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Hi all, I’m looking for some guidance before I narrow down my list of schools and start filling out applications. I’m shooting for the Round 2 deadlines in early January. Thanks in advance for your time.
GMAT 730 (47v, 44q, 6w)
I graduated from the University of Maryland in 2007 with two bachelor’s degrees – journalism and government and politics. I had a 3.2 GPA. (It took me way too long and too many credits to figure out I was really, really bad at Japanese.) Most of my extracurriculars were journalism-related. I did lots of freelance writing for small newspapers and held down a radio show for a few years. I also have two black belts in Japanese martial arts – Ninjutsu and Taijutsu. Those won't do me much good in B-school, but they've helped me stand out before.
At the time of the application, I’ll have 5.5 years of professional experience. -Two years covering business, government and politics at various times and later doing a lot of editing for a chain of newspapers in Pennsylvania. -Almost 2.5 years covering state government, politics and business/economic issues for a statewide paper in Maryland. -About a year in the public sector working in a variety of economic development functions, including external communications (speechwriting, etc.) and some policy development.
I want to (eventually) end up doing VC or entrepreneurial work. After I got my GMAT score, I started looking at the top schools in Boston (Harvard, MIT), Chicago (Booth, Northwestern), and Northern Cali. (Stanford, Berkeley). Am I a fit there? If not, where else?
A 730 is a great score and that alone puts you above average at even the best schools in the country. Your work experience is good and quite interesting actually. I think that will also be a big help. The black belts are just cool, and they help you to stand out.
I think that you have a competitive profile at any of the schools that you listed. If you really want to do entrepreneurial work or VC, then northern California is certainly a good place to be.
It might also be wise to pick a few safety schools so if your top choices deny you for whatever reason, you will have something to fall back on. I think that a Duke, Michigan, Dartmouth, UCLA, or USC would fall within your safety range.
There are a number of compelling aspects to your candidacy that will make almost all admissions officers to take your candidacy seriously. First of all, people with journalism backgrounds add a lot of diversity to most schools so they are highly coveted. Second, you bring a totally different set of perspectives and strengths to the classroom and these are valued. Lastly, a high proportion of admissions officers come from diverse backgrounds so they appreciate people who pursued diverse careers.
Obviously the problematic aspect of your profile is your GPA -- which is somewhat compensated for with a very good GMAT score. I hope that your grades improved steadily over the course of your academic career and that your GPA is weighed down with lower grades in your earlier years. Admissions will then look at these grades and say they happened almost ten years ago and do not reflect the person who you are today. Also, your GMAT scores will be weighed more heavily then. If this is not the case, then your grades might pose a challenge in getting into some of the more competitive schools.
I would recommend that you look at those schools that have a history of accepting people with slightly lower than average GPA's as long as they show potential in other aspects of their lives. I would strongly recommend that you consider Wharton, Sloan, Booth, Yale, Kellogg, Ross and Anderson. HBS, Stanford and Haas are going to be challenging with your GPA - not impossible with a great application -- but you have no room for error in any other areas of your application. Lastly, I would recommend that you apply to around six schools as with this number of applications, you are bound to be admitted to more than one or two and you will have a choice where to attend once your applications are decided upon.
Good luck. Kimberly Plaga Senior Admissions Consultant Manhattan Review _________________
I think you have a great profile. Harvard will be a reach for you, I think, but Harvard is a reach for everyone, so that shouldn't be a surprise. The reason why I think Harvard will be a stretch is because of your GPA. They really like high GPAs. You mentioned that Japanese is a blemish on your transcript. Is that it? If the rest of your grades are strong, then that would help.
The other thing that may be a challenge for you is explaining your goals. VC is very hard to get into, even with an MBA. It's one of those industries doesn't have a regular pattern of recruiting at b schools and relies on connections and networking. You may want to look at schools that have PE or VC conferences or big clubs in either of those fields. I know Sloan and Yale both have PE conferences.
Also, I don't see an immediate connection between your background and your goals. It's all right to be a career switcher, but you should tie it somehow to your background, personality and/or interests.
In terms of other schools, I think you have a decent shot at any top 10 or 20 school. I would just look at schools that offer the best program for your goals.
Great GMAT score but you quant score is way below the average for Harvard/MIT/Booth and I would reconsider retaking the exam. You already have an excellent verbal score, a little effort in the quant section will put you 750+