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

  • Kim

    Wonderful article on R2 dings, thank you Sandy and John. It got me thinking, because I have been having the very same question for the last few weeks, after R2 interview decisions were released. I applied to business school for this first time this year with a lot of preparation and was surprised by some of the results. I’m an Indian female candidate, with 4.5 years of work experience at the time of application at a well known consulting firm (not MBB but a smaller firm specializing in healthcare that is well known for recruiting at business schools). In my tenure here, I was promoted and transferred (been here less than 1 year) to the US offices. With the transfer came an elevated role and new title. I did my undergraduation at a top Indian engineering school with a GPA of 7.5 – held several leadership positions here as well. My GMAT score is a 770 with good splits. I also have a strong focus on social impact and community service. I did lots of research, visited schools last year and spoke to many students and in one case a program head before I applied in Round 2 this year. Unfortunately, Wharton and HBS rejected me without and interview, which surprised me. Duke ($$) and Tuck admitted me. Kellogg is yet to come. I would like to understand what could have gone sour with my applications, because I put a lot of thought and hard work into my essays. I understand that these schools are quite competitive but hoped at the least for an interview, especially at Wharton which I was very keen on. I would really love it if you could share your insights, if possible!

  • 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.