Ned (California)

Harvard Business School



The Consultant

Ned began applying to MBA programs in the fall of 2009. He spent much of that fall working on his applications, visiting schools, interviewing, and, sadly, receiving denials or wait list notifications. Ned contacted The Short List in summer 2010 when he felt that the acceptances he had received were not the right fit for him. After reading Ned’s applications and hearing about his admissions interviews, we realized he had missed opportunities to communicate his entire story and many of his strengths.

The Short List emphasized to Ned the risks of turning down the schools that had accepted him. But, in every exercise where we had Ned prioritize his options, “applying again” came out on top. Ned decided the only choice that would make him truly happy was to “go for it,” whatever the outcome, so we advised him on how he could best improve his chances. We asked Ned to contact his schools to see what would have made him a stronger candidate. We also encouraged Ned to focus on fewer schools so he could put together quality applications and build up demonstrated interest. He decided there were just four schools that had programs strong enough to merit interrupting his career.

Although the young entrepreneurial company Ned worked for was receiving great press, they were also going through repeated layoffs. Ned was constantly adjusting to different management styles. We urged him to take on more responsibility at work in areas that would make him a stronger participant in the MBA classroom. We also helped him explore opportunities outside of work where he could leverage his experience to help others. Finally, we worked with Ned on how to better share his story in his applications. Ned returned to each campus to learn more about their programs and cultivate relationships. When invited to interview, Ned used our advice and walked into each interview with greater confidence.

He even completed one interview through Skype due to conflicts with his work schedule that prevented his traveling back to the school. In the end, Ned’s renewed effort made the difference when he was accepted to Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. Ned submitted his deposit, was busy wrapping up things at work, and had plans for a relaxing summer when his last acceptance came through. Ned made a significant change of direction and instead enrolled at Harvard Business School.

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