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Average Applicant Finally Gets Into an M7!

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Current Student
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Joined: 06 Apr 2016
Posts: 25
Location: United States (NY)
GMAT 1: 710 Q47 V41
GRE 1: Q166 V159
GPA: 3.51
Average Applicant Finally Gets Into an M7!  [#permalink]

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New post 30 Apr 2018, 17:02
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Yes, I am an average applicant. I will post my stats below and I think you will agree. However, I would like to share a few things that I think really helped my application and a few pitfalls.

Stats:
GMAT - 710 (V41 Q47)
GRE - 325 (V159 Q166) *Yes I took the GRE, more on that later*
GPA - 3.5
Undergrad Institution - Top public school, undergrad business degree
Work experience - 5 years upon matriculation
Industry - Finance, in various capacities (non-investment, though I have been at top companies)
Post MBA Goals - Social Impact/Social Entrepreneurship/VC

GMAT Woes
Knowing that I had an average GPA and did not attend an Ivy League institution for undergrad, I felt pressured to do really well on the GMAT. I had taken it twice before out of college in 2013, so those scores were still there, but I figured it had been long enough since those test dates that schools would just see my recent ones. I'll assume you guys won't want to know my GMAT prep methods since my score is average, so I will skip to the outcomes.

I took it once in May and got 710. Took it again a few months after and actually ended up doing WORSE, sub-700. Mortified and devastated, I canceled my score. Thank goodness for the new change in policy. After gathering myself, I mustered up the courage to take the GMAT again and ended up getting a 710 AGAIN.

Sidenote on admissions consultants:At this point, my admissions consultants from Forster Thomas (David Thomas and Tom Locke) basically told me my MBA dreams were over and it would take a miracle for me to get into any of the M7s. They even suggested that add Top 25 schools to my list and not apply to CBS, Sloan, Chicago. I almost followed their advice, had it not been for my Tiger boyfriend who pushed me to apply to those schools anyway.

Round 1: The Realization that Getting into B-School Was Not as Easy As I Thought It Would Be
By the time I finished taking the GMAT, August was upon us and I decided to cut my losses and begin on my applications. I applied to Stanford, Wharton, Kellogg and Yale in R1 (I used Forster Thomas for the 1st 2 schools). Overall, I really don't think I got great guidance from Forster Thomas even though my essay consultant was very good and gave me some good feedback. I don't think they helped me get on the right track and when I tried to raise questions and feedback I got from various alumni who read my essays, they were defensive and unwilling to help me change directions. I felt really proud of the essays that I put together on my own for Kellogg and Yale, but Stanford and Wharton were just 'meh'.

I received a Yale interview invite very quickly, which I was not sure how to interpret. I used the Kellogg interview as a warmup, since they don't give out interview invites. I scheduled my interview to coincide with one of the Preview Days that Kellogg hosts in the fall, which I highly recommend. Going through the programming really helps you understand the school!

My Kellogg interview did not go as well as I had hoped, as I could sense that my interviewer (I had an admissions interviewer, rather than a student) did not really understand my job. I think it's a combination of me not selling myself properly and also the fact that I'm not in a typical role at a financial services firm. My Yale interview unfortunately crashed and burned - DM me if you would like details, but basically I left the interview feeling like I would not be getting in. The Yale interview experience was very nicely organized though and I met some great people. I left feeling like it was my 2nd choice after Kellogg (and at the time, Yale was my "safety"). You can imagine my dismay and horror when on December 13th I found out I was rejected from Yale and was waitlisted at Kellogg.

Utter. Meltdown.

Preparing for Round 2
I knew I had to re-strategize for round 2 and potentially add some other schools to my list. I planned to apply to CBS, Sloan, Booth, HBS and under the guidance of an admissions consultant from MBA Exchange (Jon Harari), I also added Fuqua. Over the course of the next few months, I strategized with Jon and put together applications that I felt much better about. I think my personality really came out in these essays. I even made a presentation for Booth (partially because I was tired of writing, but also because I wanted to demonstrate my creativity)!

Ultimately I received interview invites to Sloan, Booth and Fuqua - which was a much better outcome than I had anticipated! Since I was still on the Kellogg waitlist, I ended up making another visit to Kellogg while I was in Chicago for my Booth interview, which I thought would help, but I'm not sure it made much of a difference. I did also take the GRE after submitting my R1 applications since I got advice from a current student at Kellogg who was admitted off the waitlist and ended up submitting these scores to my other R2 schools.

I really connected with my Fuqua and Booth interviewers and walked out of those feeling very confident. Given the R1 outcomes, I didn't feel like anything was a slam dunk, so I just had to wait. Sloan's interview was last and I was a bit worried about it, given that it's not blind. The admissions interviewer indeed asked questions that I saw online, but I'm not really sure if I gave the right kind of answers. Ultimately, I did not get into Sloan (small class size makes it quite selective), but I was surprised to receive admits from Booth and Fuqua!

Lessons Learned - What Worked, What Didn't
    1. Trust your gut instincts
    2. Don't be afraid to show your personality
    3. Take people's advice, but don't lose yourself. Try not to show your essays to too many people - just people you trust and alumni who have a good sense of what the admissions committees are looking for.
    4. Do not hire Forster Thomas.
    5. Do mock interviews. Really. I thought I was good at interviews until I worked with the MBA Exchange consultant - he really helped me think about my delivery and highlighted some psychological aspects of the interviewer that helped me reframe my prepared answers.
    6. Do research - Connect with current students and alumni. Try to understand the culture, what they did at school, what the experience is like.
    7. Use these gatherings in your essays and interviews. Name the people you spoke with!
    8. Start preparing for the GMAT early and do not be afraid to take it multiple times, since you can cancel and schools will not see your canceled scores, nor will they see the "C"
    9. Try to engage with the schools and admissions committees as much as possible. Attend summer events in your city, do online chats, etc. CBS and some other schools even ask you to list which students/alumni you know, which events you attend and so forth.
    10. If you want to go to Columbia, or have a better shot at going to Columbia, apply in the early decision period! I sort of wanted to try living in another city, so it was not that important to me to do early decision.
    11. Do your research early, before you formulate your list of schools and look at deadlines in advance. For example, I had no idea Fuqua had an open interview period, or that they waive the application fee if you attend an admissions event, or visit campus. I just happened to attend an admissions chat before submitting my application, but it was pure coincidence! Find out if schools have some sort of student/alumni recommendation "program" where they can informally write another LOR for you.

Those are really my general tips. I'm happy to answer any questions!

Most importantly, I hope my story illustrated to you to NOT LOSE HOPE and HUSTLE to leverage the right resources to get into the schools you're applying to. If you're like me and you can't do much about your stats like GPA, test scores, there are so many other areas that you can work on to stand out! I also think the quality of your writing and if your essays make it seem like you've really thought about your career path and how specifically each school can help you get there are two key factors that will set your application apart.

Good luck to all MBA hopefuls!
Current Student
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Status: Chasing my MBB Dream!
Joined: 29 Aug 2012
Posts: 1096
Location: United States (DC)
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Re: Average Applicant Finally Gets Into an M7!  [#permalink]

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New post 03 May 2018, 04:28
Top Contributor
Great Story! Congrats on the Duke and Booth admit.

I guess you had made the decision. Which program are you planning to join?
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MBA, Class of 2020,
McDonough School of Business
Current Student
avatar
B
Joined: 06 Apr 2016
Posts: 25
Location: United States (NY)
GMAT 1: 710 Q47 V41
GRE 1: Q166 V159
GPA: 3.51
Re: Average Applicant Finally Gets Into an M7!  [#permalink]

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New post 03 May 2018, 05:47
Yes! I ultimately went with Booth :)
Manager
Manager
User avatar
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Joined: 17 Jan 2018
Posts: 91
Concentration: Entrepreneurship, Strategy
Re: Average Applicant Finally Gets Into an M7!  [#permalink]

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New post 05 Jun 2019, 11:34
amunster25 wrote:
Yes, I am an average applicant. I will post my stats below and I think you will agree. However, I would like to share a few things that I think really helped my application and a few pitfalls.

Stats:
GMAT - 710 (V41 Q47)
GRE - 325 (V159 Q166) *Yes I took the GRE, more on that later*
GPA - 3.5
Undergrad Institution - Top public school, undergrad business degree
Work experience - 5 years upon matriculation
Industry - Finance, in various capacities (non-investment, though I have been at top companies)
Post MBA Goals - Social Impact/Social Entrepreneurship/VC

GMAT Woes
Knowing that I had an average GPA and did not attend an Ivy League institution for undergrad, I felt pressured to do really well on the GMAT. I had taken it twice before out of college in 2013, so those scores were still there, but I figured it had been long enough since those test dates that schools would just see my recent ones. I'll assume you guys won't want to know my GMAT prep methods since my score is average, so I will skip to the outcomes.

I took it once in May and got 710. Took it again a few months after and actually ended up doing WORSE, sub-700. Mortified and devastated, I canceled my score. Thank goodness for the new change in policy. After gathering myself, I mustered up the courage to take the GMAT again and ended up getting a 710 AGAIN.

Sidenote on admissions consultants:At this point, my admissions consultants from Forster Thomas (David Thomas and Tom Locke) basically told me my MBA dreams were over and it would take a miracle for me to get into any of the M7s. They even suggested that add Top 25 schools to my list and not apply to CBS, Sloan, Chicago. I almost followed their advice, had it not been for my Tiger boyfriend who pushed me to apply to those schools anyway.

Round 1: The Realization that Getting into B-School Was Not as Easy As I Thought It Would Be
By the time I finished taking the GMAT, August was upon us and I decided to cut my losses and begin on my applications. I applied to Stanford, Wharton, Kellogg and Yale in R1 (I used Forster Thomas for the 1st 2 schools). Overall, I really don't think I got great guidance from Forster Thomas even though my essay consultant was very good and gave me some good feedback. I don't think they helped me get on the right track and when I tried to raise questions and feedback I got from various alumni who read my essays, they were defensive and unwilling to help me change directions. I felt really proud of the essays that I put together on my own for Kellogg and Yale, but Stanford and Wharton were just 'meh'.

I received a Yale interview invite very quickly, which I was not sure how to interpret. I used the Kellogg interview as a warmup, since they don't give out interview invites. I scheduled my interview to coincide with one of the Preview Days that Kellogg hosts in the fall, which I highly recommend. Going through the programming really helps you understand the school!

My Kellogg interview did not go as well as I had hoped, as I could sense that my interviewer (I had an admissions interviewer, rather than a student) did not really understand my job. I think it's a combination of me not selling myself properly and also the fact that I'm not in a typical role at a financial services firm. My Yale interview unfortunately crashed and burned - DM me if you would like details, but basically I left the interview feeling like I would not be getting in. The Yale interview experience was very nicely organized though and I met some great people. I left feeling like it was my 2nd choice after Kellogg (and at the time, Yale was my "safety"). You can imagine my dismay and horror when on December 13th I found out I was rejected from Yale and was waitlisted at Kellogg.

Utter. Meltdown.

Preparing for Round 2
I knew I had to re-strategize for round 2 and potentially add some other schools to my list. I planned to apply to CBS, Sloan, Booth, HBS and under the guidance of an admissions consultant from MBA Exchange (Jon Harari), I also added Fuqua. Over the course of the next few months, I strategized with Jon and put together applications that I felt much better about. I think my personality really came out in these essays. I even made a presentation for Booth (partially because I was tired of writing, but also because I wanted to demonstrate my creativity)!

Ultimately I received interview invites to Sloan, Booth and Fuqua - which was a much better outcome than I had anticipated! Since I was still on the Kellogg waitlist, I ended up making another visit to Kellogg while I was in Chicago for my Booth interview, which I thought would help, but I'm not sure it made much of a difference. I did also take the GRE after submitting my R1 applications since I got advice from a current student at Kellogg who was admitted off the waitlist and ended up submitting these scores to my other R2 schools.

I really connected with my Fuqua and Booth interviewers and walked out of those feeling very confident. Given the R1 outcomes, I didn't feel like anything was a slam dunk, so I just had to wait. Sloan's interview was last and I was a bit worried about it, given that it's not blind. The admissions interviewer indeed asked questions that I saw online, but I'm not really sure if I gave the right kind of answers. Ultimately, I did not get into Sloan (small class size makes it quite selective), but I was surprised to receive admits from Booth and Fuqua!

Lessons Learned - What Worked, What Didn't
    1. Trust your gut instincts
    2. Don't be afraid to show your personality
    3. Take people's advice, but don't lose yourself. Try not to show your essays to too many people - just people you trust and alumni who have a good sense of what the admissions committees are looking for.
    4. Do not hire Forster Thomas.
    5. Do mock interviews. Really. I thought I was good at interviews until I worked with the MBA Exchange consultant - he really helped me think about my delivery and highlighted some psychological aspects of the interviewer that helped me reframe my prepared answers.
    6. Do research - Connect with current students and alumni. Try to understand the culture, what they did at school, what the experience is like.
    7. Use these gatherings in your essays and interviews. Name the people you spoke with!
    8. Start preparing for the GMAT early and do not be afraid to take it multiple times, since you can cancel and schools will not see your canceled scores, nor will they see the "C"
    9. Try to engage with the schools and admissions committees as much as possible. Attend summer events in your city, do online chats, etc. CBS and some other schools even ask you to list which students/alumni you know, which events you attend and so forth.
    10. If you want to go to Columbia, or have a better shot at going to Columbia, apply in the early decision period! I sort of wanted to try living in another city, so it was not that important to me to do early decision.
    11. Do your research early, before you formulate your list of schools and look at deadlines in advance. For example, I had no idea Fuqua had an open interview period, or that they waive the application fee if you attend an admissions event, or visit campus. I just happened to attend an admissions chat before submitting my application, but it was pure coincidence! Find out if schools have some sort of student/alumni recommendation "program" where they can informally write another LOR for you.

Those are really my general tips. I'm happy to answer any questions!

Most importantly, I hope my story illustrated to you to NOT LOSE HOPE and HUSTLE to leverage the right resources to get into the schools you're applying to. If you're like me and you can't do much about your stats like GPA, test scores, there are so many other areas that you can work on to stand out! I also think the quality of your writing and if your essays make it seem like you've really thought about your career path and how specifically each school can help you get there are two key factors that will set your application apart.

Good luck to all MBA hopefuls!



amunster25 Congratulations for your admission into top B School :cool:

Thanks for the clear explanation of interview process and tips , it i will help people like me a lot :)
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Re: Average Applicant Finally Gets Into an M7!   [#permalink] 05 Jun 2019, 11:34
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