He’s a 31-year-old Air Force pilot who has served six combat deployments and directed more than 1,000 combat missions. With a 740 GMAT and a 3.59 grade point average from a service academy, he was hoping that a Harvard Business School or Stanford MBA would help him transition into a consulting role in civilian life.
After earning his undergraduate and master’s degrees in biomedical engineering, this 27-year-old professional emerged in leadership roles at a major medical technology company. With a 720 GMAT and a 3.57 GPA, he was planning to get an MBA from Harvard to make a transition into venture capital in medical tech.
After his admissions interview at Stanford, this 24-year-old brand manager at Disney Co. received a highly encouraging email from his interviewer. ‘Stanford would be lucky to get you,” the interviewer said. “I will do what i can to provide an excellent write up on your behalf.”
Yet, he was among hundreds of candidates turned down by Stanford last week when Round 2 decisions for interviewed applicants were released. So was the 31-year-old Air Force pilot, who was also shot down by HBS after an admissions interview. And so was the biomedical engineer who was dinged by HBS after an interview.
How come these truly extraordinary applicants couldn’t get in?
We asked Sandy Kreisberg, founder of HBSGuru.com who more typically does our MBA handicapping column, to take a look at the backgrounds and stories of these candidates and tell them why they failed to get into Harvard or Stanford. Both business schools released their round two decisions last week for mostly interviewed applicants and many got disappointing news.
Of course it’s not very easy to get into either Harvard or Stanford. The average GMAT score for latest class enrolled at HBS is 727, while the average at Stanford is 732. The undergraduate grade point averages are in nose bleed territory as well: 3.73 at Stanford and 3.67 at Harvard. Less than 7% of Stanford applicants and less than 12% of HBS applicants are accepted each year.
If you also were turned down by Harvard or Stanford and would like an assessment from Sandy, go to our Post-Interview Round Two Harvard Business School & Stanford Ding Report and provide your profile and stats in the comment section.
For the best of Sandy’s ding reports on top Round 1 candidates, check out Best of Sandy’s R1 HBS & Stanford Ding Report.
For the best of Sandy’s ding reports on top Round 2 candidates, check out Best of Sandy’s R2 HBS & Stanford Ding Report.
- 710 GMAT (42V/44Q)
- 3.49 GPA in communications from a top national university (think Michigan, USC or UVA)
- “Worked 20 hours a week during college, managing eight student peers, to help pay for school”
- Work experience includes three years at Disney Co. in brand management, with two promotions—from coordinator to assistant manager to manager within two years
- Extracurricular involvement in college as a member of the men’s lacrosse team and vice president and philanthropy chair of a fraternity; pro bono consultant working with board of local school district on project to develop a strategic plan for the under-served gifted students development program
- “Amazing interview – my interviewer actually emailed me after saying ‘Stanford would be lucky to get you. I will do what i can to provide an excellent write up on your behalf’ – so i know that i was not dinged due to the interview”
- “Do you think it’s because I’m just too young? (will be 25 in a couple months). My clear “weakness” is a lack of strong quant experience to point to, but i’ve always been strong at math (just never had to take a single math course in college). I am already in the midst of an online finance course at the University of Michigan. Ross school and I want to explore HBX when it opens broad to help boost their confidence in my quant skills. Think it’s worth reapplying to GSB and HBS in October? Or should i recalibrate and apply to Columbia/Wharton/Kellogg?”
- 24-year-old white male
Sandy’s Analysis: Stanford takes people with 710s obviously, but they have to be people whom they otherwise REALLY like. Your ding was not you because of your GPA. There were just probably easier Disney admits. Your quant score is on the low side for Stanford so take the GMAT six times or as many times as you can. No one cares. Schools just want the score to send to the magazines. Yes, use the same recommenders, but have them say something new.
Stanford LOVES DISNEY and my guess is, they loved other Disney dudes (they take LOTS) more based mostly on GPA/GMAT. It’s a real easy way for Bolton to get to Starbucks by 4 p.m. About the only company they love as much as Disney is Google. So advice here is good for Googler rejects as well. Stay away from that away HBX stuff. All they want is the GMAT. Also, Stanford may not cotton to HBS taking over the online educational space, which is another reason to stick with the GMAT.
Keep in mind, that your profile, WITHOUT DISNEY, would not get very far at GSB. As to next year, apply to H and S and maybe Columbia, Wharton and Tuck and see what happens.