My client, Abhi, was a very accomplished individual who desperately wanted to attend a top business school. In particular, he had his sights set on Wharton.
Unfortunately, Abhi had one significant challenge: his profile was nearly identical to hundreds and hundreds of other applicants. Abhi was from India, and after earning his undergraduate degree, he had come to the US to earn a Masters in Engineering. He then took on a technical role within a financial services company in Washington DC. He stayed there for three years and did very well, earning an important promotion along the way.
Abhi was involved in a handful of extra-curricular activities, but even those were similar to ones we had seen many times from other Indian applicants. He had participated in dance competitions back home, and in the US volunteered regularly with a well known organization, raising funds for India. On the personal front, he sent money home regularly to help his parents and sister who struggled financially. All of these things highlighted a truly giving, hardworking individual who was passionate about developing himself and his communities. Abhi’s GPA and GMAT were average.
When we first met with Abhi, we had a difficult conversation about the reality of this highly competitive situation. We encouraged him to apply to a portfolio of schools in order to maximize his chances. He did agree to apply to four schools, with Wharton by far being the most competitive and his first choice. The final list also included Tepper, Darden and Stern.
We then proceeded to map out some stories to share with the admissions committees. We decided to mention his long track record of service, but really hone in on a more recent activity. He had organized a large group to train for a marathon and raise money for a six year old girl who was sick with leukemia. He discussed his own training process, recruiting and engaging others, planning multiple fund-raising events and the leadership ups and downs that he encountered throughout.
He also discussed a relationship that he had developed with an important business mentor, and some of the activities that he had completed on his behalf, as well as a business organization that he had joined as a result. This highlighted his initiative over and above what he did in the office, and his ability to network and develop relationships. This story was completed by a recommendation written by the mentor, which further discussed the relationship.
For Wharton, Abhi put on an extra push: he visited campus more than once, and came to know the school extremely well. This was made clear in his essays. He also asked a good friend who was a current student and who could legitimately add insight into his candidacy, to submit a letter on his behalf. The final package truly highlighted how passionate he was about the program and what a good fit he was in terms of culture and goals.
In the end, Abhi was admitted to both Wharton and Tepper. We all celebrated!
To read more SBC Case Studies, click HERE.