Rejected By Harvard Business School. Can You Believe It?

Ms. Mental Health Enthusiast


  • 760 (50Q, 42V) GMAT
  • 3.94 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in economics from an Ivy League university
  • Work experience includes four and one-half years at a bulge bracket investment banking firm, then one and one-half years in a corporate strategy role at a mega private equity fund. Both firms are well known and respected. Won promotions in both jobs
  • Letters of Recommendation written by direct supervisors at a previous job who know me well and wrote strong recommendation (not from her current job, as she didn’t want to risk her current employment)
  • Essay focused on the importance of mental health, how it affected her family, what she did about it, what she learned from it, why she wanted to pivot into this space, and go at it from an investing perspective
  • Extracurriculars include volunteering with women, low-income populations. Lots of history working with these groups.
  • Asian female

Sandy’s Analysis: Not sure I get this, but was your essay, as you state: on the importance of mental health, how it affected my family, what I did about it, what I learned from it, why I wanted to pivot into 
this space and go at it from an investing perspective.
What did “go at it from an investing perspective” mean?

Maybe I’m just misreading this, but “go at it” indicates shrewd investing meant to maximize profits (nothing wrong with that in general) but if that is what you presented, it could have made us wonder about your motives. Also, and probably more importantly, your turn towards this type of investing after six years of typical IB/PE jive makes one wonder what brought this about, and how come you did not seek out this investment space sooner.

You are in a very accomplished but crowded cohort [IB/PE] and often any feature you present in goals, accomplishments you consider important will get extra scrutiny.
The mental health story coming out of no place in your resume but being driven by family issues, well, that is delicate, and if the admissions reader at HBS felt you were reaching too much, that could be damaging. They are looking for reasons to DING kids like you, not reasons to take you.

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