Part II: Your Chances of Getting In

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by John A. Byrne on

What are your chances of getting into one of the best MBA programs in the world?

That question struck a responsive chord with readers last week in a story entitled “Handicapping Your Shot At a Top Business School.” The article presented half a dozen composite profiles of typical MBA applicants and then enlisted Sanford “Sandy” Kreisberg, founder of MBA admissions consulting firm HBSGuru, to assess the odds of success of each candidate.

We also promised readers who left their own stats that we would ask Kreisberg to come back and give us his take on their chances. The unprecedented response from readers to the article, the most-viewed story on Poets&Quants in the past week, will result in yet another analysis to be published next week (so keep the profiles coming).

One thing to keep in mind: Reading a handful of stats and random attributes of a would-be MBA candidate is like reading tea leaves. There’s no science and a lot of art to this process. Without the benefit of having all the details of an applicant’s candidacy, it’s not possible to say with total certainty what the exact odds for any one person might be.

Nonetheless, Kreisberg’s judgment carries a lot of weight. Since becoming a full-time admissions consultant in 1995, he has seen and interviewed thousands of candidates who want to get into the very top schools. He knows who has made it and who hasn’t, and he’s willing to share that knowledge here.

Sandy’s verdict:

Mr. State Legislature (FlyMonk321)


  • 740 GMAT
  • 2.89 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in physics/sociology from a near Ivy public university
  • Work experience in a state legislature
  • Extracurricular involvement in political campaigns

Odds of Success
Harvard Business School: 20%
Michigan: 50%
Duke: 60%
Texas: 70%
North Carolina: 65%

Sandy’s Analysis: “Harvard Business School takes pols, but usually from the White House or the Treasury Department, and those kids usually have stellar records at Ivies and superb schmoozing abilities. Your chances at other schools you note depend on what your actual role is in the state legislature, what state (is it a state in which the school is located?), and who can push buttons for you. If none of that, GMAT might neutralize GPA and with sharp execution on your applications, you stand a chance at several of these schools.”


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Air Time - Comments
  • Gustavo Acosta

    Hi John and Sandy,

    I finished the GMATs recently, so I missed the first round of applications, but am going for the 2nd and these are my face-value stats:

    GMAT – 710
    GPA – 3.28 from a flagship state school double majoring in Poli Sci and History
    Language – Studied Arabic while in undergrad, abroad while teaching, and in an intensive course the top university in Africa.
    Professional experience- 1.5 years teaching, 3 years in the language services industry in project management and as an HR recruitment specialist.
    Additional- Solid extracurricular leadership roles.

    My target schools are:
    Notre Dame

    Any insight into my chances with these or what else I can do would be truly appreciated!

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