Chicago Booth | Mr. Oil & Gas Leader
GMAT 760, GPA 6.85/10
Stanford GSB | Mr. Seeking Fellow Program
GMAT 760, GPA 3
Wharton | Mr. Real Estate Investor
GMAT 720, GPA 3.3
Cornell Johnson | Ms. Chef Instructor
GMAT 760, GPA 3.3
Ross | Mr. Automotive Compliance Professional
GMAT 710, GPA 3.7
Chicago Booth | Ms. CS Engineer To Consultant
GMAT 720, GPA 3.31
Harvard | Mr. Climate
GMAT 720, GPA 3.4
Wharton | Mr. New England Hopeful
GMAT 730, GPA 3.65
Wharton | Mr. Digi-Transformer
GMAT 680, GPA 4
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Bangladeshi Data Scientist
GMAT 760, GPA 3.33
Harvard | Mr. Military Banker
GMAT 740, GPA 3.9
Ross | Ms. Packaging Manager
GMAT 730, GPA 3.47
Chicago Booth | Mr. Private Equity To Ed-Tech
GRE 326, GPA 3.4
Harvard | Mr. Gay Singaporean Strategy Consultant
GMAT 730, GPA 3.3
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Electric Vehicles Product Strategist
GRE 331, GPA 3.8
Columbia | Mr. BB Trading M/O To Hedge Fund
GMAT 710, GPA 3.23
Columbia | Mr. Old Indian Engineer
GRE 333, GPA 67%
Harvard | Mr. Athlete Turned MBB Consultant
GMAT 720, GPA 3.4
Ross | Mr. Civil Rights Lawyer
GMAT 710, GPA 3.62
Stanford GSB | Mr. Co-Founder & Analytics Manager
GMAT 750, GPA 7.4 out of 10.0 - 4th in Class
Cornell Johnson | Ms. Environmental Sustainability
GMAT N/A, GPA 7.08
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Trucking
GMAT 640, GPA 3.82
Ross | Mr. Low GRE Not-For-Profit
GRE 316, GPA 74.04% First Division (No GPA)
Harvard | Mr. Marine Pilot
GMAT 750, GPA 3.98
Harvard | Mr. Army Intelligence Officer
GRE 334, GPA 3.97
Harvard | Ms. Data Analyst In Logistics
GRE 325, GPA 4
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Comeback Story
GRE 313, GPA 2.9

How An Indian Engineer Beat The Odds To Get Into Harvard Business School



Of course, he had some natural advantages with IIT and BCG on his resume. And then there was that monster GMAT score. His 770 was 40 points above the Harvard median and solidly placed him among the top 1% of all of all test takers around the world. Without having to worry about the exam, Misra spent most of his time on the required essays and his CV. On a friend’s recommendation, he bought both the MBA Essay Guide as well as the Interview & Admissions Guide published by The Harbus, the MBA student newspaper at Harvard Business School. “I found them super useful,” says Misra, who as an incoming MBA has signed on with The Harbus as the new product manager for the guides. “The comfort I got from the essay guide is that you can be really creative in writing your essay. But there really is no formula. You hear all these things from consultants about what to do, but reading those essays shows you there is no one right way.”

Misra drafted an essay that centered on his passion for dramatics and social enterprise. It took him about seven or eight drafts to get it right. “After about three drafts,” he says, “I changed the narrative completely as it was not working for me. For each draft, I spent about a couple of hours. I personally avoided taking feedback from too many people and got the essay reviewed by a couple of people whose opinions I trusted.

“I wanted to make my essay energetic. I wanted it to talk about my passions and i tied it very closely to where I come from in India and how my interests come from that experience. It is one of the poorest spots in India, and I have seen a lot of social inequity around me. And I’m interested in dramatics.”

He also paid great close attention to the rest of the online application. “One thing I did really well was focus on the small questions that HBS has on its application,” he says. “The small questions are equally important as the actual essay question.”


After a brainstorm with several friends, Misra says he decided to apply to all three schools in the first round: Sept. 9th for Harvard, Sept. 22 for Stanford, and Sept. 29 for Wharton.

“It was a tough choice,” he recalls, “because it’s a lot of work so I am not sure it was the smartest thing to do. But given that I was applying from an over-represented pool, i favored applying in round one. I know that all the schools claim it’s fair in all the rounds, but I had the best feeling applying when none of the seats in a class were already taken.”

Misra had an uncommon result. His application apparently was well received. All three schools wanted to interview him. For his 30-minute HBS interview, he flew to Paris. “When I left I had no idea how I did,” he says. “The interviewer didn’t give me any expression of support. There was no expression on her face at all. She just shot questions at me. It was bang, bang, bang. The good thing the interview was that I was engaged about things that mattered to me. So I felt I had done well.”


With the interviews behind him, the first decisions all came in December. He had been admitted to Wharton and waitlisted at both Harvard and Stanford—until that evening on March 24th when Misra spent the night out with friends to see the movie Avengers. He had been stuck on Harvard’s waitlist since Dec. 10th, some three and one-half months earlier. So the news on his cell phone was greeted with great joy and a celebration with friends at a nearby bar. Misra had fought the odds and won. With the HBS admit in his pocket, he took his name off Stanford’s waitlist and looked forward to a two-year adventure in Boston.

This new chapter in his life begins this week on Aug. 24 when RC (required curriculum) orientation and registration kicks off for Harvard’s first-year MBA students before the first day of classes on Aug. 27 in Aldrich Hall, the building named in honor of John D. Rockefeller’s father-in-law Nelson Aldrich. Misra, who visited his parents in India before taking the flight to Boston, expects his stay in the U.S. to be a true eye-opener. He had been in the U.S. once before and only for a couple of days on a business trip to Gavi’s offices in Washington, D.C. Though he has lived in Europe, Hong Kong, and Singapore, Misra says he found the U.S. to be dramatically different than anything he had ever experienced. “Everything is bigger, much more energetic and much more commercialized in the U.S.,” he enthuses. “It is Europe, plus, plus.”

His advice to others who want to take a similar journey? “Just be yourself. Try out what you actually want to convey to the admissions committee rather than thinking about templates. The essay guide shows that successful applicants write about all kinds of things, a little hobby they had during their childrood or where they have traveled with their family. A school knows whether it is you talking or some consultant talking through you. I know it looks daunting but my strong advice is just to be yourself and be creative in the way you want to express yourself.”


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