Rejected By Harvard B-School? Don’t Feel Bad. You’re In Great Company

female designer

Ms. E-Commerce Startup


  • 740 GMAT (44Q/48V)
  • 3.98 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in religious studies from a top-three public research institution, graduating summa cum laude on a full-ride merit scholarship; minor in environmental science
  • Work experience includes five years at a food/e-commerce startup, moving from an operations associate to a vice president of marketing; lots of leadership credibility, having built two successful core business function teams from scratch, hiring and managing teams of about eight people in both cases; company is probably unknown to admissions but has shown significant growth in past five years
  • Extracurricular involvement at school involved co-founding a community garden, interning on a farm, leadership in a diversity-focused organization; currently on leadership team of a local nonprofit
  • Goal: To go back into the food industry, trying to increase food access and health education through a mission-based startup or to join a management team focused on this area at a larger institution
  • “Have gotten interviews with Darden, Berkeley, and Emory. Still waiting for Stanford”
  • 29-year-old white female


    Sandy’s Ding Analysis: Well, I would have interviewed you. The reason you were dinged without an interview beats me. This is real solid and it all fits together. I don’t think being slightly older was the issue. Instead, it could very well be that you work for a no-name company, but that would not usually stop them in this instance because this seems tight, interesting, rare, important and also that you can use an MBA.

    Stumped, quite frankly. I don’t think your ding was related to your quant score on the GMAT. In all likelihood, it had more to do with your work experience at a no name company and in an industry they may not be familiar with. If you had quant courses in your enviro science minor that would have been worth highlighting, too.

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