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Advice for Fall Applicant: Focus on GMAT or Take Classes?

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Advice for Fall Applicant: Focus on GMAT or Take Classes? [#permalink] New post 15 Jun 2012, 14:06
Hi All,

I'm looking for some advice as to where to prioritize resources ahead of applying this fall to business school.

My background...

Basics: 25, African-American Male
College: Non HYP Ivy League 2.92 GPA* in History
GMAT: Yet to take; 660 diagnostic

Work Experience:
College: Worked full time during school; Internships: Major Investment Bank Sales & Trading, Top Think Tank Strategy Group, Business School Research Assistant (2x), Business School Non-Profit Consulting Group, Local Business-Education Partnership that works with corporations and at-risk kids
Post College: Founded a tech startup after college (raised money, had advisers from McKinsey, UBS and several VCs) that didn't work out, 2 years of consulting at top consultancy (not MBB, but right below that...ahead of Big4), 3 months each at two Top tech startups doing business development & marketing contracts (both have Top teams & VC backing, top name recognition)
Awards: Congressional Citation for Public Service, Excellence award from consulting firm, Nominated for White House Fellowship for leadership & public service at consulting firm

Extracurricular:
College: co-founder of Club Lacrosse Team, VP of Club Tennis, Campus Paper, 501(c)3 Non-Profit I founded in high school working with at-risk kids, founded Black Legal Association, Public Speaking Group, Active Minds
Post-College: Several LGBT non-profits (strategy, fundraising, suicide hotline, etc.), Diversity initiatives at consulting firm

Interests: Strategy, Entrepreneurship and its applications in the civic, private & public sector
Long-Term Goals: I want to successfully start and exit a tech company, but more important I want to have a seat at the table - and sometimes be at the head of the table - in addressing our major strategic challenges in the civic, private & public sectors. Specifically, I'm interested in how we can create public-private partnerships to address major social and domestic policy issues leveraging the power of technology and together as a community make things better - particularly for under-served groups such as women, minorities, LGBT people and children. (I could see myself working at McKinsey's DC office for 2-3 years doing strategy for the public, finance, tech & civic sectors, then starting a company that hopefully does well then pursuing various interests until running for office)

Target Schools: Stanford, Harvard, Wharton, Kellogg, Columbia, Tuck (alma mater), Harvard Kennedy School (MPP), Princeton Woodrow Wilson School (MPA)
Essays: Mainly going to talk about whats motivated me along the way, how i've overcome adversity and why we're only going to get anywhere through working together as a community to not just seek change, but create change - and how i've been trying to understand and build the skills to do that (whether it be strategy, finance, marketing, etc.)
Recommendations: My managers have all really liked me and are big advocates. Only way I've gotten anywhere with my GPA. Coming from Harvard Kennedy, Kellogg, HBS and GSB alumni

So my big thing is my GPA is awful. Including a D in Price Theory, a W in Microeconomics, C+ in Calculus I, C in Game Theory and F in Calculus II. All of these classes were taken Freshman or Sophomore year and I had a general upward trend into Junior and Senior Year, but with a bump at the end when I was more focused on my startup (I got a B+, C+, C senior spring). I have explanations for the two terms were I had my lowest GPAs as I had some serious health issues, but even still quant is not my bread and butter. So my question is the following:

Should I take a semester of classes this fall, or just focus on rocking the GMAT? When I visited Stanford as part of their many voices program, I talked to each of the admission officers and they all said not to worry about extra classes and that they look at the application holistically - their advice is to just focus on doing well on the Quantitative section of the GMAT. I'm also applying to MPP programs however, and those might be hard to get into without additional quant training.

Thoughts?
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Re: Advice for Fall Applicant: Focus on GMAT or Take Classes? [#permalink] New post 15 Jun 2012, 14:47
Matt,
The B-schools are being straight with you: focus on the GMAT, make sure you explain the grades in an optional essay, and let your very impressive profile do the rest. You are right to aim high -- you have the 'extra'/right stuff qualities that get the very top schools pumped up. I'd be glad to give your resume a closer look: paulbodine@yahoo.com. See my testimonials for my track record: http://www.paulsbodine.com/testimonials.
--Paul Bodine, Great Applications for Business School
http://www.paulsbodine.com

MattMcD03 wrote:
Hi All,

I'm looking for some advice as to where to prioritize resources ahead of applying this fall to business school.

My background...

Basics: 25, African-American Male
College: Non HYP Ivy League 2.92 GPA* in History
GMAT: Yet to take; 660 diagnostic

Work Experience:
College: Worked full time during school; Internships: Major Investment Bank Sales & Trading, Top Think Tank Strategy Group, Business School Research Assistant (2x), Business School Non-Profit Consulting Group, Local Business-Education Partnership that works with corporations and at-risk kids
Post College: Founded a tech startup after college (raised money, had advisers from McKinsey, UBS and several VCs) that didn't work out, 2 years of consulting at top consultancy (not MBB, but right below that...ahead of Big4), 3 months each at two Top tech startups doing business development & marketing contracts (both have Top teams & VC backing, top name recognition)
Awards: Congressional Citation for Public Service, Excellence award from consulting firm, Nominated for White House Fellowship for leadership & public service at consulting firm

Extracurricular:
College: co-founder of Club Lacrosse Team, VP of Club Tennis, Campus Paper, 501(c)3 Non-Profit I founded in high school working with at-risk kids, founded Black Legal Association, Public Speaking Group, Active Minds
Post-College: Several LGBT non-profits (strategy, fundraising, suicide hotline, etc.), Diversity initiatives at consulting firm

Interests: Strategy, Entrepreneurship and its applications in the civic, private & public sector
Long-Term Goals: I want to successfully start and exit a tech company, but more important I want to have a seat at the table - and sometimes be at the head of the table - in addressing our major strategic challenges in the civic, private & public sectors. Specifically, I'm interested in how we can create public-private partnerships to address major social and domestic policy issues leveraging the power of technology and together as a community make things better - particularly for under-served groups such as women, minorities, LGBT people and children. (I could see myself working at McKinsey's DC office for 2-3 years doing strategy for the public, finance, tech & civic sectors, then starting a company that hopefully does well then pursuing various interests until running for office)

Target Schools: Stanford, Harvard, Wharton, Kellogg, Columbia, Tuck (alma mater), Harvard Kennedy School (MPP), Princeton Woodrow Wilson School (MPA)
Essays: Mainly going to talk about whats motivated me along the way, how i've overcome adversity and why we're only going to get anywhere through working together as a community to not just seek change, but create change - and how i've been trying to understand and build the skills to do that (whether it be strategy, finance, marketing, etc.)
Recommendations: My managers have all really liked me and are big advocates. Only way I've gotten anywhere with my GPA. Coming from Harvard Kennedy, Kellogg, HBS and GSB alumni

So my big thing is my GPA is awful. Including a D in Price Theory, a W in Microeconomics, C+ in Calculus I, C in Game Theory and F in Calculus II. All of these classes were taken Freshman or Sophomore year and I had a general upward trend into Junior and Senior Year, but with a bump at the end when I was more focused on my startup (I got a B+, C+, C senior spring). I have explanations for the two terms were I had my lowest GPAs as I had some serious health issues, but even still quant is not my bread and butter. So my question is the following:

Should I take a semester of classes this fall, or just focus on rocking the GMAT? When I visited Stanford as part of their many voices program, I talked to each of the admission officers and they all said not to worry about extra classes and that they look at the application holistically - their advice is to just focus on doing well on the Quantitative section of the GMAT. I'm also applying to MPP programs however, and those might be hard to get into without additional quant training.

Thoughts?

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Author, Great Applications for Business School and Perfect Phrases for Business School Acceptance

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Joined: 20 May 2012
Posts: 82
Detail: MBA admissions help
Concentration: Entrepreneurship, Strategy
Schools: Northwestern (Kellogg) - Class of 2000
GMAT 1: Q V
GPA: 3.9
Followers: 4

Kudos [?]: 16 [0], given: 0

Re: Advice for Fall Applicant: Focus on GMAT or Take Classes? [#permalink] New post 18 Jun 2012, 04:44
IMO, a relatively strong GMAT (710+) could offset your low GPA. taking classes is time consuming and expensive, so i'd pour that investment into a GMAT prep class or spend your time on studying independently for it. your GPA trajectory is also important, and you seem to have a solid gen'l mgmt background.

my advice is to also narrow and focus career wise. make sure there's a natural 'arc' to your story, since high tech start-up and community developer are very divergent paths. all that with a background in consulting make the story feel unfocused.

hope that's helpful,
-james young
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http://www.TheFirstRead.com
Former Kellogg adcom member, offering a new approach to MBA Admissions Consulting.

Re: Advice for Fall Applicant: Focus on GMAT or Take Classes?   [#permalink] 18 Jun 2012, 04:44
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