SBC Scoop: Why Was This Applicant Rejected the First Time?

Steve completely wowed me during our first meeting.  He had so many of the qualities that we would hope to see in a successful candidate.  To outsiders, it looked like he could not lose”¦except that he already had.  When he came to us, he had applied to four top schools and been rejected from every single one.

Here are the basics of Steve’s background:

  • 3.6 from an Ivy League University
  • Extremely rigorous double major
  • Three years at a top investment bank
  • Meaningful community service involvements

I was pretty floored by his dismal results until I read through his essays.  An essay he had written about his strengths and weaknesses summed it all up for me.  This incredibly ambitious and dynamic 25 year old had listed the following strengths:
1) Organized
2) Strong analytical skills
3) Ability to multi-task

Can you say SNOOZE?  His target school is looking for world changing leaders, Steve IS a world changer, and he is trying to sell them on his organizational skills?!

I knew that we had to try a different path.  We took a close look at his achievements and really thought hard about the skills he leveraged.  We eventually came up with the following list:
1) Ability to inspire others to see his vision and join his causes
2) Massive empathy
3) The conviction that he can make a difference
4) Unrelenting resilience

We leveraged these strengths to tell the story of how he contributed to a game changing non-profit organization.  In telling his story, he honestly discussed some flaws and failures.  But the overall message was that this was a world leader in development ”“ exactly the type of person that a top business school wants in their community.

Surprise, surprise, Steve was admitted to two of the three schools that he applied to the second time around.  He ended up at Harvard.

We have so many client stories and each one is different.  Even applicants who appear to have similar bios are unique when we peel back the layers.  View more client case studies here.

*Please note that no client details are ever shared in SBC Scoop or otherwise without complete sign off from client.

To read more SBC Case Studies, click HERE.

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