When Austin first sat for the GMAT, he had studied for about one month and scored an impressive 710 on the test. That put him among the top 8% of test takers in the world. But with a 3.4 GPA in economics from the University of Waterloo in Canada, he instinctively knew that 710 wasn’t good enough for the kinds of schools on his target list.
Harvard Business School, Wharton, Columbia, Chicago Booth, NYU Stern, and Cornell’s Johnson School. After all, the class average at all those schools ranged from a high of 3.7 at Harvard to 3.42 at Cornell. So he buckled down and studied to retake the GMAT over a two-month period. On his second try, he scored a whopping 770 on the test, putting him solidly within the top 1% of test takers in the world.
There’s little question that a jumbo GMAT score will offset a below average GPA. Still, Austin is in a highly competitive bucket in elite MBA admission: He’s a white male in finance, working in private wealth management for the Royal Bank of Canada. He doesn’t have much in the way of extras other than the fact that he played varsity baseball, even being named Rookie of the Year as a pitcher.
His goal in getting the MBA? He wants to transition into investment banking in the U.S. and gain valuable leadership skills in an MBA program.
In this episode of Friday’s With Sandy, HBSGuru.com founder Sandy Kreisberg assesses his chances at his target schools and dispenses some valuable advice on how to differentiate himself, especially at Harvard, from all the other white dudes in finance. Spoiler alert: Sandy thinks Austin is a no-brainer admit at Columbia, Chicago Booth, NYU Stern, and Cornell Johnson. But it gets a bit trickier at Wharton and especially Harvard where he will be competing against other white males in finance from Ivy League schools who work for the likes of Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan Chase and Blackstone.
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