When the schools say they do a “holistic review” then that means you need to look at your own application strategic, from a whole-person perspective. Every single asset in your application — the core stats (GMAT/GRE, GPA, TOEFL), the essays, especially the resume, and also importantly the letters of recommendation and even the oft-overlooked app…
This table is pretty durn self-explanatory so we’ll just start with that: We’re posting this in the “profile assessment” category as a tool to invite you to self-assess your own skills, with this new knowledge that a) perhaps you have either a limited view of what an employer-valued skill actually looks like in practice, and…
Obviously the first place to look when considering whether you can make it into a top MBA program is the school’s class profile. You need to know their average GPA and GMAT and age. This is the necessary start to your strategy. If your stats are too far off of any (or all) of these…
There is no “one thing” that’s going to get you in to bschool. But there are many things that matter, in many different ways. We cover the common myths and misunderstandings here quite a bit and today’s post is yet another attempt to educate the next crop of eager Brave Supplicants who are pondering the…
We got an essay submitted for a freebie review last November and we spent a day reviewing it for everyone right before Round 2 (Stanford “What matters most and why?”) (tl;dr: getting rejected from Stanford is no indication of how you’ll fare at any other school). That being said, today we want to touch on…
EssaySnark received a plaintive plea for help many years back, and now here in 2017, we’re reblahgging the post we wrote to that other BSer long ago. We’re not so keen on the request for a profile review submitted through the website anymore, mostly because a) our entire blahg gives you insights and answers to…
A couple months ago, this came in through our HALP ME PLEEZE ESSAYSNARK!! query system:
You already gave me access to the military site. I really appreciate it. After going through quite a bit of material and consultants, I have come to realize that your site is the truth. I really don’t think there is any resource that compares. It seems like most consultants and sites offer 75% fluff and 25% substance. Your site is like 110% content, if that’s possible!!
Anyway, I am writing to see if there is any way any of your moderators / consultants / anyone can help me. I used a consultant for a number of first round apps and had very lackluster results. Ultimately I applied to HAAS, Stanford, Cambridge and MIT. I was only invited to interview at MIT and was ultimately denied acceptance.
My first take away is that I was not as qualified as I thought. Now I am completely unsure of what direction to take. The consultant I worked with had me make some pretty off the wall statements in my essays to “grab people’s attention” and I am starting to think that was a huge mistake, especially after reading essay guides of your’s like the one for Wharton which emphasizes realistic career goals. At the same time, I know that 90% of why they rejected me was probably because of my weaknesses like my low GPA.
I am wondering if there is any way someone can give me an idea if I have a chance at any of my target schools, if I was spinning my wheels and what your recommendations would be for my next apps? Round 3 this year, round 1 at the same schools again ect…?
Thanks for the consideration. I completely understand if you do not have time to read / answer this. If I don’t hear back from you ill get a 29$ consult. Thanks!
The unfortunate truth is that there’s very little we can say with this bare-minimum info. It’s all guesswork and surmising. This person is definitely qualified but this is a super competitive process, and being “qualified” is not enough.
We know this person’s test score: Decent. High enough to make it through.
We know this person’s GPA: Borderline on risky territory, but not necessarily a showstopper.
We know that there are oodles of typos in the short note that they sent over to us, and they shared the resume too which also had
at least one typo more than two typos (gah!). If their app dataset had issues like this, and especially if the essays did, then that can be a pretty big black mark. Reject-worthy? Actually, yes, in combination with the lower GPA, since it shows inattention to detail, which some adcom reviewers interpret to be a lack of caring. (Pro Tip: Learn how to write the names of the schools you’re applying to! It’s not “HAAS” – it’s “Haas”. Knowing how to say the name is a good idea, too.)
We know the schools they tried for, ‘cuz they told us, and — AHA! That gives us some possible clues.
MIT Sloan is the only of those schools listed that doesn’t place a premium on career goals. And that’s the only school where an interview invitation came through.
This BSer himself is now thinking that the career goals may have been off the mark.
So we’ll go with “career goals” being the problem. Though we’re guessing that that wasn’t the full extent of it.
When we check out the resume that was sent along, we’re seeing some interesting stuff. There’s nice potential there. Yet there are more and more military candidates trying for these schools these days, and there’s also some issues with the presentation — we were left with multiple unanswered questions after going through it. The resume is just one piece of the pie, but if the rest of the application did not proactively handle those issue areas, then that can be a real problem. Reworking your resume is one of the most strategic tasks you can take on in this process, especially for military applicants who may not have had a traditional business resume before in their lives. Presumably this BSer’s other consultant coached him on the resume but it’s still not optimized. If your MBA admissions consultant does not have explicit experience in helping military candidates through this process, then our advice is to find someone else.
If the BSer who wrote in for help is still around and still debating which schools to try for, we have the Late Seasons Targets Review. As we mentioned the other day, we also have discounted pricing on the Comprehensive Profile Review for military candidates and certain non-profit types.
Parting thoughts: If your MBA admissions consultant suggests you write stuff that you’re like, “Hmmm really, I should say that?” then our advice is don’t write it. And find another consultant. Being off-the-wall is NOT the way to get into bschool. Being authentic and specific and honest about your interests and intentions and why you want an MBA and how you’re prepared and ready to go for this big jump, by presenting actual evidence of all of that through detailed stories used in answer to the essay question, is how you get noticed.
A low(er) GPA is not an instant reject.
A cohesive pitch that does not help the adcom see why they should accept you despite the lower GPA is what will do you in.
We have this nifty feature here on the EssaySnark blahg where we allow Brave Supplicants to send in an essay for the hopes of a free review on the site. (Note: You do have to be a paying subscriber to the blahg to submit your goodies.) We also accept questions submitted that way, and this is what we got recently from a Round 2 BSer:
I have been working in Silicon Valley for last 3 years as Hardware Engineer, joined a startup 6 months ago and working in health tech industry. Planning to apply for UCLA Part Time program (FEMBA). My undergraduate is from [Asian country] and GPA is [decent]. Did MS from [American university] GPA [just as decent]. GRE Quant [very average], Verbal [very low], Analytical [very low]. I want to work in manufacturing and operation strategy as post MBA career. Preferably in startup environment. What part of my profile I should highlight in my essay. Do you think I need recommendation from my current manager? Or is it OK to submit recommendation from my previous manager?
Hmmm, lots of questions there.
We will start off with hope: UCLA FEMBA is more flexible in admissions and it’s somewhat easier to gain a spot there with a decent profile and a good set of essays. It’s not quite as cutthroat competitive as the other main California bschools. Even a profile like this one – international engineer with very average to below-average stats – can have a chance at this particular program.
But as you can guess where we’re going with this: The stats are very average. Or even below average. We’re frankly very worried about the GRE score.
It’s often better to apply with a GMAT instead of a GRE. We used to say “always better” and we’re changing our tune ever so slightly these days because there are somewhat more cases where maybe a GRE would serve.
But in this case with the crowded candidate pool, and the expectation that this type of person would do just fine on the GMAT, well, the GMAT is better. Here’s our most recent “GMAT is better” post (June 2015) and we’ve covered it multiple times before (you can check the ‘snarchives for that).
But that’s not what this BSer asked, is it.
Here’s what they asked:
Do you think I need recommendation from my current manager? Or is it OK to submit recommendation from my previous manager?
Oh hey! We cover that too! Also from the ‘snarchives: Who should you ask for your recommendations.
The schools always want a recommendation from the current direct manager. There are some cases where it’s not the best strategy but if you can swing it, that’s what you should do. If this BSer wants more input on their exact situation, the Letters of Recommendation App Accelerator is designed for exactly that purpose.
Or is it OK to submit recommendation from my previous manager?
Yes it’s OK. Is it ideal? No idea. Depends on the specifics of your situation.
What part of my profile I should highlight in my essay.
The part that shows you as an overachiever who’s ahead of your peers.
Beyond that, we have no idea. You didn’t share anything meaningful with us to even begin to answer that question (not that that would be appropriate for the little free ask-a-question thingie, but still). If you’re not sure what that might be, then at risk of sounding like a broken record, we do have this Comprehensive Profile Review service which should at least get you pointed in the right direction.
Or if you’re further along, the Essay Ideas App Accelerator, to get feedback on the topics you’re planning to present in those essays, before you write them. That Essay Ideas service is kind of like creating a prototype, or a wireframe. You build a temporary structure or strawmodel, to see how it floats. (Aren’t you impressed with how techie we’re being today?) The best part of the Essay Ideas App Accelerator is that – as with all our App Accelerators – it includes a tutorial to walk you through the process of developing the content for your essays. So you get a boatload of best practices from EssaySnark, to guide you on the mysterious path to essay nirvana.
We’re still accepting pleas for help and random BSer questions through that ask a freebie question service – heck, you could even try submitting a draft of a Round 2 essay if you have one ready to roll. No guarantees that we’ll be able to look at it in any reasonable amount of time (or at all) but ya never know.
We got this submitted the other day in our Request a Free Essay Review form thingie: Hey essaysnark, I am applying for multiple European and US schools as part of Round 2. Have been a regular reader of your blahg and simply love the candid, straight-forward style you use. I fall in what is called…
You’ve seen ’em. On all the forums. Some intrepid wanna-be MBA applicant posts their profile and asks for people to tell them if they’ve got a chance.
It goes something like this:
My profile at a glance:
GMAT : 740
Experience : 6 years
GPA : 6.71/10
Current company: [irrelevant and unrecognizable company name redacted]
Application key areas:
I have a lot of experience with Sports and have co funded a badminton club in Bangalore which offers training for kids and membership for adults. Took a break for 2months from regular work to study various factors before starting the club. Involved with several clubs and prestigious tournaments held in Bangalore. Even have a strong affiliation with Indian national coach Vimal Kumar. Involved with [irrelevant and unrecognizable name redacted] academy as a graphic designer. Visited [irrelevant and unrecognizable name redacted] Badminton academy to study best practices in training and running a club.
Enthusiast Badminton blogger and sports article writer at .com
Involved with NGO activities and Women in networking chapter at work.
Awarded [unknown company name redacted] award of excellence twice at work. Known for innovation and commitment at work. Could get a strong recommendation at work and Badminton related as well.
Short term goal:
To work in a company which is rlelative small and is trying to make a footprint in a market where there are established players(preferably related to sports) or a big company which is trying to enter a market where it has least hold, to learn how they are planning on beating the competetion and establish themselves.
Long term Goal:
Would like to start a company targeted at making quality sport goods at a much lower price thereby decreasing the cost involved in taking up a sport as a full time career in india. This would also cater for starting more coaching camps across india increasing the sport base in the country and thereby i would be able to run a successful business and contribute to sports in the country as well.
Reason for choosing the schools:
I have very strong analytical and mathematical skills. Hence I have chosen schools that help me use my strengths for a better MBA in the form of finance and also a school that has its focus in admitting students with a entrepreneurial enthusiasm.
——————END REQUEST FOR FREE PROFILE REVIEW——————
Looks familiar, right? You’ve probably seen something similar yourself. Or maybe you’ve posted your own such requests. This came to us submitted through our “request a review” form where we invite BSers like you to send in essays for us to comment on publicly. We don’t actually invite requests for profile reviews there – it explicitly says in a number of places that it’s for submitting essays – and no file was attached to the submission. We’re guessing that maybe this exact post is floating around on those MBA discussion forums asking for comments, too?
We have no problem with someone sending over some profile information in one of these freebie requests to the ‘Snark.
The problem is that this person is asking us to do something which we’ve stated publicly we don’t do — not that we expect you to have read a post from 4 years ago. But have you ever seen a profile review here on the blahg? There are some, but it’s been awhile. Like, that one was in 2010. We just don’t feel it’s in your best interest to do them. Maybe the lack of them being featured here would tip you off to the fact that we don’t do them.
Or, sometimes we do them, out thar on them interwebs… when we’re feeling very bored and we are suffering from amnesia and we wander over to those boards briefly before remembering why we don’t go there – man those places have a high crap-to-quality ratio, all the misinformation sends the ‘Snark blood pressure through the roof in a jiffy. All that we ever say though is stuff like “You have a lot going for you! But these schools are competitive. Your GMAT score is [a little low / probably sufficient / risky]. It will all come down to how you present yourself in the essays! Good luck!”
The other problem is that there is literally no indication that this is even a request for assistance. No “Hi essay shark!” or whatever other variation of our name that a muddled mind might think up (we’ve seen ’em all). No “I’m wondering if you can help?” No “Hey there I’m Joe.” Not even a “Whaddya think ’bout these here goals Mr. Snark??????” No nuthin. Just “here is a bunch of data BOOM! howdoyalikemenow?”
Well BOOM! We can’t do anything with that. There’s no question here. There’s not even a vague offhand musing about anything. There’s just a page of text riddled with typos and laziness. You can’t even capitalize the word “I”? This is not a text message. (Pro Tip: How to Engage with EssaySnark)
So the obvious response to this is: HEY! Guess what! Didjaknow??
We’ve got this nifty service called the Comprehensive Profile Review!
It’s this cool little deal where you send in all of your detailed background information and we spend like a couple hours going through it in specific assessment based on you and your chances at the schools that you’re targeting. You can read about it here! Pretty much everyone who’s ever gotten one done has been very pleased with the help that it provides. You can see that from the remarks they’ve left in review. Yeah it costs money. But in order to give you an honest and accurate assessment of your profile, it requires time.
To the BSer who sent this: From the brief info provided, what will respond with is, Sorry but there’s a lot of work to be done if you’re serious about those schools.
Or we can just say:
You have a lot going for you! But these schools are competitive. Your GMAT score is probably sufficient. It will all come down to how you present yourself in the essays! Good luck!
We’ve probably lost another reader today. We know this process is stressful, and difficult. We don’t mean to be piling on.
But if you’re saying you want to go for the best of the best, then you need to be BRINGING the best of YOUR best. Get in the habit of excellence – even when just submitting a little old form on the anonymous internet – and it will spill over into all of your life.