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Profile Eval/schools to target [#permalink] New post 02 Apr 2009, 07:33
Hi Alex,

I was sent here by someone from another forum who spoke very highly of you.

I am planning on applying for the year starting Fall 2010. I just took the GMAT and got a 710. Q.45, V.42, writing 6.0.

I have a weak undergrad GPA of 2.9. I am planning on trying to offset that by taking some part time quant courses before applying. I have two options. Would you recommend undergrad courses in math and econ, or joining the local part-time MBA program ("Near Elite Frontier" school). I know most MBA programs do not take transfer credits, but would beginning a part-time MBA program, taking 2-3 classes, and applying to a full time program look favorable? Or would the better route be to take intro stats, econ, etc. at an undergrad level? Due to the timeline of getting grades back from fall classes, I will probably be putting into 2nd round of applications rather than 1st round.

White male, 26 y/o, 4 years working as a police officer, which is my current job. It's interesting work and I enjoy it but I would like to move onward & upward - specifically I want to get into federal investigations of white collar crime, organized crime, corruption - I think an MBA would be very useful for that. Possibly also interested in management consulting in the homeland security / defense industry. I think this is the unique part of my application that will hopefully set me apart in the eyes of the Admissions folks. I don't really have any extracurriculars as my work has sort of taken over my life the past few years...

Reach schools:
Yale SOM
UVA-Darden
Georgetown-McDonough
CMU Tepper

Safety/Scholarship schools:
Virginia Tech
William and Mary
Wake Forest

Please let me know if I am out of line looking at these schools, if you have any others to recommend, etc.

Another option is to do the part-time 3 year program at the local near-elite-frontier school. But I have had several people tell me if I am going to get an MBA, it makes sense to go to the best school I can get into.
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Re: Profile Eval/schools to target [#permalink] New post 02 Apr 2009, 15:22
Welcome to the forum!

In short, I think you're more competitive than you think.

Two things you'll need to do:

(1) Take 1-3 college level classes in calculus, stats, microeconomics, algebra, or something quantitative. A 100-level or 200-level course is fine -- no need to go overboard and do some upper level elective. Don't enroll in the part-time MBA program simply to "show you can handle the work of an MBA program" because it'll only confuse the adcom and make your 'why I want an MBA from *your* school" that much more confusing. Virtually everyone in your position with poor grades just takes a few college classes at their local community college or online extension classes from a reputed university (whether you do it online or not isn't a huge deal - again, all they want to know is that your low GPA wasn't due to lack of brains, but lack of effort/discipline/priorities/focus/etc.). Just take a few classes, ace them, and be done with it.

(2) Why MBA? If you are able to craft a compelling case for why you want an MBA right now given your experience to date and your career goals, you will be competitive at virtually any top school. It's hard to tell obviously from a few sentences in your post, but it sounds like you're on your way with that.

If you focus on the above two things, you can probably shoot even higher (unless you're looking for scholarship money as a priority, which you may get from the safety schools you've chosen below without a problem).

The one thing you have to your huge advantage is that you come from what I call a "social occupation" (as opposed to an "analytical occupation" which is where most MBA applicants come from). You are in a "social occupation" when the primary performance metrics in which you are evaluated and promoted for are based on your ability to handle *people*. This would include military personnel, teachers, clergy (of any religion), performers, pro athletes playing team sports, and law enforcement personnel. Yes, there are analytical aspects to the job, but you're not being judged on your ability to crunch numbers or format presentations. Conversely, the overwhelming majority of applicants come from "analytical occupations" where they are primarily judged on their ability to process information (crunch numbers, format documents, manage processes, etc). This would include many entry-level to mid-level corporate jobs, junior bankers, junior consultants, engineers, and so forth - the traditional "office job" that many young college educated people have.

Here's why you have an advantage - it's not just that there are fewer folks in "social occupations" that apply, it's that b-schools for the most part do believe that they find it easier to teach analytical skills to a person with strong interpersonal/social skills than the other way around. So long as you are able to show that your analytical potential is *serviceable* (no one expects you to be a math wizard or anything), they can arm you with the analytical tools (because as your career progresses in ANY profession, it will come down more and more to your people skills anyhow).

Put it this way. "Person A" has exceptional interpersonal skills but serviceable analytical skills. "Person B" has exceptional analytical skills but serviceable interpersonal skills. Adcoms will much prefer Person A almost every time - because they are not as common in the applicant pool, and the person with the stronger interpersonal skills will have a better chance of succeeding in whatever career path in business or public adminstration (the MBA is a "management" and not a "technical" degree after all).

So you are one of those folks where I do recommend shooting higher. Maybe give Kellogg, Stanford or Harvard a shot as "true" stretches.

Especially these days with the call for public service, I think your story may resonate with b-schools that are looking to change with the times.
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Re: Profile Eval/schools to target [#permalink] New post 06 Apr 2009, 13:17
Alex,

Thanks for the long and thoughtful reply. I can see why you were recommended to me! You have helped me solidify the direction I'm going... Talking with my supervisor now to organize my schedule so I can take intro stats & microeconomics at the local college in time to put in Round 2 apps. :-D Looks like the hardest part will be figuring out the details of "why me, why now, why this school" for my essays & interviews.
Re: Profile Eval/schools to target   [#permalink] 06 Apr 2009, 13:17
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