Darden | Mr. Deloitte Dreamer
GMAT 700, GPA 3.13
Columbia | Ms. Cybersecurity
GRE 322, GPA 3.7
Stanford GSB | Ms. Business, Tech & Education
GRE 332, GPA 3.5
Tuck | Mr. Federal Civilian
GMAT 780, GPA 3.4
Harvard | Ms. Lucky Charm
GMAT 690, GPA 3.2
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Digital Marketing Analyst
GMAT 710, GPA 3.27
Tuck | Ms. Green Biz
GRE 326, GPA 3.15
Cambridge Judge | Mr. Nuclear Manager
GMAT 700, GPA 2.4
London Business School | Ms. Aussie Consultant
GMAT 730, GPA 3.5
Stanford GSB | Mr. Young Entrepreneur
GMAT 730, GPA 3.4
Stanford GSB | Ms. Retail Innovator
GMAT 750, GPA 3.84
Harvard | Mr. Double Whammy
GMAT 730, GPA 3.3
Kellogg | Mr. Geography Techie
GMAT 740, GPA 3.9
INSEAD | Mr. Media Startup
GMAT 710, GPA 3.65
Kellogg | Ms. Kellogg Bound Ideator
GMAT 710, GPA 2.4
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Emporio Armani
GMAT 780, GPA 3.03
Foster School of Business | Mr. Tesla Gigafactory
GMAT 720, GPA 3.0
Wharton | Ms. Female Engineer
GRE 323, GPA 3.5
Darden | Ms. Teaching-To-Tech
GRE 326, GPA 3.47
Stanford GSB | Mr. Financial Controller
GRE Yet to Take, Target is ~330, GPA 2.5
Kellogg | Mr. 770 Dreamer
GMAT 770, GPA 8.77/10
Ross | Ms. Middle Aged MBA-er
GRE 323, GPA 3.6
London Business School | Mr. Impact Financier
GMAT 750, GPA 7.35/10
Chicago Booth | Mr. PM to FinTech
GMAT 740, GPA 6/10
Ross | Mr. Operational Finance
GMAT 710, taking again, GPA 3
Kellogg | Mr. Texan Adventurer
GMAT 740, GPA 3.5
Harvard | Mr. Data & Strategy
GMAT 710 (estimate), GPA 3.4

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.

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.