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Prospects for a top school?

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Prospects for a top school? [#permalink] New post 28 Nov 2004, 18:22
I already posted the following in the accepted.com forum, but it never hurts to get more opinions! Hope you can help. :-D

I graduated college about three years ago, and started and have been building a business in the last three years that has started doing pretty well lately. I just got a whim about a week ago that I should maybe consider business school. It's only a whim, but since I'm at it, I figured that I should ask some experts what my chances of being admitted to a top school might be and a few other questions.

Before I ask my questions, here's a little more background on me and my business:

I started a private tutoring business about three years ago. Originally, it was just a couple of students, but over the past year and a half, it's grown into a pretty respectable business. We offer private tutoring services for a huge variety of subjects and exams, including all high school subjects and exams (SAT I, SAT IIs, PSAT, ACT, Regents, APs, etc.), college academic subjects (not ALL of them, mind you, but the most popular ones such as virtually all the sciences, math, English, psychology, history, sociology, ESL, etc.) and many graduate and professional school exams (GRE, LSAT, GMAT, MCAT, etc.). I have taken every exam except the GMAT (how ironic, huh?) with a score in the 99th percentile (well, I scored in the 97th percentile on the MCAT, and I scored 790 on the Quantitative and 730 on the Verbal on the GRE -- I'll have to retake those). I just have not gotten around to taking the GMAT, but I am almost certain that I would score an 800 on it (it's what I tutor, after all). Currently, the operation is still limited to a major city, but I have plans to expand nationally to various other major cities within a year and a half. I'm still trying to fine-tune my business model, perfect my training (training other tutors, that is) and marketing/advertising skills, achieve dominance in the market, and get more capital before I venture into the national market. My staff numbers fluctuate a little bit, but I have about 6 tutors for the SAT alone, about 4 MCAT tutors, and 8-15 academic subject tutors (they don't all work at the same time). In addition, I will be hiring about 3 marketing assistants in the next few weeks to help me really boost my marketing efforts. At the moment, I am offering a classroom SAT course (which is a rarity for me, as my focus is one-on-one private tutoring) for the top private high school in the city for 69 students, and I am sure that other high schools will want similiar arrangements once they learn of my success with the school and students. My major competitors in the area are Kaplan and Princeton Review, but I understand their weaknesses, and I am certainly not intimidated by them. The local Kaplan center has been particularly unscrupulous in competing against me, engaging in tactics such as taking down my flyers on college campuses and spreading lies about my personal and work history. (I have been in touch with their general counsel, and I hope that they will learn to play fair from now on.)

My revenues this year are expected to be about $130,000, and next year, my goal will be to hit at least $700,000 in revenues (it might sound lofty, but we are in the midst of exponential growth), with a lot more expected when I enter the national expansion phase.

We are certainly not talking about a Fortune 500 company here, but I do have very big ambitions and a passion for my business.

I would be aiming for a top 5 business school -- perhaps Harvard or Stanford would be my top choices. Otherwise, it would not be worth it for me to attend at all.

Do I even have a profile that would be (barely) competitive for such a school, or do I have very little chance of acceptance? What is the typical profile of the average accepted applicant to a top 5 school?

My second question concerns recommendation letters:

How heavily are recommendation letters looked at? I have no superiors that I report to and that I can ask for letters from; I don't suppose a letter from an employee would do any good. I'm just wondering where one would seek such letters of recommendation, and are these less important in my case?

I would appreciate any advice and feedback. Thanks very much!
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 [#permalink] New post 28 Nov 2004, 19:03
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Wow, pretty impressive! Your questions are good ones. First, I think you definitely can get into a top b-school. Don't be worried about not having a "typical"-looking profile. Yeah, a lot of b-school students come from finance or consulting, but this is because of the number of bankers/consultants who apply, more than anything else.

Adcomms will see you as an entrepreneur, which is good. They will greatly respect what you have achieved. The biggest question you will have to answer is, "Why do you want an MBA now?" You obviously have been able to do well without one, and now you've decided that you want one. Why? What do you think an MBA will teach you that you don''t already know? Is there something that you're trying to do in your business that you don't think you can do without the learnings and connections that an MBA will provide?

Or, are you maybe trying to get out of your business? If this is the case, then why? Why are you trying to hop off of a very successful train at this point?

Another thing that you will have to show adcomms is that you're not too full of hubris to fit in well with your classmates in b-school. Yes, schools like self confidence, but cockiness and arrogance aren't really tolerated. (Of course, some b-school students are arrogant, but adcomms try to weed out the most obnoxious ones.) I'm not saying that you are arrogrant or too self-confident, but just keep in mind that this is a stereotype that you may need to overcome.

We actually cover the "entrepreneur"-type applicant in our book, and give some more advice on how to shape your application given your background.

BTW, good luck with your business! It sounds terrific!

Scott
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