Stanford GSB | Mr. Army Man
GRE 330, GPA 3.25
Stanford GSB | Mr. Global Energy
GMAT 760, GPA 7.9/10
Chicago Booth | Mr. Indian O&G EPC
GMAT 730, GPA 3.75
Tuck | Ms. Green Biz
GRE 326, GPA 3.15
Harvard | Mr. Finance in Tech
GMAT 760, GPA 3.9
Wharton | Ms. Female Engineer
GRE 323, GPA 3.5
Foster School of Business | Mr. Tesla Gigafactory
GMAT 720, GPA 3.0
Stanford GSB | Mr. Global Innovator
GMAT 720, GPA 3.99
London Business School | Mr. CFA Charterholder
GMAT 770, GPA 3.94
Tuck | Mr. Federal Civilian
GMAT 780, GPA 3.4
Kellogg | Mr. Texan Adventurer
GMAT 740, GPA 3.5
London Business School | Mr. Impact Financier
GMAT 750, GPA 7.35/10
Kellogg | Mr. Class President
GRE 319.5, GPA 3.76
Harvard | Ms. Media Entertainment
GMAT 740, GPA 3.3
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Upward Trend
GMAT 730, GPA 2.85
Kellogg | Mr. Defense Contractor
GMAT 730, GPA 3.2
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Work & Family
GMAT No GMAT Yet, GPA 4
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Navy Electronics
GRE 316, GPA 3.24
Kenan-Flagler | Ms. Big Pharma
GRE 318, GPA 3.3
Wharton | Mr. Big 4
GMAT 770, GPA 8/10
Berkeley Haas | Mr. 1st Gen Grad
GMAT 740, GPA 3.1
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Career Coach
GRE 292, GPA 3.468
Kellogg | Mr. Indian Globetrotter
GMAT 750, GPA 4.0
Stanford GSB | Mr. S.N. Bose Scholar
GMAT 770, GPA 3.84
INSEAD | Mr. Indian In Cambodia
GMAT 730, GPA 3.33
Duke Fuqua | Mr. O&G Geoscientist
GRE 327, GPA 2.9
Wharton | Ms. Product Manager
GMAT 730, GPA 3.4

MBA Admissions: Fact Or Fiction?

MBA Admissions: Do you know the truth?

As a former Tuck Admissions Officer and the Founder and President of North Star Admissions Consulting, I know that it can be hard to separate fact from fiction when it comes to MBA admissions. There is no shortage of damaging misinformation out there – here is the truth about 5 of the most pervasive rumors.

Fact or Fiction: You should only take the GMAT once.

Unless you get a 750 (or so) you should plan to take the GMAT more than once. If you get a 700 or 720 on your first attempt schools will assume that you can do better and wonder why you didn’t try again. (They would rather admit you with higher scores, even if they love your candidacy.) If your scores are below the average for your target schools the programs will also wonder why you didn’t try again. Lack of interest? Delusion? Last minute plan to apply to business school? It IS true that taking the test too many times is a bad plan – but more than once is preferred in most situations. FICTION.

Fact or Fiction: You might be on the courtesy waitlist.

The courtesy waitlist is real. If you are super connected – your godmother is the Chair of the Board of Trustees, your family name is on the library, etc., and you find yourself on the wait list you might well be a special interest candidate. If not for your connections you were probably destined for the deny pile, but the admissions office was told to retain you to avoid angering the people you are connected to.  Does this mean that you won’t get in? Not necessarily, there are many factors that influence special interest admits, and also lots of dynamics in flux with the wait listFACT.

Fact or Fiction: You need to go to a “name brand” college to get into a top school.

Absolutely false. It is helpful to go to a rigorous undergraduate institution, but business schools look for diversity. They don’t want everyone to come from the same 10 colleges – that type of homogeneity stifles the academic and community atmosphere. Plus, the MBA admissions committee knows that brilliant people go to all sorts of colleges, not just “name brand” ones. FICTION.

Fact or Fiction: You can’t get into a top school with a low GPA.

You totally can. I have worked with many clients with low GPA’s who have matriculated to the top schools, some even with scholarships to schools including Wharton, Sloan, Booth, Tuck, etc. The key is to demonstrate that you can handle the work, and also to convince the school that you, personally are worth the numeric hit – so let your personality shine and cast a wide net. FICTION.

Fact or Fiction: You should avoid talking about political or religious activities.

Speaking of letting your personality shine, please don’t hide activities that you think are too polarizing. MBA admissions officers are not partisan – even if they voted for the other candidate or can’t personally relate to your religious beliefs, they will still respect your viewpoint and commitment. Furthermore, overly generic candidates tend not to get in, since they don’t stand out in the pool and it’s unclear what they will contribute. Finally, would you really want to go to a school that doesn’t support you as an individual? Go ahead and talk about your true passions. FICTION.


 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, Cornell, Ross, NYU, UNC, UCLA, Georgetown and more. Over the last three years, clients have been awarded more than 14.6 million dollars in scholarships, and more than 95% have gotten into one of their top choice schools.

MORE FROM KAREN: 3 Ways You Are Making Your Business School Applications Harder, Admissions Advice That Might Surprise You, Ready For Your Business School Interview?,