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You Won’t Believe Who Harvard Business School Just Rejected

Patriotic soldier salute

Mr. U.S. Army


  • 720 GMAT (49Q,39V)
  • 3.4 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in economics from an Ivy League college
  • Work experience includes three years in business banking at a regional bank, then four years in the U.S. Army with a deployment in Afghanistan; awarded bronze star and had two leadership jobs with people and one job in project management
  • Extracurricular involvement building a family racing team as well as driving, lots during college & part-time job, created mentoring program for high school students career/college prep through race team, created apprenticeship program for soldiers, and tutoring program while deployed
  • Wrote essay about tying first generation college and lack of guidance into a desire to give back and help others in my position by creating programs to guide students/soldiers
  • Goal: To transition into management consulting
  • 29-year-old white male, first generation college

Sandy’s Analysis: Hey buddy, I’m rooting for you but file this under HBS focus on form not substance. You have powerful experiences at Silver not Gold jobs (e.g. commercial banking), a so-so GPA (~3.4) and what might be a great Army career, but as often noted here, HBS is not able to evaluate Army experiences (aside from pilots and Special Ops, both of which they like).

You also have powerful extras as you describe them, in reality, but not in Marquee Organizations they know and like. So while a plus, it’s just not enough to move the needle. Lots of little things are positive in this story, but actual leadership and granular do-gooder stuff and first generation white guy do not add up, The military cohort, the box you were competing in, has a lot of powerful stories, so the 30-50 first military dings are often quite compelling, as here.

You should get into someplace OK and after that, your consulting career will be back on track.