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Rejected With A 750 GMAT—Accepted By MIT Sloan, INSEAD & Wharton 5 Years Later

Alex Min got into his dream MBA at MIT Sloan after a five-year break from applications, going from zero offers to six. So, what did he do differently second time around?

My journey to business school can be described as non-traditional, challenging, and incredibly rewarding.

I earned my undergraduate degree at MIT with a scholarship from the United States Marine Corps. After college, I proudly served for a decade as a pilot and staff Officer.

When I decided to enter civilian life, I thought attending a top business school would be the perfect way to transition. The chance to add marketable skills, build a professional network, and expand my perspective in just two years was very attractive.

However, I wasn’t successful at my first attempt. Disappointed but not deterred, I moved forward with my career, entering the semiconductor industry where I worked in sales and sales management for five years. 

Despite fast promotions and glowing feedback, something was missing in my life. I realized my earlier dream of attending business school was still alive. This second time around I was successful and went to MIT Sloan for my MBA.

The two years at MIT Sloan were some of the best years of my life!  Building lifelong friendships with amazing classmates from an array of industries, functions, and cultures; learning from professors who literally wrote the book on their respective domains; and gaining insider experiences such as behind-the-scenes company visits, and much much more, would never have been possible otherwise.

Determined to make the most of b-school, I participated in several student clubs and went to every info session and social event I could squeeze in. With some other MIT Aero-Astro grad students, I also co-founded a company named Terrafugia in the General Aviation industry.  And, oh yes, I accomplished all of this in my late-30s as a husband and father. Needless to say, sleep was a luxury I postponed for two years!

Following graduation, I served on the Terrafugia board while working full-time for multi-industry conglomerate Textron, rising quickly to VP of Business Development for one of the major business units. The rewarding professional growth was possible because of the MBA education.

Looking back at my journey as an MBA applicant, I understood why I wasn’t admitted the first time. Candidly, I was overconfident. I had a 750 GMAT, a 3.5 GPA from MIT, and a glowing recommendation from a lieutenant general. I thought I could get into any school I applied to. However, the best I did was get waitlisted, and I did not get off the waitlist.

My second attempt came half a decade later. Learning from the initial failure, I decided this time I would engage an admissions consulting firm. While shopping for the very best resource, I considered the credentials of their team, rigor of the client-consultant matching process, scope of the engagement, and my gut feeling as to whether they really 'got me'.

After getting a free evaluation and speaking with the then CEO, I decided to work with The MBA Exchange. (Little did I know that my post-MBA career would reconnect me with the firm, but more on that later.)

My admissions consultant introduced proven frameworks and customized tools, which I used to make my candidacy come alive. Yes, I was the same person who had been denied five years earlier, but now my consultant helped me identify specific strengths and constraints I needed to address.

Together, we formulated a plan to leverage the strengths, mitigate the constraints, and present an authentic, compelling, and articulate story to the admissions committees.

This time, the results exceeded my expectations. I was invited to interview at eight schools and offered admission by six (including MIT Sloan, Wharton, and INSEAD). More importantly, this journey went beyond just getting into business school.  I discovered and developed abilities that would help me succeed at business school and beyond.

As for the rest of my journey, I was so motivated by my business school experience I decided to help others seize and achieve the same opportunity.  I was inspired by the guidance and support of my admissions consultant that I chose to become one!  So, for a decade after graduation, I served as an advisor at The MBA Exchange, helping dozens of applicants realize their b-school dreams.  In 2016, I became CEO of the firm!

Looking back, I realize how an MBA education enabled me to grow, achieve, and succeed in ways I never imagined possible.  If this journey resonates with you, I encourage you to chart your own course and pursue admission to a leading business school.