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Do I have any chance?

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Do I have any chance? [#permalink] New post 13 May 2010, 10:52
Hi to all,
Mi name is Maia and I am from Uruguay, South America.
I am a CPA, graduated with GPA 4 and class rank number 1.
However, I did the GMAT and did really bad 600! Althoug I got a 45 in V I just got a 27 in V. I will take it again but not sure if I will be able to get more than 650 because english is really a huge limitation for me!
I have 4 years work experience and a lot of community work!!!!!
My boyfriend got 730 and we are planning to do the MBA together! Do you think this helps? I mean, if the University is interested in accepting him and having it at the U, perhpas they also accept me?
What do you recommend?
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Re: Do I have any chance? [#permalink] New post 13 May 2010, 13:55
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Hi maiahoji:
Thanks for reaching out to forum.

I have worked with a few hundred applicants over the past 8 years, and at a base level there is not enough information to evaluation if you have a "chance" at a business school. The quick and dirty way is to look at your GMAT and see if it is within 20-30 points of the mean. If it is not, you have to go back to the drawing board and get that verbal score up. The GMAT is a cold and brutal fact. If you are not within range, you basically do not have a chance at most business schools. I hate laying it out like this but you need to improve that verbal score and it sounds like your boyfriend found success. I am sure you have already hit him up for pointers.

Additionally, some applications ask if you are applying with a partner (ie. husband/wife) but generally do not ask about boyfriends or girlfriends. With admissions committees the tandem approach is going to move the needle only a marginal amount, if they know at all.

Once you address your GMAT, examining your candidacy methodically will help you think critically about your differentiation (I have posted bits of the following in other threads btw).

This is the basic paradigm in which you want to view your candidacy. I call it the MBA Acceptance Equation (TM):

GMAT (at or near the school's mean) + GPA (undergrad performance and leadership activities) + Work Experience + Personal Passions and Philanthropic Pursuits (consistent history of extracurricular leadership) + Why MBA? (describe what the degree will do in general) + Why MBA from this program? (indicated by the school's pedagogy) + Why Now? (sense of urgency)= Short Term (tactical/immediately upon graduation) + Longer Term Goals (5+ years out and waxes philosophic)

You have to hit on the above to be a competitive candidate at School X. Again, if School X is H/S/W, then you can easily check the rankings for the average GMAT and GPA. With a 600 GMAT, you have your answer and unfortunately, you would not be competitive with your current score.

When you have cleared this first hurdle, you want to move onto your work experience. Your W/E is "quant" in nature and is considered a "known quantity" so it going to be important to show differentiation. As a CPA it a good pre-MBA qualification to have as this designation is often associated with post-mba careers.

So in answering if you have a chance (beyond your GMAT score), your first question around W/E should be around the size/reputation of your firm and your leadership within it.

How many other associates are there? How many analysts report up to you? You always want to stress leadership in this part of the MBA Acceptance Equation. So, if you work for a smaller firm, you need to stress your ability to wear many hats and work with C-level individuals and decision makers to get things done. Stress how your jack of all trades nature goes beyond title and formal authority. Make sure that you articulate a story where multi-faceted nature caused you to come up the curve quickly while (perhaps) helping to build an entrepreneurial organization. (Your recs HAVE to back up this story).

The same could be about a larger organization to a certain extent. However, you have to also talk about how you were a leader among peers. That is, you did not get lost in the shuffle and while there was an established hierarchy, you went above and beyond the established paradigm to ask for more authority and then fully live up to that expectation. An example of this would be a sales assistant who may have been the only one entrusted with formal trading authority.

Moving onto the next part of the equation: personal passions and philanthropic pursuits (P/P/P/P):

Your extracurriculars are decent but they lack a logical connection to your longer term goals. At least this is what I can tell from the basic P/P/P/P info you provided. This is very often the achilles heel with quant jocks and those who spend hours looking at financial statements (like CPAs in audit). They work a lot of hours so they have little time for out of the office pursuits. However, they are too readily labeled as self-serving or not good in a team oriented environment. You need to break this stereotype with your P/P/P/P.

I hope you have been volunteering and showing leadership. I know you said that you have been involved but extracurricular experience but your out of the office experience are only as good as they "right" leadership qualities they demonstrate. If you are part of the crew, separate yourself and ask for more leadership. If this is the case, my suggestion is to get out and find a new out of the office leadership activity. As a word of caution, make sure it logically builds on your story or positioning. Don't just dive into an underwater basket weaving activity that shows leadership but is slight wacky. In fact, I would find a subject area that builds off of your professional acumen but also towards a longer term goal. Remember, the best candidates are those that have out of the office activities that marry up their professional background with a philanthropic interest that get them towards their longer term goal. Almost every candidate misses this point. Don't make that mistake.

This brings us to the Why MBA? Why this school? part of the equation. Why MBA is fairly easy - because your boyfriend is getting one. Joking aside, it's related to the Peter Principle and it is customized to your specific case. I know that in finance and accounting, the MBA is a rite of passage. However, you have to put forth the case that you are maxing out your current skill set and to be as damn effective as you have in the past, you need the strategic skills that an MBA can provide.

So then, why this school? As an example, if you are picking HBS and Stanford, you have to be aware that these are 2 very, very different schools. Trust me, it looks less than desirable for HBS to see that you are applying to GSB and vice versa. I explain more in a guide I wrote on Applying to HBS (http://www.amerasiaconsulting.com/mba_resources/hbs_mba_white_paper/), you can download it via the link.
In short, it looks like you are just applying to top schools with no real connection to the program or clear idea of what you want to do with your MBA. If you have more questions, I can help you with this.

The above represents the left side of the MBA Acceptance equation. This have to sum logically in order to reach the right side of the equation and for you to not look like a half-baked applicant in the eyes of the admissions committee. To put it another way, all parts have to build on each other, so you look like you were preparing to enter the pearly gates of HBS (or School X) from the day you came into this world.

The right side of the equation is made up of your logically connecting short and longer term goals that build on the left side of the equation.

It is critically important that your short term goals is actionable. That is, it is consistent and it is logical that you would be able to get this job, graduating from the school in question. I cringe when I talk to applicants and they have not idea whether or not the firm (by way of a position they defined in their essays) actually comes to campus to recruit. Again, sloppy homework. Remember, short term goals are tactical so that the admissions committee can report to US News that 97% of their graduates are employed 3 months after graduation. No joke.
The longer term goal is a career path that is 5+ years after graduation. Again, this has to build on your short term goal which builds on your current W/E. Again, no zigs or zags. MBA program are not a place to find yourself. The important part of a logical long-term goal is that it should be more philanthropic in nature. That is, it starts to incorporate elements of your P/P/P/P. So, in the longer term, you are going to be a person who actually gives back to society, a profession and a cause.

See how this works? It's not a secret sauce but rather an applicant who has thought about what he wants to do and has his shit together. As base as this sounds, your differentiation is having your shit together. This makes you a candidate with a fighting "chance."

In closing, I would like to offer up my resources once you nail the GMAT. If you need a recommendation for a GMAT class, I would offer up Veritas Prep. In full disclosure, I am biased as I used to work there, but they have a solid program for breaking down and bringing up your Verbal (and quant).

Once you cross that bridge, I would like to speak to you over the phone for a consultation (pro grata). This conversation would probably last an hour to 90 minutes. Please PM me and let me know if this is something you would be interested in. I don't hard sell but I know that my comments above will open up more questions. Speaking over the phone would allow me to be as honest and forthright as possible.

Respectfully,
Paul Lanzillotti

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Re: Do I have any chance? [#permalink] New post 13 May 2010, 14:33
Paul,
Thank you very very much for all your comments!
I know I have to improve my GMAT score and unfortunately that is the most important thing once you send your application.
However, I am sure I am one of the best candidates for an MBA program! I did a lot of voluntary work during my whole life! I travel a lot and have many abroad experiences, including one year semminar of leadership, internships abroad, and other many.
Although working many hours a day, I always put emphasis on extra activities and so during my whole life I`ve had many experiences that help me to develop my personality as well as my professional skils.
Anyway, I know I cannot do anything with this if i don´t get to at least 650 at the GMAT!
I am sure that with a 650 I can improve my chances of getting in! And remember that for us, international students, it is much more difficult to study in english and particularly be good at the verbal section in the GMAT.
Anyway, I`ll do my best and see how can I get to that result. hope I can do so!
I know many latin amercians that have been accepted with GMAT of 640-660! So I am quite sure I can also be the exception! For those universities it is very important to have international students and even more, women, because there are not so many (as men) thar are interested in going to USA for an MBA. So in any case, I am possitive but I will still try to do my best with this!
My persona e-mail is maia.hojman@gmail.com, so perhpas you can send me your proposal of work regarding the assistance as a consultant that you give to students who want to go for an MBA at USA.
Thanks for all the information,
Maia
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Re: Do I have any chance? [#permalink] New post 13 May 2010, 16:03
Expert's post
Hi Maia:
I appreciate the kind words. I will email you from my personal account and we can set up a consultation.
Respectfully,
Paul Lanzillotti

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Paul Lanzillotti | Founder| About | mba@amerasiaconsulting.com | 877.866.9251

Schedule a Consultation | Twitter | Blog

Download "How To Apply" Guides | INSEAD | Columbia | Harvard | Wharton

Re: Do I have any chance?   [#permalink] 13 May 2010, 16:03
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