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Bad LORs?

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Joined: 17 Oct 2014
Posts: 3
Location: United States
GMAT 1: 750 Q50 V42
GPA: 3.85
Bad LORs? [#permalink]

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New post 07 Feb 2015, 11:29
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I applied to three schools. Sloan, Stanford, and Haas EWMBA in R1. I decided to test the water on my competitiveness as an applicant for the R1 applications, and then consider whether I apply to HBS for R2 (I would have had to rush for early submission deadline for HBS R1). I felt going in that I would be overall a competitive MBA candidate. I live in the SF bay area and earn a solid 6 figure salary as an engineer / program manager at a prestigious institution. I have 4 years WE after an MS degree and am 28 at the time of application. I was in the top 5% GPA of my UG at a top engineering school, had a 750 on my GMAT. I've spent significant time abroad, and am highly proficient in a second language.

I pored over my essays and applications and felt they were strong - and, coming in, I had seen generally my essay writing as a strength.

Ultimately, my outcome was a direct reject from all three without even an interview, which I interpreted as being some major flaw in my applications, and thus I did not pursue the HBS application. I didn't have high expectations for GSB knowing how hyper-competitive it is, and that results can be largely a crapshoot among even strong candidates. I thought, on paper, that I would at least be in the ballpark for a chance at an interview. But based on past profiles of Sloan and Haas (particularly as the part-time programs are generally significantly less selective), I really thought I would be highly competitive, and was really bummed after not even receiving even an interview invitation from either.

I plan to apply again next year, but in looking over my applications I see I don't really have many regrets - except maybe that I didn't emphasize enough that I am a first-generation college student (to add some sort of diversity to my white-male status). Naturally, the one part of my application that I can't review is my LORs, and a small (perhaps paranoid) part of me really wonders what was written based on such a drastic underperformance of my expectations. Talking to friends at HBS and Wharton, I realize a very large proportion of competitive B-school apps are from feeder institutions where it is understood that LORs are either directly written or are highly vetted by applicants to highly align with their essays and be extremely positive. I simply told my reviewers (both of whom had never written an MBA LOR) to please be honest, and did not receive or request any feedback on what they would write.

I wonder if I wasted a lot of time and money on the whole process by not choosing to "play the game," or if my overall background was simply considered generally uncompetitive and my self-assessment of my candidacy was overly optimistic / naive. I wonder if anyone has feedback / advice / comments on my case ...
Joined: 26 Aug 2014
Posts: 827
Concentration: Marketing
GPA: 3.4
Re: Bad LORs? [#permalink]

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New post 09 Feb 2015, 17:51
i think it would be helpful to have someone who knows about these things read your essays. No interview does sound a bit off.
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Re: Bad LORs? [#permalink]

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New post 26 Nov 2015, 04:44
I think that letters of recommendation are one of the most overlooked parts of the business school application. We spend so much time on GMAT prep and essay writing, we think our recommenders will be fine if we just give tell them how to complete the recommendation. However, I believe you need to spend much more time with your recommenders and make sure they are well prepared to represent you. You need to give them the materials you want to highlight and help them understand what a good letter looks like.

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Re: Bad LORs?   [#permalink] 26 Nov 2015, 04:44
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