Stanford GSB | Mr. Irish Consultant
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GRE 329 (Q169 V160), GPA 3.6
Harvard | Mr. Defense Engineer
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Chicago Booth | Mr. Bank AVP
GRE 322, GPA 3.22
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Stanford GSB | Mr. Infantry Officer
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McCombs School of Business | Mr. Ernst & Young
GMAT 600 (hopeful estimate), GPA 3.86
Kellogg | Mr. Engineer Volunteer
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UCLA Anderson | Ms. Apparel Entrepreneur
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Berkeley Haas | Mr. 1st Gen Grad
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Handicapping Your Elite MBA Odds

Korean Entrepreneur & Former VC Denied U.S. Asylum Wants Back Into U.S. With An MBA

  • 730-760 GMAT range on practice tests
  • 3.97 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree from Berkeley in environmental economics & policy — Transferred to UC-Berkeley from a community college, finishing undergrad education at 28
  • Work experience includes two years in the Korean military where he was discharged as a sergeant and two years at a venture capital firm in Korea. Also launched an online education platform similar to Khan Academy in Korea which was named the most innovative company in education and sold in 2017
  • Extracurricular involvment teaching LGBT children, started a local adopt-a-student program at an LGBT center in Korea
  • “Filed for asylum in U..S based on sexual identity, and the fact that the Korean military legally criminalizes gay soldiers. Was denied the asylum, so had to voluntarily leave U.S. and do my last semester in Korea”
  • “Parents cut ties with me when I came out, and was homeless for a year. Had to drop out of high school and took the Korean GED instead in my early 20’s. Also, paid through college on my own, and that’s why it took me eight years to finish college”
  • Short-Term Goal: To break into a major U.S. VC firm, and to be better equipped to launch a start-up
  • Long-Term Goal: To start a private foundation for LGBT kids in Korea.
  • 33-year-old Korean gay male/li>

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 10%

Stanford: 10%

Wharton: 20%

MIT: 20%

Chicago: 20%

Berkeley: 20% to 30%

Yale: 20% to 30%

Sandy’s Analysis: Grrrr. Lots to like but not sure how adcoms will react to this story which seems like a backdoor to getting back into the USA. One important issue is, WHAT ARE YOU DOING NOW?

Your narrative above breaks off after you sold your online company in 2017. If you are still partying with the proceeds, that could be bad.

Your age at 33 is also a real negative. You fall outside the window of most of the programs you are targeting. They prefer people who are between 26 and 29.

You say your goal is to break into a major venture capital firm in the U.S. and to be better equipped to launch a start-up.

I dunno about that goal. Your chances of attending a U.S. school at age 34 and graduating at age 36 and THEN looking for a VC job at age 36 is a stretch. Well, it could happen if you found a firm that could put your valuable expertise to work on Day 1. The fact that you worked for a Korean VC firm could make a transition easier, especially if the firm was a top-tier player.

But your real problem is getting into an MBA program, not so much getting a VC job.

All that said, a 3.97 GPA from Berk, plus some 750+ GMAT score, well that is the kind of soap that washes away a lot of questions. I could see Sloan overlooking your age and maybe Booth.

You may need to assure Haas and Yale that you will actually attend. Not seeing this at HBS or Stanford. You are competing with non-URM guys in VC, an ultra competitive bucket, and for which H and S have to satisfy their frequent flyer feeder firms as well. On the other hand, if anyone at H or S really liked you, well, they will find a way to admit you.

Your biggest problem is explaining your need for an MBA given your age, and the fact you have already worked in VC and ALSO started and sold a couple of companies.

How come you don’t just apply for jobs at international VC firms operating in Korea? I think you might be able to kick something up.

We know you want to get back to the USA, but that is a truth that dare not speak its name.

No problem being Gay, as I am sure you realized at Berkeley.

About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.