Columbia Business School 2016 MBA Essay Tips & Deadlines

Click here for Columbia Business School's zone page.Columbia tweaked last year’s questions for this year. Relatively minor changes. Specifically:

• Its short-answer question about your immediate post-MBA goal has gone from 75 to 50 characters. Yes, that was  characters, not words. Two years ago it was a generous 100 characters. And those applicants thought they had it tough. 
• There are wording changes to all the questions. The central focus is the same as in previous years; but nuances have changes. 

Other than cutting 25 characters from the goals question, CBS has not cut essays or essay length. Still, you will need to make every word, indeed every character, count to really allow your essays to effectively and compellingly present your qualifications.

My tips are in blue below.

Applicants must complete one short answer question and three essays.

Short Answer Question:

What is your immediate post-MBA professional goal? (50 characters maximum)

Note the character limit. Your response must be less than a tweet. Actually it must be just about one third of a tweet. What do you want to do professionally and in which industry immediately after earning your MBA?  Here are CBS’ examples of possible responses:

“Work in business development for a media company.”
“Join a strategy consulting firm.”
“Launch a data-management start-up.”

Warning: This question is not asking about intended area of study while in business school or a non-professional goal or even a long-term goal. And the subject is assumed to be you. No need to waste characters by including “I.”

Essays:

Essay 1. Through your resume and recommendations, we have a clear sense of your professional path to date. What are your career goals going forward, and how will the Columbia MBA help you achieve them? (Maximum 500 words)

They already know what’s in your resume. Don’t repeat “your career path to date” here. That’s a waste of essay real estate and means you’re not telling them anything new or answering their question.

Do tell them what you want to do after your MBA and what aspects of the Columbia MBA experience will prepare you to do it. Keep in mind that the MBA is a bridge between your past and desired future. Show Columbia why its program is the right bridge for you and now is the right time for you to be traverse this bridge. 

To answer this question well,  you will need to really know the Columbia program thoroughly along with why you want a CBS MBA at this point in your career. The essay that shines will do a great job of showing both fit and self-awareness.

Essay 2. Columbia Business School’s location enables us to bridge theory and practice in multiple ways: through Master Classes, internships, the New York Immersion Seminars, and, most importantly, through a combination of distinguished research faculty and accomplished practitioners. How will you take advantage of being “at the very center of business”? (Maximum 250 words)

Please watch this video before attempting to answer the question and then keep it in mind as you write.

Really think about the points it’s making in terms what being at the center means: Access to an infinite variety of opportunities. Proximity to thought leadership and executive leadership. Convergence of theory and practice. NYC as an — if not the — international business center. Also note the emphasis in the question on bridging theory (the classroom) and practice (the opportunities that New York City provides).

After watching the video, think about how you intend to take advantage of the infinite opportunities and energy that reside at Columbia University and in New York City. How will you take advantage of the entrepreneurial eco-system in New York and Columbia University? The ties to bio science and pharma? Madison Avenue? The cutting-edge research and thought leadership? Not to mention the practitioners who lead Wall Street and teach at Columbia. Or will you explore the cultural riches of NYC and take advantage of the incredible business opportunities present in the arts and media?

Be careful not to speak of those opportunities in the generalities that I have. If you are interested in luxury goods marketing, as stated in your short answer, then write here about how you will take advantage of Madison and 5th Avenues as well as Columbia’s offerings. If you are interested in finance or consulting, Manhattan and all the businesses in it are at your feet. How will you benefit from this incredible location as well as the practitioners teaching at CBS? 

Final point: you don’t have to address all the points raised in the video, but you do have to write persuasively about at least one. 

Essay 3. CBS Matters, a key element of the School’s culture, allows the people in your Cluster to learn more about you on a personal level. What will your Clustermates be pleasantly surprised to learn about you? (Maximum 250 words)

Please watch this video to have an idea of what “CBS Matters” is about.

Make sure you understand Columbia’s Cluster System.  And if you have any lingering doubts whether this question is about professional achievement, watch the video again. It’s not.

You can use this essay to bring out something fun that you like to do. Would you try to get your cluster to train for a marathon? Set up a karaoke night? Plan a ski trip? Explore New York’s museums? Or you can reveal something non-professional that is important to you.  How have you contributed to social groups or causes in the past? Relate you plans to a past successful initiative, and you will enhance your answer to this question.

Or you could take a more serious approach to this question and discuss a challenge overcome. Show that you are a survivor, not a victim and far stronger as a result of this experience. If you take this approach, be careful to avoid TMI (too much information). You will have barely met these people.

Optional Essay. An optional fourth essay will allow you to discuss any issues that do not fall within the purview of the required essays.

Clearly you can use this optional essay question to address a weakness in your profile or qualifications, but in my mind, this question is also open-ended enough to allow you to discuss a diversity element in your personal background or simply some unique area of interest. Also, tucking a weakness explanation somewhere else would allow you to end the application with a strength and not a flaw.

Don’t use this essay as a grand finale or wrap up. And definitely don’t use it to rehash your reasons for wanting to attend Columbia; those reasons should be perfectly clear from the required essays. If you decide to respond to this essay, use it to educate the reader about another talent, interest, or commitment of yours. As always try to show leadership and impact. In short, give them more reasons to admit you.

If you would like professional guidance with your Columbia Business School MBA application, please consider Accepted’s MBA essay editing and MBA admissions consulting or our  MBA Application Packages, which include advising, editing, interview coaching, and a resume edit for the CBS MBA application.

Columbia Business School 2016 Application Deadlines:

Check out our other school specific MBA Essay Tips

 

*All deadlines are 11:59 p.m. New York Time on the date listed.

Watch our webinar and learn how to Get Accepted to Columbia Business School!

Linda Abraham By , president and founder of Accepted.com and co-author of the new, definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.

Related Resources:

Podcast Interview With the Columbia Business School Admissions Team
Columbia Business School Zone
• Experiences & Advice from Columbia MBA Student Kendall Miller

  • Divya Rajpal

    1) Senior Accountant at Novartis – 6 months (Past Exp : Deloitte – Senior Accountant – 3 years)
    will have 4 yrs work ex by the time I join B-school
    2) Still working on GMAT – currently at 650 level – Target score 730
    3) Symbiosis International University (India) – GPA 3.1, BBA in Accounting and Finance, Year of Grad 2011
    4) Member of Student Govt 3 times (Sports Captain), National Level Table Tennis Player & Head of International Sports Event in college
    5) Qualified CPA – currently working on obtaining license
    6) Consulting in one of the top 3 firms – McKinsey, BCG or Bain

    Target Schools – Columbia, Stern and Ross

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      Divya,

      If you get the GMAT you are aiming for, you have a competitive profile for Ross. NYU Stern and CBS are stretch program.

      Also consider Darden, Duke, and Cornell Johnson.

      Linda

      • Divya Rajpal

        Thanks Linda,

        I am extremely keen on NYU Stern – is there any scope of improvement in my profile in terms of community service, or is my GPA primarily a disadvantage?

        I am co-leading a team of 3, leading an integration project of Saudi accounting activities into our team (demonstrating international experience), and developing Management Reporting which involves engaging with key stakeholders.

        Your inputs would be appreciated.

        • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

          Divya,

          Your GPA is a low for Stern. Hopefully you’ll get the GMAT you are aiming for. If so by all means apply to Stern and make your case.

          You are correct that recent community service doesn’t appear on your information above and that is a bit weak, but my main point is don’t count on Stern.

          It’s a stretch. It makes sense for you to apply (if you get near your target GMAT), but don’t count on it until you are accepted.

  • ragha

    Hi Linda, could you please provide your inputs on my profile for CBS and Wharton?

    Thank you in advance!

    1) 5 years of Analytics experience (at time of application, 6 at the time of intended entry) with Bank of America during which I have been promoted before other peers, relocated from Singapore to the US and hold managerial responsibilities

    2) GMAT Q91%, V69% with an overall score of 710.

    3) Graduated from the National University of Singapore with a Bachelors in Computer Engineering (GPA of 3.7/5)

    4) Very strong extra curricular activies during College, held leadership positions at Bank of America and strong Community involvement in both Singapore and in the US. Have also received key awards as part of my involvement in these activities.

    5) Completed a post-grad Diploma in Management from London School of Economics as part of a distance education program.

    6) Post-MBA goal is to work for a Strategy Consulting firm and long term, to be in a Strategy and Business Development role in a technology firm.

    Citizenship: Indian

    Thanks

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      Ragha,

      You have a competitive profile although your GMAT is a tad low for both programs especially given your Indian male IT background. Everything else is strong.

      Also consider Darden, Ross, Cornell Johnson, CMU Tepper, and Duke.

      Best,
      Linda

      • ragha

        Thank you Linda, really appreciate your taking the time to provide your inputs

        • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

          You’re most welcome.

  • Fall2016Applicant

    Hi Linda,

    Thanks for the above blogpost, quite useful in understanding a little more about the CBS admissions process.

    I’d be very grateful if you can assess my profile as well please. I’m looking at Columbia, Wharton & HBS.

    1) Joined Graduate Program at Barclays Investment Bank out of University in Jul 2009. Promoted to Assistant Vice President (AVP) in the Commodities Derivatives Middle Office team in Feb 2013. Joined Accenture in July 2013 as Senior Strategy Analyst within Global Commodities Strategy practice. Promoted to Strategy Consultant within 7 months in Feb 2014. Up for promotion to Engagement Manager in Dec 2015 or Jun 2016.

    2) 720 (94th Percentile)

    3) Singapore Management University | 3.34 | Major 1 – Information Systems Mgt.; Major 2 – Business | 2009

    4) Post-College: Participant, North Korea SEZ Roundtable, expected to present a session on Microfinance in Pyongyang in November | Founder, Crowdfunded Microfinance Startup (Failed) | Founder & Chairman, Cricket Club (50+ active members, teams in Singapore Cricket League & international tours, collected over $40k in membership)

    College – President, Entrepreneurship Society; Winner – Business Plan Competitions in Singapore, Beijing & HK | Vice President, Debating Society; Participant at Asian Debate Competition (AUDC) in Manila & World Debate Competition (WUDC) in Vancouver | Won Business Case Competitions in Singapore & Frankfurt | Scholar Participant, 2 week program on Entrepreneurship at Stanford University | Founder, Contact Sharing Device Startup (Failed; Funded by B-Plan competition money + University)

    5) N/A

    6) Sr Associate at Energy/Emerging Markets VC Firm

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      Fall2016 Applicant,

      Thanks for the feedback.

      You have a competive profile for HBS, Columbia, and Wharton. You may also want to consider Stanford, Booth, and Kellogg.

      Best,
      Linda

      • Fall2016Applicant

        Thanks a lot for your quick response, Linda!

        I guess I did not mention that I am an Indian national. Does that affect my chances at any school in particular? Or does it mean that I should be retaking the GMAT? Also, I am due to become a Singaporean citizen over the next couple of months. Will that affect my chances positively / negatively in any way?

        How best can I engage with you directly further?

        Thanks again!

        • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

          Fall2016Applicant,

          You’re welcome!

          You have such distinctive experience, especially the North Korean part of it, that I don’t think you need you need to do anything but effectively present yourself. Your legal citizenship isn’t a big deal. The fact that you are an Indian national means competition is greater, but again, your experience is very distinctive.

          I can’t guarantee acceptance, but you are definitely not cookie cutter or typical.

          If you would like help with your MBA applications, please let me know.

  • agamemnonas

    Hello, Linda. I just came across your website and it’s really something! Thanks for all the tips.

    Below is my profile for evaluation.

    1) Internship at Unilever in brand management (5 months); Internship in a small private equity firm as a financial analyst, making valuations and presentations for investors and management (4 months); Full-time consultant at Mckinsey, in a fellowship joint-program with a large retail chain aimed at forming people for strategic positions at the company (4 months); Full-time financial analyst at top 3 bank in Brazil (6 months); Full-time project management analyst, working as the main responsible for financial planning and control in a US$200+ infrastructure project in Brazil’s largest company (3 years already, ongoing).

    2) GMAT: 760

    3) Business Administration, Universidade de São Paulo (USP), grade 62%. There’s no GPA conversion, but it’s below the 50th percentile of the class, probably my biggest weakness, wasn’t as serious a student as I am now. Could my GMAT and CFA performance compensate for it?

    4) Started pursuing a second degree in Law at a top 3 Brazilian university on the field, being approved in a selection with more than 50 candidates per vacancy. Working in the foundation of a new political party, with activities on several work groups, such as the development of the organizational structure and funding. No significant leadership experience though.

    5) Passed all 3 CFA exams, shall be awarded the certification upon completion of the required years of relevant work experience.

    6) To leverage my MBA and new skills to grow in the organization I currently work on, the largest in the country, partly state-owned, so important for the economy that a crisis it got into recently has by itself shed a few decimal points from the whole country GPD growth numbers, and, later on, use it to lauch a political career.

  • Mari T

    Hello Linda Abraham,

    Could you, please, let me know which B-school MS in finance is an appropriate fit for me.
    I am 23 and finishing university this year, BBA
    1) Given a medal at Physical-mathematical school for being a distinguished Schoolgirl;
    2) GPA 3.65;
    During my studies was given a chance to study one semester at UNYP, finished studies with excellence;
    3) GMAT score 720 (93 percentile);
    4) Manager and Founder of a learning Center with GGI Group collaboration;

    Courses taught: Finance, Accounting and different software, mostly used by small and medium companies in Georgia;
    5) A year working experience in financial department at one of the leading Georgian banks;
    6) Switched the working place to another bank, a member of one of the Leading Russian Groups; Same field, better position;
    7) ACCA Qualifications – F1,F2,F3,F7;
    8) Volunteering in NGOs and implementing variety of art projects; some of the them became an annual festival in Georgia;
    9) Former vocalist of the musical band;

    Thank You!

    • Mari T

      Please answer @LindaAbraham:disqus
      Thanks in advance

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      Mari,

      Look into MIT Sloan, Berkeley Haas, Chicago, Columbia.

      Best,
      Linda

      • Mari T

        So glad to hear :)
        Thanks a lot again

  • Charles Borland

    Hi, Linda – thanks in advance for your feedback!

    1) I am a full-time actor (no other job) based in NY (Leading, guest-starring and recurring roles in over 20 television shows and films, such as House of Cards, Homeland, Blue Bloods, Premium Rush, L&O, etc., and I have appeared in over a dozen plays on Broadway, off-Broadway, and regionally (Ex: Shakespeare in the Park, Roundabout, MTC, Kennedy Center, etc.). I am also currently working on two entrepreneurial ventures that straddle the tech and storytelling sectors.

    2) 710 GMAT 92% (48 quant)

    3) 2001 Juilliard Drama graduate (BFA): 3.061 GPA. (This is almost meaningless, however. Prior to 2010 Juilliard didn’t have GPA’s and has never administered class rankings. Also, the drama division does not grade above a B, so my GPA is actually highly competitive within the strict parameters set by the drama division.) I have also completed three courses for college credit from both Harvard and UC Berkeley to supplement my rather weak academic and quant backgrounds, receiving grades of A, A, & A-.

    4) Since 2011, I have volunteered as a Team Leader for NY Cares, where I currently tutor SAT math in tandem with Kaplan Prep. Prior to this year, I also created a reading comprehension program via theater at PS 261 K in Brooklyn as a Team Leader for NY Cares.

    5) No special certifications (unless you count being a theatrical “fight instructor” in England – which I don’t).

    6) I am attempting to pole vault from the creative side of the entertainment industry to the business side by leveraging my existing strengths (creative) and combining those strengths with an MBA. While attending school, I would continue working on my entrepreneurial ventures, but am also very interested in business development and/or content development at a leading non-linear content company such as Netflix or tech company that has its eyes set on content development.

    7) I am interested in Columbia’s J-Term, am 43 years old (this must be borderline too old, but I believe the J-Term skews older), and have also already applied to NYU’s part-time program, which provides lower cost and more flexibility.

    Thank you!

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      Charles,

      Columbia is a stretch for you. You certainly have a chance, but frankly your profile is highly unusual and very difficult to assess. Give it a try.

      But also consider back-ups. Perhaps CBS EMBA , UCLA eMBA or FEMBA.

      Best,
      Linda

      • Charles Borland

        Ha! I know it’s a tough assessment! I’ve already made contacts at CBS and one of the collaborators in the business I’m creating is a CBS and School of the Arts professor. Plus, one letter of rec is from a CBS alum. It’s all debits and credits I guess. Hopefully, my application tips more towards the credit side. Thanks again for the feedback. I appreciate it.

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  • Charan

    1) Worked as a Systems Analyst Intern in India. Three years of experience at a global fortune 500 company in the US(Indiana) by the time of joining MBA as a Business Analyst working on Enterprise Resource Planning implementation project. Working on several global assignments from time to time (though not traveling). Promoted once. – 3.5 years – too little experience?
    2) GMAT 700 (Q 49 – 79% V36 – 82%) – Retaking the GMAT to get a 740+ score ( please advise taking the expected score into consideration).
    3) Master’s – University of Florida – School of Business (Information Systems and Operations Management) (GPA – 3.24); Undergrad – Electrical and Electronics Engineering Kakatiya Univeristy, India – GPA (67%) – low grades significant effect? Master’s – will it help or deter my chances?

    4) Keyboard(piano) player – performed multiple times at undergrad level, amateur golfer, several leadership roles through undergrad and master’s and currently in job, volunteering during part time actively and helping some organizations with business cases, etc.,
    5) None – would that be a problem?

    6) Post MBA – product management for tech industry – again ( because this might not be consistent with my past experience, will it be a problem and hinder my chances?)
    Please advise on my prospects and some of the other schools I should consider applying

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      EVen assuming a 740, Columbia is a stretch. Your undergrad and grad GPA are low for Columbia. Unless you have some really impressive experience I recommend you consider other programs like UT Austin, UW Foster, UCLA, Duke, and Cornell Johnson, and UNC.

      Best,
      Linda Abraham

      • Srinivasa Charan Giddu

        Linda,
        Thank you so much for your response. I really appreciate the feedback. I kind of imagined Columbia would be a stretch. My target schools are Stern, Yale, Duke and Darden. Please let me know how my chances would be with those schools.

        Thanks,
        Charan

      • Charan

        Linda,
        Thank you so much for your response. I really appreciate
        the feedback. I kind of imagined Columbia would be a stretch. My target schools are Stern, Yale, Duke and Darden. Please let me know how my chances would be with those schools.

        Thanks,
        Charan

        • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

          I think you’re aiming a little too high. I suggest you choose at most 2 from CBS, Stern, Yale, and Duke and then apply to maybe 4 others from Darden and the schools I suggested.

          Best,
          Linda

          • Charan

            Linda,
            Is it down to my low grades? What aspect of my profile do you think can be improved in order to compensate for that? I was really hoping that my specialized Master’s from a Business school was going to help me. If that is not the case, do you think waiting one more year and getting more experience would make any difference to the situation – because I am fairly confident of getting onto some great global projects at work in the next 12 months.

            Thanks,

            Charan

  • mbadude

    Hi Linda

    Below are the details of my profile.

    1. 2 years as Supply chain Manager in TATA Motors Limited. 2 years as a Program Manager in the same company. Have worked on key projects and saving the company worth 200 -300 Million USD. Part of company’s Talent pool and have received many leadership awards. Got short marketing experience where I have consulted CEOs of a couple of leading TATA Companies to enhance customer acquisition.

    2. GMAT 720- Q50(88%), V38(85%), IR 8, AWA 6
    3. Jadavpur University….Production Engineer…….2011……GPA – 8.70/10
    4. Extra curricular –
    COllege- Assistant General SEcretary – Students’ Union
    Post Graduation – Secretary in an NGO.
    5. CFA-APpear in June 2016/SIx SIgma Green Belt- Appearing In december 2015.
    6. Post MBA goal- Leverage on operations background to join as an operations consultant in a good management consulting firm.
    WHat are my chances at CBS, DUKE, EMORY, DARDEN, UNC??

  • Akinyemi

    1. 1.5 years as a transmission Engineer for
    Huawei (Second largest telecommunication provider ) in Nigeria. 1.5 years as Technical Process & Quality
    Manager at AT&T Wireless in Dallas Tx.

    2. 328 GRE ; Q 168 (95%) V160(84%)

    3. Undergrad at Ladoke Akintola University of
    Tech OYO, Nigeria (3.7/5.0) , Electrical Engineering , Graduate at Texas
    A&M University , Kingsville TX (4.0/4.0) , Electrical Engineering.

    4. Soccer assistant coach for my church team,
    working with Marriot hotel serving food to orphanage originations around Dallas area and provide web infrastructure to small scale organization in Nigeria.

    5. PMP(project management professional ) , CCNP(Certified Cisco
    Networking Professional )

    6. Management Consulting with focus on Organizational
    Transformation (people, technology & systems)

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      You have a competitive profile for Columbia. also consider Kellogg, Haas, MIT, and Vanderbilt.

      Best,
      Linda

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  • magoosta32

    Hi Linda,

    I was hoping to get your perspective on my profile.
    I’ll be taking the GMAT again to hopefully push my score above 700 next
    month, and am planning to apply this year ED/EA/Rd 1 to CBS (top choice,
    father/aunt/uncle went there, lots of friends have been/currently going
    there, and girlfriend’s father teaches there occasionally), NYU and
    Tuck, and then second round to Yale and Cornell if needed. My profile is
    as follows:

    1) Work Experience: 5yrs working in NYC at a premier
    bulge bracket bank in three different roles: mortgage originations for
    2.5yrs (promoted from analyst to associate after two years and
    trained/mentored 2 analysts), lending specialist for 1.5yrs, private
    equity/hedge fund structuring and product development for 1yr (current
    position).

    2) GMAT: 670 (60-70% Quant, 80-90% Verbal) – taking again in a month, targeting 720, hoping to settle for at least 700

    3)
    Education: went to premier boarding school then graduated from a Top 20
    liberal arts college in the Northeast (not Williams/Amherst, but second
    tier, comparable to Haverford, Davidson, etc), History major (very
    difficult), 3.0 cumulative GPA weighed down by 2.5 avg of first two
    years at school. I pledged a fraternity freshman year which impacted
    studies, but eventually became Vice President of said fraternity. My
    average GPA was 3.5 for my last two years and I was on Dean’s List for
    the final 3 semesters. A Tale of Two Cities…do you recommend I use the
    supplemental essay to address this weakness?

    4) 5yrs involvement
    with my firm’s volunteer group doing various volunteer events and am
    co-chair of the Drives Committee. I also volunteer for a local food
    rescue organization and have active involvement in growing the business
    (we’ve expanded from 1 to 7 cities over the past year). Am also
    partnering with a friend to scale a food business, the products of which
    are sold from local farmers markets and popup tents.

    5) Certifications: none (aside from securities licenses)

    6)
    Post-MBA: business development at a FinTech startup, with particular
    focus on marketplace lending. Am currently interviewing and networking
    in the space and hoping to secure a job before i even apply to school to
    get experience and because there’s no guarantee i even get in to a
    school so why wait? Thoughts on positioning if i do/don’t get a new job
    by application time?

    * I don’t plan on getting a recommendation
    from my current manager despite being in role for ~1yr because my prior
    two managers have had more experience with me and can speak more fully
    about my candidacy. More importantly, given that i am currently
    interviewing for startups, i don’t want to engage my current manager for
    a recommendation and then if i get a job before applying and jump ship
    then i risk having a poor recommendation. Do you have any thoughts on
    this as well?

    Thanks again, and I look forward to hearing back!

    Best,
    Magoosta

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      Magoosta,

      Your work experience and community service are solid. Clearly the academic stats are your weak points. Assuming you get that 720 and that much of the improvement comes on the quant score, I would say that NYU, CBS and Tuck are stretches, although the legacy factor, upward grade trend, and work experience could push you over at CBS.

      I think you are wise to apply R1/ED etc. to these programs With an increased GMAT, you are competitive at your R2 schools. So hopefully you make it R1, but if not you are being more realistic R2. If you are willing to consider left coast, look into UCLA.

      Best,

      • magoosta32

        Thank you very much for the reply, Linda. Two quick follow ups: should I address grade weakness in supplemental essay? do i have a legitimate reason for not getting a recommendation from my current manager, and should my rationale also go into the supplemental essay? i don’t want to raise a flag if it’s not necessarily a big deal.

        • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

          Magoosta32,

          You should address the GPA in the additional info sections.

          Regarding the reason you chose not to ask your current supervisor for a rec, that depends on the school, but in most cases just a succinct to-the-point statement would be a good idea. Look at the recommendation instructions.

          • magoosta32

            Thanks Linda, I greatly appreciate the advice.

  • Andres del Cos

    Hello Linda,

    I just found out this article.

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      Adelcos,

      While CBS, Tuck, and Kellogg would love your international background, the international nature of your work experience and education (not to mention multi-lingual abilities), I’m not sure those elements would be enough to overcome the GMAT, which at 670 is still significantly below the average for your target schools.

      Nonetheless you certainly have a chance. Give these schools a try but also apply to program where you would be more in the ballpark. Conisder UT Austin, UNC, Yale, Duke, and Cornell Johnson.

  • Grant Ransom

    1. Fund Sales at Private Equity/Credit Firm for 3 years. Top performer with great recs

    2. 750 (98%)
    3. BA in Economics at Princeton University. 2.9 GPA. Graduated in 2011.
    4. College: Varsity Football, 2 Year Starter, Unity Council Member, Cottage Club Member
    Post College: Group Organizer for Parkinson’s Unity Events, Board Member of Youths Represents, a Non-Profit helping youth affected by early arrests

    5)
    6) In my current job, i sell a fund to financial advisors where we lend to private businesses. I would like to move over to deal side and CBS would provide me the opportunity to learn more about these business and industries.

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      Grant Ransom,

      That GPA hurts. Any extenuating circumstances other than the varsity football? Everything else is competitive. The question: Will CBS overlook the GPA in light of the positives. I don’t know. The only way to find out is to apply. I’m not optimistic, but it is possible. Also apply to Booth, Yale, NYU Stern, LBS.

      • Grant Ransom

        Hi Linda,

        Thank you very much for your feedback. It is extremely helpful.

        You’re right, the GPA is likely not up to snuff compared to most CBS candidates. However, i am hoping that admissions may overlook this and instead focus on being a full time athlete with time consuming activities while attending a top university. Also of note, my GPA was above 3.0 my entire tenure until a poor, controversial thesis grade knocked it down at the very end. Let me know you’re thoughts.

        Thanks again!

        • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

          Grant,

          I can’t really have any thoughts on the controversial grade because I don’t know the nature of the controversy or what that grade was.

          I do know that a dip in GPA at the end is not good.

          Linda

  • Daniella

    Hi Linda,

    Please review my profile. I´m thinking of applying to CBS J-term.

    1) 1year in Public Relations Firm in NYC, 1.5yrs in supermarket chain in trade
    marketing in Costa Rica, 6 months hospitality company (marketing coordinator)
    in Costa Rica.
    2) GMAT 700 – 710 target score (taking it in August)
    3) NYU, GPA 3.623, B.S. in Food Studies, Business Studies
    minor.
    4) Tennis, working out (concerned with health and well-being),
    blogging in personal blog. Organize fundraising
    event for children´s orphan in Costa Rica.
    5) N/A
    6) Marketing in one of NYC´s top marketing firms (USHG, Denihan,
    Batali & Bastianich).

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      Daniella,

      If you get your target score, you have a competitive profile for CBS, but also apply to other programs. If you want to stay in NYC, NYU Stern is an obvious option. If not, consider Kellogg, Duke, Ross, Yale, and Tuck .

  • Sai

    Hi Linda,

    Okay I’m looking to apply this year. I do not have stellar academics but I do have sound reasoning for why I want to pursue an MBA. MY GMAT is 680. Yea I know and I’m an Indian female too. Not an IITian and not working for any blue chip firms. I graduated in 2013 as an Electronics major from a top rated state school.

    I actually work for a grassroot org as a HR manager, a role I created for myself. I love working with youth and have special interest in women and youth empowerment. My ground level experience and cultural stipulations have strongly shaped my need for an MBA. I have a burning desire to chart a path in social enterprise and create a platform that merges all the above. I started volunteering right out of college and my decision to pursue was quite organic.

    My % is 72.5 and I have extensive experience volunteering for different causes.

    What do you think?

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      I think your chances at CBS are very slim, but it is not the only program on the planet that support your goals.

      Have you considered Wash U, Georgetown, Darden, or Vanderbilt?

      • Sai

        Thanks Linda. Those are some of the programs I’m looking at as well. Apart from Yale and UCLA, would the others also be high reach programs for me?

        • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

          Sai,

          Other than the fact that you are less experienced than the norm, your stats would be competitive at these programs.

          Maybe Darden is a bit of a stretch, but they are all reasonable for you.

  • rostove

    Dear Linda

    1) 1.5 yrs as FX trader in Shanghai and 2 yrs sell side equity research in Taiwan (promoted once)
    2) GMAT 740, 97%
    3) Dep. of International Business, National Taiwan University, 2010. GPA 3.7/4
    4) One year service as officer in Navy. Funded a board game and publish it. Softball player and won several regional rewards.
    5) CFA Level III passed, expected to be chart holder in Dec.
    6) Top fund manager in China region.
    Thanks a lot for your help

  • Achu

    Hi Linda,

    I’m working as an Analyst/Consultant role in a corporate function in one of the top 3 IT consultancy companies in India. I have a total work-ex of 3 years. Role responsibilities includes change management of internal platforms and initiatives, and business process modelling and solutioning. Through the change management intiatives, I’ve managed multiple CFT’s to work towards a goal and in the BPM aspect, I’ve worked on re-imagination/digitisation of existing organizational processes and development of the solutions, by leading multiple teams of 10-15 associates over 1.5 years.
    Have led multiple organisational feedback initiatives as well, and their inputs formed a significant portion of the corporate business planning of the past two years.

    My Acads:
    *Bachelors in Computer Science with ~69% (This is an absolute percentage. Class topper has around 78% and University topper has around 82%, If I use WES GPA conversion chart for India, my GPA, in US GPA scale, will be around 3.3)
    *MBA with ~7.1/10 GPA.
    *In addition, I’m pursuing CFA, currently a Level II Candidate.

    Total professional work-ex is 3 years, which is entirely gained after the first MBA(2012)

    Extra Info:
    * Experience in running a startup web/mobile application development firm with a peak of 30+ firms as clientele (during my Bachelors and Masters). The startup and few responsibilities ( Technical & Cultural event organiser for two years, Led the core Media&Communication and Web CMS team) in the college possibly affected a middle semester in my Undergrad performance.
    *Now guiding two firms (one of which took over the client base of my startup as I decided to take up a professional workex) as an external consultant on both technical and business aspects.
    *Have organized multiple turtle walks, outreach programmes (middle/lower school student teaching) w/ aid from the current organization’s HR functions.

    My GMAT is 740 97%ile – Q49 78%ile – V41 94%ile – IR8 92%ile.

    I’m aiming for a second MBA to shift my career profile as I’m looking at a target career profile in a financial services firm.
    Since my previous MBA was an analytics focussed one rather than a finance based program, I want to realign and get exposure in the relevant area now, geographically and education wise.

    Will it be a stretch if I apply for Booth?. My long list of schools as of now includes Booth/CBS/Tepper/Stern. Looking forward to your suggestions. Thank you.

    I’ve asked the same query in Booth 2015 Essay page, did not realise that it is an old page till i read the entire thread. Kindly ignore that post.

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      Achu,

      Ok. I will ignore the Booth post. That’s easy. :-)

      I do think your undergrad GPA and prior MBA are negatives. Are they surmountable hurdles? You can only find out by applying. You do have a chance at Booth, Columbia, etc. and should apply if they appeal to you. But don’t count on them. Also consider Yale, Cornell, and Georgetown. You have a competitive profile for Tepper and probably NYU Stern.

      For all programs, you will need to be more specific about why you want an MBA given that you already have one. What do you want to do (not study) that you can’t do with your current MBA and will be able to do with a second MBA?

      If you’d like help with your application, please let me know.

      • Achu

        Hi Linda,

        Thanks for giving a really helpful reply. :).

        The reason for the second MBA is to shift my career from the current role to an IB/PE related role. It is feasible to do that transition in India with the current MBA as I might have to sacrifice with an transition into related roles such as a FI/Credit Analyst or as a Functional Analyst. This is due to lack of the proper orientation in terms of the exposure and experience which I had after the initial MBA (Engineering graduate with 0 experience with an MBA), and the current Work-ex..

        A second MBA will help me realign to my dream career, not through the education alone but in terms of exposure as well. Will it be a hindrance for a +ve ad-com decision if I honestly explain this over the essays?.

        • Achu

          Sorry. Made a couple of typos when i slashed down the content. What I meant was that it is not feasible to do the transition with the Engg. background and 0 workex in the exact area where I want to move into.

          +I would really grow as a person from the global exposure I would gain from the campus and alum as well.

          • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

            If you are specific in your reasons they will give you serious consideration, but “global exposure” is something very general. You can get it in lots of ways and lots places.

            Linda

  • jtares

    Hi Linda,
    Would you mind reviewing my profile? I know my GPA and low GMAT are likely going to hold me back from CBS. Would like your input for other universities in the US top 15 as well. I’m a 29 year old Canadian (Ethnicity is Chinese)
    1) 5.5 years with a major European oil company (Market cap 250B) and 1.5 years with a major American oil company (Market cap 70B). Roles starting off as a junior engineer and now act a project manager. 2 direct reports within the company but currently manage third party engineering companies with staffs of 50+ reports to complete projects upwards of $200 million. All previous history has related to engineering design for gas plants and project management.
    2) GMAT – 650 (Q: 58%) (V:86%) – Can’t remember the exact numbers but it was around these.
    3) College: University of British Columbia (Canada); Mechanical Engineering, 2008. GPA 76% – I think this translates to a 3.1
    4) Volunteer with habitat for humanity, drop in center (Non exec-positions)
    5) Professional Engineer, Project Management Professional, Steam Certificate (Trade ticket)
    6) Transition to strategic consulting

  • jtares

    Hi Linda,

    Would you mind reviewing my profile? I know my GPA and low GMAT are likely going to hold me back from CBS. Would like your input for other universities in the US top 15 as well. I’m a 29 year old Canadian (Ethnicity is Chinese)

    1) 5.5 years with a major European oil company (Market cap 250B) and 1.5 years with a major American oil company (Market cap 70B). Roles starting off as a junior engineer and now act a project manager. 2 direct reports within the company but currently manage third party engineering companies with staffs of 50+ reports to complete projects upwards of $200 million. All previous history has related to engineering design for gas plants and project management.

    2) GMAT – 650 (Q: 58%) (V:86%) – Can’t remember the exact numbers but it was around these.

    3) College: University of British Columbia (Canada); Mechanical Engineering, 2008. GPA 76% – I think this translates to a 3.1

    4) Volunteer with habitat for humanity, drop in center (Non exec-positions)

    5) Professional Engineer, Project Management Professional, Steam Certificate (Trade ticket)

    6) Transition to strategic consulting

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      jtares,

      Your experience sounds great but those academic stats are going to hurt you at CBS and similar programs. Would you consider retaking the GMAT (which you would need to do anyways if you seriously want to get into strat consulting)?

      Linda

      • jtares

        Hi Linda, thanks for the reply! I will probaby end up re-taking the GMAT; looking for a score around 710. Was wondering what options I would have if I did and did not re-take it though? Would Michigan, NYU or UCLA be options?

        • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

          With a 710 (and a much improved quant score), you would be much more competitive at Ross and UCLA. NYU Stern may still me a bit more of a stretch, but not crazy.

          Also consider Darden, Yale, Duke, and Cornell Johnson.

  • hls

    Hi Linda,

    Thank you for taking the time to review my profile and provide feedback.
    I am a 25 year old, hispanic female (born in Guatemala but raised in the U.S.). I am looking to apply to Columbia and the following Consortium schools: NYU, University of Texas at Austin, and Darden.

    1) 3 years teaching experience through Teach For America (Special Education teacher). During my second year I was promoted to the Lead Special Education teacher, where in addition to my teaching responsibilities, I was in charge of monitoring compliance for 144 students and overseeing 14 other special education teachers.
    2) I am taking the GRE next month with hopes to get 160 quant/160 verbal/4.5 writing.
    3) Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Major: Early Childhood/Elementary Education (3.8 GPA), graduated 2012
    4) Teach For America Corps Member
    5)
    6) My immediate post-mba goal is to join a strategy consulting firm. My long term goal is to Serve as the Head of Education at a consulting firm.

    Thank you!

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      CBS is a stretch, but no harm in trying. Your chances are better at the other programs especially UT Austin and Darden. You may also want to consider USC.

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      HLS,

      Assuming you get the GRE stated above, CBS is a stretch. Your chances are better at the other programs, especially Darden and UT. Also consider Emory and USC.

      • HLS

        Thank you Linda!

        I plan on applying next fall and was considering taking some college courses such as statistics and microeconomics to add to my experience. I also have scheduled several campus visits. Are there any other suggestions on courses or actions I can take to strengthen my profile?

        Thank you!

        • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

          HLS,
          Those classes will help you especially if you get As in them. Visits are always a good idea although they help you in ways other than brownie points for visiting. And the best help would be getting a higher score than you anticipate. Finally, if you aren’t accepted this year and you complete your Teach for America commitment, try to get a job in business or closer to what you want to do post-MBA.

  • phoenixballerina

    Hi Linda,

    I just came across your website. What a fantastic resource!

    I am a very unusual candidate, so I’d appreciate your thoughts. My top choice school is Columbia, but I’d appreciate your thoughts on both the potential strength of my application and any other schools to which I should consider applying.

    1) I moved away from home at the age of 15, because I was offered a contract as a full time professional ballet dancer (graduated from high school at 16). Until age 23, danced in some of the top ballet companies full time both in the United States and in Europe. I left the ballet world due to being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that made a strenuous ballet career no longer healthy or feasible.

    2) Education:
    Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (an engineering school in upstate NY)
    GPA: 3.56
    Graduated in 3 years, and the last year (this past year) I was working full-time as a software engineer in NYC at a mid sized startup.

    3) internships: Google, General Electric

    4) full-time work:
    — ballet dancer (mentioned above) for 5 years
    — software engineer for a little over one year at a well-known startup

    5) general stats:
    26 year-old female Hispanic

    6) other:
    — Undergraduate research with publications/poster session acceptances at national and international academic conferences
    — published poet in several mid-size literary magazines and a book of poetry published by a small press (not vanity press) poetry publisher

    7) Have not taken the GMAT yet! (Taking it September 1) I am not terribly worried about it, as I test well and have done well on practice tests, but it would be good to know what score I should “shoot for” to have a fair chance of acceptance to Columbia’s MBA program or any others for which I might be a good fit.

    Thank you in advance for your insight!

  • Taylor D

    Linda,

    I plan on applying next fall, so I’d love your feedback regarding any potential weaknesses I should address and how you’d recommend fixing them. My target schools are top 10, but are there particulars you’d see me fitting in? I really appreciate your time.

    1. -Spent Two Years in TFA as high school math teacher in the Mississippi Delta. During my 2nd Year, student scores doubled TFA benchmark.
    -Between my two years with TFA, I discovered passion for technology and business while attending a one month management program at Stanford GSB.
    -Post TFA, I moved to Boston and attended a one-month intensive business/finance course for undergrads and recent grads that focused on general preparedness for the professional workplace.
    -Interned at TechStars Boston (highly selective startup accelerator) for 3 months after TFA, where I worked alongside HBS Grads to build top healthcare app. Non-technical, research-oriented role.
    -Decided to leave Boston and moved to New Orleans without a job with the expectation of working for an ed tech startup that didn’t have any open positions at the time.
    -Eventually hustled my way into a sales position for that company after two weeks. Although I was beginning to thrive at sales, I quickly realized that what I really wanted to do was manage projects and tangibly contribute to the development of our product. I left after three months to learn how to write code and build full-scale applications.
    -Upon completion of a 10 week intensive coding “boot camp”, I was offered a job writing code for a small development shop consisting of 9 employees, where I’ve spent the last two years. I will probably stay until I enter grad school because I love the company. It’s a relatively flat organization, so there aren’t many opportunities to spearhead new initiatives, but I am starting to take on more project management responsibilities. Our CEO thinks very highly of me.

    2. Haven’t Taken GMAT yet, expect ~700+

    3. BA Economics from Wake Forest University with a 3.5 GPA (Cum Laude top 10%). I graduated in three years after transferring from a small California school, where I earned a 4.0 during my second semester. One credit transferred so I was technically a freshman when I started at Wake. Poor calc grade as freshman, but retook later (B).

    4.
    Undergrad:
    -Student Government Academic Committee Co-Chair (worked with trustees and administrators to implement 3 very large projects). Earned an award for making the greatest contributions to student government when I was a student representative.
    -President’s Aide, one of 30 student leaders to represent the University President at school events and trustee dinners
    -Founded annual golf tournament to raise money for cancer research
    -Greek Man of the year after 1st year at school, 2x Fraternity Brother of the year, Rush Chair.
    -president, Order of Omega Greek Honor Society
    -Treasurer of Inter-Fraternity council
    -Big Brother to inner-city child
    -Spent two months teaching English/math to orphans in Ghana between junior and senior year.
    -Member of the professional business fraternity
    -Two art projects were selected to be shown at yearly student art exhibit.

    Current:
    -Master Scuba Diver, regularly participate in lion fish removal trips in the Caribbean and gulf. Currently planning a scientific research dive trip next spring.
    -Weekly volunteer naturalist at the Aquarium, where I educate patrons and manage the ray tank and parakeet cage.
    -Occasionally participate in Habitat for Humanity Events.
    -Recently joined Young Leadership Council and plan on spearheading a few projects in the next year.
    (I have a feeling this is where I can improve the most)

    5. None
    6. Development Director for VC Firm (or Startup Accelerator). I really like Redstar Ventures.

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      Taylor,

      Your TFA and extra-curricular experiences are impressive. I hope you can both acquire and bring out more leadership and impact in your current job. Coding on its own is not exactly distinctive or particularly impressive work experience unless you achieved something noteworthy with your code.

      “700+” is a very broad range a a 710 is different from a 750. Let’s assume a balanced 710. Consider NYU, Yale, Cornell Johnson, Duke, UCLA, and Georgetown.

      • Taylor D

        Linda, thank you for the feedback. I guess it’s safe to say that 730/740+ and more leadership at work would be the game changer?

        • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

          I agree. The combination together would be a game changer.

          • Taylor D

            I’ll be applying when I’m 29 with only 6 years work experience. I’ve been told that it’s a major disadvantage to be applying so late. Given that I’ve basically just been writing code for two years and have recently moved into more of a business analyst role, I wanted to give myself more time to build my resume and leadership experiences. I’m also not prepared to apply this fall. Thoughts?

          • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

            Wait until you are prepared. Applying unprepared isn’t a good idea.

  • Mba

    Hi Linda,

    I just came across your website. What a fantastic resource!

    I am a very unusual candidate, so I’d appreciate your thoughts. My top choice school is Columbia, but I’d appreciate your thoughts on both the potential strength of my application and any other schools to which I should consider applying.

    1) I moved away from home at the age of 15, because I was offered a contract as a full time professional ballet dancer (graduated from high school at 16). Until age 23, danced in some of the top ballet companies full time both in the United States and in Europe. I left the ballet world due to being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that made a strenuous ballet career no longer healthy or feasible.

    2) Education:
    Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (an engineering school in upstate NY)
    GPA: 3.56
    Graduated in 3 years, and the last year (this past year) I was working full-time as a software engineer in NYC at a mid sized startup.

    3) internships: Google, General Electric

    4) full-time work:
    — ballet dancer (mentioned above) for 5 years
    — software engineer for a little over one year at a well-known startup

    5) general stats:
    26 year-old female Hispanic

    6) other:
    — Undergraduate research with publications/poster session acceptances at national and international academic conferences
    — published poet in several mid-size literary magazines and a book of poetry published by a small press (not vanity press) poetry publisher

    7) Have not taken the GMAT yet! (Taking it September 1) I am not terribly worried about it, as I test well and have done well on practice tests, but it would be good to know what score I should “shoot for” to have a fair chance of acceptance to Columbia’s MBA program or any others for which I might be a good fit.

    Thank you in advance for your insight!

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      MBA,

      Thanks for the enthusiastic feedback1

      I always say aim for the highest score you can get, especially with a school like CBS as your target. If you want to know what score would as you say give you a fair chance of acceptance and you twist my arm a bit, I would say 700 or higher. The higher the better.

      Suggestion: In your app, bring out the business elements of managing your ballet career prior to your returning to school and career change to software engineer.

      • MBA

        Hi Linda,

        Thanks for your response! As a ballet dancer, I was involved in the fundraising and marketing of the ballet company (nonprofit) itself and also fundraising and the creation of a nonprofit to benefit medical research. One of my recommenders will be going over these points in detail, so I’m glad that’s a good thing!

        On my practice tests, I’ve scored between 710-740 consistently. Assuming I do similarly on my actual test this weekend, what programs should I plan on applying to?

        • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

          Since you’re taking the exam this weekend, I’d rather just wait until you have the actual score for me to respond. OK?

          • MBA

            Hi Linda,

            I scored a 720… and I’m pretty disappointed and considering retaking and/or taking the GRE instead. What does this due for my chances? I do much better in GRE practice tests, but I’d heard business schools prefer the GMAT. With a 720 score, is Columbia still a possibility? What other schools might I consider applying to?

            Thanks!

          • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

            MBA,

            Congrats on the 720! Unless it’s horribly lop-sided, be happy with that score! And yes apply to CBS. You didn’t mention a goal so I am reluctant to suggest other programs. But don’t retake that GMAT test. Go ahead and apply.

  • Dreamer

    Hi Linda!

    Thank you for being so kind, reviewing all these profiles.

    Would you mind taking a look at mine?

    I intend to try CBS only next year, so it gives me some time to work on my flaws and acquire more working experience.

    Thank you so much in advance.

    1) 2 years of working experience in Consulting Services in the biggest Brazilian Consultancy. During this time I worked in several projects (most of them in Retail and Real State) but I can highlight my one year experience in Belém/PA reestructuring the main processes of the State Bank all by myself (no seniors, just a intern to help me) .

    2) I’ll take the test next month.. but according to my mock tests, I am aiming for something between 700-710

    3) Business School: Insper (2nd best business school in Brazil, 1st Business Undergraduation in Brazil). Bachelor in Business Administration. “GPA”: 82% (Graduated with honors, among top10 best students) – not a super expressive GPA but mainly because I spent most of my semesters “working” in AIESEC (which I will explain in point 4).

    4)Worked in AIESEC for 2 years (volunteer work). In short: VP of the core business deliverable for 1 year, structuring and leading a team of +20 people. For my exceptional results as VP at AIESEC in Insper, I was invited to be Project Manager of AIESEC in Brazil (3 months) and, afterwards, Marketing Manager of AIESEC in Austria (6 months)

    – Also was co-founder of a Student Club in Insper, responsible for exchange students interactions

    5) None

    6) Transition to a more strategic Consultancy

  • MBA2016

    Hi Linda,

    Appreciate the time you take to review our chances individually – very helpful/generous service. I’m planning to apply early-binding to CBS.

    GMAT: 740 Q50V40

    GPA: 3.63 Econ Major from top-20 liberal arts college

    Work Experience: Will have 4 years total upon matriculation. I worked two years at a NYC brand strategy/consulting firm, performing primary research and quantitative analysis. After 1.5 years I was promoted from Analyst to Senior Analyst. I then moved to a small sports marketing company and built out the Analytics group. I started as an Associate and after 1.5 years was promoted to the Manager of the department.

    My post-MBA goal is to move brand side to a fitness brand in marketing research/analytics, and eventually become a CMO a work towards better integrating research, communications, product development, and business operations.

    Leadership/Service Experience: Captain/MVP/Most Inspirational of my High School Baseball Team and played Varsity Baseball in College and won the Team Award (best displaying qualities in a teammate). Now I am a Volunteer Coach for a sixth grade baseball team in a program that focusses on building teamwork and life skills to inner city youth. I was also a Teacher’s Assistant for Intro to Econometrics in College, was a member of the International Honors Society in Economics, and now am a Class Agent for my college and help build donor participation.

    Would love your feedback and thoughts! Thanks!

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      MBA2016,

      You’re most welcome. Thanks for the feedback.

      You have a competitive profile for Columbia and applying early decision is a great idea since It’s clearly your first choice. If you can articulate well why it’s your first choice, then your chances are good.

      At the same time, the competition is tough! Be prepared that you may also have to apply elsewhere. Is being in NYC important? If so NYU is a fantastic option also. Wharton and Yale aren’t too far away. If you are willing to look outside NYC, consider Kellogg and Duke.

  • Ammar Khan

    Hi Linda,

    1) 2 years at HP as ASIC design engineer. Not much room for explicit leadership or management in terms of title. But my recommendations would be able to point out times when I took initiative or when I lead people.
    2) GRE: 800M, 680V (according to the converter on GRE webpage, this translates to 740 on the GMAT)
    3) University of Minnesota (BSc Electrical engineering): 3.79
    Columbia University (MS EE) 3.67
    4) Pro bono tutoring both undergrad and grad school. Also have been teaching students from underprivileged backgrounds on and off during the past 2 years.
    5) Cleared the first 2 levels of CFA. Will be taking the next one in 2016.
    6) Join the FinTech industry.

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      Ammar,

      Your work experience is good, but on the low side. Everything else is highly competitive. If you don’t make it this year, you will be more competitive next year, (as long as you can show professional progression).

      Also consider UCLA, Haas, MIT Sloan, Wharton, Stanford, and Chicago Booth.

  • Matt

    Hi Linda, I have only one year work experience and I don’t how much that can hurt my chance at top business schools. Please help advise:
    1. Leadership program (rotational) in a bulge bracket US bank (BoA, Citi, JPMorgan, etc). Work in New York City for a little more than a year now. Top ranking analysts among class, had exceptional reviews from senior managers through all rotations. I am also in the campus recruiting team and have both hold info sessions and interviewed candidates at top schools.
    2. GMAT not taken yet (scheduled one in 2 weeks), but confident enough to get to 730, I am targeting at 750. My diagnostic test shows me 700 and put me in (89 percentile)–without any practice before taking the test.
    3. Big state school (Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State), GPA 3.49 but with a dual degree in Pure Math and Finance and graduated in 3 years. Also I am an international student from China.
    4. Career mentor coach for a NGO helping under-privileged community college students in New York City (a little more than 3 months).
    5.
    6. Post-MBA goal is to transition into Investment banking (short-term) and then hold leadership position at large firms (long term)

    additional: i made the decision just over a week ago because of an unexpected event. But i am willing to work this through by all my resources available. Given that i am late in the game, i am taking every minute i have now to put thoughts into essays (which is my biggest concerns because i am short on time). I am targeting top 10 schools in the US.

    Best,
    Matt

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      Matt,

      Rather than rush to submit Round 1, I suggest you wait until round 2 and do better first on the GMAT on then on the actual essays. For CBS, apply as soon as they start reviewing regular decision applications if you want an earlier response.

      In terms of other programs, also consider CMU Tepper, Darden, UCLA, and Booth.

      I also think you would be much better off, if you waited at least a year.

      Best,
      Linda

      • Matt

        Thanks Linda. Understand my limited work experience is my biggest shortfall. My bottom line is Cornell and UCLA. If i don’t get into those two school, I can wait for one more year and re-apply. I will keep you updated on the GMAT score.

  • Nick

    1) 1.75 Years at public consulting (booz,deloitte, accenture) facilitating pandemic disease containment efforts across West Africa. Currently working independently helping friends with strategy for their business before heading abroad for a consulting fellowship in january.
    2) GRE: 159Q (74%), 168V (96%)
    3) Second Tier Ivy (Cornell/Brown/Upenn): Government: 3.6 GPA (I took 30 classes instead of the standard 32 because I had to work to help support family..should I mention this?)
    4) Pro-bono consultant/official mentorship role
    5)None
    6)Transition to MBB: Complement my policy and international experience with rigorous business education to help organizations with their Sub-Sahara Africa strategy.

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      You have a competitive profile for CBS, maybe a little low on the GRE quant. Otherwise it looks good. Also consider Yale, Duke, and Georgetown. If you are willing to stretch, consider Wharton and HBS and one of their joint degree programs.

  • HervéRenard

    Hello Linda,
    Thanks for the help you are providing. I’m considering applying to CBS but without really knowing my chances. Here I am :
    French, 28.

    1) 3 years as a strategic and actuarial consultant in Paris (Insurance industry) – current title “manager consultant” + 2 times 6months of internships in investment banking (Top American bank in London and French bank in New York)

    2) GMAT 720 (score from 4 years ago, about to retake it next week, mock exams show that I’m around that score

    3) MSc in Financial markets from a top BusSchool in France, grades not amazing, I would say equivalent to a 2.8/4.0 GPA (around 3.5/4.0 GPA for finance related classes though)

    4) After classes to get my French actuary title & chief of a department of a student organization (sport events)

    5) None

    6) Work at a managerial position in an international insurance/reinsurance company.

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      Herve Renard,

      What happened that brought down your grad GPA?

      • HervéRenard

        Thank you for your quick reply.
        No particular reason. Just the educational system that makes your grades not so much important once you get accepted to a top business school.
        In France companies rely on this system and do not really spend time on your grades, if you graduated from HEC/ESSEC/ESCP… they assume your level is good enough and will focus on testing you during interviews.
        Since I never thought I would apply to an MBA program at that time, I satisfied myself with being just above average.

        • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

          Were your undergrad grades above average?

          • HervéRenard

            Yes. I was in the top tier of my class. In the top fifth in maths, physics and chemistry.
            I assume that you investigating on my grades means I really need to complete the optional essay.

          • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

            HerveRenard,

            Yes.

            You need to address that dip in grades, take responsibility, express contrition, and point to elements of your profile that show your skills and academic ability.

            I still think you have a shot at Columbia, but don’t blow off your grad grades.

  • Rem

    Hi Linda,

    Can you kindly look at my profile and advise on my chances? I’ll be applying to Columbia, Stern, and Cornell Johnson.

    30 year old male (permanent US resident)

    1. 3 years as manager at a top pharmaceutical company (managed ~10 people, led multiple cross-functional projects). Prior to this, I worked 6 months as a pharmacist (hospital) and a year as a research assistant at a highly distinguished lab.

    2. Took GRE once with 790Q (88%) and 640V (94%)

    3. 3.0gpa from a top 20 pharmacy school. Other than small excuses, my low gpa is attributed to my disinterest in clinical courses (hence why I moved to a corporate job).

    4. Started a website with my brother that provided practice exams and materials to pass pharmacy law exam (unsuccessful). President of my church’s worship ministry for a year. Praise band leader for 5 years (held concerts that raised donations for the homeless and disabled). Community service in rebuilding/renovating houses that have been devastated by hurricane Sandy. Held charity event that raised more than $36,000 for victims of hurricane Sandy. Played in intramural soccer club for 2 years.

    5. Licensed and registered pharmacist. Fluent in Korean.

    6. Join a top consulting firm (preferably in NYC)

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      Rem,

      You have a chance at all 3 programs with Cornell Johnson being the most likely acceptance. I’m concerned that you stats are a little low for CBS and NYU, but your experience is good and you should give them a try.

      Best,
      Linda

      • Rem

        Thank you for taking the time to look over profile. Can I also ask you about my chances for Haas?

        • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

          Ram,

          You’re welcome.

          Like CBS and NYU, but worth a try. Also consider Duke.

  • Jenn W.

    Hi Linda,
    Thanks for taking the time to review our profiles. Sorry I have to break down in different replies as my reply was always detected as spam.

    • Jenn W.

      1) Sales & Trading in a leading Canadian Investment Bank in Toronto Canada
      Joined after university as Analyst; promoted to Associate; research analyst and then business development
      I also work at a financial technology start-up on the side (with government funding and a proof of concept product).

      • Jenn W.

        2) GMAT: 720 (94% Q87% V83%)

        3) University of Waterloo, Canada, Bachelor of Mathematics, 85/100, graduated in 2012

        4) volunteered for United Nations, an African NPO to help underprivileged children and women, and Olympics Games, etc.

        • Jenn W.

          5) Post-MBA: I would like to join an early-stage financial technology company (most likely I will come back to the start-up I am currently working at) for business development role and eventually run my own fin-tech start-up.

          I am a 26-year-old Chinese female.

          I am also aiming at Wharton, Columbia and Duke.
          Appreciated for your time and your evaluation!

          • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

            Jenn,

            Sorry you had a problem with posting.

            You have a competitive profile for these programs. You may also want to consider UCLA and Haas.

  • Oscar Gonzalez Ar

    1) First JPM Corporate Bank (Fin products sales) followed by Investment Banking Associate for an M&A boutique. Both jobs in Mexico.
    2) Two GMATs, 690 (Q:45, V:40, IR:7, AWA:4) and 660 (Q:48, V:34, IR:7, AWA:6)
    3) College info: U. Anahuac (Mexico City), 81/100, 2013, Economics
    4) Current T.A. at the University, Current housbuilding brigade member for a organization that builds houses in underdeveloped communities, during college: mentor for down-syndrome kids, housebuilding brigade member and catholic missioner
    5) No :(
    6) Move to real estate financial analysis (RE group of an important IB, structuring group of a REIT)

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      Oscar,

      I’m concerned that your below average GMAT and below average amount of work experience are going to be difficult to overcome. CBS is a stretch. Apply, but don’t count on it. Either apply elsewhere or be prepared to apply again in the event you don’t get in.

  • Jithesh Kunjumon

    Hi Linda
    I am From India Kerala, I am applying for J-Term 2016.

    1) I am currently director in my family business and I have startup as well.Our family business is into retail and trading (Import Export). I have recently co founded a company with a friend in hyper local delivery based out in Cochin. In both companies I overlook the Marketing and Operations.
    Prior to this I was working with Metricstream Inc Bangalore (GRC Company In the US) as Marketing Associate upon my Graduation.

    2) Giving My GRE this month.

    3) Bachelors In Business Management Christ University Bangalore 2014 .Major in Marketing. My GPA is 2.5/4 .I know My GPA is low I have reason for it. I had some family issues during 1st and 2nd Year. Two of my family members passed away in between my course.I have done exceptionally well in my marketing subjects , internal coursework assessments and Projects. Fiance is not my strong area but i have always worked towards it.

    4) a)Took part in University Business Competitions ,b) Incharge of events and sub department for various college student run management events and competitions-Hospitality Team- Head,Marketing Events- Sub head. c)Worked with NGO as a volunteer during college and School. d)Held Many positions in school in study body.e) Alumni Coordinator for school.

    5) None in those areas but I have done Certificate Course in Addiction Counselling and Computer Hardware, Software and Networking along with my Bachelors in College.As well as I have cleared SAP 01.

    6) Post MBA I aspire to be a serial entrepreneur, I like to explore new opportunities start new venture.

    By the looks of the post below , I see have very less chance or no Chance at all but I am still going to give it a short. But anyways thank you for evaluating my profile.

  • agamemnonas

    Hello, Linda. I just came across your website and it’s really something! Thanks for all the tips.

    Below is my profile for evaluation. I’ll be a Brazilian 29 yo white latino at the time of the application. Besides Portuguese, I speak English and Spanish fluently, French in an advanced level and I’m currently studying Russian by myself, as an intelectual challenge, in which I currently have an intermediate level.

    1) Internship at Unilever in brand management (5 months); Internship in a small private equity firm as a financial analyst, making valuations and presentations for investors and management (4 months); Full-time consultant at Mckinsey, in a fellowship joint-program with a large retail chain aimed at forming people for strategic positions at the company (4 months); Full-time financial analyst at top 3 bank in Brazil (6 months); Full-time project management analyst, working as the main responsible for financial planning and control in a US$200+ infrastructure project in Brazil’s largest company (3 years already, ongoing).

    2) GMAT: 760

    3) Business Administration, Universidade de São Paulo (USP), graduated in june 2010, grade 62%. There’s no GPA conversion, but it’s below the 50th percentile of the class, probably my biggest weakness without much to say in order to explain it. I just wasn’t as serious a student as I am now. Could my GMAT and CFA performances and my language skills compensate for it? I don’t come from a privileged background, so besides 2 years of paid english classes when I was young, I learned all the rest by myself.

    4) Started pursuing a second degree in Law at a top 3 Brazilian university on the field, being approved in a selection with more than 50 candidates per vacancy. Working in the foundation of a new political party, with activities on several work groups, such as the development of the organizational structure and funding. No significant leadership experience though.

    5) Passed all 3 CFA exams, shall be awarded the certification upon completion of the required years of relevant work experience.

    6) To leverage my MBA and new skills to grow in the organization I currently work on, the largest in the country, partly state-owned, so important for the economy that a crisis it got into recently has by itself shed a few decimal points from the whole country’s GPD growth numbers, and, later on, use my experience and connections to lauch a political career.

    In the long run, what I really want to do is to work in government. If you could evaluate my profile for Harvard Kennedy School’s public policy master program, I would be very glad.

    Thank you!

  • Deeksha Aneja

    Hi Linda,
    Thanks for such a helping blog.

    1)6 years in IT.Major of experience is in the field of big data.
    2)GRE 322(167Q,155V)
    3)NIT Kurukshetra.CGPA=8/10.Year of graduation-2010.Branch-Electrical Engineering
    4)Have been involved in literary clubs and activities.
    5)None.
    6)Transition from IT to analytics field.Majorly looking for MBA (majors in business analytics) or MBA in business analytics.

    I am not sure which programs should I apply to.Please enlighten

  • George

    Hi Linda
    1) Business Technology Analyst at Deloitte Consulting India Pvt.Ltd; 2 years(2013-present). (IT consulting for a major US health insurer)
    2) GMAT 780 : Quant-50(87 perc), Verbal-47(99 perc), overall 99 perc
    3) NIT Calicut, India; GPA 7.3/10 (no extenuating circumstances ). Bachelor of Technology(BTech) in Electronics and Communication, Graduated: 2013
    4) College: Placement coordinator during final Year of Undergrad, Marketing Commitee for Undergrad Cultural fest, Treasurer of Adventure Club; Post-college: volunteer-teaching English and Math to underprivileged kids in govt. schools, core member of various committees at work to foster Employee flexibility and rewards for Performance.
    5) CFA L3 completed (no charter yet).(L1-’13, L2-’14, L3-’15)
    6) Break into Equity Research/Corporate Finance/IB

    I realize that my GPA is underwhelming, but is there any way I can compensate? Also, what would my chances be for other top 10 Unis?
    Thank you.

  • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

    agamemnonas ,

    Thanks for the feedback.

    I’m less familiar with HKS than HBS, but my sense is pretty much the same as yours. Your GMAT and CFA are strong. Your experience is competitive. your language skills are a plus. Your grades are weak. It will boil down to whether HKS wants to overlook your undergraduate grades.

    The same is true of Columbia or any top MBA program. It’s possible they will so please proceed.

  • agamemnonas

    Thanks very much, Linda. I haven’t even thought about applying until recently due to my low grades as an undergraduate, thinking that I would be solemnly ignored no matter what I did to try to compensate for it. The CFA, although not really appropriate to the activity I do now, was in great part an effort to build an alternative curriculum to show, but I did it half-heartedly, not really thinking it would be of any help.

    I know it’s an uphill battle for me and that my chances are slim, but your words make me feel a little more confortable, a little less ashamed of trying – I even felt ridiculous just thinking about it, imagine that! As there’s no downside in trying (besides the not-so-lows financial costs, but then again, I’m thrifty with other things so not to be on these), I think I’ll do it.

    Really, thanks Linda.

  • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

    You have a competitive profile for CBS. Also consider NYU Stern, Haas, and CMU Tepper.

  • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

    George,

    Your GMAT goes a long way towards compensating for a mediocre percentage. Above average profession or responsibility at work will also help. I think a year of additional work experience may benefit you too.

    CBS is a stretch, but you still have a chance. Also consider Yale, Booth, NYU Stern, and Wharton.