Rejected By Harvard Business School. Can You Believe It?

Mr. Megafund Private Equity


  • 770 (50Q/47V) GMAT
  • 3.7 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree from a Top 5 undergraduate university (YPSM – not Harvard)
  • Work experience includes three years as an analyst and senior analyst at a leading independent investment bank (Lazard / Evercore / Moelis / etc.) and two years as an associate at a leading PE megafund (really well-known firm, but one that historically has exited people to hedge funds rather than MBA programs and does not hire MBA graduates
  • Letters of Recommendation written by a direct supervisor and staffer at both employers (“Haven’t seen myself but heard both were strong)
  • Essay focused on how a setback he encountered in college (losing an election) has made him a more effective consensus builder since (“proof points across banking and private equity in terms of generating tangible outcomes by being able to bridge different perspectives”), layering on color about how my background as an international student coming to the States and a liberal arts major excelling in a technical field like finance, complements that strength
  • Extracurriculars are extensive in college (running college paper, etc.); since graduation, major extracurricular has been various mentoring efforts for current students at his alma mater
  • White straight male who grew up outside the U.S.

Sandy’s Analysis: Grrrrr. Is there any chance HBS does not like your PE firm, which as you note, does not hire HBS grads????

How many of the folks at that firm at your level apply and get into HSW over the past two to five years?

That is assuming the private equity megafund is your current job. It’s not clear from your write-up.

OK, let’s assume that was NOT the case.


1. Not sure

2. if I had to guess:

“How a setback I encountered in college (losing an election) has made me a more effective consensus builder . . . .”


Dunno pal, we all love consensus builders but this has the makings of an essay that is artificial and politically correct and checks boxes versus doing all those things and also giving us a sense of the real you. A subtle and reach claim, but if so, a damaging one. If other examples in the essay were similarly mildly banal, well, readers might just start developing a growing annoyance at the artifice and smarmy person we meet. Just a guess, but watch that in the future.

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