Rejected By Harvard Business School. Can You Believe It?

Ms. Waitlisted & Rejected


  • “As an introduction, I applied last year in R2, got invited to interview, then waitlisted. I received the feedback from Eileen in August over the phone that I was waitlisted because I did not bring enough personal insights during the interview. I asked about my general application, her comments were ‘very strong application, great experiences, manager promotion is a plus, great international exposure.’ She encouraged me to reapply this year, so not even had the possibility to receive a ‘further consideration’ in R2 or invited was a shock given the conversation I had with her over the phone.”
  • 700 (Q48, V38) GMAT
  • Undergraduate degree in business from a Top European business school (#3 in Master’s in Management 2020 Financial Times ranking)
  • 116 TOEFL
  • Work experience includes five years of strategy consulting (not MBB), focusing on large scale transformation projects & private equity, recently earned a promotion to manager, after being ranked among the top performer at the firm
  • Experiences in London include two internships for nine months; in Singapore for six months as a student; in India for one month and a half as an employee, and in the U.S. for one summer at Harvard Summer School
  • Essay focused on her personal story to develop her experience in India and demonstrate how this experience shaped her in terms of personality and career ambitions. “I emphasized as well the key aspects that changed over the past few months”
  • Extracurriculars include a stint as a visiting auditor at Ecole du Louvre in the general history of art for one year, 15 years of piano lessons, took the WSET (Wine & Spirits) certification, Social Impact certification, theater courses, work at her family office in free time, pro bono advisory to a food startup
  • Post-MBA Goal: To work in internal VC teams at food companies to invest in start-ups in emerging countries with a social impact focus
  • European female from France

Sandy’s Analysis: You say your ding was “a shock given the conversation I had with her over the phone.”

So here is advice for you and others: Don’t ever put too much faith into what an adcom tells you during those ding sessions for wait-listers. They mean it when they say it, but each new year is different, and given non-MMB, 700 GMAT, and ???? GPA from what sounds like a non-feeder college, I’m not surprised at your outcome, although sure, there is still plenty to like in your profile.

But your GMAT score is 30 points below the median. Essec Business School in France is not a feeder to Harvard and neither is a consulting role at a firm that is not called McKinsey, Bain or The Boston Consulting Group.

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