Waitlist Success Stories, Part 2: "Getting to Yes" at their Dream Schools

Wharton School Admit

Lisa was a great resource as I navigated the waitlist and always provided sound and timely feedback in what otherwise would have been a stressful process.

- Caucasian male, Non-traditional

Purchased: Conquer the Waitlist

Berkeley Haas Admit

Having almost a decade and a half years of international experience with large consulting firms, I decided to pursue EMBA from Berkeley Haas. Berkeley waitlisted my round-2 application. After searching for strategies to get off the waitlist, I came across a very thought-provoking blog on GMAT club website by Ivy group. I immediately decided to work with the Ivy team, and the result was phenomenal.

I got off the Berkeley EMBA round-2 waitlist and got admitted for the class of 2020 because of the help I received from Anna. She is very professional and pushed me to critically think about my story which enabled me to tell my narrative in a different light. The Self, Us, Now framework that she shared with me was a game changer for me, and it helped me to connect the dots more succinctly.

Regardless of the outcome, I would highly recommend Roanna and team to anyone who wants to put the best foot forward in their MBA journey. You will be working with the best in the admissions consulting industry.

- Tech Consulting

Purchased: Conquer the Waitlist

Dartmouth Tuck Admit

Nate was very straightforward and honest in terms of his feedback, which helped me quickly and effectively correct my issues with my story and how I was phrasing it. He also had a clear plan and timeline in place on how I would stay in contact with admissions that ultimately paid off.

- Finance, male, Fitness, Asian

Purchased: Conquer the Waitlist

Round 2/3 Testimonials, Part 2: Another Dual GSB-HBS Admit


HBS, GSB, Wharton & Booth Admit

“Ivy Admissions was my true partner in my MBA application journey from start to finish. Their insight into each school’s values, personality and tradition really made a difference when helping me craft and present my unique and personal narrative throughout all aspects of my application. Their coaching and guidance was always on point, particularly with their tailored and detail-oriented mock interviews. I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish what I have without their valuable insight and advice, born of their intimate understanding and relationships with their clients and their target schools. Thank you, Ivy Admissions!”

- Public Finance investment banking, public university, male, multiracial

Purchased: Complete School Package

Wharton Admit

“The advice and support provide by Lisa and Ivy Admissions Group was a huge factor in my successful application to Wharton. They helped me craft my narrative in a compelling and coherent manner that ultimately proved effective.“

- Marine Special Operations Veteran

Purchased: Complete School Package

Darden Admit

“Ivy Admissions Group was critical to my success in the business school application process. When I started, I had a jumbled story about why I needed an MBA and Ivy Admission Group worked with me to create a cohesive narrative about my work experience and how an MBA would help me advance in my career. Throughout the entire process, they were professional, responsive, and committed to my success. Without their guidance, I probably would have been a reapplicant.“

- Government Staffer

Purchased: Complete School Package

Praise for Ivy Admissions Group

There is nothing more satisfying for us than to see a client we spend months and months working with finally get into their dream school. Below are the testimonials that have been collected in our evaluation forms; we’ll keep updating them as more people submit. Congratulations to all the Ivy Admissions Group clients admitted in Round 1 and best of luck to all those working with us on Round 2!


Harvard Business School and Wharton Admit

“Initially, I was a bit skeptical of paying thousands of dollars for a consulting service, but I'm glad I did. The Ivy Admissions team really took the time to understand who I am and what I want to get out of business school. I felt supported 100% of the way and I know his feedback contributed both to my acceptance at HBS and my 110k merit scholarship at Wharton.”

- Military, Public university, Male, White

Purchased: Complete School Package



Wharton School Admit

“If you are reading this, do yourself a favor and go with IAG. You will save time, $, and emotional struggles from this one heck of a competitive admissions cycle.”

- Consulting, State School, Female, Asian

Purchased: Complete School Package + Extra Interview


Wharton School and Duke Fuqua Admit

“My admissions consultants provided prompt, high-quality input to my application materials that I believe increased my odds of acceptance. My consultants were professional, easy to work with, and most importantly, clearly cared about me and my application process. I have no doubts that my applications were made stronger through using the services of Ivy Admissions Group, and they were critical to gaining acceptance at my top-choice school.“

- Consulting, Military, White, Male

Purchased: Complete School Package



Harvard Business School Admit

“Nate and Anna were consummate professionals from start to finish. The unique process at Ivy Admission Group helped me crystallize my narrative - not just for business school, but also for myself. Thank you!”

- Non-Profit, White Male

Purchased: Complete School Package

List of Best Joint/Dual/Concurrent Degree MBA Programs

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While a 2-year MBA program is the desire and envy of many a business school applicant, an increasing number of MBA students are now completing their studies as part of a "joint" or "dual" degree program. As far as semantics go, "joint" programs integrate two different degrees into a unified course of study, often housed within the same university, while "dual" degrees often span two different universities and are pieced together by the student.

Kellogg at Northwestern is pretty restrictive, offering only a 2-year dual masters program in Design Innovation, and its 3-year JD/MBA with their Law School. HBS is more open but still pretty restrictive, offering only joint degrees and only with Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard Law School, Harvard Medical/Dental School, and (most recently)  Harvard School of Engineering & Applied Sciences. Stanford GSB is more open, offering concurrent degree options with Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard Medical School, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Princeton Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Yale Law School, Yale Medical School, and any of Stanford's other graduate programs from Education to Electrical Engineering.

Top Concurrent MBA Degree Programs

The Benefits of Deferred Admission Programs (Like HBS’s 2+2)


Top-tier MBA Programs such as Harvard Business School, Stanford GSB, Wharton, and others allow some applicants to apply for their MBAs while still in college, many years in advance of when they would actually attend. Applying to these programs comes with enormous benefits, such that if you're still in college and think you might like to go for an MBA sometime in the future, you should absolutely apply now while you're still in school. The deadlines for these programs are generally in March and April, so now is the time to get started on your applications! If you're undecided, here are just a few of the benefits you can expect from applying now:

Hedges career risk

Having an admissions offer from a top business school in your back pocket is the ultimate hedge to your career risk. Post-MBA salaries are consistently attractive ($140,000 starting base salary for consultants) because prestigious firms across industries are always looking for top talent from business schools. There really is no downside. Consider the following scenarios once you have your deferred admissions offer in hand:

  • Laid off from your job after college? No problem! Just bide your time until it’s time to attend business school, recruit for a prestigious job and get your career back on track.
  • Discover that you hate your first job and need to change industries in a hurry? No worries – that’s the whole point of going to business school, and you won’t have to have an awkward conversation with your boss when you follow through on your preexisting career plan.
  • Love your job and have great success in it? That’s awesome! In that case maybe you won't need business school. Just decline your admissions offer and continue killing it at life.

Career boost from b-school prestige

You may have never sat through one MBA class at HBS, but with that deferred 2+2 offer of admission on your LinkedIn profile, you can still benefit from the enhanced prestige that brings. Employers who may otherwise be skeptical of your abilities might be more willing to take a risk on hiring you given both the selection signal from HBS and because they know that you will be able to enhance their brand reputation, both by talking up the company among the student body and by allowing them to count an HBS student as an alumnus of their analyst class. Some employers may even make prospective assumptions of your analytical abilities and excel skills based on what they expect you would have had to know in order to get into the school.

MBAs are mostly about brand names and prestige – a deferred admission program essentially gives you more years to enjoy those attributes.

Less competitive peer set

Consider the typical applicants to Stanford GSB – they are consultants from Big-3 firms, bankers from the biggest brands on Wall Street, and VCs from the most famous funds. They have spent years racking up accomplishments, leadership, prestigious work experience, and desirable skills. Competing against them requires something truly special.

Now consider the peer group for those applying to its Deferred Enrollment program: they are all just college students. Sure they may go to great schools, with high GPAs and strong test scores, but their resumes are relatively bare. They are being admitted on the prospect of the accomplishments they may achieve, rather than for services already rendered. In this case, your ability to gain admission depends much more on the narrative story you tell -- something you have full control over (ask us why) -- rather than the twists and turns of a career you don’t always have the power to control.


Two bites at the apple

Deferred enrollment or the traditional admissions process? Why not both? MBA programs tend to love reapplicants so applying to 2+2 just gives you an extra chance to get in, in addition to applying after a little bit of work experience. In that way, applying now essentially doubles your chance of admission. With programs like HBS accepting only 11% of candidates, you should use every advantage you can get.

Flexibility on when to attend

HBS calls its deferred admissions program 2+2 on the idea that applicants will spend 2 years working before enrolling in the 2-year MBA program. However, that first 2 is more of a “2-ish”. HBS just wants you to have at least 2 years of work experience and will let you come back after 2, 3, or even 4 years. This gives you a tremendous amount of flexibility to attend business school when it is best for your career. In contrast, HBS almost never allows its traditional applicants to defer an offer of admission from one year to another. If things change in that case, you’re going to be in the difficult position between declining an exciting career opportunity and declining a spot in HBS that you might never get back.

Don’t make that mistake. Apply to a deferred program if at all possible.

Should I take the GMAT or GRE?

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There are a growing number of business schools that now accept both the GMAT and the GRE -- HBS, GSB, Booth, Wharton, and Tuck, to name a few (click here for the full list).

Many students ask, which should I take?

  • Amazing at math? Take the GMAT.
    • The quantitative portion of the GMAT covers a broader set of mathematical topics and offers more complicated problems than the GRE. Additionally, in the GRE you can use a calculator--not so for the GMAT.
    • However, because those who take the GMAT (namely, business school students) score higher than those who take the GRE (general graduate school students), it is harder to get a high percentile math score on the GMAT than on the GRE.
    • For example, a scaled GMAT quantitative score of 51 (i.e. no wrong answers) puts you in the 97th percentile and a score of 50 (only one wrong) puts you in the 87th percentile. On the GRE, a perfect quantitative score or one off would both put you in the 97th percentile.
  • Bad with time pressure? Take the GRE.
    • In the GRE you are given a certain time allotment per section (30 minutes for 20 Verbal Reasoning questions or 35 minutes for 20 Quantitative Reasoning questions) and you are free to go back and forth answering questions within a section. The GRE even has a function that allows you to "flag" questions that you would like to return to. This allows you to calmly budget your time according to the difficulty of the questions and not waste your time on one impossible one.
    • The GMAT on the other hand only presents one question at a time. You can't go back or advance to the next question until you answer the current one. The test does this because the difficulty of later questions depends upon how well you answer earlier ones. People who stress out on standardized testing may spend the GMAT fretting about each question they get and second-guessing their previous answers if they see an easier question later in the test.
  • Not a native English speaker? It depends. 
    • The GRE has a very heavy emphasis on vocabulary. Even native english speakers have to build up decks of flashcards to study the arcane words that the test loves to use.
    • The GMAT emphasizes grammar logic. Pick your poison.
  • Bad at test taking in general? Take the GRE.
    • Some business schools, usually the ones who are fighting to maintain or move up the MBA rankings (e.g. Wharton, Columbia, and Yale), place more emphasis on the average GMAT score of their incoming class, since publications such as U.S. News & World Report and The Economist use that statistic in their annual rankings of business schools.
    • If you are going to get an equivalently low score on your standardized test, it is better to do so in the GRE since that statistic is not as closely tracked and a school may have less hesitancy in admitting you for fear that you will bring down that average.
  • Not 100% sure about business school? Or want to do a Joint Degree Program? Take the GRE.
    • The GRE will get you into any graduate school, and leaves you some optionality.
    • However, certain joint programs (such as the JD-MBA at Kellogg) require you to take the GMAT, so do your research.
  • 100% sure about business school? Take the GMAT.
    • If you feel you're equally equipped to take both the GRE and the GMAT, and you're serious about business school, take the GMAT. It can signal to the Adcom that you're serious about business school, and can even qualify you for some merit-based scholarships. However, if you know the GRE plays to your strengths, go ahead and take it. Your score matters!

At the end of the day, our advice is to take the test where you can score highest. Take practice tests to figure out which is best for you.

How to get off the MBA waitlist (Part 2)


(Click here if you missed Part 1!)

5. Mount an influence campaign

I would only recommend this if you (1) truly need to be admitted to one particular business school in one particular cycle and (2) you are comfortable taking on the social capital debt of such a favor.

The people who make up admissions committees are social animals like the rest of us and can be influenced by others. Specifically two types of people: VIPs with opinions that the Adcom would respect (e.g. famous CEOs, political leaders, and prospective donors with whom the school is trying to curry favor), and current students whom can vouch for your “fit” at the school.

When it comes to VIPs, either you have one or you don’t. Personal/family connections are often too weak to be meaningful, and the waitlist timeline is usually too short to develop a good relationship with a VIP from a cold start.

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When it comes to current students, start by looking at your network on LinkedIn and see who is currently at your target school. Look for shared connections such as employer, undergrad, or high school. If you find someone you know well, explain your situation and see if they are willing to vouch for your fit at the school to the Adcom, using your new awesome narrative (see point #1). 


6. Be humble, be positive, be patient

Showing any sign of frustration with your situation is absolutely lethal to your application. Often, admissions deans are just itching to find reasons they can remove people from the waitlist – don’t give them one. Remember: you are the happy warrior, and the waitlist is a marathon, not a sprint.

7. Worst case scenario: use the lessons of the waitlist to make a better application next time.

Many schools look favorably on re-applicants and the classrooms are full of them. Next time, hire us the first time and we will make sure that you put your best foot forward.