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Need an assessment

This topic has 1 expert reply and 0 member replies
GNPFAF Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
04 Apr 2009
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Need an assessment

Post Sat Apr 04, 2009 4:05 am

Last edited by GNPFAF on Mon Apr 06, 2009 1:01 am; edited 1 time in total

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Graham MBA Admissions Consultant
18 Sep 2008
270 messages
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Post Sun Apr 05, 2009 11:30 pm

Thanks for your post!

First of all, I'm sorry to hear that you did not receive good news from your target schools this season. While it's been a highly competitive year to apply to business school, it's never easy to get bad news - especially after making the interview cut for Wharton and HBS.

The good news is that reapplications are widely accepted at all of the top business schools, so I think it's great that you've already begun dusting yourself off and looking for ways to enhance your profile as you head into the next admissions cycle.

I must admit that the basic data points you have provided (GMAT, TOEFL undergraduate performance, amount of work experience, personal background as a Portuguese national) all lead me to believe that you have the core attributes for a competitive candidacy at the leading programs. This makes your results somewhat puzzling - but also helps narrow things down as to what may have gone wrong. In short, my sense is that the reason you were rejected could be any combination of the following:

1) Application Essays
Without reading your files, it is really hard to offer any specific advice on how the essays could have been better, but your results tell me that something must have sent the wrong message here. Were you clear in terms of your career plans? Were those plans realistic? Did you have a solid balance of content that ranged from work experience to outside interests or community/ugrad leadership? Were any of your essay-topics 'red flags'? Again, I know that this may be hard for you to assess - but without your sending me the essays to review, I can only offer basic speculation as to what may have happened.

2) Lack of XCs
It's possible that your lack of formal activities could have been viewed as a shortcoming. This may have been compounded if you didn't have much to say about your campus involvement as an undergraduate (to signal that although you have limited XCs now, you are typically very involved once placed in a university setting). Keep in mind that the top MBA programs want to admit students who are broad-based, well-rounded individuals. It's not enough to get good grades, ace the GMAT and have an interesting job. You need to showcase the fact that you have work-life balance and enjoy hobbies or community service as well (so that they know you will be a major contributor to life in the MBA community).

3) Recommendations
Is there a reason that you picked two external/client recommenders and only one direct supervisor? Did you get to see the letters that were ultimately submitted? How confident are you in the ability of the two CFOs (and even your supervisor) to have executed this task? While it's once again very hard for me to say how this part of the process may have gone (without seeing the letters), it's certainly something you should consider going forward. Also, I'd like to know if you've been with the same firm for four years, or if you've moved around. If you have stayed put, then why did you only have one recommender from your current employer? If you have moved around a lot and changed employers, that in of itself may have hurt your admissions chances. You may want to read this as you plan your recommendation strategy for next season: http://clearadmit.com/ss_reco.

4) Interview Skills (for HBS and Wharton)
How did the two interviews turn out? Where were they conducted? With admissions staff or alumni? Were your responses in the interview 100% consistent with the messages/themes you presented in the written application? In HBS's non-blind interview, what areas did they seem to be probing on in particular?

As I've indicated above, it seems to me that you have the makings of a strong candidacy for business school. While I'd need to know more about your work experience, hobbies and career goals, I honestly think that this years results likely have more to do with execution (essays, interviews, data forms, recommendations) than with the raw materials you bring to the table. As such, your key next step is going to be to figure out exactly what went wrong with the application materials. Feel free to contact Clear Admit directly at info@clearadmit.com if you'd like to have one of our admissions counselors produce an in-depth feedback report on your applications.

Best of luck,


Graham Richmond
Clear Admit, LLC
215 568 2590

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