Harvard | Mr. Certain Government Guy
GMAT 720, GPA 3.3
MIT Sloan | Mr. Mechanical Engineer W/ CFA Level 2
GMAT 760, GPA 3.83/4.0 WES Conversion
Kellogg | Mr. Community Involvement
GMAT 600, GPA 3.2
Wharton | Mr. Asset Manager – Research Associate
GMAT 730, GPA 3.6
Stanford GSB | Ms. Eyebrows Say It All
GRE 299, GPA 8.2/10
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Stuck Consultant
GMAT 760, GPA 3.6
Stanford GSB | Mr. Hopeful B School Investment Analyst
GRE 334, GPA 4.0
Chicago Booth | Mr. International Banker
GMAT 700, GPA 3.4
MIT Sloan | Mr. South East Asian Product Manager
GMAT 720, GPA 3.6
Harvard | Ms. Hollywood To Healthcare
GMAT 730, GPA 2.5
Stanford GSB | Ms. Investor To Fintech
GMAT 750, GPA 3.8
Kellogg | Mr. Structural Engineer
GMAT 680, GPA 3.2
Darden | Mr. Anxious One
GRE 323, GPA 3.85
Ross | Mr. Saudi Engineer
GRE 312, GPA 3.48
Harvard | Ms. Consumer Sustainability
GMAT 740, GPA 3.95
Columbia | Ms. Retail Queen
GRE 322, GPA 3.6
Tuck | Ms. Confused One
GMAT 740, GPA 7.3/10
NYU Stern | Mr. Health Tech
GMAT 730, GPA 3.0
Stanford GSB | Mr. Low GPA To Stanford
GMAT 770, GPA 2.7
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Regulator To Private
GMAT 700, GPA 2.0
Harvard | Mr. Air Force Seeking Feedback
GRE 329, GPA 3.2
MIT Sloan | Mr. Spaniard
GMAT 710, GPA 7 out of 10 (top 15%)
Harvard | Ms. Marketing Family Business
GMAT 750- first try so might retake for a higher score (aiming for 780), GPA Lower Second Class Honors (around 3.0)
Stanford GSB | Mr. Deferred MBA Candidate
GMAT 760, GPA 4.0
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Colombian Sales Leader
GMAT 610, GPA 2.78
Emory Goizueta | Mr. Family Business Turned Consultant
GMAT 640, GPA 3.0
Tuck | Ms. BFA To MBA
GMAT 700, GPA 3.96

MBA Admissions Advice You Might Not Want To Hear

MBA Admissions Advice You Might Not Want To Hear

I have worked with a lot of business school applicants since founding North Star in 2012, and during my years at Dartmouth. Sometimes the best guidance is hard for people to hear. Nevertheless, if any of this MBA admissions advice sounds familiar please consider listening.

You need to retake your GMAT.

Virtually no one likes taking the GMAT, much less retaking it. And there is a very human tendency to think that the school will understand that your score doesn’t reflect your potential – those averages apply to other people, not to you. And while it’s absolutely true that you are more than your test score, sometimes you just need a higher score (or quant percentile) to be competitive for your dream school.

Your application isn’t ready.

This usually happens when people procrastinate – you know who you are. The essays are a really big deal, your recommenders need more than a week’s notice and the applications themselves take longer than most people think to complete. Plus, there is a lot of conceptual work that ideally happens before you even start applying – what are your real goals? What are your strengths and weaknesses, and what do you want the schools to know about you as a person? If you haven’t put in the requisite work you are better off waiting until the next round and submitting a polished application.

You need to re-think your school list.

This can become necessary when projected test scores aren’t materializing, or when people get focused on one or two schools (or a tier of schools) and refuse to consider anything else. Perhaps surprisingly, I also sometimes encourage people to apply to schools that are MORE selective than the ones that they were considering. You can’t get in if you don’t apply, it’s about more than numbers, and as the process unfolds it’s important to keep an open mind, in all directions.

Your essays are done – stop revising them!

This advice may sound counterintuitive, but there really is an inflection point past which additional edits make your essays worse, not better. Also, beware the last minute input from well-meaning friends – there is a right time to solicit feedback, and 48 hours before you hit submit is not that time.

Getting into business school requires stamina, planning, self-awareness and grit. Sometimes the best way to get the results you want is to take a step back and listen to MBA admissions advice, even when it’s not exactly what you want to hear.


Karen has more than 12 years of experience evaluating candidates for admission to Dartmouth College and to the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. Since founding North Star Admissions Consulting in 2012, she has helped applicants gain admission to the nation’s top schools, including Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Wharton, MIT, Tuck, Columbia, Kellogg, Booth, Haas, Duke, Johnson, Ross, NYU, UNC, UCLA, Georgetown and more. Over the last three years, clients have been awarded more than 10.3 million dollars in scholarships, and more than 95% have gotten into one of their top choice schools.