Rejected By Harvard Business School? You’ve Got To Be Kidding!


That is why it is often difficult to predict with great confidence why a specific individual was turned down for admission. Dings often mean that a school just liked other candidates a bit more than the ones they turn down. Rejection, however, can still be nuanced or rather obvious. Typically, the most common reasons for getting dinged are varied–and often there is a combination of them. Bad timing. Poor execution on the application. A low GPA. Graduating with your bachelor’s from a less-than-stellar college. Working for an employer that is not known for sending candidates to Harvard or Stanford. A less-than-enthusiastic recommendation. No visible advancement in your job. Or a confusing or unlikely goal, given your previous work history.

As always, we turned to Kreisberg for his instant analysis. To an Indian-born Canadian whose was a CPA national medalist and earned a first class rank from the University of Waterloo in accounting and works for PwC, he had some bad news: “PwC PWC is often a hunting ground for under represented minorities and a tough place to come from otherwise. especially for Indian males. The number of Indian males admitted to HBS in the past 10 years with ONLY Big 3 experience like you, even if in the strategy part of a Big 3, could be a SHOCKINGLY low number, especially if you took that number and subtracted kids with connections.”

To an 33-year-old associate working in risk management and compliance for J.P. Morgan and who formerly worked as a mutual fund accounting at BNY Mellon, he offers some tough love. “Accounting and compliance are not HBS feeder jobs, and that sank the rest of your application,” he explained. “And if they had any trouble squeezing the ding trigger, 33 years old made it easier. Guys with your profile often get in at Duke, Darden, USC, etc. Reach is maybe Tuck, and you are their type. All that said, 33 is old any place.”


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Sandy Kreisberg, founder of

To several re-applicants who didn’t make the cut yet again, Kreisberg is wondering whether three is an adcom file called “never” which “contains interview kids from last time that were sooo annoying that the adcom just had to say, “NOT ONLY IS THAT KID NOT GETTING IN, THAT KID IS NEVER GETTING IN.” Hence, the NEVER file.” Yet, as he reminds many of those who applied earlier, the most important issue in applying again is to emphasize what is new in your application.

With profiles as strong as these, even Kreisberg is sometimes stumped. Indeed, perhaps the most frustrating response he may offer is this one: “Dunno, I like you, and obviously admissions didn’t like you enough.” For these round one dings, without interviews, Kreisberg says he is finding a lot of them “more interesting than many of the kids who have signed up for his R1 mock interview service. Although some of those kids (who did get interviews) are mild oddballs, so you just cannot say in some blanket way that Harvard’s adcom does not take chances.”

In fact, Kreisberg says, there is a lot of overlap between applicants gaining  an interview and candidates who have been dinged. “You’d be hard to say what the difference is, especially in finance, IB, and PE, where there are just a lot of high-stat and gold-plated firm kids, and you cannot take them all. There are kids who got interviewed R1 with GMATs below 710 but they are URM or in less represented fields or oddball nationalities.”

At the very least, his thoughts on these profiles and stats offer some insight to the disappointed.

If you’d like to get Sandy’s assessment on a round one ding, post it in this thread here.

‘Released’ by Harvard Business School Without an Interview in Round One

GMAT/GRE GPA College Major Employer Gender Age Applicant
780 50Q/48V 3.6 Top 50 U.S. Chemistry Biotech Firm M 25 U.S. Caucasian
780 3.9 NESCAC Econ Econ Consult M 27 Asian
770 50Q/44V 3.9 Service Academy Econ Military M 28 Latin American
770 51Q/44V 4.0 Oxbridge Mech. Eng. MBB M 24 European
770 3.3 HYP Biology Health Insurer F 25 Asian American
770 3.8 Harvard STEM Top Consult F 24 U.S. Caucasian
770 3.6 Top Canadian NA MBB M 25 Caucasian
770 50Q/46V 3.7 Top 5 Indian B Comm Top CPG F 28 Indian
770 3.9 Top Mexican Chem Eng Family Firm M 28 Mexican
760 3.9 Ivy NA MBB M 25 Asian American
760 47Q/47V 3.7 Temple Business JPM M 33 Middle Eastern American
760 49Q/44V 3.8 Top U.S. Public Business Hedge Fund M 27 Caucasian
760 3.8 Top 10 U.S. Business Business PE Shop M 25 Asian American
750 50Q/42V 3.6 Ivy Civil Eng. Public Trans F 25 Asian American
750 3.6 Top U.S. Public NA VC-Funded Startup M 27 Austrian
740 4.0 Top Business Business MBB M 25/td> European
740 3.4 Pharmacy College Pharmacy F 500 Biotech M 29 Chinese Canadian
740 49Q/42V 3.7 Top 5 U.S. Eng. Top CPG M 26 Asian American
740 45Q/47V 3.7 Regional Private NA Military M 36 Caucasian
740 3.7 Top Liberal Arts NA GS/MS M NA Indian
730 49Q/40V 3.2 Top 5 U.S. Econ/Finance Top Tech Startup M 25 URM
730 3.7 Ivy Econ VC Fund M NA Asian American
720 49Q/40V NA Big Ten Business MBB M 25 Indian
710 3.5 Duke Mech. Eng. Deloitte F 24 Canadian American
710 50Q/44V 3.8 Waterloo Accounting PwC M 26 Canadian American
710 NA NA NA McKinsey F 26 Russian
168Q/164V 3.8 Imperial EEng. Shell Oil M 29 Senegal
167Q/170V 3.8 Top 10 U.S. NA Military/McKinsey M 27 Caucasian
170Q/160V NA Top 12 Indian Eng. Power Company M 30 Indian

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