Get an edge on the competition - ask Vantage Point MBA your business school application questions

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WSO is excited to announce that we have selected Vantage Point MBA, a top MBA admissions consulting firm, for our 2019 MBA partnership! The Vantage Point MBA team is available for WSO members to answer your questions about MBA applications in the Business School Forum.

The Vantage Point MBA team, led by co-founders Meredith (Kellogg MBA) and Melody (Columbia MBA), is comprised of alumni and former admissions directors from the top MBA programs. Their experienced MBA admissions consultants previously worked in sectors such as banking, private equity, consulting, brand management, and technology; so they know the process from all sides of the table and can advise you accordingly. Whether you're wondering if an MBA is the right path for you, or considering how to approach your HBS essay, the Vantage Point MBA team is here to answer your questions through the forum.

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Vantage Point MBA's unique approach to the application process, focused on pushing and challenging their clients to think critically and strategically in a process where there are no concrete formulas, truly sets them apart. And as a result, their clients are admitted to the top MBA programs at a 3x higher rate than the average acceptance rates.

If you have a question for one of Vantage Point MBA's consultants, please feel free to post below, providing as much detailed information as possible to help them give you a robust answer. Or, you can request a live initial consultation with one of their consultants via their website.

Comments (24)

Feb 8, 2019

I'll start, thanks for doing this!

European male citizen, state school non-target full scholarship student athlete. Graduated with a 3.65/4 with a BBA in Finance. I was team captain for 3 years and broke multiple school records, and helped fundraise for a new facility on campus. I was also part of the investment club at my school.

I was an intern then promoted to full time analyst at a F500 working on corporate finance, investor relations and some corporate strategy. I have been there for about a year and a half. In the meantime I have been studying for the CFA and successively passed level 1 and level 2, now working on level 3.

I have not taken the GMAT yet, aiming for 700-750. Planning on doing so next year since I am considering a 2021 MBA when I'll have 4 years of working experience. Happy to provide additional details if needed.

Couple questions:

-What do you think I should aim for with my current profile?

-I am in the final stages of taking a job at a MM PE fund working in their business development group, would taking the job raise my chances to get a shot at a M7?

Thanks

    • 2
Feb 12, 2019

Hi! You guys are on it - loving the questions! Ok, so here are my thoughts:
- I'm assuming "European male citizen" = a dual citizen? So US as well as a European country? Doesn't matter a ton, but people tend to be increasingly looking at visa / financial aid decisions in this lens.
- As for where to aim, if you can hit 720+, then in general, top 10 schools are probably in your range assuming you can write really cool essays talking about your incredible leadership in college and how that's translated to now (as one idea). We always recommend a mix of "reach schools" (where your scores are below the median and/or there's some other significant challenge with your app for those schools) and "target" schools (where you feel like your profile is generally in range or at the upper end of their range - scores, work experience, leadership experience etc).
- Sounds like you had great undergrad leadership / teamwork experience (which is nice); but hopefully you're still out there doing extracurricular things? Community leadership, sports, etc are all fair game here. It's really compelling if you have a great post-college extracurricular leadership story because that's shows a "habit of leadership".
- Re: your job question, that's hard for me to say. BD in a PE fund isn't going to be transaction / deal work, right? Just make sure that it's a step up in terms of responsibility / ability to take on increasingly more responsibility and leadership (even if informal). You want to show that you went from more tactical jobs to more strategy-oriented / problem-solving roles with leadership opportunity.

Hope that helps! You can request an initial consultation on our site if you want to talk in more detail: https://vantagepointmba.com/free-consultation/

    • 4
Feb 8, 2019

Thank you for doing this!

Undergrad:

low GPA (over 3.0 though) non target big state school - Engineering & Economics (double majored, two degrees) - I have quite a few Fs though due to a poor year - many plausible mitigating factors I won't bother sharing on this forum.

GMAT

Haven't taken it. However, did well on my SATs (97% percentile) without really studying back in the day so not too worried. I'm good at standardized tests.

Work Experience

Rotational internship at a major hotel chain (Hilton/Marriott)

Failed start-up (did win some awards)

Internship at a boutique consulting firm

About a year working as strategy analyst at a lower F500 in a T4 city.

The original plan was to work here at my F500 for 1/2 years, get a promotion or lateral if I don't get one, to a role one strata above my current role. Then I moved here and started actively looking for other roles because I hated the town & drank the prestige kool-aid.

However, since then I've had the chance to really get involved in multiple high-profile initiatives with the company, rub shoulders with senior management, and after a vacancy opened, I recently got nominated to join the company's family founders' charitable trust board as the youngest (by far) director.
It's an investment fund with a non-profit, social aim and is a major PR machine for our company. Mayor sits on it, a senator sits on it & multiple other business leaders. This has solidified my decision to stay at the company for a bit longer as it feels like they are grooming me for future leadership.

Extracurriculars

College varsity athlete (1 year) -- a couple scholarships and prizes -- president of multiple societies on campus -- leader of my F500 young professional association -- started a mentorship program for at-risk kids in my college town -- f500 charitable trust board director -- also a visible minority, if that makes a difference

What type of business schools would you say I have a chance at? I don't know what to aim for since my GPA is so low & my work experience isn't as prestigious as something like IB or consulting.

Most Helpful
Feb 12, 2019

Hi! So, I responded to this a few days ago and now I see that it never actually posted (at least on my view). So if this is a repeat, please ignore (or use both!) Either way, here are my thoughts:
- GPA is typically easy to mitigate and make a non-issue - explain the situation (directly, no fluff), take a class and do well to provide evidence of your academic ability (HBXCore is the best, but you can also sign-up for quant-oriented courses through any online university etc). If you haven't taken accounting, take that. Just make sure you get a grade.
- Very cool experience re: the board director role. Do you get an opportunity to take on leadership roles with this? That's key. Can you tell stories about proactively doing something awesome as part of this group?
- Same with our job - the type of company can matter, but what matters far more is what YOU have done there. "Habit of leadership" is important to demonstrate, whether that's for an extracurricular or in your job. You need really strong examples to show that you take initiative, step-up and lead. That's what makes work experience meaningful to an admissions director (and there are so many IB and Consulting folks applying that it's actually an opportunity for you to stand out since you aren't coming from those industries).
- I think if you can pull off a fantastic GMAT score (720+ is your target), then the top 10 can be in your range depending on the details behind your story. We always recommend applying to a few "reach schools", where your scores / experience / profile are at or below the average / typical for that school's students; and a few "target schools", where your profile is at or above. That's a really simple framework for something that isn't simple, but it's a starting point for you to start your school research and figure out which schools in those ranges may best fit what you're looking for. Schools that appear to be a good fit for you will also be schools where your chances are higher because adcoms are screening heavily for "fit" and people who can truly benefit from their program's offerings.

Hope that helps!

    • 5
Feb 8, 2019

That was awesome, thank you Vantage!

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Feb 8, 2019

Thank you for helping out.
I'm an Australian undergrad from a top Australian University in my final year looking to do an MBA hopefully in 4-5 years time.

Post-MBA goals and my Target Schools

I aim to become an Investment Banker in the US post MBA

My target schools are: Stern, Johnson, Darden, Fuqua and Anderson

Undergrad:

My Weighted Average Mark is 68/100 (Credit). It's not impressive. That might translate to a 3-3.2 GPA. Australia does not practice grade inflation so people usually are scaled down hence a lower GPA. The main reason for my slightly low grades is that I'm from a low socioeconomic background and had to take care of my ill family members during undergrad. It was a really tough experience, hence I never really had the chance to enjoy uni life.

GMAT

I'm actually studying for the GMAT now in my final year. Lets assume I get 730-750.

Work Experience

Lets assume I worked 3-4 years in Big 4 Audit

Extracurriculars

I'm currently developing an app for the uni which helps students learn to budget and invest. I will be pitching this at the Uni's Service Improvement Conference soon.

Other Facts about me:

Will probably be a Chartered Accountant (CA) or Have completed CFA level 2 or 3 by then.

As previously mentioned, I'm from a low socioeconomic background. I practically grew up in Australia's Compton, California equivalent and raised in a low income, single parent household. In fact, the area I grew up in was so badly filled with gangs and drugs, the government made a documentary about it. Hence, I did not have many good opportunities growing up. I wonder if business schools take this into consideration when considering candidates especially internationals.

Questions

Also, I heard not that many Australians apply for US business schools hence it is less competitive. Also, the visa process for Australians is much easier since we have the E-3 visa and do not go through the H1-B lottery. What are your thoughts?

What are my chances for the schools I have listed?

What else could I do to help improve my profile?

Thank you

    • 1
Feb 12, 2019

Hi there,

So you are starting WAY early, and I love it! Since so much of your application to MBA programs depends on your work experience / leadership post-university, it's hard for me to give you personalized advice right now. At the moment, the world is your oyster and based on what you do over the next few years (don't wait more than 4 years max if you can help it), the schools you noted (and more) could be well within your range. Here are some thoughts for you:
- On a very limited basis we start coaching applicants in their senior year of university, and the most common thing I see is a need to start thinking strategically about your career and the opportunities you'll have to stand out later on. Being good at your job and getting good reviews is NOT enough (especially if you go into accounting). You need to be able to show that you led, even if it was from an informal leadership position. Often people are able to talk about a problem they solved for their companies or clients, an area of expertise that they developed and brought to their companies, or something that they did to help their colleagues work better (mentoring etc). When you see an opportunity to step-up and lead / take ownership, do it. And let your managers know (starting about 6 months in) that you want opportunities like this to grow and develop.
- the other big thing is extracurriculars. It's nice if they align with your passion and/or future goals.
- aspiring to be an i-banker isn't as popular as it used to be. Make sure over the next few years that you develop a really concrete story for "why" this makes sense and why you'd be good at it (and enjoy it). I feel like adcoms are skeptical of this goal sometimes, so I have people get pretty specific about what they want to do, what that looks like, and why.
- it is probably more competitive for Australians (same with Canadians). There are lots of reasons why this could be the case, but you should assume that your hurdles for entry will be at least the average for the school and maybe even tougher.

Regarding your personal story, this can be a way to show the school who you really are as a person and what drives you. By self-reflecting and being able to thoughtfully explain what impact your experience growing up had on your life and decisions, you could certainly make a strong case to the adcom that you're someone who has been through challenges that have made you a stronger person and leader. My challenge to you is to consider how your experience growing up has influenced you - the way you approach problems, the way you interact with others, your goals etc. Make that something that you check-in on over the next few years and by the time you are ready to write your essays, you'll likely have a strong sense for how to describe yourself in a much more meaningful and deep way (which will serve you well!)

Best of luck in your new career!

    • 3
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Vantage Point MBA's clients are accepted to the top MBA programs at a 3x higher rate than the average acceptance rates. Request a consultation with their team to learn how they can help you gain admission to your dream schools. Learn more.

Feb 8, 2019

Thanks in advance! I'm an Asian American male, 23 yo, married, planning to start MBA in 2022

Undergrad Education: non-target large state school with 3.65 total GPA, 3.9 major GPA; Passed the CFA Level I

College extracurriculars: student investment fund; president of a fraternity; led a nonprofit operation for the university that was successful

Internships: (chronological order) Finance intern at a software company doing data mining; interned at a BB doing reporting to support a merger integration process; intern at a VC firm working on investment prospect due diligence

Work experience: started out working 1 year in a FLDP program at an MM rotating through a product strategy group and then helped report the firm's earnings releases; leveraged experience from a small startup i founded to join a similar vertical startup - currently 1 year in at this series-D tech startup in a finance & strategy role. My work involves many interesting experiences: business partnering, FP&A, fundraising, M&A, investor relations, leading internal strategic projects

Community Involvement: co-founding junior board member of a local nonprofit; lead of the diversity group at work

Hobbies: breakdancing; ran a couple marathons; running the previously-mentioned startup i founded and donate proceeds (~$300/yr) to poor kids in Asia

GMAT: 750

Target programs: Stanford, Columbia, Harvard -- am I aiming too high? What are my chances? Anything I can improve on my profile?

    • 3
Feb 12, 2019

Hi! So you have 2+ years of work experience now? You may want to consider applying this year or next depending upon how much leadership experience you've had. My clients with 2-3 years of work experience did awesome this year - all of them got into at least one of HBS, Stanford or Wharton (round 1). Most of them were with larger companies (consulting, big tech, banking), but the common thread is that they a) had really concrete goals / visions for the work they want to do in the future and b) had really concrete leadership experiences to point to. If you have that, then you may want to consider round 1 of this year or potentially the following.

Honestly I think your profile looks pretty rockstar - the only thing I don't have great clarity on is your personal story / who you are as a person (which matters a lot for the schools you noted) and how much progression you've seen in your career (eg. have you moved up in terms of responsibility etc). Doing short terms at these companies could be viewed negatively, but I doubt it this day in age, especially if you have a good story that aligns with this entrepreneurship / start-up theme. Seems to me like there are the workings for a really cool story.

Again, my biggest advice to you is to consider applying way earlier! My hunch is that you are or are very close to the wheelhouse for these schools (esp HBS and GSB).

Kindly,
Meredith

    • 2
Feb 12, 2019

I'm a White American male - would probably look to start with about 4-5 years experience

Undergrad Education: top 10 public business school with a 3.7/4 GPA

Work experience: only post grad position has been working at an unknown, regional boutique for a few years and have been promoted - expect to be promoted multiple times in the future

Community Involvement: coach sports for local youth

GMAT: 750

Target programs: Lower half of M7 - then, Duke, UVA, etc.

Curious if you could assess my chances at these schools. Also, curious how this work experience is viewed (great deal flow, comp, and work - just not known nationally). Especially, if I do not change positions until business school.

Feb 12, 2019

Hi! I would not wait 4-5 years if you're aiming for the top programs. 4 = max unless there's some major reason why you are waiting.

It's not a big deal if your firm isn't nationally known as long as you have had killer experience there (one must be present to offset the other). Often people working for boutiques get more leadership experience than their peers at larger firms. Normally you have more opportunities to work closer to clients / partners / MDs and even drive initiatives with general firm things (training, recruiting strategy etc). Is that the case? If so, then given your GPA, GMAT (and I'm assuming an awesome story about what you want to do in the future and what type of leader you are), I think you should consider the top 10+ (I don't think you necessarily need to focus on the lower end of the M7). In the past I've had folks from regional / boutique firms tell really cool stories about lean teams they worked on where they ended-up serving in a VP type role, developing new ways of analyzing situations, creating new training programs, etc etc. The key is showing leadership because that could set you apart from other bankers if you have it.

Remember, these schools are looking for future, transformative leaders. People who have good grades, good comp, good deal sheets are interesting, but that doesn't mean they are "leaders" (and frankly those things alone typically aren't successful on a top MBA app). It doesn't matter how many brands are on your resume if you can't make the case that you are the type of person who could seriously be the next [insert amazing CEO here]. Think about your experience in that vein and you'll probably be able to answer your own question.

My hunch is that you're a very compelling candidate at the schools you mentioned!

    • 3
Feb 12, 2019

Thank you! This is exciting news...

Feb 12, 2019

Hi Meredith & Melody, appreciate the insight and welcome!

Background:

  • White male, about as blase as they come from a diversity background.

Undergrad:

  • 3.0 GPA from a non-target but top 40 USNWR private university with a degree in finance. No special story here for the low GPA other than that I was an athlete and dedicated a large amount of time to my sport. Pretty decent community involvement and extracurriculars while at school.

GMAT:

  • Baselines are currently tracking a 720, though I feel I could grind out a 740/750 if I really apply the time and drill into quant a bit more (call it a 50Q/46V). Would you think there would be a few more noteworthy doors that could be opened with a transition from a 720 to a 740?

Work Experience:

  • My work experience is certainly unique and I understand that it could be perceived as disjointed, but I believe I have a really compelling story as to my choices and transitions:
  • 1.5yrs working at a top tier PWM group (GS/MS/ML) as an advisor working independently. No title progression as that isn't necessarily feasible within a 5 year time horizon. Decent AUM progression FWIW.
  • I'm looking outward a bit now, but at the time of matriculation, I'll have about 3 years of experience working in the FP&A group of an MBB, I'll leave it at that for the sake of anonymity. Decently speedy career progression with an early promote to senior analyst about 18 months in.

Other/extracurriculars:

  • Currently playing my collegiate sport at the semi-professional level. FWIW, this particular sport is a networking machine and has availed me access to some people that I likely would not have had access to otherwise.
  • I'll be sitting for the CFA L1 June '19 with the intention of having my charter at the time of applications.
  • I've founded and currently run the board for an underprivileged youth outreach organization that provides mentorship through a combination of academics and athletics by leveraging a community of ex-collegiate athletes.

Post-MBA Goals:

  • I'd like to transition to a generalist consulting role, ideally at the MBB where I currently work, but my particular group has a kind of strange conception of this transition so I'm not sure that would be feasible.

Target Programs:

  • This is where I'm currently kind of stumped; I'm really not sure what some realistic target programs are. I've always loved Dartmouth, so Tuck would be a dream for me, but I recognize this would be a reach given my UG GPA and non-traditional work experience. Outside of Tuck I think I would also be very happy with Kellogg, as I have a pretty extensive network in Chicago and I love the city, but also recognize this would be a reach. Are there any other schools within the T15 that I should be looking at given my background and goals?

Thanks again for your insight!

Feb 12, 2019

Hi there! So first of all, never describe yourself as blase again :) You have a rockstar profile with your sports, extracurriculars and what I'm assuming are some good leadership stories from work. Seriously. GPA is the easiest thing to mitigate. If you can crank up your GMAT score, that will help even more.

However, in the past, I feel like people who work for MBB, even if not a consultant, get lumped into that ultra intense category and sometimes that's not a good thing if in fact you aren't a consultant. So, I think you need a really strong story demonstrating the leadership opportunities you've had, why you made the switch, etc. And for your goals, saying "MBB" literally gets the eye roll from adcoms these days (their words - not mine). So think long and hard about how you're going to make that case. You'll need to make clear that it's the perfect career for you, that you have a really interesting vision for your career and what you can do / what you're passionate about etc. In a nutshell, what I'm saying is that for you I think it's really going to come down to your essays.

Take a class to mitigate the GPA and point out your CFA (pass L1) and high GMAT score yet. Then take the time to write incredible essays! Seriously - plan on 40 hours+ per application.

And with that said, I think the very top schools could be in your reach category (Tuck for sure and they like athletes), and same for Kellogg. But as always, hedge your bets and have a good mix of reach and wheelhouse schools. Hope that helps?

If you want to talk through in more detail, we offer a free initial consult: www.vantagepointmba.com.

Best of luck!

    • 3
Feb 12, 2019

Thanks so much for your thoughtful response, I really appreciate it.

Feb 22, 2019

Thank you for doing this! Hope I'm not late to this post.

I'm an African American male. Interested in doing my MBA in 4ish years. Looking for top 10(ish?) program. Due to unknown undergrad, looking to develop a strong network and "pedigree" during MBA to continue finance career.

Undergrad Education: Community college (3.8/4.0 GPA) -> very non-target private university with a 3.8/4.0 GPA. Finance major with accounting minor.

Work Experience:
1. Started freelance company during undergrad with total rev ~ 40k (yes, very small - company was dissolved after undergrad)
2. Winter internship with a regional financial advising firm.
3. Private equity summer internship.
4. Top MM investment banking analyst (starting full-time this summer)

Extracurricular: Co-president of Investment club on campus (senior year). During tenure, club started student managed investment fund with endowment money ($500k to be invested year after tenure). Also in a leadership position (CFO) of the art club on campus.

I like to believe I have a strong (overcoming adversity-type story) that could be told well. How would this be assessed? Would are the focus areas going forward / which programs would be realistic/stretch?

Thank you!

Feb 12, 2019

Hi there,

So apologies for the late response! I didn't see your question here! Here are some thought:
- First of all, I'm sure you know about this but you should definitely look into Consortium. They have awesome resources and a great, great network! Same with MLT.
- Sounds like you have great history of leadership experience with your undergrad extracurriculars and start-up. In general, though, your post-grad work experience is what will "count". So, if you haven't started full time yet, then you have a few years before you'll be in the wheelhouse of applying to the top MBA programs (if I'm interpreting correctly).
- For your story of overcoming adversity, that will wrap into your overall story (we call it a personal brand) and the focus should be on you and how those experiences shaped who you are today and what characteristics you have developed that will make you a great leader tomorrow. The key is to explain your story, connect it to the "why" behind other decisions you've made since then (or who you are today) etc. That takes some finesse in writing your essays, but if you give yourself enough time, you'll be able to do that really well.
- As for schools, if you can do well on the GMAT, do well in your career, be involved in the community and write killer essays, then the sky is possibly the limit for you! Your goal right now to make your apps better is to focus on leadership opportunities - at work, outside of work, etc. Get as many as you can because that can make or break your app!

Hope that helps! Best of luck!

    • 3
Feb 12, 2019

Hi guys! For those of you starting your MBA journey (and those already in it) we created a quick comparison of the top MBA programs for you. This may be helpful as you get started: https://vantagepointmba.com/2019/03/15/comparison-...

Feb 12, 2019

I know this one is going to hit home....how many of you feel like you don't have time to actually build up community engagement and leadership for your MBA applications? I know you all want to be involved but between turning comments all night and modeling all day, it's not super easy. So, we got creative and came up with some ideas for you (you're welcome) :) See our blog below for an overview.

https://vantagepointmba.com/2019/04/09/how-to-have...

Apr 24, 2019

Hey guys, Melody from Vantage will be hosting an AMA tonight on the WSO Instagram page (https://www.instagram.com/wallstreetoasis/), you can send in questions now if you'd like

May 13, 2019

Thanks for sharing the details of your situation. Unfortunately, we don't advise on Masters in Finance programs as our expertise is in MBA program admission only. I'm sorry we can't provide more insight! We wish you all the best.

May 23, 2019

Thanks so much Meredith & Melody!!

Background:

Asian American Male hoping to start MBA in 2020 and applying R1

Undergrad:

3.2 GPA - Double major of Economics and Mathematics w/ Business Minor at Semi-Target school (Think UMich, Berkeley, NYU, UCLA, Northwestern)

GMAT:

Took it a few weeks ago and scored ~ 700 hoping to retake in a few weeks and aim for 750+ as many retakes as needed

Work Experience:

Consultant at a T2 Firm (Deloitte, Accenture, IBM) for ~ 1.5 years working across Analytics / M&A / Process Improvement knowing I wanted to exit into tech.

Joined a rapidly growing startup immediately after its series B as Analyst & promoted twice to Senior Analyst and now Lead/Manager shortly after the startup closed it's series C funding round. Work experience has spanned across a mix of strategy / dashboarding and analytics / investor relations / systems integration to help processes improve more efficiently. Currently report directly to a C-Suite.

Other/extracurriculars:

Fitness, VP & Cofounder of an academic club in college helping students in quantitative majors become competitive applicants for job opportunities in business, Exec Board of a chapter of an international organization, college club sport member

Post-MBA Goals:

Ideally come back to Silicon Valley and come back into tech with my newly gained skills or join the consulting arm of a PE firm to improve portfolio companies

Target Programs:

Want to do ED to Columbia and apply across the M7 + Haas & Tuck. Will my GPA hurt me a lot and should I reevaluate my targets? Anything I can do to offset that number? Thanks again!!

Feb 12, 2019
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Feb 12, 2019