Dinged By Harvard Business School? Let Sandy Tell You Why

Some 5,000 MBA candidates were expected to be rejected today by Harvard Business School.

There’s no doubt about it: A rejection from Harvard Business School hurts.

Yet, an estimated 5,000-plus MBA applicants were dinged today at noon EST. It’s very possible that Harvard has never rejected as many applicants in any other round in its history. That’s because of an anticipated surge in applications this year which has made it even more competitive than typical to get an interview invite.

“It’s a massive round,” says Caroline Diarte-Edwards, a co-founder of Fortuna Admissions, a leading MBA admissions consultancy. “This very will could have been the worst offer rate the school has ever seen.”

In advance of those round two application decisions from HBS, one candidate put it this way on Reddit: “Today is a big day for a lot of us. Just remember that the ambition that inspired you to put yourself through the grueling work of being the best you could be for the past 5-10 years is the same ambition that will lead you to success no matter where you go or what you do.”

While true, that statement does little to ease the pain of being turned down by Harvard Business School, especially if HBS has been part of your dream for many years.

“Absolutely no idea what more I could have done,” wrote one candidate today on Reddit after being dinged without an interview. “I know you can’t have any expectations with HBS but I am a bit surprised. Strong academics (STEM), 770 GMAT, 4 years MBB, multiple early promotions, run a substantial charity (200 active volunteers), grew up in a small / not well represented country, and I had, in my opinion (and opinion of others), a very strong essay.”

Of course, not everyone gets rejected IvyTower10 celebrated her good news today and her stats on Reddit. “Received an interview,” she wrote, describing herself as a 28-year-old Caucasian female, with an Ivy League degree in economics and a 3.7 GPA, seven years of work experience in banking and government, a law quant score on the GRE but a perfect verbal, limited extracurriculars but excellent recommendation


The majority, however got bad news today. They were, in the euphemistic words of Admissions Managing Director Chad Losee, “released.” These often highly qualified candidates to HBS were not invited to an admissions interview and, to use a less sensitive word, dinged.

There is no shame in getting turned down. Many of the applicants who were dinged today are every bit as solid as those who were invited to a virtual interview. But HBS has only so many seats in its incoming class to offer and unfortunately, that means the vast majority of people who apply–as many as 90% in this more competitive admissions season–is going to get passed over.

They could have GMAT test scores above 500. They could have gone to Ivy League schools for their undergraduate degrees. And they could be working for feeder companies from McKinsey and Goldman to Google and Apple. Yet another applicant today, one with a 780 GMAT (51Q, 48V) and 4.0 GPA, who has worked in private equity for two years, also was turned down. “At some point,” writes the candidate who went to a state school, “it’s hard to know what else could be done.”


Headshot of Sandy Kriesberg, aka HBS guru.

Sandy Kreisberg, founder of HBSGuru.com

As we have in the past, we’ve asked Sandy Kreisberg, founder of HBSGuru.com, a leading MBA admissions consultant and an astute reader of all HBS tea leaves, to take a look at the profiles of “released” applicants and explain why they didn’t make the first cut.

If you would like Sandy to explain your HBS ding, just post your profile, your GPA, GMAT, company information, and any other facts you think made your application different. The more detail you provide, including what you wrote in your essay to HBS, the easier it will be for Sandy to determine why HBS turned you down.

To give you an idea of how this plays out, here is his round one ding report from last year: Rejected By Harvard Business School: Here’s Why


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