Character Prevails for Stanford & Harvard Double Admits

stanford harvard business school double admitsHave you ever heard of the term double admits? That’s what we in the MBA admissions consulting industry call those singular applicants who receive admissions offers from both Harvard Business School (HBS) and Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB).

We’ve worked with many top applicants this MBA admissions season who achieved this impressive feat—some with scholarships to boot. Here we analyze eight cases—and we have eight specific takeaways to share.

Okay, maybe they’re not as rare as actual unicorns. But these exceptional candidates and their unique admissions stories can offer some very clear lessons for prospective MBA applicants. Especially those feeling daunted by the sterling reputations and competitive stats of these two elite business schools.

Lesson 1: You don’t need an undergraduate degree from an elite college, or come from a typical MBA-oriented firm or industry.

None of the double admits we worked with graduated from an elite or Ivy League university. In fact, all of the U.S. students in this group came from schools ranked between 20-50. Only one of the admits came from a firm known as a heavy feeder and recruiter for elite MBA programs. None of the others even had MBA graduates as supervisors. Their backgrounds included education, family business, military, energy, and Fortune 500.

Lesson 2: GPA, test scores, and demographics are not predictive of success.

Our gang of eight included four U.S. citizens and four international applicants. Most were male, and only one is an underrepresented minority. Both GRE and GMAT takers were represented. Their stats generally fell within the 80 percent range but were not ultimately predictive of success.

Scores ranged from a low 600 GRE to a 770 GMAT, with a median score of 710. Over the years, we’ve seen numerous double admits offset a low-ish GMAT or GRE score with a proven track record in a quantitative job and compelling leadership activities.

Lesson 3: You don’t need to have saved the world.

Every double admit had modest extracurriculars, such as professional organization membership, music, sports, one-on-one mentoring, and basic volunteering. Your extracurricular activities should resonate with you. Any meaningful involvement can give you the opportunity to exercise leadership and management skills in a low-risk, high-impact situation.

Lesson 4: Age is just a number.

We found that age skewed somewhat older in this year’s group of double admits, who had between four and seven years of post-college work experience. One successful candidate was over 30. Five-and-a-half years was the average work tenure upon applying. We regularly assure both older and younger applicants that it’s not about chronological age. It’s more about maturity, readiness, and where you are in your career.

Lesson 5: All applicants demonstrated true character and a desire plus a track record of helping others.

When discussing their careers, each of these applicants veered away from sharing the typical workplace accomplishment stories and instead wove in anecdotes about helping others—mentoring, giving, or assisting in some way. This focus also informed future career and personal aspirations.

Lesson 6: They shared distinctive, personal stories and attainable goals.

Sure, their resumes may have said “5 years at Citibank.” But their essays spoke much more personally, bringing their true natures and trajectories to life. They told micro-stories that filled in the blanks. Omitting generic themes like coding or crunching numbers, these applicants showed humanity, showcased what drives them toward future careers, and explained why they made certain decisions.

Their stories told the “why” behind their prior actions. Yet they also developed an understanding of career aspirations.  Goals made sense and appeared attainable given prior experiences and the track record of consistent actions they had taken.

Lesson 7: They painted a “Big Picture” focus beyond just landing a job.

None of these admits described their current careers or future aspirations in terms of a specific job. It was much more meaningful than that. They felt driven to make an impact on people and on their industries. They wanted to shift mindsets, behaviors, and ultimately change the world. Think big picture themes like globalizing the reach of an industry, providing life changing assistance to others, or easing political tensions.

Lesson 8: They were self-aware and likable, confident but also self-deprecating.

No business school wants to admit even the most accomplished jerk. While these applicants struck us as self-assured, they also came off as likable, realistic about their shortcomings, and open about their need to try harder to compensate for various weaknesses.  

The members of this group were people with whom you would want to work on a group project, organize a conference, or study for exams. In short, they are real people with both flaws and strengths, going to b-school in order to get better and achieve more.

While Stanford GSB and Harvard Business School are famously difficult to get intodon’t let fear or low acceptance rates keep you from applying. There is no magic formula that guarantees admissions success. But as these eight “double admits” demonstrate, personality, passion, and a sincere desire to make the world a better place can help tip the odds in your favor.

This article was originally published in July 2018. It has been updated.
This entry was posted in Application Tips, Harvard Advice, Stanford Advice and tagged , , , , , , , , , , .
Bookmark this post..

SBC’s star-studded consultant team is unparalleled. Our clients benefit from current intelligence that we receive from the former MBA Admissions Officers from Harvard HBS, Stanford GSB and every elite business program in the US and Europe.  These MBA Admissions Officers have chosen to work exclusively with SBC.

Just two of the many superstars on the SBC team:
Meet Erin, who was Assistant Director of MBA Admissions at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business (GSB) and Director of MBA Admissions at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business.

Meet Andrea, who served as the Associate Director of MBA Admissions Marketing at Harvard Business School (HBS) for over five years.

Tap into this inside knowledge for your MBA applications by requesting a consultation.

59 Responses to Character Prevails for Stanford & Harvard Double Admits

  1. Pingback: MBA Admission Tips: Double Admits (Quick Reads) |

  2. Pingback: Stay On Track with SBC's Top Ten Blog Posts-June 2019 Edition | Stacy Blackman Consulting - MBA Admissions Consulting

  3. Pingback: Character Prevails for Stanford & Harvard Double Admits | The GMAT Club

  4. Dmitry says:

    Hi there! If you have problems with writing essays, term papers and others, you are in the right way. Our online writing service can help you in anytime — It’s possible to have essays written for you now and don’t have to worry about lifting a finger. If you might get your very first purchase custom essay.

  5. berita pubg says:

    Thanks to my father who informed me regarding this
    weblog, this weblog is really awesome.

  6. Party casino says:

    PartyCasino is presently utilizing the eCOGRA.

  7. Maria Smith says:

    Thank you for sharing good knowledge and information it’s very helpful and understanding… Once again Thanks to my father who informed me regarding this
    weblog, this weblog is really awesome.

  8. Essays Chief says:

    The post is interesting. The article says that character overcomes for Stanford & Harvard double admits. It mentions that the MBA admissions consulting fields call for those singular candidates who take delivery of admissions presents from both Harvard Business School (HBS) and Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB). The excellent applicants and their distinctive admissions stories can present some very comprehensible messages for potential MBA applicants.

  9. Penny Cooper says:

    Thanks for sharing a very useful piece of information but I would also like to add, if I may, Harvard and Stanford are one of the most popularly known school worldwide and if one desired to get admitted, an amazing and excellently written essay might help open the doors for you for a brighter future at these amazing schools. Cheapest Essay professional writers and editors can help you write your admission essay and other writing assignments comprehensively. It’s a one stop online writing service which provides solutions for all your academic writing needs

  10. call us says:

    Wow! This looks impressive.

  11. This literally boost my confidence to not stop learning.

  12. If you have failed once, never give up! You’ll get through it eventually.

  13. This is so legit. I have failed once in my dream University (though not Harvard) but I never got tired trying. I will graduate this year!

  14. Deep Brar says:

    This is so legit. I have failed once in my dream University (though not Harvard) but I never got tired trying. I will graduate this year!

  15. Post Utme says:

    Very Effective Tips. Thanks for sharing

  16. Rob john says:

    Great article! I liked the point on age being nothing but a number.

  17. Agreed, you can’t let failure stop you.

  18. Impressive blog so far. Thanks!

  19. This is some solid advice for anyone looking to apply or fearful of applying. Just go for it!

  20. Another effective article. Thanks for this! Keep it up

  21. Sam Jewel says:

    Wow, they are impressive indeed. But admission tests or whatsoever is not the basis for a person to be called brilliant.


  22. What might be the cause as to why my handwriting is barely improving with a
    lot of hard practice? We improved mine by changing the
    slant from right-leaning to left. It takes some time to get
    used to, but it’s really worth a go. It looks unusual, but it’s
    much more legible. I also make use of pencil whenever I could, the excess friction slows me down.

  23. How should I prepare myself to get into Harvard, Stanford or Wharton for MBA?

  24. click says:

    This is a good read! Thank you so much.

  25. Yeey! good topic to be read thanks

  26. Glad I came here, thanks for sharing this blog!

  27. ccc says:

    Wow, they are impressive indeed. But admission tests or whatsoever is not the basis for a person to be called brilliant.

    url of ccc exam date: CCC Exam Date in hindi

  28. Interesting, but nowadays harward lost it’s name

  29. Loved the article! Thank you for writing it! septic service columbus ga

  30. Alcoa Auto says:

    Thank you for the info! I enjoyed reading!

  31. Glad to see this great post.

  32. Pingback: Tuesday Tips: SMU Cox MBA Application Essays and Tips 2020-2021 | Stacy Blackman Consulting - MBA Admissions Consulting

  33. About Us says:

    Impressive post! I’m planning for my MBA soon. Thanks for posting!

  34. Thanks for this 8 great lessons/information when working for an MBA admission.

  35. Michele says:

    Great information! I been reading articles on this site for preparation of my MBA application. Thanks a lot!
    Michele –

  36. Interesting article for MBA applicants like me. Thanks for sharing these lessons .

  37. Website here says:

    Thanks for this great post.

  38. Our Company says:

    Amazing article! Thanks for posting this!

  39. free sexy chat with hot young girls only at ficken in bielefeld

  40. Great article! This is definitely helpful.

  41. Thanks a lot for this great information!

  42. click here says:

    Thanks a lot for this great information!

  43. my website says:

    Really nice and interesting post. I was looking for this kind of information and enjoyed reading this one.

  44. click here says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this.

  45. keighley says:

    Really nice and interesting post. I was looking for this kind of information and enjoyed reading this one.

  46. huddersfield says:

    awesome blog to read..

  47. dewsbury says:

    I like to share this kind of information with my friends and hope they like it

  48. our site says:

    interesting post. looking for this kind of information

  49. THIS SITE says:

    the impressive job here, everyone will surely like your post.

  50. visit here says:

    Always so interesting to visit your site.What a great info, thank you

  51. This is just the information I am finding everywhere. Thanks for your blog,

  52. paving derby says:

    I am very happy to read this article .. thanks for giving us go through info.

  53. click here says:

    This is very useful post for me. This will absolutely going to help me in my project.

  54. scunthorpe says:

    I think this is an informative post and it is very useful and knowledgeable.

  55. MR136 says:

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge regarding MBA.
    MR –

  56. website says:

    Taking time and actual effort to make a good post… Sweet blog!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.