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Yes, a where do I stand question lies ahead, but you seem like a great resource, so can you tell me my honest chances?
I'm a caucacian woman, aiming for Kellogg, Chicago, UofM (as you can tell, I like the midwest). I took the GMAT and got a 680 (equal percentage in quant and verbal), but I think I'm going to take it again. I recieved a B.S in finance with a 3.3 (slightly lower for my major).
I worked in the accounting department for a small business for a year (so I basically saw how everything worked) before becoming an analyst in corporate america, where besides my job, I'm an active participant in various company development programs. I also am the treasurer of my alumni group, run, and work as a GA in a 12 week leadership course once a year (I would do it more often, but it's difficult to schedule).
I feel I'm in this wierd middle ground. I applied to some of these schools 2 years ago, at which time they said I needed more work experience, though I did get into my undergrad university, which, while it's now my backup and a top 20 program, I'm leaning against going to, as I think I need a more diversified education. I'm not sure if I'm a strong enough candidate to get into the top schools now, though, as I feel I'm weak in extraciriculars, and have not had the most glamorous job experience, though I feel I've progressed well.
Thoughts on my chances? Just looking for a third party opinion.
Actually, I think your profile sounds just fine. First of all, a 680 is strong enough to get you into Kellogg and Chicago; don't let anyone tell you differently. I also think that you have more extracurriculars than the average applicant. (You said you're weak in this area... I wonder what someone who's "strong" would look like!) Your GMAT is a tad low, but your work experience is far more important.
It's not clear to me from your post how many years of work experience you have, but those schools were probably right to ding you two years ago for lack of experience. Don't be discouraged. They are very willing to consider reapplicants. As long as you have had some good proression and accomplishments in your career, I think yo uhave a very good chance.
About your safety school... One of the bigest mistakes applicants make is to apply to a school which they're not very fired up about. You don't sound too excited about returning to your alma mater, so don't. I'm also a big advocate of gaining a new experience (i.e., going to a different school).
Thanks for your advice. I think one of the reasons I think my extracirriculars are weak is becasue I don't have a lot of volunteer activities to speak of, and so I wonder, are some activities more valued than others, or do schools just want to know that you do things outside of work?
Speaking of, by the time I enter grad school, I'll have worked 5 years, one in accounting, and four as a financial analyst, progressing from a jr analyst to a sr. I'm hoping to continue in corporate finance after graduation, though I worry that I may not have as strong of a finance background or experience as applicants with I-banking or consulting might have. Do you have any advice on how I can differentiate myself, or is having a strong story of where I want to go good the best plan?
Re: extracurriculars, adcomms value quality MUCH more than quantity, and it sounds like you have good quality (e.g., taking on leadership positions), so that's an area of strength for you. They're looking for people who get involved, take the lead, etc., and those things will help you there.
I think your career background is fine, considering your plans. Remember that b-school isn't just full of people who are already finance and consulting studs. The majority of people in b-school don't have finance backgrounds. I say stay focused on what you want to do, show how you're different and interested (your extracurriculars and interests), and you'll be fine.