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Profile evaluation for HBS and Stanford GSB

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Joined: 03 Aug 2011
Posts: 44
Concentration: Social Entrepreneurship, General Management
GMAT 1: 770 Q51 V45
GPA: 3.94
WE: Management Consulting (Consulting)
Profile evaluation for HBS and Stanford GSB [#permalink]

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New post 10 Oct 2012, 16:50

Link to my debrief:

Last edited by hakunamatata3 on 11 Nov 2012, 08:36, edited 1 time in total.
Expert Post
MBA Admissions Consultant
Joined: 08 Oct 2011
Posts: 61
Re: Profile evaluation for HBS and Stanford GSB [#permalink]

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New post 17 Oct 2012, 00:43
Hi there,

Thanks for seeking our opinion on your profile and sorry for the slight delay. October 16 is the Kellogg deadline and it was all hands on deck to get our clients submitted.

I am personally really glad that you posted this question and hopefully others will see it (and this response) as well, because what you are laying out is sort of the exact scenario we talk about with our clients all the time. Which is to say, you will absolutely be in the "qualified" stack of applications. There are basically four app buckets: dead on arrival, long shots (unqualified or "less qualified" but tugging the heart strings), qualified, and then the magical fourth bucket, which is "perfect for our school." There are a lot of people who reach out to us to ask for profile evaluations and the first analysis is always to figure out whether they are in the second or third bucket. That is to say, whether they are qualified or not. Then, you can worry about trying to migrate further, which is all about program DNA, school fit, expression of key thematic traits, and the like (and all of the stuff that consultants like me/us specialize in). However, you are so clearly and patently in the qualified bucket (to pretend otherwise or reach for weaknesses is just a lame attempt to fear monger) that the analysis immediately shifts. For you, it comes down to this: can you migrate from the third bucket - qualified - and into the fourth bucket?

(Note: the reason this is so important is probably obvious but I will say it anyway. If you are in the qualified stack of applicants, you are there with a lot of other people. There are probably three times as many people as can be admitted to a school like Ross/Duke/Anderson that are "qualified" and there are probably 10x at HBS or GSB. This is why you hear about people with 3.9/770/McKinsey or 3.9/770/Goldman or 3.9/770/PE getting denied *all the time* - there are just way too many qualified applicants at every school. So if you exist only in that stack, you are hoping that your numbers carry the day, that you get lucky to a certain extent, and that everything falls your way. If you can get into the magical fourth bucket, you are pretty much in. This is because an admissions officer is reading your file and going, "oh wow, this guy is PERFECT for us" and then they put you on their personal short list, fight for you in admissions committee, and basically make sure you are admitted. Making the move from Bucket 3 to Bucket 4 is really the only way to take luck and bad odds out of the equation.)

Now ... can you do it? Can you make that jump? That's where we come in, or you, or whoever can help you make sure your narrative speaks directly to the reader at that school. You have to bring personal passion (ignore message board "group think" and canned answers), you have to hit key b-school themes, and you have to, above all else, demonstrate a connection to the DNA of that program. Most people don't know what that looks like, which is why we have a successful consulting firm, but if you can tap into it on your own, more power to you. Just know that your "weaknesses" don't exist ... yet. They will exist if you fail to use the opportunity presented by the essays (and later, the interview) to hit program DNA and make that reader fall in love with you. You have done everything right to this point; it now comes down to what you put on the page.

As for the whole "should I apply to more than HBS and Stanford" angle, the answer is of course you should if you are serious about being enrolled in an MBA program in Year X. If you want to be going to b-school in a particular fall, you need to apply to more schools than the two most selective in the world. Sure, you have every chance to nail your essays, get to that fourth stack, and get in, but there's no certainly that will happen. That said, the more relevant question is whether you want to go to a b-school that is not HBS or Stanford. We have had plenty of clients who have been able to make a convincing case that only one of those two programs make sense for them, at this point in their lives - and we always support that choice, even if it means we all fail as a result. Now, this is extremely rare. Usually, people are just chasing brands or being myopic when they limit the scope so incredibly. To eliminate schools like Wharton, MIT, Booth, among others, is a shame. One of my clients last year chose Booth over HBS. Another two years ago chose MIT over GSB. Why limit your options, not only on the front end (admissions chances), but on the back end as well (where you want to attend)? Unless you can really come up with an industry-related or ROI-driven reason for ruling every other school out (usually the only one that flies is a global PE angle where the H/S brands are the only ones with enough carry to warrant stepping out of a lucrative, powerhouse job for even two years), there's no great reason to do it.

Finally, this was not asked and so I am intruding a bit, but I would strongly considering applying to HBS for Round 2 this year - and possibly GSB as well. It's a known fact that Harvard enrolls a younger class and you will never have a canvas that is better set up for you than now. If you make a move from McKinsey, that will define your trajectory. Maybe that makes it even more impressive, but maybe it diminishes it. Right now you have done literally everything a 25-year old candidate can be asked to do and you have the chance to hit the DNA of these schools and showcase your full potential. I would argue that your best chance might be right now. (Granted, your next best chance will be next year, when you are still only 26, and will probably be about 95% as good.)

Anyway, thanks for posting your inquiry. We've been wanting to lay out exactly how this works for an elite candidate for a while, but often, the profile requests demand that we first deal with the "qualified" issue.

It goes without saying that if/when you need help, we can help you max out your chances. You can probably find ample evidence of that in our posts, reviews, free guides, etc. Helping people try to make that massive move from Bucket 3 to Bucket 4 is what we were built to do.

-Adam, Amerasia
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Profile evaluation for HBS and Stanford GSB

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