> I didn't think my non-typical profile stood a chance applying to the
> likes of HBS or Stanford.
Then you'd better read our book for a fourth time.
Seriously, don't believe that at all. Applicants tend to never totally believe us when we say this, but those applicants with somewhat unusual applications are at an advantage vs. their more traditional peers, as long as they show the traits that will make them good business people. I think you fit that description.
I honestly don't know what schools are the best in terms of real estate, but Columbia (for its location) makes obvious sense. Also, don't be shy about applying to HBS, Stanford, Kellogg, Chicago, Michigan, or Wharton (as long as you're truly interested in them). I really think you have a good shot at the top tier. I'm biased towards Kellogg
, but you can't go wrong with any of the above.
If they don't appeal to you, though, don't force it. You've obviously done your homework and know what programs will fit you best.
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