Case Study #6: There’s No Such Thing as a “Perfect” MBA Applicant

Business school applicant in blue shirt

This is the sixth in a series of 7 case studies summarizing the challenges, experiences, and success of business school applicants who in recent years have engaged the admissions consulting services of The MBA Exchange. There’s no such thing as a “perfect” MBA candidate, but there are strategic ways to perfect your candidacy.

The featured profiles are:

#1. Low GPA

#2. Low GMAT Score, Qualitative background

#3. Undifferentiated/Technical work history

#4. No international experience

#5. Short work history

#6. Re-applicant

#7. Older applicant

These descriptions confirm that, while most applicants are not “perfect,” through well-planned strategies and diligently executed tactics, admission is achievable at schools that they believe are beyond their reach.

If your candidacy relates to any of these case studies, Contact Us! The MBA Exchange would love to hear from you regarding your business-school aspirations and challenges.

Case Study #6: Re-applicant

Applicant Profile for “Luke” (not his real name)

AcademicEngineering major at a top 50-ranked university in the US. Graduated with a 3.9 overall GPA
Professional4 years of experience as an investment banker, including a 2-year assignment in London
Non-work activitiesTutor for underprivileged children
GMAT760
Post-MBA goalEntrepreneurship or hedge-fund management
Target schoolsLondon Business School, Wharton, Columbia and INSEAD

The MBA Exchange’s Solution

Luke does not have any feedback on his rejected applications to his target schools. Because of his high GPA, GMAT and strong professional experience, he does not understand how he can improve his candidacy and has asked The MBA Exchange to work with him on his reapplications.

We analyzed his previous applications and considered other elements of Luke’s candidacy beyond his GMAT and GPA, such as career goals and extracurricular activities, to determine why he was not offered admission. We guided Luke in how to approach the schools to get some “unofficial” feedback on his candidacy. We then reviewed our experience with past clients who had similar profiles and goals, and devised the following 4-part strategy to strengthen his candidacy for the following year:

  • Gain as much actionable feedback as possible from the schools that rejected the original application.
  • Narrow and then elaborate on post-MBA goal, then link it to “Why MBA?” and “Why this school?” to more clearly connect school offerings with Luke’s future.
  • Expand non-work involvement beyond his tactical role as tutor by organizing and leading a tutoring network.
  • Develop relationships with alumni and current students at target schools to gain personal insights as to Luke’s fit with the MBA program.

Applicant’s Outcome/Results

Following our advice, Luke developed and articulated a more specific career path for achieving his goals. He also pursued a leadership role at the tutoring organization and became very active in a second non-profit organization about whose cause he felt passionate. His meetings and conversations with students and alumni at each of his target schools provided more detailed and differentiated content for essays and interviews. We worked diligently with Luke to optimally position the improvements in his candidacy to the admissions committee, and we helped him align his strengths with the selection criteria at his targeted schools. Luke was ultimately offered admission to London Business School, Wharton and Columbia.

In order to capitalize on our experience and advice as Luke did, The MBA Exchange invites prospective clients to contact us for a free, preliminary evaluation up to a year before they apply to business school. Engaging us for a Comprehensive Consultation will allow you time and proven strategies to strengthen your candidacy and then to prepare more compelling applications that maximize your chances for admission!

Client Comments

When I got rejected from several business schools the first time I applied, I was so disappointed — not to mentioned confused given my high numbers and solid experience as an investment banker. My consultant from The MBA Exchange carefully reviewed all of my rejected applications and analyzed my background to understand why I was not offered admission — and then identified ways to strengthen my application for the next year — that I certainly would not have thought of on my own. Thanks to these efforts, I got into three of my dream schools this year!