- 780 GMAT
- 3.3 GPA
- Undergraduate degree in economics and sociology from Harvard but had flunked out of college as a junior and took a leave of absence for a year (suffering some family issues)
- Work experience includes three years as a marketing analyst at a top consumer packaged goods company (think P&G, Unilever, PepsiCo)
- Goal: To either work in management consulting, which I never had the chance to with such a low GPA coming out of undergrad, or to become a brand manager at my CPG company, which is impossible without a MBA
- Extracurricular involvement as an entrepreneur (started my own for-profit company and a social enterprise. “I’ve received some press for both of them, but neither are that big”
- 25-year-old Asian female
Odds of Success:
Harvard: 20% to 30%
Michigan: 50% to 60%
Sandy’s Analysis: HMMM, GREAT GMAT (780), good job in Pepsi-type company, well good job in most circumstances but often not for a Harvard College grad, and grades which need some explaining, with some spotty but workable extras.
Hard to know how this shakes out at H and S, although I don’t think there is a lot of Stanford-y raw material here, so I would say chances there are slim. HBS might go for you if your work record is superlative and you can prove it via recs and promotions. That will be key to your success in this process, along with some convincing story about early low grades and one-year rustication (an old fashioned word meaning a forced leave of absence. You are in good company, with John Milton, if you know who he is. Although I think his trip to the country (from Christ College, Cambridge, England) was for fighting with his tutor. See fun Wikipedia list at the end of this entry.
Marketing analyst at Pepsi-type CPG company is probably not as powerful as brand manager, since you don’t get to work with diverse parts of the company and guys who drive the trucks (always good essay fodder) so you will have to search hard for situations in which you convinced different parts of the company about your ideas, blah, blah. Consulting is a natural outcome of this and as I said, it is not a dirty word.
You say, “Extracurriculars: I dabble in the start-up space and have started my own for-profit company and a social enterprise. I’ve received some press for both of them, but neither are that big.” Kiddo, you need to make them if not big — significant. Getting any amount of press for a social enterprise is worth a whole HBS essay and could really tilt things. Ditto at other schools, start thinking like a consultant optimizer and leave your rusticated past behind. As noted, a 780 GMAT at MIT is always welcome, as are kids from Harvard College, and I think you got a solid shot at other schools you mention based on GMAT, solid job, not-all-that-low GPA (w. a convincing asterisk) and potentially powerful extras. Cheer up, this is more solid than you think, although H and S may be in 20% range. Other places are doable.
As promised, here’s a fun list, from Wikipedia entry on Rustication: These kids are quite the cut ups, and all became legends.
Notable Britons who were rusticated during their time at University include:
- John Milton (1609–1674), Rusticated from Christ’s College, Cambridge in 1626 for quarreling with his tutor.
- John Dryden (1631–1700), Rusticated from Trinity College, Cambridge. Exchanged insults with his college vice-master.
- Walter Savage Landor (1775–1864), Rusticated from Trinity College, Oxford in 1794. Fired a gun at the window of a fellow student whose late night revelry had disturbed him and for whom he had an aversion. Landor chose not to return.
- Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822), Rusticated from University College, Oxford in 1811 for having written “The Necessity of Atheism” and then having published and disseminated the pamphlet to the heads of all colleges at the University. Shelley had originally been Sent Down (permanently expelled) but upon a supplication from his father to the University was given a chance to deny authorship and return. Shelley refused to deny authorship and was therefore sent down.
Right On Percy!