My story is different than most others here..... and please don't take my advice, I think I got lucky
29 year old Asian (born in US, grew up in New Zealand) living in LA
UG GPA (Operations Management/Statistics): around 2.6 to 2.7 (got better as the years went on), NZ uses a different scale, so not exactly sure
MSc GPA (Statistics): low 3s
WE: 5 years, biggest video game publisher, biggest entertainment/media company (in Video game division)
Duke - R2, invited to interview, accepted
MIT - R2, waitlist, ding
UCLA - R3, interviewed, withdrew
I wished I had applied to more schools, I studied for around 2 weeks and took the GMAT in Dec thinking I would need to retake anyway, turned out ok, didn't want to study again for a higher score (new born son to look after )
So I ended up with 2 weeks to write essays, again thought I would get dinged anyway so I didn't want to rush and apply to a lot of schools since writing the additional essay about how you have improved and not to mention new topics scared me.... So I only applied to two schools I really wanted to go to.
Didn't like my chances because of the following:
1) Didn't visit any schools nor attend any info sessions/lunch sessions/online chat, etc...
2) Low GPA, it got better as the years went on though (I failed like 4 papers in the first year... Diablo 2...)
3) No writing skills... no english related classes since form 6 in high school (2nd to last year)
4) Didn't have anyone to proof read my essays since I had such a short time frame
5) absolute zero community/extra-curricular activities though Under and Post Grad. (Video Games/Cars/Gambling was my life)
6) GMAT was ok... not excellent especially compared to most of people here.
Not saying my results were a huge success by most peoples standards here.. but here are what I think worked for me
1) I explained about my GPA - I played video games, as simple as that, I logged 600 real life days on Final Fantasy XI MMO during the last 10 years. Other people like doing community work, clubs, etc. I just like Video Games and Modifying cars.
2) My other essays were focused on things I really enjoy - Games and Fast cars and a little about family
I wrote about being one of the only 10 people in the FFXI server that has this sword which can only drop from a monster that comes out in game once every 3 real life days and the drop rate is around 10% if you do claim and kill the monster, then you have to win the dice roll for it against your team members... you do the math.
3) My recommenders were awesome, both have had their MBAs and have known me a long time and writes well
4) My essays were not proof read by anyone, I think that helped me.... it probably reads different than some really refined essays, I wrote more like how I speak in real life.
5) Maybe the Company I worked at are well know and that helps (not really sure about this one)
6) I wasn't really sure about putting down around 5 extra-curricular activities that were all things like FFXI guild leader, WOW guild member, Car clubs, but guess it didn't hurt me... better than blanks I guess
7) All the papers I failed, I had DNS (did not sit, which means I didn't even go to the exams, and all those papers I later got A's or high B's on, but yeah DNS really hurt my GPA). I guess this is a good sign? shows I can do the work, just that school wasn't most important, getting my Windforce in Diablo 2 was more important
.. for all the Diablo players out there
So yeah, I hope anyone that reads this won't be put off trying to go to schools they dream about, it is very easy to do that if you read these forums a lot....
I would recommend writing the real you, show passion, and just try to show who you are.
Sometimes I think about applying to more schools this year since I will have more time to study GMAT, visit schools, network, etc. But what the hell, Duke is awesome, I was born there (left when I was 1 though) and I just don't want/have the time to study and write more essays... I have a boxes of games I need to finish and a son to look after.
Best of luck to everyone applying
Dude that's the most AWESOME story I have ever heard! The fact that you had a 2.6 and MIT considered you for a waitlist (instead of straight out ding) and Duke admitted you is awesome! I have a similar story except that I spent time on the Total War series.