Caitlin had education all over her resume: she’d been working for an ed-tech company for the past 2.5 years, gaining solid marketing, finance and product development skills through a rotational program, and she volunteered extensively in nearby schools, especially with at-risk youth. She was doing good work but nothing extraordinary, and her company was not well known, so it wasn’t immediately obvious how to make her shine. And, finally, though her GMAT score was decent, we needed to address her low GPA.
One approach, which works well in many applications, would’ve been to focus on a specific Big Idea that she was gonna bring forth, emphasizing the role of technology in helping her achieve her long-term vision of making quality education available to disadvantaged minorities in the U.S. But given that innovation in and of itself was not essential to her success so far, we decided to use another approach.
The Admissionado Approach
We decided to show that Caitlin had the chops to succeed as an ed-tech CEO down the road. This was a bit risky, but it built nicely on her multi-functional experience and we thought it’d be more believable than saying that she would come up with the next big thing in ed-tech (the field is getting more competitive every day). What we were saying, in effect, is that she was 100% committed to education (we had plenty of evidence for that) and that she’d continue doing good work, bringing her passion to any organization she led and hiring the creative talent she needed to make things happen.
Caitlin was admitted to Tuck, Duke, Yale, Kellogg, HBS and Stanford, many of these with scholarships.
Caitlin, your apps are living proof that real passion trumps ‘telling them what you think they wanna hear’ any day. Adcoms can easily see through reverse-engineered apps and goals, but genuine enthusiasm is contagious.