DINGED? Let Sandy Tell You Why

reject ding

As many as 3,000 applicants to Harvard Business School will get bad news today (Oct. 12) right about noon EST. Most of them will be, in the euphemistic words of HBS admissions, “released” with several hundred candidates put on a waitlist and moved to the second round.

“By ‘releasing’ those of you who will not move forward with our process on October 12—rather than waiting until December to let you know—we hope to give you time to explore other potential options,” says Chad Losee, the new managing director of admissions and financial aid at HBS.

If there’s any solace in getting dinged from Harvard’s MBA program today, it’s this: In all probability, you are among the most highly qualified candidates in this year’s applicant pool, and you have plenty of company. After all, HBS accepts only 11% of its applicants and most of those who don’t get in have solid chances at rival prestige schools.

Sandy Kreisberg, founder of HBSGuru.com

Sandy Kreisberg, founder of HBSGuru.com

If you’re like most dinged candidates, you are probably perplexed by the turn down. Often times, prospective students who have great stats and careers are turned down for subtle and not easily understood reasons. Last year, for example, several dinged candidates boasted GMAT scores as high as 780 or GPAs as high as 4.0 from the very best Ivy League schools. They worked for Fortune 100 companies and major global consulting firms, investment banks, and startups. We’re talking Goldman Sachs, Google, Procter & Gamble, and McKinsey, Bain or BCG.

So, as we have in the past, we’ve asked Sandy Kreisberg, founder of HBSGuru.com, a leading MBA admissions consultant and an astute reader of all HBS tea leaves, to take a look at the profiles of “released” applicants and explain why they didn’t make the first cut.

If you would like Sandy to explain your HBS ding, just post below in the comment section your profile, your GPA, GMAT, company information, and any other facts you think made your application different. The more detail you provide, including what you wrote in your essay to HBS, the easier it will be for Sandy to determine why HBS turned you down.

To give you an idea of how this plays out, here is one our of ding reports from last year: You Won’t Believe Who Harvard Business School Rejected

And Don’t Miss: HBS Interview Invites Start Rolling Out

  • Nes721

    Hi Sandy can you please provide some feedback as to why I got dinged from Columbia.

    27 year old Jordanian male (Arabic first language)
    670 GMAT 49Q33V AWA 6
    Undergraduate: university of Bristol, UK civil engineering (top tier school)
    GPA: 3.0 (on the low side but I explained in optional essay that it can be attributed extreme extenuating circumstances relating to depression at the time (documented)
    Career: Chief operating officer and founder of a construction company of 30 employees in Jordan.
    Extracurricular: Vice captain of Jordan’s national rugby men’s team, founder of first official rugby club in Jordan (6 time champions), played an instrumental part in developing the sport (initiated national rugby championship among clubs etc)
    Community engagement: initiated a sustainable development program to assist Syrian refugees integrate more peacefully into Jordanian society (90 people)

    Essay focused and revolves primarily on a life defining moment that I’ve experienced with a four year old refugee.

    Post MBA goal returning back to my business and expanding to global markets

  • radish

    go to Wharton .. it is wharton.

  • Ashley Hunter

    Well this is reassuring, glad I wasn’t the only one! Arriving a bit late to the party here, but my profile below. Interested to know views on what might have triggered the ding: I was wondering if perhaps the developing markets/international aspirations (subject of my essay and the main thing that distinguishes me from the army of other consultants) rang less to HBS than to other schools, but seeing a lot of older rejects here and knowing everyone from my uni already there is younger than me, I wonder if maybe HBS is trending younger. Thoughts?

    GMAT: 760 (49Q/45V)
    GPA: N/A as UK applicant – Upper Second (2.1) in Modern Languages (German/Russian) from Oxford University
    Work Experience: 4 yrs (at time of applying) in Consulting at Deloitte UK
    Extracurricular: 3-mnth Pro-bono consulting project outside of Deloitte with a UK children’s charity to scale it internationally; ~3 yrs mentoring sixth-formers (think high-school seniors) on career goals, both definition and pursuit thereof; history of admissions and induction work reaching back to uni; also FIDE-rated chess player (i.e. solid club level) and keen linguist (still speak Russian/German fluently)
    Post MBA goal: Short term – continue my interest in Russia, moving there to continue my consulting career, hopefully with McKinsey/Bain/BCG; Longer-term – move into an executive/CEO role in Russia, and eventually to a global executive role focusing on developing markets
    Demo: 28 yr old White British Male

    N.B. 1. I’ve been told quant looks a little weak in my profile: also have the CIMA business maths module and two diplomas from the British Computing Society under my belt.
    2. If you’re wondering how four years work experience and 28 adds up, this is because of a year after school (evident from essay) spent learning Russian in Russia and a year between finishing uni and starting my grad scheme at Deloitte. On other apps I explained the second one as well but didn’t think to here (is absolutely normal in the UK – I’ve never had to explain it before and it didn’t occur to me) – I hope to God that wasn’t the reason I was dinged!

    Offers from Wharton (Lauder) and INSEAD, so with my goals (and being Oxford/British already – not feeling I have masses to prove with the prestige of Harvard) fairly happy with what I got.

  • HBSHelp

    Update: Dinged at MIT

  • Chuck

    Hey Sandy,

    Dinged at Columbia Early Decision, no interview. Was my top choice. Also applied to MIT and Wharton R1. All were a reach but CBS was probably the best of the bunch. Applying R2, list as of now is Duke, UCLA, Kellogg, Booth, and possibly NYU.

    GMAT: 710 (47Q/42V)
    GPA: 3.3 BS in MIS from Penn State
    WE: 5 years at matriculation. 2 years in big 4 technology strategy consulting, 2 years at FNMA working on a large initiative to combine the GSEs MBS into a single security, while also working in Cap Mkts group (financial engineering). Also, started own company performing IT services/development for small businesses. 2 promotions since graduating (1 at each company), managing 4 people now.
    Extras: Baseball coach, mentor to undergrad students at alma mater
    Goals: Immediate- product management for a tech company, long-term start a tech company focused on real estate industry (spoke about affinity for home-ownership, and how i want to enable a system to build equity in real estate while renting. Have a feasible idea for doing so)
    Other notes- Applied to b-school last year but decided not to go to pursue more WE and promotion, reapply to higher caliber schools. Was accepted to UVA, WL at UCLA, and dinged Wharton/Haas. Very much worried about that call. Would appreciate some feedback. 26yo white male

  • Cab

    GMAT: 780 (50Q / 47V)
    GPA: 3.71 in finance and econ (think Northwestern, WashU, etc)
    Work Exp: 6 years at matriculation. 2 years in investment banking M&A in NYC at a large mid-tier bank. 3 years in private equity focused on emerging market energy.
    Extracurricular: mentor small business entrepreneurs (but only since January), captain of IM soccer teams, created a middle school soccer program for a local middle school while in college.
    Post-MBA goals: this is probably where I got dinged. On HBS application I said some vague stuff about entrepreneurship. In subsequent applications I had a well-conceived answer about going into impact investing. I hope I got dinged in a different part of my application, because if not then its my mistake for writing applications in order of submission deadline and not giving enough that to career goals until it was too late.
    Demo: 27 year old white male
    Also applied to Booth (interview invite), MIT and Wharton

  • Indiandude@gmail.com

    Did anyone get an interview invite, if so, could they post stats for HBS?

  • Aditya Akhauri

    GMAT – 710

    GPA – 7.3/10 in UG at National Institute of Technology, India

    3.05 in Masters in Management (Communications) from MICA India which is Asia’s leading communication school.

    Work at time of joining – 3 + years as brand and communication strategist at Publicis, a global advertising giant. Campaigns and brands that I have worked on have won Cannes Lions and I have very strong career progression. Currently, I am heading strategy at a division of Publicis India.

    Extra curricular activities – Founded the quizzing society at my PG college, was the main quizmaster for UG college’s quiz fest which I had co-founded, some radio jockeying, theater work in university, contributor to various travel blogs, won some robotics and debate competitions in college too.

    Career aim – Currently, am advising CMOs and Brand heads on communication strategy and helping them craft branding strategies. However, I find this role limited and want to move to a more holistic consulting role.

    Schools aimed – Duke, Kellogg, Indiana, Emory, Ross, Washington (Foster)

    According to you what are my chances in the aforementioned schools and are there any other schools you might want to suggest?

  • Bechtel

    I was happy with my job growth prospects and my perks. I found no reason to shift to another power company. I may reach senior management without MBA but that is besides the point.

  • Bechtel

    My age is 28.

  • hbsguru

    not sure, on info given. Could be the 2nd company is not on their fav. list, or your role there was considered an odd choice (hotshots usually do biz development and not finance), but all that is just speculative.
    Wharton may go for this, no WOW factor for Stanford on facts given.
    Happy to be proven wrong.

  • hbsguru

    dunno, they admit versions of this story. Age? How old are you?
    6 yrs w. one company is high end of normal, only thing that possbly cld be an issue on info given.

  • Bechtel

    GMAT – 780
    Bachelors Degree in Electrical Engineering – MIT
    3.92/4.00 GPA

    Work Experience –
    6 years in Bechtel Corporation where I was promoted from an Assistant Manager to a Senior Project Manager. Handled 5 project teams in the utilities sector. I was only answerable to the VP of Projects who apparently is a HBS graduate and was one of my recommenders.

    Extra curricular activity – IEEE workshops, webinars, seminars etc. Published papers.

    My goal post-MBA was to move into a financial management role at a leading power company such as Duke Energy.

    Dinged by HBS.

  • A.l

    Dinged by HBS.
    GMAT: 750
    GPA: 85% from a Canada university. Bachelor of Commerce with Honors, top student in my major. Full scholarship in undergraduate studies.
    Student Society President
    8 years WE in IT industry. Same company, first Asia branch then Europe headquarters.
    No direct report, Project Manager role.
    Post-MBA goal: start my own IT company.
    Community service: volunteer at international location.
    Recommendation: one from CEO of the NGO I worked for this year, one from our company VP (my dot line manager)

    Thanks for your feedback!

  • A

    Yeah, I think it must be the former because the application was frankly bomb. Over it already, though. Thanks for the reply, Sandy!

  • brekucki10@gmail.com

    Just got dinged.

    26 year old white male.
    GMAT 760, 49Q/46V
    3.5 GPA, top 50 school, finance/management double major

    Work experience: 1.5 years bulge bracket equity research for a ranked team, 1.5 years at a top 2 credit rating agency (top performance review)

    Extracurriculars: passed CFA level 2, mentoring high school students, club sports team captain in college, fraternity treasurer

    Post MBA goal: consulting

    Dinged at HBS. Thoughts on Wharton, CBS, Booth, Kellogg, Sloan?

  • hbsguru

    grrr, I like you and if given this profile over again, would say again your chances are good.
    obviously they never got over the non-trad career and work. Not clear if you were DOA with that profile or if you failed to connect the dots in application, recs, and essay.
    This could be DOA, alas.
    Anyway, their loss and Columbia’s gain.

  • hbsguru

    the 64million dollar question. Not sure but they ask, so that means something. I do not think one of you impacted other. I have seen them admit and ding Sig Others. IN a close case, e.g. Waiting List, where one WLer is Sig Other of admit and other WLer is just a WLER, you could make a case for, “who cares, take the Sig Other.”

  • mike.flum@gmail.com

    Dinged as well.

    GMAT: 740 (49Q/42V)
    GPA: 3.57. BS in Mechanical Engineering and BA in Religious Studies from Rice University
    Work Experience: over 8 total years at matriculation. 6.5 years with Midstream Oil & Gas Operator (think Kinder Morgan) including 3.5 years acting as Capital Project Manager. Managed over $1.3 billion in Capital Projects. 1.5 years with Survey/Land service company as VP, Operations & Engineering.
    Extracurricular: 2 year captain of Rice Ultimate Frisbee, returned team to D-III Nationals after 7 year drought. Founding member, social chair, and offensive starter for Houston Men’s Pro-Club Ultimate Frisbee team. Dog trainer at Houston Humane Society. Volunteering Coordinator for current company’s Community Outreach Initiative.
    Post MBA Goal: Join family business which sells corporate credit reports, data analytics, and risk analysis to credit managers (think DNB). The company collects metadata on how credit managers use the website and reports which are factored into analytics. I want to market these products to Wall Street and hedge funds for use in developing trading strategies. Long-term, I look to take over as CEO.
    Demo: 29 year old White American Male (Jewish)
    Schools Applied: HBS (Dinged), Sloan, Booth, Columbia, Wharton, Fuqua, and Stern

    Thanks for any insights!

  • furtherconsideration

    Linked my app to my significant others. We both got further consideration. Any possibility it is related to being a couple?

    We both have strong profiles (740+ GMAT, 3.5+ GPA from HYPS, 4 yrs name brand work exp).

  • TXding

    GMAT: 760
    GPA: 3.0 in accounting from IU (Kelley)
    Work experience: just completed a F250 rotational/development program with 1 year roles in accounting, finance, and operations stationed in TX, Maine, and Taiwan (respectively).
    Extracurricular: Lead my church’s middle/high school youth groups, play in the worship band.
    Post-MBA goal: move to MBB consulting for a few years before exiting to a management position and working towards being CEO of a F500 company.

    Thanks Sandy!

  • DS

    Dinged by HBS today. Any feedback would be great!

    -740 GMAT
    -3.5 GPA
    -Undergraduate business degree from Berkeley
    -25 year old Asian-American male

    Work experience:
    -Two years as an Associate at a well-known growth equity firm
    -Then two years in corp finance at a 600-person cloud software company

    Goal:
    Stay within software industry, but transition from current finance role to strategy/business development

    Volunteer activities:
    -Led fundraising team to provide clean water to developing areas in Africa & Asia
    -Junior Board member of a national high school mentorship program

    Also applying to Stanford and Wharton.

  • Confused

    Waiting on Yale, CBS, Wharton, Stanford and MIT.

  • Confused

    Hi Sandy, please see my stats below (dinged wo interview)

    25yo female Japanese, raised in China
    GPA: 3.9, Ivy league educated (Econ/Social Sciences major)
    GMAT: 750
    Work experience: High tier non-MBB consulting in the US (Boston) since college, promoted every year; interned at a Bulge Bracket (IBD/M&A) before that
    ECs:
    -Post-college: Mentor and Fundraising Committee member for a huge youth NGO; Campus recruiting committee member at current firm; Executive board member of a global mentorship program (provide mentorship to students across 15 colleges in the US/India to secure finance-related summer internships)
    -College: President of a student-run business publication focused on Asia; Volunteer Japanese teacher to immigrant children

    Story: Upbringing in China opened up passion for youth empowerment and awareness beyond my own “finance” / “expat” bubble
    Short-term goal: Return to consulting firm (will be sponsored) and help build out its presence within the social sector
    Long-term goal: Found a youth-related nonprofit in Asia

  • Bechtel

    GMAT – 780
    Bachelors Degree in Electrical Engineering – MIT
    3.92/4.00 GPA

    Work Experience –
    6 years in Bechtel Corporation where I was promoted from an Assistant Manager to a Senior Project Manager. Handled 5 project teams in the utilities sector. I was only answerable to the VP of Projects who apparently is a HBS graduate and was one of my recommenders.

    Extra curricular activity – IEEE workshops, webinars, seminars etc. Published papers.

    My goal post-MBA was to move into a financial management role at a leading power company such as Duke Energy.

    Dinged by HBS.

  • HBS Reject

    Ding from HBS w/o interview

    UG community college to UCD/UCSB/UCD Math-Econ with 3.4GPA
    MS in Operations Research/Industrial Engineering at “hidden-Ivy” not Stanford with 3.8GPA(70% completed, will finished before MBA matriculation)
    GRE 170Q, 164V, 6AWA – converts to a 770GMAT, first & only attempt
    first gen college student – worked almost full time during undergrad, dealt with violence and homelessness, VP of business club (still contribute a few times a year)

    Started in same industry(telco) my father held a blue collar position in for 30 years. Joined ATT/VZN via mega merger. Long term goal is in the tech/teclo field.
    Worked in analytics/big data role.
    Rec stated I got a 13M/year issue resolved and got a new department formed
    Board member on employee resource group – created multiple oversubscribed (300+) where senior execs gave career advice, one where I got a mixer started with employees from 2 other companies, etc.
    Taught math at inner city school for 3 years
    Taught English in LatAm country for 1 week

    I’m guessing blemishes at the start of undergrad + not working at Google/Facebook did me in.

  • JP

    Represent! Good luck 🙂

  • Xj

    Ps.. Oxford here as well.. 😉

  • Xj

    That’s all I was getting at really. I had pretty much the same pivot – and I knew it was really unusual so I focused a lot on communicating why I thought it was important, why I’d be best placed to do it, and why I’d succeed doing it (my past). I genuinely believed in what I wanted to do so I decided to explain the hell out of it rather than write about a goal that wasn’t authentic. Good luck!

  • Kumar

    Thanks, wondering how much my GPA from large state school (think Rutgers) factored in as well

  • JP

    Thanks for your view, that makes me feel a bit better – I’d genuinely rather think I messed up my execution somewhere than that I was just wasting my time altogether. I mean, this is what I want to do, so it seems a bit unfortunate if that simply “wasn’t good enough” for an MBA application

  • Xj

    I get that. But at least providing JP with a data point showing that it is “doable” might at least show that it’s not necessarily that he has a ridiculous pivot / post-MBA goal, but it could just be a matter of execution instead.

  • GSB2010-2012

    You make your decision by the information given and how it is given. It is called funneling.

  • HC Applicant

    Dinged from HBS today:

    GMAT: 780
    GPA: 3.9 in Math & Econ from Duke
    Work Experience: [Current] 1 year (2 years at matriculation) in middle market private equity (generalist firm that does some healthcare deals); [Previous] 2 years in bulge bracket investment banking (healthcare group)
    Extracurricular: Volunteer weekly at a local hospital, recently took on a leadership role managing other volunteers
    Post MBA Goal: Healthcare-focused private equity
    Demographics: White male

  • Xj

    I dont think that it’s ridiculous. I work in strategy consulting and compete in niche action sports and am passionate about that as an ECA. My post MBA goal is pivoting to entrepreneurship in that niche sport. I explained it well, and got an interview invitation to HBS. I’m sure execution may have something to do with it, but I wouldn’t go as far as GSB2010-2012 to be “taken aback” about what you say – your situation feels parallel to mine.

  • Ashish

    Ok, will do. Thank you.

  • disqus_uKgW9viCjv

    Got dinged as well.

    GMAT: 750
    GPA: 3.7 in Engineering from Stanford
    Work Experience: 5 years at matriculation – 1 year at PE fund that blew up, 2 years at top asset management doing principal investing, 2 years in social impact investing. College internships in IBD / equity research in Hong Kong / India.
    Extracurricular: President of an education nonprofit’s local chapter, Core Volunteer at healthcare social enterprise, Muay Thai & Weightlifting
    Post MBA Goal: Consulting in renewable / conventional energy sector -> clean-tech VC
    Demographics: 25 year old Asian Male

    What are my chances at other top schools?

  • hbsguru

    lesser known school usually does not help unless it is part of some overcoming adversity story, not a super big deal either way, i think your real issue was just losing out in beauty contest to other FMCG guys.
    Other schools are cld be hard b.c. your stats are low-ish and they are very concerned with GMAT and GPA scores. Maybe at Haas.
    Ding fr. LBS is concerning, that place is not that hard to get into.
    You may not be executing on the app up to par.

  • P

    Male, 27
    GMAT 750
    3.6 GPA from top 10 engineering college in India (non IIT)
    Masters degree from MIT (3.7/4 GPA)
    4 years experience in US Retail (Amazon) across 2 roles – supply chain and general management (2 promotions, direct reports, peer to MBA grads)
    CFA L1
    Extras : Volunteer at non profit based in India
    Post MBA Career – management consulting
    HBS – ding, waiting for Wharton, Sloan, and GSB Booth invite

  • AS201

    Hi Sandy, that’s really helpful. Do you think being from a lesser known university for my undergrad didn’t help? Do you reckon I have a chance at my other targets?

  • Ali Shaikha

    Hi Sandy, that’s really helpful. Do you think being from a lesser known university for my undergrad didn’t help? Do you reckon I have a chance at my other targets?

  • guest

    GMAT: 750
    3.5 from top 3 liberal arts college
    under represented minority (hispanic) female – 27
    research at MBB
    post-mba – stay at MBB
    extras: volunteer at 2 local orgs, marathon runner

    HBS – ding, waiting for Wharton, Sloan, and GSB

  • A

    GMAT: 770
    4.0 from HYP
    Work experience: 5 years as an auction house specialist
    Extracurriculars: fitness instructor with major boutique studio; Board of Trustees with NYC charter school; former ballerina; bodybuilder
    27 year old white female
    Sandy, in the comments to an Handicap article you mentioned that my odds for HBS were good, so I was honestly a bit surprised not to get an interview.
    Headed to CBS J-term, but I’m admittedly a bit bummed.

  • hbsguru

    HBS admits Fast Moving Consumer Good applicants fr. big players like Unilver etc. but my guess is, they just win out in beauty contest w. you, to wit, better GPA, higher GMAT, better schooling, and maybe 2 jobs instead of 1, showing progression, etc.
    Family narrative etc. story might have helped if this was close but apparently it was not.

  • hbsguru

    GRRRR. TO BAD, you would have been a plus at HBS but they don’t like journos as a rule, except maybe NYT and WSJ.
    Starting that media biz on the side was a plus and gave you a chance, but either not enuf, or poor execution, or just bad luck.
    I think other schools may go for either stats or story or both. May be not Stanford but others you note should be solid chances.

  • JimM

    Forgot to mention, but also passed cfa level 3

  • Cece

    Get your GMAT to at least 730 and reapply next year. You may have a slot at Columbia. Have you applied or thought about Yale SOM?

  • JP

    Fair enough, what you say makes a lot of sense. I was thinking that the MBA would provide the platform/education in order to successfully ‘pivot’ given although this is an “extracurricular”, it’s basically been my life and passion for the past decade and so I was looking to move from my “conventional” path into something with more personal meaning to me.

    I accept that this may well be flawed reasoning though. Thanks for your feedback!

  • GSB2010-2012

    I am taken aback. Your work experience is not related to sports management and suddenly you want to jump on a different ship. I do not see any link here. Linking extra-curricular to post MBA goal is not the way, if that was your thinking.

    It is like saying I’m a horse rider and 5 years from now I want to be an astronaut. It does not work like that. I guess you should have thought about your post MBA goal well.

    You should refine your application and re-apply. I think then you may have a chance for an interview though not a huge chance. But at present, you’re going to have it tough. This is likely to be the reason for a ding at GSB as well. There could be other factors but they do not come out as vividly as the one mentioned.

  • JimM

    GMAT: 740 (46Q/46V)
    GPA: 3.98 in Finance and Marketing from medium tier NC state school
    Work Experience: 2 total years teaching abroad in South Korea while gaining advanced proficiency in Korean. 2.5 years at boutique investment bank in M&A (1.5 years analyst 1 year associate)
    Extracurricular: cycling club, local young businessman club, RA for 2 years in undergraduate, volunteer tutoring for local organization, Board of Directors member at non-profit organization.
    Post MBA goal: Leverage networking to acquire position at P/E fund
    Demo: 27 year old White Male

  • DaveR

    Hi Sandy – 27 year old white male here who got dinged by Harvard.

    780 GMAT (Q49 V51)
    3.6 GPA in humanities at Ivy League
    5 years as business journalist at prominent national magazine
    Started small online media business on the side
    Goal: entrepreneurship in tech or media

    How are my chances at other top schools: Stanford, Sloan, Haas, Columbia, Wharton, Stern, Yale? Thanks!

  • AS201

    GMAT – 710 (Q49 V42)
    3.35 GPA undergrad from Top 5 uni in Pakistan
    4 years work exp, sales and marketing at FMCG (RB, Unilever)
    Financial issues, but helped start a family business, worked 2 jobs to get through undergrad school and support family

    Dinged at HBS and LBS. Applying to Stanford, Booth, Columbia, Haas, Wharton.

  • JP

    Hi Sandy,

    26 year old white male, UK national.

    GMAT 750 (50/41)
    Mathematics degree from Oxford, decent 2/1 classification (not sure what GPA conversion gets used?)

    Work Experience: 3 years at J.P. Morgan, then 1 year at Credit Suisse. Top performance ranking at CS.
    Recommendations: Direct manager at CS (Director) and former Bridge coach (England)

    Extra-curricular: International Bridge player (2nd in world championship as part of England team), nationally ranked (top 300) foosball player.
    Post-MBA goal: launch organisation to promote and raise the profile of non-athletic competition (mind sports, video games, etc.)

    Dinged by HBS, no interview. Also applied to Stanford, is there any hope there?

    Your feedback is much appreciated, thank you!

  • GSB2010-2012

    Sandy is the expert. I can only answer on behalf of GSB. Wait for Sandy to comment.

  • Ashish

    Thank you so much. Where else do you think I should apply? Do you think I should re-take the GMAT?

  • Bechtel Man

    GMAT – 780
    Bachelors Degree in Electrical Engineering – MIT
    3.92/4.00 GPA

    Work Experience –
    6 years in Bechtel Corporation where I was promoted from an Assistant Manager to a Senior Project Manager. Handled 5 project teams in the utilities sector. I was only answerable to the VP of Projects who apparently is a HBS graduate and was one of my recommenders.

    Extra curricular activity – IEEE workshops, webinars, seminars etc. Published papers.

    My goal post-MBA was to move into a financial management role at a leading power company such as Duke Energy.

    Dinged by HBS.

    Thanks Sandy.

  • LH

    It wasn’t the recs, because I read them before they were submitted. I explained my story in the essay, and essay wasn’t tone deaf since I hired a consultant to make sure I wasn’t being tone deaf.

    I dunno. Maybe my essay was just not HBS enough. I had the most difficulty connecting with and writing the HBS essay prompt.

    Here’s to second-guessing everything.

    Sandy – based on your experience, do you really think GSB does for “wow” factor? I know that’s GSB’s rep, but the ppl I know that were admitted fall into either 1) the “quirky/kumbaya” bucket (work experience was manager at a ski resort, or working on an organic farm. And no they weren’t minority or crippled or had connections) or 2) ticked off all the prestige checkboxes.

  • GSB2010-2012

    Sorry, buddy. I do not see you as a GSB candidate. I do not see that WOW factor. Moreover, you ought to know that Indians apply in huge numbers. Therefore, if you are as brilliant as say, 6 candidates, you’re likely to be dinged based on numbers.

  • Caroline

    27 year old white female
    GMAT: 690
    GPA: 3.65 from ivy league
    work exp: 4+ years at JPM – two promotions
    Post MBA: corporate social responsibility
    extracurricular: board of two non profits, mentor children in nyc
    solid recs
    also applied to CBS

  • HBSding

    I posted the profile above. I also just received a ding from LBS. Thought I would for sure get in.

  • Ashish

    Hi Sandy,

    Just got
    dinged at Harvard – no interview.

    GMAT 700
    (Q47 – V39)

    GPA 3.6 in finance and logistics, supply chain management from R.H Smith School
    of Business

    29
    year-old Indian male

    7 years thus far at Big 4 consulting firm, banking and analytics (Wells Fargo, FDIC
    – Failed Banks 2008, etc.) Passionate about food, created catering company in
    DC called ashishcooks and want to grow it into food focused lifestyle
    brand. Was a co-founder of a business in
    high school.

    Extracurriculars: Higher Achievement, College Summit – lessons through food.
    Boxed in college.

    Did Internships
    (stodging) at city’s top restaurants (Rural Society – Chef Jose Garces)

    Also
    applying to CBS, where else should I apply?
    Dream school is GSB – awaiting that now.

    Thanks!

  • Joseph

    Gotcha. If I spent my whole career with nonprofits, where are some schools that would go for that? Yale?

  • WasExpectingIt

    Hey sandy – some review love for us peeps down here? 🙂

  • Packerfan

    25 year old white male
    GMAT: 720
    GPA: 3.5 Mech Eng – Midwest School (Northwestern/Notre Dame)
    Work Exp: 3 years Large Tech Consulting Company (Accenture/Delloitte) – focus on energy
    Post MBA Goal: Investment Banking

    Dinged at HBS — chances at Sloan, Kellogg, Booth?

    Thank you

  • Ashish

    Just got
    dinged at Harvard – no interview.

    GMAT 700
    (Q47 – V39)

    GPA 3.6 in finance and logistics, supply chain management from R.H Smith School
    of Businessengineering from mid-tier school (Bucknell, Lehigh, Lafayette, etc.)

    29 year-old Indian male

    7 years thus far at Big 4 consulting firm, banking and analytics (Wells Fargo,
    etc.) Passionate about food, created catering company in DC called ashishcooks
    and want to grow it into food focused lifestyle brand. Was a co-founder of a business in high
    school.

    Great
    recommendations

    Extracurriculars: Higher Achievement, College Summit – lessons through food

    Internships
    at city’s top restaurants (Rural Society – Chef Jose Garces)

    Also
    applying to CBS, where else should I apply?
    Dream school is GSB – awaiting that now.

    Thanks!

  • hbsguru

    on info given, only one job can be a liability and you may have lost out to Non Profit kids w. more impressive for profit jobs combined WITH non-profit jobs.

  • Joseph

    Asian male. 25.

  • hbsguru

    not sure what happened here, it was not alum status of rec writers or EC’s. Could have been failure to explain story in app and essay or just bad luck. That is real solid resume and scores.
    Does not seem like Stanford admit because there is no WOW factor, but I think Sloan and Booth are going to like this, unless app or recs were mangled and tone deaf.
    Post back w. those outcomes.

  • Joseph

    Got dinged by Harvard.

    GMAT 740. GPA 3.97. Top 100 school. Full scholarship.

    I work as a Development Manager for a statewide $3 million nonprofit. I started a nonprofit as well where I am board president. Serve on multiple community boards/committees.

  • SoonerMagic

    Dinged from HBS.

    27 year old white male
    GPA 3.89 from a large big-12 school
    760 GMAT (50/44)
    4 years working at a small software company. Started as employee #3, taught myself to code, moved into project management, my recommendations explain the important impact I’ve had on the company.

    I know HBS was a long-shot given my no-name work experience, but what kinds of chances could I have elsewhere? I applied to other schools for round 1, but maybe it’s time for some targeted round 2 apps?

  • ASDF

    730 GMAT, 3.5 undergrad from a state school in the northeast. Went to a top three high school in USA for what it’s worth.

    Entrepreneur since 19 (I’m 29). While I understand that my lack of work experience within a recognizable firm is a downside, my projects in technology have raised 2M+ from top VC’s and Angels. During my most recent project (consumer products field, non-VC backed), all of our money was stolen due to cybercrime, so I worked in a restaurant for one year while rebuilding my business to eventual sales of 1.5m per year (my essay focused on this). On a personal note, lost 150 pounds as a teen (currently mentor kids), 9/11 survivor.

    I know I’m a bit of an outlier here, but I’m wondering where you see a potential fit. Thank you.

  • leb90

    Applied to Stanford, Wharton, Booth, Sloan, and Columbia for what it’s worth.

  • hbsguru

    they get a lot of impressive LDS applications and make some lottery-like decisions, favoring non-CPAs, as you suggest. Saying you want to JOIN Accenture might have been the cherry on how tier 2 this was to them in terms of jobs and companies (altho data analytics is OK goal).
    Hmm, dont think this profile is getting different outcome next year, esp. if nothing really changes.

  • leb90

    Just got dinged as well.

    GMAT: 750 (47Q/46V)
    GPA: 3.64 in Marketing from UT Austin
    Work Experience: 5 total years at matriculation. 2 years in Advertising Agencies working in Digital Media – 1.5 years working on AT&T and 6 months working on Microsoft (current client). Previously 1.5 years in customer service working for Fortune 500 Oil and Gas company in Singapore
    Extracurricular: Marketing manager and coach for a youth tennis organizations serving housing project residents. Calculus tutor, club tennis player, and marketing manager for student website in undergrad
    Post MBA goal: Join a luxury goods and retail company as a product marketing manager
    Demo: 26 year old Asian American Male

  • hbsguru

    Phew, no inter a surprise. Not sure what happened that is solid story and guys like you get in, and you are a good version of you [e.g. high in cohort].
    I think w. 750 and 3.84 you should be real strong at Col, K and MIT.
    post back and let us know what happens.

    Wrote essay highlighting leadership/impactful experience in an attempt to counterbalance my shorter work experience.

    Well, I hope it was not too braggy–they might have preferred more personal and ‘touching’ essay, but I dont think that was it.

  • LH

    Hi Sandy – need some feedback as I’m wondering if I’m going to strike out for all my other apps and need to start taking a look at Round 2.

    Demo: 25-year old Asian-American female
    -GPA: 3.6 (double math+engineering major at top 10 UG)
    -GMAT: 770
    -Work Exp: 4 years. Strategy roles at 1) Tech company (Google/FB/Apple); 2) got poached by a startup; 3) Another famous tech company (startup got acquired and underwent massive reorg)
    -ECs: arts-related stuff in college. lighter ECs post-college (maybe this is what killed me? kept moving cities for jobs, so it was difficult to build ECs continuity)
    -Recommendations: both showcased a lot of “stories” and tied in with rest of my app. One recommender was HBS alum (but they aren’t Sheryl Sandberg, so probably didn’t make a difference)
    -Post-MBA goals: specific type of product management in tech

    I’ll admit I don’t think HBS was the best fit for me, but I’m a bit worried to not even get an invite. Am I completely hitting out of the ballpark with my applications? Other schools are GSB (am I screwed for this?), Sloan, Booth.

  • Cece

    Also try Stanford. what are your post-MBA goals.

  • hbsguru

    not really, IMHO. this is OK tier 2 b school app. You might get lucky at USC, Duke, Darden ahead of that.

  • hbsguru

    dunno, this is drifting into EMBA territory with 7 years of W/E [8 at matic], so that might have been one issue.
    Getting into HBS w. 7 years work ex at ONLY ONE job is a real outlier, not sure why. Even in ‘hot’ field like yours.

  • hbsguru

    dunno, consulting is real crowded cohort and results are often lottery like. Both Wharton and Haas go for this profile.

  • justjit

    Actually I have tried it multiple times and I am over trying further. Will think about GRE.

  • HBSding

    Got dinged from Harvard.

    740 GMAT 3.7 GPA from Top 15 US undergrad.

    Female

    Work experience at a boutique consulting firm with F500 clients, then a major (80,000 employee) healthcare company.
    4 years work experience at matriculation.

    Extracurriculars include community service club president and volunteer with special needs children in college. Currently member of a large professional organization.

    Also applied to Wharton and Haas

  • hbsguru

    app may have been too cursory 🙂

  • hbsguru

    ahem, I think you should retake GMAT 1,2 3, x times if you are serious about this, if you tried that, try GRE, that is sometimes easier and sometimes easier for schools to ignore b.c. it does not impact ratings as much.

  • Val

    Ok. Based on the above did I even have a chance?

  • hbsguru

    dunno, on info available–crowded cohort of IB types plus Job 2, and they may have preferred other guys with same profile and better Jobs 1 and 2 by their lights [e.g. more selective], or you may not have put this together in app as strongly as possible.

  • justjit

    Hi Sandy,

    Just got dinged by HBS.

    My profile: 6 years of project management experience in construction.
    GMAT: 640
    Undergrad GPA: 7.56/10, India
    Grad GPA: 3.96/4, USC.
    Multiple Scholarship Awards at USC.
    Team Award at company currently working.

    With low GMAT what other schools you think I should apply?

  • mba

    (dinged at HBS)

  • mba

    Hey Sandy – would love some feedback here:

    GMAT: 770
    GPA: 3.55 from Princeton (with Honors, during grade deflation era)
    26 year old white male in NYC

    2 years at a boutique investment bank, followed by one year at a fintech startup where I’ve been promoted and am now running my team.

    Great rec:
    Extra-curriculars: On the junior board of a non-profit, sing with an a cappella group in the city

  • hbsguru

    business does show that.
    They don’t care about leadership and adaptability, they care about
    traditional excellence. Trailing spouse is suspect category to them [they will say NO NO NO blah blah but true], they already have you pegged as dropping out of workforce to raise children, another no, no they will never admit to using as ding filter. But true. Once you get in, you can graduate, stay home and have 10 kids, and become an adcom, but not before.

  • JB

    Thanks Sandy!

  • hbsguru

    Just got dinged at Harvard

    GMAT 750 (Q48 – V45)
    GPA 3.5 in engineering from mid-tier school (Bucknell, Lehigh, Lafayette, etc.)
    26 year-old white male
    3
    years thus far at small energy-focused consulting firm (but do work for
    big clients such as Exxon and US Dept. of Energy) and want to stay in
    energy industry

    Great recommendations
    Extracurriculars: works at music non-profit for inner-city youth

    Also applied to rest of the M7 in Round 1 (minus Univ. of Chicago) – any thoughts?
    Thanks!
    ======================================
    Ding in large part based on no anchor experience, e.g. no schooling or
    work at place they recognize and use as freq. flyer. Typically admits
    with this record have same stats but first job at MBB, and THEN go to
    smaller, niche firm. That way, HBS credits you with doing something
    that is hard to do, e.g. get job at MBB, but on record you display, you
    never got admitted thru any selective doorway, and they just use that as
    an easy metric. Sure, there is more, blah, blah but that explains a
    lot. Good luck at other places, they are not as obsessed w. selective
    prior gig as HBS.

  • Val

    Thanks. Appreciate it. What is the reason for not liking trailing spouses? Unfortunately with his job my career had to come second but I thought the business would show leadership and adaptability.

  • hbsguru

    well, good luck at Booth and good for them in seeing value here.
    This does not seem like Stanford profile, but keep us posted.
    I’m rooting for you.
    sk

  • hbsguru

    grrr. too much explaining , they don’t like that, even if reasons are powerful.
    Low grades another issue, and HBS does not like trailing spouses (except on the admissions committee, but not in the admitted pool).

  • JB

    Yeah, I’m older. 30. Worked for several years as an EMT while I helped out family, so got a late start on career. I figured it wasn’t an HBS profile, but the application was a good exercise to get me started on the rest of them. An invite to Booth is promising, not sure what that says for my chances at the other 3 tho.

  • mba

    Just got dinged at Harvard

    GMAT 750 (Q48 – V45)
    GPA 3.5 in engineering from mid-tier school (Bucknell, Lehigh, Lafayette, etc.)
    26 year-old white male
    3 years thus far at small energy-focused consulting firm (but do work for big clients such as Exxon and US Dept. of Energy) and want to stay in energy industry

    Great recommendations
    Extracurriculars: works at music non-profit for inner-city youth

    Also applied to rest of the M7 in Round 1 (minus Univ. of Chicago) – any thoughts?
    Thanks!

  • hbsguru

    5 years as of matriculation as an Actuary for a mid-sized national
    retirement benefits consulting firm (probably unknown to the folks at
    HBS. Nobody here that I know of has applied to business school, since
    actuarial work is better for most of them for both $$ and opportunity).
    SAY NO MORE, not an HBS profile, despite the fact you have a powerful personal narrative.
    HBS is deeply open to so-called “sob” stories and many essays fr. kids who got interviews have powerful personal details.
    IN your case, man, you also seem OLDer, that could also be an issue. How old are you?

  • Kumar

    Hi Sandy,

    30 year old Indian male
    GPA – 3.1 at large state school in New Jersey.
    780 GMAT
    Major – Biomedical Engineering
    Work experience – 7 years at Abbott Laboratories, promoted three times, recognized by site leadership on 4 separate occasions for achievement.

  • JB

    UPDATE: Just got dinged from HBS. Interview invite to Booth!

    Hi, I’ve enjoyed reading through your elite MBA odds series. In fact, I’ve consolidated the entire series into a single HTML file and am casually parsing through the info to extract the implicit logic behind your analysis. In reading through each case, I did notice that non-traditional candidates are, unsurprisingly, scarce. As a non-traditional candidate, I applied in R1 this year and didn’t receive an interview on either of the first two days. Anyways, I’m curious about your take on my profile:

    Age: 30

    GMAT: 780 (50-Q/47-V/8-IR/6-AWA)

    GPA: 3.96 University of California (mid-80s national university)

    Majors: Mathematics (Highest Honors), Economics (Honors)

    Work Experience: 5 years as of matriculation as an Actuary for a mid-sized national retirement benefits consulting firm (probably unknown to the folks at HBS. Nobody here that I know of has applied to business school, since actuarial work is better for most of them for both $$ and opportunity). Credentialed actuary. Earned the “One Company Award” for 2015 for “for serving as a visible role model for collaboration that ignores the artificial boundaries of business units, markets or practices.” 1% of Ees, only west region recipient for 2015. Made a name for myself here as a driver of change.

    EC’s: Eagle Scout. Worked for 4 years post-18 as an Asst. Scoutmaster helping boys with Eagle Scout projects. Since working full time, involved in an improv theatre community (last 4 years).

    Backstory: I attended the local community college after high school to care for my grandmother. Was accepted into Berkeley as a Jr. Transfer, but death, divorce, and parental disability changed my plans. Worked as an EMT for several years while helping out the family and considering going into medicine. Eventually returned to college (while continuing to work as an EMT), finished my degree and got my current gig.

    Future aspirations: Short-term, working in operations management or management consulting. Long-term (& idealistic) helping to influence business culture to reduce negative externalities–ultimately culture is a greater driver of action than law, and we need leaders who are forward-thinking and conscientious.

    Applied to GSB, HBS, Wharton, Haas, and Booth. Thanks for all your contributions to the community of aspiring business leaders!

  • Val

    Got a ding. Masters Degree in Engineering from USC (3.2 GPA). Worked at largest airplane company in the world before leaving to start ecommerce startup and leading licensing program, etc. Left because became military spouse and needed something to do that I could take with us. Grew to >$1M in sales. Weak undergraduate GPA due to family illness but explained in application.

  • tommeboy29@aim.com

    Just got dinged at Harvard

    GMAT 750 (Q48 – V45)
    GPA 3.5 in engineering from mid-tier school (Bucknell, Lehigh, Lafayette, etc.)
    26 year-old white male
    3 years thus far at small energy-focused consulting firm (but do work for big clients such as Exxon and US Dept. of Energy) and want to stay in energy industry

    Great recommendations
    Extracurriculars: works at music non-profit for inner-city youth

    Also applied to rest of the M7 in Round 1 (minus Univ. of Chicago) – any thoughts?
    Thanks!

  • Question

    Hi sandy, just got dinged.
    -Demo: 28 years old female from Eastern Europe
    -GMAT: 710
    -Education: Bsc and Msc from top European business schools. Bsc GPA is bad, but English – the language of education at that university – was only my 4th language back then. Msc GPA with significant increase, one course with honors and top grade for thesis
    -Work experience: 4 years at 5 different tech startups, 3 of these belong to a huge German startup incubator, sending many female candidtaes to H/W/S, especially H. Previously managed up to 30 ppl, now role is more strategic. Worked and lived in 15 different countries across 3 continents and speak 5 languages
    -Extracurriculars: a) pre college: sport champion and team leader, international education volunteer, b) during college: working in a national park, organizing cultural and sport events for classmates, c) advising fresh graduates to improve their CV and job application, volunteering for the UN where I got promoted to international advisor
    -Post MBA: tech to diversify industry of home country and empower ppl
    -Theme of application: heroes & overcoming challenges
    -Target schools: HBS (dinged last year, dinged this year), Stanford (dinged last year), Columbia, Wharton Lauder, MIT, Booth, aiming for all in the 1st round.
    -Recommendations: CEOs and Co-founders

  • HBSHelp

    GMAT – 750
    GPA – 3.84
    Mechanical Engineering at Penn State
    Work Experience:
    2 years (3 at matriculation) at Honda, first working on vehicle handling and then moved into R&D work on futuristic concepts. Lead two smaller, but global teams. Promotions are on a strict schedule but on pace to be promoted at or ahead of schedule.
    Extra curricular:
    Very involved in sports. Coach multiple youth teams and am very involved with a non-profit that focuses on after school activities for under-privileged children (been involved since high school).
    Post MBA goals:
    Short-term: Move into product management with a technology company
    Long-term: Executive leadership position where I could oversee product strategy for a large corporation
    Wrote essay highlighting leadership/impactful experience in an attempt to counterbalance my shorter work experience.
    Also applied to Columbia, Kellogg, and MIT.
    Thoughts?? Thanks in advance!

  • dagthepowerful

    Just got Harvard Ding.
    GMAT – 750
    Bachelors and Masters Degree in Accounting from BYU 3.9 GPA, Cum Laude for Bachelors
    CPA
    27 year old white male, married with 2 children

    Extracurriculars included mission for church, other volunteer work in church post-college (taught Sunday school for 7 year old class, 4 year old class, and 13 year old class)

    My essay focused on teaching myself SQL when no one in the office knew it, and teaching others. Also focused on my leadership as a missionary and how that’s shaped my career since then.

    Work experience – consulting for a litigation support/economic analysis firm – 2.5 years (this is probably the biggest reason)

    Post MBA goal was consulting with a focus in data analytics – for a firm like Accenture

    Feeling pretty discouraged. Any chance I could improve my profile enough for HBS next year? Next year is probably the last year I’d be willing to go to b-school given my age and family situation.

    Also applied to Tuck, Kellogg, Darden, and UNC.

  • Big4 Consultant

    Hi Sandy,

    Just got the ding email, would appreciate your thoughts on whether you think the result could be different with adjustments for next year

    27 YO white male
    Background: Spent 2 years in audit at a Big Four, three years in strategy consulting at the same firm
    GPA: 3.3 from top 30 university
    GMAT: 760 (48Q/47V)
    CPA/CFA
    Excellent recommendations
    Extracurriculars: Involved heavily in a nonprofit board, coach a local youth basketball team
    Goals: To move into a strategic role in sports management

    Also applied to GSB, Wharton, CBS

    Thank you!

  • hbsguru

    I think HBS ding could have turned a lot on what they think of your current firm, even in ‘niche’ space like digital marketing, they prefer larger companies or companies they know about, or as you note in goals, digital marketing role in Fort-100 companies–kids from all those companies could have beaten you out, with similar stats.

    If you actually checked that box, ding cld be based general app. execution, blah, blah, and recs, that stuff is hard to quantify w.out actually seeing it.

    Not sure essay theme as stated fully answered what ELSE you want them to know prompt, again, depends on execution.

    I think you will do better at Kellogg and Tuck who go for profiles like this, and should be competitive at Wharton and Columbia, who also wld be glad to have digital marketing guy in the mix, and are less selective than HBS, even a small amount of less selectivity could make a diff in your case.

    Contra to comment below, work ex and scores are OK< altho you do present an unfortunate issue as to whether a 710 needs to be a 730.

    That could be the case at Wharton and Columbia. Altho I hate to say it.

  • Guest

    A weak profile. Expect dings from all. Improve score. Gain more experience.

  • IndianDigitalGuy

    GMAT – 710
    Bachelors Degree in Microbiology – No GPA Awarded, First Class Degree. My undergrad record isn’t spectacular by any means.

    Work Experience –
    3 years at a digital marketing firm working on various aspects on search, social media, etc.
    One year as a reporter for a small newspaper

    Extra curricular activity includes a few non-profit assignments working with children.

    My application focused on my marketing experience and my role as a key content strategist for a variety of clients – from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups. I worked across search marketing and social media.

    My goal post-MBA was to move into a marketing role at a leading CPG company such as P&G/Unilever or a marketing role at a tech company such as Google/Facebook.

    Dinged by HBS.

    Do you have any thoughts on my chances at Kellogg/Wharton/Columbia/Tuck?

    Thanks Sandy