The Round 2 Ding Report For Harvard Business School MBA Hopefuls

Ms. Special Sauce

  • 740 (41V/49Q) GMAT
  • 3.6 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree from a “nowhere liberal arts school” in economics and politics ((double major, graduated a year early)
  • Work experience includes two and one-half years as an analyst at a top rating agency (S&P/Moody’s) and two and one-half years as an associate at an endowment for a well-known think tank (“niche I know, but has many ties to the university/HBS in particular”), with promotions
  • Extracurriculars include consistent volunteer work
  • Passed CFA level 1
  • “I have a feeling I just didn’t have that special sauce HBS is looking for?”
    Under-represented minority woman
  • “Ding definitely stings on the heels of a ding at CBS, but boy oh boy am I glad I cast a wide net and have some interviews coming up to look forward to.”

Sandy’s Ding Analysis: Lots of strong stuff to like in your application, including your 740 GMAT, your 3.6 GPA, and the fact that you are a URM and female. I would have predicted an interview despite work history being silver and not gold.

What you really needed was for a recommendation writer or someone at work who knows HBS to reach out strongly in writing or by telcom (preference for the phone call obviously) to make your case, if indeed your firm has HBS connections.

I’m still a bit surprised that you didn’t even get an interview, quite frankly, but you needed to have really sung and explained why you took those jobs, what you did there, and how the jobs connected to your goals. Doesn’t everyone need to do that?? Some more than others.

For really strong and obvious candidates, they can write essays about their hobbies or grandma or one mentor. For borderline cases like yours, an essay and recs really had to explain your silvery work history.

Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.