I applied to Anderson for a 2016 entry (along with a number of law schools as I was seeking a joint JD/MBA for my career in entertainment), but did not get admitted to Anderson. A feedback phone call with admissions after the decision informed me that they struggled making a decision because they liked so much about me as a candidate (even holding my app over to the end of Round 3, even though I applied in Round 2). I had spent time at Campus events and had great interactions with the Admissions team and current students, and was told many times (including during the feedback call), that my goals and personality were in alignment with their program. But they ultimately decided to pass on me due to two issues: my gmat score, although within their accepted range, was on the low end of the range for quant; and, that all of my extensive extracurriculars and community outreach work had ended after I finished my undergrad degree ten years earlier. They said everything else was in line with what they were seeking. I had made it incredibly clear throughout the admissions process that I was fully committed to getting my MBA at Anderson, and so the feedback discussion was very much a "here's what we need you to improve for next time".
I was a mathematics honors student and quite active in mathematics extracurriculars competitions throughout high school and college, so I know my quant score was more reflective of my being rusty on material I hadn't looked at in 10 years, than it was about me not being able to understand or use the skills. I was subsequently accepted to a number of law schools, and so it was an easy decision to start my JD first and come back to Anderson again after that. I chose the Law School I felt was the right fit for me and within weeks of my Anderson rejection, had begun as a law student in an accelerated advanced program created for ambitious students that compacts 3 year of law school into only 2 years. The program literally only gives its students 2 weeks off a year and has us doing a volume of work that most lawyers who graduated from traditional 3 year programs tell us they can't imagine taking on.
I have excelled in law school: top 15-20% of my class (exact rankings have not been announced yet, but I know I'm right on the border between top 15% and top 20%). In addition to a solid law school GPA, I've achieved the following in law school as well: secured placement in highly competitive invite-only honors classes, have been made a Dean's Fellow, received multiple academic accolades, am very active in and hold Board positions in several campus organizations while also participating in school sponsored volunteer legal community outreach (thus hopefully resolving that particular ding from my last Anderson app). In addition, I have secured a new recommendation letter that I believe will hold more weight than my previous LOR's, and have done an extensive amount of research about what aspects of my original essays could have been improved and feel that my new essay is much more in line with what is needed to stand out. I also come at this with a much more defined career goal plan than I had prior to law school. It's not that I've changed direction, but that I now have a much more concrete understanding through my law school education of what the combination of the JD and the Anderson MBA will do for me, and how I plan to leverage both in the immediate years after graduation, which, by extension, more clearly defines my path towards my long term career goals.
So, after all that background, on to my questions: I'm determined to go directly from law school to my MBA program as I am co-owner of a company that needs me back in full swing with all that I will have learned from both programs. I'm also the co-founder of an up and coming charitable foundation that also needs me back with my JD and MBA. So I know how vital it is to knock the GMAT out of the park and not let that be a reason for Anderson to say no a second time. I'm feeling confident about my upcoming GMAT (which I will take just prior to the app Round 1 deadline), but with the intensive 2 year law school curriculum coupled with my extracurricular org resonsibilities (which, of course, was the other key component to future Anderson admission) I can't say that I have had an abundance of time since my Anderson rejection to work on my quant skills in the way that I would have liked to assure that my original 650 would end up somewhere above 720 or higher. I am now coming at my next GMAT as an honors law student who has developed the test taking skills of a grad student used to the pressures of timed testing (as opposed to last time when I hadn't take a test of any kind in ten years), but I know that if there's anything that you hear consistently, that a high GMAT score requires time and preparation; something my time intensive current curriculum will not have the luxury of allowing until I begin my law school externship in Spring of 2018 (too late, obviously to take the GMAT for Round 1 or Round 2), so I need to submit with whatever score I get after this month.
So my question is this: if I don't improve my GMAT score and remain in the lower end of their acceptance spectrum, how much weight will my being an Honors law school student who is currently proving how I excel when in an intensive and rigorous competitive academic grad program (who will also hold a JD when entering my MBA program) hold in terms of the Admissions team? I'm trying to assess ahead of the fact, what plusses I have going for me if that new GMAT score is not what I'm hoping; and if there is anything I can/should convey to the Admissions Team about the reasons for not being able to raise my GMAT score while in a time intensive law school program like I am in (because if I don't raise it, it will not be because I lacked in ability, just lacked time). In everything I've read, it seems fairly clear that Admissions Teams frown on Applicants who fall back on excuses to explain not performing at your best - especially if it leads to a conclusion that the applicant doesn't possess sufficient time management or organizational skills to get their work done. In my case where law school class ranking is based on an unforgiving curve, it would be hugely irresponsible as a law student to cut anything out of my schedule and risk not being prepared for classes or for my upcoming finals (which start a week after the Anderson Round 1 app is due). My program is built specifically to get 3 years of law school into 2 year (including electives, externships and extracurriculars), and so not having the wiggle room to devote more time to GMAT study is not a time management, organizational or motivation/commitment issue. I'm sleeping less and delegating within my org's as much as possible to gain GMAT prep time, but I honestly don't know what that will translate to in terms of my final score. Is there any chance the Anderson Admissions Team would take any of what I've stated above into consideration if I don't improve my score from last time? And if so, is there an effective way for me to convey the realities of my current curriculum without sounding like I'm whining about being so busy? I don't want to build any of that into my re-app essay, as I don't think it will do anything except raise the "excuse maker" red flag. Even the Dean of my law school program has said that this 2 year JD is not built with any flexibility for students to take on anything outside of school, which is why they are so selective about who gets into the program. But obviously I won't have the luxury of my current program's Dean calling the Dean of Admissions at Anderson to share the time constraints of our program or to give assurances that, GMAT aside, that I've proven myself to be the kind of dedicated high achieving student who has excelled in a very challenging law school program and would excel in the equally challenging curriculum at Anderson. (Although I know my current program's Dean would probably consider it, if such a call between Deans was actually done!), but obviously that's not going to happen.
My apologies for the length of this, but as I stated, time is scarce, and any time I would have spent editing this down to a more manageable length needs to be spent studying for the GMAT and editing my essay. I also wanted to be detailed about my overall situation because my husband has spent countless hours searching the Internet to find any information that relates to the specifics of my situation, scouring through blog articles written by admissions experts and posts from other MBA applicants, but he has found very little about the weight of already having one graduate degree (especially one as challenging and intensive as the 2 year JD that I'm getting) under your belt when applying for a top MBA program like UCLA Anderson. So it would be incredibly helpful to hear how MBA Admissions Teams view success in other academically challenging grad programs (which I have to believe is almost more telling about what kind of grad student a candidate might be than what their undergrad performance indicates - especially when there's some years between the two, as in my case).
Thank you SO much for your help and feedback! Anderson is not just my top MBA choice, it's the only school that offers the scope of what I need for my career to match what I've gotten in my JD program. Not that it should matter, but since I've seen the question raised in other boards, for reference, I am a Caucasian male LGBT student.
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Reapp question from Honors JD 2018 Grad for Anderson Admit
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