A Stanford & HBS Admit Dishes Advice

by John A. Byrne on

Matt Saucedo was accepted into Stanford & Harvard

Matt Saucedo was accepted into Stanford & Harvard

Matt Saucedo was in a Los Angeles gym, practicing his climbing moves, when his cell phone rang with an incoming call from Palo Alto. The Deloitte consultant hustled out of the gym that Tuesday night to take the call from Derek Bolton, the admissions director of the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

It was good news. Bolton told Saucedo he was accepted for admission. “It was a really good conversation,” recalls the 23-year-old Saucedo. “He did a great job of really tailoring the whole Stanford experience to me. He talked about why I was a good fot for Stanford and he brought up a couple of things I wrote in my essays.”

The next day, Dec. 12, brought still more good news from another famous area code: 617 for Boston. The Harvard Business School admissions officer who interviewed him on campus told Saucedo that he also was accepted into Harvard.

THE ODDS OF BEING ACCEPTED TO BOTH STANFORD AND HARVARD WERE 0.9%

Saucedo, who graduated magna cum laude from UCLA with a degree in communications only two years earlier, had applied to only two business schools in the first round and was accepted to both of them. His odds of making the cut into two of the world’s best MBA programs, he calculated, was something like 0.9%.

So after a celebratory dinner in L.A. with his family, it was not surprising that friends and colleagues at Deloitte would ask him for guidance on how he cracked the code to get into both Stanford and Harvard. After all, he beat the odds without being a legacy at either school and without hiring an admissions consultant to help him with his applications.

Instead of just talking about it, Saucedo decided to create a side business on it. He put up a website, ClimbingMBA.com, and has begun selling a 12-page guide filled with advice for $19 as well as one-on-one strategy calls for $299. “After I had gotten into both schools, I learned a lot from the experience, especially how to package yourself,” he says. “If I had found a guide written by someone who had gotten into both Harvard and Stanford, I would definitely be interested in hearing what that person had to say. I tried to keep it all brief. When I was going through the application process, I didn’t have the time to read a 300-page guide.”

‘I’M NOT IN THEIR HEADS’

How does he think he actually got into both Stanford and Harvard on the first try? “I wish i could give you a straight answer,” he says in an interview. “But I’m not in their heads.”

Ultimately, however, he thinks what sealed the deal was his development of an Android app, outsourcing the work to India, and then his experience as a technology consultant for Deloitte. The app is a grocery list that updates itself when you are running low on groceries. He’s still working on a couple of ways to integrate coupons into the application.

His GMAT score was over 700 and he graduated Phi Beta Kappa from UCLA. “That whole package probably had a lot to do with it, and my interviews went really well.”

A UCLA FENCER, A TUTOR AND MENTOR, AND SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGIST FOR DELOITTE’S IMPACT DAY

It also didn’t hurt that he was a fencer at UCLA, a member of the team that won the Southern California championship in his junior year. Or that he has worked with children in North Hollywood as a tutor and mentor. Or that at Deloitte, he did the social media strategy for his office’s participation in Impact Day, when the firm’s consultants set aside a day for social good.

The most difficult hurdle in the application process? For Saucedo, it was the essays. “That is your biggest chance for you to really flex your muscles in the application,” he believes. “Everything else is pretty much basic information and raw stats. The essays are really where you get your foot in the door. and it’s where I was able to distinguish myself.”

For Stanford’s essay on “What Matters To You and Why?,” he used his experience fencing–a sport he picked up on during his senior year in high school–as a metaphor for business and for life. “I wrote about how different parts of fencing remind me of different parts of business like attacking and defending, and then gave examples of how I defended my ideas and convictions and tied all of that together,” he says.

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  • http://twitter.com/ftmiguelsuarez Miguel Suarez

    Very often I see the acceptance rates approached as odds. This is untrue and I hope prospective MBAs understand this. Applying is not a lottery ticket, it’s a through review of your skills, capabilities, potential and other factors. It’s not odds, it does not work like that.

  • http://twitter.com/vicky4113 vicky4113

    Well said, Miguel.

  • UCLA

    Communications major. What a joke.

  • JSMex

    “Membrete of Mensa” hehe

  • Charlotte

    I agree with Miguel Suarez, I am not favourable either to probabilities when it comes to admissions. I dont think it means very much…
    But this was a very cool story , thanks!

  • Mitchell McDeere

    What a populistic article. Zero content, and pure sales focus. There is not golden bullet, and it confirmed by the protagonist of this article. So why all this buzz for a guy, who certainly had despite great execution a bit of luck, and then goes on to sell his story?

  • FJGA

    Poor guy. I ENTERED HBS, CBS, WHARTON AND CHICAGO… AND WAS INVITED TO INTERVIEW TO STANFORD AND DID NOT GO. DO YOU THINK I WILL BE STUPID ENOUGH TO DO THIS INTERVIEW? I LOVE POETS AND QUANTS BUT THIS GUY… WELL… POOR GUY… BUY A LIFE AND SELL YOUR EGO.

  • FJGA

    Poor guy. I ENTERED HBS, CBS, WHARTON AND CHICAGO… AND WAS INVITED TO INTERVIEW TO STANFORD AND DID NOT GO.

    What are the chances of what happened to me? 0.009%? who cares? This is not lottery ticket. I would never in my life have accepted to do this interview for Poets and Quants. Maybe you should think of being more humble boy, you are not special nor have superpowers, you just entered 2 top MBAs…. buy a dog…

  • Geytg

    Being 23 and magna cum from UCLA did the trick. Deloitte is soso. MBA admit is sort of like a lottery too. Look, there will be thousands of apps with top school above 700 GMAT. Rest comes down to demographics and luck. The fact that this guy went into both stanford and hbs tells readers that those that goto these schools are not different from other top schools.

  • guest

    Chicago’s crap don’t boast about it. Other than that, good job.

  • 1jzSoarer

    Well, the actions of getting into both schools can be considered two independent events, so when you take a rough average of recent acceptance rates and use those as the probability of the event, it checks out.

  • Please

    You arrogant jerk, Who do you think you are to make such comment? I do not goto chicago but that fine institution doesnt deserve the stupid comment you mindlessly made. Keep ridiculous posts off this wall. Thanks

  • ElGuero

    Thoughthis guys disproves that you need gold to get into HBS and Stanford. Not that I have a shot at Stanford, but a communications major from UCLA and a job Deloitte is far from impressive when you have guys from KKR and McKinsey getting rejected.

  • Ertan Ongun

    This article shows more than anything else that the MBA selection process has become a pure farce, in which storytelling (backed up with solid facts) is more important than the real person behind the application. This young man certainly downgrades the schools by offering his story and skils developed during the process in a very materialistic way. Disgustingly to see when a candidate funds a business to sell his story and tries to get even more out of the application process than just being happily accepted a top school. Finally, to me this questions the personality of Matt as it showcases a purely opportunistic mentality.

  • Chance

    Except acceptance rates are not ‘probabilities’, they are ‘rates’. Applicants are not homogeneous colored balls you are drawing out of a bag (in which case your logic would hold).

    If a degree-less guy with a 450 GMAT and nothing interesting to say applies, his ‘probability’ of being accepted is 0.0%, regardless of the acceptance rate. If a guy with a 780 from BCG that saves baby tigers on his free time applies his ‘probability’ will be much higher than the acceptance rate, e.g. 30-40%.

    You can’t use the acceptance rate as a ‘chance’ of getting in, that logic is flawed, and the 0.9% is a ridiculous number. How embarrassing that he actually admits to ‘calculating’ that.

  • Totally Not A Statistician

    “odds of making the cut… he calculated, was something like 0.9%”

    Someone clearly didn’t pay any attention to the covariance part of Statistics 101…

  • Arturo

    This guy is awesome. His personal story is original and authentic. Kudos to Saucedo!

  • Renault

    His Spanish surname might also get him URM status.

  • booth_is_for_losers

    You definitely go there. Everyone who doesn’t (and a few people who do) know it’s an overrated school.

  • candidate8231

    Totally agree. It’s especially uncomfortable to see when the Admission Director of the given school keeps boasting here and there that he finds this kind of business useless and inappropriate.

    If Derrick Bolton was consistent, and if he truly had balls, he would go back on his decision and ding that guy.

  • anon

    0.9%? Where the hell did he come up with that number? An otherwise good read was turned into a joke by such an arbitrary, exaggerated figure.

  • http://twitter.com/ftmiguelsuarez Miguel Suarez

    Thank you “Chance”, sometimes it strikes me as surprising that applicants take these numbers as a guide. The baby tigers comment kept me laughing for a while… Anyways, numbers will only answer the questions you ask.

  • obnoxious but…

    I can understand why Stanford or Harvard would be interested by a candidate like him: High GMAT (by the way anyone with a score of 730 or above qualifies for Mensa so does half of any Stanford promotion since few years), High GPA from a blue chip institution (UCLA), expertise in a promising technology area for a blue chip company (Mobility at Deloitte) and probably that his essays were aligned with his professional goals.
    I’m not sure if the adcoms would have select him if they knew that he would advertise himself as an admission expert and sell his story that way. I find it quite questionnable and a little bit obnoxious. Moreover, I don’t even belive he would make a great contribution to the class. He has no management experience since he is still an entry level analyst and only two years of experience.
    Congrats for him though and good luck at Stanford.

  • Why…

    How promotional. I wish he picked HBS instead of GSB – much more fitting.

  • Guest

    To be fair, UCLA’s Communications major is highly selective and not the BS major it is at other campuses.

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