Berkeley Haas | Mr. Hanging By A Thread
GMAT 710, GPA 3.8
Harvard | Mr. Nonprofit Social Entrepreneur
GMAT 740, GPA 3.7
MIT Sloan | Mr. Low GPA Over Achiever
GMAT 700, GPA 2.5
Stanford GSB | Mr. Minority Champ
GMAT 740, GPA 3.7
Chicago Booth | Ms. Start-Up Entrepreneur
GRE 318 current; 324 intended, GPA 3.4
Duke Fuqua | Ms. Health Care Executive
GMAT 690, GPA 3.3
Darden | Mr. Fintech Nerd
GMAT 740, GPA 7.7/10
Harvard | Mr. Professional Boy Scout
GMAT 660, GPA 3.83
Stanford GSB | Ms. East Africa Specialist
GMAT 690, GPA 3.34
Darden | Mr. Senior Energy Engineer
GMAT 710, GPA 2.5
IU Kelley | Mr. Construction Manager
GRE 680, GPA 3.02
IU Kelley | Mr. Clinical Trial Ops
GMAT Waived, GPA 3.33
IU Kelley | Ms. Biracial Single Mommy
, GPA 2.5/3.67 Grad
Rice Jones | Mr. Simple Manufacturer
GRE 320, GPA 3.95
NYU Stern | Mr. Low Gmat
GMAT 690, GPA 73.45 % (No GPA in undergrad)
Chicago Booth | Mr. Finance Musician
GRE 330, GPA 3.6
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Wake Up & Grind
GMAT 700, GPA 3.5
Harvard | Mr. Improve Healthcare
GMAT 730, GPA 2.8
N U Singapore | Ms. Biomanager
GMAT 520, GPA 2.8
Stanford GSB | Mr. Indian Telecom ENG
GRE 340, GPA 3.56
Harvard | Mr. 1st Gen Brazilian LGBT
GMAT 720, GPA 3.2
USC Marshall | Mr. Ambitious
GRE 323, GPA 3.01
Harvard | Mr. Merchant Of Debt
GMAT 760, GPA 3.5 / 4.0 in Master 1 / 4.0 in Master 2
Tuck | Ms. Nigerian Footwear
GRE None, GPA 4.5
Stanford GSB | Mr. Low GPA To Stanford
GMAT 770, GPA 2.7
Berkeley Haas | Mr. 360 Consultant
GMAT 720, GPA 3.4
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Low GPA High GRE
GRE 325, GPA 3.2

Ivy League Adcoms: Be Thoughtful & Yourself

The new home of Yale University's School of Management: Evans Hall. Photo by Chris Choi

The new home of Yale University’s School of Management: Evans Hall. Photo by Chris Choi


Similarly, the directors encouraged applicants to give some serious thought to what they want to gain from their MBA experience. Both acknowledged that students often change their career direction while in business school—in fact, DelMonico said that Yale SOM will be giving this year’s graduates copies of their application essays as a graduation present, to help the emerging MBAs reflect on how much they have changed—but say that the candidates who enter business school with a clear understanding of what they hope to take away from their time there tend to be better prepared to take advantage of what the programs have to offer.

“We find that the students who do best here are the ones who come in the most directed, with a clear agenda of the different resources we have that they want to take advantage of,” explained Shelby. “The ones who arrive without direction and are trying to learn from all the different clubs and presentations struggle to get their footing and will sometimes fall behind their classmates in getting direction. We are setting up students for success by being so specific about their goals in the application, since it’s easy to get lost with all the resources CBS has to offer. Going through the thought process of understanding ahead of time: why CBS, why an MBA and why now is a huge advantage; they’re better able to pivot when they discover something new.”

The panelists were also asked about “exceptions”—how the admissions committees view older applicants and candidates with lower than average GPAs. Again, Shelby and DelMonico echoed the theme of being thoughtful and authentic, emphasizing that applicants should not tell the story they think the admissions office wants to hear, but instead write sincerely and thoughtfully about who they truly are. These particular candidate “exceptions” should focus on helping the admissions office understand why now is the right time for them to pursue an MBA or on explaining what was going on in their lives that caused their GPA to fall.


DelMonico pointed out that by definition, half the students in a school’s most recent incoming class have GPAs lower than the program’s posted average, and Shelby stated strongly, “I’d rather see someone have the maturity to address in the optional essay that they didn’t focus fully on academics as an undergraduate and show progress and maturity. I appreciate that more than not addressing it.” Speaking to all applicants, but perhaps especially to those from overrepresented demographics, the directors encouraged candidates to use the application to reveal their true personality, to share meaningful personal experiences or to demonstrate how they would add value to the class.

The admissions directors also shared aspects of their respective schools that they felt may be underappreciated by candidates. After validating CBS’s long history of excellence in finance, Shelby asserted that what may be less well known about the program is that it has been increasingly emphasizing entrepreneurship and media and entertainment in recent years, to reflect certain changes seen in the New York City business community. She also debunked the myth of CBS being a commuter school by highlighting the strength of its community.

DelMonico clarified that although the Yale SOM has a founding mission to educate leaders for business and society, and may therefore be thought of primarily as focusing on the nonprofit realm or social sector, the program is in fact also stellar in finance, with standouts such as recent Nobel prize–winner Robert Shiller on the faculty. In addition, the school is establishing a new entrepreneurship center and has set a goal to become the most distinctively global of all the top business schools.

Other topics addressed during the panel included the views of the two admission directors on applying with a partner, how the admissions process at CBS differs from that at other schools, new buildings for both business schools and much more.

The discussion was jointly moderated by Jeremy Shinewald, founder and president of the admissions consulting firm mbaMission, and John A. Byrne, founder Poets&Quants. The panel was the final session of a five-part webinar series co-hosted by mbaMission and Poets&Quants called “Five Steps to Business School Acceptance.”

To hear the full archived session, click here.