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Would you please evaluate whether I have a realistic chance of gaining admission to a top 15 school?
27 (28 once applications are received) White Male
GMAT: 700. I would consider retaking because I felt very good during the quant section and was somewhat surprised with the score I actually received (46).
Undergraduate: I graduated from a state university in December 2006 with a degree in Business Economics. My GPA was a low 2.4. In order to mitigate this, last year I began building an alternate transcript at a more respected university and have received all A's in 4 courses (and plan to take a few more this fall/winter). These included both graduate and undergraduate level courses and were largely quantitative (Calculus, advanced Stats, etc.) I'm not familiar with the methodology adcoms use for calculating gpa; however, if these courses are included then it should help bump that ugly 2.4.
Work Exp: 5+ years at an arbitrage consulting firm that I'd arguably consider a startup (in recent years, the IRS has enacted and began to enforce several laws regarding investment compliance. My firm came to fruition to directly satisfy these issues.). Though still relatively small, it has grown considerably and I've achieved the position of Vice President while managing a number of employees/projects.
Extra: I'm active in a couple large leadership organizations in my city and I've separately taken part in home building with 'Habit for Humanity'. I also ran and completed my first full marathon this year. Additionally, I'm also considering the CFA level 1 exam for December, though not just for the sake of looking better on my application. This accreditation, along with an MBA, would be integral to achieving my career goals.
If I sell my story well, along with displaying progression since my undergraduate studies (which feels like ancient history now), is it reasonable to think I might gain acceptance to one of the top schools? Could you estimate my percentage of acceptance to at least one of Wharton/Booth/Sloan/Columbia/Tuck/Yale/Stern/Johnson? Additionally, I believe I could probably gain another 20 points or so on the GMAT. How much would that help my cause?
Re: Peer Evaluation [#permalink]
29 Jun 2012, 05:40
hi john, obviously the biggest issue here is your UGPA. you're addressing everything the right way (alternate transcript, career advancement, etc.), but at the end of the day, it's going to be tough to get into a top tier / elite program. also, schools such as wharton and chicago which put an even greater emphasis on IA will be particularly challenging. i do, however, think you have a shot at places like cornell or yale, which are great prgrams but not typically considered part of the "elite" mba programs.
my advice to you would be to pick 4 or 5 programs with a large amount of breadth among them. and to focus on schools that value team skills and leadership as opposed to strict intellectual horsepower. from there, i'd get super crisp on WHY you need this mba, but more importantly how your experiences will benefit the school. to me, the biggest asset you bring will be your career progression. it's quite impressive and b/c it's in an analytically rigorous field, you will offset your low UPGA with it. you just need talk that part of it up to remove any doubt that you can handle the work.
ordinarily, i'd say it's not worth taking the gmat again unless you thought you'd crack 750 from a 700 (b/c a 700 is already solid). but given that low GPA, it might be worthwhile in your situation. i wrote this article that might be helpful: http://www.thefirstread.com/should-i-retake-the-gmat/
also, just so you know, the marathon thing can be a red flag in your essays if not addressed properly. b school is super social, so if your idea of a good time is to spend hours by yourself in isolation, then the adcom starts to get worried about whether or not you'll fit in socially. i was on the adcom, and that was the case for us.
Re: Peer Evaluation [#permalink]
30 Jun 2012, 12:09
Thank you for your response. I was prepared to hear that my academic shortcomings during UG studies would be a major roadblock for the most elite schools; however, I still may apply to one or two. I am giving strong consideration to one more GMAT attempt, though I'm somewhat hesitant.. especially since it would be my third attempt and after reading your article. I'd be willing to scratch the running achievement from my applications, but I was a runner/athlete in high school and college and still consistently exercise, so training was only minimal and I ran it at just a comfortable pace. I suppose I'm indifferent whether to include that information, though I wasn't aware it might be perceived negatively.
sounds like the right approach. just to clarify too. it's ok to include the marathon training if you do it in the proper context, such as maybe you did it raise funds for a charity or you did it to overcome a huge barrier in your life. but to include it as an accomplishment might not be viewed in the best light, b/c: 1) it's not really a social activity (as mentioned before), so doesn't demonstrate team skills or leadership; 2) compared to others who apply to elite MBA programs, it's not as tangible and high-impact as the adcom likes to see.
you're on the right track, however, and you're thinking of your application in the right spirit.
best of luck and hope this is helpful, -james young