Rejected By HBS. Find Out Why

FORMER POLITICAL STAFFER FROM RWANDA NOW A COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR FOR A NON-PROFIT

Profile Basics:

  • 710 (Q49, V38) GMAT
  • 3.57 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree from Harvard, Yale or Princeton in political science after an earlier degree in development studies at the University of Rwanda
  • “English is the third language I learned, so my verbal was low. I am not a native speaker”
  • Work experience includes one year as a political staffer. After a lost election, he moved on to become a policy advisor for a well known non-profit advocacy organization. After about 1.5 years as a policy adviser, I was promoted (diagonally) to the communications director with three direct reports
  • Recommendations from the politician who I was a staffer for, my current supervisor, and the nonprofit president. All should have been strong.
  • Essay on my work empowering the people of Rwanda. “Although the wounds of genocide have made incredible steps towards healing in the last 25 years, the people of Rwanda are still scarred by poverty, and AIDS, and overpopulation, and lack of access to water and sanitation.
  • Extracurriculars include working as a volunteer for an organization based out of Kigali that is working to lift up the next generation of children. “Most notably they run an orphanage and school near Kigali. I have raised over $85,000 for this organization and do much of their translation and communications work”
  • “I am afraid I am too old. My GPA is low, but it’s from a premier institution so I thought it would be OK. My GMAT is low, but my English is still far from perfect and my quantitative score was OK.”
  • 31-year-old from Rwanda

Sandy’s Assessment:

Grrrr, sorry to hear this. Lots to like. I don’t think your GPA/GMAT scores were the issues, those were OK.

Nor was being 31. Based on your profile, I think it is more likely that adcom questioned your need for MBA vs. getting a Public Administration degree at the Kennedy School. In your post, elected politics and public jobs are the totality of your experience. And beyond that, those are your goals.

You say you wrote your essay “about my work empowering the people of Rwanda – although
the wounds of genocide have made incredible steps towards healing in the
last 25 years, the people of Rwanda are still scarred by poverty, and
AIDS, and overpopulation, and lack of access to water and sanitation.”

That is a powerful story, but did you make it link up to an MBA degree?

And was it personal enough? You seem dedicated to public service. A version of that works for HBS, but it does not appear you tapped into it.

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