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.