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Very untraditional background: chance for uppermid-tier MBA?

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Very untraditional background: chance for uppermid-tier MBA? [#permalink] New post 18 Jan 2014, 11:35
This is yet another "please evaluate my profile" type of thread, though I believe that my background is unique enough to warrant some inquiry.

Undergrad GPA: 3.8
Major: Sustainable Agricultural & Industrial Management (self-designed independent, was nearly half accounting and other business classes at decently ranked small college)
GRE: 170 verbal (99%), 155 quant (61%), 4 AWA (54%, surprising since I've always aced essays with relatively little effort)

Work Experience: I've been directing the reforestation of surface mined lands throughout Appalachia at a small non-profit since Feb 2012 (including grant writing, presentations, networking, directing interns and crews of volunteers, etc), and prior to that I received an international travel fellowship (T.J. Watson Fellowship) to study post-mining communities around the world. Also built a mobile biodiesel production system based on a state energy grant before traveling abroad, though never fully developed it into a working business.

Background and Career Plans: I am a born-and-raised coalfield Appalachian from Eastern KY with intentions to jumpstart sustainable entrepreneurship projects in Central Appalachia in the fields of renewable energy, eco-sensitive manufacturing, and value-adding for agricultural and forestry products. I have started a successful entrepreneurship conference series and two local farmers markets, and am on the board of a regional community development organization which has also offered me a post-MBA job (MACED).

Clearly I am an odd bird vis-a-vis the typical MBA applicants coming from traditional financial, IT, etc backgrounds. I have applied to HBS, Yale, Ross, Darden, and Kenan-Flagler at this time, and I may still apply to Johnson and Tepper. I would be interested to hear if anyone thinks that I am just throwing away my hard-earned paychecks (I make $35k/year before taxes) applying to these places, or whether I might be interesting enough to garner a second look. Thank you for your time,

Nathan
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Re: Very untraditional background: chance for uppermid-tier MBA? [#permalink] New post 18 Jan 2014, 21:16
Expert's post
nathandavidhall wrote:
This is yet another "please evaluate my profile" type of thread, though I believe that my background is unique enough to warrant some inquiry.

Undergrad GPA: 3.8
Major: Sustainable Agricultural & Industrial Management (self-designed independent, was nearly half accounting and other business classes at decently ranked small college)
GRE: 170 verbal (99%), 155 quant (61%), 4 AWA (54%, surprising since I've always aced essays with relatively little effort)

Work Experience: I've been directing the reforestation of surface mined lands throughout Appalachia at a small non-profit since Feb 2012 (including grant writing, presentations, networking, directing interns and crews of volunteers, etc), and prior to that I received an international travel fellowship (T.J. Watson Fellowship) to study post-mining communities around the world. Also built a mobile biodiesel production system based on a state energy grant before traveling abroad, though never fully developed it into a working business.

Background and Career Plans: I am a born-and-raised coalfield Appalachian from Eastern KY with intentions to jumpstart sustainable entrepreneurship projects in Central Appalachia in the fields of renewable energy, eco-sensitive manufacturing, and value-adding for agricultural and forestry products. I have started a successful entrepreneurship conference series and two local farmers markets, and am on the board of a regional community development organization which has also offered me a post-MBA job (MACED).

Clearly I am an odd bird vis-a-vis the typical MBA applicants coming from traditional financial, IT, etc backgrounds. I have applied to HBS, Yale, Ross, Darden, and Kenan-Flagler at this time, and I may still apply to Johnson and Tepper. I would be interested to hear if anyone thinks that I am just throwing away my hard-earned paychecks (I make $35k/year before taxes) applying to these places, or whether I might be interesting enough to garner a second look. Thank you for your time,

Nathan


Nathan -- Wow... definitely interesting background and one that is not going to 'show up everyday' in an admissions office dossier. That said, I think the question that many ad-coms will have is this -- Are you planning to take the job with the regional development organization? Or are you coming to school to 'cast a wide net' and decide what it is you want to do after b-school? Can you share that piece of the puzzle with the community here? Also, some additional context on the undergrad schools you went to will be helpful as well to allow community evaluation. Hope this helps. -Brian
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Re: Very untraditional background: chance for uppermid-tier MBA? [#permalink] New post 19 Jan 2014, 09:58
Brian, thanks for your reply. Actually the post-MBA job offer with the regional development org (MACED) is somewhat of a moot point because the offer came just as I was finishing my last application last week and so it is not mentioned on the 5 apps I've already turned in (I did mention being on their board since this past December though). In terms of "casting a wide net," I have an entrepreneurial plan that has already been drafted albeit without solid financials that I'm interested in developing through an MBA program, so I have a fairly specific idea of the suite of business ventures I'd like to start post-MBA. It consists mainly of diversified agroforestry on surface mined lands for bioenergy and value-added food and biochemical production, as well as utility-scale solar on mined lands and micro-hydro on mountain streams. The job offer from MACED would allow me to enact this entrepreneurial vision while also working for their enterprise development arm, helping to finance regional small businesses through debt capital. I could include that in apps to Johnson and Tepper.

My undergrad degree is from Berea College, ranked #1 liberal arts college by Washington Monthly in 2011 though it was ranked #76 by US News this past year. Even my undergrad background is fairly non-traditional: I was 23 by the time I decided to go full-time to college after having worked a number of jobs including underground coal miner, bicycle messenger, and co-chair of a non-profit community center, and was 27 when I graduated. I'm 31 now.
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Re: Very untraditional background: chance for uppermid-tier MBA? [#permalink] New post 19 Jan 2014, 10:18
Interesting background. As a former Harvard interviewer myself, I would say that if you have very clear and defined goals, demonstrated and active action in terms of putting those goals into place, and solid scores, you can present yourself competitively in regards to an uppermid-tier school. Your essays and how clearly you are able to make connections between your background and future vision will be extremely important. Let me know if I can perhaps help --

Jillian
MBA Ivy League Consulting
(646) 276-7042
www.MBAIvyLeague.com

Last edited by MBAIvyLeague on 19 Jan 2014, 21:26, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Very untraditional background: chance for uppermid-tier MBA? [#permalink] New post 19 Jan 2014, 21:05
Thanks for the interest Jillian. Of course I've wondered if my GRE scores would be considered "strong," and I've included a disclaimer in all of the "say anything else that hasn't been covered elsewhere" essay sections about how I can absolutely make it through applied business math despite my 155 quant (61st percentile) quant score. My budget is already very stretched by the application fees (and I've already written and turned in almost all of the essays), but if you would still be willing to have a phone conversation about potential interviews etc then I'll try to contact you this week.
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Re: Very untraditional background: chance for uppermid-tier MBA? [#permalink] New post 19 Jan 2014, 21:16
Feel free to give me a call, and I will review your details more to see how I can be of help.

Thanks -
Jillian
MBA Ivy League Consulting
(646) 276-7042
www.MBAIvyLeague.com
Manhattan GMAT Instructor
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Re: Very untraditional background: chance for uppermid-tier MBA? [#permalink] New post 01 Feb 2014, 08:03
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nathandavidhall wrote:
Thanks for the interest Jillian. Of course I've wondered if my GRE scores would be considered "strong," and I've included a disclaimer in all of the "say anything else that hasn't been covered elsewhere" essay sections about how I can absolutely make it through applied business math despite my 155 quant (61st percentile) quant score. My budget is already very stretched by the application fees (and I've already written and turned in almost all of the essays), but if you would still be willing to have a phone conversation about potential interviews etc then I'll try to contact you this week.


For what it's worth -- sometimes we think areas of our own profile are weaknesses and begin an overcompensation effort that actually winds up calling attention to something that the ad-com might not otherwise have considered a weakness. Certainly a 61st percentile is not the same thing as a 91st percentile -- but recognize of course that there is never a PERFECT applicant. Don't dig a hole for yourself -- unless you know for certain you have a real hole that needs filling in or addressing in front of the ad-com.

Good luck!!!

-Brian
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Re: Very untraditional background: chance for uppermid-tier MBA? [#permalink] New post 02 Feb 2014, 11:32
I couldn't agree with Brian (above), more! That said, my consultations are always free, so feel free to give me a call this week if you would like to talk more. I'm based out of NYC, so just keep the time zone in mind if you call from elsewhere in the U.S. (or overseas).

Thanks!
Jillian
(646) 276-7042
www.MBAIvyLeague.com
Manhattan GMAT Instructor
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Re: Very untraditional background: chance for uppermid-tier MBA? [#permalink] New post 15 Feb 2014, 11:51
Expert's post
MBAIvy wrote:
I couldn't agree with Brian (above), more! That said, my consultations are always free, so feel free to give me a call this week if you would like to talk more. I'm based out of NYC, so just keep the time zone in mind if you call from elsewhere in the U.S. (or overseas).

Thanks!
Jillian
(646) 276-7042
http://www.MBAIvyLeague.com


Nathan -- Best of luck with your journey here -- please circle back and let us know what you decide to do!
-Brian
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Brian Lange | Manhattan GMAT Instructor | North Carolina


Manhattan GMAT Discount | Manhattan GMAT Course Reviews | View Instructor Profile

Re: Very untraditional background: chance for uppermid-tier MBA?   [#permalink] 15 Feb 2014, 11:51
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