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# Ask Alex @ MBA Apply

Author Message
Senior Manager
Status: MBAing!!!!
Joined: 24 Jun 2011
Posts: 309
Location: United States (FL)
Concentration: Finance, Real Estate
GPA: 3.65
WE: Project Management (Real Estate)
Followers: 6

Kudos [?]: 52 [0], given: 56

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02 Dec 2011, 13:09
Thanks guys for these incredible and funny insights. It's very interesting to see how stereotypes work, but hey, there is always some truth to them. I will take the stereotypes into account for my round 2 apps.
Senior Manager
Status: MBAing!!!!
Joined: 24 Jun 2011
Posts: 309
Location: United States (FL)
Concentration: Finance, Real Estate
GPA: 3.65
WE: Project Management (Real Estate)
Followers: 6

Kudos [?]: 52 [0], given: 56

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04 Dec 2011, 14:21
Alex, I think you should include Lexus and Infinity in the category of the up and coming luxury.
Manager
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Posts: 107
Location: United States
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Kudos [?]: 33 [0], given: 5

Re: THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM: RACE AND PRESTIGE [#permalink]

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05 Dec 2011, 14:32
Interesting commentary, but if you don't list race in your application how do they know? And are there other disadvantages to doing so?
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Re: THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM: RACE AND PRESTIGE [#permalink]

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05 Dec 2011, 15:53
About 10-15% of American applicants don't declare their ethnicity - usually in defiance. But based on surnames and the resume it's not hard to figure out most of the time what your ethnicity is.

I mean, if your last name is O'Brien, McDonnell, Rossi, Andrews, Kozlowski, etc. the chances of you being anything but Caucasian are pretty slim. Chung, Kim, Iguchi, Yamamoto, Hong, Wong, etc. Or Rodriguez, Santos, Cervantes. Even if you're African-American, it's not that hard based on first/last names and extracurriculars or colleges that are culturally black to figure out that you're African-American (most of the time).

In any case, it doesn't hurt your chances as an American not to declare your ethnicity in that list, because whether you do or not the adcom can figure that out pretty easily most of the time anyhow.

Where it gets a bit more murky are those who are multi-racial - which is only going become more common to the point where in 20 years time those who are more than one "ethnicity" will likely be a huge minority (if not a majority eventually). What is "mainstream" will change, as it has already from generations past (i.e. if you look at many white Americans today whose families have been in the US for generations - their lineage is all over the place - not uncommon to have those who are part Irish, Russian, English, German and Greek, or whatever mixture of a bunch of European backgrounds).
_________________

Alex Chu
alex@mbaapply.com
http://www.mbaapply.com

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30 Dec 2011, 07:55
nice bravo
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04 Jan 2012, 15:43
I hope this message finds you well. I was just wondering if you could do a quick assessment of my potential candidacy for a top US MBA program. Specifically, I am targeting HBS and Booth. Please find a quick summary of my story below.

I am a 27 y/o Canadian male. My cumulative GPA is dismal (approx 2.0), but in my last 10 credits I have a GPA of approx 3.7 from a top two university in Canada. The reason for the huge discrepency between my grades is that my mom developed a life-threatening illness while I was in the beginning stages of undergrad (thankfully she is ok). At that time, however, I became the sole income in my household and foolishly tried to balance working a menial full-time job and school. Needless to say, school suffered badly. During this time, I was actually inspired to start my own company. After gaining some market traction, I successfully applied for a government-sponsored entrepreneurial loan in order to expand our operations. At the time, I was the youngest person in Canada to ever receive government-funding in excess of \$100k for a new venture. We used that money to open an office in Asia, as well as start a second, complimentary venture. At this time, I truly grew up and decided to put my education on hold (because I was going to be the first person to graduate university in my family, I think that I put unnecessary pressure on myself to stay enrolled throughout our family's ordeal). After a couple of years of strong growth, we ended up selling both companies to investors.

After the sale of both companies in December of 2009, I took a few months off to travel and re-enrolled in school to complete my undergrad. In March of 2010 I became restless as I waited for school to start, and I decided to apply for a consulting job for the summer. I knew that their application periods were done, but I felt that it was worth sending out a few emails. I ended up receiving a 6-week offer from one of the top 2 managament consultancies, and then through my performance, I was extended an additional 14 weeks and offered a full-time position. As it stands, I am the only off-cycle intern ever brought in by this firm in North America, and I was offered the job after only the first interview. Given that I have a humanities background, I decided to forego the offer of employment and pursue my MBA instead.

Aside from my formal work experience, I have also been one of the founders in a non-profit, and I currently manage a network of 7 homework clubs for students in high-risk areas of my city.

Essentially, I am curious about your opinions on my background, and whether my CGPA will preclude me from admission into a top MBA program. I am currently studying for my GMAT, and I have been consistently scoring in the 760-770 range. My college registrar already knows my situation, and has offered to write a letter on my behalf justifying my previous grades.

Cheers
Joined: 26 Dec 2008
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Location: Los Angeles, CA
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06 Jan 2012, 12:26
Stretch: Booth, Kellogg, Sloan, Columbia, Tuck, Haas (pick 2)
Sweet spot: Ross, Duke, Darden, NYU, UCLA, Cornell, Yale (pick 3-4)
Safety: outside the top 16 (pick 0-1).

Yes, your situation is more unusual than other applicants, but that isn't necessarily a selling point (it helps because there's less of a chance of blending in, but it can be a liability because it causes concern about whether you can fit in with what they're looking for). What adcoms care about in this day and age is employability, and in your case it's going to be an issue, since you've mostly worked for yourself, and by applying to full-time b-schools it sends mixed signals about your success: because if you had some amazing success as an entrepreneur, you wouldn't be applying to b-school in the first case (you would be using your funds to start another venture and you would be *hiring* MBAs, not becoming one).

To be honest, you need to focus on your work experience, not on getting more credentials. That opportunity with the consulting firm may have passed, but you need to get some solid work experience to complement what you did before with your own business.

Also, your GPA will be an issue - yes you had some personal circumstances, but the reality is, others have had similar kinds of challenges and still managed to maintain respectable grades. In short, there really is no excuse especially when you're up against folks who have had strong profiles *and* who may have also faced difficult circumstances.

Yes, you've had a more unusual story to tell, but at the same time you have to go into the process accepting the reality that adcoms will still prefer the cookie cutter mgmt consultant with strong numbers simply because they are a known quantity (lots of people like them) - it's the risk averse choice for the adcoms and in this economic environment, there is a flight to safety (they are less willing to take a chance on applicants). So that's where you stand with the above schools, and where schools like H/S/W are going to be long shots simply because you're up against more than enough blue chip applicants who they would much rather take (and even within that group of cookie cutter blue chip applicants - it's still hard for them to get in!). That's why you should focus on other schools where you at least have more of a chance like Booth, Kellogg, etc as stretches and other schools in the top 16 as sweet spots.
_________________

Alex Chu
alex@mbaapply.com
http://www.mbaapply.com

Joined: 31 Dec 1969
Location: Russian Federation
GMAT 1: 710 Q49 V0
GMAT 2: 700 Q V
GMAT 3: 740 Q40 V50
GMAT 4: 700 Q48 V38
GMAT 5: 710 Q45 V41
GMAT 6: 680 Q47 V36
GMAT 7: Q42 V44
GMAT 8: Q42 V44
GMAT 9: 740 Q49 V42
GMAT 10: 740 Q V
GMAT 11: 500 Q47 V33
GMAT 12: 670 Q V
GMAT 13: 680 Q V
GMAT 14: 760 Q49 V44
WE: Supply Chain Management (Energy and Utilities)
Followers: 0

Kudos [?]: 214 [0], given: 103787

Profile Eval. 760 GMAT with little and atypical work exp. [#permalink]

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06 Jan 2012, 16:43
Hey Alex,

Fist time long time.

I have a rather weak application, I believe, with the expection of a decently strong showing on the GMAT. My goal is to attend a high profile program, and my question for you is just how high profile can I get. Below is a summary of my application and a list of schools roughly ordered by rank. If you can, I would like to know where in the range of schools my application falls (if in the range at all).

GMAT: 760 with 49Q (85%) and 46V (99%)

GPA: 3.28 from Boston College, Majored in History with concentration on Neocolonialism in Latin America (so History with a fair amount of econ and international business thrown in).

Work Experience: Went to Portland, OR after college expecting to be mentored by and work for a independent hotel developer. Unfortunately because of the market I ended up just working at a hotel. I did oversee a department with 20 reports and run the hotel without supervision every night from 3-11pm (so some leadership experience to salvage from that).
I left that job and bounced around for a few months before getting a job in the finance dept with a very large but also very local commercial real estate company. I then moved to a third commercial real estate company and am currently doing new media marketing for them.

Extra C: I am very active, but mostly in independent type activities. I am a distance runner, I throw pottery, I freedive and spearfish, and do long distance kayak expeditions and deep sea kayak fishing. I don't think I'm uninteresting, but I don't have much to show in the way of club/organization leadership.

Why Business school: I come from a family of entrepreneurs in Latin America (my mother is Nicaraguan, but of Irish decent), and I would like to get back to my passion, which is thinking about the inequalities of that region. I am a career switcher who wants to study social enterprise and entrepreneurship so that I can be equipped to make large scale impacts raising up certain populations in Latin America.

So where do you think I might fall in the list below, and where would I fall if I were to wait and spend the next year working for a well know non-profit or social enterprise? Starting my own small social enterprise?

NYU
UCLA
UNC
Texas
USC
Georgetown
Boston U
Wake Forest
U Washington (Foster)
George Washington (DC)
Fordham

Thanks for any insight you can shed.

Best,

John
Joined: 26 Dec 2008
Posts: 2453
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Followers: 83

Kudos [?]: 564 [0], given: 0

Re: Profile Eval. 760 GMAT with little and atypical work exp. [#permalink]

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08 Jan 2012, 23:32
Honestly I think you're in range for the schools you listed.

What works in your favor is that your GMAT is higher (and for those outside the top 16 - significantly higher) than the majority of admitted students. As such, with your profile I think you should have no problems getting into schools outside the top 16 (i.e. every school on your list except for NYU and UCLA). For schools like NYU, UCLA and other top 16 schools like Ross, Duke, Darden, Cornell or Yale, I think you have enough of a shot that they're worth applying to around 2-4 schools (maybe choose 2 more other than NYU and UCLA). And from the schools outside the top 16, you can pretty much limit it to 1-3 schools at most: maybe UNC, Texas and USC.
_________________

Alex Chu
alex@mbaapply.com
http://www.mbaapply.com

Joined: 31 Dec 1969
Location: Russian Federation
GMAT 1: 710 Q49 V0
GMAT 2: 700 Q V
GMAT 3: 740 Q40 V50
GMAT 4: 700 Q48 V38
GMAT 5: 710 Q45 V41
GMAT 6: 680 Q47 V36
GMAT 7: Q42 V44
GMAT 8: Q42 V44
GMAT 9: 740 Q49 V42
GMAT 10: 740 Q V
GMAT 11: 500 Q47 V33
GMAT 12: 670 Q V
GMAT 13: 680 Q V
GMAT 14: 760 Q49 V44
WE: Supply Chain Management (Energy and Utilities)
Followers: 0

Kudos [?]: 214 [0], given: 103787

Re: Profile Eval. 760 GMAT with little and atypical work exp. [#permalink]

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09 Jan 2012, 07:40
Alex,

Really appreciate the expertise. You have given me an anchor point to work from and narrow down my application pool.

Based on your advice I am now thinking I will apply to Georgetown and UNC and then use my other three to four applications to target maybe UCLA, Darden, NYU and then a big reach to Northwestern or Columbia, just incase they're feeling generous the day they read my app.

Again I appreciate the help Alex. I checked out your companies website and will give you all a call if I am finding it difficult to be compelling on my own.

Best,

John
Joined: 26 Dec 2008
Posts: 2453
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Followers: 83

Kudos [?]: 564 [0], given: 0

Re: Profile Eval. 760 GMAT with little and atypical work exp. [#permalink]

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10 Jan 2012, 14:51
Great. Good luck!
_________________

Alex Chu
alex@mbaapply.com
http://www.mbaapply.com

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02 Feb 2012, 10:02
Alex, asking for your evaluation on the following profile and commentary on my choice of schools

Undergrad: 3.9/4.0, Math/Econ from UPenn (not Wharton).
Grad: 3.9/4.0, Masters in Financial Engineering from NYU – obtained while working full time
GMAT: Expecting ~750
Age: will be 27 at matriculation (5 years of WE)
Experience: Quantitative risk analyst at a major investment bank (GS/MS) - had one promotion but no managerial responsibilities.
Extracurriculars: At school I was involved in a lot of ECs: hip-hop dance (was president of the group), business fraternity (held a few officer positions), a cappella group. After graduation I haven’t really been involved too much especially given that I was going to school part time (the only activity now is that I volunteer as a mentor to urban high school students).
Race: Asian male.
Motivation for MBA: Want to go into management consulting or public policy consulting. Don't want to stay in quant finance.

Now onto my questions:

1) I think H/S are out of reach given my non-front office role and lack of any stellar ECs post-graduation. Do I have a realistic shot at Wharton?
2) My top 3 schools are Wharton (not as big of a feeder into MBB vs H/S but its still Wharton) / Tuck (big feeder into consulting) /Yale (good for public policy consulting). Can you recommend other schools that would be a good fit for my post-MBA goals?

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02 Feb 2012, 21:50
1
KUDOS

Yes, H/S are likely long shots, and Wharton a more realistic shot as a Penn alum (still a stretch though); schools do like to keep in the family.

As for consulting, keep in mind that it makes ZERO difference which top 8 school you go to. ZERO. Your chances aren't better at one school versus the next, so long as the consulting firms actively recruit there. The reason is, at schools like Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Kellogg, Sloan, Columbia, Booth, and Tuck - all the consulting firms will interview virtually everyone who submits a resume to them. In other words, you basically have a 100% chance of getting a first round interview.

And it's about nailing the case interview before you move onto the subsequent rounds of interviews. The moment you walk into that interview room, where you go to school has zero impact. It all comes down to how you as an individual perform in that room - how well you handle the case interview, and then from there on in how well you handle the more standard "getting to know you" interviews.

There are differences in numbers/percentages of those who go into consulting - but that has nothing to do with "how hard it is" and more a function of student interest in that particular year and that particular crop of students. Again, so long as you go to a school where the consulting firms actively recruit (and at a top 8 school, you are virtually guaranteed an interview as long as you submit your resume/cover letters to the firms), it comes down to individual performance.

From the consulting firms standpoints - they are all feeder schools. Some years they will get more hires from one school versus another, and in other years it will reverse. It comes down to student interest, the crop of students that year that happens to be interested in consulting, and the yield (who ends up taking the job offers).
_________________

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http://www.mbaapply.com

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03 Feb 2012, 06:21
I didn't know that about consulting interviews at the top schools... thanks for the info!

On another note, how do adcoms view middle-office (risk management, finance etc.) type roles in finance? Are they viewed the same as "Operations/IT" etc (i.e. back-office) or does it depend on function? Even though I am not on the revenue producing side of the bank the work I do is very technical and my compensation is not too different from front-office positions (especially these days)...
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06 Feb 2012, 11:22
The whole middle office vs back office thing is what finance people tend to want to distinguish. To most people outside of it (including adcoms), it's basically "not front office". In any case, there's not much you can do about it. Rather than become a blubbering mess and getting too defensive about it in your applications, just focus on your strengths and trying your best to convey that you're not just another Asian math nerd (i.e. that you're not just a number cruncher, but someone who works effectively in groups).
_________________

Alex Chu
alex@mbaapply.com
http://www.mbaapply.com

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08 Feb 2012, 14:18
Thank you for taking the time to look at my profile.

I plan to apply next cycle (2013). I wish to jointly pursue a JD at the same institution

1. Work Experience:
I have been a research assistant at the Federal Reserve Board for the past 1.5 years. Starting in March, I will be a researcher at the Treasury. My work at both places are quantitative and research oriented. My work at the Fed focuses on Macro, while at the Treasury, I'll be dealing with Financial issues.

2. Test Scores:
GMAT: 740
LSAT: 172

I did my BSc in Mathematics/Economics and MA in Economics jointly at UCLA. The combined GPA (undergrad+grad) is 3.62. According to the Law School Admissions Council, my undergrad GPA is 3.68. I finished the two degrees in 4 years.

4. Extracur.
A few economic research fellowships and honors during college. Have a few economic working papers ongoing. I tutor kids from poor communities on a weekly basis, but have never taken on a leadership role in that setting. My only leadership experience came from managing my own crew of house painters back in college.

5. Aspirations
I wish to bring research into action. I wish to motivate questions that have real-life implications and search for solutions that are feasible and permissible by law. The joint degree would empower me to execute my ideas and also help other materialize theirs.

6. Dream Programs:
Wharton, Chicago, Columbia, NYU

Thanks so much!

How should I "sell" my research background to MBA programs?
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09 Feb 2012, 12:25
You have strong stats, and given your background there's no doubt that academically you're strong and should have no problems handling the coursework in an MBA or JD.

With that in mind, you should be able to get into a good law school, since they are much more stats oriented.

With b-school though, it's not really about your research prowess. In fact, if you overemphasize it, it can be a liability because it tells the adcom "you're good when you're locked up in a room alone with your data/info". Remember that b-school isn't really an academic degree. They are looking for people with leadership potential. In plain English, it's about your effectiveness in groups and your ability to handle PEOPLE above all else.

In short, I think you have a decent shot at good law schools (at least from my limited knowledge of law school), but for b-school, you will have a very hard time competing against people who have deeper professional experience than you.

Also, your "aspirations" just comes across as way too abstract, conceptual and vague. If you write like that in your essays, you WILL get dinged because no one will know what you are talking about. Keep it rooted in REALITY - specific jobs functions and specific firms -- show that your career goals are rooted in reality, and not just high level ideas (which again comes down to real world experience - the more you've worked, the better able you are at talking about your goals in a less academic way). Are you looking to work in trademark/IP? Litigation? Securities? Family/estate? Labor? Tax? Which firms? Why do you think getting an MBA would help you as a lawyer in the specific practice area that you're looking to get into?

If you want to apply this year, go for it. Chances are, you'll get into some of the law schools but the b-schools will likely be a long shot. If you're getting a JD/MBA to become a lawyer, then apply this year. If you get in, go to law school, and then decide whether you feel it's worth it to reapply to the MBA program as a law student (your chances aren't much better but if you're looking to be a lawyer, the JD is the most important thing and the MBA is really a secondary/optional thing anyhow).
_________________

Alex Chu
alex@mbaapply.com
http://www.mbaapply.com

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09 Feb 2012, 12:54
Thank you Alex, for putting things plainly.

I am in no rush to apply. In terms of MBA admissions prospects, would I benefit from going to Wall Street after my stint with the treasury? Alternatively,without leaving Washington, what are some things that I can do to demonstrate leadership qualities?

Thank you very much. By the way, I thoroughly enjoy your car brand/MBA piece. Brilliant
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09 Feb 2012, 13:03
You are in Washington DC.

2012 is an election year.

You're in a city with more political groups (not just the political parties, but lobby groups, cultural organizations, international orgs, NGOs, think tanks, economic policy orgs, etc.) than perhaps any other city in the US or the world.

If you can't find stuff to get involved with in Washington DC, you're not going to find it anywhere else. The feast is right in front of you.

Why would you want to work in finance and become one of a gazillion other finance guys trying to apply to b-school (and whom adcoms will assume the same refrain no matter what you say in your essays: "I want to be a big swinging d*ck working in hedge funds, private equity, banking, etc as long as I can make a sh*tload of money to fulfill my God complex") Not every finance person is like that obviously, but they have always had a reputation for that, even before the whole meltdown.

Again, Washington DC has a sh*tload of things to get involved in. Lots of young people working and volunteering at ground zero of all kinds of orgs for causes, values, beliefs, etc. that they believe in -- across the entire political spectrum (and plenty of non-partisan orgs on top of that).

Stop thinking about b-school, and get involved. You want leadership/team experience -- it's all in front of you. Plus, as an aspiring law school student, I'm surprised there aren't more than enough orgs that you're interested in to volunteer for, as the profession is rooted in advocacy (regardless of what kind of law you want to practice).
_________________

Alex Chu
alex@mbaapply.com
http://www.mbaapply.com

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09 Feb 2012, 13:10
Holy shit. Great advice. I will come back in 2 years.

Thanks a bunch.
Re: Profile Evaluation   [#permalink] 09 Feb 2012, 13:10

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