Harvard | Mr. Software PE
GMAT 760, GPA 3.45
Kellogg | Mr. Social Impact Initiative
GMAT 710, GPA 3.1
Harvard | Mr. Policy Player
GMAT 750, GPA 3.4
Chicago Booth | Mr. Unilever To MBB
GRE 308, GPA 3.8
INSEAD | Ms. Spaniard Consultant
GMAT 710, GPA 8.5/10.00
Rice Jones | Mr. Carbon-Free Future
GMAT 710, GPA 4.0
London Business School | Ms. Private Equity Angel
GMAT 660, GPA 3.4
Harvard | Mr. Navy Nuke
GMAT 710, GPA 3.66
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Salesman
GMAT 700, GPA 3.0
NYU Stern | Ms. Entertainment Strategist
GMAT Have not taken, GPA 2.92
Wharton | Mr. Future Non-Profit
GMAT 720, GPA 8/10
Chicago Booth | Ms. Indian Banker
GMAT 740, GPA 9.18/10
London Business School | Mr. FANG Strategy
GMAT 740, GPA 2.9
NYU Stern | Mr. Army Prop Trader
GRE 313, GPA 2.31
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Indian Dreamer
GRE 331, GPA 8.5/10
Wharton | Mr. Hopeful Fund Manager
GMAT 770, GPA 8.52/10
MIT Sloan | Mr. Healthtech Consultant
GMAT 750, GPA 3.44
London Business School | Mr. LGBT Pivot
GMAT 750, GPA 3.7
Kellogg | Mr. Defense Engineer
GMAT 760, GPA 3.15
Harvard | Mr. CPPIB Strategy
GRE 329 (Q169 V160), GPA 3.6
Rice Jones | Mr. Student Government
GMAT 34 (ACT for Early Admit Program), GPA 3.75
Chicago Booth | Mr. Healthcare PM
GMAT 730, GPA 2.8
Kellogg | Ms. Sustainable Development
GRE N/A, GPA 3.4
Stanford GSB | Mr. Army Engineer
GRE 326, GPA 3.89
Kellogg | Ms. Big4 M&A
GMAT 740, GPA 3.7
MIT Sloan | Ms. Rocket Engineer
GMAT 710, GPA 3.9
Harvard | Mr. African Energy
GMAT 750, GPA 3.4

The Round 2 Ding Report For Harvard Business School MBA Hopefuls

Mr. Fortune 200

  • 760 GMAT
  • 3.6 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree with a double major in math and economics and a minor in Chinese from a top 10 U.S. university
  • Work experience includes four years in corporate strategy at a Fortune 200 company; in a role where he is the only junior person on a team of ex-MBB colleagues, all with MBA degrees
  • Extracurriculars include a role as co-chair of large affinity group at his company, NCAA D1 athlete, a lot of volunteer work and religious leadership
  • Recommendations are “good” from the last two heads of his group who were ex-McKinsey partners
  • Essay addressed his fluency in four languages and how that has shaped him and h choices
  • Goal: To transition into the investment or private equity field
  • “My guess is I was dinged because my GPA was below HBS average, no exceptional ECs/leadership, my career goals were not consistent or realistic enough (investments/PE), or my employer is not prestigious enough (no one sent to HBS in recent memory)”
  • 25-year-old white male

Sandy’s Ding Analysis: Let’s take a look at your own analysis of what you think sunk your HBS application.

My guess is I was dinged because GPA was below HBS average…

Not really an issue!

…no exceptional ECs/leadership…

Not a super issue!

my career goals were not consistent or realistic enough (investments/PE)…

That’s an ok thing to say but it gets you in a very crowded bucket of stars with better stats and stories than you may have.

or my employer is not prestigious enough (no one sent to HBS in recent memory)…

So this is a real issue that could have been overcome if the rest of your application was rock solid but it was not. A recent study of the work backgrounds of HBS’ Class of 2020 shows how much of a real issue this is. An amazing high percentage–21%–had worked at MBB: 41 from McKinsey, 36 from BCG, and 27 from Bain. And you have to count in the ocnsulting crowd 27 who had worked at Deloitte and 17 at Accenture. Another 14.1%–or 126 students– worked at some point for Goldman, JP Morgan, Barclays, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America or Citi. Then you have the private equity and investment firms like Blackstone (8), Blackrock (7), Advent International (7), Carlyle Group (5), KKR (5), Warburg Pincus (5), TPG (4), Hellman & Friedman (4), Bain Capital (3), American Securities (3) and at fifteen other firms.

Notice the trend here: Who are the Fortune 200 companies supplying talent to HBS? They tend to be the big well-known players like Exxon Mobil, which sent eight employees directly into HBS, Google, which was on the resumes of 13 students in the Class of 2020, Apple (7), Microsoft (7), IBM (7), General Electric (7), Facebook (4), Amazon (3), Johnson & Johnson (3), Procter & Gamble (3), and the big public banks cited above. Once you get beyond the big names in the Fortune 100, it’s pretty much a lottery. You have a chance but it ain’t all that good, unless you make it less relevant with the rest of your app.

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.