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Help me kick off this journey... profile evaluation please? [#permalink]
01 Jan 2013, 18:25
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1) 25, male, Taiwanese-American
2) Cornell University '09, dual major in Economics & Philosophy GPA: 3.17 (obviously my biggest worry. to put it simply, I was quite a different person 4-8 years ago mentally; I never gave anything 100% until I began my career. Now I give 100% to everything.) GMAT: Unofficial 740, which I expect to go higher (I took the GMATPrep Practice without any studying a few weeks ago and got this score, 48Q, 44V)
3) I have worked for over a year for a consulting firm that advises banks on regulatory issues (I think the #1 in the world). For the past year, I've worked on a high-profile engagement stemming from the housing collapse - the Federal Reserve and the OCC ordered 14 large banks to review all foreclosures conducted over the past several years, and my firm is working with a number of the 14 banks. In this capacity I've helped draft testimony presented to the Senate Housing Subcommittee, and I've served as an operations manager for a foreclosure review team of 30 lawyers analyzing loan modification errors the banks made.
Formerly, I worked for two years in the technology Mergers & Acquisitions group of a middle-market investment bank. I worked on a number of deals in the $100 millions range, and as part of a small group had a lot of responsibility I think was unique to my experience. I left investment banking due to ideological burnout and a strong feeling that my work life contradicted with the principles that guided my personal life.
I've never been promoted, and that, along with my GPA, is a major worry for me. I left investment banking after 2 years, when a promotion was promised after 3. Having been at my current job for only 1 year, I believe I'm close to an official promotion but can't guarantee I'll have one before I apply to B-School.
4) The only substantive extracurricular activity I've undertaken is mentoring an underprivileged 11-year old as part of a "Big Brother" type program. I loved this, but I could not do it when I was doing investment banking (90+ hrs/week of work), and then I had to stop after about 7 months because my travel schedule at my current job got crazy (out of town 4-5 days a week). This was one of the most fulfilling things I've ever done, though - built a very strong bond with this smart 11 year old kid. This program takes smart kids out of bad schools and puts them in good private schools for free, and gets mentors to help them transition (usually a major cultural/racial component).
5) I LOVE Economics and Philosophy (which doesn't really jive with my GPA at Cornell). Most of my free time is spent reading about economics, psychology, or political philosophy. I essentially want to go to grad school to meet as many intellectual, ambitious people as I can, and try to affect the world through my personal lenses of economics and philosophy. I'm extremely interested in joint MBA degrees with Public Policy, or Education. I am also extremely interested in technology, but mostly as an enabling tool for social/economic progress, not for "cutting edge" stuff, if that makes sense.
My #1 dream would be to improve American poverty and education (I think they go hand in hand). I think there need to be major shifts in attention, focus, and policies to begin fixing the problems that the American underclass faces. It's very frustrating to me that the "American Dream" is almost completely walled off from a huge segment of the population from the moment the members of that population are born. That's what I would want to work on after graduate education.
6) I'd like to apply to a top-10 school, though I need to continue my research into their specialties/pros/cons. I make a comfortable amount of money, and 0% of my motivation to go to grad school flows from wanting to make MORE money. The majority of my motivation comes from wanting to be able to wake up in the morning surrounded with smart and interesting people all focused on improving themselves and their communities. That's what I would look for in a grad school, not any specialized competency like "#1 in supply chain management" or anything like that.
7) MISCELLANEOUS: I think I can get an excellent work recommendation (probably 2). I cannot get an excellent academic recommendation (see 3.17 GPA). I believe I am a strong writer and can write strong essays.
If you can nail that GMAT and get 750+ (which based on your practice test you should be able to get), that should balance out your GPA. Regardless, other GmatClubbers have been accepted to Top 10 schools with lower GPAs and lower GMATs than you have/are testing at. It's about telling your story in the right way and "fitting" with a school.
You'll also have to consider if you want to take the GMAT ASAP and apply in R2/R3 this year, or if you want to wait until next fall and apply Early/R1. I'd suggest the latter unless you've already asked people for LORs.
As far as schools are concerned, I would definitely look at Yale, though admittedly I'm a bit biased. Yale's entire premise is to educate leaders in business and society. From what I've heard and seen, students there are focused on the impact that their actions will make and less focused on the $s, relative to some students at other schools. I'd also take a look at Fuqua as they're big in social entrepreneurship, Kellogg's SEEK program, Haas, as well as Stanford (though they're obviously a reach for pretty much everyone!). You seem to be on a more non-traditional path, so finding schools that are open to that will be really important for your application process.
Re: Help me kick off this journey... profile evaluation please? [#permalink]
01 Jan 2013, 19:50
This post received KUDOS
Based on what you provide here, you have a decent chance at a top ten program - however, you have absolutely no room for any errors moving ahead (as your GPA is already below average at all top programs). However, there are many compelling aspects to your application, the best of which is your career goals -- which if presented properly can really make you stand out from the masses of candidates who apply. I would also encourage you to do as much as you can to get the GMAT score you are currently getting in practice exams as this will somewhat compensate for your GPA.
Since I am assuming that you are applying for the fall of 2014, there are a few things that you can do to improve your candidacy. The first would be to get some volunteer experience in an organization that supports your career passion/goals. The next is to take a few classes and get very good grades -- as admissions places the most emphasis on your most recent grades (with a lot less emphasis on classes taken almost a decade ago).
As for which schools to apply to -- I would say that even with a high GMAT score that HBS, Stanford, Wharton, Sloan, Columbia and Haas are pretty much out of consideration. However, this still leaves a lot of very good programs including Booth, Tuck, Kellogg, Johnson, Yale, Ross, Darden and a few others where your application would be taken seriously - this is where your Cornell degree will help.
Re: Help me kick off this journey... profile evaluation please? [#permalink]
01 Jan 2013, 22:25
Thank you so much, aerien and ManhattanReview! I really appreciate the feedback.
Aerien, when you say I'm on a non-traditional path... what's a traditional path? Going down a specific finance related-route, such as "Want to do consulting in the energy sector with the end goal to work in cleantech VC"?
I want to be true to myself in applying, but I'm curious, because if traditional > non-traditional, I could sculpt a more "traditional" application if I ended up wanting to do so. My banking background combined with my current economics/financial regulations job could make for a cohesive business/economics/policy application, I think.
Any clarity would be much appreciated. Thanks again!
I meant non-trad as in you want to change US education/poverty vs the traditional let's make lots of $ in ibd/consulting. Certainly you do have the background to create an app that is more "traditional" but I would stay true to yourself. Your passion for your goals and the school will come out more easily that way. And, as many schools are asking for options in case your first choice doesn't work out (see essay topics for Fuqua, NYU, others this year), you can always say you'd return to ibd/consulting if your new goal wasn't feasible for whatever reason. Good luck!!