I am not surprised at all getting denied at Stanford. I did have time to apply so I wanted to just give it a shot. Here are the key reasons I believe I got denied:
- I did not work at a name-brand private equity firm with former Stanford alumni. Let’s think about the numbers: ~400 students x 10% from buy-side = ~40 students. Narrow it down to Asian-american males maybe 10 total students. Of those 10, most if not all always come from a name-brand private equity firm.
- What matters most to you essay? My story was about grit but had nothing to do with changing the world and others around me. I do recommend for those applying in a year from now to really dig deep and either become a founder of a non-profit or take a year to work internationally. Each week at GSB they have a story-telling session, and each person is unique in nature with these experiences.
- GMAT – 730. For an Asian-American male, I know this is not high enough at all. I think just based on my GMAT I did not want to apply.
- Stanford GSB was not my dream school. There are a group of candidates who can target just HBS / GSB, and I was not in that boat. For those that did target only those two schools, I know they went all out with campus visits and speaking with alumni. I never visited the campus.
Those same reasons above I believe I may have gotten rejected at HBS. However, I tailored my essay towards my background in investment management. Yet, not many come from IM background at HBS. My GPA/GMAT also were not up-to-par for both schools.
I would be much more heart-broken if I only targeted those two schools, which I was realistic with my background and expectations. Everything has played out as I expected, and that is why I applied to six schools in the first round. One thing I did not like about the Stanford GSB information session was that no one wanted to talk to us about their what matters most essay. It seemed like the majority that got in fabricated their essay or exaggerated it. There was only one person out of like 20 who told us about her passion for international development. The competition is fierce, but if I had to do it all over again, I would write my essay about equality and justice. Seriously. Focus on stereotypes and etc. I would check out Sandy the HBS Guru advice on poetsandquants, as he lays out how to write those “powerful” essays for GSB. Again, not everyone needs these type of essays. But if you look at this whole process as a call option, you have to take the risk and just gamble with the most powerful essay that you could stand up in a crowd and give a speech and everyone rises for an encore. And that is what happens at GSB each week when a student gives their story.