Ask Sandy Why Harvard Business School Dinged You

Round one MBA applicants to Harvard Business School received their decisions yesterday and as usual, the vast majority of hopeful candidates were dinged. In the 24/7 glare of social media, many rushed to online forums to broadcast their results on the same day that Fortune named Harvard’s MBA program best in the U.S.

The mood of those rejected was sometimes dire. “Trying to keep from bawling my eyes out at work today,” wrote one dinged candidate on Reddit.

The news-whether an invite to an admissions interview, an outright rejection or being placed on a waitlist–came as candidates went to their application status page at noon EST on Oct. 6. A surprising number of veterans, with exceptional GMAT scores, reported being dinged. Some samples:

760 gmat veteran – dinged. on to the next one.

770 pilot dinged as well. Can’t win them all

Rejected also. 330 GRE vet. 3.65 @ Ivy

Top 20 University Army Vet 3.78 gpa 337 GRE dinged smh

760 service academy grad, dinged as well

770 GMAT, Magna at Ivy league and dinged.

Dinged too. Maybe I should be more sad (?), yet strangely I am not. I know I gave my everything for the app/essays. But ok time to move on! Stats: 770, 4yoe, consulting + tech s&o, 3.8 gpa from top engineering school

740 GMAT, 3.7 GPA from a T5 University, First-Gen/Low Income Background, Tech S&O dinged


Of course, all highly selective MBA programs routinely turn away exceptional candidates. At Harvard, where the acceptance rate last year was just 9.5%, nearly 7,500 applicants out of 8,264 were rejected. Many admission experts estimate that typically 80% of a school’s applicant pool is fully qualified to get into an MBA program and do well. So that leaves the vast majority wondering why they were dinged.

As we have in the past, we’ve asked Sandy Kreisberg, founder of, 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 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 in the comment section below. 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 a previous version: Rejected By Harvard Business School: Here’s Why


Not everyone, of course, has bad news to report yesterday.

“Got an interview. 730 GMAT, 3.4 from a random state uni. Marine Infantry Officer.”

“I had very strong letters of rec,” he would later explain, “and I’ve been #1 ranked in several units I’ve been in. Otherwise typical grunt, in charge of 50-500 people. Couple deployments, one to the middle east. Several good ec’s once my schedule settled down. And I spent a lot of time on my essay.”

Another clearly exasperated candidate tried to make the best of a bad situation.

“Ding ding ding!,” the applicant wrote. “Made 10+ drafts of my essay, worked closely with extremely helpful alumni, read and reread my application- regret nothing. Got INSEAD, so that’s great consolation. But chin up, ding squad. We’re relentless and we’ll make ad comms regret not admitting us sooner.”


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