It’s common knowledge that the average GMAT scores for Indians in the top programs are higher than the averages listed by MBA colleges on their websites. You may also know that the MBA admission chances in Round 2 are lesser than in Round 1.
And as an icing on the cake, Indians are more likely to be rejected from top MBA programs compared to applicants from other countries.
Priya Roy (named changed) ended up with a not-so-impressive (under 700) GMAT score and she missed applying in round 1. Since she already had a strong university brand on her resume, settling for a mediocre business school didn’t seem like an exciting proposition to her.
For her earlier degree, she had cracked the tough admissions process of an elite US program on her own (without the help of application consultants).
However, the challenges this time, for her MBA application, were different. So, she decided to take professional help and ended with admits from multiple business schools.
Read on to see the process she followed. We have a few of our own lessons to share towards the end.
Wharton success story for Indian applicant with a low GMAT score
by Priya Roy
Before my MBA, I worked in a boutique consulting firm focusing on the travel and hospitality sector. I graduated from an Ivy League University from the Hotel School and had work experience of approximately four years before applying.
I wanted to change career paths into strategy consulting and I felt a top MBA would be helpful to get there.
I did not focus too much on GMAT but would highly recommend spending lots of time on this and getting a good score. I attended coaching classes on weekends but did not find them particularly useful. It helps to take lots of mock exams (I took 10) before the exam to get used to the format and timing.
I contacted Sameer early on before deciding what schools to apply to and what the main theme of the essays was going to be. The MBA MAP and the mock interview helped me define my career goals and what I really wanted out of the MBA.
MBA Crystal Ball’s feedback was open and honest which I greatly appreciated; they guided me about what was ambitious vs. achievable in terms of what schools to apply to and the objectives after an MBA.
I would recommend the MAP as early as a year before applying to an MBA program, or as soon as you start thinking about an MBA.
The essay editing with Manish was crisp, honest and very timely. He expected me to write my own essays and then offered honest advice on what worked and what didn’t, and sometimes just raised questions that helped me think deeper and improve my essays.
Since I applied for 8 colleges in the second round, it was a time crunch and difficult to manage – would not recommend applying to so many colleges in one round!
The process of editing multiple drafts works well, especially if you decide which colleges are the hardest and work on them earlier (with more drafts).
I really appreciated how punctual and detailed Manish was with his feedback, and his attention to detail in terms of language and grammar.
They were extremely accessible in case I had any questions and helped me out with the interview process as well. The list of questions compiled by MBA CB was comprehensive and helped me think through most of the questions I came across in four interviews!
These were broad questions and not very college-specific. Manish was very kind through the process, helped me brainstorm the answers, and even took last-minute panic calls before my interview :-)
I applied to 8 colleges (Harvard, Stanford, Kellogg, Wharton, Georgetown, Michigan Ross, Cornell, Stern) and would not recommend the high-speed applications to anyone, although I have to say that Manish’s timeliness and responsiveness helped me pull this off!
I got admitted into Wharton, Cornell, and Georgetown, and was waitlisted at Ross (Michigan).
I think it would be clear to whoever is reading the post what college I chose, and I am extremely grateful to MBA Crystal Ball in helping me achieve my objective of getting into a top business school.
After completing her MBA, Priya’s career has unfolded exactly as she had envisioned during the admissions stage. She graduated from Wharton and joined a leading management consulting firm as a strategy consultant.
Here’s our take on this story, since some of these aspects may not be apparent at the first glance.
It’s good to read stories like these for inspiration (and yes, such success stories help us address questions like this – Is hiring business school consultants worth it?).
But don’t get carried away and assume that a low GMAT score ceases to be an issue if you work with MBA consultants. The risk is very much there, and can’t be brushed under the carpet. It’s up to the admission officers to decide whether they see a strong enough overall profile (via strong essays, recommendations, interviews) and if all of that overshadows a low GMAT.
Priya’s decision to apply to the top universities (9 schools in R2 was a bad idea though), despite the chinks in her armour, wasn’t driven by over-confidence or an over-dependence on luck. She was aware of her strengths and weaknesses.
She evaluated and fine-tuned her career goals, and then chose the business schools (with varying chances of getting in) that could get her closer to those goals. She used her essays to convey her uniqueness in simple and logical terms, without leaving the admission officers to fill in the gaps (and make incorrect assumptions).
This is what got her multiple admits, as opposed to pure luck.
We look forward to hosting your success story on our site soon.
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– Life at Wharton MBA as an international student
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