The Ding Report: Who Was Rejected & Why

Ms. Investment Risk

  • 750 (44V/49Q) GMAT
  • 3.6 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree from a mid-tier college
  • Work experience includes four years at a top financial firm as an investment risk analyst (fastest growing group at the firm), help build and maintain multi-manager and factor portfolios
  • Extracurricular involvement as a board member of a non-profit organization (founded youth engagement group, on finance committee, fundraising committee and gala committee); founded a voiceover/vocals company; president of Toastmasters group at employer, having doubled membership
  • Goal: To do a tech/media startup
  • 27-year-old while female
  • “Wondering where I went wrong! Could have been my focus on entrepreneurship or seemingly bad title at my current job? Or maybe my application just didn’t stand out enough?”

Outcomes:

Dinged without interview at Harvard, Wharton
Dinged with interview at Columbia
Admitted to UCLA, with scholarship

Sandy’s Analysis: Wow, a ding without an interview on these facts is certainly unexpected. I think a lot of this turns on your job, which you describe as:

“4 years at a top financial firm as an investment risk analyst (fastest growing group at the firm), help build and maintain multi-manager and factor portfolios  . . . .”

Couple of things.

1. You are in a very competitive bucket of ‘finance’ types and that bucket includes lots of people like you who present with two years of gold-plated IB and two years of gold-plated private equity backgrounds. The fact you have spent FOUR years in the same gig, and that gig seems silver and not gold (see below) is something that adcoms will blame you for in the crazy world known as Planet Finance.

2. I’m not sure what “top financial” firm means in your case, but what is the track record of that firm and your group sending applicants to HSW? That is the key question, as always. If there is little record of admits to HSW from your firm, that can explain a lot. If you tell me that your group routinely sends one or two applicants out of four or so each year to H and W, well, that is different story, and I would then seriously wonder about you execution, since you did not get an interview.

The number of people presenting a 750/3.6 GMAT/GPA split at Wharton and NOT getting an interview, is OOTSILTK (One Of Those Stats I’d Love To Know). But I got a feeling it is a small-ish number, maybe 25% to 35%, meaning you may have screwed up your application less likely) or that Wharton just does not go for your company/role compared to other applicants in the finance bucket.

Let me add a few thoughts about your goal to “start a tech/media company post MBA.” That may have appeared as odd. After four years of doing the same thing, you are now trying to transform your life instead of getting a different job to do that after two years.

A lot of your extras are impressive beyond the average, but also, unfairly or not, they hint that you are a seeker and are not a boring and reliable and totally employable dull grad that B-schools adore. That vibe and daring goals may have been a red flag at Wharton, despite your most excellent stats.

As to your other outcomes:

“Dinged w/ interview (Columbia, thought it went well)
Accepted (UCLA $$)”

Your Columbia ding, rather than being put on the waitlist after interview usually means they really doubted your desire to attend, despite how well or not the surface interview went.

As to $$$ at UCLA, this may be a blessing in disguise. UCLA is a great school, and you will be on the West Coast and have many opportunities to find or discover (more likely) what you are really looking for.

I would call this, dings with a happy outcome.