Valuable MBA Application Insight from Current MBA's at HBS / GSB/ Wharton

ibhopeful532's picture
Rank: King Kong | banana points 1,030

All -

Some of you might be knee-deep in the MBA application process (currently Round 2), and others might be considering applying next year. I was in your shoes about a year ago and know how convoluted the process can be - it's about as "black box" as it gets.

Before I get any further - a bit about myself. I'm currently a first-year student (RC) at HBS. I've been a WSO reader and poster for over 10+ years now, and the community single-handedly got me through investment banking recruiting as an undergrad, and private equity recruiting pre-MBA.

A couple of HBS / GSB / Wharton friends and I wanted to help give back to the WSO community, and help those thinking about applying or currently applying the chance to talk to current students at these top-tier MBA programs that have recently navigated the admissions process.

All of us are currently enrolled at one of these programs - and depending on your preference and which school you are applying to, we will match you to a current student that has a very similar profile to yours. Topics we can touch on includes, but certainly are not limited to:

** What kind of "story" or narrative worked at each of the schools?
** GMAT high enough?
** How do I differentiate myself against 100,XXX candidates that look exactly like me?
** How does post-MBA recruiting work at top-schools?
** What type of students are each school looking for - really? (hint - what's posted on the website often does not match up to the candidates -actually- admitted)
** What are the weak-spots on your application?
** What kind of questions are -currently- being asked during interviews at each of these schools?
** Rejected? (don't worry - a number of us were the first time around) - how to prepare for re-applying
** Waitlisted? (a few of us were as well) How do you get off? (the answer is NOT - do nothing, despite whatever the schools say)
** Ask us ANY question you can think of - no need to be coy or polite

Post questions below - happy to answer. If interested in a conversation with a current student, send me a PM. Good luck!

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Comments (57)

Feb 21, 2018

Hey all - thanks for doing this. I'd like to get thoughts on two things: 1. Leadership/ECs 2. Investment/Asset management recruiting at top mutual funds/long-only firms.

Leadership/ECs

  • What leadership/EC roles did you guys hold? How did you find it?
  • I know it's hard to quantify but how important do you think it was in the overall application process for you and your peers?

In 1-2yrs I will be targeting M7 schools, specifically Columbia. I'm above their GPA/GMAT averages (3.75/760), however I am an Asian (non-international) male in finance. I currently do volunteer teaching but have been advised to look for either junior board/leadership volunteer roles. Do you think it's worth it given my profile? Any advice on where to find such opportunities?

IM Recruitment

  • I understand this is one of the toughest industries to break into, even with a top MBA. I'd appreciate anything you have to share about recruitment/application process. What candidates usually end up securing these positions?
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Feb 25, 2018

Thanks for doing this! Are there any students in your class that were traders pre-MBA? I'm working as a derivatives trader at a quant firm in Chicago and am wondering if that'll be an obstacle when I apply.

Also, I took the GRE and scored a 334 - 170/170 quant (97%) and 164/170 verbal (94%). Do you think I should take the GMAT if I think I can score similarly (would have to redo the preparation) or is the GRE enough?

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Feb 25, 2018

Also interested

Feb 25, 2018

You should be honest with your goals. They certainly may change while you're in business school, but you should be upfront and concise about what they are now. Admissions Committees can see through any goals that don't make sense with your background or what the program does.

Feb 25, 2018

do any of the admissions consultants on this forum have any insight? Would love any additional perspective if at all possible

Feb 25, 2018

As someone who got into 2 out of 3 top MBA programs H/S/W, I'd say that goals need to be reasonable within an extent but sufficiently ambicious that you would need an MBA (and THAT MBA from the school your targetting) to make it work.

I wouldn't think PE-> MBA -> HF is too crazy but you need to 1) make sure the HF you're targetting is at par with the PE you worked at before, 2) Be sure to explain how the school will help you in that purpose - and what makes it different from other schools, 3) You're already changing industries -sort of- so try not to change too much about other things like location or industry expertise since you need to make them comfortable that you are employable and your goals are realistic

Feb 25, 2018

ambitious

Feb 25, 2018

Amazing points, and so true.

I do admissions consulting on the side and I did that Summer Venture in Management Program at Harvard Business School last summer. The program coordinators are admission directors to HBS, so I got pretty good exposure to them. They said point blank that people overrate the GMAT because it's the only objective way for people to measure themselves, when admission officers themselves only use it to reject people, not accept them.

Admissions are also relative to the types of applicants as well. Finance people compete against each other; non-profit people compete against each other.

Admittingly, HBS is known to care less about the GMAT than say...Wharton or NYU. However, the thoughts on this thread are true for every college.

You need to craft your story.

You need to craft your story.

You need to craft your story.

If you come in with the similar IB>PE>MBA>PE story or IB>MBA>PE>Microfinance story, you're a commodity. But if you really define your story, then you can show your uniqueness.

And in order to define your story, you have to do what you're intrinsically passionate about and pursue it. It makes your essays easier because...well, hey...you're not bullshitting anymore. You're doing real talk.

And if IB>MBA>PE is your actual intrinsic passion, you won't have a hard time conveying it in your essays. Just let it rip.

You're not a commodity. You're the gem that admission officers want. Treat your application and yourself that way. Demonstrate it.

When the OP said "fit" another way to think of it is "differentiation."

Feb 25, 2018
Xepa:

Amazing points, and so true.

I do admissions consulting on the side and I did that Summer Venture in Management Program at Harvard Business School last summer. The program coordinators are admission directors to HBS, so I got pretty good exposure to them. They said point blank that people overrate the GMAT because it's the only objective way for people to measure themselves, when admission officers themselves only use it to reject people, not accept them.

Admissions are also relative to the types of applicants as well. Finance people compete against each other; non-profit people compete against each other.

Admittingly, HBS is known to care less about the GMAT than say...Wharton or NYU. However, the thoughts on this thread are true for every college.

You need to craft your story.

You need to craft your story.

You need to craft your story.

If you come in with the similar IB>PE>MBA>PE story or IB>MBA>PE>Microfinance story, you're a commodity. But if you really define your story, then you can show your uniqueness.

And in order to define your story, you have to do what you're intrinsically passionate about and pursue it. It makes your essays easier because...well, hey...you're not bullshitting anymore. You're doing real talk.

And if IB>MBA>PE is your actual intrinsic passion, you won't have a hard time conveying it in your essays. Just let it rip.

You're not a commodity. You're the gem that admission officers want. Treat your application and yourself that way. Demonstrate it.

When the OP said "fit" another way to think of it is "differentiation."

This is very much true. HBS cares less about the gmat than programs like wharton/sloan/booth/columbia.

I've made this point before; you're indeed competing against people within your demographic and industry background. So for finance, how do you distinguish yourself? I think at the M7, you MUST have either a brand name company on your resume and/or did something outside of finance that makes you stand out and something you're genuinely passionate about. Adcom officers are MASTERS at detecting bullshit on your essays. They read thousands of essays every year, and they are good at figuring out whose story is genuine. My general rule of thumb is this: do NOT enage in an activity that you otherwise would not have done if you weren't applying to b-schools. It will be a waste of your time, and if you write about it in the essays, the lack of passion will clearly show.

Feb 25, 2018

@Xepa, I did SVMP summer 2010. You going to the reunion this weekend?

Feb 25, 2018

Thanks phantombanker, looking forward to your follow up.

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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.

Nov 4, 2018

Any advice for the Wharton Team Based Discussion interview?

Nov 6, 2018

The Wharton TBD is not about you; it's about your team. More importantly, it's about your team's success and your contribution to that success.

It's not about strutting your stuff or dominating the conversation. It's also not about being a wallflower or going with the flow.

You need to listen carefully and contribute constructively. The team's success is paramount.

Most traditional interviews are the opposite. They focus on you, and you are supposed to engage in a dialogue that highlights your individual contributions and fit with the interviewing MBA program.

The TBD is a whole new ballgame.

Linda Abraham
President, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting

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Nov 6, 2018

@mayzin - Here are some tips from Chelsea, one of the MBA admissions counselors here at Stratus. She did a TBD and now runs our mock TBDs.

How to Succeed in Wharton's Team Based Discussion
Six Insider Tips for Wharton's Team Based Discussion

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