Admission Questions? Ask Our Expert

I had been in the admissions business for three years at Carnegie Mellon University when I moved to Cambridge to take on an assistant director role at the Harvard Business School. From the open houses and information sessions to the countless phone calls that barraged our offices every day, one thing was clear: MBA candidates were stressed out about their applications. It’s safe to say that with rejection numbers in the 80-to-90 percent range at the best schools, applicants recognize that they are up against significant odds to get an acceptance letter from a top program.

I took away one important lesson from my ten years in admissions: The successful candidates are highly memorable. It wasn’t until I left Harvard and launched my consultancy firm, EXPARTUS, that it dawned on me that the successful applicants to business school had figured out what many consumer goods companies know too well: the importance of selling a value proposition to a customer. I authored The Best Business School Admissions Secrets, and now counsel MBA applicants to help them find the right value proposition to get into their dream schools. Some of my advice can be found here at Poets&Quants, including Understanding the MBA Admissions Cycle and GMATs and GPAs: What You Need to Know About the Raw Numbers.

In any case, I’ve agreed to help anxious applicants with difficult questions at Poets&Quants. No question is out of bounds. Worried about your undergraduate record? Concerned about your GMAT score? Not entirely certain where you should apply to get your MBA? Unsure of how to answer the essay questions? Wondering who you should ask to write your letters of recommendation?

Fire away. I’ll do my best to answer your queries.

About the Author...

Chioma Isiadinso

Chioma Isiadinso is the author of “The Best Business School Admissions Secrets” and the founding CEO of EXPARTUS, a global admissions consulting company. She has more than twelveen years of admissions experience and is a former admissions board member at Harvard Business School and former director of admissions at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Public Policy and Management.

  • Mr. former under-achiever

    Hi Chioma,

    I’ll get straight to the point, i graduated from a Nigerian University with really, and i mean really low grades (Second class lower averaging about 55% over a four year course period), and it’s been a thorn in my flesh ever since, talk about stuff you cant take back :).

    The reason?, i was young, and pretty much dumb. I have however tried to balance this off by getting professional certifications and right now I’m 26, a chartered accountant in Nigeria, CISA (Certified Information Systems Auditor) and I’m in the final stages of my ACCA. Oddly this hasn’t closed the gap because potential employers, who have interviewed me based on referrals from professional colleagues in the big four, whom I have had the privilege of working with on joint audits, are turned off by my CGPA despite with my qualifications and work experience.
    Now I’m trying to get my MBA done at Memorial University of Newfoundland and its seems that the thorn is gonna pierce yet again, this is because they have a minimum B+ GPA requirement which i clearly do not meet.
    i was wondering if you had any pointers, that could help increase my odds, for several reasons MUN is a school i would love to be a part of.

    Your assistance would be very much appreciated.


  • ComradeKHAN

    With this profile 100% Bain or BCG.

    Good luck.

    AQ Khan
    Lahore, Pakistan

  • MasalaDossa

    Greetings Ms. Idilidossai,

    I graduated from Sambar school of management, Indonesia and pursued consulting at Saravana Bhavan international. I specialized in supply chain mgmt of various products including chutneys, behlpuris and paavbhajjis. I’m currently working on expanding new product lines in thair sadam and oorga. Do you feel applicants from non-traditional backgrounds such as Indonesians can compete in MBA, USA?



  • adarsh kumar singh

    odisajee me 5607 rank me koi achchha collage milega

  • adarsh kumar singh

    mera odisa jee me 5607 rank hai kon sa collage milega

  • More Piet than Quant on GMAT

    Hi Chioma,

    I have a question with my GMAT score. I aim for HBS and Kellogg for their marketing program’s. I am satisfied with the rest of my profile, work experience at Disney’s business strat group in California as well as strat for Shanghai Disney JV. Both positions required a large amount of financial modelling. I am now working in luxury retail sector with a marketing strat position in London (US citizen) and have also set up another new project in China lately for the fashion co. also have several years of leadership positions in micro finance non profit orgs and 3.5 GPA from Top 3 undergrad business program. However my GMAT is 710, with 99% in verbal and only 76% in quant. Will scoring below 80%ile in quant significantly impact the rest of my profile? I don’t think I can improve the quant score significantly, so then is it worth the trouble of taking the GRE?

  • shafin

    Hi Chioma,

    I am an Indian applicant having undergraduate degree in engineering (GPA 3.5+).
    My GMAT score is 660 (first attempt 590). I will have 40 months of work
    experience plying my trade in an Indian IT consulting firm by July, 2013. I am
    aware that I belong to an over represented group and therefore not trying for
    the top 20 programs in U.S.A.

    I need the MBA to switch from IT consulting to management consulting. I have
    received many awards and have been promoted twice in my current firm. I have
    been wait-listed by Boston University (R2) and awaiting decision from Boston
    College, Washington University in St.Louis and University of Connecticut. I
    would really appreciate if you could comment on my fit and on factors I need
    work on to improve my candidature.