Admission Questions? Ask Our Expert

by Chioma Isiadinso on

Chioma Isiadinso

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.

  • Stephen Lee

    Hi, I am interested in applying to business school this cycle and am wondering if it is okay to have two recommendations from the same organization I worked for if the school requires 3 letters. After completing a bioengineering masters degree, I worked in global health consulting for two years and am now doing a year abroad in Rwanda working for a healthcare management NGO. Thus, I only have two work experiences from which to get my recs. Is it okay to get two strong letters from the consulting firm? Thank you!

  • http://crystalcyan.com Crystal C. Yan

    I’m 18 years old and about to be a freshman at Amherst College. Thinking about business school applications is still a few years down the road for me, but I was wondering if you could clarify how the process differs from undergraduate college admissions?

  • http://joshseo.net Joshua Seo

    Crystal, being 18, you shouldn’t worry about the MBA. Most MBAs (if not all) require/recommend at least 5 years of work experience before going for the degree. You’re probably looking at when you’re 26 or 27 (and many students actually are 30+). Concentrate on what you want to do after you get your undergraduate degree. The MBA isn’t for everyone nor does it guarantee pay raises. It’s a big time investment and isn’t for everyone. Enjoy your undergraduate years at Amherst.

  • Alex Wilhelm

    Hi Chioma,

    Thanks for offering your opinions and advice. I am a Naval Officer with 19 years of operational leadership experience. I’m planning my transition to the civilian sector upon reaching 20 years next spring. I’m seeking a full time MBA to provide a focused, vibrant, and practical transition education. Which programs do you feel would offer the best environment for an older student, with extensive leadership and management experience, but limited civilian business experience? I’ll be 42 at the desired time of entry into an MBA program. Any thoughts are welcome. Thanks again.

    Alex “Kaiser” Wilhelm

  • Munna

    After attending a Wharton info session, the admissions committee member stated that I should get two letters of recommendations from supervisors in a professional capacity. I can utilize a former supervisor for one recommendation and I am loath to ask my current supervisor for the second letter of recommendation as it could jeopardize my chances for a promotion. I told the Wharton AdCom this and she said to get it from a colleague if necessary and explain it in the optional section. However, I felt uncomfortable with asking a colleague instead due to the same promotion as well as job security reasons. Is it ok to ask a director of a nonprofit with which I am a board member and have done significant work for the second letter of recommendation instead? Although she is not my professional supervisor, I have worked with her for a year personally and been with the nonprofit for three years.

    My other options are not that great: a peer that I worked with in an investment bank or a former peer/classmate and current MBA student who referred me to my current job.

  • RJ

    I’m an entrepreneur who started a business while in college. I graduated with three-year liberal arts degree and a 2.86 grade point average. I sold my sold business for $18 million, even after getting screwed by taking vulture capital. I scored 740 on the GMAT and now want an MBA so I can be on buy-side as a venture capitalist or in a private equity shop. Do I have a shot with a bad GPA? If yes, which school would you suggest fits the bill, given my situation.

    *Loving the green-tea sweater, you look like mocha mint ice cream*

  • Chioma-Isiadinso

    Hi Munna,

    MBA boards understand the risk involved in alerting one’s supervisor to the fact that you are applying to business school. So as long as you explain your situation in the online application, you should be fine. Include in your explanation that you are not in a position to ask anyone within your group to avoid any backlash on your career. You are lucky that you have an alternative option, the nonprofit director and this could serve as a viable option. You should also consider a client that you have worked with in the past at your job. All the best with the application

  • Chioma-Isiadinso

    Hi Alex,

    Congratulations on an extensive Naval career. The MBA offers a great transition and preparation for individuals seeking to move into the civilian sector. From my experience, I have noticed that those making this transition via a full time MBA program usually pursue it at about 28-33 years of age. Keeping in mind that the average age for top US business schools is about 27/28 years, you have to assess whether a part-time MBA program (which has more seasoned professionals) may be a better option. Also, worth considering is the career that you wish to get into post business school. Check out the MBA Podcaster topic: From the Military to an MBA: Focusing on Getting In & Why to Pursue an MBA
    http://www.mbapodcaster.com/MBA_MoreInfo/Military-MBA-GI.asp?iEpisode=92 for more perspective on this.

  • Chioma-Isiadinso

    Hi Crystal,

    Thanks for your question. I agree with Joshua that the MBA isn’t for everyone. You are 18, just started college, so yes, absolutely enjoy your college experience and live in the moment. But having said that, I would be remiss not to acknowledge that for many of the top business schools, there isn’t a set number of years of work experience. Some candidates come with two to three years experience, though the average tends to be closer to 5 years of experience. What you need to focus on is more about exploring what you love, your passion. Use summer internships, projects during the school, even independent study to really explore your interests. Seek out opportunities that will help you build your leadership and challenge you. These end up making for good essays but more than that, they build your character along the way.

    All the best!

  • Alex Wilhelm

    Chioma,

    Thank you for the information and the link. You highlighted one of my main concerns, the timing of my transition. I think the full time MBA offers the best opportunity to take some time to reflect and reinvent to some degree. I have peers that have managed to complete part time MBAs and it often seems like their time is too compressed with work and study. I’ve had plenty of overload experiences in my time with the Navy, so I think I’d prefer to have that full time program to minimize distractions.

    The post MBA career choice is really a tough question. That is really central to my interest in pursuing an MBA. I have some indication of business areas that I could pursue immediately, but I’m ready to invest a year or two discovering just what options I might have, given some well defined business skills. I’ve enjoyed career assignments that were outside of my comfort zone, so this notion of finding new challenges and building a new network is very exciting.

    This is a hard decision – but thank you very much for your thoughts. Great information in the podcast!

    Alex

  • aks

    Hi Chioma

    I am confused about my recommendations for Wharton and other top schools that ask for two letters only. I am getting one from my direct supervisor for the past 3 years. For the second one, I have a choice between – 1) an ex manager who hired me and oversaw my 8-9 month training period and then moved on to a much higher position.
    2) a client representative who i reported to for 2 high profile projects last year.
    Your thoughts?
    Thanks for your time.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/saisandeeppulavarthy/ Sai Sandeep

    I’m planning to apply for MBA study next year, entering in the fall of 2011.

    I have at present three-plus yrs of work experience and a GMAT score of 760. My academics aggregate around 75% and EC’s are decent. I’m expecting to major in marketing. I am unable to decide on what colleges to apply. I am keen on getting a scholarship and knowing about employment opportunities. I presently work in Business Development in Vizzitech Solutions in Hyderabad, India

    I’m planning to make a list with two safe schools, two medium, and two risky. But I wonder if this is the right approach?

    Can you suggest some colleges given my profile and interests in marketing? I am planning to apply to three colleges on the top list, looking at Yale, Kellogg, Michigan, NYU, UT-Austin, and Chicago-Booth. Can I consider these as risky or medium?

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/adiyellamraju/ ADITYA YELLAMRAJU

    How do business schools evaluate work experience?

    To sum up my work experience, I worked as a Business Development Associate for an entrepreneur who is an Exercise Therapist and Sports Science Specialist. That was for a period of 8 months. Later, I worked for a Consultancy that did rural development projects for the state and central government in India, as a project coordinator. Few of my responsibilities included marketing the organization, planning the projects, working with teams of people and overlooking the projects being done. This was for a period of 1 year. Later, I moved to my current job which is in a software firm, as a Marketing Executive, where I have been working from the last 6 months.

    Now, my question is:

    How do business Schools evaluate work experience? Most of the schools ask in their admissions page that they would like to see growth. It has been a little more than 2 years since I started work. Designation wise, I don’t think one would believe there is too much growth, but I have done a lot of quality work across different industries. How do you think the business schools would deal with that?

  • Rimpy

    Hi Chioma,

    I’m planning to apply to a full-time MBA program.
    I have a total seven years of experience in the software industry (India). My current designation is ‘Lead’ and I am managing a team of 12 engineers.
    I have 10 months of international experience (in London).
    I have a GMAT score of 750 (Q-49, V-44).
    I have decent (nothing extraordinary) academic record and extracurriculars.
    Although I have almost finalized the European schools where I want to apply, I am not able to decide on the U.S. schools.
    I want to apply to 4 U.S. schools, (two in round one and the rest in round two).
    My post MBA goals are to enter consulting or (back-up) technology (business development sales) sectors.
    Can you suggest some U.S. b-schools that would seem suited for my background?
    I am thinking of applying to Tepper, Kellogg, and McCombs. What are my chances there? I mean…are they safe, ambitious or reach schools?
    Thanks for your help!

    Regards,
    Rimpy

  • Chioma-Isiadinso

    Hi RJ,

    First of all, congratulations on your incredible success! Ok, with regards to the GPA issue, admissions boards evaluate your academic ability based not only on your GPA but also on what your major was, the school you attended and the GMAT score as well. Having a GMAT of 740 helps but it doesn’t mean you are out of the woods for very selective schools. What you need to do is demonstrate to the admissions board that you have grown/matured since your college experience (building a successful business certainly gives you some points there). But you want to make sure that the rest of your application does not reveal any flags that may call into question your maturity or ability to “stick it through”. You should also own the low GPA but then move on. As far as schools you should consider, I can’t tell you one particular school would be more receptive versus another. Rather, focus on all the great things you have going with your story and cast a wide net. Given your interest in VC/PE, obviously some of the popular schools come to mind (Harvard, Stanford, Wharton and Columbia). But this isn’t an exhaustive list. There are many schools that will give you a great education and prepare you to continue your success beyond the MBA. All the best to you.

  • Chioma-Isiadinso

    Hi AKS,

    You are in the enviable position that you have several people you can call on to support you as recommenders. The question you have to answer to determine the ideal person for the second recommendation is what he/she would say about you that the other person won’t be able to cover and vice versa. You should also look at the recommendation questions to get familiar with exactly the type of information the school is looking to your recommender to provide. Based on this, you have to determine whether the ex manager or client has the most meaningful examples that can reinforce the key messages you want the admissions board to know about you. Without being privy to the nuances of each of interactions/relationships with the two recommenders, my instinct is that the client recommendation could offer a different perspective than the ex manager’s recommendation (especially since you have a current supervisor who has a longer relationship with you).

  • Chioma-Isiadinso

    Hi Aditya,

    You are right. Business schools look at work experience in terms of your growth. But it goes beyond that. They look at your decision process in choosing the jobs you have taken….they want to know that there is a strong sense of professional maturity guiding your decisions and not haphazard and flighty stints. So the first thing you will need to do as an applicant is help the admissions board understand your career decisions. Then you will need to make sure that you convey the new skills you have developed across each positions and the greater level of responsibility that you have been given. It’s also important to note that a short tenure in a job is worth addressing since it could be viewed as a red flag.

  • MGDB

    Dear Chioma,

    Thank you for offering your words of wisdom. I am currently working at an NGO in Washington, DC and am looking into joint degrees in international relations and management. The MA-MBA programs I’ve researched thus far are Wharton-Lauder, SAIS-Wharton and Tuft’s relatively new MIB program. While I see the value of the MBA in my workplace and in fields I’d like to pursue, I do not want to distance myself from the context of my field in foreign affairs and development.

    What advice would you have for those of us seeking to bridge these two worlds? In your honest opinion, are joint degree programs a practical choice, or are there ways to design an integrated IR-MBA curriculum in one program?

    Cheers,

    Monica

  • Jamiese

    I’m trying to apply to a top MBA Program for the fall 2011 school year. I’m concerned that my work experience isn’t comparable to others. I’ve worked as a TV reporter for little over a year, and now I’m teaching college English. I want to go to business school because I want to pursue the business side of media. Eventually, I want my own media group. All the jobs I’ve applied to are looking for a candidate with a MBA. I know an MBA degree is a step in the right direction careerwise. Should I be concerned that since I’m not coming from the traditional background as most MBA students I won’t be a worthy candidate for a top MBA program? Should I be concerned that I only have 2 years of work experience and the experience is in two different industries? I know admission representatives look at each candidate on a case-by-case basis, but I can’t help but be concerned, especially after looking at some school’s admissions profiles.

  • InQuestMBA

    Hello Chioma,

    Thank you for sharing your experience with aspiring MBAs.
    I am 29 year old and I have been working for 2 years as an Internal Auditor in the Cosmetics/ Perfumery industry, after a 3-year experience in a Big 4 (auditor). Until now, I mainly worked on process reengineering and a subsidiary implementation (Russia).
    I intend to move to Business development/ International business with a focus on emerging markets (BRIC and Africa). I initially thought of applying to a 2-year MBA but could not afford to leave the workplace for that long(assuming that I start in 1 year, I would graduate at 32). I passed the GMAT twice but barely improved my score: 590 to 640….

    I am interested in a truly global experience and I went through the one-year MBA programs websites and brochures. I found the Duke MBA Cross Continent and I am really interested : short-intense program in various locations with the opportunity to stay in the work place (8-week in class study sessions). Moreover, the b-school has a good reputation thanks to the standard 2-year program. The main drawback, apart from the cost (120K$) is the online portion that enables to keep a job: I don’t know the impact it would have on potential recruiters. I also looked at Kellog Insead and Goizueta one-year MBA, both full-time/ one year program with a much better reputation.

    Given my scores in GMAT and the fact that I am an international applicant (African female living in Europe): I would appreciate your advice about the most appropriate schools for me and strategy for me? Should I retake the test and target the 2012 intake? I ALSO know that a good tool would be know which companies heavily invest in BRIC markets and would interested in my profile. but I don’t know where to get the info.

    Thank you in advance for your advice,

    InQuestMBA

  • Rimpy

    HI Chioma,

    Any suggestions for my school suggestion?

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/frankmurcko/ Frank Murcko

    I live and work in the great city of Pittsburgh, and as I am sure you know from the time that you have spent here that the city has many great Universities to choose from. That is part of my part of my problem, how do I choose where I want to get my MBA from? Although I have never attended CMU I have had adjunct professor teach classes at the University I was attending and the impression that they left on me was very positive. They were so good that now 4 years later I can still remember most of what I learned in the class.

    Is CMU really worth the premium tuition? Are the programs at Pitt or Duquesne that much different? Saving money isn’t the most important issue for me, but tens of thousands of dollars difference is tuition is not chump change. I want the best education that I can receive, but I don’t want to just be paying for a name.

  • BlockedBrain

    Hi Chioma,
    I went to a top US public school with decent grades; have had two rather interesting job experiences in the asset management business with a few promotions in Asia and US over >5 years; have strong recommenders; and essays shouldn’t be a problem. But unfortunately I struggle with the GMAT. Highest score so far is 640 after 4 tries.
    Should I even bother applying if I want to get into a top 20 school? Do admissions staff throw out an application after a candidate tries the GMAT more than X times?
    Help!
    BlockedBrain

  • Chioma-Isiadinso

    Hi Blocked Brian,
    I don’t know all the intricacies of your situation but here’s my two cents. If after 4 tries the GMAT is still at the 640 range then you are better off focusing on what you have control over. You don’t want to spend the limited time that you have chasing a few extra points that may or may not materialize. Your best bet is to focus on what you have control over. So maybe you are not the world’s best test taker. What else do you have in your arsenal of experiences that can set you apart from your competition? Since yoru academics were decent, the make or break of your candidacy could very well be your leadership impact and unique experiences/perspective that you can bring to the class. So the short answer is for you to go for your MBA dream. Caste a wide net and if there are compelling examples of leadership impact and interpersonal/global insights, you may well land more than one admission offer. We’ve certainly seen applicants with GMATs in that range gain admission to selective business schools. Let us know how it goes!

  • Chioma-Isiadinso

    Hi Rimpy,

    Thanks for your question. My advice to you is to look at the career placement figures of the schools that you are targeting to see how they stack up with regards to placing graduates in consulting and/or technology roles. There are numerous factors that need to be taken into account in determining which business school would be the best fit for each person (region where you wish to end up, industry/career, teaching methodology, etc) so I’m not going to use this forum to promote one school or the other. Rather, I encourage you to do the homework required to begin to narrow down your school list. You mention Tepper, Kellogg, and McCombs, all fine programs. Do your home work on where their graduates are ending up, the types of firms that are recruiting them to ascertain whether it makes sense for you to apply to those programs.

    Poets and Quants has a series of MBA program comparisons which I think you will find quite useful given the detailed and specific elements of the programs that it covers.

    Best with the application process.

  • klughing

    HI Chioma,

    When should applicants move on from the GMAT to other parts of the application? Is it when GMAT is in the school’s 80% range? Assuming everything else is on par with the business school’s student profile (ex: 5 years work experience, 3.6 GPA, etc).

  • Tom

    Hi Chioma,

    I am currently a US internal medicine resident, with domestic medical education as well, that is interested in healthcare management. There are several questions that I have concerning obtaining the MBA; I am unsure whether I will undertake the part time or EMBA route so that I can maintain my clinical skill set and a salary. Outside of Wharton, what schools do you recommend for an individual with those career aspirations? Moreover, how heavily will admissions committee view terribly lackluster undergraduate performance versus excellence in graduate and medical school, with work experience. Any other advice you can provide will be appreciated.

    From,

    Tom

  • Tom

    Addendum:

    Apologies for this Chioma. What are your thoughts on EMBA versus part time MBA for someone like me?

  • cwatkins2005

    Hi Chioma,
    How much do internships weigh on the work experience area of an applicant? I am only a year out of undergrad, but I have been interning with Fortune 50 companies since high school, with strong ECs and a 710 GMAT, and currently work for Accenture. Will this enable me to keep up in the classroom?
    Also, how do schools determine their need for minority candidates? Is it just caucasian to non-caucasian applicants or is there more deliniation? Thanks

  • Chioma-Isiadinso

    Hello CWatkins,

    Schools look at applicant’s work experience with an eye on the quality of the experience and not necessarily on the number of years of experience. You could have some one who has worked at a mundane job for 6 years with little growth and responsibilities while someone may have just two years of experience and that short time may have some impressive achievements within the job. For Early Career applicants, the internships play a bigger role since they have limited work experience. It’s hard to say whether the one year at Accenture plus the internships would be enough without knowing a great amount about your experiences. You may also reach out to the admissions boards at the schools you are considering to get their view. It is quite competitive so if you do not have really impressive achievements on the work front, you may be well served to hold off a year or so to build out those experiences.

    As for how schools view diversity, it is based on a myriad of factors including work experiences, life experiences, geographical diversity, and certainly gender and ethnicity. At the end of the day, schools want as many interesting and varied perspectives reflected in their classes.

  • Chioma-Isiadinso

    Hello Klughing,

    Concerning the GMAT, remember it is only one data point out of many that the admissions board uses in making their admission selection. A safe bet is to get your score as close to the school’s average score or higher and make sure that the verbal and quant are well balanced and at least above 80%. The AWA score can matter to a school like Columbia GSB so don’t ignore this part if you are applying to this school. For the most part, a 5 is considered fine at most schools. If in doubt, check with the programs you are applying to.

  • Chioma-Isiadinso

    Hi Frank,

    You raise a question that many applicants are struggling with: name brand with higher price tag vs lesser known brand and cheaper option. This is a personal decision that only you can make. I got into U of Penn for my masters and U of Pittsburgh. I made the decision at the time based on price/scholarship offering and went to U of Pittsburgh. Did I turn out ok? I’d like to think yes. Having said that, is there exceptional value in going to schools that have strong reputation in the market place? Absolutely. Research the faculty background, talk to students on the quality of instruction/classmates. Find out where alumni from the Tepper School are headed (especially those in your industry) and then do the same comparison for the schools you are considering. There is good information on this site on salaries post business school and the MBA debt burden that you will need to take into consideration in making your decision. Ultimately, an MBA is an investment in yourself and your education and goes beyond the first or second job you land. My two cents. Hope life is great in The Burgh!

  • Chioma-Isiadinso

    Hi InQuestMBA,

    The African female auditor with European (Russia) experience sounds interesting. You are right that the 640 GMAT is low but without knowing what you have done to prepare and considering the fact that you have moved up 50 points from the first try, it may suggest that you may still have room to move up. On the other hand, the reality may be that 640 is as good as it gets. Only you know the answer to that. Given where you are age-wise, you can consider applying this year but pushing app to round two, try one more time for the GMAT and if it goes closer to 700 then apply this year. The top European schools tend to have a ton more internationals. You should start by considering where you want to end up (region, industry, etc) and then in researching schools look at where their students are ending up. Spend some time on the schools’ career website since it often contains information on the information you are looking for.

    As for online vs on site MBA programs, it depends on what you want to get out of them. My experience is that more traditional firms in consulting, banking, consumer goods may have more of a bias towards traditional MBAs (one or two year programs) over online ones. You may also want to consider a part time MBA from a well regarded program which will allow you to keep working if there is a program close to where you live.

    All the best.

  • Chioma-Isiadinso

    Hi Jamiese,

    If there isn’t something driving you to go now, you may want to stay an extra year or so and beef up your experience. Two jobs in two years may not be enough to stand out in the competitive pool, especially because the two things are a) unrelated—teaching and TV reporter, and b) a tougher sell to a business school. That’s not to say that reporters and teachers aren’t getting admitted to business schools. They are. But one would question why the English teacher job if your goal is to own your own media group. What are you doing outside of work that lends itself to your overall goal? Let’s say you have a small media company you started on the side, you spend every free moment trying to grow it, you have some projects under the belt you can point to, then you may be able to build a story around that. But if there isn’t evidence of genuine passion for the media entertainment industry besides one year as a reporter, it will be a tough sell from my vantage point. At the end of the day, MBA boards are considering what each candidate will bring to the program to enrich the rest of the cohort. This may be a situation where you hold off for a couple of years and build up the experience in or outside of work to give you compelling materials to sell your story. I hope this helps. All the best.

  • Chioma-Isiadinso

    Hi Monica,

    I happen to have worked with both an MBA and Public Policy program and see great value in both programs. My personal opinion is that I’ve seen MBAs successfully transition into doing public policy work and (assuming they took a bunch of classes and pursued such interests through internships and other steps) without doing a joint degree program. For folks who have the MPP/MPA, my general sense is that it isn’t as easy a transition to the private sector/for profit enterprises without the MBA. Take all this with a grain of salt as this is one person’s opinion and my sample size isn’t robust! If you opt to go for both programs, you will have to convince the admissions board that your career goals warrant a dual degree, and that course work alone from the program won’t be enough. Ultimately, it comes down to you and your unique circumstances. If you are sold 100% on the IR/policy track then stick with an MPP/MPA option and take a ton of business classes as electives to round out the skills you are looking for. If you envision a career that would straddle both sectors, then the joint degree may be worth it in the end. All the best!

  • Chioma-Isiadinso

    Hello Sai,

    Your strategy of hedging your business school plans is a smart one. Keep in mind that it’s not simply looking at the acceptance rates of each program but also making sure that there is a fit between what you want to do and what the school offers. If you have an interest in something that the school doesn’t offer, then your admission chances are zero because the program would likely not want to admit a candidate who won’t be able to get a job after graduation. I don’t make recommendations of schools applicants should apply to in this forum. There are schools that are well known for Marketing, you mention some of them here…Kellogg, Ross. Having said that, can someone go to Wharton and get an excellent Marketing preparation? Yes. As far as school numbers, 6 schools is more than enough. You may want to add a couple of schools that are slightly less competitive to hedge your bets.

    Best with the application.

  • InQuestMBA

    Hi Chioma,

    Thanks for the quick and concise reply. As you mentioned, I might have some room for improvement, if I give the GMAT a third try.. I will follow your advise on the part-time MBA option and make a search on the best b-schools for me. However, after leaving for some years in Europe, I was intersted in a US experience: I will look further in the part-time programs in the US that might be available.

    Thanks again,

    InQuestMBA

  • Skylar

    Hi Chioma,
    I would be considered a “poet” according to the title of this blog. I work in public relations for restaurants, with a BA in communications from the University of California at Santa Barbara. I have always worked in hospitality. My experience includes being a manager and event planning for a James Beard-winning restaurant as well as doing sales and marketing for hotels. I have four years of work experience. I hope to get an MBA so I can have a better background in terms of finance, strategy and marketing and most likely would like to continue PR and marketing for hospitality focused companies. Two questions for you: 1. I got a 500 on my first try on the GMAT and ended up getting a 600 on my next try (V41, Q32) and a six on the essay both times, I have a 3.48 GPA Do you think I should consider taking the GMAT again? During practice tests, I never got more than 650. I was thinking I may have to look into a part-time program vs. full time as a result. 2. Do you have any suggestions for a marketing program that is more creative vs. all hard numbers? I want to continue doing what I love, but it would be great to have a better business understanding of strategy. International is not out of the question and I would prefer an MBA to hospitality school. Thank you for your advice!

  • NS

    Hi Chioma,

    I am planning to apply for MBA programs beginning in 2011. I have a GMAT score of 750 and a GPA of 9.2/10. I have 6 years of work experience in the semiconductor industry with a single company. Most of my work has been related to research and development. I believe that I have grown well in my career, but since the industry and the work is very much related to technology and R&D, the growth parameters are a bit different. The progress is more like you grow from being a engineer, to a be a team lead handling independent R&D projects. You demonstrate leadership, but it’s more focused toward solving technical challenges. People who can recommend you know more as technical talent and an asset to the company.
    Given this, I am a bit concerned about my choice of schools and the way I should project myself in my applications. I do understand that I should preferably keep away from technical jargon in my resume and essays as I am applying to a business school and that I need to project more of my career progression and things which I want to do.
    I want to know if being from a too technical background for six years can be a drawback. Should I be more careful with my application and the way I project myself? I would really appreciate your feedback on this.
    I have another question on the time of application. Is there any disadvantage of applying in round two for top schools like Kellogg, or should I target round one. I feel that I may be a bit pressed if I try for the first round deadlines. Also, can you throw some light on how to spread applications over the differently ranked schools.

    Thanks,
    NS

  • April

    Hi Chioma,
    I plan to apply for an MBA this year and hope for some advice. I have spent 10 yrs at a single firm post my engg. college. I have progressed 3 grades higher during this period with sufficient professional leadership experience in the last 7 years. My problem is about how to address this perceived weakness in my profile of having not changed jobs (although I have changed projects). My reasons for not changing jobs were personal. I had lost a close family member after a period of illness and I wanted to stay close to my family, apart from the fact that I was heavily invested in my career with my current employer (expected promotions, stock options). I had explored and even received job offers but I never crossed the bridge due to the above reasons. Do you suggest I do not explain my personal reasons in essays nor in the interviews but solely highlight my achievements?
    How uncompetitive do you believe this weakness is and how do you think schools ranked 11-25 perceive this as a weakness?

    Thanks
    April

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi April,

    Thanks for your email. The admissions board will likely wonder why you have stayed at the same job, especially if there hasn’t been very compelling roles to justify doing so, at least based on the resume. So expressing somewhere in the application why you have remained in the same job may make sense. You will find that there are two opinions on this. Some people may argue that bringing it up may shine a huge flashlight on it while others may opt for my recommendation. If I saw a story like that, and without the data about family obligations influencing your decision, I may draw the conclusion that you may not be as driven to “go after” new challenges, etc. And that may make me uncomfortable recommending you for admission. You also would be well served to focus on your accomplishments and impact since this is the tangible thing that you can point to for them to use to assess your candidacy.

    Without knowing your motivation for business school, your other accomplishments outside of work, the academics/tests, what you want to do ultimately, it is tough to speak to whether you will be competitive or not.
    It’s not a bad idea to attend some of the info sessions that they schools offer to get a sense of how they would view your candidacy. And ask them about the part time and EMBA options as well since this may be a viable plan as well.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi NS,

    Applicants with technical backgrounds get admitted to business schools. You have to convince the admissions board that your training is relevant to where you want to go career-wise, that it can enrich the program to have that particular viewpoint in the class, etc. Agree with limiting the technical jargon and showing the impact you have had within your six-year experience. The make or break, as I see it, would be why does an R&D engineer want an MBA and how does that tie into your career objectives. If you can connect the dots effectively and make a strong case for this, you should be ok on that front.

    Round 2 is perfectly fine. I actually wrote a blog titled The Case for Applying Round Two on this same topic: http://mbaadmissionsecrets.com/mba-admission-blog/. Bottom line, apply when you have the strongest application and round two is fine. Not round three, though!

    5-6 schools is a good number. It’s not enough to simply look at admission rates, though that’s a good starting point. Try to get a sense of the profile of the class as that will also help you determine whether you would be a fit at that school. Ok, rankings can help in managing things from this end….some schools in top 8 (1-2 schools), some in the top 8-15 school (2 or so schools) and then possibly one school outside of that range. Again, it is a personal decision you will have to make as you investigate schools better. No hard and fast rule on this.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Skylar,

    I would give the GMAT one more go through if you think the score could improve. An MBA, even those with Marketing emphasis have hard quant elements because you would still have to take Finance/Accounting courses as part of the core curriculum. In fact, going for an MBA instead of a masters degree in Marketing would help you build out the skills you don’t have, shore up your quantitative skills, etc. So worth sticking it out for your goals. The question is what have you done to prep for the GMAT? If it is self study, then maybe it’s time to invest in a course or tutor. If you have done everything and there isn’t anything else you can do, then try focusing on everything else you have going for you and write essays that are outstanding and have recommendations that rock. And at the very least invest in taking some quantitative classes to strengthen this area. Part time programs are an option but you have to look at what you want to achieve with the MBA and also I don’t automatically assume that a lower GMAT will keep you out of the running for the full time MBA program or that part time MBA programs are always very lenient on low GMAT scores. It depends on everything else going on with your application. Don’t give up on your dreams and give that GMAT another shot! Best to you.

  • plasticplants

    Chioma,
    Thanks so much for your insight on the admissions process and the amount of time and thoughtfulness you obviously include when answering questions.

    Background:
    Private school in Texas – it has a very good reputation here, but not sure how well known it may be nationally:
    B.S. Business (concentrations in accounting and finance)
    B.A. Economics (3.65 undergrad gpa)
    M.S. Accounting (3.9 gpa)
    GMAT: 690

    Currently a CPA, and work at a Big 4 accounting firm in audit. Have progressed to the senior role and supervise audit teams, and have worked on both public and private clients in a variety of industries. Been here since I got my master’s, so I would have almost 5 years of work experience when I would start the MBA program. Involved in some extracurriculars. Post MBA want to go into corporate finance.

    My top school choices are: UT, Yale, UCLA, Rice. I’m doing round 1, and will be doing class visits at all. Could you comment on the possible likelihood of acceptances? I am also considering using the optional essay at my top school choice to basically describe how much I want to be there, all the visits to campus I’ve done, etc (basically a love essay). Is this a good strategy, or would they think it’s phony or not care how much I want to be there?

    Also, I’m thinking of getting the two letters of rec both from supervisors at my current employer. Is there a disadvantage to not getting one elsewhere?

    Thanks in advance.

  • akr

    Hi Chioma,

    I have close to 10 yrs of experience in IT (last 2 years as a manager), GMAT score – 630 (with a month’s preparation, so I am going to take it again). I have seen that most schools have an average age of 28-29 and that age is a factor in admissions. Is this really a big factor? Any advice on how to approach my essays to counter this factor?

    Thanks,akr

  • Rohit

    Hi Chioma,

    I am planning to apply to B-Schools this year. I am an engineer from India’s premier institute with a GPA of 2.95. I took the GMAT in 2007 and scored 690 (90 in Quant and 70 in Verbal) with 4.5 on the AWA. I am also a CFA Level III candidate. I have four years of experience in the IT sector (one year in New York). I quit my job to help my brother set up a manufacturing startup. I am currently handling 50 suppliers, 200 components and 150 employees. I am also learning Mandarin to help communicate with my Chinese counterpart. I intend to expand my business, and I wish to find a spot in a top 10 B-School. My question for you at this point is this: Should I concentrate on my application essays or invest time in preparing for the GMAT again?

  • Keith

    Hi Chioma,

    Wow, judging by the number of replies it looks like you may have bitten of more than you can chew!

    Here’s my deal. I’m 2 years out from B school, and I need advice. I graduated from a large state school in May of 2008. I had two months between graduation and my first day of “real” work, so I studied for and took the GMAT. I got a respectable 730. My college GPA was a less-than-respectable 3.2. The GPA could probably use some context. I was in college for 5 years. I did a one-year co-op, which accounts for the extra year. I was very involved in my fraternity for 3 of those 5 years. During those 3 years, my average GPA around 2.7. During the 2 years I was less involved, my GPA was 3.6-ish. There’s obviously some correlation here. How do I spin this? Despite the less-than-awesome GPA, I managed to land a job with one of the bluest of the blue chip tech companies as a technical consultant. I’m 25 now. I really have nothing in the way of leadership/volunteer experience. I’d like to start business school fall 0f 2012. Given that I’m 2 years out, what should I be doing to strengthen my profile/story? As I see it, there are 2 apparent gaps – my undergrad GPA and my leadership experience. What are the best ways to address those shortcomings? Should I take some night classes? Volunteer at the local soup kitchen?

    I also want to add that the schools I’m most interest in are (in order) Dartmouth, Duke, UVA, UNC. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I have no chance at the top schools…and likely no chance at Dartmouth and Duke.

    Thanks for taking the time to read/reply to all the posts here. Your services are definitely appreciated!

  • NS

    Hi Chioma,

    Thanks a lot for your valuable insight. Your feedback on this forum is a great help to prospective MBA students.

    Thanks,
    NS

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    NS,

    It is my pleasure. Our goal is to create as much transparency to the process but to also equip applicants to engage fully with the admissions boards of the schools they are interested in to become better educated about the application process.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Keith,

    Let me take a step back to clarify how applicants should assess their overall package. Business School’s are looking for several things in candidates. But if you had to really pin it down, there are three categories to look at:
    1) Academic ability/intellectual aptitude: can you do the work? Will admitting you come back to haunt them if you flunk out? GMAT is looked at and with that is a careful scrutiny of your GPA. Schools vary in academic rigor, the challenges of a Mechanical Engineering major is taken into account over an “easier” major, etc. Trends in the GPA are also considered: better to start off weaker and end stronger than vice versa. Though being in the latter category doesn’t mean you are out of the running! Key thing is to identify the gaps, “own it” and move on and show/share how you have other evidence that points to your being a strong candidate worth “investing in”, so to speak. GMAT is also an interesting one because there are people who will have a 620 GMAT or in that vicinity who will get into many top schools. Yes, it’s not a myth. It is true. Also there are people with GMATs of 780 and GPAs of 3.8 who won’t get into any of their top schools. What does this mean, then? It comes down to other factors in the evaluation process. So with your case, the 730/3.2 doesn’t tell the admissions board too much about you without weighing in other parts of your story. Which leads me to the next category of evaluation: your leadership.
    2) Leadership ability, potential is huge for all top business schools!!! Think of leadership less about formal titles and positions held but look beyond that to identify situations that have emerged where you have had an impact on a person, process, product. They are also looking for a natural tendency to lead, step up, see a need and take action. I’m amazed at how many people underestimate their leadership impact by focusing only on the formal assignments where they are the designated leader. Go beyond that and you may be surprised by what you find. Consider the 3 Cs of leadership when going through your leadership history: College, Career, and Community Service. Without knowing the details of your leadership footprint, I can’t comment on whether it’s too little to keep you out of the running for top schools. To your question of timing, use the next 12-18 months to really build out your leadership both at work and community service. But authenticity is key! You can’t just grab something, like Soup Kitchens, and start doing that. It has to be connected to what you genuinely care about and should fit in with your brand. One of my passions is helping support orphan kids. It matters a great deal to me. Why? I have a personal story where as a child it was normal for my mom to take me on Sundays after church to visit our local orphanage. As a 7 year old, it left a huge make on my life. So it is only natural that I would spend all my free time the past few weeks to help plan a fundraiser run in my park to raise money for orphans in Zambia and Vietnam. You have to choose what is in your heart, find activities that connect the two and do it with passion. That is what wins you “points” with the admissions board. Not just randomly grabbing ideas off thin air.
    3) Your uniqueness: The last category is what I call your uniqueness—your brand! We each have different experiences, personally and professionally that have shaped who we are. The admissions board cares about not just your achievements and what you have done (they have your resume for that plus 2-3 recommendations that will hopefully sing your praises) but they are interested in drilling down, understanding who you are. This is where your self awareness can set you apart from majority of your competition. Don’t just focus on what you have done but focus on telling them why and how it has shaped/changed you. Doing this is what wins you a coveted spot in your dream school. So I say all this to say, I won’t necessarily count you out of your dream schools. It comes down to how you manage all of these three factors. All the best to you.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Rohit,
    Your brother is very fortunate to have you! All the best with the business. So to study more for the GMAT or to devote the time on the essays? Tough one. Consider demographics that you are coming from, you have to consider how competitive a 690 compared to the average. if you can retake and improve on the score, then do so. The essays are also very important to devoting enough time to them makes sense. If you find that you are in a rush, you may want to move to round two to get both sorted out.
    Best with the application.

  • Jay

    Hi Chioma,

    Thank you very much for sharing your experiences and best practices with all of us on this great new site.

    I am the type of person that when I get into something I become very much absorbed by it. Such has been the case with my preparation for applying to business schools. However, before fully diving into the world of applying to b-schools this fall, I want to step back and make sure that business school is actually the right decision for me. I’d love your personal input, as well as your recommendations on the best way to make this decision in general.

    I believe I have a strong application that will allow me to compete for admission into the top 5-10 business schools.

    Much of my professional and pre-professional experience has focused on entrepreneurship. I currently run a digital media company that I founded two years ago — though I believe it is time to move on. I’m not ready to start my next startup just yet, but I don’t think my current company will be the last startup I’m involved with during my career. Alternatively, over the past several years in running my own company I have developed very important relationships in the sports industry, an industry that I would love to work in, and that is largely dictated by networking. I recently Googled the names of many of the top sports executives that were listed in a top 100 list in Bloomberg and found that virtually none have MBA’s. Some have JD’s because they are involved in representing players. So the alternative to applying to business school would be to use my connections in getting a good job in the sports industry. I suppose I could use the connections after b-school, but I think the connections may become diluted over a 2 year gap. Alternatively, I could apply for a job while waiting to hear back from business schools over the next year and then decide to defer my admission.

    Outside of entrepreneurship and the sports industry I really enjoy business development, particularly as it pertains to consumer brands. I “think” I’d ultimately love to have some type of executive position at a consumer corporation.

    So, what do you think? I graduated from Columbia with a degree in Financial Engineering, and if I didn’t go into consulting or investment banking back then, then I’m sure not going to go into those disciplines any time in the near future. I don’t want to get to business school only to find that I’m steered into the banking, VC, consulting directions, and that I didn’t really need an MBA after all in order to start my next company or to get a great job with the NFL or with P&G.

    Your wisdom is greatly appreciated :)

  • John H.

    Hi Chioma,

    Thanks for answering our questions. I am looking to apply this fall for matriculation next fall (2011). I plan to have all of my applications finalized by the end of December 2010. What are your thoughts on the competitiveness of my application based upon the Round I apply in (i.e. is applying in the 2nd round going to make it more difficult to get accepted)?

    Thanks again,
    John H.

  • Matt

    Before I attended a D-3 university in NJ and graduated cum laude with a 3.57 gpa, I attended my local county college where I earned less than average grades, particularly in quantitative courses like economics and college algebra. I am currently in a great role in the Public Relations field for a privately owned company.

    In your estimation, is it a no-brainer for me to re-take economics and perhaps take a course or two in statistics to show my true quantitative aptitude to prospective top-tier business schools?

    I suspect I will start applying in another year or two so I have a total of three years work experience. I have yet to take the GMAT and was also thinking about taking the GRE since a lot of the top-tier schools are now accepting it.

    Any advice or thoughts of yours would truly be of value to me.

  • klughing

    I have a follow up question about your response to Rohit, in which you said “Consider demographics that you are coming from, you have to consider how competitive a 690 compared to the average.”

    How do you get the average of your demographics? I know we can get the average for each country from GMAC website, but I’m assuming we need to compare to average at the top business schools and not the average of all GMAT takers.

    From all the articles that I’ve read, all I know is if you’re from India or China then you should try to be better than the posted average (because applicants from India and China tend to have higher GMAT scores).

  • M

    Hi Chioma,

    I completed my undergraduate degree at a research-intensive public institution and graduated with a 3.7 GPA in math and economics. During my sophomore year I took an experimental graduate-level business course offered by a new professor that had been opened to undergraduates. I became disenfranchised with the class by the end of the semester. The professor told us to complete our final paper over the summer and in my youthful arrogance I never completed it. Upon my graduation the incomplete turned into an ‘F’. Will this automatically prevent my admission to a top-10 program or do I still have a shot at the top tier if I can demonstrate strong work experience, a 700+ GMAT, and leadership experience?

    Your insight on this is appreciated.

  • http://na Satish

    Hi Chioma,

    I am an entrereneur and don’t have a graduate degree.
    I am planning to apply to Harvard, London Business School, Insead (these admissions committees accept applications without an undergrad degree.)

    I could not complete my studies beyond the 12th grade due to financial hardship.

    i started my business at the age of 18 and have eight years of entrepreneurial experience, with no business background nor family help.
    i started my business with zero net worth and am now doing $2.5 million in revenues annually and employing 27 people.

    My business is spread across different industry segments like telecom, IT, and agriculture.

    i was the youngest business partner in telecom when I won a deal with Bharti Airtel (the no.1 telecom company in India), and I successfully created a free food program for the poor that reaches 40-plus people a day. I’ve also helped the underprivileged improve their lives through micro credit, assisting 18 people to date.

    My GMAT score is 500 and I have good recommendations head of human resources of a leading Biritish bank and the country head of a life insurance company.

    What chances do I have at these colleges?

  • Ashutosh

    Hi Chioma,

    First of all thanks to you for starting this thread. I have read your book and your advice about personal branding and those were great. Infact, this thread excites me because I have some questions on how to postion myself before the adcom.

    My brief profile is as follows :

    Indian, 25 years
    Work-ex : 3 years at the time of admission (for a international telecom service provider. Landed a deal for the company on a request for Proposal assignment). A couple of months internatinal experience

    Undergrad : 7.35 \10 (Enginnering from a college under the IIT-JEE umbrella but not an IIT)
    GMAT : 760 (q 49, V44)

    Extra-Currics : Co-founded a non-profit while a sophomore . Currently leading this organisation which is partnering with government to help a few thousand kids and a couple dozen jail inmates gain IT literacy. The volunteer strength as of now is over 100.

    Post-MBA goal : Want to launch a management consulting firm for Tech startups, in developing economies.

    Schools : MIT, HBS, Kellogg, Yale, Fuqua, ISB
    ———————————

    I am confused on how to position myself. I have a lot of stories to tell about the non-profit aspect which can make my professional stories look like pauper.
    Do I need to balance it out or pick the best story irrespective of from where it is.

    Also, sometimes, I feel like working full time for my NGO after the MBA. I really wish to see it big but then, I believe it’ll be much more difficult to convince the adcom about this than my current goal which is to launch a management consulting firm for tech startups.
    What do you suggest ?

    Now the final question is about branding..which aspect of me should I project..the Leader (several leadership positions in college, then this non-profit and some organisational stuff in office)..Or that of an Technology Enthusiast (engineering and then high-tech product development) or The philanthropist side of me (Non Profit ).

    Please advise. This is a very long list of questions but if you can answer them , it’ll assist me greatly in my apps.

    Thanks,

    Ashutosh

  • Amit Saha

    Hi Chioma,
    This is Amit from Bangalore, India. I am 29 years old and working with one of the top three U.S. information technology companies in sales and marketing. I have three years of work experience in business development after getting my first MBA with the same IT company. Before my first MBA, I worked with an MNC bank in their loan division (sales) and also was involved with an NGO for one year.

    I want to do a second MBA from one of the U.S. B-schools in the next 2/3 years. I want to move into a venture capital or leveraged buyout firm in the short term.

    Please let me know how to prepare in the next 2/3 years in order to get into top programs. Will joining a start up in a product marketing role AND doing a CFA program in the next 2/3 years help me in this respect?

    Thanks and Regards,
    Amit

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Satish,

    Your achievements with your company is impressive. However, the combination of no college degree and a 500 GMAT is going to be extremely difficult to overcome. I never speak in absolute terms about one’s admissions chances because there are so many factors that are weighed when deciding to admit or not admit a candidate. To give yourself the best shot at these schools you should do everything in your power to increase your GMAT score. You may also want to look at other programs that may offer admission to individuals without a college degree.

    Best to you.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hello Ashutosh,

    One’s brand is made up of their values, goals, skills, and passion. The expectation is not that you are simply one thing: a leader or a technology enthusiast or whatever else. People are complicated and multi-dimensional and as such can have multiple aspects to their brand—what I call your brand themes. What I ask applicants to think of when considering their brands are things like: what are the consistent points/attributes that people who know you ascribe to you? What examples exist to back them up. Then ultimately, as the person who technically knows yourself the best, you then assess whether these things truly reflect who/what elements describe you. If it turns out that you genuinely are a natural leader with an exceptional track record of leading/creating impact who happens to have a passion for technology and how it can be used to change/shape lives and also have a socially driven value system with evidence of philanthropic involvement, these factors all make up who you are. I don’t think you have to choose one over the other unless there aren’t concrete evidence of these things. You don’t write your application declaring I am a social philanthropist, technology enthusiast, and leader! You pick stories that answer the essay questions, first, and it is in the telling/detailed description of the stories that these brand elements emerge for the admissions board.

    The MBA board wants to know who you are both on a personal and professional basis so you need both perspective covered in your application. As for how to balance one’s personal and professional stories, I don’t subscribe to predetermined percentage breakdown: 3 essays personal and 2 essays professional and vice versa as it really comes down to each individual person’s situation. For some people, they may find that the right balance for them is a 50-50 split between personal and professional while someone else may get away with a 60% personal and 40% professional essays. What’s more important is starting out determining what your brand is and what you want the admissions board to know about you. Then look at the questions of the schools and identify the ones you would like to tackle. From there, draw from the examples that you have identified from your brand audit (your self-reflection of your past and future) and then start writing your essays.

    I’m not in the position to tell you which story to spin for your goals: NGO vs management consulting. You have to be authentic and that’s the most important thing to keep in mind. Admissions board members are quite a savvy bunch and can see through stories that are presented solely to get admitted.

    Chioma

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi M,

    Be upfront. Own up to your “judgement” somewhere on the application, preferably the online application instead of a full blown essay. The applicant pool is indeed competitive but from my experience, I have seen some applicants with one off weak grades overcome that and still land an admission to a top school. Given this potential flag, whoever reviews your application will likely scrutinize it for judgment and maturity flags and as long as you don’t give them any other reason to pause and if everything else about your story is strong, you should be able to overcome this.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Klughing,

    I’ve been in this industry for over 12 years and I don’t know of a single reliable source where you can get info on demographical data like that. But I think the point is clear, with or without the data, you want to not be on the low end of the GMAT numbers regardless of whether you happen to come from a country with the highest growth for GMAT test takers.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi John H,

    I know there are different arguments about round one or round two. Bottom line: apply with the strongest application and if that happens within the first two rounds you should be fine. This doesn’t apply to early decision schools like Columbia. I recently wrote a blog on the value of round two application: http://mbaadmissionsecrets.com/mba-admission-blog/

  • plasticplants

    Hi Chioma,
    Any response to my post (from August 20th)? Thanks.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hello Plasticplant,

    I’m sure by now you would have noticed a trend in my responses with regards to weighing in on acceptance likelihood…I’m not comfortable speculating on that since admission to any school is based on numerous variables and decisions are made based on how the candidate compares to the applicant pool in which they are being considered. You can reference my response to Keith on August 23 since it addresses the criteria that the admissions boards use to evaluate candidates. Hope you find that helpful.

    Now as far as your question on using the optional essay to “rave” to the school that you really are in love with them, I’m on the fence on that. I don’t think it necessarily helps in most cases. There may be a few examples where it is so well-written and heartfelt that it could tug at the heart of a jaded reader). The admissions board is snowed under with so much work, limited time to evaluate every piece of data in your file, so think carefully before deciding to provide them with information that isn’t necessary.

    Regarding recommendations, I don’t know the specifics of your recommendation situation to comment with conviction on which option to go for. I know from experience that if you have worked in multiple places, it’s a good idea to have one from each firm. But then again, you may have worked longer at your most recent firm, the two recommenders that you have could provide complimentary perspectives, and they could also showcase your growth over the time at the firm. In that case, it could be ok to have two recommenders from the same firm. You ultimately have to choose the two people who know your work, can attest to your leadership and are your brand champions .

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Jay,

    I don’t know that my “wisdom” would make that much of a difference Ok, here’s my basic take on this…you are not convinced, yet, that an MBA is a worthwhile investment to get you where you want to go career-wise. Even given the three options you outline, I’m not sure that it is crystal clear that you know what you want to do post business school. Not deal breaker, after all a good number of applicants don’t either. And better yet, more than 80% of the MBA students change their minds regarding their careers. I would encourage you to do some really focused research, grill your close contacts who have MBAs on the pros/cons of the degree, visit the schools, talk to industry people who are doing the kind of work you would like to do…find out how the MBA is viewed and whether those that have them have found it to be an asset/liability for their career.

    Personally, I think that education is an investment that goes beyond the jobs it will help me get. We live in reality, so yes, money matters, but so does your learning, friendships, and perspectives that can change over the course of one or two years of study. But who am I to try and convince you. There are so many people who don’t have an MBA who are incredibly successful so the MBA isn’t the only way to “gett there”! But if you should decide to make a bid for it, you have to be convinced first to convince the admissions committee. Most importantly, remember that the last thing you want is to be a disillusioned alum who is $180,000 poorer!

    All the best to you.

  • Nishant Patel

    How much weight would you say a CFA certification would hold in the admissions process for a top school such as Ross, Anderson, or Stern?

  • Army MBA

    Hi Chioma,

    I have a low GPA (2.65) from a Top 10 undergrad university. I’ll have 4 years as an army officer. I also have a 760 GMAT. My question is : at top MBA programs, are military experience and a high GMAT enough to mitigate a low gpa?

  • MBAguy

    Hi Chioma,

    I have a 3 year business degree (graduated top 3%) and a 760+ GMAT. I applied to HBS very early (at 21 to enter at 22) with 2 years of work experience at matriculation but didn’t make it to the class of 2012. I was working for a bulge bracket fund (not in an investment capacity but general business development and internal consulting) I’m currently part of a leadership program through education and plan to pursue a career in public service.

    I plan to reapply to HBS for the class of 2014 and have a couple of questions.
    How much importance does HBS give to age these days and what age is usually appropriate?
    The word out there is that HBS is the most reapp unfriendly school. Could you throw some light on this and any specific advice for re-apps?

    Thanks.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/amitganguly2k10/ amit ganguly

    Hi Chioma,
    I hope you are doing great.First of all I must thank you for the kind of work you are doing in this forum,it does help a whole lot of anxious minds out there.

    I have two questions with a general perspective.

    1.The ranking methodology used in the website is intriguing and the statistics does convey a whole lot.However, I would like to have ranking based on International Business in specific as a graduating major and ROI as a separate variable within it.

    2. I wonder that Business is driven partly by innovation and mostly by passionate minds.Germany, in particular does seem to have quite a number of world class companies.However, there aren’t great number of German schools represented in the ranking pie. Why is that so ? If it isn’t the case then are there some programs which an international applicant may look for a great qualifying option ?

    Please, provide me with important information cue’s which I presume will be transformational.

    Thank you beforehand.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi MBA Guy,

    If you are applying as a reapplicant, it is important to do a thorough assessment of your application to figure out why you weren’t admitted the first time around so you can take proactive steps to address any perceived holes in your story. Clearly your academic component is strong leaving me to wonder how strong you came across on the leadership assessment as well as your over all positioning/uniqueness. These are probably the two areas that I would probe. As an early career candidate you will need to make a strong and convincing argument that NOW is the right time for you and that your MBA goals make sense. There is a lot of chatter about how schools like HBS like young applicants. I think the better way to think of this is not that they like young applicants but rather that they are looking for candidates who have a propensity for leadership and creating impact and that they have done it on a consistent basis from college to where they are currently which could very well be very early in their career. So simply being 22 or 23 and falling within the early career category doesn’t put someone at an advantage. It’s more about what you done early in your career that is impressive. And whether you are likely to continue on this accelerated trajectory in the future. For the HBS class of 2011, 47% are individuals who are 3 years post college graduation. So clearly there is a sizeable part of the class that fall into the early career category. But certainly not the whole class. So I wouldn’t fixate on the age or just the number of years of experience but instead I would focus on the quality and impact of your work experience and what else you have in your profile that is distinctive. I can’t comment on whether HBS is the most re-app unfriendly school out there. I think the more meaningful question to ask is whether a re-applicant can successfully gain admission to HBS. The answer is yes! It depends on why he/she was not admitted the first time around. Figuring this out will enable you to present a successful application in the future. All the best to you with the reapplication.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Army MBA,

    The high GMAT is helpful but may or may not be enough to offset the 2.65 GPA. The admission board will still wonder why your GPA was so low. You will need to address it somewhere in your application. It may also be worth taking a couple of business courses and getting As in them, allowing you to show that you have the discipline to “stick it out” in a class.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Nishant,

    If you intend to pursue a career in finance (say investment management), the CFA would be a strong data point that reinforces this interest/commitment. These schools will take that into consideration as well as how you “stack up” in the applicant pool when assessing your leadership, academic data, and uniqueness.

    Best with the process.

  • Neil

    Hi Chioma,

    Thank you for the wonderful work you are doing in helping out the MBA applicants. I have a rather uncommon situation- I am enrolled in the part-time MBA program at a top 10 school. Due to my visa situation, going full-time was not possible for me before. However, circumstances have changed now and I can go to school full time. I am approaching mid-30’s with 11 years of work experience and a reasonable GMAT/Academics.
    My main motivation for going full time is to get the complete immersion experience and the career opportunities that part time program doesn’t provide.

    Do you think that my age, too much work experience, and/or current part time enrollment would make it very difficult to get into a top 10 full time program. Any advise on how should I approach the applications to maximize my chances despite these handicaps?

    I would be more than happy if my current school admits me to their full time program, although they don’t let students switch to full time from part time program.

    Thanks!

  • Amit Saha

    Hi Chioma,
    Any response to my post (from August 25th)? Thanks.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Amit S,

    From my experience, I know topic business schools are not fans of second MBA programs. You should contact the schools you are interested in to double check. Before making investments one way or another, you need to first make sure that the schools are open to applicants who already have one MBA. I also know that switching careers can be tough, especially going from an IT industry to VC/LBO. I’m not convinced that there is a magic bullet (having the CFA or working for a start up) that would guarantee a transition. This is a question I would present to the schools to see how receptive they are. The bigger question to ask is how former students from an IT background have fared when making such switches. My sense is that it would be quite tough to make.

    Best to you.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Neil,

    The profiles of students in the part time vs the full time programs are quite different and the motivations for the MBA differ for both groups. This is why the programs often have strict policies around transferring across programs. With 11 years experience and being in your mid 30s, it would be a tough sell to the admissions board to have you join the full time program. My gut is that for the really selective schools, it would be a tough sell. You may be able to convince some full time programs but they may not be of the caliber that you are interested in. My advice is to invest fully in the program you are in and by taking a proactive role in managing your part time program and through active networking, you may be able to achieve the objectives you seek.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Amit G,

    My expertise isn’t rankings and the interesting variations that they have. I defer to the rankings expert, John Byrnes, who created the first rankings during his time at Business Week.

    One thought on the German question. It’s an interesting point that you make regarding the fact that German programs aren’t as highly ranked compared to some of the European schools. My opinion is that there may be an interesting shift in the market place. Previously, the MBA didn’t necessarily have the same value as the Ph.D. or other masters programs in Europe and in countries like Germany. But Germany is starting to get in the game creating some new business management programs recently. You should check out Mannheim Business School and Otto Beisheim School of Management (WHU).

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/amitganguly2k10/ amit ganguly

    Hello Chioma,

    I thank you for the insight provided.
    I move on to my next set of questions now which are related to admissions.

    1.When doing research work about the colleges what are the key areas upon which a prospective applicant should concentrate.For example I am interested in International Business and with this as a reference I am trying to figure out colleges catering my need.

    2. What are the key questions which are a must to ask the Add-com to get a deep insight about the colleges.I suppose answers to such questions lead to better framework development of the essays and the resume specific to a college.

    Thank you beforehand for your expertise.

  • Amit Saha

    Hi Chioma,
    Thanks for your reply. I was going through your book where you have stressed upon personal branding. I accpet the fact that it is difficult to move to LBO from IT Sales and Product Marketing background , but can I position myself to VC funds (probably sourcing kind of role) ? So is there something which I can do in the next 2/3 years to convince Adcom about my next career? Also, I believe 2nd MBA would give me global exposure , strong network connection and a chance to test all my assumptions /contradict myself . I also find it truly exciting to interact with so many bright people . So I can justify this to Schools like Wharton, Chicago where I know quite a lot Indians doing their second MBA.

    Thanks and Regards,
    Amit Saha

  • Auxentius

    Hi Chioma,

    I was hoping if you can help me set realistic expectations about my admission chances at my target schools.

    I am 32 y.o, with 10 years of experience in software engineering, 760 GMAT, have dabbled in entrepreneurship (founded a start-up that failed), Indian with US green card, and planning to start something on my own after full time MBA. My reason to get an MBA is to ensure that I have all the business skills required to maximize the chance of success for my next start up.

    With these credentials, I am planning to apply to Wharton, Tuck, Chicago Booth, and Michigan. I understand that schools these days prefer younger students, hence I was hoping if you can tell me something about my chances at these schools.

    BTW, I am not interested in executive or PT MBA for multiple reasons including that I won’t be a corporate sponsored candidate.

    Regards.

  • EntrepreneurGuy

    Hi Chioma,

    I’m 26 and started my own startup business two years ago — it has been a full-time position. This month my investors and I have made the decision to scale the operations down in order to conserve capital and take a more organic approach to growing the business. I will begin to work on a part-time basis. I would like to attend business school because I would like to acquire the tools and leadership skills either to (a) continue to run my business after school [assuming that our organic approach has worked and the business is on its way to becoming an enterprise], or (b) pick up where my entrepreneurship left off and start a new career path in a related field. My plan is to work on my business on a very limited basis over the academic year and part-time during the summers [the business is internet based].

    Over the next year before business school while working part-time on my business I would like to take the opportunity to work abroad. Likely I would find a job teaching English in Europe or something of that nature — it would be less career-driven. I have two questions for you:

    – In applying to the top business schools will they look down upon my “taking a year off” so to speak by not getting a career driven full-time opportunity after reducing the hours spent on my own business? Or will they understand that I’m still working PT on my internet business while experiencing a different culture before going back to school.

    – How damaging is it to have a telephone interview rather than an in-person interview? If I’m overseas I’m guessing the odds are that my interview will have to be conducted over the phone. What time of year are most of the interviews conducted?

    Thank you very much.

  • Jay

    Thanks for your helpful advice. I have a question that I’m sure many others do as well: do you do private consulting? I have a myriad of questions and I think a one-on-one session would help me sort out a lot of difficult decisions.

  • T

    Hi Chioma,

    One thing that I’m struggling with as I prepare applications is figuring out how to position each piece of the application. On one hand some people advise that that you should try to express something new or different with each piece of the application to present a more comprehensive picture of who you are. This seems tempting as each school is looking for a myriad of positive attributes (leadership, teamwork, success, strong sense of direction, professional success, etc.)…so you could really position the application to appease each of these.

    On the other hand I’ve read a few books (yours included) that you should develop a personal brand and each piece of the application should reinforce the brand. However, doesn’t this result in some sense of duplication (i.e., recommendations from two different people hitting the same characteristic, only hitting on the same three positive characteristics the entire application)?

    Thanks in advance,
    T

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi T,

    The key thing is to take the advice as guidelines that you have to then sift through your own personal set of circumstances to determine what works best for you. I’m sure that applicants can be successful going about it by focusing on each school and what they are looking for. What I recommend for applicants to “not go crazy” with this whole process is to first figure out their story/brand. This is something that will withstand the test of time if it is authentic. If someone is a huge relationship builder and this theme permeates their lives…in college, at work, even through community service, it will resonate in their essays. Their recommenders will likely pick up on this. They may not call it relationship builder but what they may observe about the person is that they have a natural ability to draw people to themselves, clients even comment on this trait….they have an anecdote that drives home this point…and so on. You get the point. It’s not manufactured. It is who this person is. Obviously, people are complex and have more than one brand element/attribute to them. Focusing on the key ones that resonate with who you are is what allows you to effectively sell your story in the competitive pool. My two cents. All the best, though. Ultimately, you have to go with what your gut tells you to do.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Jay,

    Yes, I do offer private consultation via my company, EXPARTUS (info@expartus.com). I’m happy to speak offline about specific questions. Obviously for the purpose of this platform I prefer to focus on providing as much meaningful information that can benefit the broad readership. Individual questions that are unique to your circumstance should be directed offline via the info@expartus.com email.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Entrepreneur Guy,

    First, congrats on your startup. It takes a lot of guts to start a business. Ok, regarding your questions:
    1) Teaching job abroad while working part time on the company, hmm. I get the international exposure interest. I just am not sold on the teaching English bit. The question you have to ask is how would this experience reinforce your brand as an entrepreneur in the internet space? What value would it bring to the MBA community? How will it set you apart compared to your competition? I don’t have easy answers for you on this but I think your answers to these questions will help you discern whether you don’t delay the English teacher/living abroad experience till you get admitted. Then you can do whatever you want before enrolling to B-School.
    2) On the interview question, I think ideally in person interviews are better because you have the chance to see the body language/nonverbal stuff. Phone interviews can be fine in general but there can be instances where having that extra data point of facial expression can help. I know schools are aware of this and may even be amenable to Skype video calls or something else where you can have a video interaction. Not sure if it is something they are able to implement now but I’ll be surprised if this isn’t part of the future. Also, many of the schools now visit major cities abroad so that could be another option or even an alum in the area.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Amit S,

    I recommend that you pose the question to Chicago and Wharton Adcom to see what they say. I don’t know exactly what their policy is on someone who already has an MBA.

    On the VC/PE front, there may be easier entree to the operations side of the business versus the investment side. But again, this is something you would need to research as you speak to people in the VC industry.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Auxentius

    You probably have picked up on my responses to other questions similar to yours: I do not weigh in on people’s chances of admission because it is a superficial assessment that isn’t based on a full picture.

    As for being 32 with 10 years of experience, there are likely candidates with similar profiles at some of these schools. Visit the schools and try to get a sense of how seasoned professionals have been able to maximize their experience at the programs. When it comes to tenure of work experience, schools want to admit individuals for whom the full time program still makes sense and want people who can fit into the program. If you are able to make a compelling case that you a) need the degree, and b) that you have solid achievements that make you an attractive candidate, and then finally, can show that your goals are realistic and that the MBA will help you get there, then you could make a successful bid for admission.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Amit G

    There are several MBA programs that have a strong international business offering. Many of the top 10 programs fall in this category. I don’t know that there are any must ask questions that will reveal incredible insight from the admission board. You have to have some questions answered for yourself to produce effective essays. These questions are along the lines of:
    • Why do you want an MBA
    • Why do you want to get it now and given where you are, what will you bring to the school that is incredible that the school should bend backwards to want to have you in their program
    • What is it that you want to do and how does an MBA fit into that vision
    • How well do you fit into the program of interest….be specific
    So while doing your research on the school you want to ask about what schools do well, not so well, and assess how that will affect you given your area of interest; what is the culture of the school like…get different viewpoints…..visit, talk to students, faculty, adcom, alumni….even recruiters…..what are the differences that they see about different programs….etc

    Hope this helps you narrow down your list of schools.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/amitganguly2k10/ amit ganguly

    Repeating my earlier post for clarification —

    Hello Chioma,

    I thank you for the insight provided.
    I move on to my next set of questions now which are related to admissions.

    1.When doing research work about the colleges what are the key areas upon which a prospective applicant should concentrate.For example I am interested in International Business and with this as a reference I am trying to figure out colleges catering my need.

    2. What are the key questions which are a must to ask the Add-com to get a deep insight about the colleges.I suppose answers to such questions lead to better framework development of the essays and the resume specific to a college.

    Thank you beforehand for your expertise.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/amitganguly2k10/ amit ganguly

    I am sorry for a hasty cut-copy-paste repetition.However, I am obliged for the insight that you have provided.What I understand is that how does my career expectations match with the goals of a MBA college has to be qualitatively and quantitatively measured.

    My next set of questions are as follows –

    1. While communicating with the current students of MBA from different colleges,what are the key questions that a prospective student should ask which can mold one’s essays and may be the resume.

    2. Is it advisable to contact the add-com personally and trying to convince in best possible way that whether a prospective student is a best fit or not.

    3. Ideally an international candidate should apply to how many colleges based upon demographies and the GMAT score.

    This will be all for the time being.

    Your thoughts and ideas are greatly appreciated. Thank you beforehand.

  • Ajdin

    Hello Chioma,

    I’m recently starting to prep myself to go back to school to get a MBA. I have 2 1/2 years of management experience with a degree in Psych from Penn State. I have also started my own live venue entertainment business so I would like to go back to school to learn how I can run my business and make it grow! I would like to get into a top B school preferably NYU. My question to you is, I had a low GPA in PSU, under 3, I read somewhere that I should take some classes before applying to help my chance, where should I take those classes should it be an accredited university? Can it be a Community College? and how many classes should I take?

    Thanks!!

  • HaasOrBust

    Chioma,

    One of Berkeley’s Short Answer questions specifically asks: “What steps have you taken to learn about our Berkeley MBA?”

    How important is it to book the next flight to SF — either before submitting the app or before the interview process?

    I’m asking specifically about Haas, but this question applies to all schools as well.

    Thanks!

  • Oliver

    Hi Chioma,
    I really appreciate the time you’ve taken to help answer our questions. Going through your responses and seeing how I can apply your advice for others to my own situation has really helped me gain a better understanding about the entire process.

    From your experience, what would you say is the best way to market myself as someone coming from a science background? I’ve been working for a non-profit science company for a little over 2 years doing a lot of work in the lab. I do collaborate with other groups, but I haven’t held any actual leadership positions. Have you come across any candidates with scientific backgrounds similar to my own produce noteworthy application? It is intimidating seeing the years of relevant experience that other candidates have, so I’m hoping that my scientific background will help me stand out.

    Thanks!

  • Corey34

    Hi Chioma,

    I’m considering applying to LBS, but am ambivalent about doing so . I’d love to work internationally in finance, and London of course is very seductive. While LBS would certainly be a great platform for such an opportunity, I’m not sure if it would provide as broad and deep a learning experience as schools such Harvard, Chicago, or MIT (I’m definitely applying to Chicago and MIT, both of which will provide international opportunities). Breadth and depth are important in my selection process because I want to position myself to be able to thrive in various business settings, not just finance, for example, in which I understand LBS is very much an expert. What holes can you address in my thinking? Would LBS provide such breadth and depth?

    Also, schools such as Chicago and MIT really emphasize teaching students how to think, as opposed to what to think. What is London’s approach to how students think?

    Thank you in advance,

    Corey34

  • Pooja

    Hi Chioma,

    I have a couple of questions:

    1.) Is it true that top tier B Schools tend to choose applicants who don’t ‘need’ the brand on their resume? i.e. they choose applicants who already went to a good school/ worked at bulge bracket bank or top consulting firm etc. In other words the top tier B school will not be the best thing that’s happened to them.

    2.) When verifying an applicant’s resume, do B schools rely primarily on the referees provided by the applicant or will they also contact each institution directly?

    Thanks so much in advance for taking the time to answer my questions.

    Pooja

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/amitganguly2k10/ amit ganguly

    Hi Chioma,

    I have got a question for you.I wanted to know what are the ways in which an Engineer can show and convince that he has sound business understanding for the heavy coursework which awaits for him in a B school.An Engineer with an experience of say 3-4 years doesn’t really get sustained opportunity to make impacting business decisions for his organization or even the project group he works for.So in cases like that how can one justify that one is capable of understanding business lingo and the tricks.

    Thank you beforehand.

    Regards
    Amit Ganguly

  • JD

    Hello Chioma,

    I have a question for you. I have a good GMAT (720 48Q/41V), but my undergrad GPA is a 2.69. I was wondering if you had some advice about where I should apply.

    My undergrad is St. John’s College, the ‘Great Books’ school (degree is in liberal arts). My undergrad GPA is due almost entirely to the fact that I was quiet in my classes (there are no tests, no textbooks, etc).

    I also have a master’s degree in politics and a 3.57.

    I’m passionate about working with management to improve processes/operations, so I want to move to consulting. Currently, I work as a ‘technical expert’ in the financial services industry; I want to keep building along this path, and move toward solving some bigger problems.

    I was planning on applying to MIT, NYU and Tepper as top choices. Do I have a shot? I am looking mainly in the Boston, DC and New York areas to coordinate with my wife’s job.

    Thanks,
    JD

  • JD

    Oh yeah, I also meant to add that I am currently reading your book, and it’s put my mind at ease about applying to b-school (I think I can put together a solid brand). So, keep up the good work! Thanks again.

  • Vinoy Mansingh

    Hi ,
    I had a GMAT score of 780 with a 6.0 on the AWA. I also have excellent grades in Electronics Engineering with 75% aggregate and a 100/100 in Math.
    My net work-ex: 3 years (2 with a Top German MNC, .5 with another company, .5 as a Comp.Sci. Lecturer in the Department of Comp.Sc. to M.Sc. Final Years in Microprocessors. May not be able to show much career progression though I have done a bit different things like Highly-Quantitative work and excellent software development work.

    I am seriously considering applying to the Columbia Business School. From what I know Columbia places a lot of emphasis on GMAT scores. Do you guys think I have a reasonable chance there?

    How about applying to W/H/S? (Here what puts me off is the huge fee for application alone. Just W+H comes to Rs. 40K + !!!)

    Thanks,
    vin.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Vinoy,

    To your question of whether I think you have a shot at Columbia, it depends on multiple factors: The strength of Columbia’s applicant pool this year, the volume (if they see an increase or decrease of applicants), and of course, the rest of your application besides your hard numbers (GMAT/grades). This academic element is only a part of your application evaluation. You will be reviewed based on your leadership potential/how well you operate in teams and work with people, the quality of your work and growth in your responsibilities, as well as uniqueness to your story….your life experiences, character, and how well you fit into Columbia’s rigorous and global business school.

    I agree with you, the application fees can quickly add up so it makes sense to think carefully about each program you are considering before shelling out your hard earned money. Selecting schools to apply to, in my opinion, should be anchored to the career objectives you have and how well a program is poised to support/prepare you for those goals. It is also about the intangibles….for example, do you want to be able to study abroad at a different school? What kind of people do you wish to meet? It’s all about how well you will fit in the program so invest in enough research before selecting the right schools and go beyond rankings and how highly regarded a program is in the market place….dig a bit deeper to find programs that will support you and help you achieve whatever goals you have both personally and professionally.

    Best.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi JD,

    Thanks for the kind words you shared about my book. Glad you’ve found it helpful as you prepare your application.

    Ok, regarding your question, I’m familiar with St John’s College. An interesting decision in the first place as far as your decision to enroll there. I think the question an admissions board will have is how do you reconcile the 2.69 GPA with what is likely to happen should you enroll in their program. Are you likely to be quiet/unengaged in the classroom? It’s to your credit that you have a master’s degree in which you have a solid performance. But I would wonder why the master’s degree in politics. Does that open up even more questions about you floundering and being a bit lost? And then finally, the point about wanting to transition from technical expert role in financial services industry to consulting may be questioned by the admissions board….First, you have to make a compelling case that you understand the role of consultants, that you have the personality to thrive in that space; I also don’t know what type of consulting that you are considering. If technology consulting, will likely be less of a jump than strategy consulting role.

    I don’t know what your admission chances are for MIT and all the other schools you have on your list. I would encourage you to apply to about 6 schools and add a couple of schools that admit a higher percentage from their applicant pool to hedge yourself effectively. I would also add with growing competition and with many schools seeing higher average GMATs, if you are able to apply with a GMAT of 750 or so, it is better to go with that.

  • Rohit

    Hi

    Thanks for your reply to one of my earlier posts.

    My question was whether to concentrate on essays or retake GMAT. I gave GMAT in 2007. and my score is 690 (V70, Q89).

    You replied –
    “Tough one. Consider demographics that you are coming from, you have to consider how competitive a 690 compared to the average. if you can retake and improve on the score, then do so. The essays are also very important to devoting enough time to them makes sense. If you find that you are in a rush, you may want to move to round two to get both sorted out.”

    I also had a long discussion with one of the leading MBA consultants. I was advised to seriously consider retaking GMAT in order to have a better chance at Top 10 schools.

    I have finally decided to retake GMAT by end of current month. This would leave me with no time to concentrate on my essays. If I push, I might be able to complete 3 apps but I have my doubts on the quality. So, I am considering applying to Round 2 so as to avoid any last minute confusion.

    I want to find out the difference between Round 1 and Round 2 in terms of my chances, even if I do not manage to improve upon my score of 690.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Amit G,

    You are not being evaluated on your business lingo. And I’m not sure what you mean by the tricks. The bottom line, if you say you have an interest in a particular area of business, you need to demonstrate that you understand, at least on some level, the type of issues that individuals in that industry face, the opportunities in the industry, and a general awareness about what you would be required to do in that role. If you want to gain better perspective on particular industries as you prepare yourself for business school you should invest in reading some of the magazines that people in the industry read….another good resource would be the Vault Guides (www.vault.com) which provide perspective on different industries and functions. On the point about being an Engineer, business schools are realistic and understand the types of experiences most Engineers have. They will look at what you have done with the current opportunities you have been given within Engineering. So even if you don’t have formal management oversight the admission board would want to know what parts of projects you led and what impact you have had.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Rohit,

    I’m going to repeat myself: both are important. Consider retaking the GMAT and also invest time on the essays—both are very important. You may have to consider round 2 to give you more time to do both.

    As for differences between round one and two, both are similar. Round two may have a larger pool, but here’s the bottom line: It is unlikely to get in with a B application round 1 regardless of the size than an A application in a slightly larger round (two). If your GMAT doesn’t go up, at least you would have had ample time to present the strongest set of essays in round two than trying to rush them for round one. Even if the GMAT doesn’t go up, it seems to me that the advantage still remains. I’ve seen several Indian applicants with average GMATs 650 get admitted to top business schools. It really depends on everything else!

    All the best.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Corey,

    LBS is a great school as are the US schools you mention. You and only you will be able to ascertain which ones are the best fit for you. I live in London and have come across several LBS alum who rave about their program. It depends on what you are looking for: shorter program (15-21 mths), vibrant city, a program with 70% vs US schools that have more like 35% internationals; these are some examples of what LBS offers. And the breadth/depth issue, you will find that there is great diversity at most top business schools across industries and functional areas. LBS being in London has the advantage of great industries/multinationals, finance, consulting and tons of resources for would-be-entrepreneurs. Check out their career prospectus and see where recent graduates are working and that will give you a clue as to the schools that would best position you for your career.

    With a strong dose of case studies, students at LBS are called on to view a variety of business challenges in industries they may know or not know much about and to make decisions without complete information….thus challenging their communication, analyses, persuasion and broader awareness of many of the factors influencing a business situation…so you have to figure out if this is the type of environment you would thrive in.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Pooja,

    On your question about top B Schools choosing applicants who don’t need the brand on their resume, the answer is absolutely not true. You will find individuals in the top business schools from blue chip firms as well as not well known firms. Same thing goes for schools (a good number of top schools but also will find State Schools or lesser known schools)

    On the verification question, I advise all applicants to be 100% honest! I know of candidates who lost their admission offer because they weren’t 100% about the information they presented in their application.

  • JD

    Hey Chioma,

    Thank you for your frank advice!

    I’m going to kind of fill in some details, then ask a couple of questions. Then, I’ll leave you alone. Promise. :)

    My initial goal after graduating from college was to get a PhD and teach at the college level, but I discovered that academia wasn’t for me. I taught middle school for a year, then got the masters.

    I sort of stumbled upon financial services, and I love it. So, yeah, my goal would be to work in consulting and do technology/operations consulting in the financial services industry.

    Obviously, I’m an older applicant. (Turning 30 this year, ugh!) However, I have been working in finance for four years, and I’ve done some fairly high-impact stuff improving processes, working on high profile software projects.

    I truly believe that my liberal arts background (along with my false start into academia) is an asset, because it’s taught me to think about things differently.

    Do you think this story can be told compellingly? If so, do you have pointers? I know that NYU/MIT would be reaches for me, so I was thinking about applying to Tepper, Georgetown, Boston U, and Maryland as well. Tepper may actually be the school that excites me the most. Do you think this is a good list?

    Thanks again!
    JD

  • Niladri S

    Hello, I am a prospective applicant for Fall 2011. I am a Transportation Engineer, working as a Team Lead for the Traffic Safety Division, California Dept of Transportation, for last four years, with a total of seven years of experience in India and the U.S. My career goal is to be a social entrepreneur in infrastructure reforms in developing countries. My GMAT score is 740 and I have a Masters Degree in Civil Engg. from the U.S.

    I am applying to Stanford, Haas, Booth, Wharton (Round I) and Kellogg and Duke (Round II) for the Full-Time Program. Could you comment briefly on my School selection and probabilities.

    Thanks a lot for your input,
    Niladri.

  • Vathsan

    Hi,
    I am Indian with six years work experience as of now. I work in a boutique investment bank as a sell-side analyst with complete sector ownership. I have augmented a Masters of Finance with a CFA. Now, I am keen on switching careers in clean-tech strategy or clean-tech consulting. Which top MBA schools should I consider? My research indicated MIT and Berkeley ranked as top schools in clean tech. Is my assessment right?

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/mvikred/ Vikas

    Hey Chioma,

    Thanks for taking time out on this website and answering all the prospective candidate’s queries. I have a couple of questions, that I’d like to ask, regarding my candidacy for the top business schools.

    I have a 680 on my GMAT, with a huge gap between Quant and Verbal. Mathematics comes natural to me, Verbal not so much(especially in a standardized test format). I did a Dual Degree program that integrates Bachelors and Masters from Indian Institute of Technology. My combined GPA is not so great, but as my transcripts would portray, the scores in my first 3 years(which constitute the Bachelors mostly) are messed up, while my scores in the last 2 years(which constitute the Masters and the Masters Thesis) are very high. Therefore my combined GPA does not give a correct indication of my academic ability, and I worry that the AdCom might miss to see this. My question to you is, what is the best way to communicate to the AdCom about this situation? Also the percentile difference between Quant and Verbal might be a disadvantage for me. Though I seem to perform horrendously in a standardized test setting, I have had no issues in my academic or professional life, as far as English is concerned. How much do you think this disparity will push my chances down ? What do you reckon are the ways in which I can change this without taking the GMAT again ?

    Additional Information
    ——————————
    Graduated from Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering and Masters in Automation)

    Field Engineer with Schlumberger Oilfield Services in Peru, Abu Dhabi, & India(briefly in Rio De Janeiro)

    Currently working with Deloitte’s Energy Consulting in India

    Totaly WE of 3 years as of Oct’10.

    Volunteer with an NGO which provides education to under-privileged kids in my hometown
    ————
    I have a cumulative WE of 3 yrs as of today, and I am planning to apply for the class starting in 2012. As you must’ve seen I have my roots in the Energy Industry and would like to remain in the same Industry post-MBA.

    Thank you once again. Your feedback will definitely give me more insight into my own candidacy and help me improve my chances of getting into a top business school.

    Cheers !!

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Ajdin,

    The combination of low GPA at Penn State plus being a Psych major, I wonder if it would be worth taking some quant and/or business classes and “proving” to the admissions board that you have commitment to your academics and better yet, to business (especially if it is the case that you don’t have business classes already taken in college). Schools are mixed on classes they like to see so contact them to find out. Some like to see an introduction to accounting or finance others are happy with a statistics or economics class. If you have a 4 year university where you can take the classes through their continuing education program, that’s fine. If a community college is the only thing available, then that’s worth taking it there as well. If you have the time 2-3 classes should be fine. Also work on the GMAT and try and get a really strong score. 750 GMAT is absolutely solid. Don’t fixate on this number. If the best is 730, then fine, focus on other parts of the application.

    Good luck with the whole process.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi HaasorBust,

    MBA programs vary on the issue of applicants visiting their programs. There are some schools that truly want to know all the “steps” you took to learn about them and you are right, Haas is one such school. Stern is another one. Going to visit isn’t a ticket to admission but not going to visit can raise questions for them, especially if you don’t live too far away and have not taken the time to visit the school at some point during the entire process. So if you can spare a half day, get on the plane and visit Haas and do your homework on the school before you visit.

    Best.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Oliver,

    As someone with a science background and with experience from a nonprofit science company, the question for you remains: a) What will you bring to a business school given your experiences to date and b) how will the MBA help you. So regardless of whether you have been given formal opportunities to lead you have to think through questions like: when have you stepped up beyond your current role to do something that created value for your team, for someone else? What new idea did you generate that has changed the way your firm analyzes research? Why do you want the MBA and does it make sense? What experiences do you have outside of your job that are interesting (this could be from your college or community service experiences). If after answering these questions you find that you don’t have a lot of tangible examples to draw on, you may want to postpone applying for a year or two while you try and establish more track record both professionally and outside of work. If a lot of examples emerge from this self reflection, then you should consider applying. Don’t worry about the number of years experience but rather focus on the quality of the experience and the actual results/impact you have had. You will be evaluated within the context of your situation as opposed to comparing you to someone from a different industry with 6 years of work experience.

    Hope this helps.

  • RKN

    Thanks for your reply.

    I have another query regarding the essays portion of the application. I have 3.5 yrs experience in company X and 1.5 yrs in company Y (current). I do have significant learnings and achievements in X but since Y involves entrepreneurial activities, I have done much more in recent 1.5 yrs, giving me more interesting stories to share. For instance, one of my team building experiences at X is something I am really proud of, but then in Y I have used these learnings and performed even better at team skills.

    So, while writing essays should I try to distribute my stories fairly over X & Y? I know Stanford and MIT explicitly asks for experiences within 3 yrs, so is it safe to write experiences related to Y in the essays and then expecting resume to do the job for X?

  • Oliver

    Hi Chioma,
    Thanks for the response to my question. I’ve done some self-reflection like you recommended and I feel like I have a decent chance at getting in to some of the schools that I’m interested in. My question now is whether you recommend people to apply if they think they have a chance at getting in, or whether you recommend that people wait until they are a standout candidate in the 3 fields that you identified in your responses to other peoples questions (academics/leadership/uniqueness)? I know that there is no set formula or perfect candidate, but if you think you have a shot should you try? I guess I’m also asking how schools view reapplicants. Does it hurt a candidate to apply, get rejected, then apply again the next year (this is assuming in that year in between the candidate would continue to develop academic/leadership/unique chacteristics)?

    Thanks so much for all of your advice!

  • http://www.hereverycentcounts.com Her Every Cent Counts

    Hi Chioma,

    Thank you for this insightful blog.

    I am currently trying to decide whether I should pursue an MBA. My career goals are product development and entrepreneurship, ultimately leading my own company. I have not taken the GMATs yet but at the moment I believe my undergraduate GPA (3.2 at an average school and arts major, sociology minor, lacking in quant/science classes) will limit me from being considered at any top MBA program. What might help is I have a fairly unique professional background including business journalism and marketing work within startups and an international company. I also run my own consulting business for product and content strategy.

    My question is — does it make sense to apply to a few “reach” schools when applying for an MBA? I’m very interested in Carnegie Mellon, Northwestern, Berkeley and Stanford given their focus on product development, innovation, marketing and design. I’m sure I wouldn’t be the only applicant that has no chance of admission applying to these programs (if that, indeed, is the case based on my credentials,) but if I honestly have no chance then I would prefer to save the application fee, cost of campus visits, etc. Could I seriously be considered for an MBA at any of these programs? Is my GMAT score going to be the make or break here?

    Thanks in advance for your wisdom!

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi RKN,

    A general rule of thumb is to avoid going too far back in history to pull your stories. There are always exceptions where the impact was significant, life changing, etc., and for those instances, it is worth figuring out a way to work those stories into your application. That could be through an essay where you are not limited by the “in the last three years” requirement. So when dealing with the “What Matters Most to you You” essay for Stanford, you could work in a story from a while back that shaped what matters most to you as a way to help the reader understand the backdrop of your story, then you balance the rest of the essay and other essays with more recent stuff. Even when schools don’t ask you to limit your essays to the last 3 years, you should err on more recent versus having most of your achievements from your first job, as an example. One of the pet peeves of admissions people is when someone pulls majority of their stories from college or things that happened a while back leaving them to question whether you have nothing else happening in your current position. So try and find a balance and use the resume and recs when necessary to fill in the holes.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Oliver,

    I discourage applicants from applying with an attitude of “I’ll give it a shot now and if it doesn’t work out, then will try again next time”. This is my own personal bias. I believe in giving it your best shot. That’s no excuse for holding off waiting for the perfect package—there is no such thing. What you want to do is realistically ask yourself whether there are any major holes in your story that you can address prior to applying: Low GMAT—then take a class/study more and increase your score; weak leadership track record—try and address this both professionally and in your community service, etc. You get the point. If you have addressed the basics and you are at a point where it makes sense for you to leave your job and make this investment in yourself, then go for it. On the reapplication front, reapplicants are admitted every year at every top business school. What determines whether they are admitted the second time around is based on the initial reasons why they were rejected. If it’s a fit issue, no amount of reapplying would change the outcome. If it’s an issue of not “selling your stories well” then spending more time on the application and presenting a more mature and well-thought through application can yield in a positive outcome. Sometimes it simply comes down to sheer competition—there may have been too many people with a similar profile and schools can only take a certain % from your “profile”. So if you feel you are ready and there aren’t any glaring holes, absolutely go for it now.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi JD,

    It’s fine to ask questions. No worries.

    People change their minds so not a deal breaker that you initially thought the Ph.D. track was for you. It takes a lot of guts to recognize that you were wrong and to change course as you have done. This can reflect some self awareness and maturity depending on how you spin it. I don’t think this in of itself would be a major advantage or can be turned into a compelling argument by itself for why you should be admitted. Neither would the Liberal Arts background be a major factor. What would be interesting is focusing on how the experiences have shaped you/your thinking….influenced how you pursue projects or whatever else and the results. The list you have seem quite diverse with varying acceptance chances so on that front you are casting a broad net which is good. You have to again do research on alumni from the programs and where they have ended up and make sure that the schools’ alumni are in fields/companies/roles that you are attracted to.

    Focus on your strengths, what you have achieved in the four years in Finance and lay out a carefully thought-out plan for why you want the MBA and from the particular programs you have identified.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Niladri,

    You will notice from other responses to such questions that I don’t comment on people’s chances as I think it is inappropriate with incomplete information. I think your story about leveraging your transportation experience to do infrastructure development in emerging markets makes sense. Where you may encounter some skepticism from the admissions board could be around the social entrepreneurship goal since so many people have gotten on this bandwagon. I would be curious to see how you tie it all together….what experiences have shaped this vision/goal, what do you know about social entrep as it relates to infrastructure development? What companies are out there doing this? You need to convince the admissions board that you “know” what you are talking about. The India angle makes sense for your interest in wanting to focus on developing countries. Your admission outcome will come down to how well you connect the dots for the admission board and the strength of the rest of your application.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Vathsan,

    The Clean tech industry is a young industry and one that is growing exponentially. Given its entrepreneurial focus, it makes sense that many of the programs in Clean tech would be at schools with strong entrepreneurial roots. Check out www. cleantech.com. It ranks top 10 Clean Tech universities in the US for 2010 and your two schools, MIT and Berkeley, are on it. Other schools on it included UT Austin, Stanford, Cornell, etc. I’m sure there are other programs that are great in this new field. Not to forget the European schools like LBS.

  • Tiffany

    Hi Chioma,

    I am trying to prep for MBA admission in the next year or two. My undergraduate education was at an excellent state school (top 35 of all US Universities), however my GPA was average at best. I began as a Chem major and ended as a History major. As I do not have a finance or business background (but work in Financial Services) would I be better served getting a masters in finance at a tier 2 school (University San Francisco or St. Marys) or taking extension classes at a tier 1 school (UC Berkeley)? My thought is raising my combined GPA would be helpful…

    Thank you so much for your time.

  • Kshitij

    Hi Chioma, My query is specific to London business school. In one of their questions they have asked:

    “London Business School offers a truly global and diverse experience. Describe any significant experiences outside of your home country or culture. What did you gain and how will your experience contribute to London Business School?”

    Does that mean If i have not had any experience outside my country, I am not eligible to apply here?

    My brief profile is:

    BE(computer Science) Delhi University, 2007 passout
    ->Have worked with IT domain for past three years.
    ->Have been contributing to community service for long now
    ->Conceptualized and Implemented a Undergraduate grooming venture which was not financially a success but I did learned a lot during the experience and helped lot of engineers with their careers.

    Also, can you help me figuring out if with this profile, It is worth applying to LBS, because the average experience at LBS seems to be really high(arnd 6 yrs| I would have 4 yrs at the time of joining)

    I have also read in forums that if one takes the TOEFL waiver, the scholarship chances go down. Is there any truth behind this?

    Thanks for taking time out to resolve the queries here..
    -Kshitij

  • Kshitij

    A bit addition to the profile Info:

    GMAT 730
    TOEFL: planning to apply for a waiver
    GPA: 72%
    Class ranking: among top 30%
    Have been handling multiple projects in diverse technical domains and for the same, have been awarded special contribution awards too.

    Hope this might help you figure out a bit better about the query. :)

    Thx again!

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Her Every Cent Counts,

    What an interesting name, by the way

    You wouldn’t be the first Poet to apply to business school. In fact, B Schools like to have a nice mix of individuals who are hard numbers/usual suspect people (eg Bankers, Consultants, Engineers, etc) and nontraditional applicants coming from backgrounds like the Arts, Nonprofit, Public sector, etc. With a 3.2 GPA from non uber competitive school/major, it is important for you to have a strong GMAT score to balance things out. Ideally over a 700 for the competitive schools.

    Other factors that would play into your admission outcome include what you achieved with your consulting product/content strategy business. If substantial, can get you some bonus points. And the second thing would be how you tie together your experiences to date with your MBA objectives. It has to make absolute sense to the admissions board. Assuming the GMAT is really strong and the work achievements are impressive, it is worth applying for the programs you aspire to.

    All the best.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Tiffany,

    Hmm, you raise an interesting question. If you plan to pursue a career in Finance, then why an MBA? Why not a Masters in Finance and call it a day? If you want flexibility (in case you change your mind down the road), want skills beyond finance, and want a well-rounded business education, then an MBA makes sense. But what you are asking, if I’m interpreting it correctly, is whether doing a Masters degree would help offset the low/average GPA. Personally, if a program is beneficial to you and to your career, then worth exploring. Given what you have shared so far, I’m not convinced that you should go and do a full blown masters degree simply as a way to “shore up” your academic background. Taking courses in quant/business areas and doing really well in them should provide some valid data that you can handle the academic rigor of the program. But the safest thing to do is to find out how the schools you are applying to feel about this point. Schools are interesting how they can have very different views on a subject.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Kshitij,

    London Business School is a competitive school to get into regardless of anyone’s background. Its consistent ranking at the top of the FT ranking has made it a big draw for many aspiring applicants. One of the things you will find about programs like LBS and Insead is that they attract a huge proportion of internationals. In an environment where 2/3 of the class is from all over the world it is paramount that the students bring a cultural sensitivity and awareness to the mix. Hence the question you mention and Insead’s question about culture shock.

    While the lack of international travel/exposure could be limiting for you, you may have some different experiences within India where you have been exposed to people who are very different from you. If this is the case, you have to drill down to discuss what the experiences were and how you were able to get through any obstacles or differences in opinions/perspectives that you faced. You have to work with what you have. You can’t manufacture an international experience that you don’t have so if there is other evidence in your background of working with people who come from different backgrounds/worldviews, you may want to explore how to work that into your story.

    Ultimately, you should consider casting a wide net for your list of schools to give yourself the best shot at getting admitted.

  • Michael

    This website is wonderful, thank you all for taking the time to put together this information.

    I love business: the leadership ideas, management philosophies, entrepreneurism, etc. However, I am not highly competitive, and I don’t care to wield great power and influence. I am interested in an MBA so that I could in turn teach business on a college or graduate level at some point in the future. Should this require a DBA, I am open to pursuing it.

    Which schools are known as producing the best business teachers? Or do all of the schools just focus on the research side of things?

    Thanks for your help

  • Niladri S

    Hello Chioma,

    Thanks a lot for your quick and concise response. I do have a couple of small questions as follow-ups and I will again appreciate your reply very much.
    “what experiences have shaped this vision/goal” – My vision follows my dedicated career to transportation. Through my educational and professional experience in a developing and developed country (India & US), I have been able to identify key reforms in infrastructure which could be implemented. I want to run a consulting enterprise which would work with governments with a goal to improve infrastructure, essentially contributing to a healthy growth of a developing economy. Hence, I am bringing in the social entrepreneurial angle. Please let me know if you suggest an alternative approach.

    “what do you know about social entrep as it relates to infrastructure development? What companies are out there doing this?”
    I know that there is a growing number of companies getting involved with managing infrastructure investments in developing countries. Also, big strategy consultants such as McKinsey and Bain have also come up with exclusive service for the public-sector and governments. I plan to offer a combined service of financial advice and operational & strategy improvements through my company. Again, please let me know if I should approach to present my plans from a bit different perspective to better convince the admissions committees.

    Thanks a lot,
    Niladri.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/mvikred/ Vikas

    Hey Chioma,

    You might’ve missed my post earlier. I’m re-posting it here.

    Thanks for taking time out on this website and answering all the prospective candidate’s queries. I have a couple of questions, that I’d like to ask, regarding my candidacy for the top business schools.

    I have a 680 on my GMAT, with a huge gap between Quant and Verbal. Mathematics comes natural to me, Verbal not so much(especially in a standardized test format). I did a Dual Degree program that integrates Bachelors and Masters from Indian Institute of Technology. My combined GPA is not so great, but as my transcripts would portray, the scores in my first 3 years(which constitute the Bachelors mostly) are messed up, while my scores in the last 2 years(which constitute the Masters and the Masters Thesis) are very high. Therefore my combined GPA does not give a correct indication of my academic ability, and I worry that the AdCom might miss to see this. My question to you is, what is the best way to communicate to the AdCom about this situation?

    Also the percentile difference between Quant and Verbal might be a disadvantage for me. Though I seem to perform horrendously in a standardized test setting, I have had no issues in my academic or professional life, as far as English is concerned. How much do you think this disparity will push my chances down ? What do you reckon are the ways in which I can change this without taking the GMAT again ?

    Additional Information
    ——————————
    Graduated from Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering and Masters in Automation)

    Field Engineer with Schlumberger Oilfield Services in Peru, Abu Dhabi, & India(briefly in Rio De Janeiro)

    Currently working with Deloitte’s Energy Consulting in India

    Totaly WE of 3 years as of Oct’10.

    Volunteer with an NGO which provides education to under-privileged kids in my hometown
    ————
    I have a cumulative WE of 3 yrs as of today, and I am planning to apply for the class starting in 2012. As you must have seen, I have my roots in the Energy Industry and would like to remain in the same Industry post-MBA.

    Thank you once again.

    Cheers !!

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Vikas,

    You are right. Thanks for reposting it

    You can use the optional essay (keep it short if you do) or the online section that asks for additional information to address the grading system and your academic situation. Most admissions board members at top schools would be familiar with IIT given its reputation as a top program in India.

    When it comes to the GMAT, the admissions board reviews the breakdown between the verbal and quant and like to see both sections above the 80%. Huge discrepancies can be viewed as red flags. Especially combinations where the quant section is very high (say 95%) and the verbal section is in the 60% or so. This is particularly an issue if you are a non native speaker of English. My advice would be to retake it and try and focus on the verbal section of the GMAT to raise your score. I know you asked about other ways to mitigate this without retaking the GMAT. You can have recommenders stress your verbal/written communication skills, submit well-written essays, etc. But my instinct is that it will come down to how big the gap is between the verbal and quant score. If it is 90% Q 80% V, not as big an issue….if it is 90% Q and 50% V, near impossible to overcome for very selective schools. You have to reach out to the individual schools, however, to get a read on this.

    Interestingly, some schools, like Columbia GSB, looks closely at the AWA also. So a low AWA score can raise a flag on your writing and this is also another reason applicants have to maintain the integrity of their essays instead of having their essays over polished.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Michael,

    You are welcome. This is John Byrne’s creation and I agree with you. I’ve been in this industry over 12 years and have not seen anything as comprehensive and applicant focused as this. I’m obviously biased

    Ok, as far as your question, an interest in teaching suggests that a DBA may be the right path for you. The question for you is whether you want a career in academia on a long term basis. If the answer is yes, then go for the DBA/Ph.D. and afterwards try and secure a tenure-track position at a university. If you want a career that allows you to teach, especially at the college level, you may be able to get by with only Masters degree but you would essentially be an adjunct faculty and won’t have the opportunity to get all the perks of being a full professor at the institution. The other thing is that the more selective the school the more likely they would require a DBA/Ph.D. to teach there. Exceptions do exist and can be seen in examples of renowned practitioners who do teaching stints at business schools. Students can teach, often in the undergraduate programs while they are pursuing their DBA degree but it isn’t always required. It depends on the program. But the research element is also very important so you should expect to spend a good chunk of your time working on your dissertation while you are a student. Finally, it is important to point out that many professors of business do not only teach/conduct research but they also serve as consultants and serve on the boards of very high profile companies.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Niladri,

    I think your rationale seems feasible as a career change but you have to carefully articulate your vision to show credibility. You would need to drill down and share an experience/observation you made while growing up in India and juxtapose that to your current work and potential you see to bring the US/Western skill set/expertise to help bring about tangible change. The more specific you can get the better. Hope that makes sense. If you have more specific questions, you can email me offline since I don’t think the forum here is appropriate for dissecting each individual person’s essay positioning.

  • Matt

    Hi Chioma,
    You mentioned that a huge split Quant over Verbal could be a red flag. Is that also true of the reverse? I have a 95 on verbal, with a 52 on quant. I’ve been out of school for 7 years and there are thick cobwebs on some of the quant material. I’m looking at second tier (20-30) schools. Is it worth re-taking in hopes of improving?

    Thanks,
    Matt

  • Kshitij

    Hi Chioma,

    Thanks for replying to the query. I got the point. As a follow up query around casting a wide net for list of schools, could you please give your feedback on the following list I am aiming at:

    1. Wharton
    2. Kellogg
    3. Sloan
    4. Tuck
    5. Said(Oxford)
    6. LBS
    7. Insead
    8. NUS

    Does that sound to be a spread out list? I would rather work more on my profile than going for tier2 schools, Hence I do not plan to apply to them. Does that makes sense?

    Another query I have besides this is that out of my interest in Indian Astrology, I am enrolled for a Diploma course in the same field. Should I mention it in my applications? My concern was, as people have varied opinions(both positive and negative) about astrology and predictions, does it makes sense to mention it in the application as my extra-curricular interests?

    Thanks again for taking time out.
    -Kshitij

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/ezbentley/ Steven

    Hi Chioma,

    Many schools, such as Stanford, require a letter from your current direct supervisor. However, what if your supervisor is a purely technical person who thinks MBAs are for sissies(many managers in the technical field share this prejudice) and discourages those under their supervision from pursuing MBA education? It seems that the absence of a recommendation from current manager would be a huge disadvantage. How bad is it and what are some of the options an applicant can take?

    Thanks for your generous help answering our questions.

    Steven

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/mvikred/ Vikas

    Hey Chioma,

    I have considered taking the GMAT again and this time I plan to take it slow and perform better in the verbal section. Thanks for your time.

    Cheers !!

  • Lainie

    Hi Chioma,

    I have a question for you regarding my resume and past work experiences. My most recent work experience, for the past 7 years, has been with the same company and in 4 different positions. Each has built upon the previous position and I believe that it shows my growth potential. That being said, I have also worked for other firms in the same industry. These other roles speak to my understanding of the industry and other skill sets.

    My question is this: if I don’t have the space to highlight these additional roles on my resume, may I still refer to them in the essays? Or, would that cause confusion in the mind of the MBA Board? (I should add that in Canada, a 2 page resume is standard – moving to the 1 page US format has been a challenge!)

    Thank you for your advice!

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/eran/ eran

    Dear Chioma,

    I have just completed my HBS application, and though massive editing work, including professional assistance, I exceeds the word limitation in two essays: 660 instead of 600 (the accomplishments essay) and 450 instead of 400 in the carrer vision essay, assuming my essays are not wordy, is it forgivable ?

    Thanks a lot,
    Eran

  • Sunny

    Hi Chioma,

    I have just begun studying for GMAT and plan on taking the test in Dec/Jan. I think I have good work and leadership experience but I am concerned about my GPA from my undergraduate degree in Computer Engineering at Iowa State. I have a 2.7 overall GPA.

    I will definitely be focusing on my GMAT to get a high score but I am also considering to enroll in classes to prove that I have good academic ability.

    What type of classes would help prove this? Technical or non-technical like Finance/Strategy. Also, what schools should I consider doing these classes from? I’ve heard some of the Ivy leagues allow you to take a class or two (prerequisites) without enrolling as a full-time student. Are you familiar of such courses?

    Thank you for your time on this site!

    -Sunny

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Eran,

    While I know schools typically do not fixate on essays being a few words over, even a few sentences over, if you start having an extra paragraph, it can be a red flag. At a minimum it suggests you can’t follow instructions/or don’t care to abide by the equitable practice. Having said that, I know applicants who have had essays of 50/60 words over for schools like HBS/Stanford, etc and have gotten in.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Lainie,

    You are not alone. I hear this complaint all the time especially from internationals. I cover the topic of resumes for business school in my book, The Best Business Schools’ Admissions Secrets. The biggest takeaway is to prioritize. Unlike your work CV where you want the details of your experience laid out, the MBA resume needs to focus on the key bullets points of your achievements/contributions in those roles. The more the experience is tied to your post B School goals the more attention it receives in the resume. And vice versa. Schools understand you can’t include every single minutia of your experience in your resume and they give you the opportunity in the online application to cover more details that you may not have been able to cover in the resume.

    Regarding your question, could you include a line to capture the position on your resume and then use the essay, where appropriate, to further elaborate on your experience. This may require you to cut down the number of bullets you have under the work you did at the same company.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Steven,

    You raise a great question. You have several options. If your immediate advisor’s negative view would translate to a less than stellar recommendation, then you shouldn’t use him. That is assuming he’s not all talk. There are “techie” supervisors who don’t have MBAs, who denigrate the degree, but when push comes to shove have written great recommendation letters for the applicant. If on the other hand your experience/instinct tells you that he/she would do more damage than good writing you a recommendation, then go to a plan B. Ask a previous supervisor if you have worked elsewhere and if he/she is supportive of business school. Clients could also be helpful in filling this role. The key thing is to choose someone who really knows your work and has enough anecdotal insight to write a meaningful recommendation letter on your behalf. Make sure to explain your reason for choosing someone who isn’t your immediate supervisor on the online application.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Matt,

    The reverse split of high verbal and weak quant is equally troublesome to the admissions board. Is this the first time you took the GMAT? You mention being out of school for a while and being fuzzy on the quant material. How much work did you invest in preparing for the GMAT? I’ve seen so many applicants go through the first application with a low GMAT, get denied admission, then invest a lot of time preparing for the test and score in the mid 700s with balanced verbal/quant breakdown. I always recommend exhausting your options when it comes to the preparation for the test to give yourself your best shot. Obviously the GMAT score ranges for top 20-30 schools are lower than top 10 schools so look at the schools you are targeting to see if you are within a reasonable range. If it turns out that you have exhausted everything you can do to improve your quant score, then take some quant classes at a minimum and ace them! You need to provide concrete data to the admissions board that you will be able to handle the quantitative curriculum that is part of every business school. Good luck with the process!

  • Chase

    Hi Chioma,

    In the same vein as the question posted by Vikas, I am debating on whether a retake of the GMAT has the potential to be beneficial, or if in fact it could damage my application?

    Originally, I was looking to apply this fall, however, through much thought and consideration I have decided to apply next year (fall 2011). Although I am still researching schools I am at the moment interested in Booth, Sloan, Yale SOM, Tuck and HBS. Recently I scored a 710 on the GMAT 46Q (75%)/42V (92%) split. My undergraduate degree was in Econ. and was fairly technical (ie. Econometrics, Econ. Stats, Calculus, upper level Micro/Macro etc.)

    Realistically I feel like I can obtain a 730-740 with a few more weeks of study (4-6). To carve out the time necessary, however, will be a bit difficult given my work schedule and will come at the opportunity cost of developing other areas. Will that bump make a marginal difference to the admin. in this particular area of my application (or overall application)? Does a higher score mitigate any other potentially weak areas in a profile aside from GPA? Could it in fact hurt my application by coming off as pretentious/over zealous?

    Just as a note I have a very strong GPA 3.8 (all A’s in the aforementioned quant. classes) and a finance/entrepreneurial background.

    Thanks!

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Kshitji,

    With the issues you flagged with the grades and GMAT verbal, you should consider widening your list of schools. I understand the disinterest in tier 2 schools but given very low admission rates, especially most of the schools on your list, you would be well-served to broaden your list.

    The Astrology question? Controversial, yes. The bigger question is how have you used your involvement to promote a community? To have an impact? What does it reveal about your values? If it is more your hubby, then don’t think it warrants much real estate in the application.

  • Kshitij

    Hi Chioma,

    Thanks for the response over Astrology issue.

    I guess you confused my profile with someone else. I did not have mentioned issue about grades/GMAT rather I had concerns about lack of International exposure. I did above average in my grades, with 72% in engineering and had GMAT score was [VA: 38 / 83% QA: 50 / 93% Total: 730 / 96%]. Please let me know if your comment was for these numbers only?

    Thanks again,
    -Kshitij

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/eran/ eran

    Thanks Chioma,
    It’s great to get tips from the pros….

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Kshitij,

    You are right. I mixed you up with someone else. It is a reasonable list but to maintain a realistic chance of getting in, you may want to add a couple of schools that admit a higher percentage of applicants.

    All the best.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Chase,

    You raise a question that plagues many applicants: spending more time on the GMAT or spending the time on the essays to present high caliber essays that represent your brand well. What I always tell applicants is that it is better to apply with the absolute best application they can present. If that means going round two, taking the extra 5 weeks to study for the GMAT and increase their score by 20-30 points or more and then using the rest of the time (about 2 months) to work on the essays, that is the best option. Does that mean you can’t get admitted to one of your top 5 schools with the 710? Not necessarily. It depends on how impressive the rest of the application is and how well suited you are to the schools to which you are applying. The higher GMAT score is evaluated in the context of academic assessment of your candidacy. If you have other holes, such as little evidence of leadership, it won’t address that. There are applicants who fixate on the GMAT and take it multiple times in the quest for perfect or near perfect scores despite having a 750. That’s being neurotic and the admissions board does not like to see that. There is nothing wrong with someone taking the GMAT once, getting a 690 or 710 and wanting to retake it to try and improve on their score. If after a couple of tries the score remains the same, then perhaps that is a signal to move on to other parts of the application. This is why I stress to applicants that they should take the GMAT a couple of years ahead of starting their application. If there is an issue, then they have ample time to prepare for the test without jeopardizing their admission chances.

    So in a nutshell, if you can improve it to 730-740 I say go for it. If you can’t, then move on and focus on the rest of your application and give the admissions board enough reason to “go to bat” for your candidacy.

    All the best!

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/amitganguly2k10/ amit ganguly

    Hi Chioma,
    Well after my first round of college research I am with few of the colleges in USA. The list includes –

    Carnegei Mellon – Tepper school of business
    Indiana University – Kelley School
    Michigan state University – Broad school
    Purdue – Krannert Graduate school
    University of California Berkeley – Hass School
    University of Maryland – Smith.

    I might end up applying to 3 of these colleges. So, my question is, Have I missed any college except MIT Sloan, which emphasize upon Technology Management/MIS specialization. If yes,then Please do mention it.

    Also, I want to know about schools which have a technology emphasis outside USA. As per our previous discussion I have considered Mannheim Germany.I have contacted the current students and have found useful information too.

    Thank you beforehand

    Regards
    Amit Ganguly

  • Chase

    Thanks Chioma!

    Considering I have a year before I apply (applying fall of 2011 for 2012 entry)I think I will give it one more shot! Then I will move to building a framework for my essays using historic questions. Then when they are released next year they will be my primary focus.

    Appreciate the feedback!!

  • Sunny

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    Hi Chioma,
    I have just begun studying for GMAT and plan on taking the test in Dec/Jan. I think I have good work and leadership experience but I am concerned about my GPA from my undergraduate degree in Computer Engineering at Iowa State. I have a 2.7 overall GPA.
    I will definitely be focusing on my GMAT to get a high score but I am also considering to enroll in classes to prove that I have good academic ability.
    What type of classes would help prove this? Technical or non-technical like Finance/Strategy. Also, what schools should I consider doing these classes from? I’ve heard some of the Ivy leagues allow you to take a class or two (prerequisites) without enrolling as a full-time student. Are you familiar of such courses?
    Thank you for your time on this site!
    -Sunny

  • HaasOrBust

    Hi Chioma,

    I’ve started to prepare information for my recommenders, and I’ve noticed that many of the b-schools frown upon applicants that do not submit a letter of recommendation from an immediate supervisor. Three years ago I started my own company — thus, I’ve been the boss — I don’t have an recent supervisors to call upon. Will it hurt me for both of my recommendations to come from my company investors/advisors? Or should I go back three years to when I did have a supervisor and have that person write something on my behalf — albeit the heirarchy at my old company was fairly flat and I only worked there for a limited time.

    Thanks.

  • Dee

    Hi Chioma,

    Firstly thanks a lot for taking time to answer our questions.

    I have a query about a point in my profile. I hold a Bachelor of Engineering degree. In parallel, I also completed a minor degree in Management of Information Technology from a different department. Basically I took extra courses every semester to finish both the degrees. I believe it is a strong point in my profile as many people pursuing a rigorous course like engineering dont opt for additional courses/minors (at least from my observation, I might be wrong, of course. I have 2 questions:

    1. How do I mention this minor degree on app-forms (as the forms only ask for undergrad major so there is no place to list a minor course).

    2. What is the best way to emphasis this strong point. As I have several years of experience, I don’t want to use it in an essay.

    Would appreciate your guidance on this. Thanks a ton!

    Regards
    Dee

  • Dan

    Hi Chioma,

    I have several questions on the often overlooked business school resume.

    1) GMAT on resume: I scored in the 99th percentile on the GMAT, should I include it on my resume to make sure they remember at all times, or will that annoy the adcoms because they obviously know my GMAT score. To further compound the issue, my GPA is a measly 3.2 so I don’t plan on writing it on the resume. Will that seem incongruous?

    2) Part-time Jobs: By the time I begin business school, I will have a solid three years of full-time work experience. I am trying to position myself as someone who has been shaped by needing to work to support myself throughout college – should I include some part-time jobs on my resume (especially the ones where I had real accomplishments)?

    3) Objective Statement: To me, the objective statement eats valuable real estate, so I plan to leave it out. (I will be writing a career objectives essay for each school). Is this a huge mistake?

    4) Format: I know that many business schools have a preferred layout that all their students use when applying to a job. Will mimicking each school’s help demonstrate that I’ve taken the extra step to really research the school, or will it just seem gimmicky?

    Thank you for your help,

    Daniel Wiesenfeld

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Sunny,

    I wish you great success with the GMAT in December. A 2.7 GPA would definitely be a concern to the admissions board and a strong GMAT showing can help to mitigate this issue. As an Engineer, assuming you didn’t take business courses in college, taking a couple of classes like an Introductory Finance course and an Accounting or Economics course can be helpful in providing additional data to the board. But you may want to check with the schools to see if they recommend this. There are candidates who get admitted to selective business schools with low a GPA without taking business or quantitative courses. It ultimately comes down to how strong the rest of your application is. Taking classes isn’t a magic bullet. If you can take some, then do so. But I don’t want to create the impression that simply taking a class or two can eliminate the perception of work done in a 4 year period. Maturely addressing the experience in college and your growth since then can go a long way to help get the admissions board to overlook the low academic performance.

    Should you decide to take some classes, you can take them anywhere it is offered…that includes extension programs at Ivy League schools to community colleges near where you live.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Dear HaasOrBust,

    It sounds like you are making progress with the process. You are right regarding your observation that business schools like to get a recommendation from a direct supervisor. This allows them to understand your performance at work, your growth over time, and contribution/impact to the firm/your team. You should take a look at the recommendation questions to get a sense of the type of questions being asked. The questions are designed to be answered by people who have supervised your work or are close enough to your work that they can provide detailed anecdotes that can help the admissions board understand your professional experience. This is why traditionally Professor recommendations can fall flat if the relationship is primarily academic.

    As an entrepreneur, your situation is different and you could get one recommendation from a client. The second recommendation should come from your former supervisor assuming you have kept up with him and that he is willing to write a recommendation on your behalf. If you absolutely can’t get a previous recommender you may be forced to get outside options like a client or investor. But to be on the safe side I would recommend checking with Haas and any of the other schools you are applying to to see what they would advise you to do.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Dee,

    If there is no room to include the minor degree in Management Information Technology, then make sure to include it in your resume.

    I wouldn’t make a big to do about it. You are right, not appropriate to focus on this in an essay unless you were doing the HBS Undergraduate Academic Experience essay. Admissions boards recognize the rigor of Engineering degrees and the fact that you have a minor in addition will signal that you are intellectually curious and are willing to pursue extra work to follow your interests.

    All the best to you.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Daniel,

    I’m personally not a fan of GMAT scores on application resumes. Some applicants leave it in. Many don’t. It makes no difference in the outcome of your admission. If it’s in and your GPA is missing does that raise questions?

    Your part time jobs should be included in your resume, at least those where you have real accomplishments to your point. You don’t need to devote a lot of space to it. What’s important is to highlight the job, the most important impact/achievement you had and move on.

    Get rid of the objective statement. Takes up too much space. As for the format, you don’t need to customize your resume to each school’s format. It can seem pretentious.

    Here are a few rule of thumb on the MBA application resume:
    Keep it short—one page is the norm.
    Focus on your impact and achievements not on every single job responsibilities that you have. So instead of 8 bullets for each job, pick 4-5 and focus on the most important aspects of your work.
    Avoid technical/work jargon or acronyms and spell things out.
    Be strategic about how you are positioning yourself. If you want to show you are a leader with a track record of creating impact, ask yourself whether this comes through when reading your resume, whether you have highlighted the best examples that drive home this point. If you have several community service/extracurricular involvement where you have played a leadership role, make sure to call that out in your resume as well. I cover how to handle the admissions resume in my book The Best Business Schools’ Admissions Secrets.

  • Siddharth

    Hi Chioma,

    Thanks for taking the time to provide your valuable input to business school aspirants like me. I have a concern regarding my GMAT score its 710 (Q47,V40) and AWA 6.0. Although the overall score is fairly good and the score is quite balanced, I feel my quant score is low. Its only 77%tile in comparison to verbal score 89%tile. Given the stage at which I am in my application process, I would want to avoid retaking the GMAT exam.

    On a side note, I have very strong undergrad grade (84%) during my bachelors in engineering and a perfect GPA (4.0) in my graduate studies in computer science from a well known US institution.

    My question is: Will a low quant score diminish my probability of getting into a top management program such as Kellogg, Tuck or Wharton? Will the low quant score still be a major problem in my case? Should I really take the time to study for GMAT and increase my Quant score to Q49/50?

    I am more inclined to focus on preparing a strong application package- essays, recommendations and other crucial elements.

    Please share your opinion. Thank you.

  • Dee

    Thank you so much Chioma!

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/danw/ Daniel Wiesenfeld

    Thanks Chioma

  • HK

    Hi Chioma,

    I am a Techie with 5.6 years of work experience in IT. I holds a Bachelor’s degree in Information Technology but haven’t done an MBA before. I am confused if I should go for a 2 year MBA program or a 1 year program as offered by many B schools, like INSEAD, IMD.

    Please suggest!!

    Thanks,
    HK

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/tideas/ Tony

    Chioma,

    Quick question. As a reapplicant, if a certain essay question has not changed in a year, would you advise copying what I wrote last year if I feel that it was good? Or should I completely write on a new topic?

    Thanks

  • Lim

    Dear Chioma,

    I have bought your book and find it both inspirational and constructive as it provides explicit insight in relation to the pattern and characteristics desired by top school’s admission board. However, I still have a few uncertainties that need clarification.

    1. As I am going to embark on an undergraduate study of BSC in Economics and Management via distance learning from The University of London’s London School of Economics and Political Sciences, I would like to know if it is a ‘decent’ or acceptable undergraduate degree from the perspective of the top b school’s admission board? (just fyi, ‘distance learning’ will not be mentioned in the diploma and transcript)

    2. In addition, I am 23 years old and I have never worked for any other company other than running my own family business. I am the business owner of three companies trading used vehicles in my native country, Malaysia for 5 years already and I plan to eventually attend one of the top 10 B-school in the USA after having earned the undergraduate degree from the LSE. Is it viable? If not, what is your advise?

    Regards,
    Lim

  • Dee

    Hi Chioma,

    My second question on this forum, as I found your answers very helpful and clear :)

    In app-forms work-history section, the Key Responsibilities and Main Accomplishments section is pretty much asking for things already on the resume. Is it best to list secondary responsibilities which are not on resume, or to reword the main responsibilities/accomplishments from resume for added emphasis?
    Moreover, are things like Age (too young, difficult to gain team’s trust), New role without training or guidance … valid challenges to mention. Or should they be work-related challenges, not personal ones?

    Thanks!
    Dee

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Siddharth,

    Regarding your question of how a low GMAT quant score will affect your probability of getting into a top program, the simple answer is “it could”. It depends on your competition and how you stack up against them on all fronts including the GMAT, undergraduate performance, professional experience and impact, etc. The overall strength of the rest of your application will affect how much of a detrimental effect the low GMAT score has. If there are many applicants with similar profiles as you, the school without a doubt will pick the candidate with the higher GMAT score than the one with a lower score. Hence the argument for presenting your best across all application variables. My suggestion is that you try and increase the GMAT score if you think it is feasible and also work on the rest of the application. You don’t want to wonder if a few points on the GMAT could have been the deciding factor on your admission outcome.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Dee,

    Glad to hear the information has been helpful.

    When it comes to the online application, I would spend some time on it but don’t fixate on it. Copy and paste jobs from your resume isn’t advisable. Keep it short and emphasize the most salient points from your resume that you want to emphasize. If there is something pressing not covered in your resume due to space constraint, you can use the online form to incorporate it.

    You can include information like new role with limited/no training and things like that as part of the challenges but make sure you don’t sound like you complaining about anything. Just state the facts.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Lim,

    Thanks for the kind words about the book. Glad it has been helpful.

    You raise an interesting question regarding distance learning versus more traditional education models. My instinct is that many selective schools prefer education that was done in the traditional mode instead of the virtual mode. The arguments would center around things like the value of the interpersonal engagement in and outside of the classroom in residential programs that would be lost via a virtual program. LSE is a fantastic school and is highly regarded in the marketplace. I am not familiar with how the virtual program is viewed. You need to find out how alumni who have gone through the virtual program there have fared. Without mention of the virtual nature of the program I suppose you won’t face the potential backlash but do your research to make sure that the LSE benefits extends to alumni of the online program.

    Having said all this, you would be viewed as a non-traditional applicant being 23 and attending college so you may be ok. The fact that you have been running the family business and own three other businesses would be viewed favorably. The question the admissions board would have would center around the scope of the business, its achievements, your role and impact, etc. If these things are strong, you could find that your nontraditional status could end up being to your advantage in the application.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Tony,

    To give yourself the best chance of getting admitted go back to the drawing board and be strategic when selecting the essays you want to write about. Recycling an essay that didn’t work the first time isn’t likely to yield a different result. Even if you choose to write on the same topic, explore new angles/fresh perspective you can bring since your application. But more importantly, do a thorough assessment to identify the gaps/issues that existed in your old application so you can ensure you avoid them the second time around. I wish you success this time around!

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi HK,

    The decision to go to a one year versus a two year program is a personal one. It is made considering many factors. US selective schools are usually 2 years vs their European counterparts which are usually 1 year. If you are considering costs, want a career outside the US, don’t need summer internship to help transition into a new career path, then going with the one year options in Europe may be the way to go for you. A lot of students complain about how fast two years go by during the MBA program and if you want to savor your experience, you may opt for a two year program, though with a higher price tag. I don’t know what your career plans are but assuming it’s in information technology, you will find that you can be successful in both the UK and the US schools. You have to research the programs to learn more about the specific things that you want to get out of the program and then decide which programs meet your needs the best.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Amit G,

    Many of the European MBA programs have strong technology emphasis. Check out China Europe International Business School (CEIBS), HEC, and IESE. There are many more programs where you can get a solid exposure to technology but you will need to invest the time to research them to determine the ones that are the best fit for you.

  • Lim,

    Hi Chioma,

    I want to apologize for my incessant inquiry,

    But may I know why is making sure that the LSE benefits extend to alumni of the online program important? Am I required to leverage on certain type of benefits offered by previous colleges to be favored?

    One final question I left out, as I had always been working with only my family members since the commencement of my career, how am I supposed to satisfy the requirement of 3 recommendations which inevitably entails both academic and professional recommender?

    Footnote: Coincidentally, I was half way through your book (and I found it to be extremely enlightening) when I came across this site which enables the public to interact with you. Seriously, as a Malaysian who is able to interact with a professional of such magnitude seem so ‘surreal’ to me, even to this day. I sincerely appreciate your willingness to contribute towards the greater public. Thank you very much.

  • Deepak

    Hi Chioma,

    Quick question: For Early Action schools like Duke, how much do the admission chances change for an average (not borderline but not verry strong either) applicant between EA & Rd1? Specially this season when atleast Duke’s app numbers have shot up by 21%!!! I have heard that the case is different for stronger vs average applicants.
    Moreover, have heard that EA means less chances of financial aid as you are already committed. What are the pros & cons of EA vs Rd.1 in your opinion.

    Thanks!

  • mpd762

    I’m looking to go into consulting when I get out of b-school, and my top three choices are Tuck, Fuqua, and Kellogg.

    I’m having a difficult time deciding whether or not to apply to Fuqua’s Early Action round. The problem is, the Early Action decision there is binding, and the EA deadline is September 30th. I won’t get a chance to visit Tuck’s or Kellogg’s campuses until after the Sept 30th deadline for Duke’s Early Action round, so I realize I’m working with only partial information.

    I visited Fuqua and loved it. Duke is one of my top choices, and there are certainly worse fates than being locked into a wonderful program like Fuqua. But I don’t know at this point whether I will prefer one of those other programs to it.

    My question, then, is how much does early action affect your chances for admission?

  • RKN

    Hi Chioma

    I have a very specific question regarding Tuck Business School.

    Should I apply in EA without going through self-initiated interview process or travel to US (I am currently in India), visit campus, take the opportunity to be interviewed and then apply in November round?

  • HK

    Hi Chioma,

    Thanks a lot for your reply!! You cleared my doubts. I would go for a one year program in non US school. I will research more on the same. Thanks again!!

    Regards,
    HK

  • Liz W

    Hi Chioma,
    I’m having trouble selecting my second recommender. I worked in event production in NY for 1.5 years at a 3-person company. The CEO of that company will be my first recommender. 1 yr ago, I left that job and started my own company- a holiday decor business. I started the company with a friend. I obviously don’t have an immediate supervisor, nor do I have a mentor, financial advisor, or any long-term clients. I’m concerned that having the co-owner of the company, my friend, be my second recommender might jeopardize my applications. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

    Thanks so much,

    Liz

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi RKN,

    If you apply early action to Tuck you have just about two weeks before the deadline. How strong is your application at this stage. If it is 99% there or close to being complete, and Tuck is your top school, then you should consider applying early action. You could initiate an interview with an alum in your area. If you are not quite there or are on the fence on Tuck being your top school, then you would be well-served to apply for the November 17th deadline. If you have the luxury to be able to make a visit to the US, I highly recommend visiting the school to make sure you would fit there. It’s a great program but you need to experience it for yourself to ascertain whether you could do two years in Hanover.

    The other thing to keep in mind is the increased deposit ($4,000 instead of $2,500) you would need to pay if applying early action plus the fact that you have to make this payment in January as opposed to the April date for the Nov/January rounds.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi HK,

    You are welcome. All the best with the search.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Liz,

    I wouldn’t emphasize the fact that your partner is your friend. Focus on the partnership and what experiences you have had in building the company together. What can she say about your leadership style, what role you played in getting the business off the ground, your strengths, weaknesses, etc. The bigger question I have is what the company has accomplished. If it is still in the “operating out of our apartment phase with no revenue” then I would question how much value the recommendation will offer. How much impact can it point to versus future impact? Future impact is not credible. Past/present impact you can count on.

    You may then have to get someone else from the event production company where you worked. So not a boss (you are using a boss already) but someone who is well-versed on your work there. Clients there could be a good option if they have a strong enough contact with you/your work and can provide meaningful answers to all the questions being asked in the recommendation.

    Congrats on having the guts to go after your dream to start your own business!

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi MPD762,

    This is a decision that you have to make for yourself. My advice to my clients usually is not to apply to any binding admissions if they are not sure that that school is priority for them. What happens if you apply EA to Fuqua, then visit Kellogg or Tuck and fall more in love with both schools, then what?

    I don’t have hard statistics on acceptance rates for early action for your school but I suspect it is slightly higher at the very least. So you have to figure out how competitive you are for Tuck and Kellogg. If your stats are far off from the range or you have any major gaps that you can’t overcome which may make it really hard to get admitted at one of these other schools, your safe bet may be going the EA route at Fuqua. I’m happy to speak offline if need be to discuss your profile/package to have a better sense of that.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Lim,

    Guess if there is no way to differentiate who the virtual degree holders are from the traditional mode of study, then it’s a moot point anyway. As an admitted student to the program, if I were in your shoes, I would definitely want to speak to someone who has gone through the program in the virtual format to find out the pros/cons of the program and what they took away from it. I don’t think it is unreasonable to ask “nicely” and see if the admissions people can introduce you to someone you could speak to. My point earlier is that when you graduate from a school like LSE that has a strong reputation in the market place, it helps the admission board to understand your academic background and the rigor you have faced versus when you apply from a school they have never heard of before.

    On the recommendation front, I wouldn’t use an academic recommendation. Your transcript and GMAT score are enough to provide information on this front. But you could focus on clients and services providers such as accountants with whom you have worked.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Deepak,

    Whether you are applying Early Action, Early Decision or Regular Decision, the focus is to have very strong materials across the board…your essays, recommendations, transcripts, work experience, interviews. There is the perception that taking advantage of programs’ early admission offerings (whether it’s Columbia’s ED or Tuck/Fuqua’s EA program) can give you a significant jolt towards propelling you into the admission corner. While the admission rate for these types of programs are higher than regular admission, applying through them doesn’t guarantee you an admission offer.

    An average to weak candidate is likely to be denied admission across all fronts given how competitive the pool has become. The question for the candidate is how can he/she make their application go from average to above average to be more competitive in the pool. A strong candidate who applies EA/ED is more likely to be admitted than applying in the regular pool where there are simply more people with whom they are competing for a spot. If you are strong, know that an ED/EA school is your top school, absolutely apply early. If you are weak/average, there is a good chance that you won’t get in unless you apply to schools that are less competitive regardless of applying EA/ED/Regular D. So either widen school list or strengthen the application.

  • mpd762

    Hi Chioma,
    Thanks for your reply. What you said is exactly what I’ve felt I should do intuitively, but it is really helpful to hear it from someone who knows what they’re talking about!

    I would love to get your assessment of my profile for these schools. How’s the best way to do that?

  • Lim,

    Hi Chioma,

    Perhaps for me, the trickiest part of the application process is the requirement of 3 recommendations. I know it sounds absurd but in my region, Kedah, (the northern region of Malaysia which is heavily populated by Muslim Malay as they constitute 75% of the population while the remaining 25% is made up of ethnic Chinese, Indian and Punjabi) people speak Malay, Hokkien, Cantonese, Teochew, Mandarin, Hakka and Tamil, but not English. The abundance of languages and dialects in my region has consigned English to oblivion. Even professionals like teachers, legal advisers and accountants’ use Malay as lingua franca due to its capacity as the national language. Schools and most universities use Malay as the teaching language. When my entrepreneur background enters the equation, further obstacle will arise because as a business owner, I had neither a ‘line manager’ nor ‘superior’. My family members who worked together with me are not educated in English although they could speak elementarily. (I learned to speak, write and read in advanced level of English through the internet) Admittedly, I have always had the urge to write and submit the recommendations by myself but I am really concerned that my deed will result in haunting consequences. I also understand that admission consultants will not play the role of recommenders for us as part of the service. That’s why I’m still searching for professional friends or partners who might come in handy in order to forge close relationships with them. Nevertheless, you have given lots of constructive advice. Thanks!

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi MPD762,

    You can contact me directly at chioma@expartus.com. Take care!

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Lim,

    You face a tough situation and raise legitimate concerns. It seems unfair that one’s cultural context should play a part in holding a candidate back. The good news is that MBA boards are quite fair.

    So you can explore having your recommenders write the recommendations in their native language and then having an established translation firm do the translation. You should check with your respective schools to make sure that this is acceptable. I do know that this is acceptable for some business schools but to ensure that this applies to the particular schools you are applying to you should check directly with them. Below is an excerpt I pulled from a Stanford GSB interview with an admissions board member:

    Our applicants come from all countries of the world and so some recommenders may not speak English fluently or not at all. Are language skills a barrier to writing and effective recommendation?
    ADMISSION OFFICER: Let’s suppose that this candidate is coming from Japan or from South Korea and their supervisors’ first language is Japanese or Korean. When we read that application, we will certainly take that fact into consideration. It’s really the content of the recommendation—not the spelling, not the grammar, not even the word choice—that’s going to be important to us as we read that recommendation. However, it’s always an option for the recommender—if that would make you feel more comfortable—to have your recommendation translated and attach that translation.

    So in other words, when we read a recommendation from a non-native English speaker we still get enough information?
    ADMISSION OFFICER: Absolutely. In my experience, the examples used in the recommendation and the content of what they’re telling us comes through. We are actively looking for individuals who have had experiences working all over the world and that means that their direct supervisors, in most cases, will not speak English as a first language. So it’s something that happens often and we are very comfortable with looking for content and not how well it is written in English.

    [Information from Stanford GSB website: http://www.gsb.stanford.edu/mba/admission/recommender_podcast_edited.pdf

    Let me know what you find out and all the best!

  • Lim,

    Hi Chioma

    How kind of you to assist me with such an invaluable piece of information. The interview transcript lets me understand what are the qualities and substances that the adcom is actually looking for. The clearly spelled out qualities are so legitimate that I presume they are likely to be ‘universal facts’ for which most school’s adcoms will be scouring in the piles of essays.

    However, despite your assurance that the adcoms are fair, I’m still concerned over potential prejudice against non-English recommendations because most recommenders could at least write in English (as the cited examples in transcript demonstrates) whereas in my region, people write in Malay and Chinese. Therefore, I think a translation of the recommender’s content might be the most viable way for ‘prejudice circumvention’ as I wouldn’t want to risk even the slightest opportunity to get into a top program.

    That said, my intake from the transcript is that the substance and examples cited in a story outweighs ranks and reputation of recommenders. It is all about quality.

    Thank you, Chioma. I certainly look forward to working with you for my MBA application to top B-schools upon completion of my undergraduate studies.

    However, you mentioned that your company only offers service to limited number of clients. Does that imply that you evaluate people’s background in order to identify if they are going to ‘fit’ your services before providing services to them? My background is quite exotic and I know applicants to top US B-schools from Malaysia are rare, and the inherently ‘pioneering’ characteristic which comes along my identity is quite a concern to me as well.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Lim,

    My advice to you is to “play to your strength”. Don’t worry about what you don’t have or how you are different from the pool but focus on how your unique background could be an asset to the school. I’m happy to discuss your background in greater detail offline when you are ready to work on your application.

    Wish you all the best!

  • RKN

    Hi Chioma

    I asked you whether I should apply to Tuck for Early Action or wait till November round so as to be able to apply for on-campus interview. In my second attempt at GMAT I scored a 750 and with my Tuck application on the verge of completion, I feel I am good to go ahead. At this point, I am still not sure if not applying for on-campus interview would be taken as a negative in my app. Moreover, I have mentioned multiple responsibilities – both family and business as the reason for time constraint that does not permit any immediate traveling.

    Please let me know what is your opinion on the situation. I must also mention that Tuck is my top choice and as I have done my undergrad from a similar geographic location, I feel I am aware of the intimate community at Tuck.

  • TK

    Chioma,

    Thanks for taking the time for us and offering advice.

    Some background on me:
    – Went to a Top 20 undergrad university in the U.S. and got a 2.5 GPA
    – During college I launched a successful Internet startup and won a couple of bplan competitions; the venture took up 20-30 hrs/week during college
    – After college, I worked (for the last 7 years) at a top health care consulting firm with strong upward career progress in a few different functional roles (consulting, new business development, project delivery). I recently left to get back into the startup world (consulting for a startup and researching my own ideas)
    – GMAT– will take in a few weeks (last year got a 650) and testing in the 730 range right now on practice tests
    – I took a bschool-level statistics class at a local university and received an ‘A’

    I’m hoping to apply to a few top programs (Columbia, Wharton, Kellogg) and wanted to get your opinion on whether you think I could put a compelling application together given my background (especially the low undergrad GPA). Your thoughts/advice on areas to focus on in my application? In addition, given my interest in entrepreneurship (ideally would love to be involved in startups post-MBA) a lot of entrepreneurs are advising me to just focus on getting involved on startups and skip school at this point — any advice here?

    Thanks in advance!

  • HaasOrBust

    Hi Chioma,

    What’s the deal with waiving our right to read our recommenders’ responses? What exactly does it mean and what are the implications of answering Yes or No?

    Thanks so much.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi RKN,

    Congrats on the 750 GMAT score! I’m sure you are quite relieved. While Tuck likes to see applicants make the time to get to know their program by visiting campus, it is fair to say that the admission board is also reasonable. If someone is unable to visit, especially due work/life circumstances (and being out of the country certainly qualifies), they will not hold that against you. You will need to do your part to communicate what other sources you have used to familiarize yourself to their program. I’ve worked with several international students who didn’t visit Tuck due to work commitments who were admitted.

    Leverage alumni from the school, their social media outlets (blogs, podcasts, Dawna’s interviews, etc) and then make sure that you do a stellar job communicating WHY Tuck is a great fit, what you will bring to the program. By demonstrating that you know the school well, you can overcome the downside of not visiting.

    All the best.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi TK,

    Thanks for your question. Taking a Stats course and getting an A is a good decision. Retaking the GMAT and targeting above a 700 is also a smart decision. With a 2.5 GPA, a low GMAT will more than likely eliminate you for consideration for the most part. Of course there are always exceptions and it depends on what the rest of the application looks like. Things like your leadership track record, level of success with the internet startup , and exceptional recommendation letters from the health care consulting firm you worked for can positively influence the outcome of your admission.

    But a major factor that often goes underestimated in the application process is a candidate’s judgment. MBA Boards want to understand how you have gone about making decisions and it has to make sense. For instance, why did you leave the entrepreneurial world for health care consulting? Why did you let your grades slip so low to a 2.5 and have you learned from the experience, grown from it? It can’t simply be that you were working too many hours on your start up…..you will have competitors in the pool who worked similar hours or more who maintained a 3.5 and started one or two successful businesses. They will also want to understand why you worked for 7 years and why NOW is the best/right time for you to go to business school. But most importantly, they will want to understand what your long term plans are and given the experiences you present in the application, will then use the “evidence/data” you provide to determine whether they believe your story and view you as someone who would contribute to richly to their program.

    Columbia, Wharton, and Kellogg are great programs. You will find that you can get a good dose of entrepreneurial training/exposure at most top business schools. There certainly are other programs that would have come to my mind before these ones (Stanford, Haas, MIT, to name a few). But with incomplete information, I don’t know what all the factors influencing your program selection are. On the issue of entrepreneurs advising you not to go to business school, I think this is a decision you have to make for yourself. There are different ways to getting to the end goal. Some entrepreneurs do it without the MBA. Others opt for the MBA. I’m never one to try to convince someone that they should pursue the MBA if they are on the fence. $180K is too much money to risk getting it wrong. Speak to those who have started businesses after the MBA and those who skipped the MBA and really probe their experiences. Everyone’s path is different and you know yourself best so the best advice to you is to trust your instinct and follow your heart.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi HaasOrBust,

    Basically, the expectation is that recommenders are providing objective, unbiased information about a candidate which if taken at face value should provide tangible insights into the candidate and help the admissions board understand who the candidate is. So they have this process that has been around for ages where they ask candidates whether they waive their rights to reading the recommendation. The assumption is that if you have not seen your recommendation, it represents the legitimate information which has not been “influenced” by the candidate. Here is the problem, I’m amazed at the sheer number of applicants who are told by their recommenders to write the recommendation which they then sign as their “objective” review of the candidate. I don’t have hard numbers but judging from conversations with colleagues in the industry and requests that come through from applicants, it is quite common. I advise applicants to push back, and if that fails, to find someone else to write their recommendation letters. The challenge is that when applicants write their own recommendation letters it is quite obvious to admissions board members. So even saying yes that you waive your right to seeing the recommendation then turning around and writing the recommendation will basically put your candidacy at risk. I advise applicants to choose people who really know them, “get” the value of the MBA, and are genuinely invested in them. Once you have your recommenders on board, you then need to prepare them by reminding them of the work you did with/for them (great recommendations are those with a ton of anecdotes that paint a vivid picture of who you are). At that point, you have to trust that your recommender will do the right thing and present an honest, vibrant picture of who you are that will reinforce the brand message you have communicated about yourself throughout the application. I cover how to navigate the recommendation minefield in my book, The Best Business Schools’ Admissions Secrets.

    So in a nutshell, pick people you trust will write you exceptional recommendation letters, prep them, and then step away. You can then waive your right to seeing the recommendation and trust that he/she will write you a great recommendation. If in doubt, it’s usually a good decision to go with someone else.

  • RKN

    Hi Chioma,

    I wanted to comment on the ‘waive rights to see recommendation’ discussion. After I read your comment I searched for other comments on internet and found out that almost everybody suggests waiving the rights, arguing that it adds to the credibility of the recommendation.

    I do not agree completely here. Almost everywhere managers do an appraisal of the subordinates and provide real feedback. Employees are able to see the entire file. From my experience, I personally ask for honest feedbacks and by not waiving my rights I am able to get new perspective on my efforts.

    I feel not waiving rights will not serve as any sort of distraction in the evaluation of one’s candidacy.

  • bigeater1

    Hi Chioma,

    I have a couple of questions about part-time MBA programs, and more specifically, NYU Stern’s Langone program.

    1) I currently work with my family-owned business in California… but I can really work remotely from any location. Would it seem strange for a Californian to apply to a part-time program on the East Coast? I’m drawn to the flexibility of Langone, and would like to build a network in NYC… but I obviously, don’t want to make the move unless I get an offer of admission.

    2) When applying to part-time programs, will it hurt me if I’m not currently working a “FULL-TIME” job? My work is very flexible, and quite honestly, is probably less demanding (time-wise) than traditional full-time work. On the flip-side, I’m likely not making as much as I would if I were working a regular full-time job either.

    Thanks for the help!

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hello Bigeater1,

    I agree. I wouldn’t move to a different part of the country without having the admission offer. I think you can be honest with the school and explain your situation, that you work for a family business where you have flexibility to work from anywhere. I suspect NYU admissions board would be looking at the type of work you do, whether you would be a fit in their program to make the determination to admit or not admit you. They will also look at your academic record and GMAT and everything else that goes with the application (interviews, recommendations, etc).

    Working part time may raise some flags about the rigor of experience, quality of work you do and whether you would bring a valued perspective to the classroom. I don’t have much data on your story so can’t say one way or the other what you should do regarding how you would be viewed by NYU part time program. I do know that the program typically attracts applicants who work full time. You should try and attend an info session and engage the admissions board to clarify these questions. You can also try and direct the questions to the admissions board directly via an email. I’m curious to hear what you discover so do circle back and share their response.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi RKN,

    You are free to choose not to waive your right to see your recommendation letter. You could still get admitted to your dream school. I’m sure there may be people who didn’t waive their rights to view their recs who still got admitted. For the purposes of this forum, I focus on providing information drawn from over 12 years of admissions experience. Can exceptions happen? Absolutely. I encourage applicants to do further research on every aspect of the application and to reach out to the school to find out the most current information dealing with their circumstances as this can vary from program to program and from year to year.

    But I still fall in the camp to waive one’s rights to view the recommendation letter.

  • Jennifer

    Hi, Chioma

    I am a women with 2 years work experience in a quantitative job at the federal government. I recently took the GMAT and scored a 690(so close to a 700!). I am debating about whether to take the test again. The schools I plan to apply to are Yale, Duke, Columbia, NYU, and Georgetown. Is there really a big gap between a 690 and 700 in admissions committees’ minds?

    Thank you!

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/dkny/ Dmitri

    Hi Chioma,
    I hope you are doing well.

    My question is that: I’m finishing my bachelor’s degree in May 2011 and want to start my MBA at one of the top ten schools few months later – September 2011. I don’t have the problem of lack of work experience as I served 3 years in the Israeli Army and I’m working full-time in a serious job during the last 5 years while earning my bachelor’s degree at the same time. With that, there are few programs, and I know for sure that Haas is one of them, that won’t even look at my application until my bachelor’s is finished – which means I won’t be able to apply to them this year. On the other hand, I know that my situation is accepted by Tuck and NYU and they will consider my application as equal to the others. My question is whether you know the policy of the other top schools regarding applying while still finishing the bachelor’s degree and to what extent (if at all) will it influence negatively or positively my application?

    Thanks a lot!

  • abc123

    Hi Chioma,

    I am from India. I have a few questions regarding the conversion of undergraduate GPAs. Here in India, GPA is scored out of 10 but in the US, it is scored out of 4. Some schools have given their conversion tables. According to the Columbia website, a score of 8 on 10 translates to a score of 3.3 while a score of 7.9 translates to a score of only 2.7. Now, how much is it going to affect my chances if I got a GPA of 7.9 out of 10, which means that I fall into the 2.7 category? Columbia says that the average undergraduate GPA of their students ranges from 3.3-3.9.

  • Bob

    Hi Chioma,

    I’m a “non-traditional” student and I’m concerned with how it will reflect on my application. I left college after a couple years for a hiatus but wound up making several times what my graduating peers were making, so the hiatus became long-term. Demanding schedules and opportunity costs kept me from going back for a while. Only recently did a more structured schedule enable me to return part-time and I will finish my bachelor’s in a few months (shortly after submitting applications) from an average public university with a 3.6 GPA. I’m 32 years old.

    The rest of my application is pretty solid. All of my work experience is professional in nature and includes leadership roles. I scored a 700 on the GMAT (44Q/42V/5.5 AWA) and considered retaking, but ultimately decided against it. I also believe that I can get some good professional recommendations. I’m only considering part-time programs in the state of Georgia, which means a couple of top-30 options (Ga Tech and Emory) and the more likely option: Ga State.

    Do you know how significantly my delayed undergraduate degree will affect my application? Thanks.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Jennifer,

    If 690 is as good as it gets, I would focus on the rest of the application. There are a lot of people admitted to the schools you list with GMAT scores of 690 and even lower. Admission decisions always come down to the entire application not just one element of the application.

    Having said that, if you believe you can move the dial to 700 or above, then why settle for 690. Even when there isn’t a big gap between the two scores, it’s always better to submit your highest/best scores for the GMAT as well as all other aspects of the application.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Dmitri,

    You are obviously a non-traditional student and most business schools see a fair share of individuals in similar situations each year. I don’t know the policies of each school. My sense is that situations like this may also be viewed on a case by case basis so connect with the schools directly to confirm their policy.

    Business schools value diversity of perspectives/experiences and I suspect that for most your experience of being a non traditional student would not be viewed negatively or positively. You will be assessed across the same admission criteria for your academic/intellectual aptitude, leadership and managerial potential, as well as your uniqueness/fit. I suspect that you probably have interesting leadership experience from the Israeli military and your current work. You will need to make the case that you a) Need the MBA, b) Have significant/impressive achievements that sets you apart from your competition, and c) You are a fit for their program.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Bob,

    There are two questions that come to mind: why did you delay your college study and are you going to be able to commit to the part time MBA program? Instead of flagging that you were making much money than your peers with degrees, I would focus on what your circumstances were that led you to take the hiatus and to keep working. If it was financially driven (you didn’t have the money), for eg, it’s an easy sell.

    In general, your story is going to be much easier to sell to a part time MBA program than a full time program. The GMAT seems solid for the schools you have flagged. Similar to the advice I shared earlier with Dmitri, you should touch base with an admissions board member at the schools you are applying to to get their perspective on your unique situation. In presenting yourself you should focus on clarity of goals, personal and professional maturity, and demonstrate that the MBA is necessary for you for the next step and that you have done your homework and have a realistic picture of what the MBA program will help you accomplish.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi ABC123,

    Use the optional part of the application to provide more context about your school’s grading system. If for example very few people receive 7/10 then provide some information to further address the context. In general, Admissions people are familiar with the grading systems from different regions. If you come from a school where a small percentage of the class graduates with 8 and 9/10 grades, you can provide a bit more color in the optional essay.

  • MBAUniverse

    Hi Chioma,

    Hope you are doing well…Here is my situation. I am your typical Indian IT Engineer with 8 years experience. I have spent the past 5 years working in nonprofit organizations including a large animal rights group. I currently work for a nonprofit medical education association in a technical leadership position. I have international experience developing solutions in places as diverse as saudi arabia, india, jordan and ivory coast. I also have consulting experience. I have a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering(GPA 3.67) and a Masters in Computer Science from a top US university(GPA 3.67)..i did not perform well in my GMAT, i had test anxiety and froze….i scored only 550 (38 Q, 27 V, 5.0 AWA). I have applied to the part time Kellogg, Booth and Kellstadt schools of business MBA programs. I think I have pretty good recos and good essays. I reasoned there are other aspects of my profile that make up for my low score. Am I being too optimistic? Also, I did not write the optional essay because I really did not have an explanation why I did not score well and anything I would have written would have sounded like whining. Advice please !!!!

  • Hasan

    Hi Chioma,

    I have completed my 4 years BS in Computers and Information Technology from N.E.D University of Engineering and Technology, Karachi,Pakistan. I scored overall 3.0 GPA in my 4 years of study.
    I appeared in GMAT exam and I scored 740 marks.
    I am CCIE certified that is the most prestigious certification in Networks Engineering. I have work experience of about 40 months.
    I would like to ask you that I am interested in applying for admission in MBA program in these schools.
    Harvard Business School
    Wharton Business School
    Stanford Business School
    London Business School

    Please do let me know that is it possible for me to secure admission in any of the such school with such profile.
    One more question that i have to ask that is it possible to change my field from Networks Engineering to Finance or Marketing after my MBA.
    which business school do you recommend is best for me.
    And what are my chances that i will be able to secure admission ??

    Very Vest Regards,
    Hasan

  • CW

    Hi Chioma,

    Thanks for taking the time to do this! I have worked at the same company over the past 4 years since my college graduation and am now looking to apply to a couple of the top 10 business schools. I am wondering if it would be better to get my recommendation letters from two supervisors from the same company or to get one from a client for a different perspective.

    Any advice you have would be appreciated!

  • HK

    Hi Chioma,

    Hope you are doing great!!. I have two questions.

    – I am going to write my GMAT exam in Feb 2011. I would be applying to all non US B schools. Shall I apply to these colleges rite after my Gmat or I should start applying now?

    – What is the difference between Round 1 or Round2 of application? If I apply in Round 2 to any non US B school, will my chances of being selected be less as compared to applying in Round 1?

    Please confirm.

    Regards,
    HK

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi MBA Universe,

    From my experience a 550 GMAT is quite low and would be tough to overcome in a competitive applicant pool. I recommend that you try and retake the GMAT.

    Chioma

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi CW,

    If the recommendations from both your supervisors can provide different points about you/your work, then that’s fine. If on the other hand they are duplications of each other, then you would be better served using a client if he/she can offer another perspective that enriches the overall story about your work and contributions.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Hasan,

    I don’t have enough information on your profile to offer a meaningful assessment of your likelihood for admission to anyone of these schools. Academic Ability is only one part of the admission evaluation. Leadership abilities and track record and global and unique perspectives are also important in the evaluation process.

    As far as career changes are considered, that is a major reason many people choose to go to business school. You can pursue marketing at anyone of the programs you mentioned. I would consider Kellogg, Michigan’s Ross and several of the European programs as well.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi HK,

    Good luck with the GMAT. It is preferred that you take the GMAT and get your scores because not all schools are open to accepting new GMAT scores after the deadlines. But check with the schools you plan to apply to to confirm what their exact policy is. You want to apply with the strongest application which includes the strongest GMAT score you can have.

  • TDN

    Hi Chioma,

    Thank you for this opportunity. My question concerns the distribution of my GMAT score and how that might or might not hurt my application to a Top 10 school.
    I recently took the exam and scored 710, which is in the 92%-ile; however, my Quant score alone was 44 (68%-ile) and Verbal alone was 42 (95%-ile). I also do not have a strong undergraduate GPA, which I feel might have been offset by a better Quant score.
    Would you advise someone like to me retake the exam for a higher Quant score?

    Thanks in advance.

  • Lee

    Hi Chioma,

    Thank you for taking the time to answer questions!

    I’m writing to ask for advice on letters of recommendation. I’m planning to apply next year to enroll in 2012. However, I will be changing jobs at the end of the year. I’ve worked closely with my current boss for almost 3 years across a wide range of functions and believe he’s the best person to write a letter of recommendation for me, especially since it’ll be difficult to find someone in my new firm who would know me as well and be willing to recommend me as strongly after just 8-9 months of working with me.

    My problem is that I would prefer to ask my current boss to write a letter of recommendation asap (by the end of this year ideally), before we both become very busy with our new jobs and memories start fading. My idea is to ask him to write them and have them on file, so he can just submit them in Oct 2011. How should I do this? Can I assume that requirements for letters of recommendation remain the same for the top business schools over time? (i.e. I can ask him to write recommendations for my 2011 application based on the current guidelines for 2010 applicants?) Some people recommend asking the person to write a ‘universal’ letter that he then tailors to the respective requirements of each school–would you recommend this?

    Your advice would be much-appreciated; thank you!

  • http://www.usfreeads.com/electronics/tv-and-home-theatre/lg-37le5300_2588090-cls.html LG 37LE5300

    Great stuff…I think you’ve made some truly interesting points.Keep up the good work.

  • Sean

    Hi Chioma – Thank you very much for this opportunity.

    What are the 3 best programs (besides Harvard and Stanford) for preparing oneself to run a small, closely-held (aka family) business? Why?

    Sean

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi TDN,

    I would definitely retake the GMAT with the Quant at 68% and a low GPA. You want to eliminate any reasons that makes it easy for the admissions board to discount your application. And given that most of your competition would have GMAT quant scores above the 80th percentile, you are better off trying to raise this score to stay competitive. All the best!

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Lee,

    I think your instinct is dead on by planning to use your current boss for your recommendation. It’s your call whether to have him work on the 2010 recommendation now. Perhaps having him complete one recommendation from one of the schools that have the most number of questions may be a good start. The risk you run into is that the schools may change their recommendation questions drastically (though that hasn’t been the case typically). As long as he would be willing to invest the efforts to update/revise the recommendations if there are changes to the schools or even updates about you since I’m assuming you will stay in touch about your growth/new experiences that he could work into your recommendations where appropriate…then it should be fine.

    One thing regarding universal letters, schools aren’t fans of this option and I encourage you to have your recommender answer each specific question that the schools ask for and with detailed examples to make you stand out.

    Finally, I won’t assume that your new bosses won’t give you excellent recommendations as well. I’ve read several recommendations written by individuals who have had less than a year worth of experience with the applicant and yet have had great perspective to share about the candidate. The focus from the schools’ viewpoint is always quality over quantity.

    You are obviously planning ahead and this will help you stay ahead of the curve.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Thanks LG37LE5300! I’ve had fun addressing the questions.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Sean,

    There are several that come to mind including Wharton, Kellogg, Columbia, and Chicago. These schools and others not mentioned here tend to have a Family Business Clubs, Centers on campus, and numerous opportunities to connect with other like-minded individuals. Many top business schools value the perspective that individuals with experience running/managing family enterprises can bring to the MBA programs. Recently, for example, Wharton launched a Family Business Fellows Program which is similar to the entrepreneur in residence programs that you will find at many top business schools. To learn more about Wharton’s program: http://wgfa.wharton.upenn.edu.

    You have to decide whether you want a program in the US or UK, a shorter program or a two year program. Columbia’s J-Term attracts a lot of family business candidates who don’t need the summer internship since they already know what they want to do post business school. Other family business candidates pursue programs in Europe and elsewhere. IMD in Switzerland, for example, offers a solid option for someone with a family enterprise background who wants an intense/focused program before returning to the family business.

  • waitlisted@CBSJterm

    Hi Chioma,

    I am on the waitlist for Columbia’s J-Term (starting January 2011). The general opinion on waitlists is that the applicant has a small chance of being accepted, but most people do not think this applies for Columbia’s J-Term. People say that, because J-Term has no competition for the students (no other top 10 school offers such program), its waitlist works differently. Do you believe there is a higher acceptance rate from this specific waitlist compared to the usual ones?
    Thank you so much.

    Rgds,

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/michmax/ Michmax

    Hi Chioma,

    I have taken the GMAT twice now, the first time got 690 (95%V 58%Q), second time 680 (89%V 61Q) both unbalanced. I won’t have time to study and take it again this year before R2 deadlines. Does this put me out of the running for a top program?

    The rest of my profile looks good, I have a 3.8 GPA, from ASU in Marketing, 6 years work experience with good career progression, now handle the national marketing campaigns for a decently well known company. Want an MBA for product/brand management in consumer goods, so more of a continuation of my career than switching fields. I’m also an artist on the side and volunteer mentoring at-risk children in art for the last 3 years. Also I’m female, which I hear may be a little easier to get in with a lower GMAT? I’m applying to Stanford, Haas, Kellogg, Chicago, Duke, and Ross. Is it not worth applying with such a low quant score? Would it be better to wait one more year, although I don’t want to since I’m at a good point in my life to do this now and would be 29 by the time I enroll if I put it off another year. Thanks for your advice!

  • TLCI

    Hi Chioma

    I have a query related to interview scheduling. I am an international applicant and have received 4 interview invites from top 10 schools – all in one day. So, while scheduling interviews with the alumni, is it appropriate to suggest my preferences of time and date (assuming that place is not an issue for me as I am ready to travel). For instance, I have already scheduled an interview with 1st school in city X, and 2nd school’s alum is also from city X. Now I want to ask the 2nd school’s alum to suggest a date that is closer to 1st interview date so that I do not have to travel back and forth or spend extended time in a hotel. Similarly, I will have to ask other alums to make sure that there are no schedule clash or unnecessary expenses on air travel and hotels. I would really appreciate if you can help me find the best way to address this situation.

    Thanks

  • cherrytulips

    Hi Chioma,
    I was one of the lucky/unlucky 100 on the HBS waitlist. It strikes me to be a little strange to have been placed on a waitlist before even being interviewed. Nevertheless, HBS has a pretty strict waitlist policy stating they want no additional information / material. Is being deferred to the second round a true waitlist situation or more of a deferral? Do you think the no additional material policy still applies? I would like to send an additional recommendation as I feel like this was probably my biggest downfall as one of my recommenders did not put much effort into the recommendation.
    Thanks!

  • http:www.ogoogbata.com Ogo Ogbata

    Hi Chioma,

    What an inspiration you are! Well done for sharing so much knowledge and encouragement with us all on Poets and Quants xxx

  • tarik

    What is the value of an MBA from either INSEAD or London School of Business in the U.S.? Is it much better to go for an American school if I want to work in the U.S.?

  • tarik

    Should I worry about my age? ‘ m 31 now when applying to top schools? Will HBS, Wharton, Stanford, Kellogg, Booth, Columbia not favor someone of my age?

  • SGR

    Hi Chioma,

    I am planning to get an MBA but I have a problem.
    I have lived by trading stocks, currencies, and commodities for 5 years since I was an undergraduate student. But I do not have any employed experience.
    I obtained my bachelor degree in economics from one of the top 10% Japanese school with 2.9 GPA and I am in undergraduate course in a regional state university in US now, and my overall GPA is 3.1. I have taken GMAT but my score is just 660 so I am keeping studying for that.
    In this situation, am I eligible to apply B-schools?
    Or should I work for a company to earn work experience?
    I think my oddness would be against top schools, so I would like to enter a top 100 school such as Babson, BU, U of Miami, GWU.

    Thanks

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Waitlisted@CBSJTerm,

    I don’t know exactly how Columbia GSB prioritizes its waitlist and any statement on the inner workings there would be conjecture. Here’s what I do know: Being on the waitlist reflects the fact that you are admissible. The question really comes down to what exactly is your “profile” and how represented/over represented is it in the pool already? The more you fall in the usual suspect category, the tougher it is to get off the waitlist. But that’s not to say all hope is lost! The other thing is to assess what may be missing or the weaker points of your application and decide whether you can make a change about it. For example, if your GMAT was on the lower end of the admitted students’ range, then retaking it, getting a higher score and communicating this may help. If you haven’t engaged with Columbia at all (eg. Via class visits, meeting with a board member, etc.), then it may be time to take advantage of that before the school wraps up for the semester. I’m happy to speak more about your specific case offline.

    All the best,

    Chioma
    Chioma@expartus.com

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Michmax,

    The fact that you took the time to retake the GMAT was a good decision on your part. The 61% Q is still quite low even for the schools that admit slightly more people than the Stanford and Haas. The real issue is whether you have enough other compelling stuff to your story that you could lean on to help make a case for you. What sort of quant background do you have in terms of course work in College? How quantitative/analytical is your current work? Can your recommenders proactively address this? Without a question, from my experience, the low Quant would be viewed as a flag but if you have exceptional work experience, insightful essays, some solid leadership examples and strong recommendations to support you, you may get away with one or two of the schools on your list. But it’s hard to say from a superficial view of the profile. You should also communicate to the school your willingness/intention to take some quant courses before you enroll. The sooner you do that, the better.

    Best,

    Chioma
    Chioma@expartus.com

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi TLCI,

    Congratulations. You are in an enviable situation getting 4 interviews! Scheduling interviews with alumni can be tough given that they are all busy with their work/life commitments. Try and match up a couple of schools within a couple of days and the other two in a similar fashion. What I wouldn’t do is say that you have multiple interviews and you want to fit everything in conveniently. Alumni can be reasonable often and I think just telling them a couple of options that work for you and seeing if that works for them would enable you to achieve your goals.

    Chioma
    Chioma@expartus.com

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi CherryTulips,

    Still being in the running is obviously good news despite the frustrations of being on a waiting list. Officially, HBS doesn’t like additional info. Do I know of people sending additional recs? Yes. It’s a risk…it can annoy them that you are not following instructions. That’s the risk you take. Schools prefer not to get inundated since it can be overwhelming processing additional info from all candidates on the waitlist.

    Chioma
    Chioma@expartus.com

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Tarik,

    I’ll address both of your questions together. Ideally, if your plan is to work in the US, you are better off applying to the US schools. European schools have higher age average vs US schools. The majority of candidates enrolled at full time MBA programs in America at 30 or under. Most are between 25-28. That’s not to say you won’t find 38 year olds or varied ages in the class. The more pertinent question is the reason for the MBA now as opposed to a few years earlier; Your overall profile/what you will bring/contribute to the MBA program. The quality of your experience not just the number of years of work experience. So I can’t say whether a school would favor or not favor a candidate….that decision is based on more factors than simply on age.

    Chioma
    Chioma@expartus.com

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi SGR,

    I’ll be honest, the combination of a 2.9 GPA/660 GMAT and 3.1 at regional school will make it quite tough. Personally trading stocks will make it tough to gauge factors that schools value: team dynamics, your interpersonal skills, recommendations on how you have grown, work with others, etc. You may want to talk to the schools directly to get a sense of how they would feel about your particular situation. Work experience always helps especially when you have questions around the academic criterion.

    Best,

    Chioma
    Chioma@expartus.com

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Ogo,

    It is my pleasure. Hope the info is helpful to those struggling with the application.

    Best,

    Chioma
    chioma@expartus.com

  • Eric

    Hi Chioma,

    Could you suggest a couple of MBA programs that I should apply to? I’m interested in a career in international business or consulting, schools with a collaborative environment, with no preference to school size or geographical location. I need some guidance because I have very few peers and relatives who have gone into business – this website is a lifesaver! I’d like to identify some “safety”, “match”, and “reach” schools.

    I’m a 24 yr old alum of Washington University in St. Louis, and I spent the last two years working through Teach for America and had the wonderful opportunity to teach children. I currently work for a major retailer’s sourcing division on cost negotiations and supply chain/logistics.
    GMAT: 700 Total (90%); 48 Quant (82%); 38 Verbal (83%)
    GPA: 3.33 overall; 3.67 major

    I’m definitely interested in schools such as Haas, Kellogg, Booth, Tuck, Sloan, but I have no idea whether or not my general profile would even be looked at it. Would these schools all be considered “reaches”?

    Much appreciated!

  • http://aunniepatton.blogspot.com Aunnie Patton

    Hi Chioma,

    I’ve really enjoyed reading your comments, they seem very relevant and straight forward. I’m currently in the midst of applying to Oxford and Cambridge’s MBA programs for next year. And I have two questions:

    1) I am on the low end of both of their work experience scale (they each average around 70 months). By next year, I’ll have 3 years of work experience. 2 years of ibanking in Chicago and 1 year of financial advisory work with social enterprises in India (where I am currently). I also have a year of travel experience. Any good suggestions for trying to show that I am ready and well prepared for this experience?

    2) I took the GMAT directly after undergraduate and didn’t studied nearly as much as I should have. I did fine on the verbal (98%) but bombed the math (52%) for a total score of 690. I didn’t retake it before applying, so I have written a paragraph on my optional essays saying that I don’t believe this score accurately reflects my ability and the I hope my strong financial experience and recommendations will demonstrate my true analytical skills. Is this the best way to go about this? Will it look like I just sloughed off or am making excuses to the committee? I understand that if I don’t get in, retaking the test will be my first priority.

    Thanks so much for your advice. I appreciate it.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/saritalr/ Sarah

    Hi Chioma,
    Thanks for volunteering to help. I’m in the process of applying for Fall 2011. I have 3.5 years of work experience (Federal Gov – Treasury) and received my BA from a top 15 University, albeit with a 3.2 GPA (IR major, econ minor).

    I’m interested in pursuing an MBA with an international business/econ focus – potentially even a 3 year dual degree program with a school like SAIS (JHU), SIPA (Columbia), or Georgetown. Given my unimpressive GPA, I feel like I really have something to prove with my GMAT – in particular the quant section of my GMAT. Unfortunately, the other aspects of my resume don’t scream “quant skills” either.

    I’ve taken the GMAT once (earlier this month), and ended up with a 700 (90%). I’m fairly sure I can raise the overall score, but in reality I’m most concerned with the breakdown. I scored a 92% in the verbal (which I can definitely raise – my practice tests have all been higher), but only a 68% in the Quant. I have another month to study and take the test again (although I’ll also be focusing on application essays).

    My question for you is this: do schools of all rankings give equal emphasis to the 80th percentile mark on the quant? I’m looking at schools with a range of acceptance rates (all with an international or econ bent) from Wharton and Columbia, to Georgetown. At this point in time, I’m working under the assumption that I don’t have much of a chance at attending my dream school (Wharton) until I can raise my quant score closer to the 80% mark. Would you agree? Do you think this is the case for all the schools I’m applying to?

    I’m going to have to fight tooth and nail for the higher quant score. Your answer will help me determine what percentage of my time I need to dedicate to studying quant over the next month (as opposed to working on other aspects of the application).

    Thank you in advance for your time. Your help is much appreciated.
    Sarah

  • http://www.togetherweknow.org Rex

    Hi Chioma,

    I have a 720 in GMAT (49Q/41V/5.5AWA) in a test from september 2009. I applied at a few non-US schools and could not clear the interview round (ISB, Nanyang, HKUST). I have an Information Technology sales and marketing profile, and a total of 3.5 yrs of work experience. I stay in India.

    I realised the absence of a strong professional story and hence decided to switch companies and work some more to build up a better profile and increase my chances of landing good opportunities post MBA. In my current job I have spent 6-7 months and I feel reasonably confident of my experience.

    I am unable to decide upon the right time for application. I am planning to target schools rich in High Technology experience. My key concerns are:

    Do I need to retake GMAT and get a better score to apply with? How long will my current GMAT score hold?
    Should I apply this year or the next?
    Could you recommend any schools that could prove to be a worthy fit for me? (I would not hold you down to any recommendations)
    If the answer to the previous question is negative, could you highlight factors for shortlisting business schools?

  • TLCI

    Hi Chioma

    Thanks for your response on interview scheduling. I have another query on my current employment –

    Legal structures of many family businesses tend to be complex on paper i.e. formed of many companies instead of one for instance. Similarly, my business is spread out over 2-3 companies. Since, we consider it as a single entity and always use our flagship company name in daily activities, I mentioned that name as my current employer. But, as I said, actual contracts and hence accounts with different clients are spread over 2 companies.

    Further, my role as mentioned on the application is not an official one. I mean it is a family business and I am the main guy i.e. I am leading all the operations but on paper its my relative who is the promoter/director/head of the business. They can give a signed document to verify my role if needed.

    I did not consult any adcom member while simplifying my current employment detail on application. I have not lied anywhere and I have not intentionally misrepresented anything. But when I came to know about background check after accepting admit offer, I realized that my current work experience may raise some red flags which I feel I will be able to explain if given an opportunity. But, at the same time I am afraid that it may raise question on my judgement to not clarify such situation with adcom earlier in the process.

    I am really confused and would love to find out how to resolve this issue at this stage in process (I have few interviews lined up).
    Is it wise to contact adcom now and tell them how it works in my country? Will it negatively impact my candidacy? I am sure if they contact any one from my office or my client’s office, they will definitely be able to verify my role & responsibility and my business’ summary relevant from day-to-day operations point of view.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Eric,

    The academics (700 GMAT and 3.33 GPA is ok), not stellar but not likely to keep you out. What you have to consider are a couple of things: What do you want to do long term and does the school have an emphasis in that? Your work experience will be scrutinized for impact and to assess whether you have a compelling case for why you want to go to business school. Teach for America is a great social enterprise brand. You’ve obviously made a switch to supply chain/logistics space….the question is whether this is where you want to establish your career. Why do you want to go now versus working a year or so longer at this current firm to get more direct experience under the belt? These are questions you will have to nail in the application to yield a positive outcome. You also have to consider what else you have in your story that differentiates you….for example, what was your leadership like at Wash U? Are you engaged in any community activity currently and do you have a solid track record of having an impact? I obviously have holes to your story that I don’t have clarity on which precludes me from making any definitive statements about whether these would be considered reach schools.

    The good news just going based on age, number of years of work experience, and academic profile is that we have worked with several candidates with similar stats and they have gotten into the schools you have outlined. However, determining how competitive you are ultimately depends on the above questions I posed and if the answer is that you have strong XCS and a well thought out plan for the post MBA goal and can make a strong case for why now, then you should be in the running for these schools. I do encourage you to visit the schools if possible, however, to make sure you “know what you are getting yourself into”.

    Best regards,

    Chioma
    Chioma@expartus.com

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Aunnie Patton,

    Being on the young side/fewer years of work experience, the admissions board would typically look out for professional maturity. This can be shown by a clear/well-thought through outline of career vision and mature essays. Any signs of immaturity or indecision on your part would be a major strike against your application. The European schools tend to trend older but there are always exceptions. Convince them why now makes sense versus a year or two years later and you will be closer to getting to a “yes” decision. I wouldn’t count on the travel so much. Focus on the impact you have had and the responsibility you have taken on and how you have delivered results. You’ve already applied so this may be a moot point.

    On the GMAT front, I recommend taking it again, focusing on the quant section and if the score is higher contacting the school right away. Why leave anything to chance? A 52% quant is quite low compared to your competition. Telling them the scores don’t represent what you are capable of but not taking the initiative to retake it will not help you at all.

    Best,

    Chioma
    Chioma@expartus.com

  • Nicole

    I’m looking to gauge the realistic chances of getting acceptance into some of my target schools when I apply this year (2010). I would like to apply in round 1 and have listed below my work and volunteer experience, as well as important stats.

    Graduated UC Berkeley with a degree in Mass Communications, GPA of 3.5
    Worked for Nielsen Mobile-Production Associate (07-08)
    LookSmart (Account Coordinator then Promoted to Account Manager of Western Region) (08-09)
    Pandora Radio (Campaign Manager-Inside Sales) (09-Present)

    GMAT: 610
    Marketing Chair-Northern Ca Chapter of 85 Broads; I help to promote and market all our events, geared towards professional women in all industries.
    Other stats: 24 year old Chinese-Fijian American, female

    I would like to apply to these schools based on my campus visits and their various offerings and programs:

    1) USC
    2) UCLA
    3) Georgetown
    4) University of maryland

  • Faisal

    Between IMD and Kellogg, which would be the better school if I wanted to target Management Consulting firms post-MBA and then may be later move into General Management?

    Secondly, it would be interesting to read a comparison among the big three international schools: INSEAD, IMD and LBS.
    Thanks.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Faisal,

    Below are some stats to consider as you decide which schools would be the best fit for you. More people go into consulting from Kellogg than IMD though you will find a good representation in Consulting at IMD. But there are many other factors to consider also beyond just industry/sector. Class size is one. IMD is very small (90)whereas Kellogg is large (500+). Geography of your career is a factor worth looking at. Do you want US focused career or European or Asian. The bulk of the IMD class stays in Europe and the bulk of the American schools remain in the US.

    Kellogg: when it comes to consulting, a sizeable chunk (38%) of the class pursue this option right after graduation. Banking and other financial services is 15%, while the rest of the class go into a variety of industries/sectors including Manufacturing, Pharma/Healthcare, etc.

    INSEAD: 39% go into Consulting Sector while 10% into GM…unsure how many of the consultants in the future switch into GM track…Finance is 17% for class of 2009; 59% of new graduates changed countries for employment which suggests significant flexibility

    IMB: 73% work in Europe and 1% in North America. If your goal is to work in the US, you may want to think twice about whether IMD would be the best option for you. If Europe is your career destination, then it would make absolute sense to consider the program. 69% go into industry so greater opportunity for GM exposure. 24% pursue Consulting.

    LBS: 36% go into the Financial Services sector, 31% into consulting, and 33% into Industry. More than half work in the UK (51%) while 24% in other countries in Europe. US sees only 8%, closely trailed by Asia (7%).

    Regards,

    Chioma
    Chioma@expartus.com

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Nicole,

    The schools you have on your list are still relatively competitive, especially the first two. So, to give yourself the best chance of getting admitted you need to try and raise your GMAT score from 610. The other potential flag is that you seem to have had short stints at your jobs, 1 year on average with the exception of your current job if you stay. Making any more moves would likely raise greater scrutiny of your career decisions and short tenure. You will still need to address the logic/thought process of your career decisions. In addition, try and take on more significant role of leadership/impact at your work at Pandora Radio. U of Maryland may be a possibility but again it will depend on how much value they place on the work experience you have and whether it’s a perspective they don’t have much of represented in their program. You may be better off waiting a year or so, beefing up your leadership, getting more traction at work/more leadership exposure/impact and raising your GMAT score.

    Regards,

    Chioma
    Chioma@expartus.com

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Rex,

    Good for you for being willing to assess the potential gaps to your profile in order to do something about it. The 720 GMAT for the demographic you fall into seems on the low side. You may wish to retake it if you think you can raise your score. But having said that, I’m not convinced the lack of successful application to the schools you applied to is solely based on that. I wonder about the quality of experience, impact, and level of responsibility at your work and whether it stands out compared to the competition. The essays may also be a factor as well as the strength of the recommendation letters. So in a nutshell, yes, take the GMAT again. The score is active for 5 years. I don’t see any mention of community service. A lot of times people just do things that they can list on their resume. This is a wasted effort. Schools are looking for people who are driven by a passion, have a commitment to make an impact, and have demonstrable evidence of those things that they say they wish to do (past success suggests future success). If there are holes in this area (in your XCS and work), then spend the next year or two to fill in these holes and then take another stab at the application. You always want to apply with the strongest application you possibly can. I don’t have all the facts of your story and as such I am unable to tell you what your list of schools are.

    Regards,

    Chioma
    Chioma@expartus.com

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Sarah,

    Most schools in general like to see a balanced breakdown for the GMAT. A low quant score raises questions about your ability to handle many of the MBA quantitative-focused courses while a low verbal score may flag communication issue, another vital part of the MBA academic experience. So aiming to at least be above the 80% watermark is a safe measure. That’s not to say that no one below the 80th percentile get admitted. Try and raise the quant to as close to this range as possible. Given the fact that Wharton is your dream school, and it happens to be a score that is quite quantitative in nature plus it attracts an applicant pool of individuals with strong quant profile, you want to be as competitive as possible.

    All the best with the GMAT!

    Chioma
    Chioma@expartus.com

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/dirtbroker/ Branden Lombardi

    I know you have commented about students with non-traditional paths to B-School, but I am looking for some more insight into how my case would be viewed by admissions at the top schools. I was diagnosed with cancer as a Sr. in High School (’98) and spent the next three years going through treatment and surgeries. this negatively impacted my undergraduate career, and with life getting in the way, I am now finally back in school at 29 yo and will be graduating in Dec. 2011. I have worked full time with a commercial real estate and capital advisory firm since 2004 and also started a non-profit organization focused on quality of life issues for cancer patients when I was 18 that is now one of the most well known in Arizona. My GPA is 3.5 and my GMAT score is 700. Do I have a chance to get into a Harvard, Stanford, Kellog? Also, how do I approach applications for Fall 2012 (apply Fall 2011) if I won’t graduate until Dec. 2011? Thanks for your help!

  • Ninja

    Hi Chioma

    I have been self employed for a while. I applied to schools and now waiting for final admit decision from couple of them.

    In last 1 month there has been a significant development from my biz end. It was in a partnership format and the partner has taken over the entire biz now (an hostile takeover – a pretty nasty one). Although I am currently working on new biz setup, I am not sure how to convey this news to the adcom, if at all I need to update them on the current situation. Moreover, I am not even sure if the current firm will continue to exist or the entire operations will be moved to partner’s company account.

    So, now I am in a situation where I have an important update to share and also worried about the verification process if in case the current company ceases to exist.

    I must also mention that this situation does not impact my motivation, my goals to do an MBA. In fact it only adds to the urgency now.

    Please advice what would be the best way to deal with this situation.

  • Anita1212

    Hi Chioma

    I am definitely a non-traditional candidate and need some advice from you in terms of positioning myself.

    A bit of a background: Indian female, Undergrad and MS in Engineering (GPA: 3.5), 6+ years in trading technology at 3 top Bulge Bracket investment banks in NYC, GMAT: 690

    Quit after I had a kid in Dec-2009 and have been working on my business plan for a manufacturing business in India.

    I am worried that because I left my job to go on the mommy-track I wont be viewed as a strong candidate. What do you think?

    What can I do (especially in my essays) to strengthen my candidacy?

    Please advice. Thanks for your help.

    Anita

  • Vicky

    Hi Chioma,

    Thank you for this great post, it’s very informative!

    I was hoping to ask you a GMAT question. I took the test cold a year back and scored 490.
    After agonizing, if I could improve my score enough to be competitive – I took it 3 more times (570, 620 and finally 720)

    I believe that most schools will only look at the highest score, but I am wondering if in reality this might not be the case.
    Can you please let us know if I should “explain” my multiple attempts taking the GMAT or just believe that the schools will only look at the highest score.

    Thank you for all your support in creating this blog!!

    Vicky.

  • Raja Singh

    Here is my situation –
    I work at a software company in the bay area on the product management area – have about 7 years of IT experience ( 1 yr consulting, 5 yrs engineering, 1 product management). I am looking to continue in my current field of product management and change later to selling software solution services.
    Based on my employers permission to let me work remotely, I applied to part-time program at UofC, Kellogg and Haas. Want to be accepted at both UofC and Kellogg, made a decision to go with Kellogg.
    Recently, I also interviewed with Haas for PT program starting fall 2011. As the date for intimation of results from Haas draws closer I am in a dilemma whether to go to Kellogg or Haas (if accepted).

    My questions are –
    1. Given the work experience I have and the company (one of the top software companies) that I work for does it matter between Haas and Kellogg ?

    2. Because I have decided to continue in my current field of software/consulting does it make sense to be in the silicon valley as opposed to in the chicago area ?

    3. Will networking opportunities with peers in high-tech be better at Haas than at Kellogg?

    4. Is career progression during the part-time study very important or will the mba from a better school off-set that ?

    Appreciate your help on this.

  • Or

    Hi Chioma,

    My question is basically whether the same AdCom member (in my case HBS, Wharton, and Stanford) reads the entire application, or the practice is to split the tasks, so it’s possible that the one who reads my recommendations will not be the one who evaluates my essays or CV.
    In other words, writing my essays, can I assume that the reader already read my CV, so I can skip the background?
    (that will save me a precious place in the words count)

    Thanks in advance,
    Or

  • http://www.togetherweknow.org Rex

    I have often wondered about re-taking the GMAT, but I too am not entirely convinced that a score of 720, although low in this demographic, would decisively hinder my chances. Hence I am working towards creating a better XCS and work profile. I have an above average academic record.

    “Schools are looking for people who are driven by a passion, have a commitment to make an impact, and have demonstrable evidence of those things that they say they wish to do (past success suggests future success)”

    After last year’s attempt, I realized that schools are definitely looking for passion AND results. I have cultivated photography and design as hobbies, and have created a portal to connect engineers to solve functional and technical problems. I have also joined the Indian Red Cross Society and have been working on increasing awareness of their Thalassemia transfusion center.

    I am looking for a career in sales/marketing in high technology. Since childhood I have been interested in technology and am acutely aware of the current high tech scenario. I have decided upon applying in schools which boast good technology related courses, and are located close the high-tech hot spots. UCLA Anderson and Tepper are my selections based on the above.

    Would I need to compromise on the school with my current profile?

  • Tony Stark

    Hi Chioma,

    If i have a reverse chronology rather than a conventional one would that affect my application negatively?

    I realized that a typical MBA applicant has a chronology as such: high school > college > graduate > work/career > b-school application

    Whereas my academic and career chronology is sort of inversed: high school > college > drop out > started family business > went back to college while running business at the same time > graduate > b-school application

    and I’m 28

    Do I need to work extra hard to demonstrate that I am not any different from the applicant pool?

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Branden,
    Admissions people are human and are understanding. They take each person’s circumstance into consideration. You will need to use the optional essay or additional information section of your application to make sure you address your health situation. The key is to not present your situation as an excuse for not doing well but more as a matter of fact situation and then focus on what you have done, how you have bounced back, your growth, lessons learned. Your nonprofit sounds really interesting. They would be interested in how successful it is, the level of impact it is having, etc. As for applying 2011 without having graduated, you may want to clarify how each school feels about that. But generally speaking you would be considered a non-traditional student and I know many schools can be flexible around a situation like yours but it is on a case by case basis and can vary by MBA programs. As for the academic profile of 3.5 and 700, it seems ok. If your GMAT could go higher, why not try. If not, focus on the rest of the app where you have control. Your goals will be vital also in your evaluation.
    Drop me a line and let me know how things evolve for you. And all the best!
    Chioma
    Chioma@expartus.com

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Ninja,
    I’m sorry to hear of your business situation. Going into business with someone can be fraught with significant challenges. I wouldn’t contact the schools you are awaiting to hear from till you get in. I wouldn’t call to simply deliver bad news. I don’t know where you are in the process. If you haven’t interviewed, and you get an interview invite, it would be a good context to present this information. You have to be careful about how you present the info. Focus on the positives if at all possible. Coming off as bitter won’t endear you to the interviewer. Focus on lessons learned, growth, awareness, and what you would do differently. If you have already interviewed, hang tight, get results and then follow up with the program. If you decide to broaden your applications then you must disclose this info in the new applications. This makes for a solid failure essay if there ever was one. But again, take ownership, don’t complain (they hate that) and try to find the silver lining.
    Best,
    Chioma
    Chioma@expartus.com

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Anita,
    Congrats on your child and good for you for having the guts to follow your heart. I am a mom myself and think it’s a pretty cool job! Ok, here’s the deal: the adcom cares about your rationale behind your action not simply the action. It will be crucial to connect the dots regarding your goals—it has to make sense. The time off isn’t too long but you have to help them understand why you took the time off: establish biz plan, clarify your next steps/goals, and of course motherhood. But then you have to layout how/why now makes sense, what you have discovered/identified over the time off that helps to clarify your long term goals. They don’t like things like I needed to “FIND MYSELF” OR I WAS BURNT OUT, etc. They look more for well thought through plan of not running away but moving towards something that makes sense not running away. As far as essays go….show that in your job as a trader you delivered results and interesting things beyond just work. Sharing your values and how they have fueled your decisions will reassure them that you are thoughtful about making decisions.
    Best,
    Chioma
    Chioma@expartus.com

  • Matthew

    Hi Chioma,

    First, thanks for answering all these questions! This is a really great service.

    I was wondering if you could tell me whether or not I’m competitive at the top tier schools (HBS, Stanford, etc.), and, if not, what I can do to get a better edge.

    -I did undergrad at the University of Florida, degrees in Poli Sci and Journalism with a GPA of 3.8
    -I just finished a distance master’s in International Relations from St. Mary’s (a small private college in Texas) with a GPA of 4.0
    -I have five years work experience as U.S. Infantry Army Officer. I’ve deployed and led soldiers in Iraq, and I have commanded a company of over 180 soldiers at a base in Germany. I also have some journalism internships as well.
    -I got a disproportionately balanced score on the GMAT: a 700 overall. 97 percentile on verbal but 61 percentile on quant. I would take it again, but over here in Germany, taking the GMAT was a difficult and stressful adventure.
    -I speak weak but passable Spanish, German and Arabic

    Do you think I’m competitive at the top schools? Thank you much!

  • Malvika

    Hi Chioma,

    I just received my GMAT-AWA score and got a score of only 4.
    Should I be worried? Should I be taking GMAT again to just improve my AWA score?
    I am an international applicant and will be applying only to US Top 10 schools.
    How much AWA score matter? Do schools take GMAT score into consideration while making admission decisions?
    Will really appreciate your quick response..!

    Malvika

  • Tamer Karam

    Hi Chioma,

    I am planning to attend MBA in 2011, I had conducted certain research about several business schools, my short list is (Warwick, Manchester, Cranfield, Rotterdam, Lancaster, Oxford), but basically I need your opinions for the following inquiries;
    – I am professional senior marketer with more than12+ years experience, of the key issue for applying for MBA is to go for more international marketing management positions, so which school do you recommend for the best practice and hiring for marketers
    – Cranfield is top ranked one but when I compared their programs with schools like Warwick, I found that they are focused more on the academic approach than the practical approach. Please comment.
    – Rotterdam is good school, but some friends stated that its international recognition for employers still in progress. What are your opinions?
    – Can you rank these schools in terms of programs and recruiters recognition?

    Thank you a lot
    Tamer

  • ankita

    HI Chioma,

    I am Interested in working for Non-profit organizations would like to consider schools that have campus visits from organizations like UN, world bank , IFC , IMF etc. Which universities Us or Non Us would be the best for such placements ? Do you think I could target these schools with m profile?
    I know LSE has visits from the IFC, but it does not seem to have a specific MBA program as such. But does have a MSC in management. Would that have the same effect as an MBA ?

    I really need a headstart with my applications for fall 2011 admits. Please find a brief overview of my profile.

    24 female, Indian nationality.
    GMAT – 650 ; Quants 44 and Verbal 35
    GRE -1360 ; Quants 770 and Verbal 590
    Undergrad : B.S in Mechanical Engineering from SUNY Buffalo, NY.
    GPA : 3.29
    CFA (US) level 1 cleared; all geared for level 2 in June , 2011.
    Work exp: 6 months as a research analyst in a share broking firm in India.
    1 year – in a retail MNC in Germany as a Financial Analyst

    Thanks and Cheers!!
    ankita

  • G

    Increasingly, amidst the financial crisis and various economic crises around the world, b-schools are looking at hirability/recruitability/employability or “professional potential” (chances of landing a desired job upon graduation) as one of the major factors of admissions to minimize the recent negative impact on their rankings.

    Do you have any thoughts on how applicants can improve their “employability”? Applicants can enhance their profiles with better GMAT, additional courses for low GPAs, and additional letters of recommendations for better support. But improving “employability” doesn’t seem so transparent.

  • Jim

    Hi Chioma,

    I would like to know whether my background is good enough to challenge for positions at top programs such as Stanford, Northwestern, Dartmouth, Cal-Berkeley, and Michigan.

    – UG: I graduated with a 3.47 in accounting from a midwestern regional university
    – WE: I am a CPA with 3+ years experience at a big-4 public accounting firm, including a promotion and top performance rating
    – GMAT: I scored a 750 (50 quant / 41 verbal)

    My undergraduate record has a couple of black marks, including a couple of below-average semesters and a year gap in classes. My junior and senior years were extremely strong (3.9-4.0 gpa).

    Have I accomplished enough to warrant consideration at the top universities?

    Thank you for your honest feedback.

    – Jim

  • Greg

    Hi,

    I want to move into investment management. I already have an admit from Yale and Cornell and have a good chance in Duke as well. I know none of these schools is best in investment management but then I could not make it through Columbia and MIT. Which of these schools would you recommend?

    thanks
    Greg

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/boston2011/ Paul

    Hi Chioma –

    I have yet to take the GMAT but am looking to do so shortly, with a goal of applying to at least a few schools third round. I don’t see a lot of conversation out there about the third round so I was hoping you could comment on some the disadvantages and if there are any advantages? One specific question I have regarding the third round is, do any schools defer acceptance for a year, or do they consider only applicants that come on for the upcoming year?

    Thanks,

    Paul

  • Kady

    Hi Chioma,

    I’ve been waitlisted at Dartmouth- which is my dream school.

    I am a Sri Lankan Canadian who is currently working in the US in the operational side of investment management. I got a 690 on my gmat and went to a state public school (nothing fancy academically) where I majored in my Economics and Business Adm. (with honors). Also, I had a 3.4

    Here’s the rub: The week the application was due, I was having major computer problems and had to transfer all of my documents to another computer. Long story short, the work I turned in was not my best. It had spelling and grammatical errors in the application and in the essays. The school let me resubmit my essays, but there were still errors in the application. Also, since it was the first application I put together, it just wasn’t as strong as ones I have done more recently. Frankly, I’m surprised I was waitlisted- although I did attend a diversity event and signed up for an interview, which I think helped quite a bit.

    I wrote the school a letter stating that I do want to remain on the waitlist, and updated them on some personal and professional achievements, but other than that, what can I do? I don’t know any high level Tuck alums, but the ones I do know wrote in on my behalf during the application process.

    Thank you!

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Vicky,

    Thanks for your question regarding whether schools look at your highest GMAT score. The short answer is that most schools accept the highest score but there is a caveat. Many of them ask how many attempts it took you to raise the score or that you report each of your GMAT scores. This suggests that while they appreciate the huge jump from a 490 to a 720 (which was your case), some may “question” why it took three additional attempts to raise the score. I wouldn’t do an essay thesis to address this but encourage you to be aware that this could be an issue. It could come up in an interview. Even if they don’t ask you about it, perhaps a short statement in the online application would help add some color to your experience.

    Some people will look at the jump as indication of persistence, hard work, etc. Others may view it as lack of preparedness or even question the academic readiness of the candidate. I wouldn’t fixate over it but be ready to defend your decision should it come up.

    Best,

    Chioma Isiadinso
    CEO EXPARTUS (www.expartus.com)
    Author of The Best Business Schools’ Admissions Secrets (www.mbaadmissionsecrets.com)

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Raja,

    I hope the admissions outcome for both Haas and Kellogg are positive. Below are my responses to your questions:
    1. Given the work experience I have and the company (one of the top software companies) that I work for does it matter between Haas and Kellogg?
    There is a clear way to ascertain which programs will help you to achieve your career objectives. First, where are the alumni of the programs coming from? Which companies employ them and are there geographic differences between where the alumni of Kellogg end up vs the alumni from Haas. I suspect that if you want your career to remain in the high tech industry, then Haas wins out in terms of support, alumni cluster in the region vs the Mid West. If you are looking to move away from California for Chicago then Kellogg would be worth a close review.
    2. Because I have decided to continue in my current field of software/consulting does it make sense to be in the silicon valley as opposed to in the Chicago area?
    Yes if you get into Haas.
    3. Will networking opportunities with peers in high-tech be better at Haas than at Kellogg?
    I am not privy to Haas/Kellogg part time networking opportunities but it seems to me that the reasonable thing to do is for you to ask current students and alumni who have gone through both programs to get a sense of the ideal option for you.
    4. Is career progression during the part-time study very important or will the mba from a better school off-set that ?
    This question gets to the issue of what the candidate brings with them experience-wise plus the impact of the program. Are MBAs successful because of the strength of their programs or do certain schools attract exceptional candidates with strong work experience/progression and powerful networks that help promote the MBA program’s brand….my take on this is that it is a combination of factors. This means that what students bring to the MBA program will go a long way to determine their career journey. The program quality (faculty, caliber of students they encounter, active alumni network, etc) can also make a difference. I encourage you to really drill down as you investigate both programs, students, alumni, career opportunities, etc., before you make your final decision.

    Hope this helps.

    Chioma Isiadinso
    CEO EXPARTUS (www.expartus.com)
    Author of The Best Business Schools’ Admissions Secrets (www.mbaadmissionsecrets.com)

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Or,

    Yes, typically the same adcom member reviews the entire application, does a write-up of his/her opinion about you then the application is reviewed by another board member. They do not split up the application by recommendations, essays, etc. Each application is reviewed holistically to get a full picture of the candidate. Regarding balancing regurgitating your resume and skipping background information, it is a balancing act. You should assume that the reader will review your resume at some point. The sequence in which the materials are reviewed can vary though. If it is standard information such as what a typical Analyst does in Investment Banking or when dealing with well know firms, don’t use up words explaining/describing that. On the other hand, if you are dealing with companies, projects, situations that are more unusual or beyond what someone at that level typically does, it is worth including more data to help the reader understand the context that you are describing. If in doubt have an expert with experience reviewing applications to weigh in on your application.
    Best,

    Chioma Isiadinso
    CEO EXPARTUS (www.expartus.com)
    Author of The Best Business Schools’ Admissions Secrets (www.mbaadmissionsecrets.com)

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hello Tony,

    Reverse chronology for the MBA resume is perfectly fine There isn’t a hard and fast rule. Strategically you could begin your resume with your work experience including when you worked while completing your degree as well as when you worked while taking a hiatus from school. I would focus on your impact in each of your roles….that you have had growth in responsibility and that you have delivered results. The biggest question someone would have about someone with your profile is likely around maturity, decision making and ability to “sit tight” and go through the MBA without taking time off again. So with that in mind, if you can demonstrate both in your essays, recommendations, and resume that you have made well-thought through decisions, have held significant responsibilities and have delivered on them, you can reassure the adcom to “bet” on you. As an aside, I would not include High School information. Too long ago!

    Best,

    Chioma Isiadinso
    CEO EXPARTUS (www.expartus.com)
    Author of The Best Business Schools’ Admissions Secrets (www.mbaadmissionsecrets.com)

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Matthew,

    You will likely realize from past comments to applicants asking if they are competitive at specific schools that I usually respond by saying that I don’t have enough information to make definitive statements on people’s chances. There is a tendency in the applicant world to view the evaluative process as more of a check box: high GMAT, high GPA, great school, great job track record. Well, candidates can have all of these things but still not get into a top schools. Others with some weakness, whether it is a low undergrad experience or a lack of community service and still get into ALL their top schools. The reason comes down to the quantitative and qualitative aspects of the evaluation process.

    So going back to your question, top schools view candidates with strong leadership experiences favorably in the evaluation process. The question for you is how you will stack up compared to other military candidates (level of responsibility, evidence of leadership impact, etc, and of course academically speaking). While 700 is ok, the low quant figure (61%), non quant major/experience would be a major obstacle to overcome without raising the score. I would expand the school list if I were in your shoes. Finally, the quality of the essays and what they reveal about you plus the strength of the recommendations can go some way to helping you stand out from your competition.

    Best,

    Chioma Isiadinso
    CEO EXPARTUS (www.expartus.com)
    Author of The Best Business Schools’ Admissions Secrets (www.mbaadmissionsecrets.com)

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Malvika,

    The GMAT is very important in the application process. For more information about the GMAT check out the BeatTheGMAT community (www.beatthegmat.com). When it comes to the AWA score, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. I know Columbia does pay attention to it closely and a 4.0 will likely be viewed as weak, especially as an international applicant. Many schools pay more attention to the breakdown between the verbal and quant section. But a low AWA can signal that there could be writing issues and will also raise flags if your essays are overly polished. If you are planning to apply sometime in the future, then consider retaking the GMAT especially if this is the first time you have taken it.

    Best,

    Chioma Isiadinso
    CEO EXPARTUS (www.expartus.com)
    Author of The Best Business Schools’ Admissions Secrets (www.mbaadmissionsecrets.com)

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Tamer,

    Thanks for your question. At 12+ years experience you have to determine whether the one year vs the part time/executive MBA would be the best option for you. These are all good programs. Check out the overall school rankings according to the FT European ranking: (http://rankings.ft.com/businessschoolrankings/european-business-school-rankings-2010). Some are better known than others outside of Europe (eg. Oxford, Rotterdam).

    As far as which ones are the best ones for hiring Marketers, I recommend that you look at each of their career report to see not only the percentage of the class that is going into Marketing but also which kinds of companies recruit at the schools. This will help you ascertain whether the firms you aspire to work for even recruit at the programs and whether alumni from those programs work at your target firms. For an example, check out Cranfield’s career report: http://www.som.cranfield.ac.uk/som/dinamic-content/media/documents/gradprogrammes/MBA/CranfieldMBACareersReport2010.pdf

    Cranfield has 15% coming in with Sales/Marketing background but 10% go into this functional role post the MBA. Interestingly, when you compare the average salary by function Pre vs Post MBA: 45K+ vs 93K+ for Sales/Marketing which is the biggest salary gain in terms of functions. You have to go into the minutia by looking at each school’s data, then vetting it against “reality” by finding out what alumni/current students at these programs have to say about their program/experiences. This level of detail will help you determine whether the significant salary spike that occurs in the Sales/Marketing career opportunity is a result of strong career services support, strong alumni network in Marketing roles, etc.

    Best,

    Chioma Isiadinso
    CEO EXPARTUS (www.expartus.com)
    Author of The Best Business Schools’ Admissions Secrets (www.mbaadmissionsecrets.com)

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Ankita,

    Indian female with 650 GMAT and 3.29 with a year and half work experience seems to be somewhat weak. I would focus on building more work experience, raising the GMAT score or GRE verbal scores, and then trying and getting some exposure/experience that reinforces your dream to change careers into working for a MultiLateral organization like the IFC/IMF. One year FA role is going to come off as light compared to your competition. Clients of ours that we have seen who were able to get jobs at firms like these tended to have very high GPA in college and were recruited directly into the firm post college or they worked for a blue chip financial services firm for two years before making the switch. That is the bar you will compete for post the MBA and schools are aware of that. On the admissions side of things, MBA programs in general prefer more substantive experience (about 4 years) vs Management masters programs that see the bulk of their students coming in with limited experience. Yale School of Management has a strong reputation in nonprofit management. But besides Yale, several of the MBA programs in Europe/US have a portion of their class going into non profit sectors.

    Best,

    Chioma Isiadinso
    CEO EXPARTUS (www.expartus.com)
    Author of The Best Business Schools’ Admissions Secrets (www.mbaadmissionsecrets.com)

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi G,

    You raise an interesting question about how applicants can increase their employability. Two areas are worth looking at. One is the technical skills of the candidate and whether he/she is a fit for the career role. Understanding the skill set that the position will require and building-out the experience (whether through course work, projects, internships, etc) will help you on that front. But more than technical skills, firms are looking for the intangibles; they want to make sure they are recruiting individuals with great interpersonal skills, people who are great team players and have varied experiences working on group projects. The more global your experience/perspective is, the more attractive you can look to many employers. So building your technical skills, having a strong performance at the MBA program (firms are looking at this data point closely) as well as GMAT performance (some industries care about this), and sharpening your emotional intelligence, communication skills will help you become a more attractive employee. It goes without saying–seek out opportunities to serve and lead while pursuing your MBA and excel academically.

    Best,

    Chioma Isiadinso
    CEO EXPARTUS (www.expartus.com)
    Author of The Best Business Schools’ Admissions Secrets (www.mbaadmissionsecrets.com)

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Jim,

    The factors you flag demonstrate profile that is fine: 3.47 GPA at regional school, 3+yr at big 4 Accounting Firm with strong work exp, CPA, and strong GMAT 750. But it may or may not be enough to yield a positive admission. It will come down to how you pull the stories together, what stories you choose to discuss in your essays, what those stories say about you/your brand, and whether your recommendations are strong and reinforce the overall message you are communicating about yourself.

    There will be candidates with similar profiles as you who will gain admission to the schools you flag. There will also be candidates with lower GPA or GMAT or even fewer years of work experience who will get admitted. So yes, think of your profile as admissible but not guaranteed admission. Invest in strong essays, have a clear sense of the overall brand message you are communicating about yourself, and make sure your recommendations reinforce this message and of course, nail the interview.

    Best,

    Chioma Isiadinso
    CEO EXPARTUS (www.expartus.com)
    Author of The Best Business Schools’ Admissions Secrets (www.mbaadmissionsecrets.com)

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hello Paul,

    Third round applications are generally discouraged by many of the top schools. The biggest issue with the third round is that there are fewer spots available and an applicant that may be admissible in the earlier rounds may be denied admission given that there aren’t enough spots available. In some cases, such candidates may be encouraged to apply again in the first round for the following year. In some instances I’ve had clients receive admission offer to enroll for the following year. This is not common practice so don’t count on it, though. Applicants coming from traditional MBA profiles (eg bankers/PE/VC or consulting backgrounds) are better off applying in early rounds. They will have tougher time explaining why they didn’t have their act together enough to apply early. Non traditional candidates like Military, Government/nonprofit people or even individuals from less represented countries can get away with applying later, especially if they have very strong profiles/overall application. The uniqueness of their profile could be viewed favorably in rounding out the class.

    Best,

    Chioma Isiadinso
    CEO EXPARTUS (www.expartus.com)
    Author of The Best Business Schools’ Admissions Secrets (www.mbaadmissionsecrets.com)

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Kady,

    I’m sorry to hear of the waitlist situation. I don’t know that there is anything else you can do in a practical sense. They gave you a chance to rectify the situation and the new essays/app still had errors—likely to annoy the admissions board. I’m assuming you did a visit on campus. If not, try and do that. It can’t hurt. Great lesson in crossing one’s T and dotting one’s I.

    The 690 GMAT with an average GPA from State School isn’t helping either. If you can raise the GMAT score, it can signal to Tuck that you can be diligent and that you are doing everything you can to secure a spot. I believe they received a ton of applications last year and not sure where they will be this year so anything you can do to help “move the admission dial” should be explored. So visit if you haven’t, try to connect with an adcom while there, and raise the GMAT score if possible.

    Warmly,

    Chioma Isiadinso
    CEO EXPARTUS (www.expartus.com)
    Author of The Best Business Schools’ Admissions Secrets (www.mbaadmissionsecrets.com)

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Greg,

    Congrats on the admission offers! Look at all the factors that matter most to you about the MBA experience. Life in upstate NY can be different from life in North Carolina or New Haven. Proximity to the financial capital could be worth investigating—when doing your job search, how easy would it be to get on a train/plane to visit with firms/alum? Consider percentages of alumni from each of the schools going into Investment Management. And then ascertain the level of support Career Services offers to its students and how responsive alumni are. These will help you determine which program would be the best for you.

    Warmly,

    Chioma Isiadinso
    CEO EXPARTUS (www.expartus.com)
    Author of The Best Business Schools’ Admissions Secrets (www.mbaadmissionsecrets.com)

  • Evan

    Hi Chioma,

    Thanks for taking the time to answer everyone’s questions! I’m thinking of applying for Rd 1 in the Fall of 2011 for 2012 admissions, and was wondering if you could give me your opinion on my profile and my target schools.

    GMAT: 720 (82% Q, 96% V), 6.0 AWA

    Undergraduate: 3.6 GPA Bachelor of Commerce (Marketing Major, Dean’s List) from top Canadian Business Program (Queen’s/McGill/Ivey caliber)

    Work Experience: Currently 3.5 years with one of Canada’s top Energy companies (Shell/Suncor/Esso), currently in my fourth position with company after 3 promotions. Have lived in both Toronto and Vancouver and have held roles in Supply Chain Management, Retail Strategy, Operations and now managing a territory in B.C ($250 M in sales over 33 retailers)

    Volunteer: Have worked as a respite worker with an adolescent with autism for the last 7 years; been on company’s executive committee for United Way campaigns;

    University Extracurriculars: Was on University case team, school’s Marketing Network VP, Captained 4 intramural sports teams

    Other: Have started a few websites on the side; ran a small computer consulting business between 2nd and 3rd year during the summer
    ST Goals: Gain industry experience with online services (e.g. Google or Facebook)
    LT Goals: Strategy and Marketing role in online service startup

    Target Schools:

    Stanford
    Kellogg
    Berkeley
    UCLA

    What do you think my chances would be next year based on my profile and goals?

    Thanks in advance

  • Rajesh Goel

    Hi,

    I had a question regarding my HBS application.
    1) In the mistake essay, would it make sense to talk about some experience which was 8 years ago? I graduated in 2007 and have 3.5 years of experience so far. Before college, I worked in my family business and was hoping to write about that.
    2) In the experience column, they have asked full time experience as well as part time experience. In my case, along with my full-time job, I have been working part-time with an organization on weekends. So should I include this work under part-time experience since college, and also how should I quote it in number of months?
    3) In Additional information, what does the admissions committee typically expect in this column.

    Thanks,
    RG

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Evan,

    First thing to point out is that the fact that you are planning to apply several months from now gives you a good head start to make sure you prepare effectively. It’s always tougher to be in the midst of the application process with just a month or few weeks to work with.

    Your academic and work experience both sound solid. Canadian Energy expertise can be an interesting viewpoint that isn’t over represented in the pool, another plus. Your schools are skewed to the West Coast with the exception of Kellogg but the acceptance rates vary a bit to give you some wiggle room towards seeing at least one admit offer. So short answer really is that you probably have the raw materials to make a strong case for the schools on your list. What will determine the outcome of your application will be exactly what the stories/essays are and what they reveal about you. Then of course, the strength of the recommendation letters will also come in handy as well. If you nail both of these plus the interviews, you should be able to get a positive outcome. The only thing I would try and improve on if anything would be the GMAT especially for a school like Stanford that has an average score that is quite high.

    Feel free to touch base offline should you have more specific questions about your application preparation.

    Best,
    Chioma Isiadinso
    CEO EXPARTUS (www.expartus.com)
    Author of The Best Business Schools’ Admissions Secrets (www.mbaadmissionsecrets.com)

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Rajesh,

    It depends on the substantive nature of the experience. If there is enough “meat” to the story, then it could be interesting from an Admission Board perspective. Family business stories can be differentiating if you actually accomplished real results and have things you can point to that you actually did. I don’t have the online info in front of me but if I understand your question correctly, if it is work you did post college and it wasn’t part of your full time work, then yes it should be captured under part time experience post college.

    For additional information it is just another space to address anything pressing you haven’t addressed that is critical to your story. Inconsistencies in grades (it has to be substantial to be worth addressing in my opinion), unusual circumstance like work decision or gap or any other factor that you were unable to address elsewhere in your application can be presented in this spot.

    Best,
    Chioma Isiadinso
    CEO EXPARTUS (www.expartus.com)
    Author of The Best Business Schools’ Admissions Secrets (www.mbaadmissionsecrets.com)

  • R_S_Admin

    Hi,

    I am a female with a GMAT Score of 530 and a work experience of around 9 years with experience of leading teams of 10 -15 ppl in SAP Domain in IT Company.what are my chances of getting selected in Top 10 B-Schools across the world mainly Harvard?
    I am planning to re-take my GMAT in a month and apply for 2012 Application round.

    As I have heard GMAT is not the only criteria of evaluation.However I would like to know how much weightage is given to it and ideally if we fall in the range for the school,is our application given a thought by the school.

    Thanks

  • ActuarialGuy

    Hi Chioma!! Hope everything is great!

    I hope i could get some of your valuable advice. I am from an unusual background for an MBA. I am a Life Actuarial (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Actuary) . I did a lot of research so I know that very few actuarials go the MBA route, so you might imagine my concerns.

    I work for a famous european insurer in Latam. Will be promoted twice by the time i apply (should be promoted again in june, been here for just 12 months so far), also have 6 months of experience in Quant finance)

    My question is:
    1. do you think that my unusual background will actually help me (for class diversity sake) or will they just not know well enough what I do and not “risk it”. Since i work in Insurance, id ontk now if that classifies as “Financial Services” or “Other Services” for B-shools.
    2. My plan is to apply to HBS, Wharton and Booth, first round (maybe add Stanford there), for second round (Columbia, Stern, MIT and a fourth)

    More about me in case you need more info
    1. from a Wharton partner uni in LatAm, graduated first of my class (1/123), an VP for world’s biggest student association (vp of local chapter, not entire organization)
    2. No gmat yet, shooting for over 700, shouldnt be a problem according to my practice tests
    3. fluent in arabic, spanish and of course english, intermediate french and german
    4. Was stateless up till 21 years old and lived in warzone when i was 17 (i am palestinian), should i even try to play that card, Dont wanna play the victim and wanna get admitted for my own merits But being a refugee played a big part for what i am today.

  • Mark

    Hi Chioma –

    I would like to gauge my chances for an interview with HBS and Stanford GSB. I applied R2 (class of 2013) and have listed my important stats below:

    Background: Black, gay male who is first generation in family to attend college
    Education: Cornell University, Applied Economics major
    GPA: 3.0
    GMAT: 590

    Work:
    1) Currently work with real estate company I founded my 2nd yr of college
    1) Recently, derivatives trader for major investment bank in 2 years analyst program directly out of college
    3) Internships for 4 summers with major investment banks and consulting firms in both New York and London
    4) Full time job for for years of college

    Community:
    1) Head of junior Board of 2 LGBT nonprofits
    2) Football intramural league
    3) In college, participated in minority business club and concert club

    Recommendations: 2 from supervisors and 1 from peer on Community service Board

    Career Goal: nonprofit consulting

    Thank you

    Mark

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi RS,

    A GMAT of 530 is low for any demographic applying to a top business school. Given your IT experience, you will also be competing in an overly subscribed category and with individuals with strong GMAT performance. So your plan to retake the GMAT is absolutely necessary if you wish to be in the running for a spot at a selective business school. Your aim should be to secure a GMAT score north of 700. But you are right in stating the GMAT is not the only criteria for evaluation. You will also have to demonstrate impressive leadership track record, upward trend in responsibility at work, as well as unique perspective (life experiences through diverse projects, extracurricular activities, etc) that you will bring to the program.

    You should also consider what the program is strong in and whether it will prepare you effectively for the career you plan to pursue post business school. I wouldn’t simply focus on rankings alone but would recommend that you do more robust research of programs that might be a good fit based on career opportunities for graduates, geographical interest, teaching methodology where you would thrive, etc.

    Hope this helps. Happy researching.

    Chioma
    Chioma Isiadinso
    CEO, EXPARTUS (www.expartus.com)
    Author of The Best Business Schools’ Admissions Secrets

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Actuarial Guy,

    Thanks for your questions. Here are my thoughts regarding them…

    1. do you think that my unusual background will actually help me (for class diversity sake) or will they just not know well enough what I do and not “risk it”. Since i work in Insurance, id ontk now if that classifies as “Financial Services” or “Other Services” for B-schools.

    Coming from an unusual background does not automatically given a candidate an edge. What is more important is what he/she has achieved in that unique environment and whether this “fits” within a business school context. So while a lot of individuals who studied actuary science may not apply to business school, the question on every admissions board member’s mind is: “what is your long term goal and does an MBA make sense?” Your challenge will be showing that you need the MBA to achieve your goals. If it is broader skills that you seek, then you have to show that you are looking to expand beyond your current role/function, whether it is to become the head honcho within the Insurance Industry or you wish to pursue a career change in a different role/industry.

    As for how schools categorize individuals in Insurance, it varies. Some schools have it under Financial Services within Diversified/Insurance as is the case at HBS while schools like Columbia GSB has it under Other.

    2. My plan is to apply to HBS, Wharton and Booth, first round (maybe add Stanford there), for second round (Columbia, Stern, MIT and a fourth)
    It is good to pace yourself since the application can take a lot of work. I personally think 8 schools is a lot. I advise applicants to target 5-6 schools so they can focus on delivering the best quality application across the board. You should find out more about the student profiles at these schools and whether they have any students with similar backgrounds as you. What are the career prospects of individuals with similar goals? This will help you to target your schools. And of course, look at the firms you wish to work for and see if any of them recruit at the above target schools.

    You mentioned in your question that you are originally from Palestine, were stateless till you were 21, and grew up in a warzone. You also mention your international background and language ability (Arabic, Spanish, French and German)….In my opinion, any experience that had a strong impact in shaping your character, aspirations, world-view are all part of your brand and you should not hesitate to introduce them into your MBA story. They can serve as differentiating elements. The key is authenticity. If it made an impact on you, then use it. If not, don’t force it, as the adcom can see through insincerity.

    All the best!

    Chioma
    Chioma Isiadinso
    CEO, EXPARTUS LLC (www.expartus.com)

    Author of The Best Business Schools’ Admissions Secrets (www.mbaadmissionsecrets.com)

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Mark,

    My instinct and experience says that it will be highly improbably for a candidate to overcome the combination of a GMAT of 590 and GPA of 3.0. If one was really strong and the other was weak, then it is possible to overcome. I don’t have a crystal ball but this is what I think based on 12 years of experience. I could be wrong….and they may come through with an interview if the rest of the application is phenomenal. I don’t know your personal circumstances, how strong your essays/recs are, etc. I would love to hear how it turns out, though. Drop me a line and all the best!

    Chioma
    Chioma Isiadinso
    CEO, EXPARTUS LLC (www.expartus.com)

    Author of The Best Business Schools’ Admissions Secrets (www.mbaadmissionsecrets.com)

  • Future MBA

    Hi Chioma,

    Just wanted to get your opinion on how I can prepare myself to be marketable for a Wharton, Columbia MBA in 2012 or 2013 (thinking long term!). I graduated in May 2010 w/ a 3.6 in finance from a top 50 regional school. I was accepted into the school’s honorary society and was also very involved in student government. I scored a 650 on the gmat 2 years ago.

    I am currently in a 2 1/2 year rotational program at a large commercial real estate investment firm/debt shop. The stint includes rotations in investment management, loan asset management, and real estate asset management.

    If I get my GMAT up to the 700-720 range, what else can I do to set myself up for applications after the program? Do I need to stay at the company as an associate for a year or 2 after the rotation? Should I get involved in habitat for humanity or another community service project tied to real estate?

    My goal is to land at a large PE Fund (Commercial Real Estate division) after the MBA.

    Thanks so much!

    Best,
    “Future MBA”

  • Daniel

    Chioma,
    I wanted to get your opinion on my ability to get into a top 10 MBA program. Here are my vitals:
    -5 years work experience in the military as a logistics officer; experience includes a deployment to Afghanistan.
    -Undergrad in economics(w/ minor in Mandarin Chinese) from the United States Naval Academy; GPA 3.25
    -700 on the GMAT
    -Great recommendations from a current and a former supervisor
    -Post-MBA plans: Consulting

    Thanks for your help!

  • MBA bound 2011

    Hi Chioma,

    I just finished reading your book on kindle and found it very informative. Quick question on applying to top schools with part-time programs. I’ve decided that at this point the part-time MBA makes most sense for me as I do plan on continuing in my current industry and company and my managers are supportive of me going back to school, tuition reimbursement doesn’t hurt either. How different is the admissions cycle to top part-time programs? I’ve noticed top full-time MBA programs with acceptance rates in the 10-20% range have an acceptance rate greater than 50% for their part-time programs in a lot of cases. Tepper is actually a good example of this 28.4% and 86.7% for 2009. The average GMAT and GPA are also lower than the full-time programs. Does this mean more weight is placed on recommendations, resume, and a well thought out career plan?

    Thanks in advance!

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi MBA Bound,

    Thanks for your questions and taking the time to read my book. It’s great that your employer is supportive of your MBA aspirations and it sounds like they my also help finance it which is a huge bonus in these tough economic times.

    Regarding your question about application cycle for part time program compared to full time programs, they can be different. While many full time MBA programs have one intake (fall) though exceptions exist with programs like Insead and Columbia, the part time program usually has two different intakes and their deadlines can be much later in the process. NYU Stern part time program is a good example of this. Their part time MBA deadline is: Sept 15, 2010 for Spring Intake while the Fall 2011 intake deadline is May 15. Compare this to their full time deadlines: three deadlines from November 15, January 15 and March 15. There is generally a bit more flexibility timing wise for the part time MBA program compared to the full time programs.

    You raise an interesting question about how applicants are evaluated across programs. Part time programs and full time programs are quite different in the overall pool, goals of students, etc. It wouldn’t be an apple to apple comparison. The average work experience is likely more in the part time program and the career motivations may be different.

    But most importantly, the admissions officers are evaluating candidates within each pool not across both programs. I suspect the figures you cited reflect the overall strength of the pools for the different programs. One can also argue that the longer you have been out of school the less a low GPA or imperfect GMAT score would count against you versus the reverse. In cases of candidates with extensive and impressive work experience, their resume/recommendation could offset lower than average academic variables.

    Regards,

    Chioma Isiadinso
    CEO, EXPARTUS (www.expartus.com)
    Author, The Best Business Schools’ Admissions Secrets

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Daniel,

    Thanks for your email. The US Naval Academy has a strong academic reputation but a 3.25 is below average. That combined with the 700 GMAT suggest that your academic profile is ok but could be stronger. If you haven’t taken the GMAT many times before then consider taking it again and raising the score to about 740 or so. It sounds like the recommendations will be strong so the areas you can also focus on are:
    1) Make sure you lay out a compelling case for why you need the MBA
    2) Why a consulting career and change from a military career. Target your achievements and the impact you have had and the kind of impact you wish to have in the consulting context. When doing this, try and draw attention to experiences you had that involved problem solving, managing people, and the overarching attraction that consulting has for you. Failure to convince the adcom about this can derail your MBA ambitions.
    3) Beyond your military background, you will need to drive home what else that differentiates you from other military candidates and other general candidates. It’s not just driving home what you have done but keep an eye out for opportunities to help the adcom understand your motivations, what you care about, your values, and passions. Winning applications are those that make a strong case for how you will enrich and engage your community and classmates.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Future MBA,
    It’s always great to see candidates who are planning ahead for their application instead of rushing through it. You are right, definitely raise the GMAT to north of 700. If you can go higher than 720, go for it. Invest in the resources/course/studying to make this a non-issue. The community service element you mention should be something you genuinely are interested in. If you really care about Habitat or an org like that, then get engaged for the next year or two. But bring passion to it. It is important that it reflects your values and genuine interest and not simply a “check the box” attitude which the adcom can see through.
    I suspect another great opportunity for you to distinguish yourself can be through your work experience and impact. Are their opportunities for you to raise your hand and take on more responsibility beyond what is designated to someone at your level? Are there projects that can give you greater visibility at your firm that you can undertake that can reinforce your brand as a leader? What isn’t working very well that you could take an initiative to help change/fix? If you can distinguish yourself professionally, which can lead to excellent recommendations from your superiors, and then round things out with self-aware and insightful essays that reveal a well balanced, interesting candidate, you would likely succeed

    Chioma
    Chioma Isiadinso
    CEO, EXPARTUS LLC (www.expartus.com)
    Author of The Best Business Schools’ Admissions Secrets (www.mbaadmissionsecrets.com)

  • Ace

    Hi Chioma,

    A campus visit(s) can mean significant sacrifice in time and money, so I wanted to get your thoughts on what the biggest benefits of a visit are?

    Thanks,
    Ace

  • Spencer

    Hi Chioma, I have a two questions:

    1) Generally speaking (and I’m sure it’s different for each school), how do the admissions committees evaluate transcripts across different majors? For example, I have 3.1 in Mechanical Engineering from Penn State, which is well below the published average many top schools have of 3.5-3.6. How does an admissions committee compare that to someone who had a 3.7 in Psychology?

    2) I have an MSE in Civil Engineering from Arizona State with a final GPA of 3.7. How much consideration is given to graduate degrees when evaluating the academic profile?

    For what’s it’s worth, my MSE was achieved in 2010, my BS in 2001.

    Thanks!

  • the visitor

    Dear Chioma,

    Can you please explain why HBS creats lists of prospective students during on-campus Q&A session ? given the official statements that paying a visit on campus doesn’t effects the candidates chances ?
    And what if some one extreamly shined above the other applicants in the session, is it a great deal of importance ?
    Best,
    Dotan

  • maroonmad

    Hi Chioma,
    I have 6 years in Audit with a Masters degree from the US I got 710 on the GMAT but have a 3.1 GPA on the Masters and a 3.95 undergrad. Would this be viewed negatively?

  • Hopeful

    Chioma,

    I have a question regarding post-MBA hiring.
    I don’t often hear this topic addressed, and maybe it is outside your realm of expertise, but I thought I’d ask anyways.

    How carefully is prior work experience evaluated when MBA recruiters determine which candidates to hire? Do they focus primarily on “fit” and look generally at whether the candidate has experience in the industry? (ie “OK this guy has worked in consulting before”) Or do they really scrutinize the quality of prior experience and the level of leadership at which the candidate worked?

    I ask because I have an opportunity to leave my consulting firm and do a contract project for a company, which is undoubtedly better work experience. However, I think it would make me less desirable in the eyes of an MBA adcomm for a variety of reasons.

    So which should I prioritize higher, quality of MBA program or quality of pre-MBA work experience?

    Thanks!

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Ace,

    You are right about the significant cost and time involved in visiting MBA programs. But here is the real issue, the MBA at a minimum will cost you tens of thousands of dollars assuming you get some scholarships along the way and in many scenarios, it can cost upwards of $120,000 including the tuition, room and board, plus extraneous factors like Treks, international explorations, etc. My advice to applicants is to make the time to visit the campus and do a thorough investigation of the programs that interest you. It may cost you a couple of thousands of dollars for airline tickets and hotels but given what’s at stake—choosing the right program where you are a fit—it is a worthwhile investment to make. I compare this decision to someone going out and buying a Lamborghini after reading their glossy sales brochure without taking the care for a test drive.

    The other reason I advocate visiting a school is that you get a deeper appreciation of the program and can better articulate why that specific program is a fit for you when it comes to the application. And this small benefit can translate into a successful admission. Some schools even ask in the application about the steps you took to get to know them (eg. Haas and Stern) so having this information at hand can give you a leg up.n All the best, Ace.

    Chioma Isiadinso
    CEO, EXPARTUS LLC (www.expartus.com)
    Author of The Best Business Schools’ Admissions Secrets (www.mbaadmissionsecrets.com)

  • Tim H

    Hi Chioma,

    Thanks for taking the time to read my post. Here’s my post:

    26 yr old/US
    5 yrs as Web Developer/Project Manager in Entertainment Industry for Fortune 100 Company
    3.1 GPA/Top 50 Univ
    650 GMAT

    Goals:
    – Want to move out of the web space and into strategy/operations in the Entertainment business.

    – UCLA, USC Full Time programs

    My question is…would you recommend I apply in R3 for FT programs, or should I wait another year to try and get my GMAT scores up and apply in R1?

    I’ve been actively networking within my company to meet grads for different MBA programs, and I’m just not sure if I’m shooting myself in the foot by keeping my choices regional. I mean who wouldn’t want to go to a top tier school, right? But, if I want to stay in entertainment, which top schools would help me do that?

    Thanks again,

    T

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Spencer,

    MBA Boards look at the rigor of the major, the academic reputation of the school, and extenuating circumstances that may explain the lower than average GPA. The fact that you have a masters degree and that it is a 3.7 plus it is more recent than your undergrad experience of nine years ago will be viewed favorably. It doesn’t wipe away a lackluster GPA but it does to some extent help to make the undergrad record less of an issue. The GMAT performance will actually feature more prominently so it is going to be important that you aim for a strong score in the mid 700s if at all possible. Obviously this all depends on the schools you apply to and how competitive they are. The more selective schools will be more stringent on the GMAT performance than less competitive schools. You can’t change your academic record but you can focus on every other aspect of the application and demonstrate maturity, focus, etc. when presenting your brand to the admissions board.

    Best,
    Chioma Isiadinso
    CEO, EXPARTUS LLC (www.expartus.com)
    Author of The Best Business Schools’ Admissions Secrets (www.mbaadmissionsecrets.com)

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Dotan,

    From my experience serving on HBS’ admissions board they do not use information of who attended an information session in any evaluative sense. It’s more of a way for them to understand what the volume is and more for operational reasons that admission evaluation reasons.

    Best,

    Chioma Isiadinso
    CEO, EXPARTUS LLC (www.expartus.com)
    Author of The Best Business Schools’ Admissions Secrets (www.mbaadmissionsecrets.com)

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Maroon Mad,

    You will need to address why the GPA for the Masters degree is only a 3.1. The difficulty with this scenario is that the Masters degree is more recent and harder to “explain away” versus something that happened nearly a decade ago as an undergrad. So does it help your case? The short answer is no. But all hope isn’t lost. You want to look at your whole package and what you have going for you: accomplishments at work, leadership in and outside work, clarity of career vision and compelling case for what you will bring to the MBA program. Great recommendations and a WOW interview will all go a long way towards helping you achieve your MBA dreams.

    Regards,

    Chioma Isiadinso
    CEO, EXPARTUS LLC (www.expartus.com)
    Author of The Best Business Schools’ Admissions Secrets (www.mbaadmissionsecrets.com)

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Hopeful,

    I don’t pretend to be a career recruitment expert and perhaps this is a question that others in the network with this area of expertise can chime in on. You raise an interesting question. The short answer is that both are important. Getting admitted presents its share of challenges and with many top schools admitting less than 15% of the applicant pool it makes for some intense competition.

    Yet getting in is only half the battle. You need to secure a great job post business school to make the experience a worthwhile investment in the first place. I don’t know the details of the contract job to comment on whether it would be to your detriment to leave your regular job. Typically, admissions people like to see full time employment over short term or contract work. Is there a way for you to remain at the full time consulting job but to seek out more interesting projects? I suspect the answer is no or you would be doing that. If I were you I would really look carefully at what the new contract work offers and gauge whether it really would give me a significant edge on the career front to justify making the leap. Happy to learn more about it offline. You can contact me directly through EXPARTUS.

    Chioma Isiadinso
    CEO, EXPARTUS LLC (www.expartus.com)
    Author of The Best Business Schools’ Admissions Secrets (www.mbaadmissionsecrets.com)

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Tim,

    Thanks for your question. R3 versus R1, my gut is R1 simply because the web developer/project manager role with 3.1/650 GMAT doesn’t seem very strong. Give yourself a bit more time to ace the GMAT and to prepare your Recommenders so they have enough time to write strong letters of support for you. Your essays will also prove a key element in making a compelling case for why USC/UCLA should admit you. Both schools make sense for Entertainment. I would throw in Stern but the West Coast network and curriculum makes the most sense given your area of interest. You want to apply when you have the strongest application package so round one is definitely my call. You are 26 so still within the age average even with an extra year to go.

    Chioma Isiadinso
    CEO, EXPARTUS LLC (www.expartus.com; info@expartus.com)
    Author of The Best Business Schools’ Admissions Secrets

  • MBA2011

    Hi Chioma

    I have already interviewed with one of the school and waiting for my final decision. I have been working in a business and therefore mentioned business expansion as my post-MBA goals (a natural strategy for my application). Truly, I want to keep my options open – i.e. I can come back and join my business or may end up getting another job. But, after my application submission, I decided to exit from my business for certain reasons and started looking out for job. I have found one after my interview for the school was done. I will most probably join it before the final decision date.

    Do you suggest sharing this information with the admission committee before the final decision? The job (and related career progression) is not in sync with my application strategy which is based on entrepreneurship. Therefore, I am afraid that sharing this information would negatively impact my admission chances (which is pretty much positive at this point because I had a great interview). Please suggest what should one do in such a scenario.

  • Ding_King

    Chioma

    I was denied after interview in couple of top 10 schools. I am not sure of one of these but pretty much convinced that the other had to do with my interview. My interviewer pretty much told me straight on the face that he does not believe that entrepreneurs need an MBA. He said he did not benefit professionally from his MBA and feels it wont help me either. I know I have received my decision and it cant be changed but honestly, I would want to find out if adcom will pay attention to such incidents. He even digressed from the format (it was not supposed to be a blind interview but he said he could not access my app). Moreover, I was returned back from the appointment once only to be called next day. There was not even a single part of the interview process that was encouraging. I want to understand if I should share this information with the adcom.

  • Jerry

    Hi, I graduated from a top 3 undergrad with a 3.8 GPA and scored a 700 on the GMAT. I consider myself to be a more globally-minded person with significant international experience from college (work, study) as well as work after college. After working in the US for two years I moved to a frontier emerging market to work and have been here for about two years now. It has been a great experience so far and has helped me understand better why I would like to get and MBA and how I can use it in the future for my career. Outside of work I have been involved in several EC activities and spend a fair amount for time learning the language here to help with work and general everyday living. Just curious to know how a profile such as this would be viewed at a top school.

  • Pramod k

    Hi,Chioma,
    I am student from India,doing B.tech 3rd year in “Information and Communication Technology” ,currently I have a Gpa of 7.1 out of 10.I was awarded RASHTRAPATI AWARD from PRESIDENT OF INDIA for scouts, this Award is one of the highest civilian award given in India for excellence, I was given this award for Leadership,what GMAT score would be sufficient for me to get into top B-schools?
    Thanks for your help:)

  • Juan

    Hi Chioma! I have a question for you!

    I’m from Argentina and I was wondering how did B-Schools decided upon a GPA from a School they probably know little about! I’m an IT Engineer from ITBA (Technological Institute of Buenos Aires) with an above average GPA for my school standars, in this case, is the GMAT more relevant than others?

    Thanks!

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi MBA2011,

    Congratulations on your recent interview. I hope the outcome is a favorable one! I would not contact the school to provide that information. You have the right to change your mind and I’m sure the circumstances that surrounded your exiting the business is a legitimate one. As an fyi, so many MBA students deviate from their proposed application plans and business schools won’t hold that against you.

    All the best,

    Chioma Isiadinso
    CEO, EXPARTUS LLC (www.expartus.com; info@expartus.com)
    Author of The Best Business Schools’ Admissions Secrets

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Ding King,

    Sorry to hear things didn’t work out with the application this time around. Your description of the interview experience you had seem very unprofessional and I’m sure most business schools would want to know of this data. It would have been ideal to report this information back to the school after the interview but before you got your decision. Having waited it can appear that you are complaining because the outcome wasn’t favorable. Having said that, you have to follow your heart. If you feel compelled to share this information with the school, then do so. I don’t believe it will have any bearing on your admission status. But it is still important information for the school to know.

    On the bigger issue, that is whether or not the poor interview experience is the reason your application was denied, it is hard to make that assertion without more data about your application. I would advise you to have your application evaluated with someone who is an expert in the field to assess how competitive your application was in the first place.

    I wish you all the best should you decide to reapply in the future.

    Warmly,

    Chioma Isiadinso
    CEO, EXPARTUS LLC (www.expartus.com; info@expartus.com)
    Author of The Best Business Schools’ Admissions Secrets

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Jerry,

    Your profile of a 3.8 GPA/700 GMAT (assuming the verbal/quant breakdown are evenly distributed), solid extracurricular activities, plus global experience in a career you are passionate about sound like a great starting point. If the GMAT can go a bit higher, then try for it. What you need to make sure of when applying is that you have strong enough evidence of leadership, impact on people, great brand champions who will write exceptional recommendation letters for you and that you select schools that are a fit with your goals. Do these things and you should be well on your way to success at a leading business school. And of course, start early (give yourself time to put together the strongest application possible).

    Wishing you all the best with the application.

    All the best,

    Chioma Isiadinso
    CEO, EXPARTUS LLC (www.expartus.com; info@expartus.com)
    Author of The Best Business Schools’ Admissions Secrets

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hello Pramod,

    Without a thorough knowledge of your application profile I cannot claim to have a magic GMAT number that you must have. The general consensus is to aim for the highest GMAT you are capable of attaining. With most top schools reporting mean and median GMAT scores above 700, you should set your sights in that range as well. Obviously the higher the better. But the GMAT isn’t the only thing to focus on. You need to think of your application in a comprehensive way with an eye on the three admissions core evaluation categories: Academics, Leadership, and Uniqueness/Diversity. Once you get the best GMAT score you can get your should also focus on presenting essays that reflect a good dose of leadership, impact, and also selfawareness. To the extent that you have activities that also differentiate you (both personally and professionally), you should take advantage of those experiences and recount them where it makes sense in your application.

    Best of luck!
    Chioma Isiadinso
    CEO, EXPARTUS LLC (www.expartus.com; info@expartus.com)
    Author of The Best Business Schools’ Admissions Secrets

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hello Juan,

    Most schools have a region expert whose job it is to understand a particular geographical area. That often means that board member visits the country, meets with alumni and students and does his/her best to understand the educational system and other factors that applicants from that region face. With that said, it is impossible for a board member to know every single school in a country or the nuanced differences in subject of study. So it is your job as an applicant to communicate subtly what is unique/unusual about your program if it isn’t a school/program that is as well known. This could include a simple sentence in your resume that clarifies a point about the school, major, grading system. As for the issue of GMATs, aim to get the highest score you can. But also look beyond the GMAT to other parts of the application to reinforce the caliber of student that you are and to demonstrate that you would be a fit with the program you are applying to.

    Chioma Isiadinso
    CEO, EXPARTUS LLC (www.expartus.com; info@expartus.com)
    Author of The Best Business Schools’ Admissions Secrets

  • Tim

    Hi Chioma,

    In many ways, I thought I was the perfect applicant. I got a 760 on my GMAT, have a 3.8 GPA earning two bachelor’s degrees from a top 5 engineering school, worked heavily in school, and have spent the last four years earning high marks in mgmt consulting for financial services companies and taking on many large leadership roles. I spent a lot of time and effort writing what I thought were great applications to HBS and Stanford, but after getting rejected from HBS, I’m wondering whether I have any chance applying for Wharton Round 3 or LBS Round 3 or 4. Can you give me your opinion of how competitive these rounds are? In particular, should I expect each of these pools to be as competitive as HBS or GSB round 2? What are other great options for applying to other schools at this stage?

    Thanks for your assistance! This really is a wonderful resource for all of us MBA aspirants!

  • S

    Hi Chioma,

    Thanks for taking the time to review and respond to these questions. I’m wrapping up my first year of b school apps and wanted some honest feedback. My stats are 3.65 GPA in Eng from State School, 3 years at good consulting firm (not Bain, BCG or Mck), 740 GMAT. I was rejected w/out interview at HBS, Wharton, Stanford, and Columbia. I was waitlisted at Berkeley. I’m wondering if it’s worth reapplying to the schools I was rejected or if I should set my sights a little lower. Thanks!

    – S

  • BV

    Hello Chioma,

    Could you pls suggest me some good schools where I can apply for this year FT MBA. I am interested in General Management, Health Care Admin (No experience in health care).
    35/Male/Indian
    GMAT : 570 (AWA 5.0, V 66%, Q 43%)
    UG : 76% from top engineering college in India
    Work Exp: Over 11 years of experience in IT and currently working as a SAP Project manager. Have experience in Project Management for 5 years, SAP and other technologies. I am a PMP certified Individual for the past 5 years.
    Have international experience of over 6 years in US,have led a max team size of 70 and working as a Project Manager for the past 5 years.
    I am looking at Emory,May’s and Vanderbilt.

    Also is my age an issue? I am very keen on doing a FT from a reputed US grad school
    thanks in advance,
    bv

  • Rahul

    Hello Chioma,

    I have been accepted at Duke and Yale’s MBA program. My career focus is financial analytics/Consulting. I have heard great things about both programs. I am an international student and haven had the chance to visit the schools. Based on the research I have done, Yale offers advantage in terms of proximity to NY, integrated curriculum, brand name in Asia, and new dean from chicago. On the other hand, duke also is a great school and great team culture and generally perception seems it has a slight edge over yale. Can you please provide your inputs on these?

    thanks
    rahul

  • Will

    Chioma,

    I was hoping you could help me out a bit in terms of choosing which schools I should apply to given my background:

    – Graduated from UCSD in 2005, majored in Biochem and minored in Econ & Photography
    – GMAT: 710, GPA: 3.56
    – Swam for high school and college (NCAA Div II All-American for both)
    – Worked for a year in pharma sales then 3 years as equity research analyst (specialize in high-tech)
    – Currently a Peace Corps volunteer in Malawi as “community development coordinator”
    o Taught Business Studies, Math and Life skills at a rural secondary school (high school)
    o Managed secondary school teaching staff
    o Started women’s micro-finance program
    o Initiated other I.G.A.s (income generating activity) such as: student run grocery store, chicken farm, and school vegetable garden

    I want to go into social enterprise, either working within the social arm of a company or starting up my own. I’m planning on applying to the following schools (in order of preference):
    – Stanford
    – HBS
    – INSEAD
    – Columbia
    – LBS
    – Haas

    I realize that none of these schools are “safety schools” but I’m hoping that I’ll be competitive enough to gain admission to at least one of the schools from my list. Am I being too naive or are my assumptions valid?

    Thanks,
    Will

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Tim,

    Your story reinforces the reality that there isn’t necessarily a “perfect” applicant. Many smart, well accomplished candidates will not be admitted to their top program choice given competition from similar candidates. Schools are faced with the challenge of assembling a diverse and accomplished class.

    I’m not usually a fan of later rounds. It usually signals to the schools that they are after thoughts. That said, if there is a strong fit you may be able to overcome the fact that there are fewer application spots in later rounds. I can’t comment on what your exact chances will be for Wharton and any other programs. It depends on your goals, whether it fits with what Wharton is strong in and values, etc. There are fewer spots available so from that standpoint you will be facing significant competition.

    Most people focus on the academic elements of their application. The reality, though, is that there may be other reasons why the application was rejected. It could be that the admissions board didn’t “buy” the story; or it could be that they saw flags or felt that the candidate would not be a good fit in their community; it could be recommendations that backfired or a weak interview; the reasons can vary. Sometimes it can be simply that the competition was too severe and that while the candidate is admissible, he/she is competing in a pool that is over-represented and the school wants a diverse viewpoint and wants a student from a different industry, geography, life experience, etc.

    Should you decide to apply at other schools, and if Consulting is where you plan to be long term then consider broadening your list to other programs like Tuck, Kellogg, Chicago, Haas. I wish you all the best and encourage you to stay focused on your overall MBA goals and not allow the obstacles along the way to derail your dream!

    Chioma Isiadinso
    CEO, EXPARTUS LLC (www.expartus.com; info@expartus.com)
    Author of The Best Business Schools’ Admissions Secrets

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi S,

    I’m sorry to hear most of the schools didn’t work out. I honestly can’t tell whether you are completely out of the running without viewing the application you presented. Decisions to admit a candidate is not just based on GMAT/GPA and number of work experience in a particular industry. The application process really is more art than science. So there are candidates with these numbers and work pedigree who will get into the schools you’ve identified. And there are many candidates who will not be admitted. It really comes down to the quality of the experience, how well you convey your achievements, and other variables like the recommendations and interviews where applicable.

    Chioma Isiadinso
    CEO, EXPARTUS LLC (www.expartus.com; info@expartus.com)
    Author of The Best Business Schools’ Admissions Secrets

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi BV,

    The GMAT of 570 is quite low. I recommend you try and raise it if possible. The 11 years work experience is a bit more than the average at the schools you are targeting but what is more important is the quality of experience and the impact you have had at your firm. I suspect the adcom will not be sold on the career change from IT to health care. It seems to be a big change so you have to be careful how you present this information in your application.

    As you prepare for the application I recommend that you take time to find out who the students in the programs you are targeting are (their backgrounds and the flexibility they have had to make career switches).

    Best,

    Chioma Isiadinso
    CEO, EXPARTUS LLC (www.expartus.com; info@expartus.com)
    Author of The Best Business Schools’ Admissions Secrets

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Rahul,

    Congratulations on your admission to Duke and Yale. Both are great schools and will prepare you for a successful career in financial analytics/consulting. I recommend visiting both programs, sitting down in the classes that fit with your career interests, checking out the faculty quality, and career prospects (who recruits at the schools). Of course the culture of the program is important so a visit will allow you to assess that. I’ve heard really positive feedback from clients who have gone to Duke about the incredible team culture and fun they are having. But again, you have to weigh culture of team work with all the other variables that matter to you to determine what’s the best fit for you.

    In any case you have a great set of options to consider. All the best with your decision.

    Chioma Isiadinso
    CEO, EXPARTUS LLC (www.expartus.com; info@expartus.com)
    Author of The Best Business Schools’ Admissions Secrets

  • Villena

    Hi Chioma,

    I was wondering if I could get feedback from you. I went through B-School applications this year and was accepted into HK-UST, but dinged at all the other schools I applied to (Wharton, Chicago, LBS). I’m waiting for Kellogg but given how I did with peer schools, it seems likely that I’ll get a ding as well. I am currently considering whether to take the admit at HK-UST, or to try and give the b-school applications another run for 2012 intake. What further complicates matters is that I applied for and received a grant from HK-UST

    My stats are:

    GMAT: 670, V41 Q41 AWA 5.5

    GPA: 2.8 / 4.0 (top Southeast Asian university, highest ranked in my home country)

    – Moved to Shanghai immediately after college, spent 3 semesters studying intensive Mandarin. GPA for these courses was 3.3

    Extra Curriculars: VP at Shanghai’s largest expat volunteering organization, Research Assistant and translator for prominent Asian NGO

    Work/International Experience: 4-5 years working in a variety of industries in Shanghai after mandarin studies.

    – Currently working at a risk consultancy firm conducting due diligence on local firms for various clients including big I-banks, funds, manufacturers. Work involves significant use of my written and oral mandarin language skills and working closely with both foreign and local colleagues

    – Previously an associate at a boutique PE firm where I was one of only two foreigners in the portfolio company where I was assigned

    I believe the weakest link in my application is the GMAT and GPA. I was aware of this going out of college which is why I tried to gain unique international experience to help compensate and strengthen my package.

    In terms of my goals after MBA, I do see myself working in Asia, and would like to enter an Asia based PE firm, either by going through a consulting firm first, or if lucky entering one right after MBA. In my previous experience at a PE firm, I felt that I lacked the necessary foundation to make the most of the opportunity. Long term I want to return to my home country to teach international business after accruing significant experience.

    While I appreciate HK-UST’s strength in Asia, I guess my concern is that for consulting or PE, school brand is a significant factor, and I’m wondering if I would be best served by going for a school with an Asian focus now, or trying again to get into a school with a bigger brand name next year.

    Thanks in advance!

    Villena

  • John Galt

    Hi Chioma,

    I will be applying to B-School this fall with 3 years of post undergrad experience at a leading investment management firm (sales – advisory) and 2 years managerial (project manager for a commercial construction company) work experience during my undergrad. My undergraduate GPA is a 3.1 from a non-target liberal arts college (full time student and worker – finished in 4 years). I recently took the GMAT and scored a 710. I am applying to top programs and would like to know how admission officers will view me as a candidate if I retake the GMAT. Note that I only studied for 4 weeks and am confident I can raise my score another 30-50 points. Should I retake it?

    Thanks!

  • http://dszaronos.blogspot.com David

    Hi Chioma

    I am applying to business school in 2012, and am targeting top schools with strong ties to social business (particularly Stanford and Haas) but I have a few questions about my candidacy.

    My profile:
    3.7 GPA in finance from Miami University (Ohio)
    1 year experience as a process consultant for a large, but regional firm
    2+ years experience (at time of matriculation) as Peace Corps Volunteer in Uganda
    720 GMAT

    My first concern is how business schools look at Peace Corps. I am working to build a strong fair trade business with my service here and I feel like I have been really successful so far. In fact, this experience is what gave me the desire to go for an MBA and focus on social innovation and entrepreneurship. I can see admissions people seeing Peace Corps as a bit of a break from reality, though.

    My second concern is with my undergrad degree. According to Businessweek it’s a top 20 program, but I don’t know if people outside of the Midwest are even aware that there is a Miami University in Ohio.

    Finally, my profile aside, my Peace Corps service ends in April 2012, which makes it pretty much impossible to complete any visits. I know nothing can take the place of actually visiting a program, but what would you recommend I do to compensate for this as best I can?

    Thanks so much,
    Dave

  • IGI

    Hi Chioma,

    I am a Naval Supply Officer with a 8 years of military logistics experience. There is a program in my career field that pays for a top 30 MBA program if I am accepted. I will find out if I get accepted for this program in August. If I am accepted I will have to get into a program for the fall 2012 semester. The problem is that I am not sure if I have the credentials to get into a top 30 program. I went to Frostburg State University (small school in Western Maryland) and had an undergraduate GPA of 3.97 in Business Finance with a minor in Economics. I have taken 4 graduate management courses through University of Maryland University College and have a 4.0 GPA so far. I took the GMAT a year ago and scored a 590. Based on my current stats do you think I have a chance to get into a top 30 program. If so which schools should I concentrate my efforts, and how should I strategize to get into one of these top schools. I appreciate any help you can give me. Thanks.

    IGI

  • TE

    Hi,
    I submitted my application to Kellogg, had my interview, and now I m waiting for an answer.
    At this stage, is there anything I can do to improve my chances of acceptance? how about a support letter from an alum? ..?
    thanks a lot
    T

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Will,

    You have a very interesting background. Diversity is an important factor for admission to selective business programs. The Biochem/Econ/Photography story plus the Equity research/Peace Corps story all lend validity to your brand as someone who is comfortable in different environments and someone who follows his passion. Being in Malawi on the ground doing Social Enterprise work gives credence to your long term goals. While the schools you have on your list are all competitive you should be able to get into at least one of them.

    The potential flags to watch out for are: GMAT of 710 (You may want to take another crack at it and raise it a bit given the trending of higher scores at these schools). Watch out that you don’t come across as unsure about where you want to end up….while diversity of experience is valued, you want to present a compelling case that you have thought through your plans and that the SE story isn’t just a front to gain acceptance to business school. So educate your recommenders…make sure they reinforce your brand of SE. Make sure you connect the dots between your experiences. Draw on your personal life also to speak to the influences of your goals and that will enable you to present a credible story to the adcom.

    Chioma Isiadinso
    CEO, EXPARTUS LLC
    Author of The Best Business Schools’ Admissions Secrets

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Villena,

    Congratulations on your admission to HK-UST. It’s a good program and comes highly ranked by FT (6th in the Global MBA rankings). You have to determine what would be different should you reapply next year. The GPA is still set and won’t change. How much stronger will the GMAT get? It’s hard to say what the competition will look like next year also. You may want to accept your admission to a well regarded school like HKUST and focus your job search in Consulting/PE once you arrive on campus. Without seeing your actual application I can’t say whether or not it would be worth the risk to reapply.

    All the best,

    Chioma Isiadinso
    CEO, EXPARTUS, LLC
    Author of The Best Business Schools’ Admissions Secrets

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi John,

    Absolutely retake the GMAT since you believe you can raise the score from a 710 to above a 740. The 3.1 GPA is quite low compared to your competition so a higher GMAT will help offset any concerns on that front.

    Chioma Isiadinso
    CEO, EXPARTUS, LLC
    Author of The Best Business Schools’ Admissions Secrets

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi David,

    Business schools view the Peace Corps favorably. It is a well established SE outfit and they have seen candidates who have done well in their programs so it helps to be coming from an organization that is familiar to the adcom. I would focus on the impact you have had while in the program….the more quantifiable and tangible the better. You have to also nail down your long term social entrepreneurship story to ensure that it makes sense to the school and that the logic behind your goals and decisions are clear. I’m familiar with MU of Ohio but then again I’m in the industry. I suspect most people in admissions in the US are familiar with it. It’s good that the GPA is high (unsure what your major was). Unsure what the breakdown of your 720 GMAT is. I always advise applicants to aim for the highest score they possibly can get. If you have reached that number then focus on other parts of your application. If you can raise it another 20 to 30 points, absolutely go for it. But I wouldn’t fixate just on GMAT score….I would focus on showing that you understand Stanford and Haas and any other programs you target and how they are a great fit for your long term goal….Make sure to clearly communicate your accomplishments across each environment where you have been….track record is key. The more footprint you can show of impact and leadership the more attractive a candidate you are.

    As for the inability to visit, schools won’t hold that against you when you live in another country but you need to show you understand their programs. Find alumni of the Peace Corps who have gone to those schools and speak with them. I don’t know if the schools will visit Uganda (some visit some countries in Africa) and if they do make sure to attend their info sessions. For those that offer webinars and virtual chats, make sure to participate in these events. All the best.

    Chioma Isiadinso
    CEO, EXPARTUS, LLC
    Author of The Best Business Schools’ Admissions Secrets

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Igi,

    I hope you are able to get into the program. Good luck in August. As for which programs to consider, I recommend that you look at several of the rankings that P&Q addresses on this platform as well as doing your own research of programs that offer preparation for your long term goals. I suspect that you should try and increase your 590 GMAT score to remain competitive. A lot of schools appreciate the diversity that military candidates bring as well as their leadership. You can leverage this plus other aspects of your story that showcases involvement/impact whether through extracurricular or at school and with your job. Increase the GMAT to at least a mid 600s, demonstrating solid leadership track record, and writing engaging essays that reveal the type of strong business leader you are/will be will prepare you towards a successful admission to a program that is in the top 30.

    Chioma Isiadinso
    CEO, EXPARTUS, LLC
    Author of The Best Business Schools’ Admissions Secrets

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi TE,

    Thanks for your question. I’m not a fan personally of simply getting recommendations just for recommendation sake. If there is an interesting/new angle the alum recommendation can provide that isn’t covered in your application then yes, not a bad strategy. If it is the same general information already covered then it’s a waste of time.

    Hope this helps.

    All the best with the application. The hardest part is waiting.

    Chioma Isiadinso
    CEO, EXPARTUS, LLC
    Author of The Best Business Schools’ Admissions Secrets

  • Ned

    Hi,

    I have several questions about the background verification process.

    What do they do? Do they call my recommenders? My supervisors? Will The Work Number suffice for employment and salary verifications? Do they check your credit report? Will they tip off my current employer about my B School Plans.

    I was completely truthful about my employment dates, titles, responsibilities, and compensation, but I failed to mention a less than two month post college internship that I left on my own. Since then I’ve had two real and successful jobs. Should I be worried about a potential discrepancy?

    Thanks,

    Ned

  • Caleb

    Hello Chioma,

    I am hoping you can provide me with a bit of advice/overall competitiveness to the following schools:

    Michigan
    Duke
    Northwestern

    To give you a brief description of my candidacy:

    -3.77 GPA from an average state school (Finance & Spanish)
    -730 GMAT (49Q/40V)
    -Roughly 2 years working in finance/accounting
    -7+ months as an Analyst for a leading Digital Ad agency (would be 24 months upon 2012 matric.)

    I’m primarily set on going to Ross as it has been a lifelong dream and would mean proximity to my fiancee. Although I’m ready to matriculate in Fall 2012, I am tempted to only apply to Michigan this time around and if rejected, apply to a full slate of schools the following year. I am relatively young (24), so I know I can wait a year if it means getting into the right school/location.

    What are my preliminary chances (everything else aside) and have you had experience with applicants in similar situations before?

    Thanks for any advice you can provide!

  • Villena

    Hi Chioma,

    Thanks very much for the feedback, I appreciate it. I did end up accepting the admit at HKUST. So like you said it looks like I will have to focus my networking and electives toward getting opportunities in consulting and PE.

    Cheers!

    Villena

  • Todd

    Hi Chioma,

    I am a 29 year old attorney. I have been told that business schools really don’t like attorneys. Do you feel like being an attorney is viewed unfavorably on an application. I also know that my age could be viewed as a negative. Any thoughts? Suggestions?

    Thanks,

    Todd

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Todd,

    I don’t believe that there is a conspiracy against attorneys by adcom members. I know that a lot of lawyers do get denied admission but it isn’t simply an issue of the adcom not liking lawyers but more of an issue of them not “buying” the rationale of the lawyer applicant for why they need an MBA. Are there lawyers who are admitted to business schools? Of course! You need to focus on why you need the MBA. This question is likely the make or break of your application. If you can make a compelling case for the need for the MBA as opposed to the usual suspect reason of “I am tired of Law or want to be on the business side of things instead of the legal side”, then you should be able to present a successful application. 29 is slightly older than the average age for several programs. There are many programs in the US and many of the European schools where the average age is closer to 29 so your age isn’t going to be a huge factor as long as you are not targeting programs that are trending younger.

    Best,
    Chioma
    CEO, EXPARTUS

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Villena ,

    I’m glad to hear you made the decision to go for the school you have in hand and it is a solid program anyway. I wish you a great experience at business school and beyond!

    Chioma

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Caleb,

    Michigan, Duke and Kellogg are all great MBA programs. It sounds like you have personal reasons to target Michigan. I would recommend that you go for at least two schools the first time around. Kellogg is in the Midwest and will keep you relatively close to your fiancée if Michigan doesn’t work out. If time is a factor or you don’t really see yourself at Kellogg, then focusing on just Michigan is fine. The overall GPA/GMAT and work industry/role seems fine and you should be competitive at these schools. The bigger thing to keep in mind is quality of impact not just quantity of work experience. My firm, EXPARTUS, has worked with several candidates with just 2 years work experience who have gotten into these programs and others. Their success is directly tied to the level of responsibility they have taken on that is unusual for their level, the tangible results they have produced etc. So I would focus on what impact you are having at the Digital Ad Agency. It will also be important for you to show the adcom that you have a clear sense of career objective and why you need the MBA plus why their program would be instrumental in helping you achieve that success.

    Chioma
    CEO, EXPARTUS

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Ned,

    Every school handles their verification process differently. By and large many programs outsource this to firms that are well-heeled at doing background checks. Firms like Kroll. Not ideal if there is information that was left out. The process is quite thorough and they do drill down into the details of the information you present about your career (salaries, dates, etc).

    You have to be ready to address why you left it out if called on it. Always ideal to lay all your cards on the table…so while you may not put it in your resume (too limited space being the rationale you can use here, you at least can include short stints in the online application since you have more room there).

    Not sure what else you do other than flag this to the school so they are not the ones coming to you with the discrepancy! All the best.

    Chioma
    CEO, EXPARTUS

  • Matt

    Hi, Chioma

    First, thanks for taking the time to review this questions, I think it’s really a great help to have the opinion of someone of such knowledge in the matter!

    Here comes a question about international conversion between grades:

    I am Aerospace Engineer and M. Sc. in Aeronautics. If I turn my grades into GPA, the result is quite terrifying (around 1.7/4). As you know, in Europe grading criteria might differ in same cases from the US’. In particular, my School and Diploma are recognized in my country as very difficult to access to, the grades are particularly low and the average time needed to complete the full diploma is around 8.7 years (Took me 5.5). I can fairly consider myself in the top 20% of my above-the-national-average classmates, but still, the raw GPA number does say a very different story about me.

    The rest of my profile seems OK for a MBA (GMAT 770, 7 months of international experience working on R&D, 5 years of national experience in Marketing/Sales at Procter&Gamble, numerous extra-curricular activities during college years…)

    The question would be, considering my profile and GPA issue, which range of school should I aim at (Just entered the ones I am interested in):
    – Top 8 (Harvard, MIT, Columbia)
    – Top 12 (NYU, Kellogg)
    – European Schools (For this ones I know there would be no issue, at least for the ones in my country)

    I plan to obtain all the data from my School that allows me to prove that I am at least in the top 20%, and that my school and diploma are particularly difficult. Anyway, I don’t know if the effort is worth.

    Really thank you for your answer (and thanks to Mr Byrne for the great site!)

    Matt

  • Mini Me

    I earned perfect (6.0) scores on both the GMAT and GRE. I am thinking of retaking the GMAT and am considering “skipping” (leaving blank) the writing section in order to maximize my energy and focus for the primary (V and Q) sections of the exam so as to earn the best score possible.

    Do you have any thoughts about whether this would be a problem? I have been told point blank by several admissions offices that they don’t really care much about my AWA score; they just need to know that I can write/speak effectively and well (grammatically).

  • Riaan

    Hi Chioma

    What are your thoughts on acceptance of grads for a 2nd MBA at some of the prominent East Coast schools (Harvard/MIT/Columbia/Wharton).

    I am 31 (with MBChB from South Africa) and did an online, distance learning MBA while pursuing my original career path. Circumstances have changed and my original career path is now no longer an option and therefore, a 2nd, taught MBA, I believe, will drastically improve my chances of landing a strategy/management consulting job with one of the big management consulting firms.

    Your thoughts will be much appreciated.

    Regards

    Riaan

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hello Matt,

    You raise the sticky issue of international GPA conversion and the fact that programs/majors differ quite dramatically from school to school. Here is the good news, there is usually someone in admissions who is a region expert and whose job it is to know about the top programs in the country they cover. This is likely to be the case for the program that you graduated from. Having said that, it’s in your best interest to make sure you help “educate” the adcom.

    The GPA is likely going to be an issue despite the academic rigor of the program and the fact that it is one of the best programs in your country. The way to think of it is if the adcom has two candidates from your institution, one with a 3.4 and one with a 1.7 GPA, they will always go with the 3.4 99% of the time. Graduating early helps explain what happened but make sure to take ownership for the lackluster grades and then move on and concentrate on other parts of your brand/story that are compelling. Your strong GMAT will help offset the low GPA to some extent. Working several years and with solid work experience at P&G will be viewed favorably. In fact the longer time between when you graduated from school and when you are applying the less critical the GPA is.

    The bad news is that my reading of the application tea leaves is that it is getting harder to gain admission to top schools…schools are posting higher GMAT and GPA averages, candidates are becoming more savvy and presenting much more impressive profiles, etc….schools are not growing their class sizes in comparison to the larger volumes of applications they are seeing. Work experience and very high GMAT aren’t enough to get you a favorable answer. You could win them over with exceptional leadership. I would have a broad net (couple of reach schools in the top ten and then round the school list out with 3 others outside of the top 10. Add a good mix of European and US schools would be also the way to go.

    Hope this helps.

    Chioma Isiadinso, CEO EXPARTUS (www.expartus.com)

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Mini Me,

    I wouldn’t do that. You raise flags if your score in any one area is weak. I’ve heard the Dean of Admissions of one of the leading business schools say that her program pays a lot of attention to the AWA score. While most schools eyeball it to make sure it is in the ball park, submitting a GMAT that has an AWA of 3.0 can do little to boast your chances….So I wouldn’t spend much time on it but don’t ignore it completely.

    Chioma Isiadinso
    CEO, EXPARTUS (www.expartus.com)

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Riaan,

    Schools vary on their policy on accepting candidates with an MBA or those enrolled elsewhere. These policies can also change over time from school to school so it’s to your advantage to contact the schools directly and ask them to get their official, current policy. Many of them may be willing to make exceptions on things like this but often it is on a case by case basis. I would try to get the response from someone senior in admissions and not the administrative person who typically fields the frequently asked questions of prospective students.

    More importantly, you should approach them with a clearly articulated case of WHY you believe another MBA in a traditional teaching setting would be important to your career. In the same vein you should SHOW what you will be bringing to the program that should make them eager to want you as a part of their community.

    Best,

    Chioma Isiadinso
    CEO, EXPARTUS (www.expartus.com)

  • Guiseppe

    Hi Chioma,

    Thanks for providing this service. I may have a delicate question on funding for internationals. I am admitted to some programmes, but I didn’t receive any scholarships. I realise that those fortunate few have stellar stats and are fantastic people. When I enquire, BSchool X’s Financial Aid Office told me that very few scholarships are available for internationals. Yet in an info event abroad, merit based scholarships were marketed. I tried to explain my circumstances, but Financial Aid Office sees my situation rather as a lifestyle choice. Alumni from my country and other internationals confirmed this funding dilemma from first hand experience. According to website, BSchool X’s mean scholarship for class is $12K.

    Q: I wonder whether the ‘no scholarship decision’ is final or should I ask again later. How do I approach it, is there a protocol? Though BSchool X is my first choice, the funding proves somewhat elusive. I am an older, Caucasian male from a country with lower average income and don’t have US style federal loans.

    Cheers,
    Guiseppe

  • Issues

    Hi Chioma,

    I have an odd question, but its worth a shot. I was set to apply to several programs, but due to a series of family setbacks involving family deaths, only had time for one school. Luckily, i was admitted to that program, which is an elite top program. However, i really wanted to apply to the peer schools that i strongly considered. i have zero intention of applying next year due to age and family. either i go this year, or dont go at all. Is it possible to explain my situation to admissions officers and be able to apply, even though the deadline has passed? Would my admission to this top program, which is a rival of the other elite programs, hold any weight or consideration, as i hear schools are competitive for applicants admitted to peer schools?

    Thank you

  • Catherine

    Hi Chioma,
    I’m an American who has been working in Egypt for the past three years at part of the World Bank. I’m planning on applying in round one of this year and am also starting a new job teaching high school English at an international school in Cairo around the same time applications are due (end of August). I’ve heard conflicting advice about whether to include this new job – on the one hand it is somehow more “community developy” but on the other I’ll have just started the job. My question is whether I should include this on my resume as by the time interviews roll around I’ll have a few months of teaching under my belt? Any advice?

    Thanks.

  • Maverick

    Hi Chioma,

    I am a 2010 grad from IIT Delhi and I look forward to applying to top US business schools for 2013 program. I have recently begun to work at a respected Indian Engineering consultancy firm which though is not a recognised name. But as an associate consultant the work provides me with exceptional opportunities to build up on my engineering and build up a strong foundation for an MBA. I have given GMAT once and got 730(q 50 v 38) and had an above average peformance in school.

    How should I develop my profile from here to get to a top school and which Bschools will be best bets for me.

    Thanks

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Guiseppe,

    It never hurts to ask but have a realistic expectation that they may not budge. Schools typically award must of their scholarship money up front and unlike the case for college admissions where applicants may find that they may be able to “negotiate” if they got some money from a competitor school, this is a less popular practice in the MBA admissions front.

    I do know that there may be scholarships available sometimes for second year students (these are often one-off scholarships and are not necessarily tied to admission but to your performance after your first year/semester) but you will have to research those while you are a student there. These one off scholarships are often not advertised broadly on the program’s website so may involve some networking and having your eyes to the ground.

    Good luck with the search for funding.

    Chioma Isiadinso (www.expartus.com)

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hello Issues,

    My condolence on the family deaths. I’ve been in this business for over a decade and I don’t know of any top programs admitting someone after the deadline based on an offer from a competitor school. Schools make their decisions independently and do not factor in where a candidate has been admitted to.

    You could prove me wrong and do let me know if you hear a different policy on this. Congrats on your school offer and I would go for that.

    Chioma Isiadinso (www.expartus.com)

  • Guiseppe

    Hi Chioma,

    Thanks for your reply. Interesting that the BSchool admission funding decision is up front in nature and little chance of later funding awards possible. So guess the bulk of scholarship is gone and even when admits waiver, FA does not reallocate funds.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Catherine,

    Your experience in Egypt especially during the historical events of the last few months must be quite interesting. As far as whether to include your teaching role, the bigger question is whether it fits into your overall brand and what you wish to do in the long term. Admissions boards will want to know your motivations for taking the role, how it fits into your long term goals, etc. If it was just to check the community service box then it is not compelling. I suspect your decision to take on this role is more meaningful and you can leverage it in your application. Including it in your resume adds another dimension to your story (if you can defend your decision to leave the World Bank and to show how this experience will round out your skill set). Always remember, quality of experience always trumps quantity of experience…so less about how many months/years you have been at a job. You may be able to make some tangible impact in a short period that would further differentiate you. I’ve seen many clients of EXPARTUS gain interesting experience in the job they took on in the summer and some have even received recommendation support for round one applications.

    Chioma Isiadinso (www.expartus.com)

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Maverick,

    I can’t tell you which schools you should target as that is a personal decision that needs to be determined after careful assessment of different factors that matter to you: your long term goals, where you wish to work post the MBA, your financial situation (whether you can afford a longer program in the US or a shorter program in Asia/Europe, etc.) But on the issue of developing your profile, here are some practical things you can do:
    Go beyond academics/numbers: IIT is a great school and many of its graduates tend to score very high in the GMAT. They also tend to have very strong academic records. So you won’t stand out based on the stats you provided on this front. What you could do to stand apart would be to focus on showcasing an excellent leadership track record. All top business schools want candidates with strong leadership background. Most applicants do their jobs well and feel proud of their achievements. But most applicants who simply do their jobs well won’t get in. You have to show that you have gone beyond simply executing your job by showing that you have taken ownership for something significant and have delivered on it. When have you led a project/team at your consulting firm? It’s not enough to show that you have taken on leadership roles….make sure to underscore the impact/how it shaped the organization. If you can demonstrate that you have a propensity for leadership (in college, at work and also in your community, if possible) the more attractive a candidate you will become. Also if you have a passion that is unique/interesting and you have pursued it and excelled at that thing, it could be interesting to the admissions board who is looking for diverse candidates who can enrich the overall school community. It’s also important to make sure that your long term goals are aligned with the school’s strength.

    Chioma Isiadinso (www.expartus.com)

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Guiseppe

    There are always exceptions and as I said it doesn’t hurt to ask but by and large the money is often used upfront to target the students that they are very eager to enroll.

    Chioma Isiadinso (www.expartus.com)

  • Guiseppe

    Chioma,

    I’m an international student and this system is rather new to me. final question on scholarship issue. As you have worked in adcoms with some top MBA programmes, I would appreciate your thoughts. What are the criterion used by adcom to ‘ target the students that they are very eager to enroll’. High Gmat, GPA for star students to improve rankings like undergraduates? Does adcom work with a methodology how to allocate scholarships? I hear often the term underrepresented groups in discussion as target groups. Thank you.

  • MBAChap

    Hi Chioma,
    Thanks for the great advice on the site. Real quick, in your mind is there much of a difference between round 1 and round 2? If I wait until round 2 I may be able to show a second promotion in as many years. I want to know what the risks are of waiting a round, if any?
    Thanks!

  • PT MBA Hopeful

    Hi Chioma,

    I’m interested in applying to NYU Stern Langone Part Time MBA program. I have six years of experience as a software developer, most of it in the financial services area.

    I have a 3.5 GPA as an undergraduate computer science major at a state university. I also earned a master’s degree in computer science at an Ivy league school with a 3.5 GPA.

    I took the GRE a few years back and have an equivalent GMAT score of 680 according to ETS’s conversion tool.

    I’ve only done one major community service endeavor where I worked with a project team to revamp the web presence of a citizen’s organization but that was about four years ago and lasted half a year.

    Can you provide some insight on my chances at the PT program provided that I write satisfactory essays and obtain good recommendations? Do you think it’s worthwhile for me to take the GMAT?

    Thanks in advance!

  • altimate

    Hi Chioma,

    I am interested in social entrepreneurship and have been involved with it in the past though at a not so impactful level. I have close to 5 yrs experience at various international locations in financial/ information technology sector. Last month i quit the job and am pursuing my interests.
    Could you please tell me how favorable do the admission committee view such cases where there is a sudden change in job/ sector?

    I will be targetting schools based on the social entrepreneurship courses that are offered in the MBA. I have 740 gmat and few professional achievements in the job.

  • JP

    Hi Chioma,

    I graduated with first class honours in law and economics (which is common in Australia to do at the undergraduate level) from a university that is not top tier. I was wondering how adcoms view the reputation of the undergraduate university and whether, and by how much, they discount the grades?

    I noticed that on Harvard’s website that there is a list of schools that the current students are from. Is this anything to go by? Does this mean that they would not consider you if you do not come from one of these schools?

  • Karthik

    Hi Chioma,

    I am Karthik and from India.I am done with my bachelors in Engineering ( Communication specialized) this year.With a GPA of 3/4, Looking forward to make it to a B-school at US for MBA. But to my knowledge, almost every premier B-school up there asks for a considerable work-ex record for at-least 3 years. Given the case that I’m a fresher, I don’t have much chance , but still want to know regarding any other options in the same stream that I may not be aware of.Kindly suggest me.

    Thank You :)

  • Deciding

    Hi Chioma,

    I’m trying to decide between Kellogg and Berkeley. While Kellogg is generally regarded as a better program and I’m drawn to the collaborative student culture there, I prefer the west coast to the midwest. Berkeley is a great fit too, but doesn’t seem as great of a school as Kellogg. What are your thoughts on choosing a school for location over the program? Also – do you have any insight on the future of Berkeley with all of the California budget cuts?

  • Katka

    Hello Chioma,

    First of all, thank you for advising people like me. Your imputs are much appreciated. Here is my question: Would any of the top 10 MBA schools be interested in me as a student? Please see my short story.
    I live in USA, I moved here from Slovakia, where I went to college for 3 years. When I moved here, I had to work full-time (I work at a large non-profit doing some accounting work) to support myself as all my family lives in Europe and they cannot afford to pay for me. With my full time job, I pay all my bills (including school) and paid for my brother’s school back at home to encourage him to go. I go to school (state school) at night (Accounting major) and work full-time during a day. After work, I often study until a.m. I also volunteer for the non-profit I work for and tutor math. My journey to education is quite difficult and long. Besides that, I actively pursue fitness. I would like to compete soon. When I came to the US, I did not have the best experience at firsl (I was shot and robbed) but still managed to stay motivated and work hard on everything I want to achieve. I have been pursuing my undergrad degree for the past 8 years (if I count 3 years in Europe). I will finally graduate next May!!! My GPA is currently 3.83 and I have not taken my GMAT yet. When I lived in Europe, I was always a leader (president of the class, president of our fake company – case study, chief editor of a school magazine, involved in a school radio, cheerleader, graduation event host, Statistics comptetion winner, Math competition winner,..)
    This is a short description of my life. I understand that I do not have as many opportunities not, because I have to work full-time and finish school, but if I got a chance to become a full-time student again, I would be as involved as I can and show my leadership skills.
    Please give me your advice on what reaction I can expect from MBA schools.

    Thank you very much!

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Guiseppe,

    As far as criteria used to make scholarship awards, it’s not simply one thing. Many schools look at backgrounds of students….for example, some schools may want to attract candidates from a geography that they don’t see many students from. It could be industry specific (for example the Robert Toigo fellowships for minorities in Private Equity) or they may be agnostic in terms of what specific area they are looking to expand in the enrollment. The GMAT/GPA often play an important role in scholarship evaluation. But it’s rare that the decision is based simply on that without also taking into account the applicant’s work experience and personal achievements.

    Hope this helps.

    Chioma Isiadinso (www.expartus.com)

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hello MBA Chap,

    The round one versus round two question is top of mind for many applicants. l be writing a more detailed blog on this shortly on my website (www.expartus.com). I recommend aiming for round one if you are able to pull it off. That means that you have to have taken the GMAT by September and be happy with the score, that your essays are in the best shape possible, and that all your recommenders are on board and have adequate time to write you excellent recommendation letters. If any one of these things could be improved upon, then you may want to seriously consider applying round two. You are better applying with an A+ application round two than a B+ application round one.

    Chioma Isiadinso (www.expartus.com)

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi PT MBA Hopeful,

    I’m assuming the GRE is still within the five year window. If you believe your score in the GMAT would be more than the 680 GRE converted score, then go for it. If you find standardized tests to be quite challenging, then I would focus on the other parts of your application—your essays (especially justifying your career objectives, achievements, and why the part time program) and strong recommendations. My sense is that the quality of your work experience will be a bigger factor than whether your score crosses a 700. If you write essays that reveal your brand as an engaging and impact-driven applicant, you should be able to make a convincing argument for why Stern should admit you.

    As for the community service, it’s less about having experience volunteering in organizations outside of work. Look within your work and see if you have engaged colleagues and helped them be successful. If you can show examples of team spirit and commitment to others that will help offset the fact that you don’t have recent outside involvement.

    All the best with the application.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Altimate,

    The admission board likes to understand how applicants have thought through decisions. So yes, you will need to explain why you quit your job and what you are currently doing. If what you are doing is in the sector you are interested in, then that is easier to explain. If unrelated, then it can be a tougher sell. You also want to make sure that whatever you are doing is “serious”….try to be involved in something that challenges you and where you are making a difference (especially since this is something you genuinely are interested in). Commit significant time not just a few hours a week.

    I wish you success with what you are doing. It certainly takes guts to follow your heart!

    Chioma Isiadinso (www.expartus.com)

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi JP,

    Congratulations on your First Class. Admission boards do not have a list of preferred schools. They understand that applicants come from varied backgrounds. What they will be interested in is understanding your decision to choose the school you choose, the opportunities available to you and how you have taken advantage of them. Having said that, they recognize that some schools have a tougher grading system. I wouldn’t worry about whether your school is top tier but show what you have done with the experience. Your GMAT/GRE performance will also provide added data for them in assessing your academic profile so invest in getting the highest score you can get.

    Chioma Isiadinso (www.expartus.com)

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Karthik,

    Well done graduating and getting that under the belt! You may want to work a couple of years to build up some work experience before you apply. While several of the US schools are open to early career candidates, the bar is quite high. If you feel you have extraordinary leadership and team experiences via summer work and while in school then you may want to apply. But make sure you are ready and that you have a compelling background so you can be successful. MBA programs usually require some level of work experience. Masters in Management programs are a different matter and you can apply to those without work experience.

    All the best!

    Chioma Isiadinso (www.expartus.com)

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Karthik,

    Also regarding the budget question you asked about Berkeley, I don’t pretend to be an expert of California budget matters, but I can’t imagine a school like Haas being drastically affected now. But you raise a good question which makes one wonder the long term implications if the state goes bankrupt. Perhaps a worthwhile question to pose to the school. I’m curious what you learn so please share what you find out on this forum.

    Chioma Isiadinso (www.expartus.com)

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Katka,

    The good news is that admission boards look at candidate in the context of their lives and what opportunities have been available to them. You will need to explain why it has taken you 8 years to complete college and the circumstances you face that have precluded you from extracurricular activities. I recommend you avoid writing the essays in a way that makes you seem like you are seeking sympathy vote or complaining; rather, you should write them in a matter of fact way to explain the gaps in your academic story. If you can show impact that is compelling in your job that can be interesting.

    At the end of the day, the make or break of a story like yours is whether the adcom feels that your professional achievements are compelling. If they are not, you may want to hold off for a year or two to develop greater impact before you apply. I’m assuming you will be completing your undergrad degree soon. Strong GMAT scores will be very important as well. I commend you on your persistence and wish you success in securing your undergrad degree.

    Good luck!

    Chioma Isiadinso (www.expartus.com)

  • Randy

    Dear Chioma,

    I was diagnosed as being bipolar when I was 18. This greatly affected my grades during my first year of university (I made the Dean’s list a few times in later years) but my poor first year dragged my GPA down a lot. Also, being bipolar has been a factor in the career path(s) that I have chosen. Whenever I have revealed to somebody that I am bipolar, it has changed the way I have been treated and seen by that person, usually for the negative.

    As such, would it be better to NOT mention that I am bipolar despite the fact that it is a heavily influencing factor in my life?

  • Katka

    Hello Chioma,

    Thank you very much for your help! Your advice is very helpful!

    Katka

  • Considering MBA

    Hi Chioma,

    I graduated from a state school with a 3.83 GPA (double major in economics and political science), I lived in Africa for two years in the middle of my degree (for a religious mission) and have been involved in humanitarian projects there since, and have landed a very impressive job in finance since graduating. I have never performed well on standardized tests so I am assuming that I will not do great on the GMATT/GRE (assume mid 600’s GMATT). In your opinion, what caliber of MBA program would I be eligible for? i.e. schools ranking 30-15?

    Thanks

  • George

    Hi Choima,

    I’m from Eastern Europe and have an undergrad degree in computer science.
    I also started a master degree in computer science (still in Easter Europe), took all the classes/credits (4.0 GPA), but dropped out, because I moved to silicon valley before I finished my thesis. I didn’t think I needed this diploma, so I didn’t try to graduate.
    However, now I’m going to apply to Stanford & Harvard Business Schools and I’m debating with myself if I should even mention my unfinished graduate degree. What is your advice?

    Thank you,
    George

  • Victim of Crisis

    Hi Chioma,

    I graduated in 2008 to work for a top-tier company, but lost my job in 2009 due to the crisis. After that I took a 9-month break during which I moved to another country, traveled, and searched for my second job.

    Right now my career is focused, with a lot of responsibility and exposure. I want to apply to a top MBA program this year. I have a good GMAT (760) but only ok GPA (3.5), a lot of international experience, and good record from my current job.

    I’m very concerned about the “detour” in ’09-’10. It does not show a “track-record of success”, and just looks quite “blank” on my resume (unfortunately I did not start a non-profit or work in microfinance).

    What is your read on my candidacy? And how do I best position myself to explain the “break”?

    Thank you,

    Victim of Crisis

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Katka
    You are welcome. Keep the questions coming. I’m enjoying hearing from all of you and happy to hear you find the information helpful.

    Chioma

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Considering MBA,

    Thanks for your question. Your GPA of 3.83 is going to help mitigate the potential low GMAT/GRE. That said, do everything you can to get the best score you can get. Don’t simply accept that you are doomed to score low in the test. Invest in the class, one-on-one tutoring, self study. Do whatever you can to really give yourself your best shot. If it ends up coming in at 690 that is much better than a mid or low 600s. So don’t give up and give it your best shot. Take it twice if you need to.

    Now on the topic of caliber of schools, it is hard to say without knowing the details of your story. While a lower than average GMAT can be a real challenge in the application, it is possible to overcome that. It will come down to the quality of your work experience, the fit with the program and the unique background, experiences, and perspective you will bring to the program. This is where you essays/recommendations and even interview can impact the outcome. I would select schools that vary in terms of their selectivity. So consider one school in the top 10, a couple in between 10-20, and one or two in the above 20 ranking category. But this is a very general advice and you should consider it within the context of everything else you have going for you in the application. All the best!

    Chioma Isiadinso (www.expartus.com)

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hello George,

    I’m a believer in transparency. The schools often ask you to provide information on all programs you have done (double check the fine print to see what they say). You don’t want to risk getting admitted and having the admission rescinded when they follow up to vet your background. You wouldn’t be the first person to start a program that you didn’t complete. The question you will need to address if you reveal this information is why you chose the opportunity in Silicon Valley. It may be the case that the opportunity was a better fit for what you wish to do long term. I wouldn’t just say “I didn’t think I would need this diploma” as it raises flags for them.

    Good luck.

    Chioma Isiadinso (www.expartus.com)

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Victim of Crisis,

    You are fortunate to be applying in a period when the admission board has loosened their view a bit about lost jobs, gaps in resumes, etc. A few years ago such things could easily keep you out of the running for a spot for admission at very selective schools. Today, so many people have been hit with job losses and delays in finding a job. You can’t change the 9 month gap, though it is quite long, so you need to focus on what you did with the time (travel, self growth, cultural astuteness of living in another country; identify any lessons, parallels you discovered between the new country and your home country). If positioned carefully you can reduce the concern.

    The key to a successful application with this situation is that everything else has to be strong and your essays need to present you as a mature person who is persistent and has a clarity of career focus (hence not being tempted to grab the first job that landed on your lap). Your current job sounds great. Capitalize on the responsibility, exposure and most importantly impact you are having in your current role. That’s what you have control over and that’s what you need to focus on.

    I hope it works out for you.

    Chioma Isiadinso (www.expartus.com)

  • Randolph

    Hi Chioma,

    I am planning to apply for entry into an MBA programme for Fall 2012, and the following are some of the schools that I was hoping to gain entry into: HBS, Wharton, MIT (Sloan), Michigan (Ross), Chicago and Yale. Any advice on how I should improve my application chances, and whether my aspirations are even realistic are welcomed.

    The following is a brief of my application:

    ——————

    Age: 27
    Occupation: Engineer
    Race: Chinese
    GMAT: 760
    TOEFL: No requirement since my Undergrad degree was delivered in English.

    Undergrad: 2nd Lower Honors in Mechanical Engineering from National University of Singapore. GPA was 3.88/5 (Approx a 3.1 to 3.2 out of a scale of 4). Notable highlights include completing a specialization in product design, undergoing a techno-preneurship course, and scoring an A for my Final Year Project.

    Currently: Handling a project management role within the defence sector for the government. Primarily dealing with the construction and refurbishment of military infrastructure. Manage teams of up to 10 internal members and 10 external members. Due to the relatively flat and rigid structure of promotions, will not expect to see a promotion until just before enrolment at the earliest. Work experience will be 2 years at time of application, just under 3 years at time of enrolment.

    Military Experience: Served for just over 2 years prior to embarking on undergraduate studies as part of a national requirement. Commissioned as a Signal Officer, and was appointed 2nd in charge for a Company of 40-50 men. Have led men on overseas training mission to Australia for 3 weeks.

    Community Work: Irregular community work, clocked up a significant number of hours when I was < 18 yrs old, but have managed at least 10 hrs a year since. Highlight of community work being a 1 week trip to a village in Thailand to teach English. Possibly leading a team up to Thailand to assist in construction of a village for a week. Am also actively participating in numerous initiatives in the local church, most prominent of all being part of a committee in charge of a recent renovation project.

    I should also be able to draw on a decent/strong reference from a current supervisor at work, as well as an academic supervisor. I am also active at sports, representing faculty in Tennis throughout my undergraduate years.

    ——————

    Kindly advise me if applying for the abovementioned schools is a dream or a reality. I am really not sure how I stand in comparison to the rest of the applicants for these schools.

    Thanks in advanced! :)

  • Cristian Vasquez

    Great information in here!

  • WAYMSU

    Hello Chioma,

    First I would like to say that I am a huge fan of your book. I feel it’s one of the tools that would really help me get into my dream school. I appreciate the fact that you’re taking time to help hopefuls like me and I was wondering if you can provide some insight into my situation.

    Bit of a background. I decided after 4 years of working for a consulting firm to quit after the company entered into difficulty of getting projects. After that experience, I went to a local consulting firm that really did not have the projects nor the learning experiences that I want, so now, after 8 months from that, I am now about to start in one of the big 4 accounting’s advisory practice. From this, I have several concerns.

    1) I know that switching from job to job is a red flag for MBA applications. But my switching has been brought about by either circumstances beyond my control or for a search for more challenges. How should I package this so this would not be an issue.
    2) Would it be a mistake to just choose both recommenders only from this new job (after more than a year’s experience of course) or should I get recommenders from various sources? Would this be taken against me or would it be fine? Some of my stories in the essay would come from my first job.
    3) I’m currently 27. By the time I apply, I would be 28, and by the time I start school hopefully, I would be 29. A little bit over the average. I just want to get your thoughts on my career timeline. My ultimate goal is to land a job in one of the top 10 consulting firms. Would my age be an issue for the consulting firm’s HR by the time I graduate (is my age a negative factor in my employment prospect)? Would it be an issue for the school if my work goal is consulting and I’m at this age?

    That’s it. Thank you in advance. :)

    WAYMSU

  • al

    Hi Chioma
    I received my BA degree at MSU , my GPA was 2.1 . Right now my last 30 credits at community college was 3.1 .(will get AS degree this fall) I got 600 on my Gmat and I have 10 years of working exp.
    Do I have a chance at ASU online program , U of Iowa or U of Arizona , U of Georgia ?
    Maybe 30 % get accept ?? Should I retake the GMAT ??? I want to apply for next year
    Thanks for your reply !

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Randolph,

    Thanks for your question. I can’t speak directly to what your chances are since there are always multiple variables that go into the admission decision. For example someone with a GMAT score of below 500 got admitted to HBS based on their range of 490-790. Engineering experience could be interesting since you may be able to show more evidence of “getting your hands dirty” as opposed to some of your competition whose work may be more analysis and less application based. You would obviously need to stress what the actual project management work involved and the challenges you encountered leading your team and results you helped to achieve. You will have to show the relevance of your experience in construction/refurbishment of military infrastructure to the MBA context…think what would your experience do to enrich the discussions in the classroom…does it fit with your goals (you don’t have to stay in the same industry/function but will need to show that there are transferable skills, lessons from that experience). Having promotions before you apply isn’t critical…it is the quality of your experience and the achievements that matter more.

    Your community experience seems light, but may not be a deal changer. You can show how within your work you have demonstrated a sensitivity to others and giving back. It doesn’t have to be only through community service work. Having said that, if there are things you are naturally interested in that you can become engaged with today, you should plan to start volunteering in that space right away. You can also find a way to include your passion for Tennis and what it means to you. The important thing is to reveal something interesting and meaningful about you that they wouldn’t have known before reading the essay.

    On the issue of how you compare to the rest of the applicant pool at schools like HBS, Wharton, Sloan, Ross, Chicago and Yale, here’s my two cents:
    Given sheer volume of applicants and low acceptance rates (plus Chinese Engineer with strong GMAT—unfortunately a huge representation in the pool), you will have to have something else that is interesting to really stand out. This could be through your work so you need to really invest in how you will present your work stories in a way that allows you to showcase you contribution in a way that sets you apart from other candidates with similar backgrounds. Consider applying to three or four of the programs round one (mix the more competitive ones with the ones that are slightly less so) and then add a couple of additional schools for round two if it’s not looking good as far as results for the first round.

    All the best,

    Chioma Isiadinso (www.expartus.com)

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Thanks Cristian.

    Chioma Isiadinso (CEO, EXPARTUS http://www.expartus.com)

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi WAYMSU

    First, thanks for the kind words about my book. If you get a minute do share your thoughts on the book on Amazon.com.

    1) I know that switching from job to job is a red flag for MBA applications. But my switching has been brought about by either circumstances beyond my control or for a search for more challenges. How should I package this so this would not be an issue.

    It’s never ideal to make jumps that raise question about your judgment. There will be a question about this but you can allay their concern by making sure your application doesn’t come off as flighty and that your recommenders reinforce the message that you are mature, solid…not someone who is undecided about his career. Quite frankly, the ideal time to have gone to B-school would have been when you left the consulting firm where you worked for 4 years. You can’t do anything now to change that so focus on damage control. The admission board will wonder why you didn’t do your homework thoroughly before making the jump to a local consulting firm. This could make for a good essay on handling setback, mistake, etc but you have to address it with care. The bigger question is how the new gig you are considering (Big 4 Accounting Advisory practice) fits into your career objectives. Make sure to connect the dots, address what you will get out of that experience that is critical and why an MBA is still necessary for you. Failure to hit on this points will likely lead to a rejected application.

    2) Would it be a mistake to just choose both recommenders only from this new job (after more than a year’s experience of course) or should I get recommenders from various sources? Would this be taken against me or would it be fine? Some of my stories in the essay would come from my first job.

    It’s hard to say for sure. It depends on how phenomenal the experience and deliverables were. Ideally it would be good to show some breadth in your experience by getting one from the first job (especially since you were there the longest in your career) and one from the latest job. It’s less about new job/old job and more about what content is being covered and how does it reinforce and solidify your brand. In any case, stay connected with your old supervisors (you may end up needing them) and wow your new ones so they become brand champions and support your candidacy when you are ready to apply.

    3) I’m currently 27. By the time I apply, I would be 28, and by the time I start school hopefully, I would be 29. A little bit over the average. I just want to get your thoughts on my career timeline. My ultimate goal is to land a job in one of the top 10 consulting firms. Would my age be an issue for the consulting firm’s HR by the time I graduate (is my age a negative factor in my employment prospect)? Would it be an issue for the school if my work goal is consulting and I’m at this age?

    I don’t see this as a huge factor…yes you may be a year or two above the average but it really will come down to the quality of your experience and your ability to impress the recruiters and convince them that you are a fit for their firm and consulting in general.

    Hope this helps.

    Chioma Isiadinso (CEO, EXPARTUS http://www.expartus.com)

  • Eddie

    Hi Chioma,

    My undergrad GPA is very low (2.9 to be exact), and I wasn’t really motivated when I was younger. I read that HBS ADCOM heavily weights on your undergrad GPA, regardless of a candidate’s other parts of the application. How valid is this? Does HBS toss out low GPA apps?

    I am 29, planning to matriculate at 30 and all other aspects of my applicaton are extremely sound and unique and will have no problem articulating this in my essays. HBS is my number one choice.

    Thanks!
    Eddie

  • Hopeful Edupreneur

    Hello Chioma,

    I’m a public school teacher with a Master’s in Education from Stanford and an undergrad background in Physics and Math from a top 5 liberal arts institution in the US. I came to the US as an international student. I have two years of experience in the classroom, and want to get an MBA to transition into an entrepreneurial role in the education sector. I’ve done some innovative things in my time as a teacher and have a solid track record of entrepreneurship and leadership in my job. Due to personal circumstances, I am planning to apply to business school in a year’s time, which means that I’m looking to enter a program in the Fall of 2013. Here are my questions.

    1. My undergrad GPA was 3.3 and my MA GPA 3.9. GMAT score 730 (q 50, v 39, AWA 5.5) How much will my undergrad GPA cost me? Should I bother retaking the GMAT?

    2. I’m planning to transition out of the classroom and am looking to get a different experience that will complement my application. Since I have two more years to work and am planning to have a long term impact in education/entrepreneurship after business school, do you have any recommendations for the types of experiences I should seek out prior to B-school?

    3. I obviously don’t have massive financial resources to call upon to pay for my MBA. Do you know which schools have there non-loan, need based financial aid policies?

    4. My sense is that I am an atypical candidate, but that there are a fair amount of people like me in the applicant pool these days. Do you see me as a competitive applicant for a Harvard/Stanford/Wharton/Kellogg school? Or should I scale back my expectations?

    Thanks for your time.

  • Steve

    Hi Chioma,

    I am an active officer in the Navy and have been planning my mba application for about 2 years now. I scored a 750 (50q, 40v, 5.5 AWA) on the GMATs, and have a 3.3 GPA from a top 10 liberal arts college where I majored in Economics. However, my grades dropped sharply my senior year of college largely due the fact that I lost motivation for school when I decided to join the military (GPA dropped from a 3.5 to a 3.3 and includes a 0.0 in a course I withdrew from after the deadline). In hindsight, it was a big mistake.

    To help make up for it, I am working on a Masters of Professional Studies in Real Estate part time at Georgetown University where I have maintained a 4.0 GPA with a focus on real estate finance courses. Should I address my poor grades in my senior year in my application, or will strong performance in graduate school eliminate/mitigate concerns with my declining grades in my upper level undergraduate courses?

    Thanks,

    Steve

  • WAYMSU

    Hello Chioma,

    Thank you for your reply. As always, very valuable advice. Of course I would visit amazon.com to share my thoughts.

    WAYMSU

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Eddie,

    Thanks for posting a question. A 2.9 GPA is low not just for HBS but for all top MBA programs. Top schools pay great attention to college grades and GPA because it reflects a more sustained period of performance over a test you take one day as is the case for the GRE/GMAT. Schools won’t automatically eliminate your application just because you have a lower than average GPA. However, you will need to be able to present an impressive story that is so compelling that they choose your application over candidates with stronger academic story. I recommend casting a wider net when applying.

    All the best.

    Chioma Isiadinso (CEO, EXPARTUS http://www.expartus.com)

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Hopeful Edupreneur,

    The GPA of 3.9 in the Masters program will help reduce any issues that the 3.3 undergrad GPA has. The 730 GMAT is fine. however, if you think the score can go up to a 750, I don’t see why you shouldn’t aim to submit the application with the strongest score you possibly can. If the 730 is as good as it can get then don’t worry about it.

    I’m not sure what kind of entrepreneurial interests you have with regards to education. You may be considering creating innovative education products or you may be thinking more in terms of starting a Charter school or other new models for teaching. Since you have two years before you apply I recommend finding an opportunity that will challenge you, give you opportunity to lead (possibly even manage people/projects) and allow you to show results at the end of your tenure.

    As for schools with need based scholarships: Majority of the top programs offer need based scholarships. You will have to do individual research on each program to learn exactly what is available. Schools like HBS has several need based scholarships and does not award fellowships based on merit. According to their website: “HBS Fellowships are awarded based on financial need. Your academic or professional performance/merit are not used in financial aid decisions. Nearly 50% of the class receives an average of approximately $25,000 per year in need-based HBS Fellowships.” Stanford offers several need based awards as well. A few examples include:
    The Bonini Partnership for Diversity Fellowship, The Mohammed bin Rashid Fellows Program, and Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. In addition, many schools also offer loan forgiveness programs to students choosing to take jobs in the nonprofit and public sector.

    It’s hard to judge whether you will be admitted to programs like Stanford, Harvard, Kellogg and Wharton. The academics are enough to keep you in the running. The bigger question is “what else do you have” to your story. Leadership, work impact, fit of program, and overall brand of your story will end up determining whether you are admitted.
    Make sure to take the time to invest in conveying the best stories about your experiences/life to allow you to stand apart in the competitive applicant pool.

    Best,

    Chioma Isiadinso (CEO, EXPARTUS http://www.expartus.com)

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Steve,

    I would address a sharp dip in GPA the final year and not leave things to the admission board’s imagination. I wouldn’t spend too much time writing about it. A short paragraph that acknowledges this is enough and then move on. If you could address it within a bigger context of growth, lessons learned, that is ideal. Key is to take ownership and not make excuses. The fact that you are in a committed academic program where you are doing well will not hurt but can be helpful.

    The bigger question I see is how the current Masters in RE fits into your long term career and why you still need an MBA after this degree.

    Best,

    Chioma Isiadinso (CEO, EXPARTUS http://www.expartus.com)

  • Sol

    Hi Chioma,

    I have a question about the new HBS 2+2 program. How does Harvard evaluate such applicants when one of the key elements of MBA apps, work experience is missing? I am a physics major with a 3.8 GPA and high GMAT, and I was wondering how the admissions office is able to evaluate something as foreign as physics/math accomplishments. Do you remember seeing such applications in your adcom days?

    Thanks,

    Sol

  • Sarah

    Hi Chioma,

    Wow, I am so impressed you respond to so many people here. What a great resource!

    My story is certainly not one I find echoed many places. General stats: I’m almost 27, have a 3.9 GPA from a non-Ivy League undergrad, 710 GMAT, female, Latino, and fluent in Spanish. 5+ years full-time experience. Worked full-time for 2.5 years (all during senior year of college, included) pursuing what I thought would be my one and only career as a gallery owner only to discover it’s not what I wanted at all. Then worked 2.5 years as a Project Manager at an innovative, global art investment company but left/was laid off in January when their financing almost evaporated. Since then, I have been employed full-time as a free-lance project manager for two different clients, both very cool but dissimilar start-ups/small biz. Core interests post b-school are sustainable CPG development and marketing and general management.

    My question to you is how do I successfully present myself when I currently don’t have a single employer nor have ever worked for a large corporation? Is being free-lance for varied business types a deal-breaker for Adcom? My hope here obviously is that my unique profile, coupled with 5 solid years of experience growing small businesses and interesting startups will overshadow the recent hiccup in single-employer status. I figured why sit around unemployed looking for a job opening (looming b-school apps or no) when I had contacts who needed my services free-lance? Still work 40+ hrs a week and am ironically making more money than before (sans benefits). Also, my current clients and previous boss will write excellent recommendations.

    Would LOVE to hear your feedback as it’s been impossible for me to find any profiles that come near mine. Aiming for multiple Top 15 schools.

    Thank you!

  • Kurt

    Dear Chioma,

    To open, thank you for your wonderful responses to all those who have asked questions; it gives me hope that you will be able to answer mine.

    Do you find it is jeopardizing to one’s career if they have a Master’s of Arts in International Business and later return to school for an M.B.A.? What I mean to say is: will I be overqualified and therefore better advised to graduate with a Bachelor’s in Economics and enter the workforce to build my career vitae?

    The university I attend offers a combined program to entice undergraduate into the Master’s program during their senior year of the Bachelor’s degree, but I do not want to seem a bad match when applying for M.B.A. programs in a few years. My major is in Economics, but being fluent in English and Spanish has led me to the possibility of International Business/Finance. But I certainly do not wish to seem ill-suited to an M.B.A program during their review of my application.

    I look forward to your prompt and enlightening response, Chioma.

    Cordially,

    Kurt

  • Ram

    Dear Chioma,
    I am seeking your expert advice on the schools I should try applying for in 2012. I had applied for 5 universities (for Fall 2011) & all were rejected. Part of it could be that I applied too late (May – June timeframe) or it could probably have to do with my profile.

    Age : 35
    GMAT : 570 (AWA 5.0, V 33/66%, Q 36/43%). Will be retaking the exam in Sept & aiming for 700+
    TOEFL : Test taken
    UG : 76% Top Engineering college in India
    Work Exp: Over 11 years of experience in IT (6+ years in project management) and currently working as a Project manager(PMP certified).Also have extensive international exposure of over 6 years in US

    I would like to pursue a 1 year or 18 months MBA (not EMBA). So would like to know,
    – Is my age an issue for getting admissions into the schools?
    – which US schools do you think I have a realistic chance of gaining admission

    If I dont gain admission in 2012 Spring/Summer I plan to do EMBA (but that is not what I ideally wanted to do).
    Awaiting your invaluable suggestions/inputs.

    Lastly kudos to you on taking up this selfless activity of providing your valuable advice for many individuals like me.

    Thanks,
    Ram

  • MBAChap

    What impact can the education levels of your family (or lack there of) have on the admissions proccess?

  • SureV

    Dear Chioma: Thanks for the wonderful consulting you are providing on this forum that too for free!

    I would appreciate if you can answer a few questions regards to my profile.

    I am currently working as a patent analyst for a fortune 5 oil and gas firm based in Bangalore, India. As a part of my job, I interact directly with in-house patent attorneys and business managers to identify new opportunities and track competitor activities. I have been here for more than 3 years now.

    I have a total of 9 years of work experience after graduating from a premier institute in India (IIT) with an electrical engineering degree. My past experience includes the first two years at a small startup in the field of patent searching followed by 3 years of entrepreneurial experience (patent services again). Although the entrepreneurial venture did not succeed, I learnt a lot through interactions with our clients which included some decent names in India and US. I also extensively focused on raising angel funding for our startup which again gave me the experience of interacting with some very high profile angel investors. I would like to highlight all of this is my application.

    I have booked a GMAT date for August end and am targeting a 700+ score. My post MBA plan is to work in a VC firm focusing on clean and future energy technologies. I am interested in 2 years full time MBA from US.

    Enough about me :). Now if you can please help me with a few questions:

    1. As I understand, I will be considered an older candidate in most of the schools and as it is widely known that the top 5 definitely has an inclination towards younger applicants. How common are those with 9-10 years of experience in the top 5 and what gets them in. I can very well explain why I could not go for an MBA immediately after my entrepreneurial stint due to personal and financial reason and why now is the best time for me to do an MBA in aligning towards my future career plans. What are my chances in Harvard (my dream school) and others?
    2. The other shortcoming of my application is a low undergrad GPA. I had a 64% score at graduation; I’m not even sure of the GPA equivalent of that. While one link takes it as 3.5 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Academic_grading_in_India), other puts it at 1! (http://qna.educouncil.org/Tests_and_Results/nZxyNXyyynN.html). How bad is it and can I overshadow it with a decent GMAT score?

    I have more questions but the above 2 are the ones that are keeping me awake at nights. It will be great if you can address them.

    Thanks in advance.

    SureV

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Sol,

    The good news is that schools like HBS attracts a very diverse set of applicants. In fact, one may argue that applicants with backgrounds in mathematics and science are quite attractive to top business schools. At a minimum you have excelled in the rigorous curriculum with a 3.8 and this would make you attractive to top schools. The question that will likely influence your admission outcome is what you want to do and how well-you have thought it through. Whatever your career objective, it has to make sense to the adcom. For the 2+2 program, it is looking for diverse students not just people who are from business backgrounds (study and experience). So saying you wish to go into the usual suspect careers (Banking/Consulting) will not endear you to the adcom.

    HBS values internship experiences and the leadership characteristics that the applicants demonstrate during their college years. If you have zero summer work experience and little to no experience in a leadership role it will be very tough to convince HBS to admit you to the 2+2 program.

    Best,

    Chioma (CEO, EXPARTUS )
    Chioma@expartus.com

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Sarah,

    Good for you for being persistent and going for what you love. Ok, let’s look at how admissions boards look at profiles like yours. Not sure what your major was, what types of courses you took, etc., but assuming they were rigorous and combined with the 710 GMAT, you should be in the clear on whether you can handle the rigors of a MBA program. (I’m making an assumption that the GMAT breakdown is even and that it isn’t skewed favorably towards the verbal). Working full time while in school and graduating with a top major also helps you, especially since you maintained a 3.9 average.

    I see two potential issues you have to address. 1) The issue of being perceived as flighty (going from being a gallery owner, then project manager for art investment co, to now wanting to go into Consumer Products and in a Marketing/GM role). Focus on skills you have built from one to the next, your awareness of why you took the steps you took, and knowledge of the career industry you plan to focus on…..so it isn’t seen as a flight of fancy that you have taken up. 2) Employability is another factor schools consider (how realistic is your career option given what you have done. CPG is quite tough to get into and the free lance profile will make it a tougher sell with your competition of blue chip candidates with strong analytical backgrounds.

    You can’t change the past so what I recommend is making sure that you proactively address the two concerns in the application to get the adcom comfortable with your candidacy and goals. You will need to make sure you keep your school net wide and that you network and get to know the school and decision makers during the process. Expanding your list beyond the top ten schools will allow you to hedge your chances.

    All the best.

    Chioma (CEO, EXPARTUS )
    Chioma@expartus.com

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Kurt,

    Thanks for the kind words. This is an interesting question. The short answer is that it depends. Some schools may question your decision to get the Masters in International Business and why you still want to come back for the MBA. Others may view it favorably. It depends on the rigor of the program, what you plan to do post the degree and whether you can build a compelling case that you genuinely still need a MBA to succeed in your career. If you definitely know you want a MBA in the future, I wouldn’t push for the Masters in Business. It may hurt your chances at some schools. A Bachelor’s in Econ should allow you to have a good transition into a business career initially. Obviously this is a personal decision and I don’t know all the intricacies surrounding your unique situation but you don’t want to apply and have to “explain” decisions you have made and raise issues about whether you really need the MBA.

    Hope this helps and all the best.

    Chioma (CEO, EXPARTUS )
    Chioma@expartus.com

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi MBAChap,

    You asked about the impact of family educational background on the admissions process….and by that I assume you mean how is it viewed?

    Admission Boards do want to understand how the backgrounds of applicants have shaped them–that is partly why they ask for several essay questions to really understand your life across all dimensions and the experiences that have shaped who you are. So for example, if you are the first in your family to go to college, it is important to share how such an experience has affected you but don’t overplay that card as it can then be a turn off to the adcom.

    Best,

    Chioma (CEO, EXPARTUS )
    Chioma@expartus.com

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Ram,

    The combination of 35 years (several standard deviation from the mean age at the top MBA programs) plus low GMAT in an over-represented pool (Indian IT males) make it unlikely that HBS will offer an admission.

    I would really consider the EMBA program for the age/number of years of experience stand point. Regardless of the full time or EMBA program, you will need to raise the GMAT significantly (to at least about high 600s) to be in the range for top 20 programs…I don’t know much about the leadership story and whether there is something else that stands out about your candidacy that you have not mentioned.

    You should consider a broad list of schools both in the US, UK and India and then pick a few of them after you have assessed the profiles of students who are being admitted to those programs.

    I wish you all the best.

    Chioma (CEO, EXPARTUS )
    Chioma@expartus.com

  • IL Applicant

    Hi Chioma,

    A slightly different profile:
    Israeli, 27, Fresh out of a major Israeli university (BA, accounting and economics), but worked throughout the degree as an analyst for a VC arm of a fortune 100 company.
    Over 4 years as an intelligence officer with strong achievements and promotions.
    GMAT – 740, GPA – 85 out of 100.

    Thanks for your advice

  • Wannabe B-Schooler

    Hi Chioma,

    So, I REALLY need some help. I’m a black female business journalist living in New York City. I’ve worked for a few big personal finance magazines and a major daily newspaper here in New York (one of the big three, but not the NYT.) I’m slated to get a master’s degree this fall from a school in Paris, in Global Communications. My hope in getting the degree was to a) travel and b) learn about media and branding in a global context. My ultimate goal/dream is to run a big international media company one day, like the NYT Co. or Time Warner or something like that.

    However, I feel that getting this MA degree will severely hurt my chances of getting an MBA. I’m already a non-traditional candidate because I’m a journalist, and chances are that I’ll need to work one year (at least) after finishing this MA abroad (I’m 25 now, and I’ll be 26 when I finish, hoping to go to bschool at 27.)

    What are my chances of getting into a top H/W/S school? I’m sure my GMAT has to be amazing, since my GPA from undergrad was a 3.3 (from a top 10 national private school, but not an Ivy, where I had a double major in journalism and political science.)

    Am I going to screw my chances of getting into a H/W/S if I get this degree and work for another year or two? Will I be screwed if I end up working in something other than journalism when I finish the degree? Will that make me look scatterbrain on paper? What should I do?

    I’d really appreciate your help!

  • Pyramid

    Hello There.
    I am a final yr BTech student with 3.2 GPA.
    10th=88%
    12th=88%
    I have recieved a Rashtrapathi Award from President of india for social service and leadership.
    I have not given GMAT yet.
    can you tell what score will be enough for me to get into top 50 Universities and Is work experience mandatory.

  • BKBK

    GMAT: 750
    GPA: 3.35
    Undergraduate from a Good Engg College but not from IIT(Civil Engineering)
    Working in an Engineering Firm. Involved in Project Estimation and Management
    Extra Circular:
    1) Highly Involved in various Activities throughout College
    2) Have Tutored Poor kids during Weekends
    3) Currently assisting a Group of Poor People (Potters) in obtaining Bank Loans and Loans from Govt. via NGO
    4) Highly Active in College Alumni Affairs
    5) Interest towards Photography and even volunteer with a Club in organizing Workshops for poor kids and newbies in City

    Chances of Making into the following:
    1) Harvard
    2) Tuck
    3) Booth
    4) Darden

  • Cristian

    Hi Chioma, first of all thanks for all the help. Also I just finished reading your book and it will greatly help my coming MBA application!

    I was wondering which Top 30 MBA schools are more Scholarship friendly. I have 750 GMAT and good profile to be accepted in top 5 schools I believe but would attend a lower ranked if they offer me (hopefully) full Scholarship. I am planning on applying to HBS, Stanford, Brigham Young and a couple more where I see potential in a good scholarship. By the way, my main focus is on Enterpreneurship and I have even accomplished pretty good results in a Social Start-up (Non profit). Thanks in advance!

  • Prasoon

    Hi Chioma
    I am working with TATA Consultancy Services for last 4 years
    My Profile:
    10th – 80%
    12th – 80%
    B.E – 72%
    GMAT – 720 (Quant- 86%, Verbal – 86%)
    Joined TCS in August 2007
    August 2007- August 2009 – Business Analyst (TCS Telecom Innovation Lab)
    September 2009 – August 2010 – Program manager (Korea offshore delivery)
    September 2010 – till date – Process Improvement consultant (HiTech ISU)
    Achievements:
    Won TATA Innovista 2008
    Made to the finals of TATA Innovista 2009
    Made to the finals of TATA Business Leadership Award 2010
    Made to the finals of TAS 2011
    ASQ certified Six Sigma Black Belt
    Involved with Maitree for last 1 year and teach rural children on Saturdays

    Where does my profile stand as far as colleges such as Kellogg MMM, Tuck , Fuqua, Ross and MIT sloan LGO are concerned?

    Also, I have 2 years break between 12th & College, and No international experience.
    How much it will play?

  • http://guilloryglobalfoundation Allen Guillory

    Chioma Isiadinso,

    I was doing some searching on google then seen an article or blog on businessweek.com about this site. My question is with the bad economy, and after viewing the recent debt talks on tv with President Obama is it a good investment of time, and money to pursue an MBA program? The career goals I have are in the technology entrepreneurship where law+business+technology intersect like youtube. I am minority that comes from a background that really did give me the prerequisite for to attend NYU stern for undergraduate or MBA.

    I have professors that gave me strong recommendations to attend NYU, but is it the right move for southern? I am currently at the university of Houston majoring in corporate communications/entrepreneurship/consumer science + tech nerd that loves writing up websites. My concern NYU Stern sent me material to there undergraduate program which I never had any interest in attending, but I have decided maybe the NYU stern MBA might be worth the risk to take for technology entrepreneurship.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Il Applicant,

    Unsure what your specific question is. The academic profile is fine with a 740/85% GPA at Israeli U. VC analyst experience another plus…you can bet that the admission board reviewing your application will have a good sense of candidates from Israel and will be looking closely at the firm you worked for and the nature of the work you did there. If there are any out of the ordinary experience that you had, it should be highlighted as many of the top schools see candidates from your part of the world so that alone will not be differentiating.

    Best,

    Chioma (CEO, EXPARTUS )
    Chioma@expartus.com

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Wannabe B-Schooler,

    As a journalist applicant the top schools like to see backgrounds from top backgrounds like NYT/WSJ. What kind of special assignments/write ups have you done? What’s driving you to the MBA? I’m not convinced that HSW will be enamored with the idea of you doing an MA in Paris. Why Paris? It may seem like you are trying to take a bit of time off, enjoy a Parisian extended “vacation” instead of clearly pursuing a career path that is bringing you closer to your objective of running a Time Warner or NYT.

    I think an MA opens up more questions about your candidacy and in the admissions world, your goal is to eliminate any questions that the admissions board could have about you. Why Global communication and how does it fit into your grand vision of being a CEO of a media company? How do you show a rigorous academic profile to offset the 3.3? A strong GMAT helps but I’m not sure that a Masters in a non quant area gets you there. Why are you looking to leave now. Raises questions about whether you are running away from something as opposed to running to something. This distinction is very important to admissions people who are attracted to candidates who are not trying to escape their jobs.

    Hope this helps.

    Chioma (CEO, EXPARTUS )
    Chioma@expartus.com

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Pyramid,

    Most MBA programs like to see some kind of work experience, whether it is from internships or work you did while attending university. I don’t have enough information to speak to your specific situation but I recommend trying to get the highest GMAT score you can get. Top 50 Universities is a wide range and you may want to consider what your long term goals are, what kind of teaching environment work best for you, plus the region where you wish to work. Think of the MBA beyond a destination (simply getting in) to life beyond the degree and what you wish to do with your degree in the long run.

    It may be worth looking at Masters in Management programs which do not require work experience. For more examples of them check out the Financial Time’s Masters in Management Rankings.

    Chioma (CEO, EXPARTUS )
    Chioma@expartus.com

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi BKBK,

    Thanks for your question. You may have noticed that Poets & Quants is currently running a series where applicants share their stats and background profiles and receive odds of admission from Sandy Kriesberg. It’s worth posting your profile there to get your admission percentages.

    As an Indian Engineer, you will be competing with a ton of applicants from similar background….many from IIT so a school that isn’t as well known and a GPA that isn’t off the charts means that the rest of your story has to be quite compelling. It sounds like you have a ton of socially-focused involvement which is good. It all depends on the quality of work and the level of impact you have that will help you stand apart. Your work experience at the Engineering Firm will be very important as well. What kind of firm is it? If it is a small firm with projects that are very small in scope it may peg you as a “small pond” player and this is going to be the make or break of your admission at the schools you highlight here.

    Harvard is a school that is going to be a huge stretch and I’m not convinced it will be a yes given the information you share. Having said that if it turns out you have extraordinary leadership, then worth applying for HBS. But on the surface, it appears unlikely. Tuck, Booth, and Darden could be possibilities depending on your long term goals, how it fits into the schools’ strengths, and how strong your work experience and extracurricular activities are. I would also recommend expanding your school list to a couple of schools that admit a higher percentage of their applicants.

    All the best,

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Cristian,

    Thanks for your question and reading my book, The Best Business Schools’ Admissions Secrets. Do take a few minutes to share your opinion on Amazon if you are able.

    Given your interest in entrepreneurship I would add schools like MIT, Thunderbird and Babson Business School. I would also highlight schools like Haas, Chicago and Wharton in terms of schools where many of our clients have received significant scholarships. This list is by no means comprehensive but a good place to start. Even programs like Stanford and HBS have scholarships but you have to be proactive in researching them.
    Here is the link for Stanford’s scholarships: http://www.gsb.stanford.edu/mba/financial_aid/fellow_scholarships.html. Spend time vetting each program you are considering to identify the program opportunities that exist.

    All the best,

    Chioma (CEO, EXPARTUS )
    Chioma@expartus.com

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Prasoon,

    It sounds like you have had a good set of experiences at TATA which is a plus for you. The GMAT is ok (it won’t be considered a wow but it meets the cut so no issues academically). The gap will have to be explained (I’m assuming you worked during that time…and if that’s the case, not a big deal….if it was that you took an extended vacation where you did nothing then it’s a problem).

    Lack of international experience is viewed in the context of the opportunities that were available to you. You work for a global firm….are people at your level not typically given these opportunities? There are also ways to show cultural sensitivity without having lived/worked in another country. For example, are there projects where the team was diverse? Were you able to lead a cross cultural team? You can find ways to bring stories in about your global awareness and cultural sensitivity that assures the admissions board that you are not someone who will not fit in the diverse community that is typical of business schools.

    The list you have seem reasonable but it will depend on the details of the work you did and impact you had.

    Best,

    Chioma (CEO, EXPARTUS )
    Chioma@expartus.com

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Allen,

    If I understand your question you want to know if the MBA is a worthwhile investment given the economy? The short answer is “it depends”. The decision is a personal decision and the draw varies from person to person. Ultimately the degree is a personal investment. You have to look carefully at multiple things: your financial situation (the MBA is not cheap and can cost over $100K plus opportunity cost of not working), whether you need the degree to succeed in your career (what exactly do you want to do? Do people in leadership roles in that space have an MBA?)

    It sounds like you are currently in an undergraduate program at U of Houston. You should probably work for at least a couple of years before applying to Stern.
    In the meantime, do your research of Stern and other programs to make sure you understand what the programs offer and assess whether you would be a good fit there.

    I wish you continued success!

    Chioma (CEO, EXPARTUS )
    Chioma@expartus.com

  • Ali

    Hello Chioma,

    Hope you are well.This is one of my family members’ profile:

    -Pakistani citizen living in UAE
    -Undergrad: Electrical Engineering from a top university in UAE
    GPA (cumulative): 3.71
    GPA (major): 3.88
    -Master’s GPA: 3.9 from Stanford university
    -Work experience: 4 years with UAE’s largest oil company (ADNOC)
    2 years with McKinsey &Co.in Dubai
    -Soon to be 29 years old
    -Average extracurriculars
    -GMAT: 750

    Applying to HBS, Stanford, Wharton, Kellogg and INSEAD.

    I would love it if you could give me feedback on much percentage chance this person has of attending these MBA programs.

    Thank you

  • Quant Worrier

    Hi Chioma,
    Question about raising flags about quant skills. I’ve heard over and over about a GMAT score not keeping someone out, but with a score of 680 (65% in the quant and 95% in verbal) I’m a bit worried. I come from a non-traditional sector – communications/PR – but I passed my AP Calc 2 exam in high school and got an A in Stats for Econ majors at NYU, as well as A’s in multiple other advanced econ courses. Is that all enough to offset the worry by admin people about the low GMAT quant score? I’m applying to all top 10 schools.

    Thanks!

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/ck1979/ Curt Kowalchuk

    Hi Chioma,

    -Undergrad: a 3 (90 credit)year business degree from a mid-level Canadian school.
    -GPA (cumulative): 3.90
    -GMAT 700
    -Work experience: 7 years with Canada’s 3rd largest pork company
    -Soon to be 32 years old
    -Extracurriculars include: (a) starting a leadership program for disadvantaged youth, (b) Search committee to find doctors for rural communities,and (c) coaching youth sports.

    Applying to HBS, Dartmouth, Wharton, Kellogg, and Yale.

    If possible, could give me some feedback on my chances to gain acceptance into these MBA programs.

    Thank-you

  • HN

    Hi Chioma,

    Thank you so much for your time and kindness in advance.

    I have read all of your replies to gain a better understanding but still would appreciate a tailored comment.

    Here’s my summary:

    Iranian born&raised US naturalized citizen – Moved to the US in 2002

    Academic:
    BS in Civil Eng. – UCLA – 3.8/3.45 (Major/Overall) in 2008
    MS in Civil Eng. – Stanford – 3.95 in March 2010
    GMAT: 730 (Q51/V38 – V is 81%) AWA 6

    Work:
    3x 3 mo summer civil eng. internships in private and public offices
    1x 6 mo fellowship @ US General Services Admin in DC during my MS
    1yr5mo @ my current job – a mid-size construction company specializing in public transportation – Work as project engineer on a $200M+ rail project

    Leadership:
    Mentoring a civil eng. course + Coaching a student competition group, both @ Stanford
    Mentor interns at my office – soon to have direct reports in field operations
    TA ed 4-5 courses at Stanford
    Lead various student eng. groups in regional and national competitions both at Stanford and UCLA

    Above is the jest of my past. I am considering only applying to top 10 US schools. One of my app’s soft spots will be letter of rec since I can’t tell anyone at my work. My letters will be from an Industry mentor at Stanford, Chair of Civil eng department @ Stanford and my boss from GSA.

    My major concern is my limited work experience and I am debating whether I should apply for Fall 2012 or Fall 2013. Can you please give me some advice and let me know how competitive you find my app for only the top 5-10 schools?

  • Aparna

    Hi Chioma,

    I’m a post-grad in Pharmacy from one of the top Universities in India and am currently working with the Intellectual Property Management dept of a global pharmaceutical company. I am giving the GMAT in a couple of weeks and am confident of getting a 700 at least. My acads are good – 9.8/10.0 in post grad and 8.8/10.0 in under grad. I am a qualified patent agent in India but have only 2 years of experience. How much would my lack of experience weigh against me in the application process?

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/eddieringo/ eddie

    Hi Chioma,

    I’m looking at schools that are the best fit for me. One question I have is how important is it to attend a school that has a strong alumni presence where I want to live and work? Am I better off attending a school on the west coast if I intend to seek employment there after graduating.

    On to my profile:

    First generation college graduate.
    UC Regents Scholar
    B.S. Computer Science from UCSD
    3.1 GPA (Mostly due to 1 year of pre-pharmacy failures, but grades trend steadily upward towards graduation, finishing last quarter with Provosts Honors)
    720 GMAT
    Software Engineer at GA-ASI Inc. for 5 years, with increasing responsibilities.
    Started internet retail car-parts business in high school.
    Spent a summer in Amazon with missionaries, doctors, and dentists.
    Worked part time throughout college.
    Core Member/leader of campus organization to raise money for missionaries abroad 3 years in college.

    Near term goals:
    Management at high technology firm.

    Long term goals:
    Entrepreneurial

    I’d like to end up on the west coast. The schools I’ve been considering are:
    UCLA, UCBerkeley, Northwestern, USC, Dartmouth

    Are these realistic choices for me? Are there other schools that would be a fit that I’m not considering?

    Thanks in advance,
    -Eddie

  • Hasan Parekh

    Hi Chioma,

    Your book on Business Schools was wonderful and I read it cover to cover.

    I am interested in applying to HBS (MBA) but I have a below 3.0 GPA in my undergrad from a top 10 engineering school in the US. I know you have addressed this question in your book as well as this forum but based on your experience, do you know of candidates who have made it to HBS with this kind of a handicap?

    Best wishes
    Hasan

  • Commodore

    Hi Chioma,

    Thanks for your precious help !

    One quick question: how well regarded by AdCom is the CFA designation ?

    Thank you so much !

  • JC

    You inspire me, which is something I’ve been lacking the past 6 years of my life.

    Allow me to make this simple and ask outright what I need answered..

    I joined the Active Duty military after high school, and now that I am finished with my enlisted contract, I am continuing education. I am passionate, driven, motivated, and I dream big. I am, however, 25 years old and a bit behind my younger peers.

    I aspire to be a HBS graduate, and its a dream I will pursue feverishly to attain. But, given I am at my fresh start point (with some experience in defending our nations freedom and human resources management as a Staff Sergeant) I want to start off my journey to HBS admissions on the right foot and mold my achievements in the coming years around making acceptance a true possibility.

    Might you offer some advice on how to do that? schools I should consider? programs of study? Job experience I should attain.. anything. I am by no means a piccolo player, but I can play a mean oboe and saxophone. (referencing an inspiring article I read on CNN Money)

    Any direction you could provide would be greatly appreciated.

    Yours truly,
    SSgt J. Carter, USAF

  • Ricardo Phillips

    Hi Chioma,

    I have a question concerning extra-curricular activities and leadership experience. Is a complete lack of volunteer work, or more specifically running a volunteer project a major setback? Could this non-leadership position be supplemented with participation in activities, for example teaching computer literacy?

    Also, could your extra-curricular activities be buoyed by proficiencies in a foreign language?

    Best Wishes,
    Ricardo.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Ali,

    Thanks for your question. Going off of the information you provided, it sounds like your family member has a solid profile with a high GMAT and GPA from both undergrad and grad program. The fact that the masters degree is at Stanford can’t hurt and coming from an Engineering major is also since it is viewed as a rigorous major. The average extracurricular may or may not matter as much as long as he/she can show great commitment to others through project/team engagement. Engineers can be a plus in the pool. What did he/she do exactly at the UAE top oil company? What processes did they overhaul? What value/impact did it have on the firm? The fact that we are talking about two top firms, (McKinsey and top UAE Oil Co also helps in confirming that the applicant isn’t just a big fish in a little pond but is someone who can “play” on a global platform.

    I suspect that the issue for your relative isn’t going to be whether he/she can cut it academically but rather one of fit with program and fit with goals. If he/she gets the positioning right, admission to one of the five schools identified should happen. The age of 29 is slightly above the average for US schools but not too old to keep him/her out of the running. It depends on the steps taken from college to now and whether it is on an upward trajectory.

    You can feel free to contact me offline (chioma@expartus.com) if you want to share more specifics about the background of your relative and get my specific perspective about whether they are going to be competitive.

    Best,

    Chioma (CEO, EXPARTUS )
    Chioma@expartus.com

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Quant Worrier,

    What you have heard about the skewed GMAT possibly raising flags is true. High school AP exam will not have much weight. Econ courses with A grades can help. The question for you is whether you could raise the Quant score of the GMAT. If you can, absolutely do so, especially given how competitive the admission landscape is for the top ten programs. You don’t want one thing to possibly keep you out. Having said that, if you know that you are not a good test taker and that the score you have is the best you can get then focusing on the rest of the application is your best option.

    Other things that can help are recommendations that attest to strong quant/analytical skills with real and meaty examples; professional experiences that leaves no doubt about your quantitative exposure and the fact that you have excelled in that role will go a long way to help offset the quant concerns. If you have taken college level quant courses (check with each school to see the courses they like to see) that can help also.
    Exceptional leadership stories can also help to keep your application in the “yes” pile.

    All the best,

    Chioma (CEO, EXPARTUS )
    Chioma@expartus.com

  • Jose

    Hi Chioma,
    Im a 27 yo Mexican engineer currently working at Citi Bank in my country. I have 5 years of work experience.I understand that as a Latin American I am what you call underepresented.

    GPA 3.5
    Gmat 690
    Extra curricular activities: Led a social youth club in spain for a year after gradueting from high school, and helped organized many missions througout these year in poor towns in Mexico.
    I want to apply to HBS, Stanford, Kellog and Tuck…what do you think, right profile?

    thanks a lot

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi CK1979,

    I don’t have enough information to make assertions of what your chances are for any of these schools. Here is what you should consider based on the information you have provided:

    Unclear what you wish to do long term, why you want the MBA. I also don’t know exactly what you have done at the Pork company in Canada, the impact you had there and how it fits with your desire for an MBA.

    The 700 GMAT is ok, but won’t get anyone excited since all the top ten schools have average scores above 700. As long as the verbal/quantitative scores are evenly distributed and are in the 80% and above, then it’s fine. If you can raise it, do so.

    On the extracurricular side it sounds like you have some traction here. The question is what links them. The Disadvantaged youth, sports, and rural doctors all seem fine at a glance…you have to show that there is a clear tie in to all these so it doesn’t feel as if it is random and you are simply doing things to check off some list of activity involvement.

    Age is going to be possibly a factor unless there is some unusual circumstance that delayed your schooling/transition to work post college. Most of the schools on your list have average age at 28. 29 years seems fine. North of 31 begins to raise questions about whether a part time or executive program may not be worth exploring. If considering European schools then not as big an issue.

    Best,

    Chioma (CEO, EXPARTUS )
    Chioma@expartus.com

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi HN

    As an Engineer, why do you want an MBA? What is your vision and how does an MBA fit into it? That is the fundamental question anyone will have about your candidacy. The academics is fine. The work experience doesn’t seem robust and I’m not sure how much impact you were able to have at as the project manager and how your construction company experience fits into your goals.

    The leadership story isn’t immediately jumping off the pages (but I suspect that there may be more here beyond what you have shared) and combined with only 17 months of experience I am not sure now makes sense. One way to ascertain whether you have enough substance for your recommendations is to review the rec questions and ask yourself what each recommender could possibly say for each question. What examples can she/he draw from when writing your rec. If there is a paucity of examples to address each question it may mean that there isn’t enough experience for your recommenders to choose from or it may mean you have to change recommenders. Keep in mind that the most effective recommendations are those that have specific examples to back up each statements your recommender makes.

    Without more details on what you have achieved and how experience fits with your longer term goals, it’s hard to say whether you would be competitive for top 10. I suspect the top 3-5 programs will likely be tough. Not impossible but quite tough.

    All the best.

    Chioma (CEO, EXPARTUS )
    Chioma@expartus.com

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Aparna,

    Work experience of two years will not necessarily keep you out of the running. It’s not just quantity of experience but the quality of the experience that matters.

    If you have substantive responsibility and great examples of leadership and impact at work that you can point to, and you feel that now is the best time for you to apply, you may be able to make a compelling argument for that. If that is not the case, then you may want to address the leadership/impact gap before applying in a year or two.

    Best,

    Chioma (CEO, EXPARTUS )
    Chioma@expartus.com

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Eddie,

    Thanks for your question. It is important to attend a program with a strong alumni presence where you will live/work. Your alumni network can go a long way to facilitate your career over time and the absence of a strong alumni network can present challenges that you can avoid if you choose your program carefully.

    As for schools you are considering, the Cali schools make sense given your Cali interest. I would look carefully at Tuck, not sure I would put it ahead of MIT which sends a sizeable class (over 20% to West Coast and a good portion to High Tech).

    The 3.1 is low….find a way to work in some acknowledgement that you are aware of this, take ownership of the drop in grades and move on….The extracurricular seems interesting….tie back to what that reveals about you, your character, what drives you.

    I encourage you to invest enough time to research schools besides the stats but get a sense of the culture of each program to determine where you would ultimately fit.

    Best,

    Chioma (CEO, EXPARTUS )
    Chioma@expartus.com

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Hasan,

    Thanks for your kind words about my book. Do take a minute to review it on Amazon if you haven’t done so yet.

    Yes, there are folks with 3.0 who have gained admission to HBS!!!

    Key is what happened to cause the low GPA? Awareness is king. No room for excuses. How have you addressed this? GMAT has to be really high to stand a chance. But more than that, the leadership has to be extremely compelling to make HBS overlook the low GPA.

    Cheers,

    Chioma (CEO, EXPARTUS )
    Chioma@expartus.com

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Commodore,

    The Adcom is familiar with the CFA and recognize that it is quite a challenging exam with its three levels. It depends on what you wish to do long term…if finance related, especially in the case of investment management then it can be a plus. If not, then you get no brownie points for it.

    In general finance oriented schools place more value to it than other programs.

    Best,

    Chioma (CEO, EXPARTUS )
    Chioma@expartus.com

  • Ms. JD/MBA

    Hi! Thank you so much for doing this. I was hoping to get some feedback about whether my story is clear and makes sense in terms of progression and learning. Also, I would like to gauge my chances at some of the top programs.

    I am interested in getting a joint degree – JD/MBA. My ultimate goal is to work in corporate sustainability at a large company because business has the ability to move the needle and bring sustainability more into the forefront than just regulations and government. My story is that corporate sustainability is at a cross-section of law and business, and I hope to leverage a strong background in regulatory law to further business interests in a manner that is environmentally friendly. I previously worked in energy efficiency and then decided to go to a consulting firm to get some deeper experience in business operations.

    My profile is below:

    Asian Female
    Age: 25 (26 upon matriculation)
    GMAT: 770
    LSAT: 172
    Undergrad GPA: 3.77

    Undergrad school: Top 10, non-Ivy private, majors in Political Science and Arabic, worked 30+ hours a week while in school, TA for Arabic for 2 years

    Work experience:
    1.5 years at Fortune 100 manufacturing firm in marketing and government relations (lobbying for sustainability/energy issues)
    1.5 years at second-tier consulting firm (think Accenture, Booz Allen, Deloitte)
    Promoted ahead of schedule by one year

    LEED AP
    Extracurriculars in sustainability
    Board member of young professionals organization for consultants – registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit
    Fundraising for American Cancer Society, city’s ballet company

    Targets for JD and MBA programs: Harvard, Stanford, UPenn, UVA, Duke, MIT, Columbia, NYU, Northwestern, UChicago

  • Di

    Hi Chioma,

    Here is a brief summary of my profile, followed by my question below:

    -Undergrad: 2 years community college then transferred to university of arizona b-school, graduated with cum laude, business admin majored in MIS
    -GPA (cumulative): 3.5 (better GPA during UofA than the community college
    -GMAT 650 (1st attempt, preparing for 2nd test)
    -Work experience: 3.5 years in Singapore, at Hitachi Storage and currently DHL mainly as operations and business analyst (non-traditional career profile)
    -Extracurriculars include: active participation in various clubs during the undergrad years, team winning 1st placed in cohort business plan competition. Post graduation, involved in more voluntary activities, learned Japanese, organizing a team to compete in weekend basketball league.

    Applied to MIT, Berkeley and UCLA in round 2s for year 2011 and were all rejected without interviews or anything. Definitely felt like I was under prepared and rushed through some of the application and did not have time to retake the GMAT. But in general, am I not selecting the right schools? Because I do want to enroll in a program with strong entrepreneurship focus and so what should I do for the next applications? I am definitely aiming to apply to more schools this time, ideally about 6 but having a hard time shortlisting the right targets and also what about reapplication to the 3 schools or just should not bother about that?

    Would appreciate your feedback and advise, thanks alot!

  • P.

    If your GPA tanked (from a top school) due to a serious medical illness, will ad comms take that into consideration, or is a low GPA just a low GPA no matter the reason? If they do take it into consideration, what is the most appropriate way to explain/document the illness without further negatively impacting the application? Does taking coursework after undergrad (and earning top grades) help at all, or do ad comms not care since post-undergraduate coursework doesn’t factor into undergrad GPA anyway?

  • ConstructorTR

    Hi Chioma,

    I feel like I’m unique with most aspects of my profile so I would be glad if you can assess my chances for the top-20 mba programs. Here my profile goes:

    -Turkish citizen, 25 years old
    -Undergrad: Civil engineering from top university in Turkey, GPA: 2.2
    The reason for the low GPA was a serious illness throughout the uni. years.
    -GMAT 740
    -Work experience: 4,5 years international experience in construction business (1,5 years as a QA/QC engineer w/ raise in salary after 6 months, leading technical staff of 7-8 in Kazakhstan; almost 1 year technical department manager in Romania; 2 years managerial positions leading 50-150 people in Russia w/ 2 times raise in position)
    -Extracurriculars: Undergrad: Organised streetball tournaments, helped several charities periodically, created a stock market – forex study group, traveled to 10 countries. Post grad: Attended Rotaract and Rotary meetings, became a Rotarian (actively taking part), started tennis club in the company.

    I want to apply for 2012. Does it matter if I apply for the first round or second? I have some ideas about which programs to apply but I actually even don’t know if I should apply to a top-10 program, to a second tier or I shouldn’t even bother trying at all because of my dreadful GPA.

    Thanks in advance for your valuable expertise and time.

  • Socem

    I took the GMAT once four years ago, so my score is technically still valid, and scored a 710, but will admissions committees look down on either having taken the GMAT only once, having an old score, or having a score where the quant is low but the qual is high?
    I am an aerospace engineer so I hope that will make up for the imbalanced quant score.

    Thank you for your time and energy in all these responses.

  • KL

    Hi Chioma,

    I’m hoping to apply first round to stanford, haas, and mit sloan (I am open to other schools if I find another fit before then or if you have a suggestion). I’d like to know what my weaknesses are from your viewpoint and how best to remedy them in the short run.

    My background is in corporate communications and PR, and this past year, I transitioned into a fully digital marketing position that fits my career passion. I want to use an MBA to strengthen my marketability in digital marketing, gain a strong foundation in all aspects of business and build solid analytical skills. I have worked for a successful and sustainably minded 10 yr old startup in the CPG space for 4 years including 4 successive positions. GPA: 3.4 (good UC school, international studies), GMAT: 710. Half Jamaican female, homeschooled till high school (is this plus or a minus?), impressive travel record, active in surfing, rock climbing and photography, just joined the board of directors for a surf film non-profit, but otherwise minimal volunteer work at a local organic farm. I pride myself in having strong intellectual curiosity, the ability to adapt to foreign environments, and the ability to find solutions in puzzling situations.

    Please let me know if there are any red flags, anything that is obviously weak and if you think I have a shot at the names I listed. I’ve read so many of your previous insights to other people’s questions and they are incredibly helpful, thank you for hosting this column.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Jose,

    Thanks for your question.

    Schools value diversity and coming from Mexico, you will bring some geographic diversity to enrich any program you enroll in. While leading business schools appreciate diversity, they also set the bar high across all the admissions criteria. You need to give them reason to admit you beyond the Latin American angle. What deals have you worked on at Citi? What was your role and did you do anything that went beyond your job description? If you can find examples that show you delivering results beyond what was expected of you, you can earn extra points from the admissions board’s perspective. At a glance the 690 may be a bit low but what is more important is the breakdown between the v/q. If evenly split, then not as big a deal. If the verbal, for example, is significantly lower , then you can find that the GMAT can become a major obstacle. I don’t know what else you have going in your brand but I suspect that you are a vibrant person with a life outside of work. Remember that you are more than your resume/job title. What brings a smile to your face? Who are you as a person? What do you love doing? Don’t worry so much about whether it sounds business-enough, schools want to really understand who you are and that means going beyond your work stuff. Yes, work is very important and the fact that you have a great brand that is already well recognized is a plus. But it’s not enough to get you in. Tell them clearly what motivates you towards the MBA, the kind of impact/change you want to enact in the world and how the stuff you’ve done with missions fits into your values/the kind of person (biz leader you are/will be) and you should be able to win one of these schools over.

    Best and do let us know how it goes with the application.

    Chioma (CEO, EXPARTUS )
    Chioma@expartus.com

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Ms. JD/MBA,

    First congratulations for the impressive academic profile, especially achieving this while working 30 hours a week! Early promo at the consulting firm can help to set you apart from the pack (keep the following in mind when writing about your work experience: what stands out about the experience you have had compared to others in similar roles?). I’m assuming you are still there and not leaving before the completion of your two years. I raise this point because of the early departure from the manufacturing firm (not a huge deal as long as you help the reader understand the thought process and conscious steps you took to leave to join your current gig).

    Applying now seems to make sense. The issue of joint JD/MBA is one that can be tricky as you have to convince the stringent admission committees that you are a strong candidate for their program plus that your plan for the additional degree makes sense. Getting this right will be the crux of a successful application.

    The school list seems like a lot. I know folks applying to Law School tend to go with a lot of schools. I’m not personally a fan of this for business school. I would consider cutting down the list and focusing on about 6 schools, though that’s a personal choice and as long as your recommenders are not burnt out from the experience then you may be ok.

    Best,
    Chioma (CEO, EXPARTUS )
    Chioma@expartus.com

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Di,

    I can tell you immediately that a flag or hole in the story off the bat is the combo of community college/U of Arizona where the GPA is 3.5. That in the context of 650 GMAT is going to raise serious questions for the adcom. Think of it this way, why should they say yes to your particular stats when they have 500 other people in the pool with academic profile that is significantly stronger. If there is a personal story that addresses the below average academic profile then make sure to introduce that. Your plan to retake the GMAT is an important one. Aim for a score that is at least above a 700.

    You mentioned that you rushed through the application which is one of the main reasons that many applications are rejected. I’m happy to speak off line to assess your previous application to see what if anything was wrong with the choice of topics or the treatment/approach of the stories (you can email me at chioma@expartus.com).

    Broadening your school list makes sense. I don’t know what else you have going on with your brand but on a professional and personal basis. I suspect the issue with the program you flagged may have been the combo of average academics and reconciling your work experience and long term goals of entrepreneurship. You may not have passed one of the 6 Cs of admissions (Credibility).

    If it’s an issue of getting the GMAT up and repositioning your goals/story, then reapplying to at least one or two of the previous schools and adding a few new ones makes sense.

    All the best!

    Chioma (CEO, EXPARTUS )
    Chioma@expartus.com

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi P,

    Low GPA can be a big deal in the application evaluation as it can give the admissions board an easy reason to say no to you. Having said that, it depends on the trend of the grades. For example, if you were strong consistently for several years and then had a bad semester or even a bad year and then rallied and pulled the grades up afterwards this can be a much easier story to communicate. Grades that were up and down the entire course of study are extremely difficult to overcome (admission board may have a tough time accepting a candidate that they view as academically inconsistent….even with doctor’s notes to prove illness. The challenge is that there are others in the pool who have faced life-threatening sickness and have been able to press on without damage to their grades.

    From my experience, admissions people tend not to like anything that smells like excuses (legitimate or otherwise)….so if you have to mention the illness, do so without much fanfare and move on. Focus on more the lessons of a setback like what it has taught you, the character trait it has tested…and show how you have rallied (study opportunities such as course work/masters degree that are connected to your career goals) where you have done exceptionally well plus stellar GMATS (nothing below a 700…mid 700s even better) can help also.

    I hope this helps.

    Chioma (CEO, EXPARTUS )
    Chioma@expartus.com

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi ConstructorTR,

    I hope you are well now. Regarding how admissions boards view low GPA please refer to my earlier response to “P”. The GMAT of 740 definitely helps but what is equally important is the stories you choose to write about in your essays. You have several people management experiences across different countries….these could be interesting (how did you motivate a team in one country versus another? How have you adapted from leading a team of 7-8 to 50-150? What has challenged you? Why do you need an MBA to master this better? Is your aspiration to lead organizations of thousands….how does an MBA prepare you better to do this successfully over you learning on your own in your role and future roles?

    The extracurricular activities seem ok but what would be interesting for the admissions board is what attracted you to the things you have been involved in outside of work…focus on what the values are that drives you, what impact you have made at these groups and more importantly, why it matters to you…these are more important than what the organizations are….you want to go beyond sounding like you have checked the boxes of activities to reveal more about who you are as a person and a future alumnus/alumna.

    As for round 1 or 2, it depends on how strong your application will be in two months. I would target a combo of top ten and top twenty program and then make sure to tell your stories in a way that reveals what we term the PGII Winning Factor at EXPARTUS: PASSION, GUTS, IMPACT AND INSIGHT

    I wish you all the best and encourage you to follow your dreams!

    Chioma (CEO, EXPARTUS )
    Chioma@expartus.com

  • John

    I have a 3.1 overall undergrad GPA and a 3.65 in my major (Management and Business). I currently have four years work experience including top 5 law firm and international experience as a Peace Corps Small Business Development advisor. I want to get a Masters in Financial and Development Economics before going for my MBA in 3-4 years. A lot of MBA programs have begun accepting the GRE. Since I need the GRE for my MA Economics program, what are your thoughts on using it for MBA admissions?

    Thanks.

  • Top tier but low end?

    Hi Chioma,
    Thanks so much for doing this. My concern is that while I have a very strong background, I won’t stand out from my cohort due to a so-so GMAT (for my profile) and average GPA. Target is HBS/Stan and then W/K
    -GMAT: 710 (95% V, 76% Q)
    -Wharton undergrad
    -3.4 GPA (Mostly B’s in core quant classes, a C or 2 in basic accounting/finance, better in electives)
    -3 years at Mckinsey (including promotion to Senior Analyst)
    -1 year at Google in Europe
    -Very strong leadership at college level but minimal post college

    How much do I need to worry about that GMAT score?
    Thanks!

  • Archie

    Hi Chioma,
    A request for a profile evaluation, please:

    Academics: Undergraduate GPA of 90.6% (graduated at the top of the class for my major; beta gamma sigma honors). Graduate degree in finance from a top 3 Canadian business school (GPA:3.75/4.0)

    GMAT Score: 710

    Extra curricular: Student body VP in undergrad – Initiated and managed student sponsorship program and participation of students in external conferences
    – Took part in several national and international business case competitions; won an award
    – Won several scholarships in undergrad for extra curricular and community involvement
    – Consulting club executive in grad school: initiated a student based case interview prep program and managed the pro bono consulting arm of the club.
    – Continued community involvement through a not for profit that works with new immigrants

    Work Experience: with a no name consulting firm in technology and operations (less than 2 years). Co-Managing a portfolio of 5 clients in the mortgage and lending sector.

    – Active in intramural baseball (3 years)
    – Varsity fencer (2 years)

    Please evaluate for the following schools: HBS, Kellogg, Tuck, Ross, and Darden

    Thanks!

  • Johan

    Hi Chioma,

    Here is a brief summary of my profile, followed by my question below:

    – 31 year old.
    – Undergrad: Engineering degree, with GPA of 1.9 in South Africa.
    – Postgrad: Honours degree and various other courses, achieved with distinction.
    – GMAT 750 (1st attempt)
    -Work experience: 11 years in South Africa, in Manufacturing, Defense, Health, Banking, Entertainment industries.
    – Roles have all been very analytical, but have had opportunity for leadership of small (2 – 4 person) teams.
    – Extracurriculars include youth leadership (church), management of church fundraising events and youth retreats.

    Do I have a hope of getting into the likes of:

    Insead, IMD, Wharton, MIT, Duke, Columbia, Tuck?

    My undergrad scores are really low, but that was a long time ago, and I was in a very competitive University. I’m hoping that my post-grad record, GMAT score and work experience will make up for the low undergrad scores.

    Thanks a lot for your time and feedback…

  • http://studiobokeh.wordpress.com studiobokeh

    Hi Chioma,

    I’m having a tough time with school selection. I think I can realistically only get 4 good applications out of me but I have way more than 4 schools that I’m considering. I know I can also apply to 4 R1 and more R2, so what schools should I apply to?

    My stats: GMAT 730, GPA: 3.7 (graduated cum laude) from UC San Diego with double majors in art and communication. Working for over 5 years in marketing, currently at the world’s largest hospitality design firm. Strong extracurricular involvement in ethnic identity professional organization and some involvement in other orgs.

    Post-MBA career goals: I like marketing and may stay in the field but I have decided on my function yet. Also interested in finance, strategy/BD, consulting. I would like to work in either luxury retail, CPG, or media/entertainment though.

    Schools I’m considering: HBS, Columbia, NYU, Booth, Kellogg, Ross.

    I know HBS is a stretch but from my research, they are the most recruited by luxury retail companies and luxury retail recruiting isn’t strong generally. I loved my visit to Booth, but I’m definitely no quant.

  • http://studiobokeh.wordpress.com studiobokeh

    *Sorry, typo…HAVEN’T decided on my function yet. I’m hoping to explore more in bschool since marketing’s all I know and I haven’t had much exposure to those other areas.

    I’m also considering USC and UCLA but prefer not to go there since I live in the area and want to move out to push myself.

  • saul

    Ok Chioma, here is a question most of Poets and Quants wants to know.

    A lot of times, we see these “hail mary applications.” They aren’t necessarily poor, but are more of a what the heck ill at least try apps where the applicant is clearly a peg below HBS material but is gleaning an outside shot (maybe low GPA, very low GMAT, unknown schooling).

    On average-at least when you were an adcom-what percentage of apps you read were these types? 1 outta 5? 1 outta 2? I have seen some adcoms qoute as high as 50 percent!

    Again, these are not undeserving applications! As a previous adcom, you should know what I am referring to.

    All the best, thanks for the info.

  • John John

    Hi,
    I’m 36, a PhD scientist from a great European institution. I have a good academic background overall (undergrad equivalent GPA of about 3.8). I worked in academia as a post doc (the ‘usual’ route for biomedical scientists on a path to university faculty) for 5 yrs before transitioning to the biotech industry where I now work as a scientist in a start up. My career goals are basically to start a biotech company or fund them in a venture capital firm. I’ve yet to take the GMAT and would be applying to programs next year. I would like to go to a full time program, and a highly ranked one i.e. Stanford, Berkeley, Columbia, Harvard. But I’m concerned that my age and career path to-date is not of the somewhat cookie cutter mold that seems to describe the average 28 yr old at all of these programs. Should I only be considering EMBAs given my situation? As I am particularly focused on both staying within my industry sector, albeit it, with a different role than I am currently engaged in, I would like to think that this will help me get into a full time program. Am I being realistic, or should I just be focusing on EMBAs exclusively?

    Thanks for your comments in advance.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi John,

    Many of the top business schools accept the GRE. Since you are planning to take the exam for the Masters in Financial and Development Economics then it makes sense to check with the MBA programs you are targeting to make sure they accept the GRE as well. One of the attractions for the GRE among business school is to target candidates like you who are pursuing non business graduate programs and who ordinarily may not take the GMAT.

    Chioma (CEO, EXPARTUS )
    Chioma@expartus.com

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Top Tier But Low End,

    You are right, the GMAT of 710 (with the 76% Q) is on the low side compared to your competition. The GPA of 3.4 is also going to be viewed as average so given these two factors, you will need to have a stellar story besides the academic criterion to get the decision to be a yes especially for H/S/W. I don’t know the specifics of your McKinsey experience but promo can’t hurt and Google is an additional bonus assuming you have good leadership examples to pull from. I always tell our clients at EXPARTUS that if there is a decent chance that they can increase the GMAT, through everything you have at it to raise that score. There is a difference between a 750 and 710, especially the chance to raise your Quant score. If there is a good chance that the score could be lower if you retake or that you have never scored north of 700 in practice exams, then you need to move on and focus on the things you do have control over—great essays and supportive recs.

    All the best!

    Chioma (CEO, EXPARTUS )
    Chioma@expartus.com

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Archie,

    I don’t have a crystal ball and tend to shy away from predicting people’s admission outcome. There are variables that are not always quantifiable but end up influencing who lands in a program and who doesn’t. Some of that can be luck.

    Still, Canada could provide some geographic diversity but not huge points but doesn’t hurt.The academic story is not bad with a strong undergrad performance and ok GMAT. I don’t know all the inner workings of your work experience but I doubt they will do back flips to get candidates in from the mortgage and lending space ….A lot will depend on what you wish to do long term and if the experiences you have to day fit into that. I don’t see HBS happening. Kellogg and Tuck would also be stretches…but not a bad idea to apply to one or so stretch schools and then 4 others where you have a better chance of getting in.

    All the best,

    Chioma (CEO, EXPARTUS )
    Chioma@expartus.com

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hello Johan,

    31 years, 11 years of exp and a below 2.0 GPA signals to me that it will be very unlikely for the news to be good at a top 15 or even higher full time program. The admission board will question timing and whether the full time still makes sense (less so for INSEAD and IMD in terms of their openness to more seasoned candidates) but the GPA will scare them away too I suspect. I obviously don’t know what happened but without a Masters degree to help take the edge off it will be tough to get these folks to disregard the degree. If I were in your shoes I would contact the schools directly and try and get an honest answer. What would be helpful is finding out the range of candidates GPA….(that is whether they have made an exception and admitted someone who was in a similar academic situation. You may want to consider a part time program or even an executive program since the admissions criteria tend to be a bit more lenient.

    All the best.

    Chioma (CEO, EXPARTUS )
    Chioma@expartus.com

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Studiobokeh,

    I understand what you mean by taking a realistic view of how much time you have and how many applications you can complete at a very top quality level. Targeting 4 round one and then reassessing whether to add more makes complete sense.

    With interest in marketing/luxury retail/consumer package goods HBS, Kellogg and Ross makes sense. I can understand why you would want to throw in Chicago as well. I don’t know how keen you are on Finance to justify applying to Columbia and Stern….keep in mind the fact that you can still pursue a career in finance at any one of the four programs above.

    I’m happy to speak offline regarding pinning down your school list.

    Chioma (CEO, EXPARTUS )
    Chioma@expartus.com

  • saul

    Chioma you missed my question last time so here it is again:

    Ok Chioma, here is a question most of Poets and Quants wants to know.

    A lot of times, we see these “hail mary applications.” They aren’t necessarily poor, but are more of a what the heck ill at least try apps where the applicant is clearly a peg below HBS material but is gleaning an outside shot (maybe low GPA, very low GMAT, unknown schooling).

    On average-at least when you were an adcom-what percentage of apps you read were these types? 1 outta 5? 1 outta 2? I have seen some adcoms qoute as high as 50 percent!

    Again, these are not undeserving applications! As a previous adcom, you should know what I am referring to.

    All the best, thanks for the info.

  • Jason

    Hi Chioma,

    Thank you for taking the time to answer all of these questions. Quickly, I have a solid bus school app: 3.8 GPA, 730 GMAT, and 6 years management/leadership experience (I’m 29 years old). The only problem is my experience and education are flipped. I excelled in an entry level sales position right out of high school and was promoted quickly into upper level management. Four years ago I took a hiatus from work to pursue my formal education and this is my final year. I would like to attend a top 10 in the fall of 2012. What are my chances?

    Best,
    Jason

  • Louis Kahn

    Dearest Chioma,

    I have a bit of a unique background. I have a BA in architecture from Columbia. I was a member of the rowing team and on the executive board of my fraternity while in school. However, I have one major flaw. My GPA was a 2.7 resulting from a combination of a rigorous academic program, participating in D1 athletics, and a lack of appreciation of the rareness of the opportunities I had.

    I have been working in the field of architecture for the last 2 years specializing in 3D computer modeling and design, but I am looking to make a change in my career.

    I feel confident that I can score between 700 and 750 on my GMAT, and I hope I can turn my background into a story to help me stand out. My concern is my GPA will stand out even more.

    With this in mind, do you feel that it would be possible to get into a top 20 school? I would love to return to Columbia in 2012.

    Many thanks,
    Louie

  • IT Manager

    Hi Chioma,

    Thanks for providing your valuable input. At a high level below are my details :

    Current designation / Industry: Senior Project Manager in Information Technology
    Overall Experience: 11 Years (12 by the admission time 2012 Fall) in a well known India based multi-national company.
    Bachelor Degree: Bachelor of Engineering from a well India in 2000 (Second Level immediately after IIT)
    GPA/Percentage: Honors (Greater than 70%) Marks – Top 10% in my class.
    GMAT Score: 710 (Q51, V35)
    Nationality: Citizen of India (7 year experience in USA)
    Extra activities – Board of Director in $2M Non-profit organization since Last year Sept.

    Can you please let me know my chances in below colleges for full-tim MBA –

    Wharton (Upenn)
    Harvard Business School
    Columbia, New York
    Stern, New York
    Yale, New Havem
    Chicago Booth
    Duke

    London Business School, UK
    IMD
    INSEAD

    Thanks,
    Jagdeep

  • Mixed-bag

    Do applicants receive any “work experience” credit for LDS missions?

  • David

    Hi Chioma

    First off, I wanted to say that I bought and read your book, and it was extremely helpful! I did have one question that I wanted to ask you about, however. How specific should I be about my future career goals?

    I am currently a Peace Corps Volunteer who wants to eventually start a socially minded enterprise. Is it enough to say just that? That I want to be a social entrepreneur? or should I be more specific and say something like “I want to start a VC that funds developmentally focused businesses operating in Sub-Saharan Africa”? (I currently serve in Uganda). If I were to be honest, I would say that while that is one option I’ve considered, my true aspirations, at this point, are more general social entrepreneurship. Thanks for your help!

  • Irene C

    Hi Chioma,

    I’m so impressed that you’ve answered all these posts! Reading them and your book have been really helpful. Don’t worry, I’ll review it on Amazon :)

    Here are my stats:

    Asian American female, 24 years old

    GMAT: 660 (V38, Q46)
    GPA: 3.5 from UC Berkeley, Political Economy and Sociology double major

    Work Experience: Retail background with Target, started as Merchandising Manager (18 months) then promoted to HR Operations Manager (in-store position)

    Extracurriculars: Campaign Leader for United Way of the Bay Area (NPO focused on fighting poverty), Class Assistant for Cooking Matters (NPO that teaches healthy cooking to low income families)

    LT goal: leadership position in supply chain management or retail operations

    My questions are:

    1) I’m worried about the quantitative aspect of my application. Which would build a stronger application: retaking the GMAT (it would be my 3rd test) or retaking a Statistics course (I got a C in the class in college) at UC Berkeley to supplement my transcript? Both?

    2) In your opinion, what schools would seem like a good match based on my stats? What if my GMAT score was a 710 (what I was scoring on my practice tests)? Would that open a lot more doors?

    Thanks a lot for the advice, I appreciate it!

  • Suyog

    Hi Chioma,

    The following is a gist of my profile:
    * GMAT :770
    * GPA: 3.2/4 (in US terms)
    * Bachelor of Technology (Engineering) from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in 2011–top engineering college in India
    * Just Joined as a Derivatives trader in Futures First, India (GHF Group, London based)-
    * Extra curriculars- Head of the Badminton Club at IIT and captain of the team which represented the college at inter IIT sports meet (held annually).

    My peers have often pointed out that even though derivatives trading (quant intensive), HBS and Stanford are known to have a bias against traders and being one is a disadvantage. I am 20 years old and am planning to apply after 2-3 years of work experience. However, I am unable to decide whether I should continue with my current job (as a trader) or look for a different job as a financial analyst (after working for some months as a trader). Kindly give me your suggestions on the same.

    Also, MIT Sloan is known to accept people with a strong quant background, so do I have a fair chance there?

    Regards,
    Suyog

  • From Biotech to B-School?

    Hi Chioma –

    Thanks again for providing your feedback. I’m in the beginning stages of evaluating programs for B-School and wanted to get your input on getting into B-School from the Biotech sector. I’m going to apply in 2 years, which will give me 5 years industry experience (same company), with promotions basically every year and strong internal growth opportunities (started an operational excellence committee which I chair). I have a BS and MS in Biochemistry (3.65/3.95 GPA for respective degrees). Good extracurricular activities (serve on 3 boards, Co-chair for one, president of another), serve on a Board of Visitors for a Community Health Center and raise money for a statewide health program. All require a good amount of volunteer time.

    I’m assuming I’ll score fine on the GMAT, I’ve taken the GRE and scored hi Quant, 1400’s overall with a 5.5 in essays. Assuming I score >700 GMAT, any advice as I continue to prepare and which schools have good programs for Science folk? There was a joint program at MIT/HST that is now being reviewed that I thought was interesting.

    Thanks for the advice!

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Saul,

    Apologies for missing your question!

    Interesting question. Of course there were candidates who didn’t stand a chance who applied. I didn’t keep tabs on the percentages of those candidates during my time on the Harvard and Carnegie Mellon admissions board.

    I will tell you that in the course of nine years of running my consultancy, EXPARTUS, I’ve seen candidates I didn’t think would get admitted to a top 3 program get in. I’ve learned to look beyond hard numbers to the story a candidate brings with them, their life journey. Let me be clear, though, if someone has a 550 GMAT, it is extremely unlikely they will get into a top program. Exceptions occur but in those exceptions, those candidates are beyond exceptional to overcome the GMAT handicap.

    The opposite also applies. I have seen many candidates who have what many would consider perfect resumes who won’t get admitted (blue chip firms, Ivy Educated, and enviable GMATs). Often the reason candidates like these don’t get in is that they are arrogant. I wrote an article on reapplying successfully for Poets and Quants and cover some of the many reasons people don’t get in.

    Chioma (CEO, EXPARTUS )
    Chioma@expartus.com

    Meet me in New York Sept 15 if you are around: http://expartus.eventbrite.com/

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Jason,

    You would be characterized as a non-traditional candidate and would not necessarily be discriminated against for your situation. What you need to address is why you made the decisions you made and help the reader connect the dots.

    You will also need to do a very good job of connecting your experiences to date with your career goals. Schools are interested in candidates that have realistic aspirations that make sense. They don’t want students who would graduate without jobs or flounder because they don’t have a sense of what they want for their careers. I would target top schools but show how you will fit, contribute to any particular program you are interested in.

    Hope this helps. All the best!

    Chioma (CEO, EXPARTUS )
    Chioma@expartus.com

    Meet me in New York Sept 15 if you are around: http://expartus.eventbrite.com/

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi John John,

    Thanks for your question. 36 seems on the older side of the spectrum for US schools even though candidates interested in the bio tech industry often have masters or Ph.D. degrees and can be slightly older than their peers. I recommend that you investigate the schools you are targeting to see what profile their biotech students have. There is always an exception to the rule so while the average is 28 years for majority of US top schools, there are individuals in the class who will be older than that.

    With that in mind, you will need to make a compelling case for what you have achieved to date that sets you apart from your competition: If you were competing with a 29 year old scientist with similar scores/GMAT, why should a school take you versus your competition?

    Transitioning from a scientist role into a VC role isn’t an easy or automatic one. Since you are already in the biotech space, starting your own company might be more of a believable story. You have to address other things that would make you a compelling applicant. What is your leadership footprint like? What impact have you had at your firm/industry

    Chioma (CEO, EXPARTUS )
    Chioma@expartus.com

    Meet me in New York Sept 15 if you are around: http://expartus.eventbrite.com/

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Louis Kahn,

    My two cents, for what it’s worth Make sure the GMAT is a non issue, the higher the better. The 2.7 is a major issue but strong GMATs could help take some of the edge off. Architecture is not a field that tons of people apply from. What’s driving you to B-School? What achievements do you have? D1 sports at Columbia helps especially if you did it your entire time there. Own the low GPA and make zero excuse since you will have others in the pool with similar sports background who have 3.5 or above. For a school like Columbia, your career story has to be air tight. If there are any concerns about credibility or realistic chance of you doing that, you will be out. So make sure to get the career story right. With that in place and good GMATs you should be able to get into a top 20 school.

    All the best!

    Chioma (CEO, EXPARTUS )
    Chioma@expartus.com

    Meet me in New York Sept 15 if you are around: http://expartus.eventbrite.com/

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi IT Manager,

    I can’t tell you what your admissions chances are. I will say that the GMAT seems ok, but can be stronger given the demographics you are going to be competing in. 12 years also places you outside the average by several standard deviations so would need to look at why you are applying now versus 5 years ago? From an admissions stand point, they are looking for a reason that makes you stand out….could that reason be extraordinary accomplishments at work (and it can’t be doing your job very well—that’s expected!), it has to be above and beyond that. Your nonprofit could be interesting…but depends on what you have done directly in your role on the board, how it has had an impact on lives/the organization. Think of things from the admissions board’s perspective: if they have 10 people with a similar profile, why should they take you versus the other 9 people. My gut is that the more selective schools are not likely going to be positive. You may want to consider European programs with more liberal perception on work experience years or even exec ed options.

    Chioma (CEO, EXPARTUS )
    Chioma@expartus.com

    Meet me in New York Sept 15 if you are around: http://expartus.eventbrite.com/

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Mixed Bag,

    Schools are familiar with the LDS mission experience. You don’t necessarily get any bonus for that since it is a given versus something you chose to do that is off the beaten path.

    That said, we have worked with several LDS applicants who were able to highlight how the experience helped them grow as a person or how it stretched/developed their leadership. So you have to find your own way of showing how the experience shaped you.

    Best,

    Chioma (CEO, EXPARTUS )
    Chioma@expartus.com

    Meet me in New York Sept 15 if you are around: http://expartus.eventbrite.com/

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi David,

    That’s really cool that you are serving as a Peace Corp fellow in Uganda. In the economic climate we have still, schools are still jittery about placing their students. So on the front end it is helpful to have a story that makes sense. While you don’t need to know all the specifics of your career path in Social Enterprise, the more specific you can get (I found that during my time in the Peace Corp in Uganda that the biggest need is providing a combination of strategic service, financial advice and access to capital to help local entrep take their business to the next level…what model is in existence that has met that need? how can you create something similar/even different but something with a broad impact potential? That’s how you should be thinking of your story. You also should know whether you want to play in Africa, Latin America, etc. I don’t think you need to say exactly a country but have a good sense of the region, the challenges and opportunities and how an MBA will be a bridge to helping you get there.

    Cheers,

    Chioma (CEO, EXPARTUS )
    Chioma@expartus.com

    Meet me in New York Sept 15 if you are around: http://expartus.eventbrite.com/

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi David,
    Glad you liked the book. Please do take a minute to share your opinion on Amazon.

    Thanks!
    Chioma

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Irene,

    Thanks for your question and taking the time to review The Best Business Schools’ Admissions Secrets!

    What have you done so far to prep for the GMAT? I say do everything in your power to raise the score as a female/Asian in a non quant role. So yes take it one last time and do everything in your power to raise the score. Even a 690 is still worth the retake! The C will raise an eyebrow, but I don’t know how much time you have. If you can push off to round two, get the academics sorted by retaking the test and a quant class with an A, plus the extra 3 months can go a long way to make sure your essays are exceptional.

    That should give you a better shot. Your Target exp will be attractive to many programs, especially those with retail interest. 24 and less than two years experience, hmm, you have to have a clear driver drawing you to B-School now versus applying next year or two years from now. I’m happy to speak more about this offline (chioma@expartus.com).

    All the best!
    Chioma (CEO, EXPARTUS )
    Chioma@expartus.com

    Meet me in New York Sept 15 if you are around: http://expartus.eventbrite.com/

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Suyog,

    Good for you for starting early to plan your MBA strategy. First of all, it is important to follow your passion. If your passion is in trading, then follow your passion. Are there traders admitted at the schools you mentioned? Absolutely. The trick is that as a trader you don’t necessarily need the MBA. So you have to figure out what your long term career interests are, how trading fits into that, plus whether an MBA is a nice to have or a must have. Candidates who are able to connect these dots are the ones who succeed in securing an admission offer at a top business school.

    I wish you all the best.

    Chioma (CEO, EXPARTUS )
    Chioma@expartus.com

    Meet me in New York Sept 15 if you are around: http://expartus.eventbrite.com/

  • Andrew

    Hello Chioma,

    I have got to give it to you for keeping up with this thread for so long, I’ve spent a decent amount of time looking through the thread to find something I could compare to my own situation. After the 10 pages of threads I’m realizing we all are quite unique in our applications to B-School

    I live in the Raleigh North Carolina and am currently working full time as a mechanical engineer. I’m considering one of the executive MBA’s from either UNC or Duke. I have pretty much precluded NC State from my options due to rankings and the fact that I have two degrees from there already. I really wanted to get your thoughts on the value of an executive / part time MBA. If I get the MBA my goal would be either Technology based consulting or climbing the corporate ladder.

    My Credentials:
    School:
    BS Mechanical Engineering 3.5
    MS Mechanical Engineering 3.9
    GMAT 580 (Yep this is the part I need to improve on, the hard thing for me is I’ve always been kind of terrible at these types of tests)

    Work:
    I’m in contract engineering (~5 yr exp), so I deal with customers and problem solving much like that of a consultant on a daily basis. Suffice it to say I could present my experiences as an engineer to be a powerful MBA applicant ( I think so at least :-) )

    That is really a lot of rambling, I guess I’m really trying to assess weather or not I really need to take the GMAT again, UNC will take a waiver in place of the GMAT since I have a Masters. And get your thoughts on the value of the executive night time MBA.

    Cheers,
    Andrew

  • Joshua

    Hi Chioma,

    Thank you for this wonderful service to the Poets & Quants community. I have just started my R1 applications and wanted to ask you a couple of questions. For starters, here’s a bit about myself:

    I’m an Asian-American male who attended Pepperdine, majoring in Finance and graduating with a 3.63. I started working at a quant shop following graduation, was terminated less than three months in, then landed with a small boutique IB, where I’ve worked for the past 2.5 years and am now an Associate. Also, I scored a 760 (49Q, 45V, 6.0 AWA) on the GMAT and will be 26 at matriculation.

    I’m applying to Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Columbia, Sloan, Booth, and Tuck; is this reasonable? Moreover, a bigger question that I am contemplating portends to the overall story of my applications.

    My faith is a big part of who I am, and I hope to clearly communicate this in my applications. Most of my involvements have been faith-based — leading a men’s ministry and serving as worship leader at school, and leading the college and young adults ministries while serving as worship leader for my home church, both during (summers) and after college — and I want to discuss the element of faith in my essays as well. My question, however, is this: Is there a point where, if I talk too deeply about my faith, it comes across negatively or as ‘preaching’ rather than introspection?

  • B-Buzz

    Hi Chioma here is my brief profile –

    GMAT – 720

    GPA – 63/100(according to Indian grading System,Highest in class – 76/100, My Final Semester – 75/100, very good performer in maths though-out – 98/100, 95/100 in X and XII boards resp, Junior National Mathematics Olympiad Rank -24)
    Under Graduate Degree – Engineering from Non-IIT but Government Institute

    Personal Info – 24 Male Indian

    Work experience – almost 2 years in Huawei as an OSS engineer(basically looked after the operations part of the Managed service Department- includes 1 promotion)then switched to a much smaller firm for a bigger role. Total Work ex by the time of admission – 3 yrs

    Extra curricular – Teaching Creative Maths as well as giving nature conservation related workshops to under privileged kids for an NGO . Lot of certificates in sports.

    Post MBA Goal – Career shift from Operations to Strategic Consulting

    Hobbies – reading(generally business strategies of major technological firms), Cooking, travelling(been to singapore, thailand, malaysia, plan to go on a euro trip this summer), advising

    B-Schools applying to – NYU, Cornell, Yale,Rotman, Chicago, NUS Singapore, Texas(McCombs)
    (Any B- School you would want to suggest?)

  • Tarun_India

    Hi Chioma,

    You are doing a fantastic job and I am sure b-school aspirants can’t appreciate this enough. I am planning to apply to Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, MIT, London Business School, INSEAD, and Kellogg b-schools next fall (for the graduating class of 2015). My GMAT scores are mostly around 720-730 (with balanced distribution). I did my engineering in Electronics and Communication (CGPA – 8 on 10) from a Top 5 Private Engineering College in India, and immediately followed it up with a 2 year dual master’s in IT and Systems Management from a top b-school in India in collaboration with Virginia Tech State University, USA (CGPA – 3.34 on 4). Interned with PwC, Mumbai as a business consultant for a mid-tier Indian company.

    Post Master’s, I worked for 2.5 years as a Pre-Sales consultant in Energy Vertical (the youngest person to be a core team member of the new business development team) for a leading IT services firm in India (clients included Shell, BP, BG Group, ConocoPhillips etc). After that, I switched to a rotational IT leadership program for Emerging Markets (BRIC focus) started by Philips where I am currently employed.

    Will have a total of 4.5 years exp by next year. Have decent extra-curriculars – 10+ national level debate wins, two 5-week internships with prominent Indian NGO’s dedicated to eradication of child labour (CRY) and rural education (Suryamukhi) in India, editorial board member of college magazines, a few academic scholarships at high school level. Leadership positions include Head of Debating Club at high school, undergrad and post-grad, editorial board member of magazines etc.

    Would, in all probability, have a total of 6-7 months’ international exposure (professional) to 2 or more countries other than India (most likely Netherlands, France etc but not USA) by the time I start applying.

    Please guide me if I have a chance of making it to the b-schools that I have listed above assuming good execution of essays / SOP’s etc. GPA’s are bottlenecks as I see. Considering I will start applying only next year, what can I do to improve my chances to these schools? Would more voluntary work in social sector do me any good? Your suggestions are most welcome.

    Thanks a lot,
    Tarun

  • Mr. Coxswain

    Hi Chioma,

    Thanks for taking our questions! I actually had my profile vetted by Sandy & Co. here: http://poetsandquants.com/2011/08/04/handicapping-your-mba-odds/ (I’m Mr. Coxswain).

    My question is this: I’m 24 now. I am currently completing my entrance exams for the Navy’s Officer Candidate School. By the time I exit the Navy, I will be 29-30. Will this put me at a disadvantage for the H/S/W/Booth business schools? I know that people say that you have too much work experience by that time, but my experience won’t be in business, it will be in international development and the military.

    Your thoughts are much appreciated!

    Sarmed

  • Ranjit

    Hi Chioma,
    I just had a quick question. I am planning on applying to b-school sometime in the next 2 years. My current supervisor, who I think I’ll be working for atleast for another year or so, is really nice guy. But somehow, he has a very twisted and negative view of b-schools and MBA graduates, esp of the Ivy League ones. Do you have any suggestions on how to rectify that?

  • James

    Hi Chioma,

    Thanks for taking the time do to this. I’m sure your guidance helps many people during what is a very stressful period!

    I am a 28 year old Australian and looking at completing a one-year MBA majoring in Entrepreneurship at a university in the USA. I scored a 490 and, most recently, a 540 on the GMAT (very disappointed with both considering my practice tests were between 600-640!) with a 6.0 both times for the AWA, and my GPA is a fairly dismal 2.6. However, I lacked motivation / direction throughout the first half of my university tenure, and now have the enthusiasm, work ethic and motivation to perform very strongly in an MBA program.

    I am concerned that the GMAT and GPA will hinder my access to Babson (easily my first choice). I have a strong work background through a family-owned business (and can get excellent references), have written a bestselling personal development book, and participated in mentoring programs for disadvantaged children for the last few years. Do you think I have a realistic shot at Babson? If not, do you think other fairly renowned business schools (preferably in Boston) would be interested in me joining their class? I have a very strong background in writing and public speaking, so have no concerns with the essays and interviews.

    I really appreciate any assistance / guidance you can provide.

    Thanks.

  • Matt

    Please evaluate my rather non-traditional profile:

    My last math class was 7+ years ago, but after a few weeks of brushing up on algebra I scored a 700 on a practice GMAT (Q41, V44). After two weeks of quant practice my next practice test was 720 (Q47, V42). I’m a poet, so that V42 is probably the low end of my range. I will keep studying quant and see how much higher I can score on a practice test before taking the real thing. I’d like 750+ on the first shot.

    Work Experience:

    5+ years in the US Army and USA Reserves
    -first 2 years as a Medic
    -3+ years since as a Chinese Mandarin linguist
    -last 2+ years as a Sergeant (entails supervision, training, administrative tasks, etc)
    -still serving in the Reserves

    Just began working as a Chinese linguist in the private sector (<1 yr)

    Education:

    I studied Chinese Mandarin at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California, and at a small school in Beijing. Although I attained professional fluency and am a linguist by profession, my degree in Chinese is an Associate of Arts (4.0 GPA).

    I went on to earn a BS in Liberal Studies (focus in Mandarin, 4.0 GPA), but (here's the kicker), it's from an online school (it is accredited).

    Career Goals:

    Simple: I'd like to go to China and work for a multinational. I plan to do more research to determine which path holds the best option for expats in China, but with fluency in Mandarin I don't foresee too many obstacles. Management consulting looks interesting to me, but I'll have to do my homework before settling on anything for sure.

    So, will a 700+ GMAT get me into my dream school (Johns Hopkins' part-time Flexible MBA)? Or will the fact that I have an online degree sink me?

    Thanks

    Matt

  • Last minute apps

    Hi Chioma,

    Thanks in advance for evaluating my profile.

    Asian American female (25 years old)
    Undergraduate: Top Ivy (H/Y/P), Major: Economics, GPA: 3.5
    GRE: Math 800 (94%); Verbal 670 (95%)
    Experience (by Aug 2012): 3-years in bulge bracket investment banking analyst

    I am currently in the process of applying R1 to HBS, Wharton, and MIT. Also considering applying to Stanford R1 if time, but think that Stanford will be a long shot. Thoughts on candidacy as well as profile evaluation will be helpful.

    Thank you!

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Everyone,

    Sorry for the delay in getting to your questions. With Round 1 deadlines a few weeks away, things have been quite busy at EXPARTUS.

    I’m back online and taking your questions. For those of you in New York, I would like to invite you to stop by to meet in person on Thursday, September 15th (6:30-8:30). RSVP to: http://www.expartus.eventbrite.com. You can learn about how to brand your application successfully plus ask your questions in person. If you can’t make it, no worries, keep shooting your questions though Poets and Quants.

    Cheers,

    Chioma (www.expartus.com)

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Andrew,

    Thanks for your question. The short answer on the value of the EMBA/parttime MBA is that it gives you credibility (especially if from good schools like UNC/Duke). It also creates access to a network that is broader than the circle one currently has prior to the degree and being in class with people who are at a mid to higher level in their career ensures that your classmates will have interesting perspectives to offer in the classroom. The caveat to an EMBA/Parttime program is that if you are looking to make a huge career change (industry especially) it may be tricky and you may find it frustrating. If on the other hand you what to shore-up your managerial training, get some solid credentials, pick up a bit more knowledge, then the degree makes sense. On the GMAT question, 580 is low. But you may find that some schools would accommodate a lower than average GMAT when there are lots of strong points to your application. The grades from Engineering are strong so that helps offset the low GMAT. Since UNC is open to waiving the GMAT I would definitely look into that especially since you say you are not a good test taker. Having said that if it turns out that you can raise the score to a mid to high 600s it is worth looking at Duke as well.

    I wish you all the best!

    Chioma (CEO, EXPARTUS )
    Chioma@expartus.com
    Meet me in New York Sept 15 if you are around: http://expartus.eventbrite.com/

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Joshua,

    First of all, I give you credit for standing behind your beliefs. I’m a person of faith and while I don’t beat people over the head with it, I would be completely disingenuous if I divorce myself from some of the core values that guide who I am and how I live my life. Having said that, you have to walk a fine line. It doesn’t matter whatever faith someone has, if they seem dogmatic, narrow, that raises major flags for the admissions board. I don’t know how broad the impact you have had through your extracurriculars…how it has shaped your character and the type of leader you are…..it comes down to balance. How will you function in a non religious setting? If you have examples that don’t peg you as someone who can only “play in a small/narrow (one type of space)” then that will help.

    The more important question I think the adcom will have is not just about the point I make above but about why you were fired at the first job after only a few months. That is a big deal and if not addressed well can derail the application for most top schools. The fact that you have been at same firm for 2 ½ years helps. You may have to pare down a couple of the super selective schools and add a few less competitive schools to give yourself a good hedge on the application.

    Chioma (CEO, EXPARTUS )
    Chioma@expartus.com
    Meet me in New York Sept 15 if you are around: http://expartus.eventbrite.com/

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hello BBuzz,

    Your vision to switch from ops to strategic consulting is going to be a tough call…for a school to get wildly interested you have to have something else in your profile/brand that screams “Take Me” to them. This could be through your leadership at work or the NProfit you are part of….but again the focus will need to be on results you have achieved that is impressive.

    As for other schools, you may want to consider Georgetown, UNV, Emory and Carnegie Mellon.

    My gut, if you wish to target top schools, retake the GMAT and wow, them with the score, the undergrad score is avg compared to the demographics you are going to be evaluated in; so postpone for a year or two. Beef up your leadership, (They care less about hobbies and more about interpersonal skills that make for great team leadership/dynamics). You are only 24 and have a bit of time advantage.

    All the best.

    Chioma
    Chioma (CEO, EXPARTUS )
    Chioma@expartus.com
    Meet me in New York Sept 15 if you are around: http://expartus.eventbrite.com/

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Tarun,

    Thanks for the kind words. I’m enjoying hearing you guys questions and sharing my perspective on them.

    Ok, bottom line, at a superficial level you will be grouped as Indian IT professional. This is a really tough bucket to differentiate yourself in but it can be done. You have a year to applying so that helps. I’ll tell you bluntly anything before college is out for the most part. Even in Stanford’s essay questions (their third question where you pick two from four essays), they require the stories to have happened within the last 3 years. So yes, beefing up current leadership now is a good strategy. I wouldn’t necessarily start brand new things unless you are genuinely interested in them. Rather, I would focus on things you have already shown a commitment to (CRY and Suryamukhi) and re-engage but this time with greater leadership and impact.

    Your work story could be interesting from the point of view of a rotational program at Philips, a well-regarded brand. Real differentiation comes down to this key point: how have you gone beyond your job to create value/leave a mark in each place you have worked. If you have strong evidence to back this up you could very well get into one of your top schools.

    I hope this helps.

    Chioma
    Chioma (CEO, EXPARTUS )
    Chioma@expartus.com
    Meet me in New York Sept 15 if you are around and feel free to invite a friend: http://expartus.eventbrite.com/

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Mr. Coxswain,

    My simple advice to you is to follow you passion. Remember that B-School is part of the journey not the destination! If your heart is in serving in the Navy, then be true to yourself and go for it. Applying in your late twenties-30 is fine. You have to be clear on WHY you want the MBA and not simply count on the fact that many top Navy guys with great academics get in!

    There is something you have to watch out for, though. The longer you wait the greater chance for mistakes that can derail the application. So for example, going now, it’s probably an easier story to sell: they like athletes, Crew is a plus, International Dev work assuming good leadership stories there is also a plus. If you hold off, go to Navy Officer School, you need to maintain top performance, not drop out or do something that makes the “shine” to your story begin to fade.

    You can’t lose either way. Just do what you know your heart tells you to do.

    Chioma
    Chioma (CEO, EXPARTUS )
    Chioma@expartus.com
    Meet me in New York Sept 15 if you are around and feel free to invite a friend: http://expartus.eventbrite.com/

  • WoollyCat

    Hi Chioma,

    I have a first class degree in Accounting and Financial Management (best graduating student award and also won other awards for highest grades in certain subject/terms) from a small private university in the UK. How would that translate into a GPA?

    Many thanks

  • UM

    Hi Chioma,

    I would love some insight on my chances on getting into Harvard, Wharton, Booth, and Stanford.

    Undergraduate Degree in Finance – Not from a top school
    Overall GPA 3.3
    First 2 years 2.75, 57 credits
    Last 2 years 3.73, 68 credits

    GMAT 720
    Quant 50
    Verbal 38

    CFA charterholder

    Will have 5 years experience before entering program
    5 Years at a Hedge Fund, Current Title is a Vice President, Strategy Specialist
    First 2.5 Years in Operations
    Last 2.5 Years in Business Development
    – My selling point here would be I raised Assets under Management from $50 million to $400 million while shining a light on a hedge fund that was not well known through creating a brand.

    Internships:
    Merrill Lynch & Smith Barney both in wealth management.

    Extracurriculars: I serve on the Advisory Board for a Local High School

    Thanks,

    UM

  • Abhi

    Hi Chioma,

    It is great that you are taking the time to help MBA aspirants!

    I am a 27 year old Indian male planning to apply to HBS/MIT/Wharton and London Business School. I graduated from the IIT in India (top-tier engg school) with Honours in Electrical Engineering with a GPA of 3.3/4. I interned with a Canadian Univ. (Carleton) during my undergraduate degree.

    Post graduation, I have worked for Rio Tinto (global leader in the mining industry) first an Electrical Engineer at a remote site in outback Australia from 2007-2010 and as a Strategy Analyst since then at the Brisbane head office.

    I am planning to apply next year and need some advice on how to build an impressive resume. I have been involved in volunteering through university and then through Aboriginal right initiatives and flood restoration through work.

    My extra-curriculars include university cricket/football/volleyball and club level cricket in Australia where I was also elected “Best Clubperson” twice in a row. I was the editor of the Institute Magazine and have also been involved in literary/quizzing activities.

    I scored 770 on my GMAT which I took last year.

    Your advice on my chances and how to improve them would be greatly appreciated. I can get recommendations from my GM who is a MIT Sloan Alumni as well as from the Chief Strategic Development Officer for Rio Tinto

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi WoollyCat,

    Congratulations on your strong academic performance. US MBA admissions boards are familiar with the academic curriculum of UK schools and the grading system and will recognize that a first class is the top performance at your institution. You don’t have to worry about translation to GPA. For schools that require you to convert you should find out whether they have a conversion table as some programs have. In general a first class will be viewed as an A average.

    All the best!

    Chioma (CEO, EXPARTUS )
    Chioma@expartus.com

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi UM,

    Thanks for your question. It is hard to say what your chance is given that there are many variables that go into evaluating a candidate at a top program. What you have to look at is the breadth of your leadership and the diverse set of experiences you have both personal and professional (and what matters is the quality, impact of these experiences not simply the quantity).

    While the 3.3/720 GMAT is not outstanding, the admission yes/no will come down to other things you bring. The way adcom members think is that they look at the work experience and yours will likely elicit a “yes, he’s admissible but what else does he/she bring to the table….” You wouldn’t be rejected based on your work/academics. Rather they are looking for that something extra, special and if they feel you have it, you could get into one if not several of these programs. If your stories (experiences) are only limited to work stuff, then it will be tough to get a positive answer from these schools.

    So make sure you mine your ENTIRE experiences both personal, academic, community and work and make sure you are clear on the brand you wish to convey about who you are (eg….innovator, bridge builder, compassionate, or whatever are the key themes that represent who you are).

    If you have further questions about your branding and how to differentiate yourself, feel free to contact me offline.

    Good luck!

    Chioma (CEO, EXPARTUS )
    Chioma@expartus.com

  • Aaron P.

    Hi Chioma,

    Thanks so much for taking the time to help!

    I am a 29 year old white male and would love some insight on my chances of getting into one of my target schools. Currently these schools are Harvard, Wharton, Duke and Haas.

    I earned a Masters Degree in accounting from BYU (#1 Accounting program in the country). Overall GPA was 3.66. I scored a 710 on the GMAT, stronger in verbal than quant. I am hoping that my strong financial background helps make up a little for a lower quant than verbal.

    I’ve worked for the last 3 1/2 years as a financial auditor at a Big 4 accounting firm. I have been very highly rated while here and expect strong letters of recommendation. I graduated in accounting as I felt it gave me the greatest knowledge of the inner workings of business. However I now want an MBA to bridge into a career in management consulting. I am passionate about what an MBA can do for me and the talents I can bring. However it seems that admissions departments are skeptical of CPA’s.

    My extracurricular and community service activities include a 2 year church mission, leadership in the Boy Scouts of America, Junior Achievement and strong church service.

    Your advice on my chances and how to improve them would be greatly appreciated.

  • Akash

    Hi Chioma,

    I have a BTech degree from a premiere college, IIT in India. Following that I worked for 3 years with Deloitte consulting. Currently I am working with a very young firm as operations head. I have been part of Cry and Udaan NGOs for past 4 years. I was also the president of Deloitte Mumbai’s Toastmasters club. I had a leadership track record in my college as well. I had a GPA of 2.9 and GMAT score of 780

    Please tell me if my decision to quit a firm like Deloitte and join a small company where I can demonstrate my skills to a greater extent, something which the B Schools might not like? And considering my overall profile, do I have realistic chances with Wharton and Sloan?

  • Mr. Comeback!

    Hey Chioma,
    I cannot tell you how appreciative I am for all of your help to us aspiring b-school applicants. I sincerely need your help because I am up in the air on so many matters: so here’s my loaded post….

    I am currently preparing for the GMAT (I am taking on Nov. 15 with the option to retake Dec. 17-20 should I not do as well as I need): I know I can break the 700 mark with certainty, but the question is what do I need? I am having a lot of trouble with the GMAT not because the test is hard (although it is), but because I am honestly overextended. Here is my profile:

    First undergrad attempt GPA (best state school in my state): 1.47
    During this time got arrested and convicted of possession of marijuana. Normally this is a cliche, but at this time I honestly needed to do some soul searching. I didn’t know what I wanted….I did that soul searching…
    Community college (AA granted: General Business): 3.7
    Undergrad GPA (second best state school) (BS granted: Financial Economics: 3.65)
    Went to work at an investment management firm (not in NY) as a Mutual Fund Accountant. Not a major firm, a boutique (200-250 employees) that manages over 20 billion dollars and has many funds. (2 years)

    Afterwards, went to work at the largest statistical government agency as a Statistician and simultaneously began doing a masters degree in Economics from a top 25 econ school (top masters program in Economics). GPA: 3.95 with a quantitative specialization in econometrics. I am graduating this December and will have worked as a statistician for 2.5 years at the time I submit my applications (round 2).
    That’s why I am overextended, I am currently working, in school finishing my masters and studying for the GMAT.

    I have rock solid recommendations from my job at the federal government and good grades despite the hiccup at the beginning of my academic career. Problem is, I am a career changer that wants to go into investment research. Are top 10 schools a possibility for me with say a 710 GMAT? Should I not say that I want to go into investment research because this is a more difficult field to break into without prior work experience? I am torn about this and very unsure because while I know it’s a hard field, I have experience dealing with large datasets and bring a masters degree to the table that is relevant to investment research. Do I need higher than a 710?

    Please tell me your thoughts on my admissions process. Do I have a shot at top 15 programs? Thank you.

  • Mr. Comeback!

    By the way, I am an US born Indian male, age 28

    Thanks Chioma!

  • Sandy

    Greetings Chioma,

    I am applying to H/S/Tuck in R2

    Background –
    Engineer turned sales leader working with GE/Siemens-type conglomerate in technology sales in the Oil and Gas industry, work experience totaling 6years.

    Strengths (as I see them) –
    1. Working with Siemens for the past five years across Asia and here in the USA, largely successful at selling technologies to Oil and Gas companies.
    2. Global Talent Pool member – top 0.3% emplyees worldwide.
    3.Handpicked by a VP to work on a strategy assignment involving a top consulting firm looking at restructuring global business.
    4. Strong recommendations from mentor (VP) and supervisor (Director).

    Weaknesses –
    1. My undergraduate GPA was 3.2 from a top 10 engineering school in India. Managed to go to an Ivy league engg school on scholarship, but had personal challenges, that got my masters GPA to 3/4.
    2. Probably a bit too old for HBS?
    3. GMAT without much prep – 620. Retaking mid-Nov.

    Would appreciate any insights that you might provide on my candidacy.

    Thanks,
    Sandeep

  • Mixed-bag

    Hi Chioma,

    I took a semester off of school to get an entrepreneurial venture off the ground (multi state venture; operated 18 months before selling). I think that the time lines on my resume, transcripts etc. relay the message, however, do I need to explicitly state this when writing about the venture or even use the extra essay to drop in a note regarding the break in my schooling?

    I figure admission committee members can put the pieces together, but is it best to just spell it out?

    Thanks!

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/amitganguly2k10/ amit ganguly

    Hey Chioma,

    I am from India and professionally,I am an Engineer.I am looking for a career transition to Public service and International development domain.I have a prior experience of 6 years in Product development,Operation management and Project management.My undergraduate GPA is 3.56 and post graduate GPA is 3.8.More so, my GMAT score is 710 and TOEFL score is 107.

    I have a keen interest in social development projects and policy studies.Hence, my natural bend is towards an MPA/MPP, rather than an MBA. So, I wanted to know about the relative merits and demerits of pursuing MPP than an MBA. More so, being an Indian I am preferring schools in this geographical location such as Lee Kuan Yew school, NUS Singapore.Hence,as the FT or the Economist rankings are available for MBA,similarly if there are any universal ranking resources for MPP/MPA program available,then please share with me.

    Thank you beforehand.

    Warm Regards
    Amit Ganguly

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Aaron P,

    Thanks for your question.

    While I am not in the habit of stating clear percentages of anyone’s chance of gaining admission, here is what I can tell you given over a decade of experience in this business:

    HBS and Wharton are super competitive. Haas and Fuqua are not a walk in the park either. So to be admitted you have to be able to present a very compelling case to the schools. These programs have a lot of choices of candidates to pull from. So the question you have to ask yourself is “What is it that you have that others with your profile won’t have”? For most people when we investigate this question it can come out that there isn’t anything that is fundamentally different. For candidates in this category, it is highly unlikely that they will get accepted at the very very selective schools (so HBS/Wharton would be out). It comes down really to numbers and there being too few spots in the class and a pool that is extremely impressive.

    For others there are interesting things that have happened in their lives to shape them. Some have exeptionall opportunities at their jobs that they have created or been tagged to pursue given a powerful brand that they have developed at work. In such cases, the admission outcome to the very very selective schools can be an acceptance offer.

    I wouldn’t go off of the assumption that being a CPA disqualifies you or that the schools do not like folks like you. Rather, focus on what is interesting, special about you and connect it to the things you want to achieve (show that the MBA is critical to that career ambition).

    I wish you all the best!

    Chioma (CEO, EXPARTUS )
    Chioma@expartus.com

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Akash,

    Deloitte is a reputable brand so helps in giving you credibility with the admission board. But company brand is not enough…the actual work you did, how you were viewed and the impact you had are all important factors that the admission board would look at. I don’t think there is anything fundamentally wrong with the move from a large consulting firm to a smaller firm where you got a chance to gain operations and management experience. Again, what is important is to highlight what you achieved, your thought process in making the decision, and how it fits into your “grand” vision for your life.

    The 2.9 is your Achilles heel and while it is somewhat offset by the 780 GMAT, it will likely remain a concern for the admission board when evaluating you in the context of a very competitive and crowded pool.

    If I were in your shoes I would broaden my school list beyond Wharton and Sloan. But I wouldn’t give up on them either. The honest answer really depends on what else you have to show the admission board about who you are—YOUR BRAND! I have seen many applicants come to EXPARTUS as reapplicants who were initially unsuccessful but after going through a branding process—where we unveil more interesting things about themselves that didn’t make their way in the previous application—they were able to gain admission to the same schools.

    Regards

    Chioma (CEO, EXPARTUS )
    Chioma@expartus.com

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hello Mr. Comeback!

    I appreciate your candor. No one is perfect and many of us have made mistakes in our lives. It happens that yours is one that pops up again when you apply to graduate school, especially at top schools (since they ask about suspensions and things like that). I think full disclosure and maturity in presenting your application would be key. They will be looking to see if you have learned your lesson, which I’m sure you have.

    Given the shaky academic start, I would aim for the highest GMAT I could have. If you can pull off higher than 700/710 that would help. Don’t just look at it as the bar but try and scale those numbers if possible.

    The career change is one that schools are becoming sensitive to, especially when the economy has been tough: they want to know that you will land a job in your target industry after graduation. What you have to demonstrate to the adcom is that you have thought this through, have a game plan of how you will make the transition, etc. Some schools would even ask you in interviews what resources/plans you have to achieve your career transition. So making this crystal clear to them in your application will help remove some of the skepticism they may have.

    As far as which range of school you should target, my first thought would be that a candidate in your shoes will ABSOLUTELY need to “network” with the adcom, whether it is through info sessions, when they visit your city…find a way to present yourself to them, make a very positive impression and share your situation. You may be able to get some read on how schools feel about your situation if you have someone that can give you a candid perspective on that.

    Finally, on the issue of spreading yourself too thinly, I would be very careful with that. With the situation you have to overcome, you cannot afford to have any other potential flags. Make sure you are ready for the GMAT before you take it. If you are not really 100% ready, wait and take it later. Trying to finish a masters degree, do applications, and study for the GMAT seems awfully ambitious.

    I wish you all the best.

    Chioma (CEO, EXPARTUS )
    Chioma@expartus.com
    http://www.expartus.com

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Sandy,

    I would consider broadening the list of schools. Tuck seems a possibility. HBS and Stanford will like GE/Siemens but not convinced that they won’t find enough other applicants from such industry with tons of leadership plus excellent academic record. The low undergrad degree can be winked at if the rest of the story is super compelling and the GMAT is say 750. The fact that the masters degree is also average is a two strikes and you are out kind of situation. Please do keep my feedback in perspective since I only know partial information about you. You know what else you have going in your story and whether those things are outstanding or not.

    All the best!

    Chioma (CEO, EXPARTUS )
    Chioma@expartus.com
    http://www.expartus.com

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hello Mixed Bag,

    I wouldn’t leave anything to the admissions board’s interpretation. Take a few minutes to address the pause in your studies to follow your entrepreneurial dreams.

    Good luck,

    Chioma (CEO, EXPARTUS )
    Chioma@expartus.com
    http://www.expartus.com

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Amit,

    Thanks for your question. I don’t know of any world rankings of Public Policy Schools but can point you to the US News and World Report for the best Public Affairs School rankings http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-public-affairs-schools

    I used to be the Director of Admissions of the Public Policy Programs at Carnegie Mellon. Off the top of my head I can think of several really good ones including:

    Carnegie Mellon (The Heinz School)
    Syracuse (The Maxwell School)
    Harvard (The Kennedy School of Government)
    Princeton (The Woodrow Wilson School)

    All the best as you research this.

    Chioma (CEO, EXPARTUS )
    Chioma@expartus.com
    http://www.expartus.com

  • Abhi

    Hi Chioma

    Just wondering if you had any feedback for my profile posted above?

    Thanks

  • John

    Hi, Chioma u r doing a fantastic job and i really appreciate ur reviews.
    john

  • Andrew

    Hi Chioma,
    Thanks so much for ur time to help and i really appreciate ur fine reviews.

    Please give me some insight based on my profile and my target schools.

    Undergraduate degree in Commerce from not a top university.
    GPA-3.2(among top 1%)
    Masters in Business Law (part-time) from top law school of India. GPA-3.6
    Fellow of Insurance Institute of India.
    GMAT-750
    Age-25
    Nationality-Indian

    Work Profile-
    Currently working in Reserve bank of india (India’s central bank) since 2009 in various administrative positions realted to formulation of banking policies,issue of govt. bonds.,currency channelling,capital markets and other very challenging projects.
    Prior i was a project leader(for around 1 year) in a reputed NGO which aimed at providing rural electrification and poverty eradication etc. in very remote areas of india.

    I have also won some reputed scholarships and awards and also have very strong recommendations(Director and President)of reserve bank.

    So, i have around 3.5 years of work exp. so can u please throw light on my chances at insead,lbs and h/w/s.

    Thanks
    Andrew

  • Glenn

    Hey Chioma,

    Thank you for taking time to help all of us MBA hopefuls, I couldn’t imagine a more perfect opportunity to connect with someone in the know.

    I am applying to Tepper’s Fall 2012 class and would like some advice on what I can do to improve my chances and your opinion of where I currently stand.

    Graduated: 2009 B.S. Economics – University of Florida (3.2 overall GPA)
    GMAT (first and only attempt): 680
    Work Exp: Co-founded a business after graduating, eventually stepped down for personal reasons. Currently work as a business analyst for a friend’s family owned business. In the process of starting another business.
    Extracurriculars: None
    Recommendations: Current employer (Harvard MBA graduate) and former business partner.

    My father was incarcerated my sophmore year of college. The time involved with his trial and the onslaught of family issues it caused really kept me from having time to get involved in groups and extracurriculars. It also caused me to readjust my career plans as our own family business was subsequently closed. I would be lying if I said I gave my last two years of undergrad the full effort and focus they deserved, but that simply can’t be undone.

    I guess my question is how would I be looked at from an admin standpoint? I know my profile is lackluster but I’m hesitant to explain the circumstance because of its unappealing nature and because it’s just an excuse at the end of the day. I would love nothing more than to go to CMU, especially now that my family obligations have finally subsided. What can I do to improve my chances? And could you suggest some school that would be in reach if CMU is not?

    Again, thank you so much, I really appreciate the time and effort.

  • MattV

    Hey Chioma,

    I recently graduated in 3.5 years from Ohio State with a Degree in finance and a GPA of 3.4. I am 22 years old and my dream is to work on Wall Street in eihter I-Banking, PE, or the Hedge Fund industry.

    I know it is a bit early for me to apply to B-School but I wanted your advice on things I can proactively do in the near future to help me stand out and get in to a top tier program that will give me an edge in getting to Wall Street.

    I currently work in the planning and allocation department of Abercrombie and Fitch, and am taking level 1 of the CFA exam in Deecmber with the hopes of progressing throug that program.

    My target B-School enrollment is Fall of 2013 when I would have 30 months of work experience.

    My early list of school I am interested in are:

    -HBS
    -Wharton
    -NYU
    -Columbia
    -Virginia
    -Duke
    -Chicago
    -Northwestern

    Any advice on how I can improve my chances of admission between now and then would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks!

  • Miss India

    Hey Chioma,

    i wanted to know something about Scholarship essays.

    For Tuck they have asked for A brief biographical essay. How many words should we limit ourselves to? Also how is it different from Tucks Last essay about adding value? Are we supposed to mention about our financial constraints?

  • JP

    Hi Chioma,

    I was wondering how many interviewers are typically in a H/S/W interview?

    Kind regards,

    JP

  • Pushkin

    Hi Chioma,

    Thank you for taking the time to respond to questions from prospective MBAs, this really helps demystify the whole application process.

    I have slightly different story, in that I began my career in political writing for a non-profit. I have a 3.25 GPA with BAs in Women’s Studies and Political Science from a Big Ten school. I pursued roles in politics aggressively, working with NARAL, Public Citizen and the Democratic Party. While on-campus, I founded a reproductive rights-focused student organization and worked closely with other student orgs to support women’s rights and other social justice issues.

    On graduation I moved to the East Coast to work as a writer for a non-profit and found that it wasn’t my cup of tea. I took stock of my skills and began looking for other opportunities. I ended up as an admin at a well-reputed investment management firm. I like what they did, but the firm didn’t have a training program, so I looked for opportunities elsewhere. I found myself temping at an investment bank and convinced them that I was bull-pen material.

    When the market collapsed in 2008, it took my job with it. So I struck off again, this time looking for other opportunities that would enable me to continue to expand my skill set and grow. I landed a role as a supervisor of accounting at an S&P 500 company. I spent the next three years growing and developing my team, streamlining processes, enhancing the skill sets of the existing team members, establishing SOPs and working on cross-functional projects to enhance the overall accounting processes. Over time, the role shifted from one of a change management role to a more task-oriented, day-to-day management role. Because of this change, I’ve recently left.

    Throughout the years since graduating college, I’ve maintained my committment to social justice issues, working with the local south asian activist theater and taking up any opportunitity to raise awareness for women’s rights issues that I could. I’m currently a member of both the Forte Foundation and 85 Broads.

    I have strong recommendations from both the I-bank and the S&P 500 company.

    I took the GMAT in Jan and scored a 700, 71% in quant and 92% in verbal, for an overall of 90%.

    I am applying to NYU, Georgetown, Booth and Columbia, and I was hoping you might have advice or suggestions.

    Thank you,
    Pushkin

    PS – contrary to what the moniker suggests, I’m not Russian. I’m Indian-American and a woman.

  • Simon Chu

    Thx a lot Chioma, I’ve been reading all your blogs here, really intelligent writings. Just a quick assessment for me would be great.

    Mr Greenpeacer

    750 GMAT
    3.2 Under 3.6 Graduate
    Earned an engineering degree at top university in China, a master in environmental in a top Canadian University
    28 years old, Canadian Citizen
    Worked in a boutique consulting firm for a year. Has been working for Greenpeace Canada for 3 years ever since, active project organizer, lots of leadership stories, steady progress, decent extracurriculars
    Career goal: Environmental NGO in China
    Concern: Greenpeace’s evil and aggressive impression

    Target schools:

    Yale
    Cornell
    Duke
    Darden
    INSEAD
    Oxford

    Thanks very much!

  • 2012App

    Hi Chioma,

    Thanks for your insight. I am wondering about my chances at schools such as Booth, Kellogg, Columbia, Ross.

    Age: 27

    GMAT: 730 (45V 45Q) – a little concerned with the low Q here (74th %ile when I took it, probably worse now)

    Undergrad: 3.38 GPA from a well-known liberal arts college – double major in Economics (3.0 gpa – low) and Mandarin (3.8 gpa) – graduated May, 2007. I also have a short alt. transcript w/ an A in Statistics from NYU SCPS and currently taking Calculus – planning an A as well.

    Work Exp: Approx 4 years financial compliance, first at two large asset management firms, currently at a top PE firm (think blackstone, kkr, carlyle). Originally was focusing on the worst/most unimpressive areas such as code of ethics (employee personal trading, compliance certifications); now working on legal/compliance aspects of due diligence process for deal teams, regulatory filings for IPOs/secondaries, etc. Should be able to get excellent recs from manager and other senior members of team.

    ECs: moderate involvement with a well-known NY-based charity group. light involvement with alumni association. Overall nothing amazing up to this point. Recently began volunteering at an organization that assists Chinese immigrants seeking US citizenship in practicing for their oral interview, as well as their English conversation skills in general – there looks to be a leadership opp. here so I will be pursuing over the next year.

    Personal: International background (grew up between Japan and the US). Fluent in Japanese.

    Why B-School: transition out of a cost-center into a profit-center. Interested in ibanking.

    Note: I applied to schools the schools listed above last year and didnt get in any. Straight dings from CBS/Kellogg. Was WL’d for Booth from R1 until end of August, and Ross from R2 until end of August.

  • DallasGirl

    Dear Chioma, I’ve loved following your expert commentary on this blog so far. I wanted to run a question by you regarding my own MBA App. My case has a few pluses and also a few minuses – and I need your advise in judging if shooting for HAAS, Stanford and Kellogs is a bit of a long shot for me. Will a 15-month employment gap & being an older applicant go against me ? Would you be able to advise ?

    My stats :

    1. Total Experience : 7.5 Yrs. This includes 4-Years Big -4 IT consulting experience (USA) & 1.5 years of International experience (India)
    2. GMAT : 710
    3. Education : B.S Engineering (India), MS (Univ of Tx, Arlington) – 3.75 GPA
    4. Age, Nationality : 32, India
    5. 15 Month Employment Gap due to following : Nov 2008 : Layoff from Deloitte, Moved to India to pursue personal goals ( GMAT, Non-profit volunteering)
    6. Current Role: IT Delivery Manager, working in India with a mid-sized MNC IT services firm (1.5 yrs at this position)
    7.Round-2 applicant
    8. Decent extra curriculars – IEEE Publication, NGO Contributions

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Abhi,

    Sorry I missed your question earlier. IIT school is a great academic brand, so you check that box. 3.3 could have been higher but not a deal breaker…the 770 GMAT helps so won’t focus on the academics. The outcome of your admission will likely be more about the quality of work experience of Rio Tinto (which is a solid brand as well). If you can show clear professional trajectory, leadership contribution, and excellent recs with detailed examples to bolster their points (and from senior managers at the firm), that will critical for a successful application. The XCS with Aboriginal community doesn’t hurt so keep that up and look for real ways to make huge impact there. Club level sports and no value to very selective schools so won’t focus too much on that in the story.
    So for next year I would aim at doing some of the following to strengthen your case
    1. Look for more opportunity to take on greater responsibility
    2. Lead a team, lead a project, LEAD something and deliver results that count for your group/company (look for ways to innovate, find what isn’t working currently and find ways to turn that around; these instances make for great stories when you write the essays
    3. Deepen relationship with your GM and Chief Strategist. Make sure they have ample examples of how you are leading/contributing at your firm. They can’t simply see you as a good guy who works super hard and does his job well. unfortunately, that is the brand of many MBA candidates and that is NOT A BRAND THAT TOP SCHOOLS WANT.
    4. Connect the dots about your goals and the need for an MBA and WHY A PARTICULAR school. HBS and Stanford are so different I find it amazing how students simply say I want to go to both schools. The cultures at the two programs differ and you have to makes sure you have done your homework to communicate specifically to each school why you would want to go there and what you will add to enrich them.
    We do offer an EARLY START APPLICATION PROGRAM which applicants applying in the next year or beyond are taking advantage of. If this is of interest to you email me at Chioma@expartus.com.

    You are already on the right track but need to continue on the momentum you have and seek out ways to go beyond what is expected of you to make a difference in every environment you are a part of (personally and professionally).

    Cheers,
    Chioma (CEO, EXPARTUS )
    Chioma@expartus.com
    http://www.expartus.com

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hiya John

    Thanks for the kind words. I do enjoy hearing from you guys and offering some advice on ways to succeed in the MBA application.

    Chioma (CEO, EXPARTUS )
    Chioma@expartus.com
    http://www.expartus.com

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Andrew,

    You are in an over represented pool, unfortunately. So the thing to think of is whether your profile will stand out head and should above other Indian students. GMAT of 750 is solid but not enough to make a candidate move to a yes pile. Your work experience is the vital factor that will drive that decision. Policy work at India’s Central Bank sounds interesting but not sure the schools would go crazy for this viewpoint in their class unless there is something quite extraordinary that you were able to do in that role. If it is simply that you did a good job at your job, then consider widening your school list. Another factor is also to think carefully about what it is you wish to do. Career change is feasible and many choose the MBA precisely to change their career. But in tough economic times schools are less inclined to take “risks” when someone wishes to make a huge career change. The concern many on the admission board may have is whether you would be a better fit for a Public Policy program.

    Regards,

    Chioma (CEO, EXPARTUS )
    Chioma@expartus.com
    http://www.expartus.com

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Andrew,

    You are in an over represented pool, unfortunately. So the thing to think of is whether your profile will stand out head and shoulder above other Indian students. GMAT of 750 is solid but not enough to make a candidate move to a yes pile. Your work experience is the vital factor that will drive that decision. Policy work at India’s Central Bank sounds interesting but not sure the schools would go crazy for this viewpoint in their class unless there is something quite extraordinary that you were able to do in that role. If it is simply that you did a good job at your job, then consider widening your school list. Another factor is also to think carefully about what it is you wish to do. Career change is feasible and many choose the MBA precisely to change their career. But in tough economic times schools are less inclined to take “risks” when someone wishes to make a huge career change. The concern many on the admission board may have is whether you would be a better fit for a Public Policy program.

    Regards,

    Chioma (CEO, EXPARTUS )
    Chioma@expartus.com
    http://www.expartus.com

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Glenn

    I appreciate your candor. I agree with you that you don’t need to share all the nitty gritty details to the adcom. Here’s what I would do if I were in your shoes:
    1. Retake the GMAT and pull that score to a mid 700 score with Q/V above 80 percentile each. This is very important given the lackluster GPA.
    2. Don’t make excuses. Own up to family situation presenting some distraction AND the fact that you needed to mature a bit….THEN FOCUS ON HOW YOU HAVE MATURED….GROWN. WHERE YOU STARTING A BIZ IN COLLEGE? FLAG THAT.
    3. GET INVOLVED NOW. DON’T WAIT…LOOK FOR WAYS TO ENGAGE OTHERS OUTSIDE OF YOUR CAREER AND MAKE A DIFF IN SOMEONE ELSE’S LIFE. SCHOOLS DON’T LIKE CANDIDATES WHO ARE IN IT FOR JUST THEMSELVES. IT’S BETTER TO HAVE A FEW MONTHS THAN NOTHING. IT’S NOT IDEAL BUT YOU CAN’T WIND BACK THE CLOCK. MAKE SURE YOUR ESSAYS DON’T HAVE TOO MUCH OF A SELF FOCUS AS THAT WOULD BE THE KISS OF DEATH FOR YOUR APP.
    4. I WOULD BROADEN THE LIST, INCLUDE SCHOOLS LIKE UNC, KELLEY SCHOOL, MCCOMBS, AND BABSON. VISIT THEM TO GET A SENSE OF THE PROGRAMS AND DETERMINE WHERE YOU WILL THRIVE.

    All the best

    Chioma

    Chioma (CEO, EXPARTUS )
    Chioma@expartus.com
    http://www.expartus.com

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi MattV

    Thanks for your question. HBS is a huge leadership school so if you don’t have exceptional leadership track record at Ohio State, I wouldn’t focus on that. It isn’t also a school that goes bananas for bankers and hedge fund folks.

    Time is on your side so you can achieve some exceptional things in the next two years that can help you gain admission to your dream schools. I’m not exactly sure what you are doing at A&Fitch. If it’s part of their rotational leadership program, could be interesting. If it is simply back office, not so exciting from the adcom perspective. I can’t comment on chances of admission to any schools as there are many factors that go into that. What you need to do is get a GMAT that is really strong (750 would be great) given the ok GPA at a non branded school. We have actually worked with several candidates from Ohio who have gained admission to schools like Wharton, Duke, Darden. It comes down to what you do with your experience and you should aim to get the CFA under the belt.

    We offer an Early Start Application Service that assesses your entire profile and provides you with a detailed strategy of what you can do now and until you apply. If interested in this, feel free to contact me: Chioma@expartus.com.

    All the best to you, Matt.

    Chioma (CEO, EXPARTUS )
    Chioma@expartus.com
    http://www.expartus.com

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Miss India,

    I don’t know if they have an actual word limit for their Scholarship Essay. If they don’t, keep it no longer than 500 words. Less is usually more in the admissions world. Focus on the highlights of your biography, cut out parts that have little value. If possible, incorporate little vignettes/stories to make you/your experience come alive. There may be some overlap with the Tuck essay but make sure to write new sentences and not a cut and paste job. You can mention your financial constraint to the extent that it is pertinent as you share your biographical background. I wouldn’t simply say, I have no money that’s why I’m applying! Find a more subtle way to work it in, perhaps when sharing a bit about your family, obligations (are you taking care of your three siblings, etc)….If you need help with crafting and editing this essay, you can take advantage of our editing services.

    Congrats on getting your Tuck application done and all the best on the scholarship essay!

    Regards

    Chioma (CEO, EXPARTUS )
    Chioma@expartus.com
    http://www.expartus.com

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi JP,

    You inquired about the number of interviewers typically in a H/S/W interview. From my understanding it’s usually one person but there are circumstances where more than one board member interviews a candidate.

    Did you receive an interview invite? If so congrats.

    All the best!

    Chioma (CEO, EXPARTUS )
    Chioma@expartus.com
    http://www.expartus.com

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Pushkin

    Thanks for taking the time to provide information about your background. The biggest question an adcom member would have about your background is: “Is she lost, trying to find herself or doe she definitely know what she wants to do now”? You have to make sure your application addresses this concern at some level since they will view the work history as a bit too choppy.

    You have to also have a clearly articulated view of why you need an MBA and it has to make sense. This will be a huge make or break factor for you and it will need to make sense to the reader.

    The 71% Q is on the low side and Columbia may not be as enthralled with it. You could get them to wink at it if everything else about your story is solid. If you could raise the GMAT, I would do so, absolutely. Booth may like the quirky/unusual experience and free spirit a bit more than some of the other schools. Show NYU serious love….do your home work, visit, spend time there…let them know you know them and that you are a great fit. With carefully written essays that show your passion, outline how you would engage in their community, and a clearly thought-through set of goals you should be able to get into one of these schools.

    Hope this helps.

    Chioma (CEO, EXPARTUS )
    Chioma@expartus.com
    http://www.expartus.com

  • Lauren

    I’ve applied to both Stanford and Berkeley Round One and am waiting to hear whether I’ll be interviewed . I live in Washington DC but am from San Francisco, so I’ll be home for Thanksgiving and for a few days afterwards. Should I call the admissions offices at either of these schools and let them know that I’ll be in town on those dates, in case they want to do an interview on campus? Or should I just sit and wait and bite my nails more?

  • http://- Jatin Mehta

    Greetings Cjioma,

    I am glad to find a forum where students like me can post their b-school related queries and hope to find genuine answers…Grt work..keep it up…
    Thanks in advance …

    Can you plz help me out on choosing among the options to apply . below is my profile:

    Acad: Engineer with Mechanical stream from one the top colleges in India with a 8.3/10 CGPA
    GMAT 760
    Prof. Experience: Would complete 5 years of experience in Supply Chain Management( Sourcing , purchasing, procurement etc..) with India’s Automobile leader and Ford Motors.
    Decent extracuricular as part of several dramatics, sports and cultural platforms.

    Post MBA aspirations: Aspire a career in Strategic consultancy, business development stream with reputed firms
    I need to choose two where I have best chances to get thru…among the options like the HBS, Stan, Kellog, Chicago, Dartmouth, columbia, NYU, Cornell, MIT…..??? PLzzzzzzzz help

  • Rob

    Chioma,

    Quick question on HBS interviews. I just had one, and I found an article online where Dee said that HBS interviewers use a rubric to grade the interview. Now I know you’re gonna be quick to point out that it is meant to be an extra piece to the puzzle…but what exactly are the criteria that is being assessed on the rubric (as in the specific categories on the piece of paper)?

    Thanks in advance. Enjoy your thanksgiving!

  • Manoj

    Hi Chioma,

    I was wondering if you could shed some light on how good my chances are at an early application deferred for 2 years. My options are HBS 2+2 and Stanford GSB but my dream school is Stanford. I’m an Indian male (21 years old). I’ve included pretty much all the relevant information.

    Background

    I’m an Indian majoring in Economics from one of the top schools in India (Indian Institute of Technology-Madras). We have a GPA system that is out of 10 and my GPA scaled down to a 4 point system is 3.44 although I expect that it will rise when adjusted for the variations between the systems. I’ve taken the GMAT twice. My first attempt was a 640. Next attempt was a 680 (Q42 V41) I guess on D-Day I just freeze or get tired after the essays. I did well in the AWA both times getting a perfect score of 6.0.

    My grades did fall from a 3.6 GPA (9/10 Indian scale) after I got stabbed in a mugging attempt in my 3rd year of college. But I’ve since bounced back from a much lower score and have kept it near the 3.45 GPA mark.

    As far as internships go-

    I have done an internship at a Private Equity firm and was involved very closely in the process of a fund expansion to the tune of 200 million USD.

    I have done two other internships one with a securities firm and other in the Treasury Forex of a large bank. Needless to say, I want to get into finance post-study.

    Now for the other stuff-

    As far as professional experience goes, I started a small firm in 2009 after my family portfolio was almost wiped out in the aftermath of the crisis when it was just about 2.5 years after my dad’s passing and have since paid my tuition and other expenses myself. I oversaw a 450% growth in the balance sheet during my 18 month tenure as a partner in the firm. This was just three months after my stabbing.

    I’ve been a peer counselor for high school students with a training institute that prepares students for college for almost 5 years now and have counseled over 150 high school students during the time. I sat with each of them personally, gauged their interests and gave feedback to the academic counselors who then took over the process. In fact, starting such a peer counseling position was my idea after I recognised a certain gap between student mindsets and counselors in general when I was a high school student.

    Extra-Curriculars-

    I’ve been a dancer since I was 9 and am now a certified advanced Latin Ballroom and Salsa dancer.

    I’ve also been practising martial arts since 9 and have been certified as a 2nd Degree Black Belt from the Apex body in India.

    I’ve also held quite a few leadership positions and handled responsibilities both individually and in teams over the years. (I realise that this has already become quite long a post and dont want to further try and sell my achievements)

    Well that’s it about me. I want to know if I should take the GMAT again or not. I plan to apply early and defer my admission to B-School by 2/3 years. The HBS 2+2 program is one of the programs I’m applying to in R-2 along with Stanford GSB. I want to know what my chances are of making it. Or should I take up a one year masters such as the Duke MMS or LBS MiM, work a couple of years and apply after that to B-School. I wouldn’t have so many doubts if my GMAT score were a little higher but since that ship has sailed (or should I just wait and retake the GMAT for a third time?), I would love it and appreciate it very very (very) much if I could some help here.

    Thanks much in advance

    Manoj

  • Mr. Filipino Banker

    Hey Chioma,

    Wanted to get your thoughts on my application chances. I read your book on B-school Admissions and found it extremely helpful, but I’d like to get your thoughts on how Adcoms would view a candidate from a country like the Philippines with work experience from a local IB with no international brand name. My resume below. I’m targeting Wharton, Stanford, Booth, Columbia. Already got dinged by HBS.

    I also wanted to get your thoughts on selecting Recommenders especially for Wharton. I’m personally more geared towards getting a VP and our CEO to write for me (both can write effective recoms); but I’m getting feedback that it is extremely helpful to get feedback from extracurricular recoms. Extras are probably the weakest part of my app and my extracurricular-recommender is from a couple of years back so it may come off as dated. Do I go for bosses (more recent interaction with me) or add in the extracurricular recommender (to add differentiate their messages more)?

    BASICS/EDUCATION
    – 24 yo Filipino male
    – 3.85 GPA from a top Philippine University (most H/W alumni from the Philippines come from this university), top1% of class
    – Business ad/economics major
    – 710 GMAT V40 Q47 AWA6.0
    – Mensa member

    WORK
    – 2 years at the “startup” investment bank subsidiary of a large local universal bank. Not known internationally.
    – Works directly with CEO and senior execs bec of small headcount of firm. Experience across a variety of DCM and loan deals in the Philippines.
    – Simultaneously worked as risk management officer, spearheaded recruitment and training/mentoring effort for analysts

    EXTRACURRICULARS
    – Headed a catholic formation organization that holds retreats for students.
    – Headed a 100+ person carpool group for university students.

    LONG TERM GOAL
    – To put up private equity fund focused on emerging markets, looking at an MBA to be able to transition into a PE role (US/international) to learn the ropes.
    – Takeoff from developmental impact of deals ive done in current job and wanting to make similar impact as principal investor.

    Thank you so much!

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/pm23/ PM

    Hi Chioma ,

    Thanks a lot for sharing your insight into admissions at top schools .Really appreciated. Can you please evaluate my profile and chances of getting in the following B-Schools :

    * 27 year old female from India
    * GMAT – 690
    * UG – 3.72 ( In top 5% .Only girl among toppers during my U.G )
    ( Engineering in Electronics and communication from Reputed university in India.)
    * Will have 6 years of work-ex in Semiconductor Industry before joining . Working in MNC Freescale Semiconductor since 2006.
    * Always among top raters in office.Filed one US patent , defensive publication and a few white papers in my name.
    * Worked on cutting edge technology in Wireless domain . Currently leading a team as performance analyst.
    *Strong academics throughout.Merit holder in Senior Secondary Examination.Ranked 24th in Punjab state.

    Extracurricular Activities :
    1.) Basketball captain in school . Active member of basketball team in office 2.) Active member of Community relation group (CRG) at office. Working closely with SAHAN school ( NGO for mentally challenged students) since last 3 years
    3.) Was Joint Secretary of Organization committee for Inter college fest , Mess secretary , Joint convener of dance committee at college.

    Following are the B-Schools I am planning to apply :

    1.) Kellogg
    2.) Michigan Ross
    3.) Columbia university
    4.) University of Virginia ( Darden)
    5.) Carnegie Mellon University
    6.) University of North Carolina
    7.) UCLA ( Anderson)
    8.) Indiana university
    9.) Georgia Institute of Technology
    10.) USC

    What are my chances of getting in the above b-schools ?? and what are chances of getting financial aid/scholarship in these schools?? Does score of 690 will hamper my chances of getting financial aid ??

    Thanks.. :-)

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Lauren,

    Thanks for your question. Do not call the schools. It is really a wait and see situation, unfortunately. Applicants cannot speed up the pace in which adcom reviews applications or their interview plans.

    All the bests,

    Chioma
    Chioma@expartus.com
    CEO EXPARTUS

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hello Jatin,

    Academically, you are fine. Your admission decision will come down to the specifics of what you have achieved in roles in supply chain management. We’ve had clients admitted at the leading schools with supply chain mngt experience. But the industry isn’t what gets you in or keeps you out. At the heart of your admission outcome is what you achieved there and whether you have left clear footprints of leadership. Geographically speaking, India and China is very interesting to schools. While a lot of applicants come from these countries, schools recognize that a lot of the growth in the future is happening East and they see the value of having students/alumni out there. If you can show a consistent track record of excelling beyond your job and then connect the dots really carefully to show the leap from your operations role to s strategy consulting goal, for example, you will be able to win over the admissions board.

    I think what would differentiate you from other smart students from India is going to be your essays and your recommendations.

    So with that in mind, here are a couple of things to keep in mind:
    1) Regarding the essays: make sure you pick examples that show different facets of who you are, not just only work stories. You want to show vs tell who you are. Choose specific stories that take the reader into the moment so they can see who you are, the context you are operating in, and the impact you have. Also make sure that you have a set of clear brand themes that you want to drive home and then back them up with stories that reflect the brand positioning you are trying to show.
    2) As far as recommenders are concerned, make sure that they can get into very detailed examples to illustrate key points about you. They can’t simply say you are the best supply manager they have worked with. What does that mean? They have to SHOW this. What evidence do you have that shows how you have excelled? Also how are you different from everybody else who does what you do? If they can show how you have stepped out of your day to day responsibility and actually lead something that has added value to your team/firm, that will be very important.
    You asked me to identify two schools from your list. You may want to go with three schools, one reach (HBS or Stanford, then choose one from the ones you have (k, Chicago, Columbia, T, etc) and I would add one more as a backup (possibly a Duke).

    All the best,
    Chioma
    Chioma@expartus.com
    CEO EXPARTUS

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Rob,

    There are multiple things being evaluated for the HBS (and many top schools). The key ones are:
    Fit: How would they fit into in our environment where they will be surrounded by very accomplished people? Will they coast, shrink or engage?
    Leadership potential/impact: Is this person someone who has the potential to lead? What exactly have they done? New examples to assess leadership/impact on others. Are you a lone ranger, in it for yourself or do you engage others and affect others? Ultimately they want to know if you are someone who is likely to make a real impact in the world? Schools don’t want to “waste” that spot on someone they think won’t make any real impact.
    Integrity: Is there a match between the application and the person in front of me? Are there discrepancies in the stories? Any flags that were raised by recommendations or the apps? They use the interview to vet that.
    Communication/interpersonal abilities: how will you cope in a case environment. Can you think analytically and defend your thesis? How will you handle conflict? Your ideas being challenged? Does this person have any issues or would they fit in section/study group and the school as a whole. Self awareness is also important to them.
    Goals: is it realistic yet aspirational? So whatever your rationale for the MBA, the question they are checking is whether the MBA is a rubber stamp or something you genuinely feel you need and it needs to make sense to them that you INDEED can benefit from the MBA for your goals.
    Other: anything else that is interesting, unique, quirky…that differentiates you from others from similar profiles.

    The bigger thing to keep in mind regarding the interviews is the following: how did the adcom feel about you/your brand after reading your application?
    In some cases, an applicant is a WOW (walks on water) and the interview confirms basically what is already felt about you; for others, there is great scepticism and the interviewer goes in to REALLY vet any of the issues raised by the previous application reviewers.

    Hope this helps.

    Chioma
    Chioma@expartus.com
    CEO EXPARTUS

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Manoj,

    If you are targeting top schools like HBS and Stanford, schools that have acceptance rates of 12% and 7% respectively, I would seriously consider taking time to put together the strongest application possible. A 3.4 AND 680 GMAT will not stand up to the academic scrutiny.

    You may want to map out a strategy for applying in two to three years where you can develop an excellent work profile (where you can showcase initiative, responsibility, and significant impact); on the side, continue to build the family portfolio as well as continuing to engage with the org that preps high school students but look for ways to take that involvement to the next level.

    If you decide to delay your application, you can take advantage of the EXPARTUS Early Start Program (email info@expartus.com) to learn more about that.

    When I reflect on 2+2 and other early career students who are being admitted, your profile is not currently as strong. You need to raise your GMAT significantly and you have to have something else that is differentiated and this could be a consistent track record of leadership and achievement. Improving this area will help you be successful when you apply. And finally, I would caution you not to apply with an attitude of “I’ll reapply if it doesn’t work out”. Very few people get in as reapplicants. It happens but the odds a significantly less for a reapplicant than a first time applicant for the most part. So take a step back and assemble the strongest profile then apply when you can present your strongest application.

    Cheers,
    Chioma
    Chioma@expartus.com
    CEO EXPARTUS

  • Vignesh Shanker

    Hi Chioma,

    I just took the GMAT and got a 660 (Quant – 46 and Verbal – 36). Though disappointed at not touching the 700 mark, I feel I have a shot at some of the US B schools. So instead of prep for a re-take, i’d be focusing on perfecting my essays. Have appended my profile below. Would be extremely grateful if you can give a list of B schools that I can apply to with the score I received. Thanks in advance!

    Nationality – Indian
    Background – Chartered Accountant
    Work Exp – 3.5 yrs – 3 with Ernst and Young and 6 months with a UAE Company based out of Dubai
    GPA – 3.6 (Majored in Commerce)
    Have good extra-curriculars and was the cultural secy of my college

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Mr. Filipino Banker,

    Glad you found The Best Business Schools’ Admissions Secrets helpful. Do take a minute to write your review on Amazon.

    Sorry to hear about the ding at HBS. Regarding your question on which recommenders to select, you are better served to choose recommenders who can attest to your work first and foremost. The CEO and VP could be great. The question for you is what would each say that can show complementary viewpoints about you? You don’t want recs that are duplication of each other. One may emphasize your deal experience, impact in your group, analytical skills, etc. The other can highlight your leadership potential, engagement with clients, etc.

    In general, however, schools do like to see some extracurricular involvement and more recent ones instead of old ones. Schools that ask for three recs should have one of them from a non work environment. You should try and re-engage with the former activity you were involved with from a couple of years ago. If it is two recommendations, then you should use two work ones since the extracurricular one is from the past.

    On a final note, do keep in mind that there are so many bankers in the pool and many aspiring PE people. Why should the adcom get excited about you in particular? The work experience of your startup IB isn’t going to jump out for the adcom unless there is something quite unsual with the experience. You may want to consider whether this year is the best time to apply. An average XCs and work experience that would raise questions may not be enough to give you the best edge in the application.

    All the best,

    Cheers,
    Chioma
    Chioma@expartus.com
    CEO EXPARTUS

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi PM,

    Thanks for your email. Semi conductor industry can be interesting, 690 is low, but 3.72, female in almost all male industry is ok. The work you do with SAHAN for mentally challenged students could be interesting in terms of some character differentiation (the bigger question they have is what did she do with this org, how did she transform/impact it?). What exactly is the cutting edge technology work you are doing and how have you distinguished yourself as the leading analyst in this space? If there is real evidence to back this up, can be quite solid in making a case to be taken seriously by the schools you have on your list. The question for you is connecting your experience to where you want to end up and looking at the schools on your list to see which ones have students going into that industry. Also review which firms recruit at those schools and see if some of the companies you want currently recruit at those schools.

    As for scholarships, many of these schools have scholarships that range from a few thousand dollars to possibly a full scholarship. They even have specific scholarships that target specific areas. For example the Ross MBA offers scholarship to students through their Tauber Institute for Gloobal Operations and programs like the Kelley School (Indiana) offer both need based and merit based scholarships.

    The GMAT is taken into account for merit based scholarships and isn’t the strongest so it could affect your chances for these scholarships so consider increasing it if possible.

    But if your whole application is strong, you could be in the running for some scholarships given the rest of the application.

    Best,

    Chioma
    Chioma@expartus.com
    CEO EXPARTUS

  • scgrad

    Hi Chioma,

    I have worked at PwC for the past 2 years in the assurance practice, and I also have my CPA. I graduated from a state school in the southeast with a GPA of 3.7. In addition, I also have my masters in accountancy. I recently took the gmat and scored a 700. My target schools are Darden, Columbia, NYU, and UNC. I wanted to see what you thought my chances were of admissions to these schools. I have heard that admissions committees do not necessarily look favorably on big 4 accounting experience. Any insight or advice would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

  • Matt

    Hi Chioma,

    Thanks for taking the time to do this. I really, really appreciate it. I thoroughly enjoyed your book and would love any insight you can give me. I’ll give you my background so you can have a little context before (hopefully) answering my specific questions.

    ***********************************************************
    BASICS/EDUATION
    •26 yo (at matriculation) Caucasian male
    •BA: Economics, Minor: Anthropology (mid-tier UC)
    •GPA – 3.88/4.00
    •GMAT – 730

    WORK
    •4 years (at matriculation) in financial services at a large custody bank
    •Selected to relocate cross-country for eight months to complete high-profile and prestigious assignment (converting business from legacy accounting platform to standard accounting platform)
    •Functionally, I will have worked in operations (fund accounting) for about nine months and project/business analysis for 3.25 years, receiving two promotions along the way (one of which was significantly earlier than usual).

    EXTRACURRICULARS
    •Will have served continuously as team captain in recreational basketball leagues for 1.5 years at time of application
    •Obtained company sponsorship for and organized multiple basketball teams to improve employee engagement and work-life balance (engaging 30+ employees)
    •Will have held a leadership role within a local community service organization for 1.5 years at time of application

    GOALS
    •Short-term: Strategy consulting at M/B/B
    •Long-term: VC/PE

    MISCELLANEOUS
    •First generation college graduate
    •Financed education by working full-time during college in a managerial capacity in retail (supervised 70+ employees)
    •Raised in single-parent household
    ***********************************************************

    My one generic question is this: am I competitive at H/S/W? I don’t need to hear specific percentages or anything – I just would like to know if I have a realistic shot. I also have a few other more unique (and interesting!) questions:
    1) Does being a first generation college graduate raised in a single-parent household help me at all? If so, is it an appreciable amount?
    2) I know I may get “points” for working FT while in UG, but is it worth mentioning anywhere the management experience I gained in a job I worked during UG? Would it be taboo to mention such work experience in an essay or would this type of experience be a good candidate for an optional essay?
    3) How much does company prestige really matter for admission at top schools? I have great experience as illustrated by increasing responsibility, high-profile projects, and promotions, but I don’t work at what’s normally considered a blue-chip firm.

    Thank you so, so much. I really appreciate what you’re doing here. Coming from my background, venturing down the MBA path has been a very solo endeavor, as I just don’t have a network of people who know anything about it.

  • Vasishta

    Hi Chioma,

    My GMAT score is 730(AWA: 6.0) and CGPA is 3.2. I did my undergraduation from Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (IIT Bombay) and also scored a high rank(81 among more than 4,00,000 students) in the prestigious IIT-JEE(the entrance exam to get an undergraduation from IITs).

    As far as work experience goes, I work at Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu (US-India) and will have a work ex of 2 yrs by summer, 2012. I am at the starting stages of my career in consulting and have proved myself to be good. But, I want to switch my career to Finance and in order to do so, I am writing my CFA Level 1 this December. I do not have any prior experience in Finance, other than a one month internship. Also, the results of CFA do not come out until Jan 2012 end. By that time, the round 2 applications for the universities close.

    I am planning to apply to the following schools:

    1. NYU Stern
    2. Virginia Darden
    3. Cornell (Johnson)
    4. Duke Fuqua
    5. UNC Kenan Flagler

    My extra curriculars are decent if not extraordinary.
    Could you let me know if I have a chance in any of these universities.

    P.S. I have a prior 2 month internship in MEMS at Cornell. Will that be of any help in my application to Cornell?

    Thank you in advance for helping me out.

    Regards,
    Vasishta

  • 2012App

    Hi Chioma,

    Just wanted to re-post this (originally posted 10/24/2011) as I never received a response:

    Thanks for your insight. I am wondering about my chances at schools such as Booth, Kellogg, Columbia, Ross.

    Age: 27

    GMAT: 730 (45V 45Q) – a little concerned with the low Q here (74th %ile when I took it, probably worse now)

    Undergrad: 3.38 GPA from a well-known liberal arts college – double major in Economics (3.0 gpa – low) and Mandarin (3.8 gpa) – graduated May, 2007. I also have a short alt. transcript w/ an A in Statistics from NYU SCPS and currently taking Calculus – planning an A as well.

    Work Exp: Approx 4 years financial compliance, first at two large asset management firms, currently at a top PE firm (think blackstone, kkr, carlyle). Originally was focusing on the worst/most unimpressive areas such as code of ethics (employee personal trading, compliance certifications); now working on legal/compliance aspects of due diligence process for deal teams, regulatory filings for IPOs/secondaries, etc. Should be able to get excellent recs from manager and other senior members of team.

    ECs: moderate involvement with a well-known NY-based charity group. light involvement with alumni association. Overall nothing amazing up to this point. Recently began volunteering at an organization that assists Chinese immigrants seeking US citizenship in practicing for their oral interview, as well as their English conversation skills in general – there looks to be a leadership opp. here so I will be pursuing over the next year.

    Personal: International background (grew up between Japan and the US). Fluent in Japanese.

    Why B-School: transition out of a cost-center into a profit-center. Interested in ibanking.

    Note: I applied to schools the schools listed above last year and didnt get in any. Straight dings from CBS/Kellogg. Was WL’d for Booth from R1 until end of August, and Ross from R2 until end of August.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi SCGrd,

    There are a good number of accountants at leading business schools so don’t assume you are disadvantaged as an accountant applicant. You have to focus on what you will offer the schools beyond just your resume. While the schools see a good dose of accountant applicants, the deciding factor to whether one gets in or not is showing that there is more to you than your professional experience. Capitalize on the impact you’ve had professionally, but also diversify your stories to show something interesting about you—it could be your activities outside of work, life experiences, etc….key is to show that you are interesting and not just counting on being a CPA. Also be clear on what it is you want to do and connect the dots of how Darden, Columbia or any school you are targeting will specifically help you achieve that goal.

    The schools you have highlighted seems reasonable. It comes down to what else you’ve got going for you besides the job.

    All the best,

    Chioma
    Chioma@expartus.com
    CEO EXPARTUS

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Matt,

    Here are my specific responses to each of your questions.

    My one generic question is this: am I competitive at H/S/W? I don’t need to hear specific percentages or anything – I just would like to know if I have a realistic shot. I also have a few other more unique (and interesting!) questions:
    1) Does being a first generation college graduate raised in a single-parent household help me at all? If so, is it an appreciable amount?
    Schools like to understand the context from which applicants come from. If you have had less opportunities and you have faced significant challenges and created opportunities for yourself, it is a plus as it reveals character, drive, etc. So it doesn’t hurt you but if positioned well can be a plus. I can’t say exactly what the % benefit will be but key is to walk a fine line and not over stress it as it then feels like you are looking for brownie points.
    2) I know I may get “points” for working FT while in UG, but is it worth mentioning anywhere the management experience I gained in a job I worked during UG? Would it be taboo to mention such work experience in an essay or would this type of experience be a good candidate for an optional essay? Working while in undergrad is also a plus if it is meaningful experience. The board would want to understand how those early experiences shaped you and how you were able to leverage them for greater success. If you can connect the dots for them to show the impact that had on you, your leadership/management abilities, etc,–that would be great.
    3) How much does company prestige really matter for admission at top schools? I have great experience as illustrated by increasing responsibility, high-profile projects, and promotions, but I don’t work at what’s normally considered a blue-chip firm.
    Blue chip can help from the standpoint of communicating to the adcom that you have already been vetted by a company they hold in high regard and that you have thrived there already. If you are coming from a lesser known environment, it is critical to show that you can hold your own with people who have the blue chip credentials, show that you think globally, and that you are not too much like a “SMALL PONDER—SOMEONE WHO HAS DONE WELL BUT IN FAIRLY LOCAL/SMALLER CONTEXTS”.
    So if you have worked abroad, highlight that. If the projects you have done have significant reach/implications for the company, stress those as well. And equally important is demonstrating with clear evidence that you are a natural leader and have consistently lead in each place you have been.

    Hope this helps, and all the best!

    Chioma
    Chioma@expartus.com
    CEO EXPARTUS

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Vasishta,

    If you had the CFA or at least parts of it under the belt, it will help you make a stronger case for wanting to move into Finance. The good news is that you are looking to transition from consulting to finance–a realistic leap. You have to make sure you show that your work experience in consulting is impressive and that you have attained success in your current place of employment (current success would suggest you will replicate that success track record elsewhere).

    So yes, the schools you have are realistic options for you. I’m not sure how Cornell will view your earlier engagement with them. It won’t hurt but possibly could help.

    Make sure that the recommendations are really strong with specific examples to highlight your quantitative and analytical abilities. if one of the recommender is a mentor/aware of your interest in making a career change, be sure to have them talk to this in the recommendation.

    Best,

    Chioma
    Chioma@expartus.com
    CEO EXPARTUS

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Dear 2012 App,

    Sorry I missed your earlier post. I can’t speak specifically about your chance of admission without knowing what else you have going on that you can share about yourself to differentiate yourself from your competition. The issue that I see is that going from back office to front office role can be quite tough and individuals who are able to successfully spin that story usually have something else quite impressive about them besides their resume. Without know all the information you are working with, it’s hard to predict how things will go with the programs you have highlighted, especially as a reapplicant. You may have to widen your list of schools to include a few schools that admit a larger percentage of their class to hedge your bet.

    I’m happy to speak offline with you to better understand other facets of your profile.

    Best,
    Chioma

    Chioma@expartus.com
    CEO EXPARTUS

  • 2012App

    Chioma, many thanks for your response.

    Just a bit curious here, what additional information could I provide? Reading over a number of previous requests, I believe I listed most/all of the information that corresponds to the more detailed posts (ECs, personal background, language skills in addition to the standard stats).

    Is coming from a back-office role that much of a disadvantage (despite a relatively strong numbers, etc)? Does applying as a re-applicant also put you at a disadvantage?

  • Matt

    Thank you so much, Chioma. That was incredibly helpful!

  • Holland

    Demographics: 28 (at time of matriculation), Caucasian, male, 1st gen college graduate.
    GMAT: 710
    Education:
    -3.5 gpa in International Relations from a top-10 public university (graduated in 2.5 years)
    -Worked part-time in a leadership position over other students for 2 years.
    -Elected to student government position
    -President, Model European Union
    -3.9 gpa in a Top-10 public policy masters program, with a focus on economic policy (coursework in econ, statistics, and econometrics)

    Internships:
    9 month internship with a boutique consulting firm.
    1 year position as a research assistant at a research center focusing on government management strategy.
    1 year internship with a federal agency (position required a bachelors degree).

    Work Experience:
    3 years at a public sector consulting firm, with a promotion to an MBA level position (Been there for only 1 year, just promoted, but I don’t plan to apply till next year).

    Extras:
    -2 year missionary for LDS church in Las Vegas.
    -Volunteer consultant for multiple nonprofits and local library, helping with strategy and operations.
    -Volunteer with habitat for humanity

    Goals: I originally thought I wanted to work for the government, but realized I didn’t enjoy that as much (at least at the entry level), while interning there. Public Sector consulting has been much more challenging and rewarding. Post MBA, I would like to get into MBB, eventually working in their public sector practice area.

    Longer term, I would like to switch to an executive level position within the government.

    Targets:
    Harvard
    Wharton
    Kellog
    CBS
    Tuck
    Darden
    Yale
    Georgetown

  • Jengineering

    Hi Chioma,

    I’m an undergraduate senior at a top public university in the US, studying Mechanical Engineering. I’m probably going to end up taking an engineering position in the Oil/Energy industry after graduation, but I have my eyes set on attending business school down the line.

    Looking online, I see a lot of websites saying how the top feeder companies into top business schools are all business companies (consulting, banking, etc.) and was wondering what an engineer can do to be the best candidate for a top business school (bsides GPA, GMAT). I was thinking after understanding the business as an engineer, I would transfer to the business strategy side of the company to get a better holistic vantage point of a career.

    I also hold an offer to pursue an IT consulting position with Accenture, in which I dont know which would be the best pathway to eventually get into business school.

    Any advice for an engineer looking to go to grad school as well advice for whether IT consulting or Engineering would the best bet would be greatly appreciated.

    thank you!

  • Go Joe

    Hi Chioma Isiadinso,

    First off, Thank you for taking the time to answer the hundreds of questions posted. I dont really have a question just need advice. I applied to Ross Business School round 1 and was one of the first to be interviewed. I am sure that I did not blow the interview yet I do not think I nailed it.

    What should I do now? I am turning into a nervous wreck!

    Sincerely,
    Go Joe

  • Andrea

    Hi Chioma,

    Quick question: is it a bad idea to put my SAT scores on my resume while applying? (I’m a college senior.

    Thanks!

  • Sneeze

    Hi Chioma,

    I have a 730 GMAT score (49 Quant, 40 Verbal) and a 3.2 GPA from Univ. of Michigan. I did Teach For America for two years, held leadership positions within TFA, created my own social change program to help my students, and concurrently got my Masters in Education from the Univ. of Miami and had a 3.8 GPA. I am now the Asst Operations Manager for a national limo company and am doing very well. My end goal is to combine my passions of sports and education to become an Athletic Director of a major university and want my MBA in order to grow my leadership skills as well as enhance my knowledge of the financial and managerial aspects of being an A.D. I have done a lot of volunteer work in the past and was the captain on the Michigan volleyball team.

    I am applying to:
    Northwestern
    UC Berkeley
    Texas
    Yale
    UCLA
    USC

    Please let me know what you think! Thanks!

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi 2012 App,

    What I was referring to is if you are applying as a re-applicant, your admission chances will be based on things like what else you bring to the table that is different from what you had in your profile before. If it is essentially the same profile, the outcome will likely be a rejected application. Getting admitted to a top school the second time around isn’t easy but can be done for some people depending on what the weaknesses were in the first place.

    Schools don’t like to see academic record with less than average GPA. That combined with a big career shift of back to front office will make it very tough to get admitted at top 10 schools. Rethink long term goals, build stronger leadership story possibly from outside of work and consider broadening school list with a mix of new schools and some as reapplications.

    Hope this helps.

    Chioma

    Chioma@expartus.com
    EXPARTUS CEO

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Matt,
    You are welcome. Glad it was helpful. I enjoy addressing the questions applicants have as the go through the app process.

    Chioma
    Chioma@expartus.com
    EXPARTUS CEO

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Holland,

    Academically, you can think of your profile as being within the ball park, though the GMAT could be a bit higher (3.5/710). Early promo at public sector consulting is plus and if you follow that up with excellent work track record, interesting projects where you have real involvement/even leadership that you can point to, that would help. Plan to build strong relationships beyond your immediate supervisor so you get one rec from a really senior person at firm who understands your brand and champions your candidacy….

    Schools would want to understand why you graduated in 2.5 years? Your working a lot part time could be somewhat interesting especially in the context of first gen college profile…

    You will need to convince the adcom on your passion for public sector consulting and the REAL difference you can achieve in that space…make sure to avoid sending any messages about ambivalence about working in the government sector given that this is what you eventually want to do. The big question a board member would have to be convinced on is why not go to a program like SAIS, The Kennedy School of Govt, etc.

    Eight schools seem like a lot to me. You should be able to get into one of six schools.

    Hope this helps and all the best.

    Chioma@expartus.com
    EXPARTUS CEO

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi JEngineering,

    Thanks for your question. My immediate reaction to a question like yours is to follow your heart. If your passion is IT consulting, then you should follow that. If it is as an engineer in the Oil/Energy industry, then go for that. Without knowing much about you, I would recommend your thinking about questions like these: What skills would working for an Oil/Energy company give you? Would you like to lead such a company in the future? Are you passionate about the energy industry? Are you interested in information technology and dealing with many companies and seeing the IT needs/challenges/etc….
    The important thing is to keep your long term goal in mind. Where do you wish to end up career-wise and start from that point and then work backwards towards the steps you will need to take to get there. Remember that the MBA is only the bridge to your goal.

    I know that MBA programs do like engineers. You come with rigorous quantitative thinking, great problem solving skills, etc. So academically, you can be attractive. What you now will need to do is show that you are also able to make a difference on teams that you are part of, that you can step up and lead. I touch on this in a chapter in my book, The Best Business Schools’ Admissions Secrets. Schools like engineers but there are also concerned that engineers can be too narrow in their skill set, may not have the bigger picture in mind. Going from an engineer to biz strategy role does make sense in terms of diversifying your skills and showing that you will bring a broad view point versus a narrow view point which can be a concern some may have of an engineer candidate.

    And don’t forget to have fun, do the things you love (whether it’s playing your guitar, charity, or whatever it is that brings joy to your life). And along the way always ask yourself whether you are seizing every opportunity to improve/impact where you are (whether it’s a person, your team, your social community).

    Best,
    Chioma@expartus.com
    EXPARTUS CEO

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Go Joe,

    Congrats on making it to the interview stage at Ross. One of the hardest part of the application is the waiting process. Try to stay busy and keep your mind off of it. I know, easier said than done!

    I hope you receive great news soon.

    Chioma
    Chioma@expartus.com
    EXPARTUS CEO

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Andrea,

    As a college senior applying, I don’t think it hurts you to put your SAT score on your resume. I think it is inappropriate for individuals who have been working for a while to do so. Fine for you to do so.

    All the best and hope it works out.

    Chioma
    Chioma@expartus.com
    EXPARTUS CEO

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Sneeze,

    Schools do like Teach for America people, Peace Corps folks, etc. But I suspect they will find your story a bit confusing : TFA, then Masters in Education then Ops Mnger for Limo service co, then now a MBA to become an Athletic Director?

    I don’t know much about Athletic Directors but I suspect many of them are successful without a MBA degree. Maybe I’m wrong on this but just given the small number of Athletic Directors I’ve met, I find that many have come from a coaching background…but you probably know more about this.

    In any case, you will need to overcome the perception that you are still trying to figure out what you want to do long term versus a perception that you have a clear objective that you are working towards. Make sure to clarify that before embarking on an expensive degree.

    All the best!

    Chioma
    Chioma@expartus.com
    EXPARTUS CEO

  • Matt

    Hi Chioma,

    I’m currently a Mechanical Engineering junior at a mid-tier public university.
    My current GPA is 3.97, and I expect it to remain at that level through graduation.
    I scored a 690 on my first practice GMAT, and anticipate this to rise significantly once I prepare for the exam. My goal is to bring it up to a 740.
    I will have 2 full-time summer internships, one design-based and one manufacturing, as well as two years of a part-time engineering internship when I graduate.
    I have also been highly involved on- and off-campus, including leadership positions within my fraternity, peer tutoring, community service, etc.

    In your opinion, what would my chances be in applying to a program such as Harvard 2+2, Kellog MMM, MIT LGO (in a few years)? I’m also looking at Indiana (Accelerated Admission), SMU (Accelerated Admission) and Cornell. Is there anything I can do in my remaining time at the university to improve my chances?

    Thanks for your time!

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Matt,

    The biggest question to answer for the admission board is why now makes sense for you to apply. Given the competitive nature of the 2+2 program, you would have to have exceptional leadership examples to share in your essays as well as a well-articulated career plan that makes sense to the board.

    If you land the 740 and with nearly a 4.0 you will be competitive for all the programs you identified on the academic assessment. It will come down to what else you have going on your story

    Maintain your strong academic records and continue to develop your leadership by taking on challenges and looking for ways to stretch yourself beyond your comfort zone. I’m not clear what you want to do long term but I recommend working and getting some exposure to your career beyond the internships.

    All the best,

    Chioma
    Chioma@expartus.com
    EXPARTUS CEO

  • Kris

    I’ve been a bit of a procrastinator and now have less than a month to start and finish my business school applications. Lots to do!!

    My question is should I take the time and effort to take the GMAT again? I took it for the first time a month ago and got a 710, 42Q 48V.

    Here is my profile —
    – 7 years work experience
    – 2.85 GPA (I know it hurts) from top 15 US university
    – 710 GMAT
    – 3.5 years a top tier investment bank
    – 3 years at international not-for-profit, including 2 years in very selective organization
    – Extensive international experience, including countries some people wouldn’t go to if you paid them
    – Black female American
    – Goal school: Stanford, Harvard, MIT (like all of us!)

  • Mexican

    Hi Chioma!

    I am about to finish my applications for MIT/Harvard/Stanford/Chicago. Since the end of the 2nd Round at Cornell is until January 25, I will probably sumbit an application there too.

    I have a 3.6 GPA, 110 Toefl IBT and 700 GMAT (25 years old; born, raised, worked and educated mainly in Mexico). I have a three year work experience in a well-known (Mexican leader) manufacturer of house-cleaning products. I entered as an analyst of manufacturing processes and have been promoted twice during this time. I am now in charge (leadership position, reporting to the Board of Directors) of the Marketing Statistical Information (moved from Manufacture to Marketing), and give advice on the price range each product must have at point of sale.

    I have a bachelor degree in Economics from a top (mexican) private school, and a bachelor degree in Management from a School of Commerce in France (I am fluent in Italian, Spanish, French, and English). My extra curricular activities include giving English classes to children and adults (for a year) in an Extension Department at the same school where I earned my B.A. in Economics. I have also been writing an editorial for a weekly-local newspaper for seven years.

    In the summer of 2006 I went to Yale (invited) as part of an excellence program while studying Economics. I took 2 math undergraduate courses and did great (A on both). In the summer of 2007 I went to UC Berkeley and repeated what I did the previous summer, this time with 2 courses focusing in economics.

    Bottom line question is: What do you think my chances are at the schools that I mentioned? Current and previous supervisors have done (I think) a very decent job in writing some of my recommendation letters.

    Thanks in advance!

  • HopefulinAK

    Hi Chioma,
    Thanks so much for weighing in on all these questions. Reading the Q&A is extremely helpful.

    I have two questions:

    1) Am I competitive at top-ten programs with a 720 GMAT overall if the Q percentile is 64% but I have a 99% V score? I know Q typically counts more. I have 5+ years of high level public sector experience working on multi-million issues including management and leadership experience and unusual extracurriculars including climbing Denali, extensive volunteer work etc. I also have a MS in Economics. Both undergrad and grad are from U. of Alaska.

    2) I am planning to apply to a large number of schools and don’t think my recommenders will want to write 8-10 different recommendations. I have read several places that schools will often accept a “universal” letter of recommendation that touches on the major points but doesn’t necessarilly correspond exactly to their specific questions. I assume this could be a liability, but I am going to have difficulty getting recommendations to more than three schools due to how busy my supervisor is at this time. What are your thoughts on a “universal” LOR?

  • Top10_2012

    Hello Chioma,

    In your opinion, do top b-schools view candidates with kids favorably or unfavorably? I know they cannot discriminate against familial status and they don’t ask about it anywhere in the application. But I feel that with the push towards younger students by top schools (I will have just turned 30 at matriculation), that b-schools may feel that either it won’t be easy for me to mesh with students and/or that I may not be able to contribute as much to the school outside the classroom due to family responsibilities, which is logical to think….and I know they really want students to get involved.

    At the same time, it may help the application as well if adcom realizes that I’ve accomplished what I have while also raising a child who will be 3yrs old next Fall.

    Thank you!

  • MW

    Trying to determine whether or not I have a good chance of getting in to Harvard, background is: 3 years @ Bain, 1 year managing a large scale project for Canada’s largest health charity, dean’s list undergrad from Canada’s top undergraduate business program, 770 GMAT. Getting heavy hitters for references at Harvard would be a challenge. I’ll be sponsored by Bain and return there after.

    Current leading plan is Kellogg 1Y.

    Thoughts?

  • MrSurfer

    Hi Chioma,

    Thank you for helping us applicants in this sometimes frustrating process of selecting the right MBA program. Especially in my case! With a not so impressive GMAT score, but with some interesting professional experiences and clear reasons for pursuing an MBA at this point in my career.

    Here’s my profile, hope you can provide me with some advice about which programs I should consider on applying to, and where I would have realistic expectations of being accepted.

    -Mexican, Male, 28
    -610 GMAT (36Q, 37V and 5.0 AWA)
    -95/100 GPA
    -Undergraduate Degree in International Commerce from a good Mexican University(Worked full-time while attending college to help my mom cover my expenses)
    -Captain of the school’s soccer team during my senior year (midfielder)
    -Soccer coach for a team of unprivileged kids
    -First generation college graduate
    -Raised by single parent
    -2 years as a Consultant in International Trade at Big 4 firm (promoted twice)
    -Decided that it was too early in my career to work in such a specific field (international trade) and decided to accept an 18 month internship abroad (US) in Sales Strategy with a big transportation company to broaden my experience in business and acquire international exposure
    -Currently working as Brand and Proposal Manager for the workplace consulting practice of a leader in the furniture industry, very involved in the research of the future of work and workers, generations at work, etc. (very senior and international team)
    -My goal in the short term is to complete the career change I started on my own a few years ago, and transition into strategy and marketing
    -Long term goal is to specialize in small and medium enterprises to help develop the economy of the southwestern region of Mexico, which is where I am from

    Thank you in advance for your feedback!

  • 2012 Hopeful

    Hi Chioma,

    I was wondering what your thoughts were on the CFA and how favorably it is viewed by MBA schools for someone who is interested in getting into investment management post-MBA. Specifically, how valuable is passing all three levels of the CFA on the first attempt to top 15 MBA schools? I understand that this would only be a small part of someone’s profile, but I was just wondering what your thoughts were.

    Thanks in advance!

  • Top10_2012

    Hello Chioma,

    Another Q: What I want to do now and what I’ve wanted to do for a long time is related to 3rd world economic development. However, due to me thinking I had to have an MBA to be able to do this and because I needed to stay local after graduation from undergrad and also due to financial burdens (supporting family, etc.), I pursued entrepreneurial ventures that are nothing related to that (mostly retail). Nor do I have any comm service to back that up.

    Now that I’m writing my essays, should I write them about how I want to get back into retail and excel after my MBA, maybe starting with stint at a large retailer and then doing something on my own….to match up with my career progress so far? Or do I tell them the truth that I want to get into 3rd world economic development through business ventures in specific countries…for which I need to get a MBA? I realize I’ll need to explain how I now intend to support family and be able to travel, etc.

    One is true and maybe i can sound a bit more passionate about it, but the other is more realistic based on my progress and I can probably talk about it passionately as well because I’m into it and know a lot about the industry now.

    I realize either story is somewhat unique, with the 3rd world econ dev part being more altruistic….which is what top schools want to hear, but then i don’t want them thinking that they want to hear this and that’s why I’m telling them this is my goal.

    Thank you!

  • Top10_2012

    clarifying my question above: they’re both potentially true scenarios, as I can do the retail stint and lead the retailer to doing business in developing economies. Almost all multi-national retailers are interested in tapping into the rising middle class in such places anyway, if they’re not already there!

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/dylanc/ dylanc

    Hi Chioma,

    Firstly, thanks a ton for taking time out to respond to our questions.
    I wanted to know if in the application it ok to say that your interested in career transitioning but you have 2 options in mind. i..e let’s say primary career interest is investment banking, but also interested in the education sector. Would this come across as indecisive, given that the 2 areas are quite different.

  • SeanP

    Hi Chioma,

    I was curious to know what extent admissions staff consider the criminal history. I was young and immature in undergrad and unfortunately was charged with underage drinking multiple times. Is this something I should be seriously concerned about as they were misdemeanors? Do I need to address this in the optional essays? Thanks for your time!

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Kris,

    I’m sure you are not the only procrastinator applicant out there! But you are right, a month isn’t much time to get the application done—expect little sleep and lots of writing/re-writing.

    Regarding your question, the 2.85 GPA definitely hurts. But you can’t do too much about that now. The important thing is to address it somewhere in your application, take ownership of what happened and focus on what you are now doing that shows maturity, focus, etc.

    The work exp in international nonprofit and banking seems like an interesting mix…the question to answer is how the experience fit in with where you want to end up career-wise. Also the impact in both settings will be key to whether you get a shot at schools like S/H/MIT. If you have some phenomenal leadership, that would go some way in offsetting some of the academic record especially since you have been out of school for 7 years. Why now also may weigh on the minds of HBS and Stanford so make sure you are crystal clear on what is drawing you to an MBA and why you want to go now.

    All the best!

    Chioma
    Chioma@expartus.com
    EXPARTUS CEO

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hello Mexican,

    Academically, you are admissible to the schools you highlighted. But as you know, the academic component is only part of the assessment. While some schools say no one factor is more important, I believe that the work experience is the foundation of whether a candidate gets in or not. If the work is compelling, then the next question is whether they can handle the academics, then finally, what else are they bringing to the table….

    With regards to your work experience, the board would look closely at what kind of company (house cleaning products manufacturer—how big is it? number of people, market size, is this a small mom/pop shop or bigger platform? If a smaller shop and not well known, it may be less attractive to them. You will then have to show them something else that is impressive in the overall profile to continue to engage their interest. For companies that are not as well known, applicants need to be aggressive in educating the adcom so they don’t make their own assumptions about them.

    They would probably like the cultural diversity/multilingual profile—shows a global outlook (the commerce degree in France is a plus also).

    They will care less about the summer programs you did.

    Chioma
    Chioma@expartus.com
    EXPARTUS CEO

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi HopefulinAK

    Thanks for your questions.

    You asked about whether you are competitive with a 720 GMAT (low Q 65%/V 99%) as a public sector applicant. The short answer is yes, you could still gain admission to a top 10 MBA program despite a low Q. We have had clients overcome a low quant score but it depends on what else you have going on. The Econ MS could help you but will depend on how well you did. Also will come down to how strong the undergrad performance was. If strong, then it helps take the edge off the below average Q score. You are also more than your GMAT so the school would really look at the different perspective you would bring, plus the trajectory of your work experience in the government sector. It sounds like you have some solid leadership experiences to draw from so that will definitely help.

    Regarding your second question about universal letters of recommendations, I say STAY AWAY FROM THEM. Recommendations are very important and the schools are all different with different nuanced traits that they look for in candidates and it is important to take the time to address each recommendation questions instead of a generic response.

    I would also encourage you to not apply to 10 schools—way too many. You can choose yours schools strategically and should be able to pick 6 schools that will yield at least one admit offer. Happy to speak offline if that helps.

    Chioma
    Chioma@expartus.com
    EXPARTUS CEO

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Top 10 2012

    Schools do not discriminate against applicants with kids and are basically indifferent to whether an applicant is married or has children, etc. On the issue of sharing your accomplishment in the context of raising a 3 year old, it is a personal decision that only you can make. You have to ask yourself exactly what bearing it has in the context of business school. From my time on the admissions board, I have to confess that must essays around significant other or responsibility of child rearing were not home runs. In some rare instances, however, I came across some moving stories that provided interesting insights about the applicant. I’m a mom of two kids under 5 with the younger one only a few months old so I can relate. But judge carefully what exactly the topic will reveal about you, your leadership potential and the MBA context.

    Take care!

    Chioma
    Chioma@expartus.com
    EXPARTUS CEO

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi MW,

    The profile is strong. But I’m sure you will note in many of my previous posts that often applicants have all the necessary materials but they end up not getting admitted. Bain (+sponsorship), Canada charity, excellent academics all point to probable admit if you play all your cards right. It will come down to your essays, how you interview, and what the recs say about you.

    All the best.

    Chioma
    Chioma@expartus.com
    EXPARTUS CEO

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi MrSurfer

    Thanks for your question. Hang in there and don’t allow your frustrating GMAT to deter you!

    Your work story is interesting and the adcom will like that you left your country to work in a new environment. They would want to understand what you are currently doing and how it fits with your plans to work in small/medium biz in Mexico. I think you should widen your list to beyond top 15 schools given the GMAT. Consider programs like UT Austin (McCombs), UNC (Kenan-Flagler) and Indiana (Kelley).

    Chioma
    Chioma@expartus.com
    EXPARTUS CEO

  • Teeyah

    Chioma,

    thanks for taking the time to answer questions. I would really appreciate some feedback on my application. I am interested in a JD/MBA. Stats shown below.

    GRE 650V/780 Math (92/89 percentile respectively)
    GPA: 3.6 mechanical engineering from top engineering Ivy
    Work: 2.5 years experience at major oil company (Exxon, Shell , ConocoPhillips etc)
    EC: Leadership position throughout college. Initiated several projects in developing countries (raised close to $100K to support projects)
    Goal: To move back to native African country (US citizen) assist with developing framework to support safe and reliable Oil production and operations in general. Would like to transition into a government role later in my career.

    Story: I applied and got accepted into Harvard Law School and deferred admission to partly assist in organizing oil lectures at major university in African country of interest. Lectured on different topics within the industry and I have sinced gained a different perspective and would like to pursue a joint JD/MBA at Harvard. I was wondering what your experience was like with JD/MBA applicants and how my profile matches up to Harvard. I am really passionate about both degrees and if I knew what I know now, I would have applied to a variety of JD/MBA programs at the top schools. It really seems I have only one option now since I have already committed to attending HLS and really excited about that but I am really nervous about being rejected at HBS. Any tips on how to present my case for both degrees? Thanks a lot

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi 2012 Hopeful,

    The CFA is viewed favorably for individuals who are interested in investment management. It’s a tough exam and passing all three levels shows dedication. It matters less for schools that are not huge finance schools, though.

    Hope that helps.

    Chioma
    Chioma@expartus.com
    EXPARTUS CEO

  • Top10_2012

    Thank you Chioma for your response. I understand your response about the kids issue. There’s no way I’m going to make an essay out of it because I don’t have anything significant to say about it, except that is a lot of work of course. But I thought I might mention it in the passing at least because being a father has changed me significantly and it does leave even less time for extracurriculars, but like you said….at the end of the day I have to relate it to the MBA.

    I didn’t know schools were even allowed to ask but apparently some ask right upfront in the personal info section of the application. I’m worried about mentioning it and it affecting my application negatively due to a perceived limited leadership “potential” due to the additional responsibility.

    Great book by the way (“Best Business School Admission Secrets”), one of the must-reads for MBA hopefuls.

  • GOBOLTS

    Hello Chioma,

    I was hoping that you could provide advice on how to deal with being put on the waitlist. I’m currently on the waitlist at Chicago Booth, which is my top choice. The school seems more open to communication from waitlisted candidates than most schools. In fact, Chicago Booth is letting waitlisted candidates create a video of no more than 90 seconds this year giving them additional information. Any guidance you can provide is greatly appreciated.

  • Enlisted Vet Eyes Ivies

    Hello Chioma,

    Thank you for the valuable service you provide. It helps to have an objective voice amidst the storm of opinions. I am a US Army veteran looking to transition into business, and would appreciate your feedback.

    GMAT: 730 (Q47, V44)
    GPA: 4.0 from public, non-profit, distance-learning college; also studied abroad in China
    Work: 5+ years in US Army & Reserve, 2+ years in leadership roles
    Extras: fluent in Chinese, volunteer medic for Special Olympics, sponsor of a child in India, belong to two professional organizations
    Goal: General Management, possibly in China

    Schools:
    Dartmouth
    Harvard
    Wharton
    Yale

  • ThanksChioma

    Hi Chioma,

    Thanks again for answering my earlier question. I just have one follow up question for you: how do you feel top-10 schools view experience within a custody bank? I’ve heard they don’t think highly of them, but I hold a strategic position and have multiple promotions under my belt. Ultimately, I’m trying to find out if I can get into a top school from where I am now or if I need to consider transitioning into a different firm, so any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Happy Holidays!

  • HopefulinAK

    Thanks so much for the good advice!

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/dylanc/ dylanc

    Hi Chioma,

    I am an interested applicant interested in a post MBA transition to finance from HR. While I am keen on applying to Ross, Duke and Darden, I have been advised by friends to also look at schools from among Columbia, Wharton, Stern and Booth. I believe I have a competitive GMAT score (730), but a low GPA (around 2.8). My experience at the time of joining the course will be over 6 years. In your view will experience in a field like HR which is relatively uncommon coupled with a strong SOP help offset the low GPA.

    Currently I am planning to apply to 1 reach- Stern, Ross, Duke, Darden and 1 safe school. Is this an advisable selection or do I need chose more safe schools.

  • InternationalGuy

    Hi Chioma, I was wondering if you’d be able to provide some perspective on my background and level of competitiveness for admission to top MBA programs. I’ve put a profile of myself below followed by several questions.

    Demographics: 28, Asian-American male
    GRE: 1500 (710V / 790Q / 4.0AWA)
    Languages: advanced Spanish, high intermediate Italian, intermediate Korean
    Undergrad: 3.40 from Rutgers Business School, majors in accounting and economics. Extracurriculars included work study jobs, internships with major companies, and a year with the Rutgers club volleyball team.
    First job (2005-08): public accountant at Deloitte. 2.5 years.
    CPA: passed exams in 2005-06, obtained license in 2007
    Volunteer experience (summer 2007): volunteer English teacher in rural village in Costa Rica
    Grad school (2008-10): 3.44 from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced Int’l Studies (SAIS); Master of Arts, international relations and international economics. One year study abroad in Italy. Extracurriculars included membership on a student government committee.
    Internship (summer 2009): improving management policies in the microfinance department of an NGO in Paraguay
    Internship (fall 2009): research intern at Washington, D.C. think tank
    Second job (2010-12): emerging markets analyst at small research firm in City of London. Do political and economic analysis plus economic forecasting of emerging markets, write articles and reports, participate in client meetings, and respond to media inquiries. 1.5 years experience.
    CFA: passed Level I exam in June 2011, sitting for Level II in June 2012
    Current extracurriculars: preparing for CFA and writing first novel

    My goal is to work at the intersection of emerging markets, finance, and entrepreneurship/strategy – whether through consulting, private equity-type work/banking, or general management. I’ve applied to only two schools so far. I’ve been admitted to the IE Business School Int’l MBA program in Spain, and I’m awaiting decision for Fulbright scholarship. I’m also waiting to hear from HBS, and considering MIT. My choice of schools is really focused on the strength of the entrepreneurship program, which is my intended focus.

    My questions are:
    1. My resume doesn’t seem to have any real wow factor in terms of full-time experience. While Deloitte is a recognized name, I feel like public accounting doesn’t compare to an entry-level position in consulting or banking. Plus, my post-MA experience is at a small firm without much brand recognition. How much will this hurt my chances of getting in?
    2. I’ve tried to brand myself as a person with a variety of international experiences and a macro (IR/economics) background seeking to build up my micro-level analytical skills. How competitive would I be for entrepreneurship, given that I have no practical experience starting my own firm?
    3. I would really like to attend a school with a great reputation both in the US and abroad (because I want to be able to find a good job in any part of the world). I feel like IE would be fine for abroad, but I wonder how reputable and valuable it is in the US. On the other hand, I think MIT would be very reputable in the US, but maybe not as much abroad. What are you thoughts?
    4. Would you advise me to
    – apply to any other schools?
    – shoot somewhere below HBS and MIT?

    Thanks so much for the insights you provide to MBA applicants on P&Q!

  • Slowburnz

    Hi Chioma,

    I have a question about how performance at work is evaluated. Do adcoms do research into prior jobs beyond what is in your recommendations? Is a bad experience at a previous job a deal-breaker (this job is with a ‘top’ firm that would otherwise be a big draw to adcoms)?

    I’m considering leaving early for another job, would someone call to find out i left on “bad terms”?

  • Santosh Halemani

    (I am posting again because I had posted this in a wrong place)
    Hi Chioma,
    First, Happy new year!
    I have a question on choosing schools. This post will help a lot of guys and gals who are in similar state.
    Here is my profile. I am from India. Profile is not that awesome but I want to start in Fall 2012. Time is less.
    I want to do General Management. Also, want to study how things work in Consulting and entrepreneurship.
    Work ex: 40 months(Software Development+Technical support at IBM India)
    I have decent extra curr. GPA is good 3.5. Age: 27
    Kinda low GMAT: 650
    I cant afford the top schools. And I am not too optimistc on the scholarships considering my “profile”.
    Please tell me how good are the schools ranked high on ‘value for money’ on ft.com.
    Here is my affordable schools list. Its big list but please pick help me in narrowing it down.
    I can afford a maximum of 90000 USD. Including living and other expenses. I have choosen some 120K schools on hope of scholarships!

    1. Illinois Urbana( applying)
    2. Texas A & M University: Mays
    3. University of Florida: Hough
    4. University of Iowa: Tippie
    5. University of Georgia: Terry
    6. Brigham Young University: Marriott
    7. Wisconsin School of Business: Madison
    8. College of William and Mary: Mason
    9. Arizona State University: Carey
    10. Pennsylvania State University: Smeal
    11. Purdue University: Krannert
    12. Thunderbird School of Global Management
    13. University of California at Irvine: Merage(120K expense)
    14. University of South Carolina: Moore(120K expense)
    15. Boston College: Carroll
    16. University of Rochester: Simon
    17. Indiana University: Kelley(120K expense)
    18. University of Texas at Austin: McCombs(120K expense)
    19. Wake Forest University: Babcock
    20. Pepperdine University: Graziadio
    21. University of Maryland: Smith(130K)
    22. Boston University School of Management(120K)
    23. Vanderbilt University: Owen
    24. University of Notre Dame: Mendoza(120K)
    25. Emory University: Goizueta(120K)
    26. SMU: Cox
    27. Michigan State University (Broad)(120K)
    28. Tulane University (Freeman)
    29.Washington University – St. Louis (Olin)
    30. Case Western Reserve University (Weatherhead)
    31. George Washington University(120K)
    32. University of Pittsburgh (Katz)
    33. Rutgers University – Newark and New Brunswick
    34. Northeastern University(120K)
    35. University at Buffalo
    36. University of Missouri – Columbia (Trulaske)

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Teeyah,

    First happy New Year! Hope 2012 ends up being a great year for you. Just got back from Africa and while lots of changes are happening, still a lot needs to be done. So applicants with an interest in returning to their home country to make a difference will continue to be of interest to MBA boards. Congrats on the Harvard Law admission. Regarding making the case for HBS, you need to be able to make a compelling case for why you can’t achieve your career objective with the JD degree. Spell out the business skills that you will need to draw on for your future career and connect it to what you have seen on the ground that demands for such a skill set. Academically, your application will be looked at favorably at HBS. Your story has to reveal significant self awareness: show how your engineering background in the oil space, your understanding of the region, plus the infrastructure needs, management requirements as well as a public/private partnerships will be crucial to successfully contribute to the region. Most importantly, for HBS, stress your leadership by demonstrating through your stories how you have lead/stepped up in multiple situations both personally, professionally, etc.

    One minor thing, though, not sure I would stress transitioning to government side as much as the management skills to lead across sectors….if govt is emphasized, then why not Kennedy School. Just a thought.

    All the best. We are happy to take a look at your essays offline should you wish to have a pair of eyes review ahead of your submitting them.

    Cheers,

    Chioma
    Chioma@expartus.com
    EXPARTUS CEO

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Gobolts,

    You are right, The Booth Program has historically been open to receiving additional info from waitlisted students. This new option to provide a 90 seconds video is a fantastic opportunity for waitlisted candidates to differentiate themselves. Thing about your brand. What was the key message points you shared with Chicago Booths? Was there a hole to your story? Is there a way to use the video to address that. I wouldn’t use the video to directly make a statement about why my grades were low or lower than average GMAT scores. Rather I would use the video strategically to highlight what is interesting about you…an accomplishment that is important to you that you may not have highlighted. Comb through your stories, review your personal brand thoroughly and then come up with a positioning for the video. The key is to not be boring and restate what they have already seen from your story. It may be worth having someone with admissions experience review your current app to Chicago to identify any gaps and then brainstorm a way to address them.

    Hope this helps and all the best.

    Chioma
    Chioma@expartus.com
    EXPARTUS CEO

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Dear Enlisted Vet,

    It is common to see US vets transitioning into business via the MBA. In fact MBA.com has an article on military friendly schools. Admission to top schools like the ones on your list continue to be quite fierce so it may make sense to widen your list of schools. I’m also not sure how they will view the distance learning college. From my experience, schools have tended to be less keen on them though the perception of distance learning as second tier is less prevalent.

    Regarding your interest in GM, you can absolutely purse a general management career with an MBA from Tuck, HBS, Wharton or Yale. The China angle will come down to multiple factors such as recruiting opportunities, alumni strength in the region….find out where students are going. Wharton and HBS have very strong brands in Asia. Yale and Dartmouth to a lesser degree.

    Regards
    Chioma
    Chioma@expartus.com
    EXPARTUS CEO

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi ThanksChioma,

    You asked about Custodian Banks and how MBA boards view them. They seem to be more administrative in nature. When issuing bonds, etc. they act more as a holding company and not really involved in the syndication or strategy. I’m unsure what exactly your strategic role has been there. If you are targeting a top ten program it may be worth considering a job change if it’s in line with your career plans.

    Best.

    Chioma
    Chioma@expartus.com
    EXPARTUS CEO

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi DylanC
    The low GPA question is a real weakness. Fortunately, the GMAT OF 730 helps to some degree. HR experience is not very common but it wouldn’t necessarily be viewed as a plus for career change into finance. What will determine the success of your candidacy is the quality of experience you have had in the HR space. What was your role(s)? Have you had an accelerated career promotion/trajectory? Experience leading others? Impact at the firm and in your community? The richer the stories/examples that you have the more likely you are to appeal to the admissions board. You also need to find a subtle way to address the 2.8 which is significantly low compared to your competition.

    I would go for the schools you have on your list and perhaps add one or two more safety schools.

    All the best,

    Chioma
    Chioma@expartus.com
    EXPARTUS CEO

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi International Guy,

    Thanks for your question and providing info on your background. Think of the evaluation from the adcom perspective. What reasons have you given them to “fall in love with your case”. If they have 20 Deloitte applicants and they can take two, why should you be one of the two they take? I wouldn’t focus too much on the brand of the firm but on the quality and impact you have had at your jobs. If you have done a reasonable job at your firm then assume it would be tough to stand out at top schools like HBS and MIT. If you have clearly gone beyond your job requirements to create an impact on projects or teams you have been on and your recs can back this up, then you will stand a chance.

    The entrep story is not compelling especially when you have not started anything in the past. Schools tend to be skeptical of entrep in the future with no evidence of entrep involvement.

    Regarding reputation of schools abroad vs in the US, think where you wish you build your career. If in the US then opt for schools that are better known in the US and vice versa for international options. I do think MIT has a strong brand both within the US and abroad. Obviously IE is big in Europe. Regardless of which options you select, don’t lose sight of the whole culture of the program. Stick with schools that fit with your brand…where you would thrive.

    Finally, in a super competitive admission world, I would expand beyond HBS and MIT. I do hope you achieve a favorable outcome from at least one of these schools!

    Chioma
    Chioma@expartus.com
    EXPARTUS CEO

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Slowburnz

    It depends. If you have been at a job for more than a year, they may be curious why you don’t have a recommendation from there. The longer you are at a place the more pressure there is for you to have a rec from there (it can be from someone other than your supervisor). If no one is able to vouch for you, then it raises all sorts of flags. We have had a few clients successfully overcome an initial bad first job and change jobs and successfully secure admission to the top MBA programs. You have to be very careful in navigating the process. If there is a chance to do some damage control before you leave your job, do so. There is always the chance that the schools will do their due diligence calls after admitting you and that can often involve calling previous places of employment.

    Feel free to reach out to us offline to provide more color on your situation.

    Best
    Chioma
    Chioma@expartus.com
    EXPARTUS CEO

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Santosh,

    I recommend you check out the P&Q list of top 100 US MBA programs to get a sense of some of the schools.

    You are right, a 650 and international candidate would be tough to pull off in terms of scholarships so I’m not sure how that would pan out. You may want to look at programs that are shorter in nature, for example Emory, USC, Kellogg and many other programs have one year programs worth pursuing which will help keep the MBA cost down.

    All the best!

    Chioma

    Chioma@expartus.com
    EXPARTUS CEO

  • ahmed

    Hi Chioma,
    happy new year, wish u the best..some comments please on profile.:
    32 ys, UAE national, gmat 610, gpa 2.8 engineering, working for the government for 6 years in power project management and worked before 2 ys with private sector. recently promoted to participate in managing the privatization program of the sewage water sector. our scope is to find best way for partnership between public and private sectors to reach optimal and sustainable business model. when I look into yale mba curriculum I find it appealing to my current job requirements and future career path since I’ll be responsible for this process years ahead..however, when I look into their class profile I find it very difficult for me. do you think I have chance there? if not could you please name some good schools that I can target with orientation in public and non profit.

  • morgan12

    Hello Chioma,

    Thank you for the service you provide.

    GMAT: 700
    GPA: 3.65 from non target public college; also studied abroad in England for 1 year
    Work: 2 years at JPMorgan Commercial Bank, 2 years at GE Capital
    Age: 25
    Extras: fluent in 3 languages, volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, heavily involved member of cultural society, belong to two professional organizations, moved to the States at the age of 19 from England, first generation college graduate.
    Goal: Financial Management at large corporate

    Which programs do you suggest I apply to? I believe my weakness lies in my undergraduate school. What can I do to offset that?

  • ThanksChioma

    Thank you again, Chioma. That is right in line with what I expected, honestly, but it is incredibly helpful to hear it from someone with much more knowledge in this arena.

  • InternationalGuy

    Hi Chioma, thanks for taking the time to read my post and responding with your perspective. I will expand my horizons as you suggest – to the extent that I can get apps in before the round 2 deadlines!

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Ahmed,

    Happy New Year to you too!

    I think Yale SOM will be a stretch with the 610/2.8 profile. I would consider trying to raise the GMAT score if possible. It’s extremely tough to overcome a low GPA/GMAT combo for full time MBA programs. You may want to consider an executive program and even in that case you should still try and raise the score. If scores remain the same then I recommend broadening list of options to beyond top 20-30 schools given average scores of these schools still in the mid to high 600s. It may be worth even considering executive programs that do not require GMAT scores. The quality of your work experience at the UAE would also be an important factor.

    All the best.

    Chioma
    Chioma@expartus.com
    EXPARTUS CEO

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hello Morgan12,

    I’m not sure I see the concern for the undergrad grad (a 3.65 is ok). That’s assuming there wasn’t a huge dip at some point. If that was the case, then it’s worth addressing somewhere in the application. I’m not sure what your roles were both at JPM at at GE Cap but assuming in an analyst role or front office role, then fine. Schools also appreciate diversity of exp so your geographic diversity (from the UK) plus family background as first college grad and initiative to move to new country on your own at 19 could play in your favor when you apply. It comes down to how you present your story/brand.

    As for schools you may consider, I recommend that you do further research to get a feel for the schools that would be the best match for you given the variables you identify to be most important to you. Location may be important to you so you may not want to study in the West Coast so that takes out Stanford, Haas-Berkeley, Anderson and UCLA and Marshall at USC for example. You may not want to be taught in a primarily case environment so that eliminates HBS and Darden at UVA. You have to decide what the personal criteria are that you want in an MBA program.

    You may want to clarify your career plans in financial management when you apply as it is a broad term that can vary extensively depending on the context in which you work: from business analyst assisting with strategic analysis to working on gathering and preparing accounts. Specify whether you wish to go into asset management, investment banking, corporate finance, etc. and build a case for why you feel you need an MBA to get there.

    Chioma@expartus.com
    EXPARTUS CEO

  • Evren

    Hello Chioma,

    Thanks for the great information. I’ve read every post of yours so far. Really enlightening.

    I’m a NON-EU European citizen:
    31 years old, male
    GMAT: 690 (Q:47, V:37)
    M.Sc.on Computer Science/Engineering from top college in the country, GPA: 3,80, graduated in 2010
    B.Sc. on Computer Science/Engineering, GPA: 2,93, graduated in 2002

    7 years of solid experience in the IT Industry as Software Engineer, Senior Software Engineer and Software Team Leader.
    Also have 1 year of entrepreneurship experience with a friend immediately after B.Sc. and 1 year of mandatory military service (did a leadership there also).

    I’m looking for a school in the US that sends most graduates to IT industry and has concentration on Technology/IT Management. Not necessarily a premium school but would be great to be in the Top 30. Also tuition is a big concern for me and i would need a “low cost /providing private loan without a US co-signer” type school.

    Which 3-4 schools would you offer me to apply according to my profile that i would have a great chance to get into?

    Thank you very much !

    Best Regards.

    Evren

  • Nishant

    Hello Chioma,

    I am an Indian citizen. My GMAT score is 700(Q87, V 73). My under grad was in engineering. B. Tech in IT from a mid-level school in India. I graduated top of my class and am a gold medalist in engineering.

    After college, I joined a top American bank in India. I spent 8 months setting up the Corporate Communications team with my manager and then moved to project mgmt. I have about 3 years of core experience in project mgmt and have delivered projects in multiple areas from branding projects, technology infrastructure projects to intelligent building projects. These have been extremely massive and some of them highly prestigious in the organization.

    I am now into asset mgmt consultancy for about a year in the same organization and very closely with our US team members.

    So overall close to 54 months of experience in which I’ve received some prestigious organizational awards.

    I speak Spanish(B2) and play corporate level football.

    My area of interest is private equity- VC and corporate strategy.

    I am right now shortlisting schools to apply to. My main targets are Dartmouth-Tuck, Berkley- Haas, IE, London Business School and Oxford-Said.

    Request you to please evaluate my profile and let me know my chances with the schools I have mentioned above.

    Thanks and Regards,
    Nishant

  • morgan12

    Thank you for your response.

    Ideally I would like to work on the west coast so it would be a good idea to apply to schools out there. Which schools would you suggest on the West Coast? However I would consider a school on the east coast which is known for it’s quantitative curriculum. Any suggestions? I know I have lots of research to do, but I’m looking for basic guidance based on your extensive experience.

    By financial management I meant business analyst assisting with strategic analysis and corporate financial decisions. An example would be HP financial analyst program.

  • Highwyre237

    Hi Chioma,

    GPA – 3.32 (Known for its business program, but mostly unknown, ranked around 50 regionally)
    GMAT – 680 (Retaking, hoping for 720+)

    I’m US Male white, will be 28 with around 5.5-6 years ex at matriculation (applying in 2013)

    Will have…
    Work
    3.5 years – IT Security Analyst (Fortune 100 retailer, should be promoted to senior analyst soon)
    1/2 year – Strategy Analyst (Small Internet start-up)
    1.5 years – Market Analyst (Large international Bank)

    Extra
    Co-founder of a small startup (really just handling the business/web side of an photo/jewelry business, still in the beginning stages, not sure if I should add it)

    In College
    Worked full time,
    2.5 years E-Marketing manager/ Assistant innkeeper at an Inn
    2.5 years as a math tutor.

    So with that info, still figuring out if I want Brand Management or Consulting after my MBA.

    Pretty my, I have a marketing undergrad, and lost focus out of school. I know I can tell a compelling story about my passion for consumer behavior, and the ways the marketing mix effects it, but there is still a chance I’d pursue consulting after my MBA.

    To summarize, an OK GPA from an unknown school, and strong companies, but no MBA breading grounds

    Goal is to live/work in NYC or Boston metro post MBA

    What are my chances at
    Northwestern (Kellogg)
    NYU (Stern)
    Cornell (Johnson)
    Virginia (Darden)
    Duke (Fuqua)
    Georgetown (McDonough)

    Thanks! Any other suggestions would be great too.

    PS. Any suggestions for the type of volunteering MBA programs like would be great, I have a full year and should be doing something on the side.

  • highwyre237

    Sorry my ug major was marketing minor finance. Strong in major gpa.

  • Teeyah

    Thanks Chioma for the advice and the great work in this forum

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Evren,

    Thanks for your question. I would recommend looking at Tepper Business School at Carnegie Mellon, Kelley at Indiana U with loads of coursework in Operations and Decision Technology, and UT Austin’s McCombs program as well. There are others of course and I encourage you to invest time in researching other programs. You have to consider what geography you would like to be in, whether you want a small program or a larger one, etc.

    Chioma@expartus.com
    EXPARTUS CEO

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Nishant,

    I can’t say exactly what your chances of admissions will be for the schools you have indicated. I think the long term goal will be viewed with some skepticism by the adcom. The asset management consulting to corp strategy makes sense but I suspect the adcom will see the jump from project management to PE/VC as a big leap. You will need to tighten your career goal story when you apply.

    I don’t know the scale of your work, the actual impact you had, etc…so I’m taking your word for it that the experience has been extremely massive and highly prestigious….as long as your impact has been sizeable, can be confirmed by your superiors, you should be able to get into some of the programs you have identified. Your essays will also be very important and so don’t simply focus on being in the “ballpark” but on the quality of the essays and how/what it reveals about you both as a leader and an individual.

    All the best!

    Chioma

    Chioma@expartus.com
    EXPARTUS CEO

  • Bluesiege

    Hi Chioma,

    Thank you for spending some time answering our questions. I’ll try to be brief: my main worry is my below average GMAT (especially quant) and my average GPA for the schools I’m shooting for. Can you tell me what are you think my odds of acceptance are?

    Here is my profile:

    About me — 27 male from West Africa (came in the US at 16 for College)
    GMAT — 690 (69% Quant, 89% Verbal)
    GPA — 3.5 Computer Science from reputed engineering school. Took 5 years to graduate due to english lessons and a transfer.
    Work Experience — 6 years, started as Software Engineer then Project Manager role in a top software company for a #1 consumer product in its category (think Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Apple….)
    Extra Curricular — Member of a committee for a known non-profit for 8 months, Volunteer yoga instructor at a community center, Real estate investor. In college: VP of Entrepreneurship Club, President of yoga club, Secretary of an Engineering club.
    Short-term Goal — Transition to Product Management in tech to get more business exposure
    Long-term Goal — Return to Africa to create a tech company as part of the family business group, then lead it to eventually become its CEO.

    Schools applied to: Wharton, Columbia, Booth.

    As I said, my GMAT quant is my main concern. I bombed that part of the exam and given that I work 60-70 hrs/week I couldn’t retake it in time (I opted not to mention that in my apps as it could be equated to whining). I don’t know if working for a top software company will help alleviate that concern but I asked my recommenders to highlight my technical skills. My GPA is nothing spectacular either (it’s also 3.5 within my major).

    Your candid response would be greatly appreciated!

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Bluesiege,

    Your concern is a legitimate one but I would look at the entire application not just one component. So Wahrton, Columbia, and Booth tend to like to see high scores in the GMAT. The 690 is a bit low.(Chicago may accept new score so retaking may not hurt). You could also bring this up in an interview for the other schools if the score is higher.

    The silver lining is that you are not coming from a soft major but Comp Sci with a 3.5 (not bad), so you should be in the running still. The way to think of a candidate in your situation is to look at exactly the impact, role at software company. Top brands like Google/Apple help and project manager role can be great if you can show evidence of leadership, strong responsibility managing beyond your expected level, etc. The Xcs seem ok, not necessarily going to wow them. But the make or break of your story will likely be how you connect your career goals to where you are now and whether they buy it. Product management in tech space and creating tech company as part of your family group is credible….of course depends on how big the fam biz is already. All the best and hope you get an invite for interviews.

    I’m hosting a free interview webinar. You can sign up at: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/947000081

    Chioma Isiadinso
    EXPARTUS (www.expartus.com); chioma@expartus.com
    Helping You Gain Admission to Top Schools

  • JMG

    Hi, How are my chances?

    GPA 8.5/10
    Gmat 690
    Nationality Mexican
    Age 27
    Work experience 5yr
    Current Job Citigroup (entered as a Trainee in their talent oriented program)
    Organized last year social activity with the bank by donating and building a house to a homeless family through the NGO I brelong to
    Year abroad after Highschool doing pro-bono work in a youth Club in Europe
    Lived in 5 different countries
    College scholarship and exchange program scholarship
    While college attended for 6 years missions in rural communities in my country during easter
    Captain of the soccer team in my workplace.

    Thanks!

    Aplying to
    Harvard
    Stanford
    Tuck
    Kellogg

  • CSBHopeful

    Hi Chioma,

    I received my decision from Columbia today stating that they were not able to offer me a place in the Fall 2012 class. They did state, however, that given my strong professional background, career aspirations (entrepreneurship), and personal profile, the committee thinks I’d be a better fit for the January 2012 program and are encouraging me to apply again for that program. They also state that this is not a guarantee of admission, but reiterate that they encourage me to apply.

    My question to you is whether this is a standard response in hopes of getting another application fee from me, or if this is reason to believe I stand a good chance for admission?

  • Bluesiege

    Chioma,

    Thank you for your quick response!
    Looking forward to your webinar, I hope I’ll have an invitation for an interview by then.

  • Francisco

    Hi Chioma,

    Thank you so much for offering your expert opinion. I’m a non-traditional applicant (34 years old, from central america) to the 2-year full-time MBA programs, and I would like to get some expert feedback on my chances of gaining admittance to my list of target schools. First, some background:

    – 34 year old male, International applicant from Central America

    – 730 GMAT

    Education:
    – 2.7 Bachelor’s GPA from Tulane University, majored in mechanical engineering and minored in math (I tried to complete the double major but was overwhelmed with course load, GPA suffered as a consequence. Also, had problems with culture shock during my first year)
    – 3.45 Master’s GPA in Industrial Engineering (Operations Research) from a top 10 program in industrial engineering at U. of Wisconsin-Madison
    – 3.51 part-time Master’s GPA in Finance from a Private Honduran University
    – 3.7 GPA from alternative transcript consisting of accounting and math courses (financial accounting, calculus sequence and linear algebra) taken online from UC-Berkeley extension and UT-Austin

    Professional History:
    – 1 year as a mechanical engineer at one of six sugar factories operating on a national level
    – 1.5 years as mid-level manager at top industrial gas producer
    – 2.5 years working as project engineer in construction family business, construction industry collapsed due to international financial crisis, transferred to finance after completing my master’s in finance
    – 2 years as corporate credit analyst at a top 3 bank in Honduras (where I’m currently employed)
    – Board member at two different investment firms

    Extracurriculars:
    – Italian Language courses
    – Weekend Volunteer at local public hospital, mostly fund-raising
    (To be honest, extra-curricular activities are very limited in this country due to rampant crime [murder capital of the world!])

    Goal:
    – Family is heavily invested in the bank where I’m currently employed. Bank suffers from poor organizational strategy, insufficient investment in technology, and aggressive competitors. It also needs to modernize risk management processes. I’m poised for high management position in near future if I prepare myself. Would love to be part of the team that modernizes the bank, makes it more competitive. Also, eventually, I would like to open up my own production/manufacturing business.

    Targets:
    – Wharton
    – Chicago
    – Northwestern
    – MIT
    – Dartmouth
    – Yale
    – London Business School
    – INSEAD

  • SanketMali

    Hi,

    Thanks a lot for guiding us by evaluating our profiles. I really appreciate if you put your views on my profile in terms of Strengths and weaknesses and advise me how can best utilize next 9 months ( till R1 deadlines)

    Education
    B.E. Production – Aug.2005 – First Class with Distinction from Pune University (Top15) Universities in India. Continual improvement trend First year to Final year!

    GMAT – Yet to be taken! Expected – 700 minimum.

    Professional Experience
    1. Operation Consulting – 2.5 years in boutique consulting firm in India – Handled Lean manufacturing implementation assignments at 9 clients including Honda India – Productivity improvement of at least 8% in all assignments – Managed a cross functional team ( CFT) of 5 people
    Highlight – CFT management/ Leadership, Cost saving

    2. Mahindra Chakan – 2.5 years as an Industrial Engineer – Manpower planning for biggest Greenfield project of Mahindra – Estimating manpower requirement – Interviewing, Recruiting ,Training of 180 workmen. Single handedly coordinated a team of 180 workmen and 21 officers in implementing MAPS (Mahindra Advanced Production System) at Shop floor. Cost Saving of $120,000
    Highlight – Analytical work in manpower planning, Team Leadership, Cost saving, Top 20% performance rating

    3. Volkswagen India ( CURRENT JOB) – 1.5 years till date (3 years till I start MBA) – Lean Manufacturing and Productivity improvement – Leading a 12 member CFT and Multicultural team for Productivity improvement – Manpower reduction of 105 workmen resulting in cost saving of $408,000
    Highlight – Analytical work, Team Leadership, significant Cost saving, Top 5% performance rating

    Extracurricular
    1. Volunteering – Cofounded a 20 member volunteer group in Jan 2008 – Provide volunteer support to 2 other NGOs in India – Volunteering 2 hours /weeks since inception
    2. Writing – Published 01 case study as a Consultant – Published 02 articles in leading Indian newspapers – Published 01 article in Mahindra newsletter – Stood 4th in an online ‘Love Letter’ writing competition – Currently writing a book which will be published in May 2012.
    3. Meditation – Competed two 10 day rigorous Vipassana Meditation courses (14 hours/ day meditation with only lunch and Breakfast) – practicing meditation 45 minutes/ day for last 08 years.

    Career Goals
    Short term – With a strong base in Manufacturing now with Management consulting I want to understand the correlation of Manufacturing with other business functions such as Marketing, Finance, HR.

    Long term – Leading an Indian multinational Automobile organization in expanding operations globally – Help an organization implementing the strategy of ‘Reverse Innovation’

    Target Schools – Application fall 2012.
    Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Tuck, LBS.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi CSB Hopeful,

    I can imagine how frustrating it must be to get the decision of a denied admission after working so hard. If I were in your situation, I would not make an immediate decision right away regarding whether to apply again to Columbia or even business school. Take a few weeks off from this whole process to gain a fresh perspective. Then come back and revisit the question of whether to reapply. Some questions that are worth considering are:
    1) Is the MBA absolutely necessary for your career goals of entrepreneurship? Some may even argue that it isn’t but that is a personal decision you have to make. Take a look at this cool blog that talks about testing out your entrep plans before committing two years to going for the MBA: http://blog.profitably.com/post/7134922299/the-ultimate-6-week-startup-crash-course
    2) There are many great programs where you can be well prepared for a successful career—whatever that ends up being. I’m not convinced that there is only one school in the world for someone—the same way I don’t believe that there is only one person in the world for a person. Don’t fixate on one school but stay open to the many great programs that produce/cultivate entrepreneurs. Many include MIT, Haas, Chicago, etc. Of course I understand that the driver for you may be some strong ties to New York City.
    3) Finally, regarding your question about whether Columbia is yanking your chains, I don’t think so. I don’t think they necessarily encourage everyone to reapply, especially for the Jan program….so I would seriously consider it if it fits within what you want (you will forfeit the summer internship opportunity). That said, however, don’t take their invitation to mean it’s a shoo-in. You will still have to make a strong case that it makes sense for you and for them. We will be sharing loads of feedback on how to reapply successfully shortly on our site so stay tuned: http://www.expartus.com.
    I wish you great success regardless of the decision you end up with. Key thing is to listen to your heart and follow your gut! All the best.

    Chioma (chioma@expartus.com)

    EXPARTUS
    Helping You Gain Admission to Your Top Schools
    http://www.expartus.com

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi JMG,

    Thanks for your question. I don’t know enough about your work experience (where you worked prior to Citi, and also what exactly your role is at Citi). Schools value diversity so the Mexican background wouldn’t hurt. 690/8.5/10 is ok. Higher GMAT would be a plus but if the 690 is as good as it gets, I wouldn’t worry too much about it but would focus on showing fit between yourself, goals, and the schools, plus make sure to showcase your impact at Citi, in college and everywhere you have been. Pro bono work doesn’t hurt either so it’s good to have some that you are genuinely proud of and committed to. Workplace soccer/team stuff is neutral—you get zero value from that usually.

    Candidates like you can get into one or more of the schools on your list if you execute the application effectively by revealing a compelling personal brand that shows leadership, interpersonal character that jives with the kinds of people that the school is looking for. The caliber and impact of your work experience will also be put to the test so spend enough time reflecting on and communicating what is distinctive about your work. If you feel it isn’t compelling (you don’t have enough examples to call on when addressing your essays), you may want to delay your application for a year and focus your attention on improving this area before applying. If the opposite is the case and you have tons of leadership impact/involvement at your job, then this is likely the right time to apply.

    Either case, I wish you great success with your future. Let me know how it goes.

    By the way, I’m hosting a free interview webinar February 1st. You can sign up at: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/947000081

    Chioma (chioma@expartus.com)

    EXPARTUS
    Helping You Gain Admission to Your Top Schools
    http://www.expartus.com

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hi Francisco,

    Think of the shopper who goes to a car dealership to buy a car and he’s expecting to get a car for 30K. The sales person shows him a car that is 50K. The shopper will likely have a negative reaction immediately to the sticker shock of the price tag, right? Well it’s the same way for admissions board members. They open a folder, and glance at the transcript or application where your grades/gpa shows up and they see a 2.7 from a non-Ivy School. The immediate reaction, instinctively, wouldn’t be favorable. But that doesn’t mean that the deal is off. Good sales men/women can overcome their customer’s resistance and get someone to pay 50k for a car when they were planning to pay much lower. You get where I’m going with this. You can overcome the initial concern about your 2.7 to still land an admissions offer from one or more of the schools on your list.

    The how is what’s important. There isn’t a magic bullet but will require a careful assessment of your entire brand, rationale for the degree, personal qualities that make you “YOU”. So it’s good that you have a masters degree with decent grades, that helps. But what will be more powerful in closing the deal would be the strength of your essays, whether they reveal maturity, clarity of focus, self awareness, etc. You then need to show that you have delivered results both at the sugar factories, industrial gas firm, and bank where you are currently working. Show how these disparate experiences are part of “the plan” as opposed to you “being all over the place” and you will be one step closer to your goal of receiving an admission offer.

    Your recommenders will also play a vital role in your success so choose them wisely, coach them effectively (don’t write the recs!!). I dedicate a chapter in my book, The Best Business Schools’ Admissions Secrets to the recommendation letters and how to approach recommenders, what to say to them to get the right recs, how to prep them, etc.

    Best,

    By the way, I’m hosting a free interview webinar February 1st. You can sign up at: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/947000081

    Chioma (chioma@expartus.com)

    EXPARTUS
    Helping You Gain Admission to Your Top Schools
    http://www.expartus.com

  • USNA 08

    Hi Chioma,

    I appreciate all of your help. Coming from a military background, I was hoping you could help me narrow down my choices of top schools to apply.
    I’m a Naval Academy grad, with 4 years work experience as a Naval Intelligence officer. Spending two years leading 10+ sailors at sea/deployed, and two years working for a 3-letter agency in DC.
    Have a 3.2 GPA, and 720 GMAT. Was a varsity athlete, and graduated with an BS in Economics.
    I am considering applying to:
    HBS
    Wharton
    CSB
    Stern
    McDonough

    Which of these is best suited for my background, what are my odds (respectively), and are there any others which you would reccomend?

    Thanks!

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/chioma-isiadinso/ Chioma Isiadinso

    Hello SanketMali,

    Thanks for your question.

    Strength:
    Your manufacturing, project management experience will be viewed favorably by the admissions board. The academics is a plus as well since schools want smart individuals who can do the work and thrive.
    Industry and experience that is interesting/diverse is a plus: Mahindra Chakan is a leading auto company that is doing interesting stuff in the trucking/auto space….IS THERE A WAY TO HIGHLIGHT ENERGY EFFICIENT INITIATIVES THERE AND WERE YOU INVOLVED? WOULD BE INTERESTING! The hr/cost reduction stuff is fine; and the Volkswagen productivity experience would be viewed favorably…talk to the differences in working for Mahindra vs Volkswagen…insights, show impact….

    Weakness:
    The dollar figures of savings—don’t immediately jump out as wow compared to some of your competition. Having said that, it is important to address the context so the reader understand what makes the 120K distinctive…

    Neutral:
    Lots of times applicants have volunteer involvement. Where you stand apart is showing how your involvement has transformed the organization you are part of. The fact that you started it could be great—but again, it comes down to exactly what it did/does…how it is affecting the lives of the people you serve. If you can clearly show this, then this gets bumped to a strength.

    Meditation is neutral…The writing could be interesting….if you have a genuine love of writing and can show consistent involvement and even awards in this space (minus the love letter competition unless that is part of an intentional brand message you are trying to communicate)

    Your goals seem realistic. It will come down to the actual breadth of responsibility—they will peel the onion to see if there is really solid evidence of leadership/initiative/impact in your positions…don’t forget to also bring out the personal side—who you are as a person, your family, where you grew up and how all these things have shaped you and reinforce your brand….

    Best!

    By the way, I’m hosting a free interview webinar February 1st. You can sign up at: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/947000081

    Chioma (chioma@expartus.com)

    EXPARTUS
    Helping You Gain Admission to Your Top Schools
    http://www.expartus.com

  • Morgan

    Dear Chioma, I was wondering if you could briefly assess my profile for me – which points I should emphasize to the adcom, and how I should explain the weak points in my application.

    2.9GPA at a Public Ivy
    720GMAT
    Japanese private equity fund manager, 3 years (final title: VP)
    2 years at bulge-bracket investment bank, associate
    Volunteered in an earthquake-stricken areas
    Goal: create and run a social-orientated entrepreneurship post MBA
    Support for goal: dedicated much of my career to doing finances for the World Bank and JICA, turning around and developing industries that would potentially become the economic backbone of cities in Japan.

    In addition, are my goals and credentials aligned with the schools that I’d like to apply to?
    These are Harvard, Stanford, MIT, Wharton, LBS, Yale and Columbia.
    I’m also a little concerned about demographics, as a Japanese applicant, would I be disadvantaged since I would belong to a very large demographic group (Asia)? Could there be anything I could pay attention to in order to stand out from the group?

    Thank you very much, I appreciate your taking time to answer my questions!

  • Evelyn

    Hi,Chioma,
    I’m from China.I have one question about MBA program. Which university offer a better MBA program, Drexel University or University of Colorado at Boulder? Could you give me some detail reasons ? Thank you very much.
    Best regards,
    Evelyn

  • Sunshine

    Hi Chioma,

    I really appreciate your effort in solving so many queries.
    I will put forward my questions very briefly. First my profile.

    UG :Bachelor of Engineer in Mechanical & Production from one of top private university in India.
    Among top 10 in the department of 120 students.

    GMAT : 650, giving another shot soon. Aiming 700+.

    WE : Almost two years’ experience as Project Engineer with a leading Software Company to develop E-Commerce application for country’s largest Insurance Company.
    -I was appointed “People’s Champ” for my company and was responsible for conducting various Sports Events and Cultural Activities in our company.

    ECs and accomplishments :-Represented my college in a national level business quiz and won the First Prize in the year 2008.
    -Performed at many big stages including those of Indian Idol(semi-finalist), X-Factor and have been invited to sing at various public gatherings.
    -Classical Singer and also a proficient Tabla Player.
    – Proficient in French, learning spanish and mandarin. Hope to finish in 2 years(By the time i apply to b-schools).

    I am planning to apply to 1 year MBA after 2 years(Avoiding 2 yr program in US due to cost and not so great profile). Looking for career shift into consulting.

    My questions;
    1) How realistic are my chances at INSEAD?
    2) Insead looks for international exp. How important is that?
    3) What more can i do in these 2 years to maximise my chances at INSEAD.
    4)Do i stand any chance in top US b-schools?

    Looking forward for your reply.

    Thanks,
    Priyanka.

  • Excited to switch career

    Hi Chioma,

    Thanks very much for the assistance you provide on this site…

    Like most others, I am looking for some professional perspective on my business school aspirations – are they realistic? should I change my anticipated target schools? my anticipated timeframe? is quant an issue?

    Stats –
    –GMAT: 740 (47Q/45V), 6.0 AWA – 1st attempt.
    –GPA: 3.6 from ivy league. Major in linguistics, english lit minor. Strong improvement (3.7 last 2), but some grade inflation at ivy league college, and minimal quant courses (A i