The Ding Report: Who Was Rejected & Why

Mr. Quant

  • 770 GMAT
  • 3.9 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree from HYP
  • Work experience with a well-known economic consulting firm, working on finance-related projects doing relatively quantitative work
  • Extracurricular involvement as founder of a small non-profit consulting organization; also have worked on a pro-bono consulting project for a social enterprise in East Africa (discussed in his essays)
  • Goal: To transition into investment management (mutual funds, retirement funds)
  • “I assume I’m DOA at Stanford, so will likely attend Wharton (which of course I’m happy about!) but still wanted to get your thoughts on the weaknesses of my profile”
  • 26-year-old white male


Dinged without an interview by HBS & Columbia Business School

Admitted to Wharton

Waitlisted at Chicago Booth

Still waiting a decision from Stanford GSB

Sandy’s Analysis: I giggle a bit at how starkly you present the case: What is a white boy with a 770 GMAT and a 3.9 GPA (HYP) gotta do to get a flippin interview! (not an admit, an interview!) at HBS?

Answer: Probably not work for an economic consulting firm, or at least not the one you work for. There are some feeder economic consulting firms to HBS, the super big ones (names escape me at the moment, anyone?), but it sounds like yours is not one of them. That is my guess as the number one you didn’t catch HBS’ interest. If you did work for a feeder firm, your execution on the app might have bugged them.

For instance, saying you wanted to transition into investment management (mutual funds) and by implication, stop being serious and make a lot of money, was not a positive tactic. Although it could depend on how you sounded or spun it.
You might have done better saying you are interested in consulting to make an impact, more of an expansion of what you are doing with maybe a slightly more real world focus. You should have said you wanted to work for MBB in their public policy arms.

If HBS sniffed you out as a wonk for hire, but were mostly interested in $$$, that could have done it—along with maybe any other boo-boos in your application. If your recs were under executed (assuming they really like you) that could be an explanation here. Econ consultants are sometimes too busy, too wonky, too out of it or inexperienced to deliver class A recs.

I think CBS just did not believe you were serious about them. Ditto Booth, but they used the waitlist to find out.
Wharton is a perfect outcome and you will be successful, powerful, rich alum. I think Stanford is long-shot, as you suggest.