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Profile Evaluation request/Questions [#permalink] New post 22 Jun 2011, 20:02
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Hello Mr. Lanzillotti, I was wondering if you could please evaluate my profile and answer some questions which I have listed below. Thank you so much for your time and feedback!

Age: 25
Gender: Male
Nationality: Canadian (Korean descent)
Education:
I was almost a high school drop out but turned my life around and graduated with a BBA from a top Canadian university with a concentration in Finance. Also completed a Joint Major in Interactive Arts and Technology with a concentration in Design.
GPA: 3.32/4.33 (77%)
- Upper Division GPA: 4.04/4.33 (93%)
- Graded on a bell curve (normal distribution)
GMAT: 710 (Q47, V40, 6.0 AWA)
Experience:
- Starting in July @ one of the world's largest financial institutions (Canadian arm): One of 12 people selected across Canada for a 2 year, rotational leadership development program designed to develop company’s future leaders/executive management. Four 6-month rotations in various parts of the bank (private banking, commercial, etc.) including training in London and one international rotation.
- Entrepreneurial experience starting and operating an import/retail business during school.
Extracurricular:
- Decent amount of volunteer experience at various charity events/non-profits as well as participation in university clubs, events and exhibitions (nothing outstanding, though)
- Coached high school volleyball, participate in a wide variety of sports
Academic achievements:
- Selected to represent my university at an international design conference in London, UK. Work was subsequently published in an international design book.
- Led a team and placed 1st at my school and 2nd overall in a provincial portfolio management competition.

Target Schools:
- Harvard
- London Business School
- Berkeley Haas
- Chicago Booth
- Wharton
- Columbia
- Others: Yale SOM, MIT Sloan, Cornell Johnson, NYU Stern

Plan:
I graduated from university last December, wrote the GMAT in April this year, and I start my new job this July. I intentionally took the GMAT coming right out of university while my brain was still in “academic” study mode. I had 6 months off between graduating and starting my new position, so it felt like a good time (rather than taking it once I’m swamped with work). Because my score stays on record for 5 years, I plan to finish my 2 year rotational program and gain another 1-2 years experience after the program in a specific area before applying to schools (3-4 years after writing the GMAT).

Questions, assuming essays, recommendations, and other aspects of my application are held constant:

- Am I part of an over-represented group?

GMAT:
- Does 710 make up for my mediocre overall GPA?
- If not, should I retake? Practice test scores (GMATPrep, MGMAT, Kaplan) consistently 720 – 760, with 760 on the last 3. Disparity came from verbal score (40 actual, 44-45 on CATs)
- How much higher will I have to score to justify retaking to schools? What if I score lower?
- Do top schools see a significant difference between 710 vs 730+?
- Timing: Will the fact that I took the GMAT in advance, before even starting my job, hurt my application? Are scores that are more “recent” to the date you apply considered more valuable?
- Will my GMAT score be devalued in any way due to new changes to the GMAT being introduced in 2012? (Integrated reasoning section). Average scores typically drop after the exam is changed. If so, should my decision to retake be affected? (ie. Should I retake it before changes come into effect). Eg) will admissions officers conclude that because I took the GMAT when there was no Integrated Reasoning section, the exam I took was “easier” as a result?

GPA:
- Will schools take my upper division GPA into consideration? - Its much higher than my overall GPA, and upper division courses are typically more challenging than first and second year courses
- Will schools consider that I was graded on a bell curve/normal distribution? - This usually makes it more challenging to consistently achieve high grades because you are constantly being graded against your peers, thus making it highly competitive.

Work Experience:
- Breadth vs. Depth: Do schools prefer people to have work experience in one specific area, or in various areas? - Primary concern is that my position is rotational and meant to give me broad exposure as opposed to focusing on one area.
- Will the highly selective/competitive nature of my position be a benefit?
- Will the rotational aspect of the position hurt or help my chances? - The position is highly intensive and meant to accelerate experience while developing leadership skills.
- My company has clearly stated that they will financially support members of this position through MBA school, and it is highly likely that I will hold a position at the company upon completion of an MBA program. Will this help my candidacy?
- Will the size/reputation/name of my company help me?

Sorry for all the questions and the long post! I wanted to provide as much info as I could. Your help is greatly appreciated :)

Thank you!

Daniel
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Re: Profile Evaluation request/Questions [#permalink] New post 27 Jun 2011, 02:03
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안녕하세요 Daniel:

Your post is the mother of all posts. :o That is awesome. ;)
I really appreciate all the detail, and I am going to get right to the point by answering the specific questions I can cull from your post.

- Am I part of an over-represented group?
The simple answer is to this question is no, you are not part of an overrepresented group. Yes you are Korean (I am part Korean as well - long story), but you will be considered a Canadian for the purposes of your business school application, and of course by the admissions committee.

- Does 710 make up for my mediocre overall GPA?

No, a 710 is not going to make up for a mediocre undergraduate performance. Keep in mind that "undergraduate performance" encompasses quite a bit more than just your GPA.it seems that you kicked a little ass in other areas during your undergraduate career. That does count for something today. You need to be able to paint a picture for the admissions committee that places your undergraduate GPA in the right context. So, as an example, I would write the optional essay and explain some of the circumstances around your undergraduate career. I would not make "excuses." That is, I would just say that your undergraduate GPA and performance overall was an exercise in time management and leadership. You were able to maintain good grades and take on several significant responsibilities around campus.

By the way, if you can study for and retake the GMAT within the next 4 to 6 weeks, I would do so. If you were consistently scoring high on the Manhattan GMAT practice tests, then you could of had a case of the test date jitters. About 50% of the people I work with have taken the GMAT twice. It will not look bad if you take it again. Just do not take it four or five times. That looks weird. Just know that there is a pretty big difference between a 710 and 730 in the eyes of the admissions committee member.

- Timing: Will the fact that I took the GMAT in advance, before even starting my job, hurt my application? Are scores that are more “recent” to the date you apply considered more valuable?

전혀요. 전혀요. :-D

- Will my GMAT score be devalued in any way due to new changes to the GMAT being introduced in 2012? (Integrated reasoning section). Average scores typically drop after the exam is changed. If so, should my decision to retake be affected? (ie. Should I retake it before changes come into effect). Eg) will admissions officers conclude that because I took the GMAT when there was no Integrated Reasoning section, the exam I took was “easier” as a result?

이것은 정말 좋은 질문입니다. 당신이 그것을 물어 매우 기쁘게 생각합니다. 질문 이런 종류의 통찰력을 많이 보여줍니다.
I can only provide an educated guess with respect to this question -- which is a damn good question, I might add. I can say with a very high degree of certainty that your GMAT score will not be colored in any negative way. To be honest, I believe that admissions officers are probably not exactly pleased with the amount of incremental work they are going to have to do -- with respect to figuring out how to interpret these scores. I am sure they will have some guidelines provided by the test makers, but we all know that user acceptance testing never really works out all of the bugs before the product is released into the wild. I would not worry about the new format or what the admissions committee will think about the test scores under the new paradigm. Please reference my comments about the GMAT above, I would retake it now. Just get it out of the way, as you have completely prepare for the existing version of the GMAT. You might as well get as much mileage out of your preparation as possible.

- Will schools take my upper division GPA into consideration? - Its much higher than my overall GPA, and upper division courses are typically more challenging than first and second year courses

The short answer to this is yes. They know that college is an opportunity for young men and women to mature. That means you were able to independently navigate your environment and improve. You will see that many schools ask about your yearly GPA -- GPA that is broken out by year. They want to see a great progression, so it is relatively okay if you started off a little slow out of the gate.

- Will schools consider that I was graded on a bell curve/normal distribution? - This usually makes it more challenging to consistently achieve high grades because you are constantly being graded against your peers, thus making it highly competitive.

this is something that you are going to want to explain in the optional essay. I would not make it as blunt as the above, but you could definitely leave it in to talk about how much he enjoyed the school and how much he respected your peers and their intellect. Just make sure you leave it on a positive note.

- Breadth vs. Depth: Do schools prefer people to have work experience in one specific area, or in various areas? - Primary concern is that my position is rotational and meant to give me broad exposure as opposed to focusing on one area.

I am not sure if they would necessarily prefer either one. It is more about the design of the role or position that you are in, and how well you do within it, rather than whether or not you are a generalist or specialist. You can see this in the makeup of any good business school class. There are often the consulting types (generalists) and engineering types (specialists). Whatever it is that you are doing, just make sure that you are doing well, getting promoted, and asking for more responsibility. Be a leader among peers -- and have your recommenders back you up on that point.

- Will the highly selective/competitive nature of my position be a benefit?

You already know the answer to this question. But to answer directly, yes -- the highly selective nature of your position will be of benefit. I think you meant to ask -- how much will it benefit? Of course, you want to mention this in your essays, but really you need both recommenders -- if appropriate -- to back you up on this point as well. Remember, the essay sell you -- initially. The recommendations only solidified the view the admissions committee has formed a view based on your essays.

- Will the rotational aspect of the position hurt or help my chances? - The position is highly intensive and meant to accelerate experience while developing leadership skills.

To be honest, you are worrying about details the admissions committee really will not care too much about. See my answer above. You just have to do well within the design of the program, overcome a few obstacles, gain consensus in a few examples, and hopefully get promoted a few times on the way. it is all about how well you do, into a certain extent, not necessarily what you do.

- My company has clearly stated that they will financially support members of this position through MBA school, and it is highly likely that I will hold a position at the company upon completion of an MBA program. Will this help my candidacy?

Good question. At some programs this may be of benefit on a few fronts. The first is that some schools require international applicants to jump through a few more hoops when applying for financial aid. Having company sponsorship helps ease this burden and satisfy the school that you will have no trouble financing your studies, if they accept you. The second way that this can benefit you, is that the recommenders can say they believe in your business school candidacy so much, that they are willing to put their money where their mouth is. Lastly, it helps alleviate some anxiety in the admissions committee, as well is the career services office. They know you already have a job -- for your internship and upon graduation. You know the name of the recruiting game --that is just one less MBA student we gotta worry about.

- Will the size/reputation/name of my company help me?

Yes, but not to the extent that one might think. It is really about the individual -- as you are the one applying to business school. The company, as a whole, is not applying to business school. The only thing that a good brand name helps is in assisting the admissions committee in understanding what is it exactly that you do.

Well Daniel, we have come to the end of our journey together. While the path and post were a little longer than usual, you have some pretty good questions. I also really hope that a lot of people read this post -- my God, that pretty much answers every question a person might have about business school. One day, you will be able to snatch the pebble from my hand, and thus matriculating at a top 10 business school.

그런 다음에야 당신은 전사가 될 것이다.

I hope the above helps. When the time comes, and you are ready to apply to business school, please ping me at MBA@amerasiaconsulting.com.

Respectfully,
Mr. Lanzillotti

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Re: Profile Evaluation request/Questions [#permalink] New post 27 Jun 2011, 15:15
안녕하세요 Paul,

First off, I want to thank you for your incredible response! Absolutely AMAZING! I was pleasantly surprised to find Korean in it hahaha. (though I must say I think yours is better than mine)

대단히 감사합니다!

Thank you so much for taking the time to write such detailed answers to my questions. I really appreciate your time and insight, and the level of detail in your answers has really put some things into perspective for me, (especially in regards to the GMAT), while also putting my mind at ease regarding my GPA and Work experience. I'm definitely aware that I can be a worry wart and get over-analytical sometimes, but I guess I just lack some confidence and need a bit of reassuring that I'm on the right track (especially after being a bit devastated by my GMAT score).

I had been on the fence about rewriting - most people told me to be happy with my score and move on. I found the verbal on the real thing to be alot more challenging than on CATs (MGMAT, Kaplan, GMATPrep).

I start work on a few weeks, so I'll study to give the GMAT another shot before the end of the year. I wrote in April, so I probably have to joggle my memory a bit.

I suppose you answered this with your reassuring quip at the end, but assuming my performance at work and other factors are up to scratch, am I in contention for my target schools, or am I setting my hopes too high? I never imagined I'd be aiming for schools like that (given almost being a drop out), but if I have a shot, I'd be ecstatic.

Anyways, thanks again for the fantastic help. Given my rocky start to life, its always been people like you who go above and beyond the call of duty who have helped motivate me to push myself and realize my full potential. Life changing! It sounds melodramatic but seriously, its true - its always the little things that count, and my life could have been VERY different today had I not received such help.

You have my endless gratitude and I'll certainly be in touch when I start applying for schools.

Until next time, 수고하세요!

Best regards,
Daniel
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