Posted on December 15, 2014

An Indian Electrical Engineer’s Makes it to Booth Despite Low GMAT


MER (myEssayReview) student Balaji holds a Master’s degree in electrical engineering and is currently working as a project manager at Morning Star. He decided to pursue an MBA from the prestigious Booth School of Business to enhance his business skills and achieve his career goal of becoming a director at his organization. However, his biggest challenge was his low GMAT score. To overcome this hurdle, he sought assistance from MER for his application for the part-time MBA program at Booth and was accepted.

Read on to learn how Balaji overcame his challenge in his conversation with Poonam, where he discusses the following:

  • His Background
  • His Reasons for Pursuing an MBA
  • His Career Goals
  • Why Booth is the best fit for him
  • Work-life-School Balance
  • The Most Challenging Part of the Application Process
  • Admission Tips for Prospective MBA Applicants
  • His Favorite Books


Poonam: Can you tell us a little about yourself? Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? What do you do now?

Balaji: Sure. I am originally from Hyderabad, India, and I completed my undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering there. After my undergraduate degree, I moved to the US to pursue my Master’s in Electrical Engineering at the University of Cincinnati. Currently, I work as a Project Manager for Morningstar, Inc., a leading investment research organization.


Poonam: When did you start considering an MBA? Why now? What are your career goals?

Balaji:  I had initially considered pursuing my MBA after completing my undergraduate degree. However, I decided to pursue my Master’s in Electrical Engineering instead. My interest in an MBA degree was rekindled after I joined Morningstar, Inc. in April 2012. I came across many colleagues who had earned an MBA from some of the top business schools in Chicago. After speaking to several of them, including the Director of Operations and Senior Vice President of the Software division, I decided that Booth School of Business was the best fit for me.

Within two years at Morningstar, I progressed from a Quality Assurance Analyst to a Senior Quality Control Analyst to a Project Manager. My long-term goal is to head the Operations division, and I believe that earning an MBA will provide me with the necessary skill set to achieve that goal.

Why Booth

Poonam, You applied only to Booth. What makes Booth the best school for you?

Balaji: I choose Booth School of Business for reasons. Firstly, I live and work in Chicago, so the location was a major factor. Secondly, Booth School of Business is a top-notch school, and it has always been my dream to pursue my MBA from an elite institution. The flexible curriculum,  renowned faculty, and world-class education at Booth make it one of the top business schools in the world. Also, my interactions with several of my colleagues at Morningstar reinforced my decision to apply to the Booth School of Business.

Tips on Work-life- School Balance

Poonam: How do you manage your full-time job, school, and family at the same time? Do you have any time management tips for prospective students?

Balaji: Managing a full-time job, family, and school simultaneously can be challenging. Most part-time MBA students might say that with correct time management, one should be able to devote sufficient time to school, work, and family. However, I disagree to some extent. While good time management skills are essential, I think it's important to acknowledge that sacrifices may need to be made in certain areas. In my case, I had to sacrifice my social life to an extent. I don’t meet my friends on a regular basis. However, I made up for that by networking with current students and alumni at Booth. I advise prospective students to pay undivided attention to the task at hand or the person you are with. If you're with your family, focus on them and don't think about school, and vice versa. This advice was given to us by the Dean of Booth School of Business during our orientation, and it has been very helpful for me.

Most Challenging Aspect of the Application

Poonam: Looking back, what was the most challenging aspect of the school admissions process? How did you overcome that challenge? What advice would you give to other MBA applicants facing similar challenges?

Balaji: For me, the most challenging aspect of the school admission process was preparing for the GMAT. It had been four years since I completed my Master’s degree, and getting back to the grind of studying for 3 hours every day was an uphill task. To overcome this, I made a strict schedule and had someone monitor my progress regularly. My advice to others is if you're not confident in adhering to a schedule, do not hesitate to have someone monitor your schedule. We're all human and can give in to temptations.

Admission Tips for Prospective Part-time Applicants

Poonam: Do you have any admissions tips for applicants for Booth's part-time program?

Balaji: Be cool, calm, and focused while taking the GMAT. Plan well in advance such that you have enough time between your GMAT exam and the application process. Devote at least 1-1.5 months to preparing for your admission essays and take professional help. Get your recommendation letters well in advance. Have two recommendation letters from professional settings and at least one from social settings (extracurricular activities). This will add equal weight to both your professional and non-work life. Practice mock interviews. If you know someone who is currently a business school student or has already graduated, try having him or her interview you. This would help you ease into the interview process.

In my case, I had only two weeks to submit my application to Booth after my GMAT. I chose myEssayReview because of the excellent reviews and some of the MER students who had success with a low GMAT score.  You helped me refine my resume and essays in just two weeks’ time.  Your suggestions on recommendation letters were also immensely helpful. I really appreciate your help and guidance, without which this would not have happened also. It was a pleasant and refreshing experience working with you, Poonam.

Poonam: Thanks so much, Balaji. The pleasure was all mine. What is your favorite thing about Booth so far? And if you could change one thing about the program, what would it be?

Balaji: The flexible curriculum and the wide range of networking events with both the Alumni and the current students make Booth School of Business very special to me. Given that I have just started, I am pretty confident that I will have many good things to say in the future.

Poonam: What are your favorite non-school books?  What are your hobbies?

Balaji: My favorite non-school books are Alchemist and The Kite Runner. I enjoy cooking though I don’t do it quite often these days.

Poonam: Thank you, Balaji, for sharing your story with us. Good luck with your Booth experience and continued success in your career.

You can connect with Balaji via LinkedIn.

.Click here for Balaji’s testimonial of MER Services.

Click here for Balaji’s GMAT Club Review.

Since 2011, MER (myEssayReview) has helped many applicants get accepted into the top 20 MBA programs. (MER owner Poonam is among the top 5 most-reviewed consultants on the GMAT Club.)

Do you have questions about your application? E-mail Poonam at or sign up here for a free consultation.