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Rejected By HBS. Find Out Why


Profile Basics:

  • 760 GMAT
  • 3.7 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree from a top five school
  • Work experience inludes two years at MBB followed by work as an analyst at a large PE firm
  • Extracurriculars include: long-term volunteer with helping children through tutoring over 3 years. led recruiting for MBB office.
  • Recommendations from the VP at PE firm (direct supervisor) and a partner at MBB. Expect both were very strong
  • Essay on my goal to use capital to support fintech firms that are connecting under-served populations. discussed influences from family who worked in NGOs and personal work with teaching underprivileged children
  • Post-MBA goal: Return to private equity
  • “Definitely a disappointing outcome, but hopefully other apps at GSB/Wharton/Booth/etc. work in the end (although GSB seems unlikely given the HBS ding). I will definitely consider the reapplication depending on the outcomes here.”
  • 25-year-old male (ethnically Indian, but American citizen)

Sandy’s Assessment:

Your rejection completely beats me. I would have predicted an interview.

That said, being an Indian male is a tough bucket but you seem to press all the right buttons. Does your current employer–the large PE firm–have a track record at HBS? Given the hard cohort, that can sometimes be an issue in close cases.

Your essay strikes me as the right idea, for sure. The trick would be to discuss those influences in a personal and non-banal way. The tone in an essay is really tricky. There is a fine but real line between being honest, personal, revealing, and convincing vs being boilerplate and braggy and impersonal.

Unless I’m missing something here I think you’ll have a different outcome at Wharton and/or Booth. But at 25, you certainly have the time to reapply for a second shot at HBS or Stanford if you get a no there.

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.