Can I get into HBS or GSB

2 years at tier 1 investment banking in NY (Think GS TMT, JPM M&A, Evercore M&A etc..)

Now at tier 1 Hedge Fund in NY (Think Citadel, Mill, P72, DK, Silverpoint, Anchorage, Renaissance etc) 

Non-target ~3.0+ GPA (I don't like sharing personal stories but as a brief background story...my mother passed away freshman year who was single mother, and I had to support my younger brother financially by working full time while going to school)

Have not taken the GMAT but I will try to get 740+

Expecting good letters of rec from previous employers

EC geared towards my background (first generation college grad)

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Comments (47)

  • Intern in PE - LBOs
Sep 9, 2021 - 3:43am

Bro if you were at Renaissance, you probably won't be wasting your time getting an MBA at HBS or GSB, and if you decided to, both those schools would beg you to attend

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  • Analyst 1 in RE - Comm
Sep 10, 2021 - 12:29am

My man's definitely not in rentech. They straight up don't hire finance people and unless he has a dissertation in some advanced field of mathematics he's prolly P72 or something.

  • Intern in PE - LBOs
Sep 10, 2021 - 8:16am

Yeah lol it's funny that he even included rentech, but even more so that the "tier 1" HFs mentioned are almost completely different (except the first three)

Funniest
  • Research Analyst in HF - Other
Sep 10, 2021 - 5:54pm

Yeah, the list of funds he included ("Silverpoint") is what I'd expect from some high schooler who spent 1 day on WSO and thinks he knows everything

I don't think I've ever heard anyone in industry call Millennium "Mill"

Sep 9, 2021 - 7:21am

Why do you need to go to HBS/GSB? What's your end game? Your GPA is going to be in the bottom 10% of both of their classes and unless you are URM or had better WE/EC than top bank -> top HF (think top tier finance experience but also started a non profit that gained significant traction in under-served communities), i think your chances will be pretty low (even with a 760+ GMAT). For context, I am at Wharton and the few people I know who went from GS/JP top group to a few of the HFs you listed all had 3.6+ GPA and Ivy UG (and for context, EVERYONE in your bucket will have high GMATs. The median for this group is probably a 760/770, considering the Wharton class median is a 740 this year. So you better get a 790 to truly stand out in terms of GMAT)

Maybe HBS will take a look at you since they have such a large class but GSB most likely will not because they will have candidates like you but are summa/magna cum laude from HYPSM. I would say if you really want the top tier b-schools, aim for HSW. H/S are notoriously strict on GPAs (especially S, just look at their 3.8 avg GPA lol). Wharton is slightly more friendly to splitters (lower GPA, sky high GMATs).

Sep 9, 2021 - 8:45am

Thanks. Wharton is a top school and I would consider them. My impression is if I dont get into HBS, GSB or Wharton it will not be because of my GPA but something holistically as the process is not so straightforward.

Does it help my HF actively recruits from GSB and HBS. We have ton of GSB grads in particular. Alot of Wharton undergrads as well.

Sep 9, 2021 - 8:51am

Yes I agree it's a holistic process. However, at the tippy top (aka HSW), everyone's profile is very well rounded/have 1-2 spikes, so even the minor things can sway the decisions. There are plenty of top tier finance folks like I said who apply to HSW and they all have great stories (for instance, someone in my cohort went from BB-> MF PE, but also bootstrapped a fintech startup). When you are splitting hairs like that, a low GPA like yours could mean a ding (obviously you can overcome it say if you founded a non-profit that raised like 200-300k, or climbed Mount Everest, etc.)

Sep 9, 2021 - 8:53am

These people are special circumstances (Olympians, professional athletes, royal family or billionaires' kids, or founded a startup that's in the millions, etc.) These people can have a 590 or a 2.6 GPA and still get into HSW. Your run of the mill high achieving finance folks for the most part have the 3.7s and 750+ GMATs. Also you have to consider you are being compared to people in your bucket. A 750 GMAT might be high by normal standards, it would be average or even below average among the finance folks at HSW. Not sure what years your co-workers from H/S graduated, but it was just so competitive last year.

Sep 9, 2021 - 9:22am

Take my comment or anyone else's with a grain of salt.

Questions:

What are your demographics? (Age, gender, nationality, etc..)

What do you want to do after MBA?

What are your extra curriculars? 

Things going for you:

Work Experience (Above Average, but not great). Not everyone that goes to HBS and GSB comes from a prestigious job. But there will be quite a bit of people that will have similar background as you. 

Average:

Your expected GMAT is average. Stanford/Harvard has 730-740 average gmat score. Also you have a "expected" score. That is not actually your score. How are you up coming up with expected 740+? Did you have amazing SAT/LCAT/MCAT/GRE scores? Or did you take an official mock and you were in the ball park? Remember - when you have a LOW Gmat, high GPA offsets it. A low GPA is offset by high GMAT. Given you have a low GPA (Stanfords average is 3.8) - Your GMAT Needs to be 750-760+ (99th percentile). 

'Good' LoRs - This also plays a critical role in your application. Good will not suffice. You need amazing LoRs. 

BAD:

GPA - Your GPA is well below the average of HBS and Stanford and also M7. You did state you had some personal life things come up - which you can use the optional essay to address. But how is your GPA? Is it 3.0 overall and 3.8 Major? 3.0 overall with up-trend after things had settled down? 3.0 overall with no patterns just up/down/up/down? This also plays a roll! - One way to offset this is by alternative transcript. If there were certain QUANT classes you did bad in like Stats/Calc or even finance/Acct - (Like C or below) retake at a local community college and get As in them. This shows the adcom that you are infact good.

EC - This can be considered bad, but only because you haven't shared any details. A lot of the incoming class will be class presidents at their college, class representatives, Varsity D1 players, Captains, people that have been on committees of big NGOs, representing their country at the UN in various fields. This is a category where you need a story and something meaningful. 

I am not here to scare you that what you are doing is impossible. Its actually possible getting into both! But you need to start working on your things now like a very high GMAT, amazing ECs, start showing achievements at work, get your story straight for optional essay and the application. 
You are amazing for the best B-schools in the world, so you need to be the best. 

  • Associate 2 in IB - Gen
Sep 9, 2021 - 11:38am

Curious how you think other graduate degrees factor into the equation? For example, do you think someone with a low undergrad GPA can offset that with a high GPA in a (non-business) Masters degree? 

Sep 9, 2021 - 11:59am

Yes it does, but it depends on the major and the school. 

Example 1:

Undergrad: 3.0 GPA - non-target - business degree. Graduate: 3.9 GPA in History from a non-target.

Example 2:

Undergrad: 3.0 GPA - non-target - business degree. Graduate: 3.9 GPA in Engineering from MIT.

You see example 1 has a higher grad GPA - but the major is different from his undergrad and will also be different from his MBA. This candidate will struggle to justify why Business -> History -> MBA? How does it relate to his post-MBA job? Not only is it a 'non-quant' major, but also a non-target - so the GPA inflation might be quite high.
Example 2 on the other hand has the same grad GPA but comes from a well known university and a pretty difficult quant major. MBA can help him with technical product manager/quant jobs. Plus quite a bit of his fellows in MBA will have a similar background but as an undergrad - so he/she can definitely relate. 

Grad degrees are known for grade inflation - so a higher GPA doesn't mean as much - unless it comes from a difficult background.

Edit: Didn't get to finish my thought. But lastly - it depends where you are in your career and when you want to go to an MBA. If you are within 1-2 years out of Undergrad, you can go to master's - get a better job and after 3 years go back for MBA. This will help the story flow better. If you are out of undergrad for let's say 4 years - want to go to an MBA but go to Master's to offset the GPA, it would be a waste of time. Your story won't flow. Ad comms could think you are a degree hoarder. Your time could also be better served working on GMAT/LOR/EC/Essays/WE.
*look at my profile* I was in the same position 2 years ago trying to go to grad school to off-set my GPA. I dropped out because it was a huge waste of time, and taking on too much debt for no reason. 

Sep 9, 2021 - 1:04pm

Thanks this is very insightful and appreciate you taking your time to write all that out.

I agree with you about my GPA. And yep, I already took accounting and stats class from my uni last year while working (virtual class given Covid) and got As. Granted my EC is considered "average" and my GMAT is 750 or above, would that increase my chances significantly to top 3?

Also, what work experience do you consider to be "great"? In the finance pool, i figured my path aka someone at a mega fund PE or mega HF to be considered top candidate. We have traditionally sent kids to H/S/W every year and have ton of alums working at our fund post mba, as well as have H/S/W admission representative come to our office to speak to us about their respective MBA programs.

Again, thanks for the insight.

Sep 9, 2021 - 2:00pm

have you taken a mock gmat test? 750 is easier said than done - remember that's the 99th percentile of all gmat test takes. If you can get a score of 750+ you have a better chance than 700-730. Anything above 750 is kind of the same thing tbh. if you can't impress them with 750, its probably also unlikely with a 790. 
At the end of the day, you can get admitted with a 790, 750, 700. No one on this forum or admissions consultant can 100% guarantee you an answer on your admittance. It is all based on your whole application package. 
The thing with your work experience is that it actually is great. For some of us on this forum it is only a dream to achieve. But your work experience is pretty normal at HBS and GSB. Quite a bit of your fellow colleagues apply to these schools every year, making your work experience look pretty standard. It may be a huge deal if you were to go to Darden, Ross, Fuqua, SOM, Haas, because they do not get top HF applicants every year as compared to HSW. 

Most Helpful
Sep 9, 2021 - 5:14pm

Candidly it will be very challenging based on what you've shared.  With that said, if you can get a senior MD at your firm to really go to bat for you or if you can find some other way to differentiate yourself, you never know. Theoretically, a knockout essay could put you over the top, but I'm personally skeptical how much that really moves the needle (I'm sure others will tell you differently).

A bit hesitant to bring this up since it's out of your control, but it would obviously be more likely if you were a female or an under-represented minority. I say that only to give you a more realistic sense of your chances.  

But all of that aside, why do you even want to go to HBS/GSB? If you want to stay in the HF world, you're better off just sticking around or trying to lateral. If you want to pivot into something like consulting/tech, don't fixate on HBS/GSB, you could accomplish the same thing going to any Top 10 b-school (and likely get a scholarship while you're at it). If you want to do something like PE/VC, candidly you're facing a pretty uphill battle even if you do go through HBS/GSB, so that's probably not a great reason either.

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Sep 9, 2021 - 11:14pm

Thanks. I appreciate your insight. I am also thinking about Wharton. 

I think I should get excellent letters of recs from MDs just based off my year end reviews, and they went to H/S/W. Not sure if this would move the needle. 

What's your thought on 750+ GMAT and alternative transcript. Is that enough to offset the low GPA ? And what I mean by that is if I get rejected from any of those schools it wouldn't be because of the GPA but for something else. 

Thanks for your input

Sep 17, 2021 - 11:17am

The letters of rec will definitely help, especially if the MDs are still plugged into the school networks. You're still facing an uphill battle. Don't think the GPA matters that much especially if you land the GMAT well - the problem is more that there are a ton of other people from Tier1 HF/PE firms applying and you're not a particular standout. But you'll definitely get in somewhere if you expand outside of H/S.

Again, I'd really push you on the H/S or bust mentality. What does it matter whether you go to Stanford or Booth? I get that from an ego perspective, going to the top schools feels better, but for all practical purposes there isn't that much of a difference.

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  • Associate 1 in IB - Cov
Sep 9, 2021 - 8:41pm

Hire a really good admissions consultant to get a polished story that explains your shitty GPA. There is a strong trend towards admitting more and more ladies across MBA programs, so males are currently at a slight disadvantage. Full disclosure I am a Wharton MBA, and the school really celebrated the fact that the class of 2023 is majority female. At the end of the day, your story and spin matter a lot. It is my impressions, that schools want to diversify their admit pools as much as possible... So have a really good story for your low GPA and why an MBA now...

Sep 9, 2021 - 9:00pm

Hire a really good admissions consultant to get a polished story that explains your shitty GPA. 

Not really on board with this yet. I have heard both mixed reviews on good and bad about ad consultants. *My personal opinion, it would be hard to justify throwing 5k per school (price decreases as you add more schools) to get help from ad consultants while I can do the same job myself. May need help with reviewing essays - but it would be easier to higher someone on a hourly basis. The packages come with a ton of things that sounds great, but don't really bring as much value. It can be argued that 5k is a very small investment for long term success, but I would rather spend that 5k visiting campuses and connecting with others. 
If you used an admissions consultant, I would like to hear your story and your review and how it worked for you. 

  • Consultant in Consulting
Sep 9, 2021 - 10:50pm

Agreed, unless you're a poor writer or aren't willing to show any friends/family your essays to proof check, admissions consultants seem pretty wasteful to me. 

  • Associate 1 in IB - Cov
Sep 10, 2021 - 10:57am

I used an admission consultant on an hourly basis. I think I paid 350 bucks per hour. and I spend somewhere around 8k. I paid for the inside info on how to play the admissions game, my consultant was very valuable as she showed me the ropes in terms of how to increase my admission chances. For instance, she recommended that I craft an assay around becoming a tech guy instead of going for finance, as the finance crowd slots where more competitive and my background fit better into a tech narrative. If you want to go for HSW, any incremental benefit is worth the money and I think that at least 50% of all admits to those schools had professional help during the application process. 

Sep 10, 2021 - 6:37pm

Why can't you just lateral to another hedge fund job? Anyone in the hedge fund world knows that most hedge funds do not hire out of MBA as readily as they do from other funds. 

I am a blogging intern at Wall Street Oasis. Feel free to follow me to see my weekly posts.
Sep 11, 2021 - 4:10pm

Leaving aside the question of why you would want to do an MBA, I slightly disagree with the general trend and think you have a very strong application (at least for HBS, which likely cares about GPAs less than Stanford due to the size of the class). 

Adcoms put you in buckets, hence why a few mentioned the finance/banking one is very competitive. However, they typically look at patterns to see where you have overachieved (for example, a Harvard grad who is working in a Big4 job after college would be in a worse position, application wise, than a non-target, first gen student who came from a poor family background an ended up at a Big4, even though on paper one has Harvard on their CV). So, in your case, even if you don't like sharing personal stories, that is the best thing you can do for your application, as it clearly mitigates your GPA. And what proves you are both smart and an overachiever is that you still somehow managed to get a top BB out of your situation, and then a top hedge fund. 

Therefore, based on your story, as a person who grew up in a single mother household, is a first gen college grad, and lost their parent during college and had to take care on their younger brother, still got into a top BB in NY, you have achieved what many would not be able to from your position. 

So 2 things in my opinion are still important and could tank your application: 1. Not getting a strong GMAT (740+, ideally 750+), which I assume won't be an issue given your job progression; 2. Not being able to articulate clearly why you need an MBA - people in your position would likely stay in their current role or switch funds, if they are outperforming.  

And congrats again on overcoming your setbacks earlier in life. 

  • Associate 1 in PE - Other
Sep 14, 2021 - 4:03pm

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