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Would love to get your thoughts on my chances at the top 3 programs. I understand that my verbal score is light, but I'm hoping that my high GPA, work experience, and other accomplishments can overcome that and make me a competitive candidate. Also, any suggestions on what I can do to be more competitive outside of the GMAT would be appreciated!
Target: Top 3 (Stanford, Harvard, Wharton)
Application Plan: First round, October 2014
Background: Caucasian male, 25
Education: - GPA: 3.95 (Highest Honors) - Major: BS, UC Berkeley, Haas School of Business, 2010 - Additional Achievements: Engineering Entrepreneurship Sequence Certificate, 2010 Haas Undergraduate Achievement Award, Dean's List, Received A+ in a number of courses including Intro to Business (highly competitive class), Statistics, Finance, Game Theory, two other electives. Lowest letter grade was B+.
GMAT: 680 (Q49, V34, IR 7/8, AWA 6/6)
Experience: - 2 years investment banking analyst at boutique investment bank (2010-2012). Worked on 14 transactions in very lean deal teams. Solely published 48 editions of Internet newsletter that was distributed to over 3,000 industry and VC professionals. Initiated firm's on campus recruiting efforts that did not previously exist (recruiting was done via referrals only). Offered promotion to associate role after second year (offered to select analysts after third year). Turned offer down to join top-tier late-stage venture capital firm. - 1.5 years venture capital associate at top-tier late stage firm (2012-Present). Have worked on 6 different transactions during my time at the firm. Five months into the role, sourced investment in mobile gaming company. Investment was the 2nd largest in the firm's 34 year history. Five months after investment, majority of company was acquired at valuation 4x higher than our investment (one of the top returns for the firm). Received additional bonus for performance after second year and was assured third year promotion early. Will have 2.5 years of experience in this role when I apply.
Extracurriculars / Leadership: - 1 year on board of non-profit that provides soccer and literacy after-school programs to under-resourced public school communities. Currently co-chair of a large fundraiser (corporate soccer tournament). Help with new team recruitment and manage team of 8 staff / board members. Looking to raise over $200K through this event. - Held a number of leadership positions at UC Berkeley. VP and Alumni chair of fraternity. Senior Research Assistant for MBA professor (promoted after just one year). 2 years as mentor for youth entrepreneurs from local high schools.
Recommendations - Planning to receive recommendations from two Partners at my current firm. I expect them to be strong given the feedback I received recently as part of my annual reviews.
Other: - Hearing loss in left ear that has been getting worse each year since I was born. While my hearing impairment has made life difficult at times, I haven't let it get in the way of my career goals.
You have a good profile, but standing out as a caucasian male will be difficult in the H/S/W set especially with less than 5 years of WE, which is the average at the top schools. in years past, PE experience was a real asset and could help differentiate you in the process but this has been changing. In fact, last year, HBS had a very large percentage of its incoming class coming from private equity business, which makes it more difficult to stand out. You commented on your lower verbal score, but it's really the lower overall score which will raise a flag. It's still a good score, but with HBS, Stanford and Wharton approaching 730 average, it won't be a differentiator. Your key will be in articulating your goals and vision in a compelling way, one which the readers will remember and intrigue them enough to invite you in for an interview. I will also caution you that Stanford and HBS in particular are polar opposites in culture, so it's unlikely you would be an ideal fit at both schools. You should visit each and try to figure out why you would fit in at each school and allow that to seep into your applications. Let us know if we can help you this fall.
Thanks for the response Bryant! I definitely appreciate the advice and will focus my efforts on the essays. I have not visited HBS yet and will do that over the next few months. Given my background in Venture Capital and with offices in Menlo Park, I am very familiar with Stanford.
Two questions / comments: - I am of Iranian background (was born in the US and lived here my entire life). Is there a way to call that out in the application process or do I have to bucket myself in the Caucasian group. If I remember in my undergraduate applications, there was a Caucasian / Middle Eastern option. Should I select "other" and write in Iranian? - I will have 5 years of work experience by the time I enroll (2 years IB, 3 years VC/PE). I currently have 1.5 years of VC experience, but wouldn't be enrolling until 1.5 years from now. Sorry if I didn't make that clear initially.
Do these clarifications change anything about your assessment of my chances? Thanks again.
Yes having some ethnic diversity can help, so if you identify with the Iranian group I would definitely put that in the application. Particularly if it has influenced your perspective and can offer something unique to the class it can be an asset. As for your WE, you are much closer to the average but keep in mind they only consider what you have at the time of application, not matriculation. Still, four years should be enough.