The 2016 Ding Report: Why Great Applicants Are Often Rejected

arty woman



  • 710 GMAT
  • 7.29/10 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree from NIFT, India’s No. 1 fashion institute
  • Work experience includes more than two years as a jewelry designer who helped to launch India’s largest jewelry brand in the U.S.; co-founder of a design consulting firm, and 3.5 years with a boutique consulting firm serviing the retail and CPG sectors
  • Extracurricular involvement as a volunteer for the Ministry of Rural Development, helping to train 200+ rural women artisans in India to create self-employment opportunities for them; also saved a 700 years old craft from extinction by earning it patent protection through the World Trade Organization
  • Short-term goal: To transition to product management for a CPG company
  • Long-term goal: To start a health foods brand & launch internationally
  • Applied with changed goals and changed recommenders in second round to UCLA, Texas-Austin, and London Business School
  • “My Kellogg interviewer said ‘admissions is a black-box’ and couldn’t comment on what was lacking in my application. H“What are my chances of applying to schools like Kellogg and Tuck next year? I would be 32 at matriculation – how much will that hurt my chances of admission? What else can I do to improve my profile?”
  • 30-year-old Indian female


Kellogg—Denied after interview

Duke—Denied without itnerview

Michigan—Denied without interview

Wharton—Denied without interview

UCLA—Denied without interview

Texas-Austin—Admitted without scholarship

London Business School—Denied without interview

Sandy’s Analysis: Lots going on here, and I am glad you changed your story and rec writers for the second round of applications.

My first advice is to drop this: “Long term goal – start own health foods brand and launch internationally.” HUH, you got enough odd, off-track, save the world, restless-soul, struggling-to-be-free jive in this story already. Just say you want to do product management at a CPG company and sound like you are comfy working for blue chip CPG companies for the rest of your life and want to be a leader/CEO of one, etc.

Stop being feisty and start being boring! What have you said to UT Austin? Will they defer admission? If not, one could make the case to go there, after you do some homework about outcomes for people like you there with your background

Reapply to Kellogg and see if you can get any feedback from the interviewer (who you say was in favor of your admission. Ha ha, they all say that, or don’t talk to you!). When you were told that admissions is a black box, does he know and is not willing to share or does he now know because admissions is so confusing and random and unknown to mere mortals? It is a black box. Anyway, had that person suggested reapplying after your post ding call?

I think your chances at Duke and Ross will be lots better with an improved and normalized application. By that, I mean to make very normal goals about working in consumer product goods and allow them to emerge from your experience. Make that your only goal and create a short-term and long-term statement consistent with that.

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