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Hey dude, Soooooo things look very good with your GPA and GMAT! A good solid base.
A few pieces of initial advice based on what you wrote here:
1. Forget the GRE. Your GMAT is good enough. and the GRE is seen as a bit less good than the GMAT. You have your 720, just enjoy it. You don't need to spend any more time on this test.
2. I would suggest applying after TWO years of work and not one. It's true that some people get in after one, but it's not usually Big 4 people, but MBB/Finance who have gotten into the right jobs from the beginning. It's too little work experience and it will likely harm your application. Instead give yourself the time to succeed.
3. Make sure you solidify this Volunteer work thing, whatever it is you decide to do. Follow through with it over two years, while leading where possible.
4. Besides Big 4 and CFA, what else do you have? In terms of Extra currics? volunteer work? entrepreneurship? and so on??? If you are aiming for top schools like the ones you write, they are gonna want to see something extra.
I appreciate your input greatly, and I was surprised that you recommended against GRE, but I am happy that 720 GMAT seems to be enough, I was worried as I was aiming/expecting slightly higher.
As far as extra currics for my undergrad, I am a member of my school's student government as a financial representative for the athletics department to represent their needs and ensure they get appropriate funding for their operations and events.
Volunteer-wise I have been a member of the school's "campus ministry"which frequently involves themselves with fundraisers for charities and other causes (such as St. Jude's Children's Hospital) as well as clothes drives/food drives/Secret Santa for children in impoverished cities.
Also, although the program is now dissolved, I served as a peer mentor for 3 semesters helping incoming freshman who were struggling to adjust get used to their new situation and make the transition into an independent individual which I was particularly proud to be involved with.
In addition, I am a member of my school's honors business fraternity, investment club as an officer, and intramurals (basketball and soccer)
Unfortunately, I have no entrepreneurship experience under my belt (I'm pretty sure Big 4 would confiscate it from me if it were successful anyway *joking, although I do think they can do that*)
Do you have any advice on other things I could get involved with going forward? I'm always looking to make a difference by volunteering places or doing work for a particular organization.
Side note: Do adventure vacations help an application? I know it kind of sounds ridiculous, but I do think that my choice to go climb a mountain (Kilimanjaro? always wanted to) or do something involving adventure for vacation instead of bum it on a beach speaks to my personality.
Although I hear you that applying after 1 year would be on the low side, do you think it would hurt to apply just to see what would happen (especially Columbia)? Would my chances be too low to be even worth the shot?
Although applying after 1 year sounds skimpy, it would technically be approximately 27-28 months upon matriculation. Applying after 2 would be about 40 months WE.
How are my chances if I did wait out the 2 years in comparison?
Thanks again Jon!
Hey there, Well, let's start with your last question first cause I think it's the most important one. First of all, I don't think it's necessarily a good idea to "try", but rather better to go full out or not at all. I mean, either you apply to all the schools you would want to go to, or you apply to none. This makes most sense because it leaves you the most choices, and the best possibilities for scholarship. Secondly, the main argument against not applying with too little WE is that the schools will likely be "well, he's good, but let's see what he's like in a year". Now I don't mean to say that every and any reason you have to apply earlier is invalid. You could have some good solid professional and personal reasons for doing so. Buuuuuut if you have a good job (you do) and your only reason for applying earlier is simply that you prefer to, I'd say it's better to hold off.
Extra currics and Volunteer work seem decent. You have some of each which is the most important thing. If you can work on solidifying the volunteer work in terms of doing more/becoming a leader, that would be a great help too. More important though will be your performance at work. Top 3 schools for example take not so many Big 4 folks, but get a lot of Big 4 applications, so you want to be one of the best amongst your peer group.
The vacationing thing, as fun as it is, and as good a story you might make out of it for one essay, in themselves are not likely to strengthen your application.
And those I say are the main things...
Oh yeah, and did I say "Forget about the GMAT!" I think I did. Congrats! Pat yourself on the back. Twice. GMAT is done.
Thanks so much for the positive feedback and your insight. It really helped clear some things up about what I need to do going forward. As much as I wish 28 months WE were enough, I acknowledge that you're probably right that my odds will be greatly better with 40 months WE. I guess the best thing to do is see where I'm at a year from now and make a decision then.
Thanks again and be well.
Very good! If I have done that, that I think I have improved your chances, and done a good job! I know it's tough to hold back when you want to let those horses run wild… but one more year of doing amazing at work… It'll be fun.