Duke Fuqua | Ms. Account Executive
GMAT 560, GPA 3.3
IU Kelley | Mr. Construction Manager
GRE 680, GPA 3.02
Rice Jones | Mr. Back To School
GRE 315, GPA 3.0
Emory Goizueta | Mr. Multimedia
GRE 308, GPA 3.4
UCLA Anderson | Mr. Commercial Banker
GMAT 700, GPA 3.3
NYU Stern | Mr. Military Officer
GRE In Progress, GPA 2.88
Stanford GSB | Ms. Artistic Engineer
GMAT 730, GPA 9.49/10
Harvard | Mr. Healthcare Fanatic
GMAT 770, GPA 3.46
Harvard | Mr. Sovereign Wealth Fund
GMAT 730, GPA 3.55
Harvard | Mr. Smart Operations
GMAT 760, GPA 4.0
Darden | Mr. Strategy Manager
GRE 321, GPA 3.5
Ross | Mr. Airline Engineer
GMAT 730, GPA 3.73
Stanford GSB | Mr. Corporate VC Hustler
GMAT 780, GPA 3.17
Wharton | Mr. Marketing Director
GMAT 710, GPA 3.3
Ross | Ms. Healthcare Startup
GRE 321, GPA 3.51
Kellogg | Mr. Real Estate Finance
GMAT 710, GPA 3.0
Georgetown McDonough | Ms. Air Force
GMAT 610, GPA 3.8
Stanford GSB | Mr. JD To MBA
GRE 326, GPA 3.01
Harvard | Mr. MacGruber
GRE 313, GPA 3.7
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Poet At Heart
GMAT 740, GPA 3.7
Yale | Mr. Ukrainian Biz Man
GRE 310, GPA 4.75 out of 5
Darden | Mr. Former Scientist
GMAT 680, GPA 3.65
Stanford GSB | Mr. Sustainable Business
GRE 331, GPA 3.86
Wharton | Mr. Microsoft Consultant
GMAT N/A, GPA 2.31
Yale | Ms. Impact Investing
GRE 323, GPA 3.8
Cornell Johnson | Ms. Food Waste Warrior
GMAT Not written yet (around 680), GPA 3.27
Stanford GSB | Ms. Future Tech Exec
GMAT 750, GPA 3.4

You Won’t Believe Who Harvard Business School Rejected This Month

boy scout

Mr. Boy Scout

  • 740 GMAT (49Q, 41V, 8 IR, 6 AW).
  • 3.33 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in history and adolescent education at SUNY Geneseo
  • Work experience includes three years at the nonprofit Boy Scouts as the executive overseeing district operations, managing volunteers; Promoted once.
  • Continued coursework includes Calc 1 (A-), Macroecomics (A), Microeconomics (A). HBX CORe Credential Holder (Passed with High Honors).
  • Extracurricular involvement as a volunteer in a leadership development course for youth, volunteer baseball coach and director
  • “Essay written in an easy-going tone, as if I was verbally introducing myself to class on day 1, about the challenges of working at a non-profit, especially a shrinking one, how I’ve overcome those challenges by leading volunteers, then a discussion on why I wanted to get my MBA (career change, work for education company in product and market development, Coursera, 2U)”
  • “My gut tells me I was dinged mostly because I’ve only lived and worked in one City my whole life (Rochester, NY)”
  • 26-year-old white male at matriculation
  • Sandy’s Analysis: No offense, but there were LOTS of reasons to ding you, including your low-ish GPA [from a Harvard Business School POV] from no-name state school, a non-selective job that you stayed at one year too long [I dont think Boy Scouts is a traditional feeder organization nor would HBS consider it a selective gig, hence the need to use it to get a better job, which you did not do.

Taking all those courses was probably the right thing to do, given your GPA, but you may have overdone it. in your case, CORE seemed like one bridge too far, especially because you had taken continued coursework with Calc 1 (A-), Macroecomics (A), Microeconomics (A) after college. But I’ll say this, given your low GPA and non-business background, your case for CORE was better than many Top Gun types who actually have business backgrounds or experience, have real solid grades in quanty stuff, and are just taking CORE to work up a record in the minors which they think HBS will care about.

I am not sure HBX Core is the high road to HBS admission. It is designed to help non-business majors get real jobs which may require business skills, e.g. engineering undergrad takes CORE to get a job in Silicon Valley, or law student who may do business law. It is NOT designed as a mini trial by fire for semi-screw ups to prove they could do work at HBS, although MANY seem to think it is.

An interesting stat, which I do not have (but sense is low), is the success rate of kids who apply to HBS same year they are taking CORE or soon after. Those kids, sorta like you, are not bona fide CORE kids. They were taking CORE not to do their job better or prepare for a job in their main skills with some managment lingo, viz. engineer who gets that job in Silicon Valley. No. They were taking CORE basically TO GET INTO HBS!

If that ain’t you, it is lotsa people, so just wanted to get this out there. The preferred post-CORE profile is that you get ANOTHER JOB, NOT THAT YOU APPLY TO HBS. Of course, HBS-CORE folks don’t care who you are, as long as you pay, and they are very happy to take your lottery money and throw you on the ding bus. Nor are there a lot of warnings on the CORE site about this not being a pre-test for HBS. CORE buyer beware.

Your inability to see through their scam is one powerful reason to ding you. And meanwhile the folks who run CORE have their own quotas to reach.

You also say your essay was “written in easy-going tone as if I was verbally introducing myself to class on day 1, was about challenges of working at non-profit, especially a shrinking one, how I’ve overcome those challenges by leading volunteers, then discussion on why I wanted to get my MBA . . .”


You just followed their directions about what they wanted? They don’t like squares who do that.

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.