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I am an entrepreneur and former college athlete. I worked in Real Estate, Solar, and Events/Entertainment and have founded 3 companies, 2 of which have failed and 1 that is growing and moving along well. Just trying to get a baseline of my odds and some recommendations. I would love to hear feedback about what schools I should focus on.
Target School: Tepper
Considering: Cornell Johnson, McCombs School of Business, Duke Fuqua, Rice Business, Georgetown McDonough, IU Kelley
See More Profiles For: Tepper
Application Status: Open
Undergrad School: University of San Diego
Undergrad Major: Business Administration
Ethnicity: Native American
Title: Property Manager
Industry: Real Estate
Length of Employment: 2 yrs, 2 mos
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You have the start of an interesting profile for many business schools. Your transparency about your failed start-ups is admirable and learning from your mistakes will serve you well in busines school. Your 720 GMAT puts you in the range of many good schools, including those you have listed. Balancing football and academics in undergrad is no small feat and shows your determination and focus. You mention a desire to be a serial entrepreneur. It would be helpful to know if your entrepreneurial interests are focused in real estate or is the satisfaction of starting/running your own company what intrigues you most? One of the most important parts of the b-school application process is researching schools and assessing their fit with your background and future …
You have the start of an interesting profile for many business schools. Your transparency about your failed start-ups is admirable and learning from your mistakes will serve you well in busines school. Your 720 GMAT puts you in the range of many good schools, including those you have listed. Balancing football and academics in undergrad is no small feat and shows your determination and focus. You mention a desire to be a serial entrepreneur. It would be helpful to know if your entrepreneurial interests are focused in real estate or is the satisfaction of starting/running your own company what intrigues you most? One of the most important parts of the b-school application process is researching schools and assessing their fit with your background and future career goals. We can help you do that in addition to crafting your story that will resonate with b-schools like Tepper and others.
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You have the personality traits that adcoms want to see: stick-to-it-ness and grit (as exemplified by your student athlete days and the hustle you harnessed to start 3 different companies by the ripe old age of 23. The fact that 2 of the companies failed and you still continue to hustle on the 3rd is even further proof of your resilience and grit. You earned a 720 GMAT score, which is respectable on its face anywhere.
There are some headwinds that you’ll face, however. None of these items are dealbreakers, but it’s important to acknowledge them so that you can tacitly undo any of the bias that AdComs my have against elements of your professional profile with your essays, short answers and interviews:
Your work in real estate property management will not be considered strategic, cerebral, or prestigious work by the admissions committee unless you “show rather than tell” how you did more than tactical blocking and tackling of filling vacancies, dealing with maintenance & service requests, etc. MBA adcoms largely outsource vetting to other industries and institutions (e.g., ivy league undergraduate programs, Goldman Sachs, McKinsey, FAANGs, etc.). Having bulge bracket banks, illustrious tech firms, management consultancies on your resume signals that you can get a great job in a competitive market and (ostensibly) thrive in a cutthroat environment where all your peers are also very qualified, hungry and intelligent. Right now your resume is weaker on these sorts of prestige signals due to your industry, undergraduate institution ranking, and low-ish (but not terrible by any means!) GPA. What you can do to tackle the bias associated with these weaker prestige signals is lean into the prestige you DO have – namely a strong GMAT score (which you achieved while starting companies young and working full time for an employer, no less). In your resume bullets and essays, you can talk about big, important & strategic challenges that you tackled in the property management realm. Property acquisions and sales, scaling operations with synergies, managing groups of employees across function (building trades, maintenance people, leasing agents, etc) and geography. This is the stuff to emphasize in the stories you tell, all the while quantifying impact in real terms (dollars cost savings, dollars profit expansion, # of people managed). Your less traditional business path prior to MBA likely allows you more formal leadership than a typical banking analyst, for example, that will have few opportunities for leadership, so you’ll want to make this differentiating characteristic clear.
Scholarships may likely be more important to you than others since you intend to hop back into entrepreneurship immediately post-MBA. The yoke of student loans will hamper your ability to dive into a not-yet-cash-flowing start-up. While I think your underrepresented minority status and high GMAT score qualifies you for higher ranked schools than the ones you mention, I’d apply to a range of schools so that you can leverage acceptances off one another. For instance, if you apply to M7 and get accepted (I think there is a decent chance of that if your strategic positioning is flawless and your essays sparkle), there’s a solid chance that you could leverage that M7 acceptance for a very large scholarship at a lower-ranked, deep-pocketed school like Rice Jones, which may be seeking to “buy yield.” Several of the mid-tier schools have higher probability of scholarships because they are trying to get higher yield numbers (yield = % of accepted applicants who matriculate as students) since yield metrics helps rankings AND because these programs are well-endowed enough to have the money for scholarships. Some particularly well-endowed programs in the mid-tier for which this scholarship strategy has worked for our clients include Rice, Texas A&M, SMU, and UT McCombs. Texas billionaire philanthropists FTW!
Entrepreneurship experience is arguably the most important preparation for entrepreneurship. There’s so much to start-up life that you just won’t ever learn about in school, even at MBA programs highly regarded for entrepreneurship. “Why MBA?” and “Why MBA now?” will be on the top of any AdComs mind as they review applications for an MBA hopeful. You’ll need to prove why you need an MBA, especially if you have already founded an company that is taking off (will you be running that company while in MBA – be prepared to answer that question). These two questions are two of the most popular interview questions for any interview candidate, and it would surprise me if you didn’t get both of these questions in every interview given your relative youth compared to other applicants and your less-traditional entrepreneur profile. Be aware of the pitfalls of basing your answer to these questions solely on networking opportunities and access to capital. (While these are indeed great aspects of a top-flight MBA program for entrepreneurs like yourself, you’ll seem like a social-climbing “taker” if these reasons are presented as the singular rationale for your MBA.)
As a Native American, you are the most underrepresented of all the US underrepresented minorities. As such, if you can highlight how your Native American heritage informs your professional mission or extracurricular interests (e.g., Native American homeownership as a means of transgenerational wealth building, etc), that would further strengthen your candidacy. Obviously these sort of identity flourishes should only be used if they are truthful and genuine.
You’ll trade at a premium given your entrepreneurial successes at a young age, high GMAT score relative to mid-tier school averages, and underrepresented US minority status, however your probability of success will also bake in discounts for your lower GPA, less prestigious undergraduate institution, and shorter work experience. With memorable essays that show rather than tell your grit & entrepreneurial spunk, I’d put your chances at about 50% for Tepper.
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