An MBA is a highly sought-after degree that can unlock numerous opportunities in the business world. However, getting into a top-tier MBA program is extremely challenging and requires hard work, dedication, and perseverance. Perseverance is crucial to navigating this highly competitive MBA admissions process, and not everyone can get accepted on their first attempt.
MER students Reetvik and Katherine are brilliant examples of perseverance, hard work, and a never-give-up attitude. Despite being unable to convert their interviews in Round 1, they did not give up. Reetvik and Katherine had only two years of work experience and average non-work experience, making it more challenging for them. They could have easily given up, considering the significant amount of time, money, and effort invested in the first round of applications. However, they followed our advice of applying to more programs in Round 2 and succeeded.
In this blog, we will take a closer look at the profile details and application journey of both Katherine and Reetvik.
Profile: Katherine graduated from Temple University, USA, with a GPA of 3.9. She had a 335 GRE score and two years of work experience in accounting. She works at PwC as Senior Associate.
Application Journey: Katherine approached MER in the first week of July, and after an initial discussion, she signed up for 4- schools comprehensive package. Given the upcoming deadlines and her demanding work schedule, we mutually decided to work on 3 schools (Haas, Fuqua, and CBS) in Round 1 and one school (Stanford) in Round 2. Katherine received interview offers from two out of three schools - CBS and Haas. However, her crazy work schedule ( 18-20 hours a day) left her no time to prepare for the CBS interview. She did a mock interview with MER after her CBS interview, and my guidelines and feedback (both written and verbal) helped her improve her interview skills for the Haas interview. She did practice a bit for the interview and spent a full day in-person interview session, which gave her confidence.
We both were optimistic about the outcome as we had spent significant time on Haas application. Unfortunately, she was denied admission, which terribly upset her, and she started doubting her capabilities. As her coach and cheerleader, I reminded her that she received interview offers from an M7 school (Columbia ) and a top 10 school ( Haas), which was a validation of her abilities. The key reason for her failure was insufficient interview preparation. Also, MBA admissions are fiercely competitive and unpredictable; even if you do your best, there is still no guarantee of a positive outcome. Therefore, I advise people to apply to as many schools as possible ( 6-8). Nevertheless, I had confidence in her potential and encouraged her to keep trying.
Katherine took my advice and encouragement, did some serious rethinking, and applied to UCLA, USD, Kellogg, and Booth in Round 2. As decided earlier, we worked together on the Stanford application in Round 2. Though Stanford didn't make a decision in her favor, the Stanford essays we crafted immensely helped Katherine understand her values, motives, and dreams better and create her narrative for UCLA, UCD, Kellogg, and Booth. Additionally, she practiced more for interviews and kept getting more confident with each interview. Her last interview was with UCLA Anderson.
Application Outcome: As a result, Katherine turned the tables in her favor in Round 2. She was waitlisted by Booth and received admission offers from Kellogg, Anderson ($120 K scholarship), and UC Davis ($ 70 K scholarship). After accepting Anderson's offer, she wanted to apply for a Forte fellowship at Anderson. So we worked together on her essay. Katherine has just shared the good news of her selection as a Forte fellow at UCLA Anderson. We are excited for you.
Here is Katherine's feedback on our collaboration:
Profile: Reetvik graduated from VIT, Vellore, in 2020. He has a GMAT score of 720 and 2 years of work experience in the IT industry. He works at Innocaer as Site Reliability Engineer.
Application Journey: In March 2022, during our initial call, we decided that he would retake the GMAT to improve his score from 710 to 750. Finally, in his second attempt in early July, he could raise it to 720, which was not his target score. The Round 1 deadlines were approaching fast, so Reetvik needed to decide if he wanted to apply in Round 1 with a 720 or make another attempt at GMAT and apply in Round 2 or next year. We both knew that his journey was more challenging because he belonged to the most competitive applicant pool-Indian, male, and IT.
I advised him to listen to his heart and follow a path he deemed fit. Since he had only two years of work experience, he could wait for one year and apply with his dream GMAT score. Also, he could decide to apply in Round 1 with his current score and spend the next two months collaborating with MER on his application while researching schools in parallel. After much introspection, Reetvik decided to take a shot in Round 1 with his current score and signed up for 5 -schools basic package with MER. Reetvik's disciplined approach and commitment to our mutually agreed deadlines enabled us to wrap up our work effectively before the Round 1 deadlines.
Reetvik received interview offers from Tuck and Foster. Though he was happy with his interview performance, he could not convert them. However, he didn't give up. Together, we analyzed all the factors surrounding this outcome, such as average GMAT, less experience, average ECs, and demographics. I encouraged him to apply to more schools in Round 2 and suggested programs that matched his goals. He applied independently to ISB, Tepper, and McDonough, occasionally seeking my guidance in some critical areas.
Application Outcome: Reetvik's hard work and 'never-give-up' attitude paid off, and he received admission offers from two prestigious programs -ISB and McDonough. He is also waitlisted by Tepper and has not yet received the final decision.
Here is Reetvik's feedback on our collaboration
Takeaways from Reetvik and Katherine's Stories
Several takeaways from these stories can inspire other MBA applicants facing similar challenges.
1. It is crucial never to give up. Setbacks and failures are a part of the process, so we should keep pushing forward.
2. Keep practicing. Improve the quality of your application and practice interview skills. For example, Katherine spent more time on her interview prep in Round 2 and succeeded.
3. Be realistic. MBA admissions are highly selective and random, and sometimes brilliant candidates face rejection. Don't take it personally. Apply to schools that are your best fit and present yourself in the best possible light.
4. Understand your weaknesses and work on improving them. Reetvik's weakness was his average GMAT score, and his biggest challenge was the most competitive applicant pool he belonged to. Rather than feeling discouraged, he continued to work hard and applied to schools where he had better chances of success.
5. Instead of waiting for the application outcome of one Round, apply to some schools in later Rounds. The more, the merrier, I always advise.
6. Invest time and effort into your application and the interview process. Remember, an interview is a crucial step. So don't be complacent after getting an interview invite.
7. Finally, always believe in yourself. Don't let self-doubt block your road to success. Katherine and Reetvik had only two years of work experience, which falls short of the ideal work experience required for MBA admissions. Despite this, they were confident in their abilities and worked hard until they succeeded.
Thus, getting into a top-tier MBA program is highly challenging and requires hard work, dedication, and perseverance. By persevering, applicants can overcome setbacks and ultimately achieve their goals. My students' stories serve as an inspiration for prospective MBA applicants, reminding them never to give up, to keep practicing, be realistic, and invest their time and effort into all aspects of the application, including the interview process.
Good luck with your application.
About MER (myEssayReview)
Poonam Tandon, the founder of MER (myEssayReview), is a Ph.D. in English with 12 years of MBA consulting experience and three decades of teaching experience in India and the US. A master storyteller, Poonam has successfully guided hundreds of students from around the world to gain admission into the esteemed MBA, EMBA, and specialized Masters's programs in the US, Canada, Europe, and Asia. Throughout her four-decade-long professional career, she has reviewed 10,000+ essays written by applicants worldwide. Poonam is recognized as one of the top 5 most reviewed consultants on the GMAT Club (142 reviews).
Do you have questions about your application for the 2023-24 application cycle? E-mail Poonam at firstname.lastname@example.org or sign up here for a free consultation.