What Really Happens During an MBA Admissions Committee File Review-Part 5

confidenceWe’re back with the last of our series of five blog posts to help answer frequently asked questions about what really happens during an MBA admissions committee file review, and today we’ll reveal what happened to our fictional applicants, Jackie and Bill, on their MBA journey.

Post 1: GPA and Test Scores
Post 2: Career Path, Resume, Career Goals
Post 3: Out-of-Work Leadership Experience, Extracurriculars
Post 4: Essays and Recommendations

Here are summaries of Jackie and Bill’s stats:

  Jackie Bill
GPA 3.7 Yale 3.35 U of Memphis
GMAT 690 750
Years work experience 2 5

So, what happened?

Jackie was waitlisted at a top 5 school for Round 1. Here’s why:

  • While the adcomm was impressed by her grades at an Ivy League program, they were concerned by her GMAT score — both the fact that her quant was on the lower end of their range and that she did not attempt to improve on her score, taking it only one time.
  • She was lighter on work experience and did not relay many points about how she differed from her peers in the heavily oversubscribed investment banking space.
  • Her career goals were vague and she did not have a clearly achievable plan laid out.
  • She had a terrific range of extracurricular activities, but it would have been nice to see her passion in one of them play out in a clearer thread throughout her application.
  • Her essays themes were fairly generic and she was not very specific about her research on the school, which made the Adcomm wonder how she’ll add value to their program.
  • While she had good recommendations, she did not clearly follow the instructions, submitting three (the school requires two), with only one being from her supervisor. The other two recommendations were from a college professor and a nonprofit board member.

The combination of these issues led to her being waitlisted. But there’s still a happy ending to Jackie’s story, as she submitted an application in Round 2 to another top 5 program and was admitted! Here’s what she did to succeed:

  • Took the time to do thorough research on the program and communicated it well throughout all aspects of her application.
  • Took the GRE and submitted her higher score.
  • Told her real story about her environmental interests and tied it in well throughout all aspects of her application. And she focused on just a few activities that supported her story.
  • Submitted only serious, value-added recommendations.
  • Took the time to do it right versus rushing through a Round 1 application.

Meanwhile, Bill was admitted to a top 5 program in Round 1! Here’s what he did to succeed:

  • Researched the program.
  • Successfully tied together his interests in finance, tech, entrepreneurship, education and mentoring.
  • Showed a track record in all of these areas, which demonstrated his sincerity.
  • Rocked the GMAT!
  • Improved his grades over time in college.
  • Highlighted his personal background, which helped the adcomm understand the whys behind his actions; he got points for overcoming a more difficult family background.

We hoped you’ve enjoyed following our applicants on their journey and have taken away some key insights that will help you on your own. Best of luck!

Image credit: Flickr user Equipe Integrada (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
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