Wharton | Mr. Social Impact CPA
GMAT 740, GPA 3.5
Chicago Booth | Ms. RA For MBA
GMAT 710, GPA 3.80
Stanford GSB | Mr. Economics To Business
GRE 331, GPA 3.99
INSEAD | Mr. Tesla Manager
GMAT 720, GPA 3.7
Foster School of Business | Mr. Tesla Gigafactory
GMAT 720, GPA 3.0
Harvard | Mr. Financial Services
GMAT 750, GPA 3.8
Stanford GSB | Mr. African Entrepreneur
GRE 317, GPA 2.6
Stanford GSB | Mr. Tesla Intern
GMAT 720, GPA 3.9
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Looking To Learn
GMAT 760, GPA 3.0
Wharton | Mr. Infrastructure
GMAT 770, GPA 3.05
Chicago Booth | Mr. Asian Veteran
GRE 315, GPA 3.14
Stanford GSB | Ms. Artistic Engineer
GMAT 730, GPA 9.49/10
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Emporio Armani
GMAT 780, GPA 3.03
Harvard | Mr. Future Gates Foundation
GMAT 720, GPA 7.92
Harvard | Mr. Amazon Manager
GMAT 740, GPA 3.2
Harvard | Mr. MBB Consultant
GMAT 730, GPA 3.9
USC Marshall | Mr. Utilitarian Mobility
GMAT 740, GPA 2.67
McCombs School of Business | Ms. Second Chances
GRE 310, GPA 2.5
Duke Fuqua | Ms. Account Executive
GMAT 560, GPA 3.3
MIT Sloan | Mr. Data Mastermind
GMAT N/A; will be taking in May, GPA 3.6
London Business School | Mr. Aussie Analyst
GMAT 680, GPA 3.3
Darden | Mr. Sustainable Real Estate
GRE SAT 1950 (90th Percentile), GPA 3.7
Stanford GSB | Mr. Entrepreneurial Bassist
GMAT 740, GPA 3.61
Cornell Johnson | Mr. IT To IB
GMAT 660, GPA 3.60
Harvard | Ms. Lucky Charm
GMAT 690, GPA 3.2
Tuck | Ms. Green Biz
GRE 326, GPA 3.15
Harvard | Ms. URM
GRE 325, GPA 3.6

What Adcoms At Stanford, Haas & Imperial Look For In MBA Admits

“What I’m really looking for is what have you done and how has that mattered in any organization you’ve touched,” says Kirsten Moss, assistant dean of MBA Admissions & Financial Aid at Stanford GSB. “I like to get practical – some people aren’t great test takers. So, what have you done with your smarts?”


Moss’s remarks on the qualities she seeks among Stanford’s MBA candidates were among the gems that emerged during the 2018 CentreCourt MBA Festival in San Francisco, which featured a panel discussion with Admissions Directors from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, UC-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business and Imperial College Business College. I had the privilege of moderating last weekend’s conversation, probing Admissions Directors for industry trends and insights to support business school hopefuls in the application process.

Here are seven top tips directly from the panel discussion on what MBA Admissions Directors are looking for. You can catch the full conversation in the video link above.

1. Stanford GSB on the GMAT

“The [GMAT] score and the GPA are two small things we look at in the whole application. For us what’s really important is the impact you’ve had – on your teams, your organizations, the groups you’ve been with… So please, don’t take yourself out of the process because your score doesn’t have a number 7 in front of it.” – Stanford GSB Admissions Director Kirsten Moss

2. Berkeley Haas on the importance of extracurriculars:

“To be honest, while the description of work achievements and things is very important, one of the things I enjoy is seeing what people put at the bottom of their resume… secretly I enjoy jumping down to the bottom to say, ‘what’s this person really about beyond their day-to-day job?’” – Berkeley Haas Assistant Dean of MBA Program, Admissions Peter Johnson 

3. Imperial on having a typical profile

“We won’t look at any industry background unfavorably at all. It’s you, first and foremost – and your background, where you’re coming from and what you’re wanting out of this program and how you’re going to deploy what you’ve learned subsequently. We will not have any kind of blinkers on in terms of, ‘oh, we’ve already got those of people from banking or financial consulting.’ We are very much looking at an individual.” – Imperial Admissions’ Andy Durban

4. What GSB is looking for:

“When we read an application, we’re looking for your strengths. Not everybody’s going to spike in the same place… so think for yourself as an applicant ‘what are my strengths?’ …What I’m really looking for is what have you done and how has that mattered in any organization you’ve touched.” – Kirsten Moss, GSB

5. Mistakes to avoid:

“I’m often surprised by the amount of people who apply and they’re potentially taking a decision that is so important, financially and life-altering, without having properly engaged with the people that are there to be engaged… [Even if] you’re not able to visit us in person, there are so many other channels that you can you can use. Come to the webinars, get directly in touch with people like me and my team, connect with alumni on LinkedIn – [find] this whole wealth of alumni at your doorstep.” – Andy Durban, Imperial

6. The best way to gauge mutual fit:

“Talk with recent alumni about their experience and ask them some of the hard questions that you’re probably not going to ask us. I think that’s the best way to really find out what the experience is going to be like and what some of the opportunities are. The students and the recent alumni not only can relate their own experience, they can tell you about the experience of their classmates and friends.” – Pete Johnson, Haas

7. Your recommender strategy:

“I am looking for those fine details about what did this person do, how are they distinctive? There are 50 different ways to be a leader but tell me a couple of them… For us it doesn’t matter what their title is, whether they’re an alumni or not. It really is, who can tell us, and show us, the scope and scale of those accomplishments.” – Kirsten Moss, GSB

Stay tuned for more highlights from CentreCourt San Francisco and Los Angeles, coming soon on the Fortuna Admissions blog. The CentreCourt MBA Festival, co-hosted by Fortuna’s Matt Symonds and Poets&Quants, is coming next to Houston (September 13), Toronto (September 15), Chicago (Sept. 18), Washington, D.C. (Sept. 20) and New York City (Sept. 22). Learn more or register to attend one of these free events in a city near you.

Fortuna Admissions

Matt Symonds is a Director at MBA admissions coaching firm Fortuna Admissions, author of “Getting the MBA Admissions Edge” and co-host of the CentreCourt MBA Festival. Fortuna Admissions is composed of former Directors and Associate Directors of Admissions 12 of the top 15 business schools.

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.