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Profile Eval - Candidate from Middle East, 710 GMAT

This topic has 1 expert reply and 3 member replies
tonytony Junior | Next Rank: 30 Posts Default Avatar
Joined
27 Sep 2008
Posted:
14 messages
GMAT Score:
710

Profile Eval - Candidate from Middle East, 710 GMAT

Post Sat Sep 27, 2008 2:18 am
Hi, and thanks for all the insightful posts on this site! I am hoping you might be able to evaluate my candidacy for Harvard, Stanford, MIT, Wharton, Yale, and answer a crucial question regarding my GMAT score breakdown.

-24, Lebanese (US Citizen)/3.9 GPA from top American university in the Middle East, BA in Int'l Relations, minors in Economics and Philosophy
-Full Scholarship from university granted to top 10 of 1700 entering Freshmen and Sophomore students
-710 GMAT (45Q, 42V); GRE: 760 Quant, 600 Verbal
-By matriculation, 2 years at one of McK/BCG/Bain/Booz working in over 6 countries in the Middle East
-Academic assistantship at Harvard Law School, media internship at Voice of America
-Active Extracurriculars: President of Politics Club, Assistant Editor of university newspaper, freelance journalist, grassroots political organizer
-Current non-work involvements: active blogger, active involvement in regional NGO
-Fluent in Arabic/French/English

From conversations with peers and MBA students, I understand that my profile is non-conventional, and I have a solid, clear explanation for why I want to pursue an MBA, which will translate in the essays.


Given this information, could you kindly answer the following:


1) Do I stand a chance at any of the schools of my choice?
2) If Yes, then in which school or schools do you think I stand a stronger chance, and what points should I emphasize?
3) Should I take my GMAT again to raise my Quant, especially since I do not have a quant-intensive educational background? I am hoping that my strong quant GRE and strong quant experience at work will make up for this.

Many, many thanks!

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tonytony Junior | Next Rank: 30 Posts Default Avatar
Joined
27 Sep 2008
Posted:
14 messages
GMAT Score:
710
Post Mon Sep 29, 2008 6:39 am
Anyone out there? Laughing Graham?

GMAT/MBA Expert

Graham MBA Admissions Consultant
Joined
18 Sep 2008
Posted:
270 messages
Followed by:
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Thanked:
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Test Date:
August 1998
Target GMAT Score:
700
GMAT Score:
750
Post Mon Sep 29, 2008 11:52 pm
Dear TonyTony,

Thanks for your post. I have a few thoughts:

UGRAD
Your ugrad experience looks solid - it's hard to do much better than a 3.9. In terms of the subjects you studied, both IR and Econ are fairly run of the mill in the applicant pool. Philosophy is a bit more unique, as you'd imagine. Without knowing where you went to school, it's hard to offer an opinion - since American universities abroad can range in quality. The scholarship is a nice plus to have on your resume.

GMAT
Your GMAT of 710 looks fine. Nothing stellar, but nothing that will sink your ship either. I'm curious to know your percentiles, since I am wondering if the math section is below the 80th percentile. If so, that could be a bit of a liability. GRE isn't terribly important here (as only 1-2 schools I know of will look at this).

PERSONAL BCKGRND
Your personal background - dual citizen of Lebanon and the US is unique - as is your living/working in the Middle East (relatively fewer applicants from this region).

WORK
Your work experience looks solid - of course, McKinsey may carry a bit more weight with some of your schools than Booz, but I know that Booz has a strong reputation in the Middle East. As you likely know, you are going to be considered as 'early career' by the adcoms, since you will only have one year of experience when you go to write your essays/collect recommendations. Also, keep in mind that working as a consultant for one of the top strategy firms isn't necessarily going to distinguish you in the applicant pool. My hope is that the regional focus on the Middle East works to your favor in this regard, but even in that case Clear Admit sees a handful of talented consultants from this market each year, so there will be some competition.

XCS
It's great to see that you have been active - and that there is a theme (politics/journalism) to the bulk of your involvement. Language skills are a plus. Two quick points: the Harvard Law post feels out of place and makes me wonder why you aren't applying to law school (perhaps you are looking at joint programs?). You'll need to be careful about how you present the political work you have done - since politics, like religion or money, can be a dicey topic to cover in your essays. It can be done, but it needs to be done with a focus on what you've accomplished/led rather than on the views you hold.

As to your questions:

1) You should certainly stand a chance at all of the schools on your list. Of course, I'd need to know your career goals to truly assess. Early career applicants often do poorly on their career goals/vision, so this will be important.

2) As to which schools will offer the greatest odds, you are in a bit of a catch-22 here. While Yale, Wharton and MIT might generally offer better admissions odds than Stanford and HBS, the first group actually emphasize work experience a bit more then HBS/Stanford. At the same time, while Stanford and HBS really like 'early career' types, they set the bar incredibly high when it comes to academics and leadership experience for this group. While you did well in school, you have to remember that you will be competing with Ivy League grads with equally strong GPAs and 750+ on the GMAT. Many of these applicants will have a lot of leadership experience to share - which can be hard for entry-level strategy consultants to compete with. None of this is to say that you shouldn't apply - but I want you to understand the odds/challenges.

3) I'd need you GMAT quant. percentile, but my assumption from your comments is that you are below the 80th percentile, which can be a bit of a red flag. The adcom will look carefully at your transcripts for quant coursework. Ideally they will see calculus, stats. and econ coursework - all with A's and B+'s. They will not count work experience when assessing your ability to handle the quantitatively rigorous academic program. They usually will not look at a GRE - or in some cases (like Stanford) typically take one OR the other, in which case your verbal will look weak. BTW, all of this begs the question as to why you took the GRE? Are you looking at policy or journalism schools too? Keep in mind that when the adcom sees both tests, they will likely ask this question. As to whether or not you should retake, this is a rather complex issue - and I'd need more information to really help you in that regard.

On a final note, I think there are some aspects of your profile (regional focus, ethnicity, stellar grades) that do make you unique - as your peers pointed out. At the same time, there are many aspects that are actually quite common in the applicant pool (IR/Econ studies, strategy consulting, average GMAT with low quant, etc).

Best of luck,

Graham

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Graham Richmond
Clear Admit, LLC
info@clearadmit.com
215 568 2590

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tonytony Junior | Next Rank: 30 Posts Default Avatar
Joined
27 Sep 2008
Posted:
14 messages
GMAT Score:
710
Post Tue Sep 30, 2008 12:51 am
Dear Graham,

Many thanks for your response! I really value the feedback you gave me. Just a few points to answer your questions:

UGRAD
I graduated from the American University of Beirut, and the focus of my IR degree was Middle Eastern studies. I am hoping to leverage the fact that not only did I study politics of the Middle East, but lived it during one of the most tumultuous periods in Lebanese history: 2005-ongoing. As a journalist/non-partisan activist, I have interviewed Arab Members of Parliament, Foreign Ministers, one of Saddam Hussein's defense lawyers, etc., so I'm hoping this will be interesting to the adcom.

GMAT
My 710 GMAT really isn't stellar, especially given competition this year - Q45 (75%), V42 (95%). This concerns me because I don't have a quant. educational background, and it may be easy for the adcom to write me off as qual-dumb Sad I know for a fact that I can do better on the GMAT quant section if I study for another month and take it again, but I am debating whether this is necessary to do given the time and resources this will take to raise my score a measly 10-20 points. What do you think?

N.B. An impressive 4 people from my own office were admitted to HBS for 2009, 3 of whom had scores ranging from 680-700. They all have quant-heavy engineering backgrounds though, so any lag in their Q score won't be taken too badly by the adcom, I'd imagine.

XCS
My stint at Harvard Law was as part of a research project on government censorship of the internet. My leadership roles and political involvement was purely non-partisan, but rather in civic youth involvement, government transparency initiatives, etc. kind of work.

(1) My career goals lie within the scope of business and government, mixed with a strong desire to create change and impact in the Middle East. Given that many governments and economies in the Arab Gulf are run like corporations, I am hoping to make the case that I am genuinely passionate about the meeting of these two disciplines, and the strong demand for someone with these skills in the Middle East region further encourages these career goals.

(3) GMAT Q45(75%) V42(95%); I took the GRE (2 years ago) because I am interested in a joint degree with IR schools like Kennedy and SAIS, the latter to which I have already gained admission to before, but will need to reapply to. What do you say, should I take the GMAT again?

Again, I really appreciate your help Graham!

tonytony Junior | Next Rank: 30 Posts Default Avatar
Joined
27 Sep 2008
Posted:
14 messages
GMAT Score:
710
Post Wed Oct 01, 2008 2:40 am
Graham, was hoping you might be able to give me a few quick pointers given new info. provided. Sorry to hassle you...

Thanks again!!!

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