The Round 2 Ding Report For Harvard Business School MBA Hopefuls

Mr. Ivy League PE Guy

  • 167/167/5.5 GRE
  • 3.5 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in mathematics from an Ivy League university (HYP)
  • Work experience includes a current stint at a private equity megafund focused on real estate investment after a similar role at a lesser-known PE shop
  • Extracurriculars include volunteer work at a youth homeless shelter and mentor of high schooler to get into college
  • Good recommendations from direct supervisors at both jobs above
  • Essay addressed his “experiences at the homeless shelter and current job and the importance of camaraderie”
  • Post-MBA goal: Wants to start a real estate tech company to make homeownership more affordable, inspired my current work in real estate and volunteer work at a youth homeless shelter
  • “I’m guessing the lack of tech experience, GRE rather than GMAT, round 2 app, and competition in the white male PE bucket all contributed. Thought I had a decent shot at an interview though.

  • 28-year-old white American male

Sandy’s Ding Analysis: 
White PE guys should apply in Round 1, as you sense. By Round 2, they don’t have all that many finance slots. I’m not sure that your decision to apply with a GRE rather than a GMAT made a difference. I very much doubt it, based on what HBS adcoms say about this. Besides, last year a record 20% of the enrolled class submitted a GRE score to gain entry into Harvard’s MBA program. That is a 33% increase over the previous year. Your GRE is a ~740 GMAT and that checked the box.
 The PE white male (and female) applicant pool is always a lottery of sorts after you kick out the bottom 20% for various reasons. A lot turns on the reputation of your firm and beyond that, having some x or X factor to stand out from the cohort. Your math background might have been a small attraction, and working at the homeless shelter was also a small plus.

You say your essay was about “experiences at the homeless shelter and current job and the importance of camaraderie.” ?????? Not sure I get this. As often noted, essays can help you stand up straight but rarely add an inch to your height. On the other hand, random or odd essays can really harm you. Not sure if that was an issue but could be if your essay was disjointed, or unintentionally braggy. Just saying.

All that said, guys like you get interviewed all the time, so maybe some boo-boos and maybe some bad luck made the difference here.

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