As with most others here I have been doing my own research, but I am having trouble narrowing down my list. Schools like to say that it's not just about scores so it's hard to decide what I can reach for, and what I can consider a safety. I like your responses and your book, and I look forward to your evaluation.
BA English UCLA
JD University of Michigan
GMAT 780 (50Q/51V), AWA should be 6.0
My grades have always suffered from too many distractions, but Michigan thought highly enough to admit me. I worked 30+ hours per week through school, and had 30+ hours a week of extracurricular activities in college.
My question here is can my GMAT balance out a GPA towards the low end of the range, or should I consider taking a class or two in finance or management (I have found some that will end in time for me to make the R2 deadlines I am targeting).
Went to law school immediately following undergrad.
After law school practiced for a year with a major firm (one of the 5 largest in the world) in Los Angeles doing corporate transactions. Honestly, 1st year law firm work is just pushing papers around, but I could rattle off some fortune 50 client names and $100MM-$1BB deal values.
Switched to a top New York financial district law firm and worked on securitizations for a year. I'll be able to provide lots of juicy details on these transactions. I worked directly with I-Bank directors, all major ratings agencies as well as the SEC. I supervised law firm employees as well as outside contractors (like Big 4 accountants). I negotiated directly with partners from other firms. Deals ranged from $300MM to $3BB, and my firm always represented the underwriter/bookrunner (the bank responsible for the deal).
Decided to give up the law and start my own business. It's something that I thought about ever since a joint course with the business/law/engineering schools at Michigan my final year of law school. The business has been successful for the last 4 years, and I have negotiated and transacted directly with factories in China and Taiwan and have conducted 100,000+ online sales transactions.
A potential difficulty is that I have not had a supervisor for 4 years, but I believe I will be able to come up with excellent recommendations. No recent teamwork and leadership may be more of a challenge, but I think I can tell a reasonable story of how starting your own business shows leadership in a non-traditional way.
I do not plan to primarily persue entreperneurship at business school. My long term goal is to deliver services (financial services, consulting, ...?) to China. This might be part of a larger bank or consulting firm, or possibly as a new business venture. My short term goal would be to gain experience and position myself at an appropriate company.
Founding member of a chapter of a national fraternity at UCLA- also served as vice-president, historian and recruitment chair. As recruiment chair I showed the ability to work well with and influence others, as well as drink a lot of beer (I'll leave that part out). My most significant accomplishments in this area are that I recruited over 60 men for my fraternity, and that I took the initiative to find and creatively set up leasing on a house for the fraternity to move in to - not an easy thing to do for an undergrad with zero financial resources. The chapter is now among the strongest on campus and they are still living in the same house.
In law school I took part in the Michigan legal aid clinic and represented a range of clients on various issues - from basic disputes to mental health issues to cases against the federal government (regarding prison conditions). I also worked for a year drafting humanitarian appeals for the Board of Immigration Appeals (top level federal court).
I was working in New York on 9/11 and afterwords represented tenants of the WTC shopping center pro bono, helping them file for federal relief. I'm a fluent Chinese speaker and was able to help with shop owners that only spoke Chinese during that emotional time. This was also an integral event in my decision to move back to California (where I grew up and where my family is) and to work for myself.
More recently I have been involved with animal rights (mostly dogs
). I have also started and head up a wine investment club with my friends. Made a lot of money on '03 Bordeaux futures!
So, most of the usual suspects are on my list:
Wharton - top choice for now
Stanford - local
Berkeley - local
UCLA - I had a good time here
Michigan - I'd be happy to spend 2 more football seasons in Ann Arbor
Do you think I have a reasonable shot at Harvard? I'm tired of being rejected by them (undergrad and law school). Do you think I can consider UCLA, Duke or UVA a safety? I'm not sure if I'd be willing to give up two years at anything less. How many schools do you think I should apply to altogether to make sure I get in to one of the above? Nothing is guaranteed with any of these schools and I would prefer not to sit out a year if I can't get in.
Thanks so much.