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I posted this over on the Peer Eval forum but I thought I would get your input as well. I've made some additional annotations at the bottom to describe the most current profile of my situation.
Demographics: 22, Male, Canadian GMAT: 680, 45Q, 38V, 6.0 AWA, 8 IR
BBA, General Management, 3.1 GPA from relatively obscure public US university, received minor student award
Graduate Certificate in Applied Statistics, Penn State (starting Jan 2013, may upgrade to Masters post-MBA)
Worked full-time during both high school and university
3 years in an administrative position for a professional sports team, finalist for an industry award for Best Administrative Services
2 years working for government contractor in Canada in public safety, promoted to supervise 25-40 employees after 1 year, elected union steward representing 450 union members
1 year of freelance work doing some consumer goods purchasing at Asian trade fairs for North American retail companies (honestly I felt like I was puttering around... but I obviously won't write that)
Current (just started): Working in government HR department in a communications role
Extracurriculars: ~7 weeks of political volunteering in the past, ~2 years of involvement as a trade union advocate both inside and outside the workplace. Delivered speeches to over 300 people which were very well-received
Career goals: Social enterprise, because of my strong belief in public service and my personal background
"Dream schools": Yale, Tuck, Johnson
Already applied to: Johnson, Stern
Probably applying to: Yale, Kelley, Fuqua, Goizueta
Also considering: Ross, Kenan-Flagler, Tepper, McDonough, McCombs, Carey (Johns Hopkins)
Preferred Location: Prefer US NE, also happy with Midwest, California or Mid-Atlantic, prefer not SE or Texas (except Austin)
Worked full time while studying full time, finished undergrad degree in 4 years
First-generation immigrant (to Canada) and first-generation university graduate
Holds commercial pilot licence, 300 hours in light aircraft
Was a key figure in repairing the employer-union relationship as a union steward and subsequently negotiated the best collective agreement of its kind in Canada, averting a crippling strike
Lived in Korea, Canada, US and Taiwan
Native-level English, intermediate levels of proficiency in Chinese, Korean and French
Travelled to over 15 different countries in last 2 years, particularly in the developing world
Recommenders ("pool" of people who agreed to write for me):
Just started current job so cannot use current manager as a recommender
Former college statistics instructor (taught me for one semester, got A+)
Former manager and also actually former flight instructor (strange coincidence, he is a business guy who wanted to fly so he did that for a bit), knows me very well as a person and employee
Former trade union executive who worked closely with me during negotiations and union meetings
Former co-worker who worked in another department but knows me well
Former co-worker who is currently a federal police officer
Taking a maths and computer programming course p/t from local university to improve quantitative side of application (although I do have more quantitative aptitude than my GMAT would suggest)
Also taking stats certificate from Penn State partly to show my commitment to proving my quantitative ability
Sorry for the unwieldy length but I tried to organise everything so it was easy to read. I would like to know peoples' thoughts mainly on my admissions chances and which schools I should target. I have been reassured in the past that I can think about many of those schools on my list but my non-traditional background makes me a little unsure of myself for things like this. I plan to apply to 6-8 schools, so I'd like to compile a list of maybe 1-2 "reach" schools, 3-4 target schools and 2-3 safety schools. Thanks for your help!
I'm taking supplemental exams on my most recent courses and I am confident that I will do well. I'm also nearing completion of a couple of courses I'm retaking and I'm confident I'll get at least an A- on them. My GPA should go up to around 3.5 after this. My practice GMATs were in the ~710 area so I am confident I can get 700+ next time I write. One concern I have is that I took an unusually high number of pass/fail courses. (60 semester hours, including 4 challenge exams) Do adcoms frown upon this? They're mainly in liberal arts/junior-level business courses.
Reading through your profile I see a lot of interesting things.... Yes, the GMAT/GPA combo is not a one-two killer, but still it doesn't knock you out of the running for any of the schools you mention. whether it will get you in is another question! (the one we are trying to answer )
the difficulty is, off the bat of I don't know what narrative this whole thing is building up to. I see lots of jobs which don't necessarily seem connected... I don't get a good sense of really what you have actually accomplished, nor how you have progressed in these jobs and between them, nor do I get a really good sense of where you want to go (i.e. what your goals might be). Okay I know "social enterprise" but what?? and how does this connect to your past? Since your scores are about average for many of the schools you are applying to, then a lot will be riding on both your experience and your story... so feel free to elaborate on both these points, and I'd be happy to share further thoughts with you.
My work experience is a bit scattered because mainly because I was trying to work full-time while taking classes full-time, so I didn't have too many options if I wanted to finish my degree at a "normal pace". 4 years ago I was training to become an airline pilot but I became ineligible for a pilot job because I developed a medical condition. That didn't prevent me from flying as a passenger though so I did some personal travel (while working and studying) not only to satiate my love for flying but also to connect with my personal heritage. Most of my relatives live in China and North Korea and when I visited those areas I realised how different things could have been for me if my circumstances had been only a little bit different. Even if my own background was difficult, that was when I developed my desire to improve peoples' lives. I belive in business but I also think that social outcomes can be just as powerful motivators as financial outcomes. In the short-term, I'd like to either work in general management in a non-profit/social enterprise firm but in the long-term after I gain management experience in the industry I'd like to use business as a tool to improve peoples' lives in the community in ways which governments cannot, whether it is due to corruption, lack of resources or lack of will. My personal background as an immigrant, as well as my involvement in organised labour and my international experience in countries like China, North Korea, Burma and Russia has given me insight into social issues at the ground-level which I feel is necessary to make a social impact.
I hope that paragraph describes my background and ambitions well enough for you to give me more feedback. I appreciate your insight.
Okay great! this gives me the reasons, but what I'm trying to say is what you need to do (and with the help of someone if you need) is to figure out a way so that when you present your story to the Adcom that it does not sound like it's "all over the place". You need to come up with a strategy so that things fit together and target one goal. Even if this is hard in your specific case, I assure you that it IS possible with some quick thinking and hard word (and good writing, of course!) I don't unfortunately have a"magic bullet" tip for you here, because for such an issue it's always a very personal strategy, but that is more or less the result you should be aiming for.