Harvard | Ms. Analytical Leader
GMAT 760, GPA 3.9
Chicago Booth | Mr. Non-Profit Latino
GMAT 710, GPA 3.06
Darden | Mr. Financial World
GMAT 730, GPA 7.8
Cambridge Judge Business School | Ms. Story-Teller To Data-Cruncher
GMAT 700 (anticipated), GPA 3.5 (converted from Australia)
Kellogg | Mr. Operator
GMAT 740, GPA 4.17/4.3
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Air Force Vet
GRE 311, GPA 3.6
Kellogg | Mr. Engagement Manager
GMAT 700, GPA 3.2
London Business School | Mr. Family Investment Fund
GMAT 790, GPA 3.0
Columbia | Mr. M&A Analyst
GRE 323, GPA 3.4
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Top Performer
GMAT 730, GPA 3.3
Harvard | Mr. STEM Minor
GMAT 740, GPA 3.78
Harvard | Mr. Fresh Perspective
GRE 318, GPA 3.0
USC Marshall | Mr. Supply Chain Guru
GMAT GMAT Waiver, GPA 2.6
Wharton | Mr. MBA When Ready
GMAT 700 (expected), GPA 2.1
HEC Paris | Mr. Productivity Focused
GMAT 700, GPA 3.6
MIT Sloan | Mr. Energy Transition
GMAT 760, GPA 3.95
Harvard | Mr. Sommelier
GMAT 710, GPA 3.62
Kellogg | Ms. Strategic Photographer
GRE 318 (to retake), GPA 3.68
INSEAD | Ms. Social Business
GMAT 750, GPA 4.0
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Hanging By A Thread
GMAT 710, GPA 3.8
Harvard | Ms. Comeback Kid
GMAT 780, GPA 2.6
Harvard | Mr. MBB Latino Engineer
GMAT 710, GPA 3.75
Wharton | Mr. African Impact
GMAT 720, GPA 3.8
Harvard | Mr. Hedge Funder
GMAT 790, GPA 3.82
London Business School | Mr. College Dropout
HEC Paris | Ms. Freelancer
GMAT 710, GPA 5.3
Stanford GSB | Mr. Healthcare AI
GRE 366, GPA 3.91

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.

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.