A lot of applicants are going significantly wrong in school
shortlisting practices. I am getting emails from people who have
both Wharton and University of Arizona on their list, and I know if
you have such a wide range, then you are very likely wasting time
with one side of the spectrum. In an ideal scenario, a Wharton
reject will not join University of Arizona( or Vice versa). If you get
a Wharton reject, you will either have a Columbia/Kellogg/Booth
or a League below this(Duke/Tuck/Darden etc. ).
Writing this note to give you an understanding of how do schools
see you and looking a the factors these schools consider while
categorizing your candidature as HOT or Dead.
If you are looking at the Ivy League MBA programs, you will be hot
for these programs if your GMAT Score if 750+, your past
experience is with one of the the target group of companies that
recruit from your prospective schools( Top tier consulting firms,
Bulge bracket investment banks, Top Private equity firms, or
companies such as Facebook, Google, Microsoft )for 4 to 5 years,
and you have an undergrad from a top 3 to 4 college of your
country( IIT's/St. Stephens) with a GPA north of 3.6. You have been
regular at a team based sports activity such as Football, Cricket,
Basketball etc. and have represented your college/City etc.
Moreover, You are very active in the alumni association of your
college and have done decent charity work.
If you do not make it to any school in this list, you are going
terribly wrong in your story- either you do not know why you want
to do an MBA in the short term, and your long term goals are not
convincing enough, or you have average recommendations. Look
at the second half of this article to assess where you could have
In the second category, you have everything from the list above,
but you did not go to IIT's or the top tier colleges of the country.
You do not have to lose heart, and you can still work on story
execution to maximize your chances. Your chances are lesser than
the first category above, but you are not ruled out.
Third category is of people who do not have target companies or
Top tier undergrads, and do not have a 750+ GMAT Score. In this
scenario, if your GMAT Score is below 640, then you do not have a
strong chance at top 50 and a retake is strongly recommended.
However, if you have a score between 660 to 730, you should apply
to a broad range of schools in the Top 50 category. If you are
exploring ISB, or IIM's, you need to have strong reasons to
convince them of the "ONE YEAR MBA" story.
What can you as an applicant do to have strong execution in your
stories? After you have categorized yourself on the basis of the
factors above, you should take the following measures to help the
schools understand your story.
A. Short term and Long Term aspirations: You have to
project a great understanding of the short term and long
term goals. Give them detailed understanding of the industry
and functions you will be a part of immediately after MBA.
The research will be so comprehensive that you should even
know the positions that his target recruiters hired for.
B. Expressing "Why this program?" : You will have very
strong reasons for joining that particular program. You
should have conducted a great amount of research by
talking to the existing students, and the alumni body. Simply
researching on the website will not allow you to tell them
"Why you want to join TUCK or Columbia?" He will have
created a list of questions that you plan to ask the alumni
body. It is not about conducting personal interviews. It is
about knowing how that school will help you in your future.
C. Make a class Visit: I will also encourage you to make a class
visit. Go to the websites of your target schools and identify
the class visit schedules. Research on these schools, and ask
effective questions. Interview should not be the first time
they should see you. Meet them way ahead of the cycle. Ask
smart questions and take good notes. When you are building
the "Why this school?" essay, reflect on the experiences you
D. GMAT Score: You need to have a GMAT Score between 720
and 770. With a 720, an IVY League admit is not impossible
but gets really tough. While GMAT is only one of the factors
that they take into consideration, you still have to satiate the
DEMOGRAPHIC needs of the school. i.e. If you are an INDIAN
IT Male applicant, you need to give them something more
than the peer group. If you are an applicant from a social
services background, and aspire to do something in the same
area, they might consider you with a low GMAT Score as
well. You need to be aware of the sensitivities of the school
when it comes to picking up the right demographic mix.
E. Extracurricular Activities and the context: You need to
have great stories in his/her extra-curricular activities. It is
not about stating facts. They are more interested in learning
"Why you performed those activities and what you learnt out
of those? This candidate will have led many social/cultural
activities, and will showcase a pattern that will add value to
the school's alumni body in the future as well.
F. Nature of the organization: You should have also worked
with one of the feeder companies. There are many
companies that are on the top of the recruiting charts. While
you do not have to necessarily belong to these companies, it
still helps if you have worked in companies such as Google,
Microsoft, McKinsey, Morgan Stanley, KKR, PWC, Facebook(
and many more). Having been nurtured in the leadership of
these companies, you become a good target for the top
G. Expression on the essays: This candidate will have a very
candid expression on the essays. Remember: They are not
driven by heavy-weight vocabulary on your essays. It is more
about story telling and expressing your life. It is more about
"Why did you do whatever you did?". It is about "What
matters most to you?". You will also have very effective letter
I know that it is not easy to qualify all the parameters described
above. However, I wanted to be unrestrained in my expression
as you have many months to work in this direction.
PythaGURUS Consulting: What are my chances?
Figure out where you wish to apply