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
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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
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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
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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?

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.

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.