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Profile Evaluation - Minority Female Early Career Applicant [#permalink]
06 Sep 2010, 04:58
I would appreciate your input!
I'm afraid that because I don't have a quant background and my GPA was only a 3.3 that as an early career applicant, getting into a top b-school would be next to impossible.
Here are my stats:
Female, first generation American, Haitian descent
Undergrad: Howard U Major: Journalism, Spanish (minor) GPA: 3.3/Cum Laude
Few quant courses undergrad and I was a B student in the ones I did take (Economics, Algebra, Applied Topics in Math).
Awards/Honors: I was on full tuition scholarship and I received another large scholarship for excellence in journalism. I also have received a handful of awards for journalism/multimedia convergence and one for entrepreneurship.
Work Exp: I have completed 14 internships/fellowships at mostly top companies (InStyle, New York Times, Cosmopolitan) and freelanced while undergrad. I also worked part-time for a big name in entertainment for two years in a pr/mrktg function with a focus in programming and event planning--the position was part of a one-year program but I was asked to return for a second year after being the first to break membership goals since the program's inception. In the position I managed six campus reps.
Extra Currics: I started an online magazine my sophomore year which doubled as an unofficial training program for students interested in new media and magazine journalism and served on the e-board for a few orgs.
Community Involvement: I did two alternative spring break programs in New Orleans and spent a summer volunteering at a media org for at-risk youth but other than that my service has been less formal/event based--walk-a-thons, Thanksgiving meal prep, mentor programs, etc.
Recent Developments: I started a tumblr blog on social media/digital marketing and music. It's very new so I can't claim amazing traffic but I've written a few informal case studies on viral successes and mixtape releases. Not sure if admissions will consider this a hobby or just an extension of my journalism profession.
Test Scores: I am enrolling in a prep course to insure high scores. Also, I have been advised to take the GRE instead of the GMAT due to my journalism background and the fact that many top schools accept them (Thoughts on this in particular would be appreciated)
Right now I am looking at the following schools:
U Penn MIT Columbia
And I will apply with the consortium common app to the following: NYU, Yale, and Dartmouth
I can apply to up to six with consortium so I may add three of the following: University of Michigan-Ann Arbor University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill The University of Texas at Austin University of Virginia Washington University in St. Louis University of Wisconsin-Madison
I think that about covers all the major areas in applications. What do you think are those schools completely out of reach? They are all schools that accept the GRE in lieu of the GMAT but in general what schools do you think I have a shot at? Also, should I explain my GPA in an optional essay? My transcript lists four courses as "Directed Study," two were substitutes for major journalism courses and two were independent study courses I developed. Is this something I should mention?
I'll start with my burning question, which is going to be the same question that the person reading your file will ask: "Why an MBA right now?"
For you, it all starts with being able to really articulate why an MBA is the step you need to take right now in your career - what gap it will help you bridge, where you will land, how it is part of a larger goal, etc.
If you can convincingly make your case for why now/why this degree, then you can more effectively move into the other key areas of the application. (More specifically, you need your lack of full-time, traditional experience to be a positive rather than a negative and that all boils down to how you paint your career progress and post-MBA goals.)
As for your GPA, do NOT explain it in an optional essay. For starters, 3.3 does not require an explanation. Many programs have average GPAs for the class that are right around that mark - Ross is right at 3.3. for instance. If you write about it in an explanatory sense, you will call attention to something that might not have sent off alarm bells before, turning a neutral into a negative. Not only that, but there is no explanation that admissions officers (who can be a bit jaded and cynical) have not seen. It is far better to understand the underlying theme being implicated by a "low GPA" (again, yours isn't even that low), which is maturity, discipline, and focus.
Now, this is where it gets interesting, of course. Because your academic profile might beg the maturity questions, it tends to compound with your thin work experience and early career migration. You can see where I'm going with this: maturity is going to be the key element of your application story. (Must be something in the water - see my two previous profile evaluations as they both focused directly on maturity as well.)
As for schools, I think Columbia is going to be tough unless you can give them a lot of assurance that your first post-MBA job is a stone cold lock as long as you have that CBS degree. They are very, very cautious about the career pipeline. I like MIT as long as you can convince them that you will really enroll there (they lose a lot of admits who "chicken out" at the last minute). I also like Ross quite a bit. If you crush the GMAT, I also like Stanford.
If you want to dive into this in more detail, PM me and we'll set something up.
Paul Lanzillotti | Founder| About | firstname.lastname@example.org | 877.866.9251
Re: Profile Evaluation - Minority Female Early Career Applicant [#permalink]
12 Feb 2011, 20:35
I wish GMAT Club was registered with an email account I check so I could get alerts about responses =/. Fortunately, other consultants and books echoed your sentiments and I incorporated them into my strategy, esp the why now question concern.
To sum up my Why an MBA/Why Now essay, I basically said the music and media industries are dwindling and the internet plays a big role in their decline. Both are transitioning from tolerating to embracing the internet but they don't get it, its been 10 years post Napster and forecasts for future look bleak. The time is now for new business models and strategies for alternative revenue streams and I have real ideas but I need a biz education to develop them/bring them to fruition. I also added that while music and media are fast changing industries there are some aspects/skills that will remain constant--finance, accounting, strategic mgmt, etc.--and an MBA will teach me all those and more. (I went in depth about the school in particular). I also detailed my short term and long term goals including the exact role and type of company. Short term: brand extension at a magazine co like Time Inc or brand partnership at music co like Roc Nation. Long term: Start a media and music co (included that it furthers my current entrepreneurial endeavor) that combines the two said short term goals but uses an alternative revenue stream as it's core source of revenue, similar to the Fader Media Network.
I ended up explaining my GPA in the optional essay. I know 3.3 isn't a horrible GPA but when you look at the year to year trend there's a questionable dip. The dip was caused by a combination of taking on too many activities/responsibilities and not dialing them back when a big family emergency occurred. Consultants suggested explaining that and how I have matured as a result would help my app esp since the family emergency was tragic enough for college advisors to suggest I take a semester off but I stayed and despite taking nine classes I was able to earn a B+ avg and broke records at my part-time job. Hopefully explaining this was the right decision b/c it certainly demonstrated perseverance, hard work and why my GPA trend was inconsistent.
I'm not very confident in my GRE scores (my math was only 80th percentile) but I read that they're in the 80% range of Harvard's 2+2 c/o 2013. Exam 1: 690Q; 580V Exam 2: 740Q; 520V.
I ended up applying to the following schools:
NYU, Yale, Dartmouth, Darden, UT Austin
Harvard, Columbia, MIT, Stanford, UPenn
I went to two admissions programs at MIT, one being their ambassadors program, so I think I convinced the admissions rep I wanted to be there. She remembered me and what my media/ent area of interest when I came to the second MIT event so I'm hoping that's a good sign. Also, my father works at an MIT lab so in one of my essays I was able to include an anecdote of attending "Bring Your Daughter to Work Days" so I'm hoping I did a good job at conveying a long-standing interest in MIT. I also went to a Columbia Women in Biz event and some events at HBS. Hopefully this helps or else I'll be considering Round 3 options!
What a bummer that you didn't see the response until now! It sounds like you wound up on the right track, although I have no doubt we could have aided your pursuits. If you find yourself staring down Rd 3, definitely shoot us an email at email@example.com because we can help. Here is a blog post we put up this morning on the subject:
Nice work on the Wharton invite! I would strongly recommend that you do some interview prep for that, as Wharton is mixing things up a bet. It seems to be stressing people out, but it's actually easier than ever to stand out from the field. One of our consultants is an interview guru and I can put you in touch with him. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested, and I can put you in touch. It's $450 and features prep advice, a mock interview, and feedback. I highly recommend it.
Congrats on Wharton! (And sorry about HBS.) -PL
Paul Lanzillotti | Founder| About | email@example.com | 877.866.9251