Harvard | Mr. Public Finance
GMAT 720, GPA 3.9
Harvard | Mr. Startup
GRE 327, GPA 3.35
Darden | Mr. Leading Petty Officer
GRE (MCAT) 501, GPA 4.0
Harvard | Ms. Almost Ballerina
GRE ..., GPA ...
Darden | Mr. Federal Consultant
GMAT 780, GPA 3.26
Stanford GSB | Mr. Rocket Scientist Lawyer
GMAT 730, GPA 3.65 Cumulative
Harvard | Mr. Polyglot
GMAT 740, GPA 3.65
Darden | Mr. Engineer Consultant
GMAT 730, GPA 3.47
Stanford GSB | Mr. Navy Officer
GMAT 770, GPA 4.0
Stanford GSB | Mr. Systems Change
GMAT 730, GPA 4
Tuck | Mr. Consulting To Tech
GMAT 750, GPA 3.2
Harvard | Ms. Ambitious Hippie
GRE 329, GPA 3.9
Harvard | Mr. Milk Before Cereals
GMAT 710, GPA 3.3 (16/20 Portuguese scale)
Harvard | Mr. Sales To Consulting
GMAT 760, GPA 3.49
INSEAD | Ms. Hope & Goodwill
GMAT 740, GPA 3.5
INSEAD | Mr. Airline Captain
GMAT 740, GPA 3.8
Stanford GSB | Mr. MBB to PM
GRE 338, GPA 4.0
IU Kelley | Ms. Biracial Single Mommy
, GPA 2.5/3.67 Grad
Darden | Ms. Unicorn Healthcare Tech
GMAT 730, GPA 3.5
Stanford GSB | Mr. MBA Class of 2023
GMAT 725, GPA 3.5
Chicago Booth | Mr. Guy From Taiwan
GRE 326, GPA 3.3
Stanford GSB | Mr. Energy Reform
GMAT 700, GPA 3.14 of 4
Ross | Mr. Verbal Engineer
GMAT 710, GPA 3.3
Ross | Ms. Packaging Manager
GMAT 730, GPA 3.47
Kellogg | Mr. Danish Raised, US Based
GMAT 710, GPA 10.6 out of 12
Wharton | Mr. Sr. Systems Engineer
GRE 1280, GPA 3.3
Chicago Booth | Mr. Semiconductor Guy
GMAT 730, GPA 3.3

The MBA Gatekeeper To Michigan’s Ross

So tell me what happens when an applicant hits the enter button on his or her computer and sends an application into your office.

We have our back office processors who download all of our information. It goes into a spreadsheet where everyone’s information on the application, beside the essays and recommendations, are input.

Like what exactly?

Their name, where they are from, date of birth, where they went to undergrad or grad school, their GPA, their GMAT or GRE scores. All the breakouts and percentiles. Where they worked, what their title is, where their citizen is and where they currently reside. All that stuff that is on a form.

All this goes onto one massive spreadsheet? You had nearly 3,000 applicants last year. That must be one helluva mind-boggling spreadsheet.


I get the exported Excel version, but it’s in a university database. So we take a look at what the pool looks like, how many people do we have, what’s the distribution of different people, and then we send it all out for review. First, we look through the applications to decide if we’re interested in interviewing an applicant or not.

Who does the first read of an application?

That would be this team, the admissions team.

How many people do you have on your team?

Four people, not including myself. I don’t read applications during the first stage.

I know applicants can spend a week or more applying to a single school. How long does it take one of your staff members to read an application? Two hours?


Three hours?



Much less. Because we require the interview, the first evaluation is designed to quickly assess ‘is this someone that we might want to know more about?’ So it could be up to half an hour because really we’re making a first pass. Some people will float to the top and we know there’s a lot there and we can quickly assess that this is someone we’re interested in. And then others may go on to a second evaluation before we decide whether to invite them for an interview.

Pretend I’m one of your employees and I just evaluated an application. And I spent 45 minutes on this first read, not half an hour or less. You then get my evaluation, right?

No. It’s entered into our system. All of your comments would be online. They review it online. They comment online.

So then who sees that first evaluation? You?

I can see it and the Senior Associate Director Jon Fuller can see it. But the rest of the team doesn’t see it. Subsequent evaluators don’t see it because we want them to be independent reviews.

And the senior associate director is also a reader as well?

Yes, he is.

About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.