I got into Durham Business School in the UK.
Not many Americans have heard of Durham, but it's on the Financial Times 100 Best Business Schools, along with being a world top 100 university. I'm extremely happy to have gotten in. I also got a small scholarship - which to me means a lot because I'm American and I hear about all of the tuition problems the UK is having.
W/E: straight from high school to full-time computer programmer. Eventually, I was developing/analyzing programs for Department of Defense in Arlington. IT crash, and, after 10 years of programming, I was laid off.
Got job through temp agency at accounting firm, with typical admin stuff. Started University of VA at night. Moved up to Staff Accountant, and earned exactly 3.50 gpa from UVA. Took the GMAT 3 times: 540, 510, and 550. Very disappointing, especially the third time, after I had logged MANY hours of study, and was scoring 630 on MGMAT.
Had an interview at Columbia and Babson (yes, even with those GMAT scores), and a phone interview at Durham.
What really clinched the Durham acceptance (I think) was that I did a one-month consulting session with the CFA Institute for my accounting job. I know programming, and I had been accounting for 2 years when I was called in to help with a small problem. Durham has some sort of connection with CFA, and that was a focus question during my interview.
Some advice I would give myself if I were to go through this again:
Write the essays, leave them for a few days and then come back to them. Do this a few times. Don't just write something quickly to get them done. Really take your time; and be yourself! I talked about backpacking through Europe, not the typical "I want to run GE and blahblahblah..."
Pay for a professional to help with the resume, or spend a lot of time streamlining and listing your best accomplishments. My resume took me days to do. But it looks amazing! The time was worth it.
Really do your research. I had several excel charts diagramming the top schools, tuitions, gmat scores, etc. I also prefer learning through research, not groups. Durham is a research-led university, which fits me perfectly. Don't just pick a school because of its name (though I am guilty of trying for that myself). Just make sure that the total package suits you, and that you're doing it for yourself and not for the elite image.