I am a 24 year old Asian female
GMAT score: 740 (49Q, 41V)
GPA: 4.1/5.0 (in engineering from #1 engineering school in US, graduated in 2009)
Work experience: 2 years as an associate at one of the big 3 management consulting firms (McK, BCG, Bain). On track for promotion
Extracurriculars: recreational dance, mentoring program for inter-city students
Post MBA goals: undecided...but probably remain in consulting
Target programs: Wharton, Harvard, MIT Sloan, Kellogg, Stanford, London Business School
Would I be a competitive candidate? Due to my low GPA, I'm wondering if it would be worth it to retake the GMAT (I was consistently scoring around 770/780 on my practice exams)? Additionally, should I apply this year or wait a year to gain more work experience? If these schools are unrealistic, could you suggest more realistic schools? Any advice on what other extracurriculars would be helpful? Should I take extension classes?
While HBS will be interested in you with just the 2 years of experience, the other programs in your target group typically want to see more experience. I would focus in the next couple of years on taking a leadership role in the community (in other words, don't just tutor a kid or two; instead, build or lead a large organization or team that reaches this (or any other) audience on a grander scale), and yes, seeing if you can boost the GMAT score. No, the current 740 is not bad but if you can boost it to 780 without much effort, it will certainly differentiate you (but keep in mind, a perfect score on the GMAT does not get anyone in! you must have the record of leadership and interpersonal skills to back it up). Extension classes can help you build an alternate transcript, which may be a good idea given your mediocre GPA. Another way of "boosting" the GPA would be to give it context: were you the top female graduate in the program? did you graduate in the top 10% in the class? These data points help them clarify just how difficult the program was and how exceptional you are.
Jennifer Bloom, CPRW
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