Double Admits: How To Get Into Harvard and Stanford
Test scores and GPAs are critical components in the MBA application. Chances are, they won’t be the only measures that get you into Harvard Business School or the Stanford Graduate School of Business…or both.
That’s right, some candidates receive acceptance letters from both. They’re called double admits. In her latest blog post, Stacy Blackman, who heads Stacy Blackman Consulting, discusses key lessons prospective applicants can take away from double admits.
ELITE UNDERGRAD DEGREE
One key characteristic of double admits: you don’t necessarily need an undergraduate degree from an elite college or a ‘typical’ MBA industry.
“None of the double admits we worked with graduated from an elite or Ivy League university,” Blackman writes. “In fact, all of the U.S. students in this group came from schools ranked between 20-50. Only one of the admits came from a firm known as a heavy feeder and recruiter for elite MBA programs.”
Rather, according to Blackman, double admits had backgrounds in fields such as education, family business, military, energy, and the Fortune 500.
GPA AND TEST SCORES
While GPA and test scores have strong merit, they aren’t a decision breaker for admissions officers.
For Blackman’s double admits, “their stats generally fell within the 80 percent range but were not ultimately predictive of success. Scores ranged from a low 600 GRE to a 770 GMAT, with a median score of 710. Over the years, we’ve seen numerous double admits offset a low-ish GMAT or GRE score with a proven track record in a quantitative job and compelling leadership activities.”
Typically, the average age for MBA admits is 28.
For Blackman’s double admits, they averaged between four and seven years of post-college work experience.
However, according to Blackman, chronological age is less important than most think.
“We regularly assure both older and younger applicants that it’s not about chronological age,” Blackman writes. “It’s more about maturity, readiness, and where you are in your career.”
One of the most important aspects of any application will be the essay. Blackman says essays are an opportunity to bring out your personality in ways a resume or test score cannot. Among double admits, the narratives were honest and compelling.
“Omitting generic themes like coding or crunching numbers, these applicants showed humanity, showcased what drives them toward future careers, and explained why they made certain decisions,” Blackman writes. “Their stories told the ‘why’ behind their prior actions. Yet they also developed an understanding of career aspirations. Goals made sense and appeared attainable given prior experiences and the track record of consistent actions they had taken.”
At the end of the day, b-schools are looking for leaders who have character. That’s far more important than what Blackman calls an “accomplished jerk.”
“While these applicants struck us as self-assured, they also came off as likable, realistic about their shortcomings, and open about their need to try harder to compensate for various weaknesses,” Blackman writes. “The members of this group were people with whom you would want to work on a group project, organize a conference, or study for exams. In short, they are real people with both flaws and strengths, going to b-school in order to get better and achieve more.”