Stanford GSB | Mr. Infantry Officer
GRE 320, GPA 3.7
Kellogg | Mr. Engineer Volunteer
GMAT 710, GPA 3.8
Kellogg | Mr. Operations Analyst
GMAT Waived, GPA 3.3
Kellogg | Mr. Double Whammy
GMAT 730, GPA 7.1/10
Kellogg | Mr. Defense Engineer
GMAT 760, GPA 3.15
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Indian Dreamer
GRE 331, GPA 8.5/10
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Ernst & Young
GMAT 600 (hopeful estimate), GPA 3.86
Kellogg | Mr. Innovator
GRE 300, GPA 3.75
London Business School | Ms. Private Equity Angel
GMAT 660, GPA 3.4
Harvard | Mr. Defense Engineer
GMAT 730, GPA 3.6
Chicago Booth | Ms. Indian Banker
GMAT 740, GPA 9.18/10
Harvard | Ms. Developing Markets
GMAT 780, GPA 3.63
Yale | Ms. Biotech
GMAT 740, GPA 3.29
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Marine Executive Officer
GRE 322, GPA 3.28
Stanford GSB | Ms. Global Empowerment
GMAT 740, GPA 3.66
Chicago Booth | Mr. Bank AVP
GRE 322, GPA 3.22
Harvard | Mr. Renewables Athlete
GMAT 710 (1st take), GPA 3.63
UCLA Anderson | Ms. Apparel Entrepreneur
GMAT 690, GPA 3.2
Harvard | Mr. Armenian Geneticist
GRE 331, GPA 3.7
Berkeley Haas | Mr. 1st Gen Grad
GMAT 740, GPA 3.1
Ross | Mr. Travelpreneur
GMAT 730, GPA 2.68
London Business School | Ms. Numbers
GMAT 730, GPA 3.5
IU Kelley | Mr. Fortune 500
N U Singapore | Mr. Naval Officer
GMAT 710, GPA 3.2
NYU Stern | Ms. Entertainment Strategist
GMAT Have not taken, GPA 2.92
INSEAD | Ms. Spaniard Consultant
GMAT 710, GPA 8.5/10.00
NYU Stern | Mr. Army Prop Trader
GRE 313, GPA 2.31

What Olympians Teach Us About MBA Admissions

Over the years I have worked with Olympians, as well as professional and Division 1 college athletes. They tend to be extremely successful in the MBA admissions process, and share many common strengths.


You don’t succeed as an elite athlete without failing a lot along the way. Olympians understand how to contextualize setbacks without internalizing them and use failure as a motivational tool.

Work ethic

Have you ever heard the expression “Champions are made when no one is watching?” My elite athlete clients work incredibly hard. Instead of saying that they don’t have time to study for the GMAT, they simply get up at 5am and study.



Ability to ask for help

Professional athletes aren’t created in a vacuum, and they understand the value of expert guidance. They aren’t afraid to admit when they need help, and leverage the support that they receive.

Tough Feedback

Part of leveraging help is being open to tough feedback. Elite athletes have heard a LOT of criticism over the years. They can handle it when they need to re-write essays or strengthen their academic profile.


Elite athletes dream big and visualize success. As I have said before you can’t get into top schools if you don’t apply – picture yourself at your target school, focus and take concrete steps to get there.


Have you been watching Olympic skiing, skating, snowboarding, and luge? Or the Super Bowl? The physical risks are enormous, and while the athletes train and protect themselves there is an element of risk that needs to embraced if they want to win. My athlete clients take chances. Moving to countries where they don’t speak the language in order to go to school, going for promotions that they aren’t sure they are ready for, applying to business school without traditional credentials. These leaps of faith pay off.

Define Success

Professional athletes set their own goals. Sometimes that means getting signed to an NFL or NBA team, sometimes it means finishing in the top 12 in a ski race, walking on to a college team or going to HBS. They know how to block out the noise of other people’s expectations and chart their own path.


Elite athletes have overcome tremendous odds. They know that they can excel despite the statistics and bring that mentality to the MBA admissions process. In return, business schools understand that successful athletes are gritty, driven and able to achieve true excellence.

Whether or not you are an elite athlete, as an MBA candidate you likely share many of these qualities.  Think about times in your life when you have displayed vision, courage and dedication, and share those experiences with the committee. With enough hard work, you can navigate the MBA admissions process and achieve your goals.

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 14.2 million dollars in scholarships, and more than 95% have gotten into one of their top choice schools.