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Profile eval, please

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Profile eval, please [#permalink] New post 26 Sep 2006, 21:33
Hi,

I'm having difficult time figuring out what chances I have at top 10 business schools, and I'm hoping that you would be able to help me.

My profile:

33 y/o male
Immigrated to USA in 1991

BS Electrical Engineering (Polytechnic University, GPA 3.4)
MS Computer Science (Columbia University, GPA 3.3)

GMAT: 770 (Q49/V48, AWA 5.0)

I have about 8 years of post-graduate professional experience in IT with demonstrable successes as a leader and a manager (I currently work in one of the top Wall Street Investment Banking firms in a management capacity). Every team that I have led during my career has made a significant impact to their organizations and most members of those teams (including myself) have consistently gotten "outstanding" performance evaluations by upper management. My strength (and my professional passion) is in finding solutions to complex problems in high-stress environments. I know that this sounds very ambiguous (and maybe even cliche), but I'm not sure how to better describe it in one sentence.

Why MBA? I am switching my career to Management/Strategy Consulting industry. Over the last couple of years I have done extensive research and interviewed many consultants, and I'm convinced that this career is the best fit with my abilities and passions.

Why now? Because of my family's financial situation (only one working parent with a low income) I had to continue working to help support them. Now that their situation has gotten somewhat better, I can allow myself to take time away from work and dedicate 100% of my time to studying. At the same time, I have had great experiences working in IT, but I am now at the crossroads of either moving up within the technology field, or making a move toward my dream career.

Here are some of my concerns:

1. "Older Applicant" - Coming to the US at the age of 18 without any English, it took me a while to figure out what's going on in my life and where I was heading, so everything has shifted for me by a few years. Do b-schools look at the age as simply a number, or do they consider where the applicant is in his/hers life and career stage?

2. My undergrad and grad GPAs - they both are fairly low, although I think I have good reasons to explain them. How likely are these GPAs to negatively affect my admission chances? Can I balance them out with GMAT and work history?

3. Not too many extracurricular activities - due to various reasons I had to work full-time through both of my schools, which prevented me from getting involved in many extracurricular activities. I am and have always been very actively involved in various leadership initiatives in a workplace, though. Post-graduation I have been involved in a few activities outside of work, such as mentoring youth in my judo class, but nothing of the earth-shattering variety.

How much of a role do extracurricular activities play in the admission process in top-tier schools? Does demonstrated leadership at work have any weight with the admission committees?


Overall, do I have a chance at the top B-schools (e.g. HBS, Wharton, Kellogg, Columbia)?

Thank you in advance for your time. Looking forward to your evaluation.
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Re: Profile eval, please [#permalink] New post 28 Sep 2006, 13:13
dashrimp wrote:
Hi,

I'm having difficult time figuring out what chances I have at top 10 business schools, and I'm hoping that you would be able to help me.

My profile:

33 y/o male
Immigrated to USA in 1991

BS Electrical Engineering (Polytechnic University, GPA 3.4)
MS Computer Science (Columbia University, GPA 3.3)

GMAT: 770 (Q49/V48, AWA 5.0)

I have about 8 years of post-graduate professional experience in IT with demonstrable successes as a leader and a manager (I currently work in one of the top Wall Street Investment Banking firms in a management capacity). Every team that I have led during my career has made a significant impact to their organizations and most members of those teams (including myself) have consistently gotten "outstanding" performance evaluations by upper management. My strength (and my professional passion) is in finding solutions to complex problems in high-stress environments. I know that this sounds very ambiguous (and maybe even cliche), but I'm not sure how to better describe it in one sentence.

Why MBA? I am switching my career to Management/Strategy Consulting industry. Over the last couple of years I have done extensive research and interviewed many consultants, and I'm convinced that this career is the best fit with my abilities and passions.

Why now? Because of my family's financial situation (only one working parent with a low income) I had to continue working to help support them. Now that their situation has gotten somewhat better, I can allow myself to take time away from work and dedicate 100% of my time to studying. At the same time, I have had great experiences working in IT, but I am now at the crossroads of either moving up within the technology field, or making a move toward my dream career.

Here are some of my concerns:

1. "Older Applicant" - Coming to the US at the age of 18 without any English, it took me a while to figure out what's going on in my life and where I was heading, so everything has shifted for me by a few years. Do b-schools look at the age as simply a number, or do they consider where the applicant is in his/hers life and career stage?

2. My undergrad and grad GPAs - they both are fairly low, although I think I have good reasons to explain them. How likely are these GPAs to negatively affect my admission chances? Can I balance them out with GMAT and work history?

3. Not too many extracurricular activities - due to various reasons I had to work full-time through both of my schools, which prevented me from getting involved in many extracurricular activities. I am and have always been very actively involved in various leadership initiatives in a workplace, though. Post-graduation I have been involved in a few activities outside of work, such as mentoring youth in my judo class, but nothing of the earth-shattering variety.

How much of a role do extracurricular activities play in the admission process in top-tier schools? Does demonstrated leadership at work have any weight with the admission committees?


Overall, do I have a chance at the top B-schools (e.g. HBS, Wharton, Kellogg, Columbia)?

Thank you in advance for your time. Looking forward to your evaluation.


dashrimp,

Given your GMAT score and apparently strong managerial profile at work you probably do have a chance at a top 10 school. To answer your questions:

1. Of course, schools evaluate your age relative to your experiences/ circumstances and, in any event, 33 is not too far beyond the pale. This is a minor "negative" in my opinion. If your goals are completely nailed down, fleshed out, and savvy then you will be OK age-wise.

2. Your GMAT and years of experience compensate for your grades (to the extent they need compensating for, which isn't much). No worries.

3. Lack of community/extracurriculars is a negative, even a big negative, at the top schools. You can partially compensate if you had to work to pay your school, but post-college they don't give much weight to excuses. This hurts your odds at the top schools. Obviously, leadership at work is a strong element in your favor but it doesn't obviate the need for community/extracurriculars because the latter can show not only leadership, but big-vision concerns (social impact), team skills, well-roundedness, "philanthropic tendencies" (as Chicago nicely puts it).

4. Setting your goals against the rankings, I would say your best chances are at Chicago, MIT, and Michigan with Duke, Darden, UCLA, or CMU (all good schools and good feeder schools into consulting) as backups. Your comparatively weak community profile will hurt you at Kellogg and Wharton, but since you are strong everywhere else you may get in. I think your chances at Columbia are better than at Kellogg and Wharton because I don't think they are as concerned about community involvement. I would not discourage you from applying to HBS because you have a strong profile, but I would regard them as a longshot.

Good luck,
_________________

Paul Bodine /
Author, Great Applications for Business School and Perfect Phrases for Business School Acceptance

Follow Paul Bodine on Twitter

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 [#permalink] New post 29 Sep 2006, 10:00
Paul,

Thank you very much for your frank feedback.

I wanted to ask whether you could expand on what is considered "extracurricular" or "community" activities. My understanding was that these activities are of the "save the world" kind. But from what I'm reading in various forums, it looks like many people are including their athletic achievements as well as one-off type of community events. I'm trying to understand where does the line lie (if there is such a line) that divides community activities from just acts of kindness that don't mean much to B-schools. For some reason I get a feeling that unless these activities were performed in an organized fashion, they don't "count" toward boosting one's profile. For example, I feel that if someone is helping elder neighbors with various tasks, then it doesn't mean anything to B-schools. However, if the same thing is done in a local church/clinic/etc. then it is viewed as a "great community spirit."

So, in essence, I'm asking two questions:

1. How much do personal achievements outside of work (such as athletics) impact applicant's profile?

2. What determines whether a deed of kindness/philanthropy/selflessness is considered "community" involvement?

Thanks in advance.
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 [#permalink] New post 02 Oct 2006, 19:17
dashrimp wrote:
Paul,

Thank you very much for your frank feedback.

I wanted to ask whether you could expand on what is considered "extracurricular" or "community" activities. My understanding was that these activities are of the "save the world" kind. But from what I'm reading in various forums, it looks like many people are including their athletic achievements as well as one-off type of community events. I'm trying to understand where does the line lie (if there is such a line) that divides community activities from just acts of kindness that don't mean much to B-schools. For some reason I get a feeling that unless these activities were performed in an organized fashion, they don't "count" toward boosting one's profile. For example, I feel that if someone is helping elder neighbors with various tasks, then it doesn't mean anything to B-schools. However, if the same thing is done in a local church/clinic/etc. then it is viewed as a "great community spirit."

So, in essence, I'm asking two questions:

1. How much do personal achievements outside of work (such as athletics) impact applicant's profile?

2. What determines whether a deed of kindness/philanthropy/selflessness is considered "community" involvement?

Thanks in advance.


dashrimp,

1. Personal achievements outside of work are an important part of your application but not as important as work achievements. The weight they're given varies from school to school. Community or social impact achievements weigh more than hobby or athletic achievements, though if the latter are unusual enough and show leadership and passion they can partly compensate for weak community activities.

2. You're right, organized and sustained community work trumps one-off activities and "random acts of kindness." The latter may be all that some people have and in some cases those stories may be worth telling. Even a story about how you sacrificed for family members (and who wouldn't do that?) can help you if the degree of sacrifice was unusual. The quality of the story itself matters. Keep in mind that schools value organized community activity more than "random acts of kindness" in part because these organized stories can also show leadership and teamwork in addition to your social conscience.

Good luck,
_________________

Paul Bodine /
Author, Great Applications for Business School and Perfect Phrases for Business School Acceptance

Follow Paul Bodine on Twitter

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