Duke Fuqua | Mr. Tech Evangelist
GMAT 690, GPA 3.2
NYU Stern | Mr. Bioinformatics
GMAT 710, GPA 3.7
Harvard | Mr. Investment Banker
GMAT 750, GPA 4.0
Stanford GSB | Mr. 750
GMAT 750, GPA 3.43
MIT Sloan | Mr. International Impact
GRE 326, GPA 3.5
Harvard | Mr. Bangladeshi Analyst
GMAT 690, GPA 3.31
INSEAD | Mr. Indian In Cambodia
GMAT 730, GPA 3.33
Stanford GSB | Mr. Techie Teacher
GMAT 760, GPA 3.80
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Consulting Analyst
GMAT 700, GPA 7.7/10
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Emporio Armani
GMAT 780, GPA 3.03
Yale | Mr. Fencer
GMAT 740, GPA 3.48
Chicago Booth | Mr. Inclusive Consultant
GMAT 650, GPA 6.7
London Business School | Mr. Green Energy
GMAT 710, GPA 3.1
Kellogg | Mr. Engineer Volunteer
GMAT 710, GPA 3.8
Berkeley Haas | Ms. Midwest Startup
GRE 328, GPA 3.51
Wharton | Mr. Data Scientist
GMAT 740, GPA 7.76/10
Wharton | Mr. Global Perspective
GMAT 750, GPA 3.6
MIT Sloan | Mr. Surgery to MBB
GMAT 750, GPA 3.4
IU Kelley | Mr. Businessman Engineer
GMAT 690, GPA 7.26/10
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Military 2.0
GRE 310, GPA 2.3
Stanford GSB | Mr. MBA Class of 2023
GMAT 725, GPA 3.5
MIT Sloan | Mr. Hopeful CXO
GMAT 750, GPA 3.56
Stanford GSB | Mr. Deferred MBA
GMAT 760, GPA 3.82
Duke Fuqua | Mr. National Security Advisor
GMAT 670, GPA 3.3
Stanford GSB | Mr. FinTech Engineer
GMAT 760, GPA 3.8
Kenan-Flagler | Mr. Top Three
GRE 310, GPA 2.7
Tuck | Mr. South African FinTech
GMAT 730, GPA 3.08

You’d Never Believe These MBA Applicants Were Just Rejected By Harvard Business School

Mr. Third Time Not A Charm

  • 780 GMAT (50Q/50V)
  • 3.7 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in economics at a top three Ivy League university
  • 4.0 GPA
  • Master’s degree in industrial engineering at a top public engineering university
  • Five years of work experience at a top semiconductor manufacturing company in California across two jobs, first as a business development analyst for three years and the secon as a corporate finance analyst, managing P&L for one of the company’s product portfolios for two years
  • Extracurriculars include mentoring other first-gen college students at alma mater, mentoring interns/new employees at current company, and (back in college), teaching ESL to Chinese-speakers (he minored in Chinese language)
  • “This was my third (and final) time applying. I had previously applied for the 2016 and 2017 intakes; I was interviewed in for 2017, but rejected. I spoke with a certain outgoing admissions director after the decision that time around, but I didn’t get much concrete feedback. She essentially said, ‘Sometimes we take candidates like you, sometimes we don’t.’”
  • “As for the interview, i don’t think I sounded scripted, but I tried to play it safe and not do much to stand out. The AD said that she didn’t have really detailed notes, but it was ‘not a home run, but certainly not a strikeout’
  • 28-year-old white male, first-generation college grad

Sandy’s Analysis: “Sometimes we take candidates like you, sometimes we don’t.”


If that was Dee Leopold, the former head of admissions, and it sure sounds like her, I think what she meant was that you are a bit tightly wound, which is another way of saying scripted, which is another way of saying ‘not their type’ based on touch and feel versus dudes in your cohort.

It is also an interesting question if they considered you as a STEM applicant versus a FINANCE applicant, given what jobs you actually performed at a STEM company. If they put you in the finance bucket, well, that one is very competitive with golden boys from Ivies just like you except working at top banks etc, so that could explain a bit.

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.