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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.

Comments (1438)

Aug 29, 2017

Hi Everyone,

I request you to please evaluate my profile for MS Finance Programs (STEM preferable) in US for Fall 18.

GRE - 170Q,160V (Expected) (International applicant)
CFA L2 Cleared, L3 most likely will be done by June 18.

UG - Engineering from a TIER I university in India.
Work Exp. - +2 Yrs of Trading experience in Energy Derivative Markets on ICE and NYMEX exchanges with a Prop. Trading Firm.

Looking to get into IB or Asset Management fields.

University suggestion for MS Finance or MFE is most welcome.

Regards.

    • 1
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Sep 1, 2017

Hi Sajalm,

Can you please share your GPA (Indian scale is fine)? Your GRE score is very good, I just want to see how your GPA compares before I give you some recommendations for schools.

Thanks.

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

Sep 4, 2017

Hi Jenweld,
Thanks for replying.
My GPA is 7.8/10

Sep 5, 2017

Hi Sajalm,

Since you are looking at STEM schools, MIT is top of mind. Tepper (Carnegie Mellon) has a Master of Computational Finance. Other schools to consider would be UCLA, Stern and Simon.

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

Sep 7, 2017

Hi Jen,
I was thinking on the similar lines.
What do you feel about my realistic chances in the above mentioned Universities, also should I apply to more Univs to be on the safer side?
I think MIT, Tepper are very competitive.

Sep 14, 2017

Hi Sajalm,

The schools are all very competitive, but I think you have a decent shot.

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

Aug 30, 2017

Hello Jen and Natalie, I am currently in my last year of Bsc and want to apply to business schools this fall. My favorite option so far (I've been researching for a while) is LSE's MSc in Accounting and Finance, although I don't know if my profile is good enough to get accepted there. I will try to summarize:

-Double degree in Law and Business Administration from a little uni in Spain. GPA not very stellar, 7.5/10. Law subjects made my average score drop quite a bit, as I've got rather high grades on business-related ones.
-Also doing a Bachelors Degree in Political Science and Public Management. It is a side study for me, and I do it just because I'm really into politics.
-Exchange of one semester in Seoul (South Korea) with really good grades
-Summer internships in a local industrial company (administration) and in a hedge fund (real estate and securities trading) in Madrid. I'll probably get a better one for this course's second semester, maybe Big4 or Banks, but it won't be in time for the application process.
-GMAT 730 (48Q,42V)
-Cambridge Proficiency in English with Grade A

My strategy is to sell that I am a well-rounded student with background in law that has recently found in finance its passion, and thus I need a Msc to specialize. And what a better place than LSE.

Sep 1, 2017

Dear mzia12,

So am I correct in saying that you are actually in the process of getting THREE bachelor's degrees? Wow. You look like you have a lot of positives in your profile. Sure, the 7.5/10 could be better, but if the shortcoming is the law classes, that is less of an issue as that clearly is no longer your focus. The 730 gmat score is great and should make up for any academic concerns. Bottom line you certainly have a shot with LSE.

Please feel free to contact me offline if you would like some assistance in putting together your application package.

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

    • 1
Sep 2, 2017

Hi Jen,
1. I am a recent Nigerian graduate (2016) but have completed front office internships in Consulting (Big 4) and Investment Banking (BB in London), and two other Nigerian-based banks.
2. GRE: 324 (Q;162 V:162)
3. UG; University of Lagos (top 3 in the country): Accounting, GPA: 4.88/5.00 (2016). Currently completing one-year National Service Programme
4. Volunteer at Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO); Vice-Chairman for my university hall of residence; welfare director for my graduating class
5. Passed all levels of the CFA program at first attempt; scored above 70% in all subjects tested in level 1&2
6. Applying to MFin @ MIT, Vandy, UTAustin, and Duke; I want to work in Investment Management post-MFin.

I am not too happy about my GRE score; I'm however thinking about diversity considerations.

Sep 5, 2017

Dear Bryanchike,

You look like a strong candidate for the MFin programs you are planning to apply to. I wouldn't be overly concerned about the GRE score considering you have passed all levels of the CFA and have an excellent GPA. Go for it!

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

Sep 6, 2017

Hi jen,

I don't know how much experience you have with Canadian MBA programs but your advice on my stats is much appreciated.

1) I work full time as a wealth manager in PWM have been doing this for 2+ years.
2) 680 GMAT
3) University of Ottawa, 3.4 GPA, Finance major and graduated in 2014. My grades are low due to some health problems I had during my undergrad.
4) Community representative for local hospital.
5) Working on CFA designation, currently a L2 candidate
6) Work for MBB in Canada or big 4 consulting. Looking at applying to Ivey, Queens, and U of T. Any insight on how doing a 1 year MBA program at Ivey and Queens will be compared to the 2 year program at U of T?

Your help is much appreciated.

Sep 11, 2017

Hi Wickus,

I'd say you have a decent shot at the programs you are looking at, but I would try and get that gmat score up a bit if possible (considering your quant background, expectations are higher).

In terms of one year vs two year programs, it all comes down to whether or not you feel you need that traditional internship. Since it sounds like you aren't sure which way you want to go (banking or consulting), the extra time and internship might help you decide one way or the other.

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

    • 1
Sep 11, 2017

Thank you, I will work on getting a score in the 700's for the GMAT.

Sep 10, 2017

Hi,

I had a question on Stanford's what matters most to you and why essay specifically -- apps due in a week :(

I was wondering how much of the essay should be focused on 'why' and how much should be focused on 'examples'? Some of the essays that I've read on Medium and from books answer this question by barely mentioning anything career/business related or not at all. Many talk about family background, childhood events, or a hobby for 95% of the essay.

The way that I've currently set up my essay is 30% on the 'why' and 70% on the examples and the future, which I feel is too professionally focused not feel-good/inspirational/lovey-dovey enough.

What are your thoughts?

Thanks!

Sep 11, 2017

Dear impossibru,

The Stanford is ambiguous because it wants to give you the opportunity to really show your uniqueness, which can be really hard if you focus too much on career stuff. Here are tips from our website on this essay: https://blog.accepted.com/stanford-gsb-mba-essay-t... they are helpful.

If you would like for me to review your essay prior to submission, feel free to contact me below.

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

Sep 11, 2017

Hey Natalie-

Thank you for dedicated responses to all us monkeys. I am in the process of looking to lateral for my career but considering a MBA as an option if I am not able to find what I want.

This may be an elementary question but what is the recommended timeline for applicants be? How far out should the gmat be taken (prep time included and multiple attempts if needed), applications, etc?

Thank you

Sep 13, 2017

Hi thegreen,

I am a colleague of Natalie's and helping her out on this forum.

You should take six months to a year to prepare for applying. I would budget 3-6 months for GMAT studies depending on how things go (plan on studying for at least a month before you take the first test if you are not going to use any formalized prep services). If possible, you should also budget some time for visiting schools. That is the best way to make your list - sitting in on classes, meeting students, seeing the facilities - all those things are important for helping you determine if it is a place you feel you'd fit in. If you can't visit, make sure you at least speak with admissions officers and get connected to either current students or alums to get their take on their experiences. In terms of the application, that can be put together in as quickly as a few weeks or a month, depending on the time you are able to dedicate to the process. Letters of recommendation often take longer since your recommenders will need to fit writing them into their schedules, which will obviously not be top priority.

Bottom line, if you wanted to apply for entry in Fall 2018, you potentially could make the last round in Mar/Apr timeframe. Alternatively, if you started prepping now you would be in great shape for applying in round 1 for Fall 2019 entry.

Please feel free to contact me offline if you have any further questions about the process (contact info below).

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

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Sep 12, 2017

Hi Jen,

Want to know my odds to be admitted by Columbia MBA. Thinking about take a shot in the Early Decision Round for 2018 Fall enrollment. I can retake the GMAT, but if I do I will probably miss the deadline of EA. Target for GMAT is 750+, but it will take time. I am thinking that judging from my background it seems whether I got a 710 or 730 doesn't matter in the committee's decision. Besides, I am not a native speaker of English, and I got TOEFL of 105. I am a citizen of People's Republic of China.

1) Banking audit for three years (till 2018 enrollment), and two months internship at banking regulatory government agency in China (function similarly as Office of the Comptroller of the Currency)
2) Highest GMAT: 710 (Q50, V35, IR 3, AWA 4) took in 2014, most recent: 680(Q49, V35)
3) College info: Tianjin University of Finance and Economics, GPA 3.25/4.0 (if take investment banking related courses isolatedly 4.0/4.0), major: Accounting, year of graduation: 2015.
4) Top Winner of ACCA in P2 Corporate Reporting Exam in December 2013 (ranked as Number 8 in the world and Number 1 in Mainland China) ($1,000)
5) Certifications: Affiliate (exams passed, without membership) of ACCA(UK-based Association of Charted Certified Accountant), CICPA (Chinese ver. of CPA) (passed 4 out of 6 exams)
6) Post-MBA goal: analyst position in investment banking division

Thank you sooooooo much!!!

Sep 13, 2017

Hi TobiasNgai,

Have you cancelled the most recent GMAT score? The lower score might be a bit troubling to the admissions committee. If they only look at your overall GPA that does not work in your favor, but if you steer them towards the stronger GPA in IB courses in an optional essay that might sway them. You have some interesting certifications as well as being the winner of ACCA, so that is good. I would say that if you realistically can get a 750+, your chances would be pretty good. Even if that means you need to wait for round 1, you will still have a pretty good shot.

Here is a webinar about Columbia admissions that you might find helpful: http://reports.accepted.co/mba/columbia_business_s...
Feel free to contact me offline if you need help with your application.

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

    • 1
Sep 14, 2017

Hi Jen,

Quick question, could I just reach out to admissions at the schools I'm interested and say "hey this is where I'm at, what should I do between now and when I plan on applying to give myself the best chance with you guys?" Kind of like everyone is doing here asking you.

Thanks!

Sep 14, 2017

Dear Secyh62,

You can certainly try to do that. Some admissions offices are more open about providing that information than others. There is the potential risk of leaving the perception of, "If he/she doesn't already know what is needed for successful admission....." Gauge it based on the conversation you are able to have with the people you get in touch with. You will probably be able to tell pretty quickly from the vibe about whether or not it is a good idea to discuss it.

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

    • 1
Sep 19, 2017

Natalie,
Thanks for taking your time for this. My profile is below

1) 2 years at a Euro BB Bank (DB/CS) in their Healthcare Coverage Group, 2 years at a healthcare VC Fund, 2 years at Matriculation working for one of the VC portfolio Companies on the finance as it has grown from $60mm in rev to $400
+ Run Rate and raised a major round of funding from blue chip investors (Warburg / KKR / TPG)

2) . GRE (V:169/ 99%, M:163 / 92%)

3) Graduated from elite liberal arts school (Williams / Amherst) with 3.25 in Math,

4) Varsity Athlete, All Conference, National Champion, volunteer at community focused bike org post graduation

5) None

6) Post MBA goal is to take a leadership role at an HC Startup

What would my chances be at a place like HSW? I'd also consider someplace like Tuck / MIT as I ultimately want to end up in the North East.

Thanks again for your help.

Sep 27, 2017

Dear BroCal,

I am helping Natalie out on this forum. I'd say you've got a decent shot at HSW - solid work experience, GRE, and great school. Not sure what you are doing with the bike organization - hopefully it is substantive, as showing commitment outside of work to a cause is very important.

Here are some resources from our site you might find helpful:

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

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

    • 1
Sep 22, 2017

Not immediately applying - 2020 or 2021 admission (After some banking expirience)

1.Havent graduated from University yet. Currenlty doing an internship (For 6 months)at a major automotive maufacturer (Doing supply chain management projects).
2.Havent given GMAT yet . Averaging 650's in mock tests.
3.Indian Private university , Pretty bad GPA (No paticular reason) , Electronics major
4.Not much of leadership expirience
5.About to give my CFA - Looking at 1 or 2 year Masters in Finance and Banking (Preferbly 2 years) .

Could you please suggest schools in (EU and USA) to consider?

Thanks in advance!

ADD COMMENT

Sep 27, 2017

Dear monk1929,

It is really difficult to provide you with any recommendations at this point. Expectations for a gmat score for an Indian male with a technical background is 720+. No excuse for a poor GPA combined with a possibly low GMAT score will tank any opportunity at a top school. I would suggest posting again when you have a better idea of your stats and some solid info on work accomplishments.

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

    • 1
Sep 27, 2017

Hey , thanks a lot for doing this , will repost when I have a better understanding.

Sep 23, 2017

I know someone who is a board member of a business school at one of the world's top universities.
However the mba program at this university is pretty rubbish.

I have my eyes on attending a top ranked mba.

If I get this guy to write me an mba recommendation letter, will it count for much because he is a board member at another business school?
Would it be weird a business school board member recommending someone to go to another mba?

Will the recommendation letter from this guy help my application?

Sep 27, 2017

Recommendation letters need to provide substantive information about an applicant's work accomplishments and potential for future success as related to peers. The longer the person has been able to see the candidate's career progression the better. If you feel this person can provide that context, that is what will matter. Admissions committees will pay no attention to board membership (or lack thereof) of a recommender. It is the substance that matters.

You might find the resources on our website related to letters of recommendation helpful: https://www.accepted.com/mba/letters-of-recommenda...

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

    • 1
Sep 27, 2017

Thanks for the advice

Sep 26, 2017

Hi Natalie,

I have a general question around pre-MBA experience and how it's valued. How would leaving a large F50 to develop a start-up or an incumbator hedge fund look to an MBA committee, and furthermore say the venture fails. Would that negatively affect a committee's opinion on the candidate

Sep 27, 2017

Dear lon26,

I am helping Natalie out on this forum.

Diversity of experience is looked upon very favorably by an admissions committee. You have already seen how a well-oiled machine of a company operates. If you leave, you will also have the start-up perspective. I would imagine these experiences combined would provide rich content for essays/interviews down the line.

Regarding if the venture fails, that will not negatively impact your application. That would just provide another reason why you need to go to business school - to learn formal business tools so it won't happen again!

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

    • 1
Sep 27, 2017

Hi Jen,

Below is my profile, please let me know what you think my chances are for Columbia ED, Yale, Duke, Stern, McCombs

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

-2 Years Corporate Development Senior Analyst (came in as Senior) at a F500 Lodging company. High level of exposure to senior executives, lots of interesting projects / M&A deals
-2.5 Years Strategy & Operations Analyst at another company in the Lodging sector. Completed an interesting turnaround story and had a high degree of involvment.

2) Your GMAT or GRE. Percentiles preferred.

740

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.

(Clemson / UGA type school) 3.1 GPA. Did a Masters in Finance at a top program directly after (Vanderbilt / USC level)

4) Significant college and post-college extra-curricular activities or community service, especially leadership experience.

Some volunteer work (Big Brothers Big Sisters)

5) Important certifications like CFA, CPA, FSA, or CA.

None.

6) Your post-MBA goal.

Investment Banking Covering Lodging.

    • 2
Oct 10, 2017

Dear jss09,

While your GPA is not great (though don't know how you did with your MF), the GMAT is stellar, so academically you are definitely prepared for the rigor of the programs you are considering. I like that your experience is in hospitality and in strategy/business development - that is relatively rare for someone so recently out of school. I would say you have a pretty decent shot at the schools you are looking at.

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

Oct 3, 2017

I worked with my client on this subject as a freelancer :)

Oct 9, 2017

@Natalie_Accepted

Sorry if this question has already been answered. But I want to know if adcoms care if you graduate from school and then go on to work at 3 places before applying to b-school, about a year each?

"Loser terrorists" & "bad hombres"

"Typical candidates are those who attended a top-tier academic institution"
-Most job applications

Oct 10, 2017

Hi iBankedUp,

I am helping Natalie out on this forum. It really depends on what the moves were related to. If it is obvious that you were seeking (and getting) greater responsibility and leadership from these moves then that is not an issue. If they are lateral moves then there is the possible question of competence, as in, did you not last at these places because you were let go or not a good fit. Business schools want to admit folks who will be good ambassadors for the school, and if you come across as one who jumps ship often, that could be an issue.

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

    • 2
Oct 10, 2017

Hi Jen and Natalie, was hoping to get some feedback on my profile. Any input is appreciated!

GMAT: 750 (Q49, V42, 8 IR, 6 AWA)
GPA: 3.5/4 in Materials Science & Engineering at a Southern Ivy (Rice/Vanderbilt/Duke), awarded MSCI department's award for leadership as a senior.
Passed levels CFA levels 1 and 2

Extracurriculars during undergrad:
- Organizer of largest on-campus event, responsible for coordinating a week's worth of activities for a group of 300+ students. Worked with local businesses to sponsor the event, had 5-figure budget to work with, led team of 5 organizers
- Founder and president of club sports team
- Orientation advisor junior and senior years (highly competitive, ~10% of applicants are chosen to advise)
- Worked ~20 hours per week in nanotech research lab for 2.5 years on campus

Extracurriculars after graduation:
- Mentor for an inner-city youth baseball program
- Alumni admissions interviewer for alma mater
- Organizer of alumni affairs for the largest on-campus event mentioned above
- Play in amateur baseball league
- Occasionally foster for animal shelter (work hours permitting)

Work experience at time of application: (most recent first):

  • 1.5 years at boutique RIA in Texas ($6B AUM). Not much history of sending people to B-school, though almost all of senior mangement/C-Suite has MBA from top-10 schools. Started as an analyst on fixed income desk, after 9 months was promoted to associate and given PM-like responsibility for management of a $300M strategy (though no official PM or junior PM title). Expect to have responsibility for another strategy by the time I apply, bringing total AUM I am responsible for to ~$400M. Still have large analytical role with other fixed income strategies, use engineering background for coding & data analysis.
  • 6 months as financial advisor with F100 insurance firm. Started here because I wanted to transition into investment management, left because role was more focused on sales than making investment decisions. Concerned this is a very weak part of my application.
  • 1.5 years as management consultant in energy department for bronze-tier consulting firm with tech focus (think Quorum, Infosys, etc). Had projects on O&G supermajor & international government client, led offshore teams of 5-10 people on each project.
  • Internship with NASA in R&D group as an undergrad. Worked with materials engineers to develop a prototype which was approved for further testing by management.

MBA goal: want to get MBA from top finance program to gain a formal finance education. Currently have very strong analytical skills stemming from engineering background but lack understanding of what makes a successful business tick, which I believe is of utmost importance for investment management. CFA curriculum has filled some of this gap, but is mainly focused on valuation. Also believe I need to improve soft skills to one day lead a team of analysts.

Post MBA goal: Junior PM or similar type role at major Asset Management firm, preferably one with fixed income focus (PIMCO/DoubleLine/TCW). Long-term goal is to become Chief Investment Officer of an AM firm.

Applying round 2 to HBS, Wharton, Columbia, NYU, Sloan, Booth, Kellogg.

Oct 11, 2017

Hi nsimonetti,

You have great academics and extracurriculars. My only potential concern, which you have already pointed out, is the work experience. Not the experience itself, which is quite good, but the bouncing around in such a short time. As long as you essentially lay out in an optional essay what you have conveyed here, it should be a non-issue, but you definitely have to address it somewhere in the application.

Here are some resources from our website that you might find helpful considering the schools you are applying to:

Harvard http://reports.accepted.com/mba/harvard-business-s...
Wharton http://reports.accepted.com/mba/whartonChicago 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
Oct 11, 2017

Thanks, Jen. I was already planning on using the optional essay to lay out what motivated me to change industries, but good to know that explaining it should shore up what feels like the weakest part of my application. I'll check out those resources as I start to put my application together.

Mar 18, 2018

Just wanted to follow up here- ended up getting rejected from HBS, Wharton, Columbia, and Sloan, didn't apply to Kellogg or NYU, and got into Booth. Couldn't be more excited to be going to Chicago this fall!

Jan 20, 2018

.

Oct 11, 2017

Hi RunningwiththeGekko,

The best way for you to stand out is through extracurriculars, of which you appear now to have none. Not sure when you are planning to apply, but get started with something as soon as possible. You don't have to choose a bunch of different things, just one you are passionate about, and get as involved as you can (take leadership role, etc). That will be the easiest way to differentiate yourself.

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

Oct 11, 2017

Hi Jen,
Thank you for taking out time to enlighten us!

  1. I am a recent Nigerian graduate (2016) and i have completed 2 finance internships and 1 consulting internship in Nigerian-based companies. I am currently completing my mandatory service year as an investment research analyst
  2. I haven't taken the GRE yet, but i am targeting at least 320 (Q;160 V:160)
  3. Undergraduate; Covenant University (top 5 in the country): Economics, GPA: 4.51/5.00 (2016). I started on a very low GPA but was able to improve rapidly and graduate with first class honors.
  4. Volunteer at "Project one million souls" (A Student-run Non-profit Organisation based); I have a diploma in leadership development (DLD) and also a Leadership certificate from a leadership academy in Nigeria. I am also the Treasurer for the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) (an organization set up by the Nigerian government to involve the country's graduates in the development of the country)
  5. I'm a December 2017 level 1 candidate of the CFA exam
  6. I want to secure a role as a research analyst/ strategist in the US post-MFin.

Questions:
I'm looking at Mfin in Vanderbilt, Texas: Austin, Rochester, WUSTL and i'm taking a long shot and also applying to Columbia Business Schools MFE
1. I am worried that my experience wont really count since they are just Nigerian Companies and aren't well known.
2. Due to some extenuating circumstances, i wont be able to apply by the first and second deadlines. I'd only be able to meet deadlines for January and i worry that this would significantly reduce my chances.
3. I am also very worried about my GPA, especially the fact that i started poorly
4. What do you advise i do to improve my profile? and what other programs do you recommend i check out?

Thank you in anticipation for your response :)

Oct 18, 2017

Dear Xoka,

Answers to your questions here:
1. I wouldn't be concerned about the companies you work(ed) for being less known - what is more important is the work you did for them. Be sure to focus your resume as much as possible on things you have managed and accomplished during your tenure.
2. Due to the fact that you will be an outlier in the applicant pool demographically, I also wouldn't be terribly concerned about your chances in a later round.
3. While your GPA might have been weak initially, you clearly turned it around and graduated with top honors. As long as you have a reason as to the poor start (even if it is simply immaturity), you will be fine.
4. You look like a pretty strong candidate. Obviously you want the highest score possible on the GRE. Your volunteer work looks very impressive as well, so you look like a good all around candidate. Even if the GRE score is not as great as you want it to be, hopefully you will have first level of the CFA to fall back on to show your capabilities. I think you have selected a good list of programs.

Please feel free to reach out to me offline if you'd like some information about possibly working together on your application.

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

    • 2
Oct 11, 2017

Hey Jen/Natalie, would love to hear your feedback-
1) 2 yrs analyst promoted to 2 yrs sell side trader then transitioned to 3yrs quantitative buyside trader
2) GMAT 650- looking to improve to 700+
3) Vanderbilt/Economics 3.5
4) Started and led a sports team (Brazilian jujitsu), held 3 jobs throughout school
5) CFA Charterholder, CMT In Progress
6) Ultimately work as a PM for a hedge fund (or more feasible analyst initially)

The MBA schools I would be targeting are Kellogg, Booth or Fuqua.

I am not sure whether an MBA would be better or a masters of comp sci/financial engineering for my goal. Since I work within the scope of quantitative investing my perception is skewed to this. It seems most hedge funds these days posting on job boards (bbg, efinancialcareer etc) are looking for guys with heavily involved with mathematics/physics/comp sci at a masters/phd level. Additionally, the people I meet keep talking about a shift away from business schools. Will an MBA help me progress to towards my goal? I am not sure of MBA prospects post-graduation since I don't get to see these postings. (Alternatively, I was looking for at some other programs such as Carnegie Mellon MFE, Baruch MFE and Cornell Tech MSC.) I would love to hear your thoughts and appreciate it.

    • 2
Oct 18, 2017

Dear Sasquatchosaros,

The MFE is highly technical and prepares grads for technical roles. The MBA is a more general degree and one can concentrate in finance and take more technically demanding classes, but it probably will not provide the focus that the MFE will provide BUT will do a better job preparing you for a management role. You need to decide what matters most. I have not heard about the preference for hedge funds to prefer the MFE degree over an MBA.

Regarding your profile, you are on the high end with seven years of experience, and your current gmat score is low for the schools you are looking at. I would most certainly focus on getting the GMAT to the 700+ range to be competitive.

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

    • 1
Oct 13, 2017

Hi Jen / Natalie,

I'm planning on applying to Harvard, Booth, Wharton, Columbia, Stanford, Duke, Dartmouth, UVA, Berkley, and Michigan.

1) Work Experience - 3 years IB Analyst (at 2 low tier foreign banks), 1.5 years as Corp Dev/Strategic Finance Associate at a startup (so 3 different organizations in 5 years)
2) GMAT - 780; 99th percentile
3) College info: Wharton Upenn, 2.98 GPA, Finance Major, 2013 graduate. (honestly - I didn't have the greatest guidance and did poorly all years - no crazy circumstances)
4) Extra Curriculars - Big Brothers Big Sisters, Leadership in my fraternity in college
5) No major certifications, just had Series ones while in Banking
6) Post MBA-goal is to get into the impact investing space.

Oct 18, 2017

Hi televisual,

That's quite a list of schools! I am glad that you did so well on the GMAT, because the GPA is quite an issue. You will definitely need to address it in an optional essay, even if it's just to say you slacked off and regret it. On the surface I don't see anything in your profile that jumps out in terms of differentiation from the rest of those applying with a similar background, so you really need to focus on that aspect with your application to get noticed. Here are some resources from our website related to the schools you are considering that you might find helpful:

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_...
And here is a podcast on addressing low GPA:

5 A's for Your Low GPA: http://media.blubrry.com/admissions_straight_talk/...

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

    • 3
Oct 18, 2017

Hi,

I am considering MSF/MFE/MBA Finance in US or UK. Here is my brief profile:

Indian, Male, 28
GRE Score: 170 Quant, 160 Verbal, 3.5 AWA

Undergrad (Engineering - 4 years):
- B. Tech. in Information Technology (similar to Computer Science) from College of Engineering, Pune (below IITs but in top 20-25 engineering colleges in India)
- 8.46/10 CGPA
- Had four math courses (Math-I, Math-II, Math-III, Math-IV): 10/10, 8/10, 8/10, 6/10 in the four courses
- Programming courses (C, C++, Unix programming, SQL, Matlab): 8/9/10 on all courses
- Final year project: Digital Watermarking using face recognition (in Matlab)
Post-grad (MBA - 2 years):
- MBA from Indian Institute of Management (IIM)
- CGPA 3.13/4.33
- Subjects: Quantitative Techniques I, Quantitative Techniques II, Quantitative Techniques III (3.2/4.33, 4.13/4.33, 3.3/4.33), Finance I (3.2/4.33), Finance II (2.9/4.33)
Relevant work-experience:
2.4 years post-MBA as Analyst in Credit risk function in one of the reputed US MNC Investment Banks (in India)
Other details:
- CFA L1 cleared
- Secretary of one of the committees in IIM, responsible for interfacing with the industry
- Head of the department magazine group in under-grad
- Selected for 2nd round of Astronomy Olympiad in India

I am considering following colleges:
MFE/MSF US/Canada:
Baruch College, City University of New York
University of California, Berkele, FE
Carnegie Mellon University, Computational Finance
New York University, Math Fin
Columbia University, FE
Princeton University, MS Fin
Cornell University, MEng, FE concentration
Columbia University, MathFin
University of Chicago, Financial Mathematics
Georgia Institute of Technology, Quantitative and Computational Finance
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Master of Finance
University of Washington, Computational Finance & Risk Management
University of Toronto, Mathematical Finance
NYU Tandon School of Engineering, Financial Engineering
University of California, Los Angeles, Financial Engineering
Boston University, Mathematical Finance
University of Waterloo, Quantitative Finance
North Carolina State University, Financial Mathematics

MSF/MFE UK:
London Business School Masters in Finance
University of Cambridge: Judge Cambridge Master of Finance
University of Oxford: Said MSc Financial Economics

MBA UK:
University of Cambridge: Judge

Questions:
1. Out of the above mentioned colleges, where do I have a better chance - Ambitious, Moderate, Possible?
2. Should I prefer MBA over MSF/MFE or the other way round?
3. How are the two universities in Canada (University of Toronto, University of Waterloo) compared to universities in US/UK ?
4. Any other colleges/courses I should consider given my profile?

Thanks in Advance!

Oct 18, 2017

It is hard for me to respond when I don't know what you want to do after you graduate. I will say that since you already have an MBA that it becomes more tricky to get another (I realize that an MBA from India has different connotations than one from the US/UK, but the fact remains that you will be taking the same courses you took in the other program, essentially, so you need to have a pretty airtight reason as to why getting another one is necessary - and it can't just be reputation/network/career options which will be obvious).

If you let me know what your plans are post-graduation, perhaps I can provide some more insight.

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

    • 2
Oct 24, 2017

Hi Jen,

Thanks a lot for your response. Currently I am working as Credit Analyst (back office) in one of US IBs in India. I want to build my career in finance - my areas of interest are Equity/Fixed Income research, VC/PE, hedge funds. I ultimately want to transition into front end in any of these fields. That's why I was considering MBA from US/UK since the opportunities in India are scarce. I have thought about the reasons for 2nd MBA and have good reasons in place, that are specific to schools. But my concerns are - 1. cost of MBA (which is almost double of the cost of MS in Finance/Financial Engineering) 2. Visa issues (US- OPT for MBA of ~1 yr vs ~3 yrs for STEM-designated MS). So I am leaning towards MS in Finance/FE now.
What do you think?

Oct 24, 2017

I think based on these circumstances the MS in Finance/FE makes more sense. Your list of schools is overwhelming. All the programs have merits in their own way. Curriculum will be similar, so go more for fit - students, location, etc.

Good luck!

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

Oct 18, 2017

Hey Jen,

First of all thanks for doing this. A little about myself, I am a black male looking to see if I have a chance at getting into a few of the top 20 programs (like Mccombs, Goizueta, Jones, Ross). I know it might seem like a stretch but I would like to see realistically where I stand.

1) 4 years as a trading specialist, placing trades for clients and teaching people how to execute trading strategies using equities and derivatives (think TD Ameritrade, Schwab)

2) 680 - 83% - 57%Q 85%V

3) North Carolina Central University - Studied Finance - 3.3 GPA

4) 4 year Varsity athlete (2nd in, All-academic teams, Various work awards, marathon runner, no real leadership experience :(

5) Series 3,7,63

6) Ultimate goal is to get into Investor Relations, looking initially to pivot into corporate finance to learn more about corporate strategy to make that transition

Thanks again for any advice

Oct 19, 2017

Dear Boss42590,

I think you've got a decent shot at the schools you are looking at. Your profile would be improved if you could get that GMAT up (the 3.3 GPA is decent, especially with all that comes with being a varsity athlete, but a higher gmat score will eliminate any negative perception of it). Do you have any extracurriculars currently? A leadership role is less important than being actively involved.

Please feel free to contact me offline if you'd like any further advice.

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

    • 1
Oct 21, 2017

1) 1 year right after college at a F50 company in FP&A. After masters degree, 2.5 years at a relatively small consulting firm focused on data analytics specialized in one industry. I have been promoted once and would likely be promoted once or twice more by the I'd apply to programs. I have significant international experience at my current job.
2) 730 (49Q, 41V). I will have to retake this by the time I want to apply. I could probably do better.
3) Undergrad at a state school along the lines of Rutgers/Pitt/UConn/UMD/etc, Major was applied math, GPA was 3.4. Masters degree from UVA in commerce with a concentration in financial services (essentially a broader version of an MSF program), GPA was 3.7.
4) Was a member of a fraternity for 4 years and served in a few leadership positions.
Nothing post-college.
5) None
6) I think I would work in banking for a bit after the MBA. Long term I think I'd like to work in corporate development.

I'd be looking to apply in 2018 or 2019 (I'd be 28/29). M7 is probably out of reach for me so I'd be targeting schools such as Darden, Yale, Stern, possibly Tuck and Columbia as reaches. Main concerns are lack of post-college extracurriculars and lack of any differentiating factor (I'm just an average middle class Jewish dude). An alternative would be to just forgo the MBA altogether if I'm not competitive to get what I want. My motivation for getting an MBA after the masters is I feel like the masters degree gave me some baseline knowledge of finance and I ended up with an okay job afterwards but I still feel that I'm missing something I need to get to my ultimate career goal. My current job doesn't involve finance and is very specific in analytics for one particular industry. I'd like to broaden what I know and what I can do beyond where I am now.

    • 3
Oct 24, 2017

Hi thurnis,

First of all, don't sell yourself short - everyone has a differentiating factor, but it just might not be obvious at the moment. Since you don't have any extracurriculars, I would start something immediately, and get as involved as you can. Choose something you can really sink your teeth into, and be legitimately passionate about if you had to write about it in an essay. Next, do some soul searching - maybe tell a friend or colleague highlights of your life story and see what sticks with him/her to see if it could be a differentiator.

Have a listen to this podcast about how to stand out: https://media.blubrry.com/admissions_straight_talk....
I think you are within reach of a few of your target schools if you can find that uniqueness. Feel free to reach out if you'd like to brainstorm about it. I'd be happy to help. My contact info is below.

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

    • 1
Oct 23, 2017

Hi Jen,

I am not applying to an MBA program anytime soon but am curious about some of the things I can do to address weak points in my profile.

  1. I graduated from a Top50 with a BBA concentrating in Finance. Cumulative GPA: 3.16 & Major GPA 3.35. No legit excuse other than a very poor Sophomore Year and my GPA booster classes were eaten up by pass/fail study abroad. Thankfully my Senior Spring was my strongest semester. Liberal arts reqs seemed to be my weak area: 2.7; Upper level core classes my strong suit: 3.6.

Would taking additional online or night-time courses help my academic profile? If so, what types of courses - maybe ones that I didn't do well in during undergrad? I was thinking about taking a night time coding class but would elect for something else if it is not relevant enough.

  1. How is Corporate Banking viewed by admissions? I understand that deal-flow, progression, leadership matter...but I am curious if there is any bias against the field.

Thank you for your help! I've learned a lot about the process through your team's posts and am grateful that you guys continue to take the time.

Oct 24, 2017

Dear Sugga,

I think your idea to take some additional courses is great. Retaking ones that you didn't do well on (provided they would be relevant to business school - econ, stats, calc, algebra, etc) is a good idea. Obviously also nailing the GMAT is, too.

Your job function is much less important than what you accomplished in a job. Admissions committees are looking for evidence of strong leadership and teamwork, more responsibilities on the job, and/or promotions. Also you need to have a solid reason for wanting an MBA - tie it all together.

Here is a podcast you might want to check out related to low GPA: http://media.blubrry.com/admissions_straight_talk/...

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

    • 2
Oct 24, 2017

Hi Jenn,

I am looking to apply to MBA programs in about 2 years. Would like to know if I stand a chance at lower M7 / top 10 schools or what areas I would need to improve to have a better profile. Would like to apply to Kellogg, Booth, Columbia, Yale SOM, and Tuck.

1) 1 year at boutique S&O consulting firm, will be 2 years at big 4 consultancy (Deloitte / PwC) in major canadian city
2) 720 GMAT aiming for 730
3) Biomedical sciences at top canadian university (Uoft/Mcgill), 3.65 GPA
4) Lots of leadership and volunteer experience during university (faculty council, president of social clubs, community and campus volunteering). CSR involvement for charities though company post grad.
5) No major certificatoins
6) Post MBA goal is MBB

Oct 24, 2017

Hi caalien,

I'd say your profile looks decent for the schools you are considering. Hopefully the consulting experience continues to increase in magnitude, and the CSR work you are doing is significant. Obviously always be thinking about ways your profile can stand out. No joke I recently worked with a client who wrote an essay about his passion for peanut butter. It was one of the most entertaining (and memorable) essays I have read in a while, so even obscure stuff like that can be interesting if presented in the right way.

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

    • 2
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Oct 24, 2017

Hi Jen,

Thanks for doing this. Here's my profile:

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

I started working full-time at a bulge bracket bank as a trader for the last three years after interning at the bank during college. At the same time, I've been a Military Intelligence officer in the Army Reserve in a position usually held by someone a rank ahead of me.

2) Your GMAT or GRE. Percentiles preferred.

730

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 Ten college (ranked top 30 b-school), 3.92/4.00, B.S. Finance, Graduated in 2014

4) Significant college and post-college extra-curricular activities or community service, especially leadership experience.

During college: ROTC all 4 years with full tuition with variety of leadership roles, involvement in some finance clubs, business fraternity, volunteer trip abroad for a month

Post college: volunteered heavily for several months between graduation and starting my job

5) Important certifications like CFA, CPA, FSA, or CA.

Series 7 and 63, knowledgeable in C++, scored in 98th percentile for Army Aviation test

6) Your post-MBA goal.

Make a transition into consulting

Target Schools:

MSF:

Interested in MIT Master in Finance

MBA:

Reach -- Wharton, Columbia

Target -- Dartmouth, Chicago, MIT, Northwestern

Fall back -- Yale SOM, Cornell

I'd love to hear where you think I would have a good chance of admission as well as any weak spots in my application.

Oct 24, 2017

Hi Chief Chimp,

Honestly I'd be hard-pressed to come up with any major flaws in your candidacy. Stellar GMAT, GPA at a top school, strong work experience (and the discipline/precision of a military officer will hold you in high regard for sure). The only thing I see possibly missing is current volunteer work, but I would argue you are the ultimate volunteer in the Army Reserve!

Go for it!

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

    • 1
Oct 25, 2017

Do you think having a finance career in trading vs. I-banking or PE would be a disadvantage?

Oct 26, 2017

Not at all.

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

Oct 29, 2017

Hi thanks for doing this.

Out of these four positions, Private Wealth Management, Financial Analyst, Compliance/Operations, and Financial Advisor, which positions do B schools like to see the most?

Nov 3, 2017
ozilgoff:

Hi thanks for doing this.

Out of these four positions, Private Wealth Management, Financial Analyst, Compliance/Operations, and Financial Advisor, which positions do B schools like to see the most?

HI Ozilgoff,

It really depends what you accomplish in any of these roles more than the role itself. Which will give you more opportunity for impact, growth, and leadership. That's the one that will impress the admissions committees the most.

Also keep in mind that the amount of responsibility or opportunity for growth for junior level employees will vary by the size of the institution, its culture and training, as well as the role.
Best,
Linda

Linda Abraham
President, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting

    • 1
Nov 1, 2017

Hey Jen,

Appreciate you taking the time to do this.

1) I've been working at a $950M revenue retail company for 2 years now as a financial analyst doing FP&A. Was promoted once after the first year.

2) 740 GMAT

3) Undergrad: Small liberal arts college in Texas (well known for its academics); 3.6 overall gpa, 3.9 majors gpa; Business finance/economics double major, Spanish minor; graduated in 2016.

Graduate: SMU - masters of science in management program (the liberal arts college had awful connections for business so i opted for a year of graduate school to give myself the best chances); 3.6 GPA and graduated top 20% of my class; Graduated in 2017

4) While at undergrad, I played tennis all 4 years on the men's varsity team (captain my senior year), I served as a peer tutor for the school's academic skill center my senior year for business and Spanish, and was in a fraternity.

Post-college - Play in several men's tennis leagues and communicate consistently for a charity for autism.

5) CFA level 1

6) Make transition into IB

So, I would like to know my chances at getting into a top 10 b school (not H/S/W). My target is Booth and Columbia.

Also, if my resume doesn't seem ready yet, I may put off applying for an additional year. What are your thoughts on my profile, and do you have any advice for me?

Thanks!

Nov 3, 2017

Bomar,
Your academic stats are competitive for Booth and Columbia. But for Booth or Columbia I'd like to see more work experience and growth in your responsibilities on the job as well as some leadership. You may have it, but I don't see it on the job. I'd recommend you wait at least one more year to maximize your chances of success the first time you apply. On the other hand, if you really want to try now and don't mind having a lower chance of acceptance as long as you have some chance of getting in, go for it.

Linda Abraham
President, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting

    • 1
Nov 7, 2017

Linda,

Thank you for taking the time to help me on my profile. I just have two small questions. Do you have any other advice on beefing up my profile aside from acquiring more leadership/responsibilities on the job? Also, does leadership/responsibilities really only come from promotions and managing people under you?

Nov 7, 2017

Bomar,

Leadership/increased responsibilities are not tied exclusively to promotions. Certainly managing more people is one indication, especially of leadership, but assumign responsibility for larger or more complex projects, deals, territories are also looked it. Leadership may be also understood as influence: Have you persuaded superiors or peers to pursue a particular course of action? That's leadership but without a promotion or official management title.

For more ideas, please check out Leadership in Admissions, a free download.

Linda Abraham
President, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting

    • 1
  • ncpark
  •  Nov 2, 2017

Hi Jen,

I'm a senior Accounting major at a southern state school, GPA 3.8/4.0. D-1 student-athlete for 3 years, strong leadership and volunteer experience in undergrad, mostly focused around entrepreneurship and community development work. I plan to stay involved in related volunteer activities after I graduate.

I interned at MBB last summer and will be returning full time upon graduation. I plan on applying to top five MBA programs 2-4 years after I graduate then pursuing a career in development work, probably something related to access to healthcare, finance, credit, etc. with a nonprofit.

3 Questions:
1) Should I take the CPA? I will graduate with an accounting degree and enough hours that I could study for/ take the CPA in the summer before and first few months of work. If I don't plan on being an accountant, is it even helpful to have the extra certification for MBA schools?

2) I scored a 730 on my first attempt at the GMAT (after several months of light prep work) in April 2017. I scored a 750 on a practice exam and think with a month of focused prep I could score a 750-760. Is a 730 and 3.8 GPA strong enough to make up for an unremarkable state school or should I retake the GMAT?

3) Would it be better to apply to MBA schools after second year at MBB or taking a third year to work with a nonprofit or 1-2 years with a start-up in the development work space?

Thank you!

Nov 3, 2017

Hi ncpark,

Thanks for the questions. Here are my answers:

  1. You don't need the CPA to show that you know how to study, so I wouldn't recommend it from an admissions perspective. If you don't need it professionally. I don't see why you should get it.
  2. Today your stats are competitive. If you want to beef up your profile, do so through achievement and impact. Assume responsibility for a non-profit event or outcome. Take an initiative. Assume a leadership. If you don't have, gain international exposure. I think those activities would do more for you than a higher GMAT, not that a higher GMAT ever hurt anyone.
  3. I recommend you apply after a third year of work experience. I can't tell from the information provided which would be the best. Again, I can say that the option that provides you with the greatest opportunity for growth, impact, and leadership will be the one I would recommend.

Best,
Linda

Linda Abraham
President, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting

    • 2
Nov 7, 2017

What would be my best shot at getting into a no-gmat program??

Nov 7, 2017

Pass all 3 levels of the CFA and go to Rotman.

Linda Abraham
President, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting

Nov 8, 2017

HI Jen Natalie,

Thank you for taking the time to answer the countless questions.

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

Me and my have siblings have established a property development company and we are just about to complete our first project (G+6) BUA c. 15,000 sqm.

Performed project phase negations, gained fundamental understanding of architectural design, electrical engineering and mechanical engineering.

Worked at PwC Saudi for 2.5 years in M&A advisory Due diligence buy side and sell side across multiple sectors

Most notable transaction was NCB IPO (second largest IPO of the year behind Alibaba)

Currently working at an investment firm (For 1 year). Establishing a QIF REIT my role is to lead the investments side i.e building relationships, screening, assessing and eventual on boarding of the asset

2) Your GMAT or GRE. Percentiles preferred.

Not taken.

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.

University of Buckingham 2:2

4) Significant college and post-college extra-curricular activities or community service, especially leadership experience.

Set up a charity in Saudi Arabia that gives food to the poor and sponsors those who are not able to do Umrah or Hajj.

5) Important certifications like CFA, CPA, FSA, or CA.
N/A

6) Your post-MBA goal.
Establish a real estate investment fund.

I am only interested in joining MIT's Real estate finance course.

I have a couple questions:

  1. Do you think my experience is adequate enough to get into MIT.
  2. Does it matter if I take GRE / GMAT?
  3. what score do you think I would have to get on my GRE/GMAT given my background.

It is worth noteing that by end of next year I aim to close 100m$ worth of transactions (sellside/buyside)

Once again, thank you for your help.

Array
Nov 12, 2017

Dear Salem,

Your work experience looks quite interesting, and you appear to be very involved in the community, so those are two strong aspects. The 2:2 is quite low for MIT, so you should aim high with the GRE or GMAT (it doesn't matter which one you choose to take, but if it's the GRE you should aim for 325+, and for the GMAT 700+ to alleviate academic concerns).

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

Nov 9, 2017

Hello Everyone,
I am an International Student seeking to pursue and MBA in Finance in US. Below is my profile:
Under Grad: Accounting and Finance
Masters: Commerce
GMAT: 680 TOEFL: Not yet taken
Work Experience: 2.5 years in Financial Advisory Services (Big 4)
Since being an International Student,
I plan on getting into either consulting or financial advisory services post graduation.
Please could you'll provide me with your valuable inputs as to where I could apply. Also I am looking for Fall 2018 intake.

Nov 14, 2017

Hi Jinit - It would be helpful for context to get some idea of your GPA and caliber of university as well as what area of the world you're from.

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

Nov 18, 2017

Hi Jen,

I am from Mumbai, India and have done my masters from Mumbai University (Podar College) which is one of the better institutes.
6 pointer GPA (out of 7).

Thank you so much!

Nov 13, 2017

Hi Jen, Natalie,

Thanks so much for taking the time to do this. I'm currently in undergrad, so I'm more looking to see what I need to do to put myself in a position to be a strong candidate for the top MBA schools. I'd appreciate any suggestions you have on what I lack as a candidate, and what I might do to make myself more competitive.

My top targets would be Stanford, Harvard, Booth.

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

Interning at a top EB next summer, hopefully will continue to do that for full-time.

2) Your GMAT or GRE. Percentiles preferred.

N/A

3) College info: The name of the college, your GPA or grade average, your major, year of graduation.

I attend a semi-target school in the finance honors program: 3.84/4.00 GPA (2019)

4) Significant college and post-college extra-curricular activities or community service, especially leadership experience.

This is where I feel like I currently lack the most. I'm in a selective investment team (~4-6% of applicants get in) and I intern at a well-known private equity firm for 20 hours a week during the school year. I'll also be on the leadership team for a school-affiliated mentoring & training club for IB-focused students next year. I don't have much else in terms of leadership or community service, which I'm worried may hurt me during the application process.

5) Important certifications like CFA, CPA, FSA, or CA.

N/A

6) Your post-MBA goal.

Long-term, I'd love to be involved in entrepreneurial side of technology/software, either through VC/growth-equity or directly in the CFO-type role.

One of my biggest motivations for going to an MBA is to experience a more rigorous and academic environment than I have at my current undergraduate school. As such, I'm very set on getting an MBA (or at least, some sort of graduate degree), especially the deferred MBA programs: Harvard 2+2, Stanford's Deferred Program, or even Yale's Silver Scholars Program. I imagine these must be even more competitive than regular admissions for MBAs, so do you think I have a shot at these given my current qualifications?

Beyond that, as I mentioned, any suggestions you have regarding things I should be trying to improve on in the next ~4-6 years would be very helpful!

Thank you in advance for your help, and I apologize for the lengthy comment.

Nov 21, 2017

You have a very strong profile academically, but you are right the lack of extracurriculars is not great (it's not that you aren't involved, it's just that you aren't involved in anything other than in banking/finance). I would get involved with something you really care about as soon as possible - a local non profit would be great. Really sink your teeth into something - take on a leadership role, run a committee, things like that. Then when it comes time to apply you can show your community commitment through that endeavor.

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

    • 2
Nov 13, 2017

Hi Jen/Linda,

Thank you for taking time out of your day to do this! Goal would be Columbia but would appreciate other recommendations.

1) Brief description of your full-time work experience.
By the time I will matriculate, I will have 4 years at S&P as a credit analyst (2 promotions) and previously had 1 year at an investment firm as an analyst

2) Your GMAT or GRE. Percentiles preferred.
740 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.
California state school, 3.0 GPA in Economics

4) Significant college and post-college extra-curricular activities or community service, especially leadership experience.
Vice President at my school's finance club

5) Important certifications like CFA, CPA, FSA, or CA.
CFA
6) Your post-MBA goal.
Possibly reach the buyside but if I can't, I would like to go into restructuring or investment banking

Nov 21, 2017

Dear BBRaw,

I am glad you did so well on the GMAT, as that will go a long way to alleviate concerns regarding your GPA. The biggest weakness I can see is the lack of extra-curriculars after college. Obviously you work at a demanding job at a world-class organization (a clear positive on your candidacy), but you need to focus on getting involved in the community. Choose one activity where you can take on a leadership role. Business schools want to admit students who will be very involved with their community as well, so showing that will really help towards your admission.

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

    • 2
Nov 21, 2017

Thanks Jen, I'll work on rounding out my experience by putting in leadership involvement. But in my current state, would you recommend targets school within my range?

Nov 21, 2017

I'd suggest you look at Fuqua, Cornell, Darden, and NYU.

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

    • 2
Nov 20, 2017

Thanks Jen/Natalie

Really interested in your take my case is unique I believe.

I am a black Canadian who will be around age 30 at time of matriculation possess a US green card prior to MBA applications.

Target Schools

Duke
Kellog
CBS
Berkley

Dream schools

HBS
Stanford

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

By the time I will matriculate, I will have 4-5 years working at telecom giant in Canada in data focused consumer marketing/innovation role.

2) Your GMAT or GRE. Percentiles preferred.

680 88% V50% Q - Strongly considering re taking the exam

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.

Undergrad: Top Canadian School but non target program GPA:3.1
Masters: Elite Canadian school at a semi-target program GPA:3.6
Masters: Elite non UK school at target program GPA:3.6
Masters were direct entry from undergrad and earned jointly.

When I attended undergrad I initially was in kinesiology/physiotherapy because I was in love with the field (Still am) realized I could still be involved in this passion on the side so I switched in 3rd year to a management program. It was the non targets business program at my school. I was really late to the party which is why I enrolled in the dual masters program because I felt I had to "Reset" my personal brand.

4) Significant college and post-college extra-curricular activities or community service, especially leadership experience.

Undergrad: Graduating class award in leadership + other run of the mill ecs

Masters: Started a business and won business of the year

National Scholarship related to URM

On the board of a URM association in Toronto that is highly rated and sponsored by major banks/Deloitte and other f500 companies

Mentor at URM association.

5) Important certifications like CFA, CPA, FSA, or CA.
N/A

6) Your post-MBA goal.

West coast tech

MBB

Corporate rotational programs: nike, under armour etc

Nov 21, 2017

Dear thatswhatsup2,

You look like a very interesting candidate. You have strong work experience and involvement in the community. The academics look pretty good as well. If you could bump that GMAT score up a little bit (700+) that would make your candidacy that much stronger, but as it stands I'd say you have a decent shot at your target schools. In terms of your dream schools, these resources might be of interest to you:

Harvard http://reports.accepted.com/mba/harvard-business-s...
Stanford http://reports.accepted.com/mba/stanford_graduate_...

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

    • 3
Nov 22, 2017

HI Jen,

Thanks for your response.

If I may ask, what would you define as "decent shot". Is that 25-30% likelihood? If so is there any reason about my profile that makes me unattractive that has decreased my overall chances. Additionally I am not sure if you noticed but I would be applying as an URM.

Thanks again

Nov 21, 2017

Thank you very much for this. Would appreciate if you can provide feedback on my case.

  1. Brief description of your full-time work experience.
  • 2.5 years as an Investment Banking Analyst (government financial institution) focusing on infrastructure;
  • 3.5 years as an Investment Banking Associate (promoted)
  • Was supposed to be promoted to senior analyst in my first job but was poached by a multinational investment bank (top tier in South East Asia)
  • Spearheaded the establishment of an analyst pool program which enables analysts to rotate on different investment banking products (saves the firm cost and increases efficiency)
  • 6 years Investment banking experience in M&A, Equity, and Debt
  1. Your GMAT or GRE. Percentiles preferred.
  • 740 GMAT
  1. 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.
  • Top 3 Philippine University
  • Undergrad: Applied Economics; 2.167 GPA
  • Low GPA due to father being diagnosed with kidney failure, and heart attack; mother was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer
  1. Significant college and post-college extra-curricular activities or community service, especially leadership experience.
  • Undergrad extra-curricular: University student government, memberships in different orgs
  • Post undergrad: Teach for the Philippines Volunteer, Gawad Kalinga (reach out to poor communities and teach the under privileged)
  1. Important certifications like CFA, CPA, FSA, or CA.
  • N/A
  1. Your post-MBA goal.
  • Transition to Private Equity, hopefully in the US

I am a Filipino who will be around 30 at time of matriculation (with US green card). Strong recommendation letters from high level executives (President & CEO, Managing Director, and Executive Director). President & CEO of the firm is an alumnus of Kellogg.

I know most of the schools I will be applying to will be a reach due to my GPA but below are my dream schools:
- Wharton
- Columbia
- Yale
- Booth
- Kellogg

I think despite of my horrible GPA, I was able to turn things around given my strong work experience. Hoping that my GMAT and strong recommendation letters will help.

Dec 6, 2017

Hi ecgrageda,

Your GMAT and excellent work experience will go a long way towards mitigating the impact of your low GPA as will letting the schools know what you were dealing. However, these elite program will have much more confidence in your ability to succeed if you can point to something that show you know how to study. Was there any upward trend to your GPA? Any semester where your parents were well and you got good grades? Alternatively, would you consider sitting (and passing) at least part 1 of the CFA or other demanding certification to show that you know how to excel academically? I think all these programs will look for such evidence. They may be satisfied that you GMAT does the trick. And they may not.

You might find helpful:

  1. 5 A's for your Low GPA, a podcast episode
  2. Applying to Business School with Low Stats: What You Need to Know, a free guide.

Best,
Linda

Linda Abraham
President, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting

    • 1
Nov 26, 2017

Hey guys--I'd really appreciate a profile evaluation. Thanks for all you've done for the users of this site! Very interested in your expertise.

To preface, my main concern is that my work experience may be too "quant-oriented" for an MBA and that I may be better off focusing on an MFE (Princeton MFin is my absolute dream but admissions seem ridiculously competitive). If I don't get into Princeton, I would prefer to do an MBA to an MFE degree because I don't necessarily want to get siloed into a quant position forever, and I think that an MBA along with my work experience in a quant-heavy field would leave that door open for me without closing others off--please let me know if you think this is off base and I may be better off focusing my efforts on MFE programs.

Target Schools - M7, MIT MFin

Dream Schools - Princeton MFin, HBS, Stanford GBS

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

I'm currently working as a derivatives trader at a highly regarded quantitative options market making firm in Chicago, working on some small quant/coding projects on the side (experience in Python, R, Matlab). I'm planning to have two years of experience under my belt by the time I matriculate. In addition, I spent my junior summer interning in investment banking at a top BB (GS/MS/JPM), but elected not to return to IB as I decided it wasn't for me.

2) Your GMAT or GRE. Percentiles preferred.

GRE: Quant 170 (97%) Verbal 164 (94%) Writing 4.5 (82%)

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.

I graduated from a top-20 undergrad with a major in Applied Mathematics and a minor in Economics, ending with a 3.7 GPA (if it makes any difference, I had above a 3.8 through my junior year then did significantly worse my senior year). I also completed a concentration in physical sciences, taking classes in Organic and Inorganic Chemistry, Physics, and Biology.

4) Significant college and post-college extra-curricular activities or community service, especially leadership experience.

Undergrad: Co-President of the Investment Banking Club for 1 year, as well as Captain of a club sports team for 3 (did very well in this sport in high school - had several d1 offers but elected not to pursue in college). Additionally, I competed with a team in a start-up challenge put on by a major corporation at our school in which we took 1st place out of ~30 teams and actually had the opportunity to receive funding, but chose not to pursue the opportunity (I can go into more detail if necessary).

Postgrad: I only graduated this past Spring (trying to look as far as I can into the future) but I engage in a significant amount of volunteering/community service, some through my company and some on my own time.

5) Important certifications like CFA, CPA, FSA, or CA.

None other than the Series 57, but considering a CFA. Would love to hear your thoughts on whether it might strengthen my application.

6) Your post-MBA goal.

Hedge fund/IM, or perhaps S&T --> hedge fund.

Thanks a lot! I really appreciate you guys taking the time.

Dec 6, 2017

Tryna Trade,

You're most welcome.

You don't have to worry that your experience is "too" quant heavy. That's not a problem at all as long as you can also show either on the job or off leadership and interpersonal skills, and you appear to have both. Most MFin degrees are aimed at people early in their career. Most MBA programs are aimed at people a little more advanced in their careers than you are.

However the most important criterion for you in choosing which degree to pursue is not what you've done in the past; it's what you want to do after your degree. If you only need the technical skills provided by the M Fin, then go for that degree. If you don't really need those skills and you would like to move into senior management at some point, the MBA is really more appropriate for you. Consider waiting a year or two before applying.

The schools you are aiming for are appropriate if you wait as I am suggesting for the MBA.

Best,
Linda

Linda Abraham
President, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting

    • 2
Dec 6, 2017

Linda,

Thank you for the thoughtful reply. Another quick question - about the reaches specifically, how do you think the reputation of Princeton MFin compares with those of HBS and GBS? I understand they're different degrees, but a few points I'd appreciate your insight into:

  1. My chances of acceptance and if they differ between 3
  2. Reputation on wall st within "softer" finance, that is, not in a quant position, but perhaps PE, fundamental investing, etc.
  3. I understand if you don't have the answer to this one, but in terms of after the degree - if I were to start as an analyst or associate at a fund, what is the path to PM from there? Would it be possible to move directly to a more quantitative fund directly from my derivatives trading position?
  4. If I were to pursue Princeton MFin or a comparably ranked MFE program, would it even be possible to land a role that isn't necessarily completely "quant" or programming based?

Thanks again. Really appreciate your help and advice.

Dec 7, 2017

Tryna,

You're welcome.

  1. You have a competitive profile for all 3 programs (M Fin at Princeton, MBA at HBS/GSB), however all 3 are intensely competitive. And at HBS you have the added hurdle of less work experience than most admitted applicants. GSB is more open to early career applicants.) You can either widen your net now or apply now and if not accepted lengthen your list of schools when you reapply.

REarding 2 and 3, I was going to suggest that people with financial services industry experience may be more appropriate those questions to. I don't have the answer or an opinion. I did ask Accepted consultant Karin Ash, who is the former head of Career Services at Cornell Johnson and Cornell University. She replied as follows:

*Linda,

She really should be asking these questions of people working on Wall Street---you are an Admissions expert, not a Wall Street expert. These were the kinds of questions that I would refer to the Wall Street guy I had hired to be my finance advisor.

However, these two links help some with her second question about the career path, which I believe is the most critical information for her to understand.

https://www.wallstreetoasis.com/blog/routes-to-buy...

And, I think the exact degree plays less importance than the experience. If her experience is what they are seeking, she could get hired with either an MFin or MBA.
It depends on whether she wants to be the "salesperson" or the researcher as the second link describes.

Karin*

Linda Abraham
President, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting

    • 2
Dec 3, 2017

Hi! I'm hoping to get your assessment of my business school prospects given the following stats

Undergrad: Business school at a top public university. Think Michigan/UVA. Had focus in Analytics and Tech w/ a 3.55 GPA

Employer: I work in the strategy practice (New York office) within a large, well-known consulting firm, but one that is not particularly known for strategy consulting. Think Accenture strategy / Strategy & Change management group at IBM / EY Parthenon

Extracurriculars: very solid, I led a professional club on campus and had 4 year involvement in well respected greek and club sports organizations... I now do volunteer work while in the professional world. Nothing too extensive, though

GMAT: hopefully will be somewhere between 690-720, obviously this is a huge wild card but that's the prediction I can give for now

(Lack of) Diversity: I'm a white male

My assessment is that M7 is probably out of reach, but I'm hoping that schools just below it (like Ross, Darden, Stern, Yale) might be do able. Interested in hearing any thoughts you have about my situation, or advice about how to maximize my chances. Thanks!

Dec 6, 2017

HI Strat_Const12,

You're being very realistic regarding your choice of schools, especially if your GMAT comes in at the higher end of your range. If at the lower... well let's see. Yale may be a stretch even in that range.

You don't mention a post-MBA goal so it's hard fro me to say more.

Best,
Linda

Linda Abraham
President, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting

Dec 7, 2017

Hi Linda

Really interested in your take my case is unique I believe.

I am a black Canadian who will be around age 30 at time of matriculation and will possess a US green card prior to MBA applications.

Target Schools

Duke
Kellog
CBS
Berkley

Dream schools

HBS
Stanford

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

By the time I will matriculate, I will have 4-5 years working at telecom giant in Canada in data focused consumer marketing/innovation role.

2) Your GMAT or GRE. Percentiles preferred.

680 gmat - Strongly considering re taking the exam

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.

Undergrad: Top Canadian School but non target program GPA:3.1
Masters: Elite Canadian school at a semi-target program GPA:3.6
Masters: Elite non UK school at target program GPA:3.6
Masters were direct entry from undergrad and earned jointly.

When I attended undergrad I initially was in kinesiology/physiotherapy because I was in love with the field (Still am) realized I could still be involved in this passion on the side so I switched in 3rd year to a management program. It was the non targets business program at my school. I was really late to the party which is why I enrolled in the dual masters program because I felt I had to "Reset" my personal brand.

4) Significant college and post-college extra-curricular activities or community service, especially leadership experience.

Undergrad: Graduating class award in leadership + other run of the mill ecs

Masters: Started a business and won business of the year

National Scholarship related to URM

On the board of a URM association in Toronto that is highly rated and sponsored by major banks/Deloitte and other f500 companies

Mentor at URM association.

5) Important certifications like CFA, CPA, FSA, or CA.
N/A

6) Your post-MBA goal.

West coast tech

Corporate rotational programs: nike, under armour etc

Dec 7, 2017

Thatswhatsup2,

While you certainly have a chance at all your target schools they are all stretch programs, except Duke where you are competitive. I would suggest that you add USC and UCLA to your list. You are competitive at both and they support your goal. and perhaps only apply to 3 of the schools that you listed.

Your excellent experience grad record, and URM status will help you. I'm just not sure they are enough to overcome the GMAT (I'm assuming it's balanced) and competition. They might and they might not. If you plan to retake, you will probably need to push off your application to R3. You don't want to submit rushed applications.

Best,
Linda

Linda Abraham
President, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting

    • 1
Dec 8, 2017

Hi Linda,

Thanks for your response! That is all very interesting to hear. Is my gmat alone that is making those schools a stretch? If I got my gmat to 700-720 would that make all those schools likely?

Dec 8, 2017

The GMAT, low undergrad GPA, and the intense competition at your target schools. Your score is 50 points (or more) below average for the schools you are targeting. Now as I said before, your URM status and excellent experience could carry the day with your current score. But a higher score (700+) would make it more likely that these schools would accept you.

If you'd like help with your application, please let me know.

Linda Abraham
President, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting

Dec 8, 2017

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

2 Years FP&A at F100 company

1 and 1/2 Years Fund Analyst at large (>$10 B) Real Estate Investment Company

2) Your GMAT or GRE. Percentiles preferred.

760

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.

Top 30 Undergrad, Finance Major, Class of 2014, GPA 3.24 - No special circumstances

4) Significant college and post-college extra-curricular activities or community service, especially leadership experience.

College - Immersion Trip, Cancer Fundraiser Committee Member

Post College - Head of Emerging Leaders Group of organization that combats homelessness, real estate professional group committee member that helps organize group volunteering events

5) Important certifications like CFA, CPA, FSA, or CA.

N/A

6) Your post-MBA goal.

Move into real estate acquisitions

I'm a white male considering applying either this upcoming summer or the following summer for full-time programs, or waiting for a couple of more years (6-8 total years of experience) and applying to EMBA programs. Given that Real Estate does not have the structured recruiting that IB. Consulting, F500 Rotational Programs have, I am not sure if going full-time makes sense unless I can get into a top school. Additionally, I would prefer to stay in the New England for full-time programs and would like to work in New England after the programs.

Full Time Programs that I am considering:

Tuck, MIT Sloan, Yale SOM, MIT MSRED (1- Year Real Estate Masters)

EMBA:

Columbia, Wharton, NYU ( not sure where else given that i'd be on the younger side with 6 - 8 years of experience)

Thanks in advance!