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)
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GMAT 740, GPA 4.17/4.3
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Kellogg | Mr. Engagement Manager
GMAT 700, GPA 3.2
London Business School | Mr. Family Investment Fund
GMAT 790, GPA 3.0
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GRE 323, GPA 3.4
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Top Performer
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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
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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
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GMAT 710, GPA 3.8
Harvard | Ms. Comeback Kid
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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
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Stanford GSB | Mr. Healthcare AI
GRE 366, GPA 3.91

Rejected By Harvard Business School. Can You Believe It?

Mr. Big 4 Auditor/Consultant Now In Private Equity


  • 750 (49Q/42V) GMAT
  • 3.82 GPA
  • Undergraduate and Master’s degree in accounting from a top 50 private with a reputation as a top-three accounting program
  • Work experience includes two years at a Big 4 firm in an audit role with a consulting rotation, followed by one year in a back-office role at a small private equity fund without name recognition
  • Letters of Recommendation written by direct supervisors at a previous job who knows me well and wrote strong recommendation
  • Essay focused on the importance of helping others to reach full potential. Included examples of influences in my life who had helped him realize the importance of this goal.
  • Extracurriculars are extensive and include international experience through service mission, NGO internship, and a professional project in Latin America.
  • “I suspect that the weak points in my application are that my work experience and education are not from ultra-selective organizations given my demographic.”
  • White male

Sandy’s Analysis: You said: “I suspect that the weak points in my application are that my work experience and education are not from ultra-selective organizations given my demographic.”

Frankly, that explains a good deal of it. A big 4 audit practice is not a good place for white males to apply to Harvard Business School. That’s just a disappointing fact.

Getting a gig at a PE firm (even in the back office) was a good number two job. What you need to do moving forward is to get a more selective job in private equity.

You said you wrote about the “importance of helping others to reach full potential” and “included examples of influences in my life who had helped me realize the importance of this goal.”

This sounds like scripted blah blah blah and not at all revealing nor honest, or an interesting set of stories.

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.