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Applying to: R1-2014 Harvard, Stanford (considering MA-Eduation/MBA), Wharton-Lauder MBA/MA-Global
Age: 26. Nationality: USA (9 y/o - college graduation), Taiwan (birth - 9 y/o) GPA: 3.81 from Stony Brook University in 2009. Double-major in Biochemistry, Psychology, minor in Philosophy GMAT: 750 (98%ile) - 47V (99%ile) 47Q (70%ile) Languages: Fluent Chinese Mandarin, Taiwanese, Japanese
Experience (reverse chronological order), with greatest achievement: 1. English Teacher at private English school in Taiwan - In addition to regular duties, self-initiated and created a 4-hour workshop to educate staff and sales on English education and advise them from teacher’s perspective on new ways to appeal to prospective clients.
2. Private/Corporal in Taiwanese Army (mandatory 1-year draft) - Volunteered as Class Representative during Corporal training at Army Artillery and Missile School, leadership acknowledged by unit Captain with 21 out of 22 class members finishing the training that had a history of 40-50% completion rate.
3. Assistant Language Teacher of JET Program in Japan - Throughout the year, partnered with 8 different teachers at 2 public middle schools to develop lessons and team-teach English. Later took on responsibility of writing and grading tests.
Extracurricular (in no particular order): University Orientation Leader, University Student Ambassador, University Student Blogger, Taiwanese Students Association President, Volunteer at Hospitals, Volunteer English teacher
Why MBA: Through my teaching experiences in Japan and Taiwan I've observed that Asian students are much more grade-conscious than those from other areas of the world. This leads to a shift of focus away from actual learning and application of learned material, resulting in college/graduate degree-holders lacking self-initiation and creativity in a world that demands these skills more and more. I love Asia, and as someone raised from that culture I am prepared to do what I can to help improve the situation. I remain open-minded to the specific company and job function, but envision myself returning to Asia upon MBA completion to apply social entrepreneurship and general management skills to either work in, or build an education-focused social enterprise that shares my ideals.
One last additional twist: Was accepted to Stony Brook Medical School class of 2013, but decided to decline offer to go to Japan for JET Program. (Hopefully putting this on the application will dispel any notion that I'm in it for the money, and will pop up in the interview as a question I can prepare for)
How I plan on presenting myself through the application: Focus on 3 themes: 1. Diversity - multicultural and multidisciplinary experiences shows adaptability and a consistent desire to push myself out of comfort zones. 2. Service - from leadership to volunteering, always trying to make the world within my reach a little better. 3. Education - a universally-relatable theme driving my pursuit of MBA degree shown through my work records and essay.
I don't see you as competitive for H/S/W. Your undergrad pedigree will likely not be strong enough, with SUNY Stony Brook just barely making the top 100 colleges list. Your targeted b-schools like to see UG degree from top 10 schools, not top 100 schools. Plus the fact you spent four years majoring in Bio-chem, yet now you are an English teacher will not send waves of confidence through these adcoms that you are going to get after it after the MBA and take over the world, even if your passion for education is high. There's not really a reason why you can't achieve your goal without an MBA, which is another reason why they may pass on you. With all the social entrepreneurship interest, you might try Yale, who would like your good GMAT score and your story perhaps better than the finance-centric HBS and Wharton. Perhaps if your plan happens to catch Stanford's attention, you might have a shot there, but I think the disconnect within your education and career choice will be an issue for them as well.
There's nothing I can do about the fact that I went to Stony Brook instead of a top 10 university, but your review has pointed out the need for me to explain my non-traditional and unconventional choices. I will definitely try to use the optional essays to show the adcoms how the disconnection between careers and education has in fact always been in line with the goal of diversifying and expanding my comfort zones while I was young enough to afford to do so.
That sounds like a good plan. If you can weave a theme in your application that culminates in some kind of intentionality and purpose going forward as you described in your original post, I think your past can be connected to your future in the minds of the adcoms to give you a shot. In the competitive world of top tier b-schools, anything different is good---just make sure you are standing out with something different that also compels them to displace one of the banal-backgrounds of the typical finance applicant with you. Let us know if we can help you pull things together.