The Ding Report: Who Was Rejected & Why

For MBA candidates still waiting to hear their fates, the next few days will be a nail-biting, anxiety-ridden period. Over the next two weeks, admit decisions for round two applicants will come pouring out of Chicago Booth, Michigan Ross, Virginia, Harvard, Kellogg, Yale, Wharton, and Stanford.

The tens of thousands of applicants expecting to get word this month passed the initial screen, landed an admissions interview, and generally have 50-50 odds of hearing good news before March gives way to April. The vast majority of the round two dings, of course, have already been dispatched.

As always, the people getting rejected are more often than not exceptional candidates, with GMAT scores in the 95th and up percentile, undergraduate degrees from elite schools, nosebleed GPAs and great jobs to boot. But when only a small minority of applicants can be admitted and a lot of self-selection is going on, disappointment is inevitable.


Sandy Kreisberg, founder of

Who didn’t make the cut this time around? Well, there’s the 25-year-old woman who works in a business development role for a hedge fund. She sports an eye-popping 790 GMAT score with splendid splits, a 51 quant and a 51 verbal. She racked up a 3.5 GPA at a mid-tier Ivy, and yet she was rejected by Harvard Business School.

Or how about the 26-year-old male who earned his undergraduate degree in civil engineering from the National University of Singapore with a 4.7 GPA out of a 5.0. After working for in the audit practice of a Big Four accounting firm, he joined one of the major tech companies (think Microsoft, Facebook or Google). He walked out of the test center with a 770 GMAT. His outcomes: Turned down by Harvard, Columbia and Wharton.

Even several analysts at MBB (McKinsey, Bain & BCG) consulting firms turned up empty. A 27-year-old male professional with a 760 GMAT and a 3.9 GPA as an engineering major at a Top Ten U.S. school got dings from Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, and MIT Sloan. But there was at least one positive outcome for him: UC-Berkeley Haas, a great concession prize.


Perhaps the biggest surprise of all is that of the 35 round two rejected applicants who asked Founder Sandy Kreisberg for a ding analysis, 29 scored a 730 GMAT (the current median at Harvard Business School) or above and 15 of them hit a 750 or better. They hail from Ivy and Near-Ivy League schools, the best colleges in their home countries, graduated summa cum laude. They work for the likes of McKinsey, Bain, BCG, bulge bracket banks, IBM, GE, Raytheon and Microsoft.

These dings often defy logic, at least on the surface. But the evaluation process at a business school is a lot more holistic than law school where it’s pretty much on the numbers alone. Truth is, it’s often easy to explain a rejection on a low GMAT score or a low GPA, or even on the perceived quality and reputation of an undergraduate college or an employer. But it’s much more difficult to assess why some of these super credentialed candidates got the boot.

Of course, many who have been dinged also have been admitted–and some have been put in waitlist purgatory. After getting dinged from Yale and MIT Sloan without interviews, Yansong Pang received a slew of admission interviews from Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, UC-Berkeley, Cornell, Duke, UVA and London Business School. Born in China, Pang did his undergraduate degree in math and statistics at Carleton College where he graduated magna cum laude. He currently works for an investment management firm in the U.S. as a buy-side equity analyst.He scored an impressive 740 on the GMAT. Pang’s fate: He’s been accepted by Haas and Cornell Johnson, with scholarships from both, and he been waitlisted at HBS, Stanford, Wharton, London Business School, and Duke. “The uncertainty is frustrating, but still having hope is great. I really want to get into HBS because that’s my dream since I was a kid.”


Once again, we asked Kreisberg, one of the most prominent MBA admissions consultants, to analyze why these exceptional candidates were left hanging by Harvard, Stanford, Booth, Wharton, Kellogg and other top business schools during the current admissions season. He takes a look at a wide variety of applicants who shared their basic profiles with us after getting released in the second round.

To be honest, some of these dings has Kreisberg stumped as well. In any case, his commentary on these rejections is in his typical tell-it-like-it-is, no-nonsense style. As one current applicant says of Sandy’s assessments, “Your simple, brutal analyses have been an incredible well of information for me and have instilled a deep sense of self-doubt that, to be frank, drove me to work harder on my app execution than I would have otherwise.”

Well, though this young professional has gotten accepted at Kellogg, Haas and UCLA, the latter with the big scholarship, he was rejected by Harvard without an interview and is waiting on his Stanford GSB decision. If you’d like a “simple, brutal” assessment of a current or forthcoming ding from Sandy, just go to the comment section below and leave your profile and details.

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