in an IB role. I think the value to me would be more marginal if it were a Cornell/Emory/UNC/UT/etc... and not as interested in Stern due to my desire to be in Boston. I fear Sloan might be out of reach and obviously know HBS is approaching 0%.

Only other interesting/unique note, is that I have also run a side internet business that generated $70-$80-$100k in the last 3 years.

I am confident I could achieve a 700+ gmat score, but was curious where you thought I needed to be and interested to hear your take on my likelihood of success.

    • 3
May 8, 2017
<span itemprop=name>AKBOS</span>:

Hi Natalie/Jenn,

Curious to hear your thoughts on my chances...

I graduated in 3.5 years from one of the smaller business focused UG schools in New England (Bentley/Bryant/Babson). I did this because I got married to my wife, at a pretty young age (21). I graduated in December of 2009 (obviously a tough year for finance majors) with a ~3.3 GPA. I struggled to find direct finance work (nor did I have a family who knew anything about business or finance pushing me to the "right" jobs) and took a fund accounting role for a year, then moved to another state for 2 more years (all while supporting my wife while she completed her UG program). During that time, I completed 2 of the 3 CFA exams and was able to land with a strong regional firm investing in private credit (senior secured, mezzanine+ private equity co investments). I also finished my CFA and received the charter. After spending three years there, we moved (for my wife's work) and I took a job in a similar role at a bank (think SunTrust/Regions/Capital One/Wells Fargo), but focused on senior secured lending to middle market and large corporate clients where I have been for the past year as an Associate. I am on track to be promoted to Assistant Vice President by the end of 2017 (with a bump in compensation to ~$150k inclusive of bonus).

I know I am getting old for an MBA program as I will be 30 in October,, but wanted to get your thoughts on my chances at Tuck/Yale (want to be in Boston long term) and would be seeking an Associate in an IB role. I think the value to me would be more marginal if it were a Cornell/Emory/UNC/UT/etc... and not as interested in Stern due to my desire to be in Boston. I fear Sloan might be out of reach and obviously know HBS is approaching 0%.

Only other interesting/unique note, is that I have also run a side internet business that generated $70-$80-$100k in the last 3 years.

I am confident I could achieve a 700+ gmat score, but was curious where you thought I needed to be and interested to hear your take on my likelihood of success.

Some of my response depends where at 700+ you end up. A 750 is different from a 710, even assuming both are balanced. I also don't think that 30 is "too old" for an MBA. It is "older" than average, but not too old. You have a competitive profile for Tuck and depending on your GMAT for Yale, though it's more of a stretch.

I also wouldn't worry so much that a Cornell or Stern degree would preclude your ending up in Boston. I agree that you are more competitive at these two programs then at Yale.

Best,
Linda

Linda Abraham
President, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting

    • 1
May 3, 2017

Hi, I'm posting just to see what schools, I should look at for MBA programs? I would want to work somewhere with a significant finance recruiting presence. I'm also interested whether doing a PT MBA at a school like Booth/Kellog/Ross, could help me make a move. Also I will be attempting to matriculate if I do decide to go to business school at 25-27.

1) Brief description of your full-time work experience.
I will have 2-4 years of work experience as a corporate associate at a large law firm.

2) Your GMAT or GRE. Percentiles preferred.
760 GMAT.

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.
Big 10 Undergrad: 2.4 GPA
Top 20 law school: 3.7 GPA (3 grades in MBA classes, A, A-, B+)

4) Significant college and post-college extra-curricular activities or community service, especially leadership experience.
Ran a Volunteer Tax Assistance Site in law school
Ran Pro Bono for the law school
President of a 100+ member organization in undergrad
Founded and chaired a continually running Model UN conference in undergrad

5) Important certifications like CFA, CPA, FSA, or CA.
2 Levels of the CFA completed

6) Your post-MBA goal.
I'm interested in a career change into transactional finance. Interested in corporate development/PE long term, however investment banking makes the most sense in the short term.

May 9, 2017

Dear Redelephant,

To answer your first question about PT vs FT, the recruiting opportunities in a FT program are much more robust. The assumption with a PT program is that individuals are staying with their employers. Career opportunities through a PT program are typically career coaching, strategy, etc. Recruiters don't come to campus and have interview schedules for PT programs. With a PT program, the onus is much more on you to manage your career shifts. Therefore, if you want to make the shift from law to finance, a FT program will provide you more opportunities to make that change, first through an internship and then with a position at graduation.

Your academics and GMAT score look good (though you will have to provide context for the low undergrad GPA - the rebound in law school is great, but there will still be a need to explain what the circumstances were behind the poor performance in undergrad).

All top schools have a strong finance recruiting presence, but in particular Booth, Columbia, Stern, Wharton, Stanford, HBS, Kellogg and MIT are especially good. Here are some tips on getting accepted to a few of those programs:

Harvard http://reports.accepted.com/mba/harvard-business-s...
Stanford http://reports.accepted.com/mba/stanford_graduate_... http://reports.accepted.com/mba/wharton
Chicago Booth http://reports.accepted.com/mba/chicago_booth_mba
Columbia Business School http://reports.accepted.com/mba/columbia_business_...

Jennifer Weld, Consultant, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting

    • 2
May 9, 2017

Hi Jennifer,

With my undergrad grades will I ever be competitive for those programs? I can't find a lot of data with regards to extremely low grades at the schools you mentioned.

May 9, 2017

Hi Redelephant,

The undergrad grades matter much less when you have other information that indicates your academic ability. You have the law school GPA, a grade in a graduate course of an A, a stellar gmat score, and a good reason as to why your GPA was low. It should not be much of an issue.

Jennifer Weld, Consultant, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting

May 3, 2017

Hi Natalie!

So here is my situation. I am 24, work with Economic Research at a government institution, and I was getting ready to apply to PhD programs, but realized that what I want to do is work with management, and in particular, I want to work with people, lead and inspire people, and truly make an impact. I grew up in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (US/Brazilian dual citizenship) , went to university there, and have a BS degree in Economics, with a GPA of 9.1 out of 10 (top 5% of my class). I also did my junior year abroad at UC Berkeley, with a GPA of 3.8. I was originally going to apply to a PhD program in Economics, but I realized that despite my analytical background, what I value most and am most passionate about is working with a team to achieve a goal, being a leader and most of all dealing with people. I have always had positions of leadership in school and even at my job now I am the Head Research Associate for my division, which involves managing and coordinating the workflow of the other research associates, a position in which I excel and am much more passionate about than my actual research. I also have experience as an intern in an investment bank in Brazil. Being from a developing country, I am also passionate about international relations and this is why I am considering joint degrees, Public Policy and International Relations, depending on the school.
I have a very solid academic background, and I have taken the GRE (Quantitative - 166, Verbal - 159 and Analytical Writing - 5.0). I know I would get strong letters from my managers here and at my old internship.

I should add that my ideal career would be in fintech (on the financial/strategy side, not so much the data analysis or programming) and that my top schools would be Stanford GSB, Haas, HBS and Sloan (I guess most people's top schools).

So my questions are:
1) Do schools really care whether you submit the GMAT or the GRE? That is, should I take the GMAT, or even retake the GRE?
2) What should I focus on the next 1-2 years to make my application stronger?
3) How do schools see MFin applicants?

Thank you so much!

Best,
Julia

May 9, 2017

Dear Julia,

In answer to your questions:

1). There is now no difference in terms of submitting the GMAT or GRE. Your GRE score translates to a 700 GMAT, which is solid, so unless you feel that you can make a significant jump in your score, the existing score is sufficient.
2). I would make sure your involvement outside of work is strong. If you don't currently do anything outside of work, choose 1-2 things that you can truly commit to and are passionate about - take on a leadership role with an organization or serve on a board. You want to show that you are a go-getter in all that you do to be a stand out at the schools you are looking at.
3). Not sure what you mean by this question - are you thinking of applying for an MF or MBA? You wonder how they evaluate candidates?

Jennifer Weld, Consultant, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting

    • 1
May 7, 2017

Hey Natalie and Jen!

Thank you for donating your time and continuing to answer here. This is a little different; not a profile review. I'm a recent grad and considering getting an MBA in the future (maybe in a couple of years). I was hoping one of you could give me some guidance as to which schools (particularly among the top 10) have a strong focus on brand management or corporate strategy, as these are the two fields I'm particularly interested in. I know Kellogg is probably the best at marketing, but what other schools should I be looking at more closely?

Thank you again for your time!

May 8, 2017

Hi WannabeMBA,

Cornell (Johnson) UVA (Darden), Duke (Fuqua), and UT-Austin (McCombs) would also be good choices. I am not sure what your profile is GPA/GMAT-wise. If stellar, Wharton or Stanford could be possibilities.

Jennifer Weld, Consultant, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting

May 8, 2017

Thanks for answering Jen!

I have a 3.6 GPA from a top 25 school. I haven't taken the GMAT, but I'd expect a 720+ given my SAT scores.

May 9, 2017

With those stats you could certainly consider the other schools as well.

Jennifer Weld, Consultant, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting

May 9, 2017

Hey Natalie and Jen,
Thanks for taking the time to review profiles. I would love to get your thoughts on my candidacy for top-15 schools with a focus on Stern, Wharton, Columbia, Duke. I would prefer to stay on the East Coast.

1) I am currently a real estate private equity associate at a publically traded mid-sized firm ($1-2bn AUM in real estate, $20 bn overall). I have 6 years of post-undergrad experience. I started my career in real estate Asset Management and gradually moved to an acquisitions track by switching to another firm and have been promoted to a senior associate. It took hard work and dedication to get my current role, especially starting with a non-transactional background. As we all know, finance can be a petty. Currently, I am a cradle to grave associate, leading the real estate acquisitions process on all asset types which include: underwriting deals, vetting potential partners, developing investment thesis on markets nationally, structuring jv partnerships, and asset managing a portfolio of $300M+. In my career, I have completed over $800M of acquisitions and dispositions and asset managed over $1BN of real estate.
2) 710 - unsure whether I will take again but I am open to suggestions
3) Mid-level school in the NE region - I want to be intentionally broad (UConn/NYU/Binghamton/Boston College/Northeastern). Graduated in 2009-2012 with a business degree. I have a 3.15 GPA due to having to pay my way through college. I consistently worked 30-40 hr weeks. My major gpa was higher at 3.3 and my last semester, I got a 3.5, while overloading on credits. I am extremely proud of my current success, and I have attributed it to extreme dedication of learning on the job. OCR and my academics did not help me and I believe I was able to overcome my mediocre grades with my job experience. I have taken 1 graduate level course and got an A. I plan to take another one the semester before I apply.
4) Director level at my fraternity in college and currently mentoring underprivileged youths in the inner city. I grew up underprivileged and hope to give back to those who have a similar background.
5) My last 2 years of college included a ton of extra credits so I could achieve the necessary credits to sit for the CPA exam. I took graduate level courses in accounting and actually did well while overloading (taking 5 classes instead of 4 every semester). I graduated with extra credits and passed the BEC portion of the CPA. I switched careers and there was no more value-add in the CPA.
6) I want to stay in real estate and build a portfolio of my own in the future. I want to focus on development in secondary and inner-city locations. I also want to pursue opportunities to work overseas in Asia. I think an MBA degree and network will help me achieve that.
7) My 6 years post-graduation was dedicated to bettering myself but I know my GPA is a severely limited factor. I think my ability to get a job post-grad is reflected in my success in switching to a private equity career and working hard every day whether it be GMAT studies, researching real estate market trends, staying late to underwrite deals, resume building, networking, etc.

    • 3
May 9, 2017

Dear inspiredanalyst,

You have solid work experience and I am glad that you have taken a graduate level course and done well (and plan to take another before matriculation). That will help mitigate concerns re: the GPA, though the optional essay being used to explain the working full-time situation will also help. Sounds like you have made a serious commitment outside of work in mentoring youths so that is a positive as well. The 710 score is good, but you might want to consider taking it again just to completely eliminate any concerns about academic ability.

In terms of programs to consider, obviously you don't have a "safety" in the bunch. Duke doesn't have a real estate program, but UNC does. Other schools that are strong in real estate are Kellogg, Cornell and Georgetown. I know you want to stay on the east coast, but UCLA's program is also one of the best.

Jennifer Weld, Consultant, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting

    • 1
May 9, 2017

Hi Natalie and Jen,

Thanks a lot for doing this. I've been super impressed by your guidance. I essentially would like to know what MBA options I could consider as realistic for someone with my profile. Although, I would be particularly interested in knowing what I need to do to fill the gap between where I am and being competitive for UNC, Georgetown, Tepper, Notre Dame, Vanderbilt or Cornell.

African American, US Citizen, Male, 24

1) 2 years within professional services unit of F50 company (Boeing, General Electric, United Technologies) doing life science supply chain consulting. Served as point person in expanding a blood company throughout Canadian Provinces, re-optimizing supply chain quality model of major pharmaceutical company and was promoted less than 2 years into the job.

2) GMAT: Haven't taken

3) College info: Non-target: 2.2 GPA, Major: Finance/Marketing double major. Graduated in: 2014. Worked 20-30 hours per week throughout college to support myself.

Note: I enrolled in a Master's Program to address poor GPA using my companies full tuition reimbursement plan. Getting Master's Degree in Project Management with concentration on Clinical Trial Design. Currently have a 3.7 and will be finished by Summer of 2018.

4) VP of Philanthropy for 100+ member fraternity in college as a sophomore. VP of Inter-Fraternal Council. Currently, I volunteer every fall coaching pop warner football at the local middle school.

5) Certified Associate of Project Management from PMI Institute

6) Post MBA I'd like to work my way into a tier-2 consultancy.

May 9, 2017

Dear Primeape14,

Glad you find Natalie and my advice helpful.

As you know, the biggest hurdle for you is academics. The 2.2 especially at a non-target is rough. You will certainly want to address circumstances in an optional essay. I am glad to hear that you are doing well in your master's program, but I am guessing this is an online program? Is it from a known university? You will need to do very well on the GMAT to counteract the GPA if the program could be considered "masters lite." If that perception exists, you might want to consider taking some additional courses at a more well-known institution, specifically courses focused on business (think finance, accounting, stats).

Additionally, I would get more involved outside of work. The coaching is good, but it would be better if you had something that you were doing year round that you could really sink your teeth into (board or officer position at a non-profit, for example).

In terms of positives, you do unique work at a top company, so that will certainly make your candidacy more attractive. Focus on the GMAT and involvement outside of work, and I see no reason why you won't be considered seriously at many of the schools on your list.

Here is a good podcast for you to listen to related to addressing your low GPA: * 5 A's for Your Low GPA http://media.blubrry.com/admissions_straight_talk/...
Feel free to reach out when the time comes if you would like some help in putting your applications together.

Jennifer Weld, Consultant, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting

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May 9, 2017

Hi Jen,

I appreciate the strong feedback. The Master's is partly online and partly in-class. It is from a smaller, but fairly well-known university (Northeastern, GW, Fordham etc.). The program could definitely be considered "masters lite" by some but it was reasonable given the travel for my job/hours/employee tuition program.

I will definitely look into some more ways to get involved, and begin focusing on crushing the GMAT.

Thank you for the help!

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May 11, 2017

Hey Jen and Natalie,

I really only want to go to MIT/Harvard/Wharton, as I want to stay on east coast and have family in both Boston and Philly, however I may consider Columbia. I am a white male. If it doesn't work with one of these schools likely will not go, I want the degree so I can transition out of trading and start something of my own.

  1. 3.1 Undergraduate GPA at a very large southern state school, graduated in 3 years
  2. Competed for one of the more rigorous sports in college (think 40-60 hours a week year round)
    2.5. was ranked top 100 in the world, just missed making the Olympic team.
  3. 760 GMAT
  4. 2 years BB (JP/MS/GS) Equity Derivatives, 1 year at a systematic fund

Thank you for doing this.

May 12, 2017

Dear Hanes,

Obviously you know that as a white male you face a steep hurdle in MBA admissions. The undergrad GPA is not great, but you do have some mitigating circumstances that can explain it to a certain extent with the varsity sport, as well as the very strong GMAT score to counteract concerns about academic ability. What I would focus on is as many stand-outs as possible in addition to the sporting (possibly focusing an essay on your experiences in college or competing for the Olympic team could be good, though), so if you have other extracurriculars outside of work (involvement with a non-profit, alum organization, etc) I would bolster them. You just need to show you are a "go-getter" in every aspect of your life. Here are some specific resources regarding admission to Harvard and Wharton you might find helpful:

Harvard http://reports.accepted.com/mba/harvard-business-s...
Wharton http://reports.accepted.com/mba/wharton

Jennifer Weld, Consultant, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting

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May 11, 2017

interesting topic

May 11, 2017

Hi Jen and Natalie - Looking for feedback on my future profile. Recently graduated college and don't plan to apply to business school for several years.

Top private school (ie. Northwestern, Dartmouth, Brown)
Engineering major, 3.6 GPA
720 GMAT
Will be working for a Tier 2 consulting firm (ie. Strategy&, LEK, Parthenon)
Also a female

I was wondering how competitive I would be at M7, specifically schools like HSW, Kellogg, Booth, Sloan, CBS, etc. I'm also curious about whether it would be better to apply to business school right from consulting or try to switch industries in a few years before applying (to a corporate role, MM PE, or other). Thanks in advance!

May 12, 2017

Dear notabanker7,

The GPA and GMAT are good, as I assume the consulting work is as well. What I don't know about is your profile outside of work. Provided it is strong (involved in at least one extracurricular to a significant extent - on the board, an officer, serving on a committee, etc), there should be no reason you aren't considered a serious candidate.

In terms of whether or not to switch industries, that depends on whether or not it will further solidify your career goals. If the transition is relatively easy to make and it helps you figure out what you want to be "when you grow up," it could be helpful. If, on the other hand, you would just be doing it to try and look more attractive to an admissions committee, it really wouldn't make much difference. The time would be better spent getting more "meaty" projects and/or a promotion at your existing employer.

Jennifer Weld, Consultant, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting

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May 13, 2017

Hi Natalie:

I am a senior at a public university majoring in Economics with a 3.5 GPA about to begin working full time at a B4 consultancy. Prior internship experience is at a boutique bank, foreign trade at an embassy, and corporate marketing for an entertainment group. Was a member of a few clubs and executive board for my fraternity. I plan on getting involved in some other activities between now and my application.

My target schools as of now are Columbia/NYU, but I am curious what gmat scores would make me a strong applicant at elite programs. (Top 15) Also what some potential shcools might be for me depending on a certain GMAT range.

Ideally, I'd like to either move into MBB or Private Equity after MBA>

Any insights would be much appreciated!

Array
May 14, 2017

Dear JB1995,

I am helping Natalie out on this forum. For top 15 programs, you should aim for 700+, with an emphasis on the "+." Once you start working fulltime, get involved with an organization or two as soon as possible, and really get involved - serve on a committee, as an officer, etc. You want to show your commitment to other causes outside of work.

Here are some tips for admission to Columbia that you might find helpful: http://reports.accepted.com/mba/columbia_business_...

Jennifer Weld, Consultant, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting

May 13, 2017

Hi Natalie and Jen!

I am a rising college senior looking to apply to Yale Silver Scholars.

I have upcoming internships for a Big 4 accounting firm and Congress and hope to gain a wonderful experience from those. I am taking the GMAT next month and am expecting ~720 or so. I go to a non-target state school with a 3.75 in Economics and Accounting. I have held a student government position and am founder of a consulting club. I have also held four other leaderships roles in various organizations.

I want to get into Silver Scholars to break into consulting, which is difficult from a non-target.

May 14, 2017

Dear PatrioticTacos,

From the SOM website:

"Silver Scholars are chosen for their combination of intelligence and common sense, maturity and curiosity, passion and compassion. Each has made a difference and distinguished him- or herself in a particular field of interest. We are looking for college seniors who will be future leaders in business, government, and nonprofit endeavors."

Based on what you wrote, you seem to have a lot of these characteristics. With such different internships, you are bound to gain a lot of useful knowledge from them. One thing in particular to keep in mind is if you are distinguishing yourself in a particular field of interest or if you are spreading yourself too thin. If not, continue what you are doing and you've got a decent shot!

Jennifer Weld, Consultant, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting

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May 19, 2017

Dear Jen and Natalie,
I would really appreciate your patience and feedback on my profile. First I apologize for the long post.

College: Senior, 3.43 CGPA, Mathematics (financial mathematics direction) and Quantitative Economics double major. I will apply for Fall 2018, so I will have a gap year.
GRE: not taken yet. Aiming for 330, at least 325+ (I'd appreciate if you assume that I got a score in the range when assessing my profile, thx)
Leadership positions:
4. Peer Mentor for first-year international students (I'm international myself) for two years. Got a mentor award in the first year.
Mathematics club board member for a year.
Chinese Student Association core member (equivalent to a VP in a club) for a year.
co-founder & President of my university's first Investment Banking Association. Founded two research teams, led by two VPs (credit risk and macroeconomy).

Internships
3. Junior year at a small consulting firm.
Senior year: a winter Equity Research internship at a small boutique financial advisory firm in NYC.
Currently doing a remote Equity Research/Investment banking internship with a boutique in NYC. Learned a lot in ER, not so much in IB yet. Currently looking for post-graduate/summer internships around my university.

Concerns and explanations: I got 1 C+ for a computer science class, and two CS (1 C+, 1 C) for two math classes. I can argue for the "C" listed here because that quarter I was taking two classes with very similar topics (mathematical finance and stochastic processes), got C in one course and A- in another. A couple Bs in Economics, but strong grades in some classes I can get letters (also professors with strong experiences). C+ in computer science: that was my second quarter in the U.S., and I was not following the professor's pace.

Languages:Fluent English and Chinese Mandarin, two years of college level Italian.

Letters: I can get 2-3, although not all from Professors, maybe also from Associate professors / Lecturers (2 As in the lecturer's classes).

Target schools: I would like to apply for MSF/Masters in Management/MA(MS) Economics programs.
MSF/MSM: Duke, Northwestern Kellogg, WUSTL, Vanderbilt, Tufts, UVA, USC. Maybe UT Austin and Villanova.
MA Economics: NYU, Columbia, Georgetown, Duke, Tufts, Vanderbilt, U Chicago. (I haven't looked if Vanderbilt and Tufts allow two applications for different programs yet), Cornell, Johns Hopkins.

I won't necessarily apply to all those schools. This is a temporary list.

Career goal: Equity Research/Investment Banking.

Thank you very much !

May 19, 2017

Dear iridescent007,

Before I give you my feedback, I was hoping you could let me know the caliber of school you are going to for context.

Thank you!

Jennifer Weld, Consultant, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting

May 19, 2017

Dear Jen, thanks for your message ! I go to UCIrvine. Our Math department is about top 25. Quantitative Economics department not so great (top 50).

May 19, 2017

Then you've got a good shot. You have solid grades at a very good school, your GRE score will presumably be high, and you have been active in extracurriculars as well as with work. I would focus on getting some really good experience in your gap year (sounds like the place you are considering might not have the strongest reputation) so that you can get one recommendation from someone you work with rather than have them all be from professors. I would guess you will be competitive at most if not all of the schools you are looking at. The biggest issue will be standing out in a crowded field (I am assuming you are Chinese), so just focus on differentiation wherever possible in your application.

Here is a podcast Linda did about standing out in your applications that you might find helpful: https://media.blubrry.com/admissions_straight_talk...

Jennifer Weld, Consultant, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting

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May 19, 2017

Thank you so much for your advice Jen ! Yes I am Chinese and I will be doing an off-cycle internship from January 2018 - June 2018 at a top 5 investment bank in China (either IBD or ER) and I might also get CFA.
Thanks again for your time and patience.

May 26, 2017

Hi Natalie and Jen,
I'm planning on going to get my MBA in several years and wanted to get some feedback.

I just graduated this month with a BA in Economics from a non target state school with a low GPA (~2.3) due to a illness in the family taking most of my attention during the first half of college but my last 3 semesters had an average GPA of a 3.59. I am about to start working at a F500 Financial services company while studying to take the CFA. Since the company offers 90% tuition assistance I was thinking of getting a Master's in something like Econ to show I can handle the workload of business school (after I pass all 3 levels of the CFA). If I do very well in the Master's program and get over 700 on the GMAT would this help to offset my low undergrad GPA?

If so do you think I would have a chance at getting into a top 30 program? Hoping to break into IB after getting my MBA.

Jun 3, 2017

Hi cbil31,

It is great that your firm offers 90% tuition assistance, but spending so much time with a degree you don't really want doesn't really make sense (unless it is actually of importance for you to get a master's in economics). You will obviously need to write an essay addressing the low GPA and the existing circumstances. The circumstances are completely reasonable, and you have a solid turnaround in performance. That combined with a CFA, 700+ on the GMAT, and perhaps a course or two (like calculus, stats, or accounting - courses that would benefit you in an MBA program) at a local college where you score very well (aim for As) should be enough to be considered a serious candidate. Here is a good resource for you from our website: https://reports.accepted.com/mba/get_accepted_with...

Jennifer Weld, Consultant, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting

    • 1
May 21, 2017

Hi Jen,

Thanks for taking the time to help.

I am thinking about business school for a career-change. Obviously I would like to get into the best program possible, but at the same time I want my expectations to be realistic. I don't come from Investment Banking, Consulting, Big 4, or Fortune 500 and I have no real management or leadership experience to speak of. Are people from "normal" backgrounds able to get into,say, Top 20 b-schools? I haven't taken the GMAT yet, but I am wondering if a solid score (700+) would give me a shot, or if I should curb my expectations toward something outside of the Top 20.

Here's my profile:

College: Top-75 university (public)
GPA: 3.5
Major: Geography
Work Experience: Local Government for 1 year and a Project Management role at a publicly-traded Communication Tower company the last 3.5 years.

Jun 3, 2017

Dear Ipuma327,

Actually you have a better shot of admission, since your background is not like so many applying! Your government experience should be considered valuable. As long as you score well on the GMAT, have solid extracurriculars, and reason for needing an MBA, there is no reason you won't be taken seriously.

Jennifer Weld, Consultant, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting

May 25, 2017

Hi, Natalie! Thanks for your time here.
I'm looking for some advice regarding my chances at some MsFin. My objective is to go to IB in NYC. My situation is:
*Brazilian
*GPA: 3.08, Economics.
*CFA level 3 candidate
*750 GMAT
*2 years full-time experience at a PE Real Estate company
*6 months internship at a Macro Hedge Fund here.

Do I have chances with a top 20 Business School there? If not, which tier?

Thanks!

Jun 3, 2017

Hi Hannnibal,

I am helping Natalie out on this. While your GPA is not great, hopefully you have a compelling reason for that, or if not, there is an upward trajectory in your grades as you moved through school. As long as that is the case, the CFA plus the 750 GMAT will help. You should have a shot!

Jennifer Weld, Consultant, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting

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    • 1
Jun 4, 2017

Thank's for the feedback, jenweld!

And what about the MBA selection? Do I have a shot with these credentials? I'm thinking about, maybe, do a MsFin (get a good GPA) in a top 20, and them, do an MBA later (+3 years of experience) in a top 5 school. Do I have a better chance than?

May 25, 2017

Hi, Natalie! Thanks for your time here.
I'm looking for some advice regarding my chances at some MsFin. My objective is to go to IB in NYC. My situation is:
*Brazilian
*GPA: 3.08, Economics.
*CFA level 3 candidate
*750 GMAT
*2 years full-time experience at a PE Real Estate company
*6 months internship at a Macro Hedge Fund here.

Do I have chances with a top 20 Business School there? If not, which tier?

Thanks!

Jun 3, 2017

Hi Hannnibal - You posted the same thing twice, just wanted to make sure you got the one post I responded to.

Jennifer Weld, Consultant, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting