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How an applicant received three top schools’ admits with a $40,000 scholarship despite two years of work gap?

The uncertainty of MBA admissions keeps surprising us as much as it surprises all applicants. While we have learned to take bigger risks due to our experience in applying with business schools, most applicants label it ‘wild’ to apply to a top school with a significant flaw in their profile.

But Sonia wasn’t like most applicants. She had a major work experience gap of 2 years, current, and wished to apply to top US business schools. Although it was an ambitious task, we decided to work on her applications.

She ended up not only with an admit from Kenan Flagler and Ross, but also a $40,000 scholarship by Tepper, a Top 20 US MBA Program.

Sonia MBA application essay

No first drafts by applicants are ever perfect. And that’s great because that leaves a lot of room for growth and feedback which in turn will result in deep and introspective essays that admissions committee members truly appreciate.

Sonia first drafts had a problem that is very common amongst applicants and can be a big reason for rejects form business schools but isn’t talked about too often. Misinterpretation! When an applicant writes about certain qualities they possess, they are told to always follow them with examples.

The problem arises when the examples and the qualities do not match.

For example, you might think you’re portraying leadership because you convinced a union leader to end a strike, but the incident actually portrays emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills because you were able to convince ‘one person’ of the problems the strike was causing to a majority of people.

This will very often lead to an admissions committee deciding that the applicant lacks self-awareness, and rejecting them.

After dealing with this and a few other common issues, like the tone of the essay, and picking the right incidents to narrate, Sonia was moved on to the next steps.

The Tepper Interview

For her interview prep, we asked Sonia to watch the Management Consulting Encyclopedia and the other videos on Interviewninjas religiously.

By now she had made a strong base of what her goals and AHA moments were, but she needed to convey them to the interviewer as well.

The interviewer that Tepper had assigned to Sonia was one of her contacts that she had used for pre-MBA networking.

It might come as a shock to you if I told you that Sonia thought her Tepper interview did not go as well as she had hoped. She got the impression that she had come off as ‘not a people person’ to the interviewer and truly dreaded what impact that would have on her admit.

Needless to say, this wasn’t the case as Tepper offered her a $40,000 scholarship.

The thing about good and bad interviews is that you can’t guess them purely by the tone of your interviewer. We suggested the same thing to her and asked her to focus on the other interviews that were yet to come.


She did exactly that and successfully converted Kenan Flagler and Ross into admits as well!

Sonia story is a testimonial to the fact that one flaw in your profile isn’t enough to stop you from getting an admit to your dream school. you might have to work harder than every other applicant, but you too can create a result similar to Sonia.


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