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Being that high GMAT, over-represented demographic applicant

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Being that high GMAT, over-represented demographic applicant [#permalink]

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... who got turned down from every school, and probably the schools made the right call for them and me.

I haven't posted on this forum for a while, but was a somewhat active member during the 2013-2014 application cycle.

Profile at time of application


Gender: Male
Age: 29
Ethnicity: Asian American (korean fwiw)
GMAT: 760
Education: BS, Masters in electrical engineering (blue jays, big red respectively)
Work Experience: 3 years product developer, 2.5 years financial engineering (large financial technology company, well-known mutual fund respectively)

GMAT


I've always been a decent test taker (1400+ on both SAT and GRE when they were still out of 1600), but the GMAT was a bit of a struggle. My first score was 690 after prepping exclusively with Veritas materials (would not recommend) and the GMAT book of practice tests. Afterwards, I bought the Manhattan Prep book for the writing section and practice tests, and the Kaplan book (for the practice tests); I literally went through the manhattan prep book cover to cover, and directly addressed my weaknesses. My practice exam scores held at a steady sub-600 for the manhattan ones, and a steady 740+ for Kaplan; luckily, since I had already taken the test once, I knew that the manhattan exams were hilariously over-the-top difficult, and Kaplan was a much better simulation.

Went back and scored a 760; thought I just punched my ticket to a good bschool.

Round 1 - Booth, LBS, Tuck


Before going into this section, I want to preface up front that my reason for wanting to go to business school was not particularly well thought-out. I wasn't sure exactly what I wanted to do, and felt bschool was the ideal avenue to explore different career options while interacting with high-performing peers with a background in those career paths. However, for some reason, I got the idea that I needed to convey my super-preparedness by mapping out some detailed 5 year plan that would be completely derailed without an MBA. So I picked technology m&a banking, which made some sense given my work experience and is unquestionably a career path that would require an MBA.

I wrote my essays with this theme, and went through probably 2 or 3 drafts each. I had a grad student review my essays (with an emphasis on clarity/how well i articulated my thoughts) for $30 each essay; in hindsight, I should have put another reviewer on my "payroll" to get more perspective. I also got recommendations from my direct supervisor, his supervisor, colleagues from previous jobs; this part was surprisingly not as painful as expected.

Regardless, pretty sure Booth, LBS, and Tuck saw through my BS; LBS was first to pass on me (without interview). I opted to drive up to Tuck, and take my free interview with a 2nd year student heading to MBB. According to the post-mortem analysis w/ Tuck, I completely sh*t the bed there, and apparently, the interview didn't go well. I was completely oblivious to this, however, and, at least from my perspective, had a fun time chatting with the student lol. I wonder whether my propensity to avoid smiling to hide my braces was a factor (they're off now, and it seems I now smile a lot, because I'm noticing a lot of random people smiling back). Anyway, that was a (surprised) rejection.

Booth was my top choice because of the great quantitative course offerings they had, and I really liked the nice parts of downtown Chicago. My interviewer was also a 2nd year student; he was heading to an elite boutique investment bank. Again, I thought the interview went really well. Afterwards, I sat in a class, and observe the professor go over basic probability concepts (expected value, variance, independence, etc); most students seemed to follow fine, but I guess there are always the stragglers who might've been there for quota-filling purposes (kidding... sort of). Rejection #3 was sent my way.

Round 2 - Columbia (non-ED), Kellogg, Haas, Stern, Sloan


The Columbia application was sent out before I got my R1 rejections, so it still followed that theme. However, I also had a friend, who was a CBS MBA, edit my essays, and it seemed to meet her standards. Needless to say, I was turned down without interview.

At this point, I had to rethink my "story"; clearly the banking story was not working (although I wasn't really ruling it out as a possible post-MBA career). So instead of staying in the financial realm, I reworked my story towards the technology side, and wrote about wanting to do business analytics. A funny thing happened at this point, I realized that this actually was something I'd want to do AND would already have the skill-set to perform the job. I think this made my aspirations sound more genuine, and felt my essays/applications had a better "flow".

Well, Sloan and Haas were pretty quick to pass on me. Kellogg also does the free interview thing; my interviewer was a 1st year student who clearly did not read my resume, and barely took notes. I must be really bad at this interview thing. My last hope was Stern, who did invite me for an interview. The admissions rep read through my application thoroughly, and I enjoyed talking with her and trying to sell my candidacy to NYU. Actually, New York is the next best hub (after SF) for technology startups (who are big recruiters of analytics managers), so the Stern location would've been ideal. They wait-listed me.

I am screwed


At this point, I was crushed. I had (foolishly) depended on an MBA to be my "reset" button and help me figure out what to do with my professional life. As a Stern waitlist(er), I could submit an essay as my final "sell" to consider me for the class of 2016. Writing this essay turned out to be a great exercise; I had to really dig deep and contemplate what types of professional skills/activities I would enjoy. I had most of the skill-set to be an analytics manager, but how does NYU fit in?

Turns out NYU has one of the best data science programs in the country, and after reading more about this discipline, I realized this career path is TAILOR-MADE for someone like me, and is EXACTLY the type of work I would LOVE to do. I tried to make this connection in the essay, but NYU's data science MS suddenly seemed a lot more interesting to me, but they had already closed applications for the year. I submitted the essay regardless, but promptly signed up for Coursera's machine learning class.

Whats next


Andrew Ng's course was really fun, and it made me want to do data science/analytics as a professional. I highly recommend it to everyone (yes everyone). I applied to four companies: a late-stage startup, a very early/seed stage startup, a mid/growth-stage startup, and one of the best technology companies on the planet. I got onsite interviews for all of them, because the phone screen interviews were technical , unlike the more qualitative bschool interviews. The roles all had some machine learning elements, as well as a lot of software development.

I went 2 for 4 on offers; I got the late-stage startup (now ipo'd) and the growth stage startup. I wasn't too surprised by the early-stage company (I think my needling of the "failure" probability was not a good idea), but I was disappointed to get turned down by the top-tier tech company.

Profile... a year later


Gender: Male
Age: 30
Ethnicity: still asian
GMAT: 760, although unsure whether I'll use it; put it on my resume for the lulz.
Education: BS, Masters in electrical engineering (blue jays, big red respectively), but coursera is frankly a solid (and free-er) alternative.
Work Experience: 3 years product developer, 2.5 years financial engineering (large financial technology company, well-known mutual fund respectively). 1 year data scientist for a growth stage mobile adtech startup, and am loving the challenges while leveraging all of my previous skills/knowledge.

Future Aspirations: Work on my predictive modelling, stats, big data skillset, and helping my startup continue its growth. I can now only see myself working at startups, mainly providing analytics and data science help, pitching in with software development whenever needed. A get-sh*t-done generalist I guess.

Lessons Learned: An intern at my current company said it best: "The day I rely on name-dropping work experience at big well-known companies means I am doing something wrong" (I had asked him whether he plans on joining a "google" or "twitter" after college to get a brand name on his resume, since he's a legitimate rockstar developer who actually spurned a top university for a full-ride at a less reputable, but up-and-coming school).

I realized that I prefer to stay on the professional path where my skills dictate my ability to find work, get promotions, or just move ahead in life. Not how great my pedigree is (although it's not that bad). While an MBA may help with some of the hard skills, it seems more and more like a "name-dropping" tool/filter (for me at least) to help break into very specific industries where name-dropping is still an important attribute, or establish immediate kinship with other MBA holders.

Not every situation is the same though; I'm sure the MBA makes sense for some people. An MS in Stats would be the only degree I'd consider now because I'll learn directly transferable skills for my chosen profession. So kudos to the admission committees who tossed my application, and to the ironically insightful & self-reflective process; I'd like to think an MBA would've been a bad fit for me.

But who knows? I could be harping the opposite story if Booth took me.

Kudos [?]: 42 [5], given: 17

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Re: Being that high GMAT, over-represented demographic applicant [#permalink]

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New post 04 Jun 2015, 08:04
Wow I just found this thread. I too an an Asian American male (with an even lower Gmat, 740). It's disheartening to see your rejections.

What would you have done differently? ED to columbia? Would you have applied to schools in the 10 to 15 range, such as Fuqua or darden?

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Re: Being that high GMAT, over-represented demographic applicant [#permalink]

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New post 05 Jun 2015, 06:58
Wow Blax0r great story.

I can definitely relate to some degree. I'm glad that you seem to have found a good position that seems to challenge you in the right way.

Ditto, to what Porkbun123 asked, why not consider schools in the 10-15? I think you would've gotten into a lot of them and with scholarship!

Anyways, I guess an MBA is in the past for you. :gl moving forward!
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My GMAT Journey: A surprising 730!

My Application experience: Low GPA Success!

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Kudos [?]: 42 [0], given: 17

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Being that high GMAT, over-represented demographic applicant [#permalink]

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New post 06 Jun 2015, 10:20
Porkbun123 wrote:
Wow I just found this thread. I too an an Asian American male (with an even lower Gmat, 740). It's disheartening to see your rejections.

What would you have done differently? ED to columbia? Would you have applied to schools in the 10 to 15 range, such as Fuqua or darden?


Well, I would've told my previous self to drop the MBA apps, and do some coursera courses =). And apply to Airbnb (2013 would've been a nice time to catch that train).

However, if an MBA were still the main objective, I should have been more genuine about myself. I wouldn't slant my story to conveniently match a school's maxim/culture or some predestined mba-required job path.

I actually would've applied to INSEAD and IMD if I knew another language, but it's arguable whether one or both of those programs are in the "10 to 15 range" tier in terms of admission difficulty. For the US-based 10-15 programs, Darden/Stern excluded, the career placement reports simply did not measure up at the time. Hearing about the workload at Darden from students/graduates seemed excessive for an MBA program, so I chose not to apply there.

I wouldn't get too disheartened; I am only one data point. I would hope the vast majority of intelligent, hard-working 740+ asian american males got an least one offer from a top school. When adcoms get "is my gmat good enough?" questions from candidates, maybe I'm that guy/statistic they bring up to diffuse GMAT-related worries.

Last edited by Blax0r on 06 Jun 2015, 10:37, edited 1 time in total.

Kudos [?]: 42 [0], given: 17

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Kudos [?]: 42 [0], given: 17

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Re: Being that high GMAT, over-represented demographic applicant [#permalink]

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New post 06 Jun 2015, 10:34
dtse86 wrote:
Wow Blax0r great story.

I can definitely relate to some degree. I'm glad that you seem to have found a good position that seems to challenge you in the right way.

Ditto, to what Porkbun123 asked, why not consider schools in the 10-15? I think you would've gotten into a lot of them and with scholarship!

Anyways, I guess an MBA is in the past for you. :gl moving forward!


Thanks brah, and good luck with your sage hall journey!

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Re: Being that high GMAT, over-represented demographic applicant [#permalink]

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New post 14 Jul 2015, 07:53
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At least you're not an Indian male engineer, imagine what kind of help that would bring you.

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Re: Being that high GMAT, over-represented demographic applicant [#permalink]

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New post 16 Dec 2015, 12:39
Wow Blax0r, what a story and sorry to hear. I hope things work out for you!

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Re: Being that high GMAT, over-represented demographic applicant [#permalink]

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New post 22 Dec 2015, 15:59
JDtoMBA wrote:
Wow Blax0r, what a story and sorry to hear. I hope things work out for you!


Ah seems like someone didn't read the last few paragraphs of the post lol.

Thanks for the kind words, and good luck with your Kellogg experience!

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Re: Being that high GMAT, over-represented demographic applicant   [#permalink] 22 Dec 2015, 15:59
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