Part II: Your Chances of Getting In

by John A. Byrne on

Ms. Peace Corps (cp)

  • 750 GMAT
  • 3.74 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree from a near-Ivy public university
  • Work experience as a Peace Corps business advisor in Honduras with two and one-half years as a strategy consultant with Deloitte Consulting
  • Extracurricular involvement as a three-time All-American women’s rugby player and a one-time USA under-23 team member
  • Minimal volunteering, but nothing too exciting.

Odds of Success

Harvard Business School: Better than 50%
Stanford: Better than 50%
Wharton (Lauder program): 60%
Chicago: 70% to 80%
Kellogg: 60% to 80%

Sandy’s Analysis: “H/S/W could happen. You check all the boxes, and everyone loves the Peace Corps. Also Deloitte is a known feeder to the schools you’ve selected, especially the business analyst program. And extraordinary athletic success is always a plus. Is Deloitte sponsoring you?”

Mr. Hampton (Hampton’s Finest)

(He’s already applied and is going to the University of Virginia’s Darden School, but requests feedback as to why he didn’t get into Harvard, Stanford and Wharton.)

  • 660 GMAT
  • 3.5 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree from a state school
  • Work experience in a non-glamorous industry

Odds of Success

Rejected by Harvard
Rejected by Stanford
Rejected by Wharton
Waitlisted at Dartmouth Tuck
Full ride at Virginia Darden

Sandy’s Analysis: “Sounds right to me. Your dreams can come true at Darden, and you did better than I would have predicted there so you must have something going for you.”


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  • gbits

    Hey Sandy /John ,
    Thanks in Advance .My Stats :
    GMAT :680
    GPA : 3.4 (in US terms)
    Masters in Mathematics and Bachelors in Computer Science from Bits-pilani (India)
    Work Ex : Application Engineer at Oracle .
    Tried running a tech start-up .. almost failed (long story !)
    Extra -curricular – Represented our state twice at National level volleyball tourney.Co-founder of sports clubs at Oracle.Member of an NGO that runs night school for the underprivileged children.
    Aiming for :Ross,Duke,Virginia, Kellogg,Stanford

  • HN

    Dear Sandy & John,

    These two articles are indeed been the most informative articles I have read on this topic (believe me I have read a lot).

    I believe my profile is closest to the first brother from India:

    Iranian born&raised US naturalized citizen – Moved to the US in 2002

    High school valedictorian
    BS in Civil Eng. – UCLA – 3.8/3.45 (Major/Overall) in 2008
    MS in Civil Eng. – Stanford – 3.95 in March 2010
    GMAT: 730 (Q51/V38 – V is 81%) AWA 6

    3x 3 mo summer civil eng. internships in private and public offices
    1x 6 mo fellowship @ US General Services Admin in DC during my MS + one publication
    1yr5mo @ my current job – a mid-size construction company specializing in public transportation – Work as project engineer on a $200M+ rail project
    (I admit the job is not very selective neither too challenging at least to my standards)

  • HN

    Mentoring a civil eng. course + Coaching a student competition group, both @ Stanford
    Supervise 2 interns at work – will have 5-10 direct reports in a couple of months when field operations start
    TA ed 4-5 courses at Stanford
    Lead various student groups in regional and national competitions both at Stanford & UCLA

    One of my app’s soft spots will be letter of rec since I can’t tell anyone at my work. My letters will be from an Industry mentor at Stanford, Chair of Civil eng department @ Stanford and my boss from GSA.

    I am debating between getting a sexier job (large consulting firms) and applying this year. Can you please advise?

    For what it is worth, my reason for MBA is to change career path and be more on the finance side of large infrastructure projects.

    Appreciate your kindness in advance.

  • Paul

    GMAT: 750
    Undergraduate: Kenyan University
    GPA 4.0
    BSc (First Class Honors): Valedictorian
    GPA 3.0
    MBchB (Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery)

    Founded a company and grew it to more than 80 clients in two years
    Student leader
    Involved in Hiv/ AIDS advocacy

    Would like to get into healthcare venture capital for the developing markets

  • Andrew

    Can you do one for an very intelligent, but otherwise average Caucasian male? I go to a top 50 private school (not Ivy), have a 4.0 cumulative, and anticipate a high GMAT score. But I’m a white, male, finance/econ major with no incredible volunteer/entrepreuner accomplishments that lived a comfortable, stable childhood with well-to-do parents. Do I have any shot at M7?

  • Adam S.

    Hi. Could you analyse my chances at one of the US top 30 B-schools like Tepper, Fisher, Smeal and similar with a shot at financial aid? Thanks in advance.
    GMAT 680. GPA 3.2( rough estimate). Undergrad Bachelor of Engg in electronics from an avg Indian Uni.
    Work exp:
    Helped my father in his real estate business and helped in planning a construction business (which didn’t materialize.)
    1 yr exp as business analyst at Northern Trust’s back office.
    Currently working in sales for a distributor for Schneider products in the middle east.
    Extracurriculars: editor for college magazine. Volunteer work for an NGO in public health, photography club association.
    Indian male, 25yrs old, speak basic Arabic in addition to Hindi and Urdu.

  • Adam S.

    post MBA goal: client facing role in power/aviation industry.

  • FHS

    This seems fantastic, and while there are a few people who match me, none who do exactly, so here goes:

    GMAT: 760
    GPA: 3.5
    College: Top Ivy
    Work experience: One year in Thailand teaching through fellowship program, one year getting my sea legs in Washington as a journalist, 3 and a half years in journalism now in fourth position at top Washington publication (money-making for-profit well-known inside DC) covering budget.
    Extracurriculars: Sunday school teacher and church leader, volunteer ESL teacher, fund-raiser for college
    Blonde female, late-twenties
    thanks for any help you can give me on chances for H/W/S, Yale, Dartmouth.

  • R. Kennedy


    I’ve chosen a career of philanthropy but want to maximize my potential for success in the field and bringing real results to the sector. I struggled in undergrad. but am dedicated to excelling in a top program! What would you say about me…?

    GMAT: 670+

    GPA: 2.8

    University: BA Communications, College of Charleston

    Professional: Volunteer (Dominican Republic) & HQ (DC) Peace Corps, Fellow -Clinton Foundation, Program Manager – World Food Programme (Liberia), Regional Advocacy Officer – World VIsion International (El Salvador/Panama)

    Extracurricular: Student Government President, Clinton Global Initiative Delegate, Youth Development Trainer, Founded non-profit organization.

    Other Stats:
    First Generation
    African American
    Mid 20’s
    Social Entrepreneurship Interest

    Programs of Interest (w/ full or partial scholarship):
    U. Oxford (SAID)
    London Business School

  • Hassan

    Dear Sandy & John,

    Could you kindly run an analysis on a bloke from a third world country with a low GPA and the best experience his country can afford.

    GMAT: 710
    GPA : 3.15
    Bachelors degree in Chemical Eng. from a University in Pakistan.
    7 years work experience in operations management, risk engineering and business continuity planning at the biggest Oil company in the country. (Joint venture with shell)
    Extra curricular involvement in art, CSR projects, flood & earthquake relief activities.


  • dreamcatcher

    Dear Sandy & John,


    I would really appreciate your help in analyzing my profile:

    GMAT: 740 (Q: 50 V: 39 AWA: 4)
    Bachelors degree in Chemical Engineering from IIT-Delhi
    GPA : 2.7/4 (6.7/10)
    5.5 years work experience (2.5 as software developer and 3 years as web-consultant)
    Currently Leading the client delivery as an engagement manager for web-consulting profile in a start-up

    Extra curricular: Guitar (lead guitarist for the band) and trekking

    Really thankful for your help in advance! :)

  • http://- Jatin Mehta

    Hi John/Sandy,

    Can you plz help me out on choosing among the options to apply . below is my profile:

    Acad: Engineer with Mechanical stream 8.3/10 CGPA
    GMAT 760
    Prof. Experience: Would complete 5 years of experience in Supply Chain Management( Sourcing , purchasing, procurement etc..) with India’s Automobile leader and Ford Motors.
    Decent extracuricular as part of several dramatics, sports and cultural platforms.

    Post MBA aspirations: Aspire a career in Strategic consultancy, business development stream with reputed firms
    I need to choose two where I have best chances to get thru…among the options like the HBS, Stan, Kellog, Chicago, Dartmouth, tuck, columbia, NYU, Cornell, MIT…..??? PLzzzzzzzz help

  • Amy


    Would love to get a realistic sense of my chances at the following schools, given my sponsorship status and focus on healthcare/life sciences: Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Kellogg, Chicago, NYU, Columbia

    – 700 GMAT (will be retaking, looking for 740+)
    – 3.25 GPA
    – Biology and Economics double major from Ivy
    – 5 years (at matriculation) of strategy consulting experience, first at a small Life sciences boutique and then at a Top 5 firm specializing in Life Sciences; 3 promotions total in 3.5 years to date despite firm change; significant team and thought leadership role; extensive participation in firm activities
    – MBA will be sponsored by my current company (not sure if that helps/hurts)
    – Extracurriculars: Long track record of mentorship activities (Freshman mentor, women is science mentor, teaching assistant, and career office mentor as a college student – high school student academic mentor (weekly commitment during school year), women in business mentor (for college students at my alma mater), and participant on multiple consulting-related panels post-college. Also work as a coordinator and fund raiser for an animal advocacy organization.
    – Goal is to develop greater leadership, management, and relationship development skills to support my path to Partner at a major management consulting firm, focused on Life Sciences (pharmaceutical, biotech). I would be pursuing the healthcare-related programs that most of these schools offer.

  • Jed Ng

    Good day John and Sandy,

    I’d like an assessment of my prospects:

    Background: Singaporean Male, 31 with significant time spent in Canada

    GMAT: 730, AWA: 6

    – 3.5 from Simon Fraser University, Canada. Joint Major Business and Economics
    – Concentrations in International Business and Financa
    – Dean’s Honor Roll twice

    – 3 years as Ramp Supervisor at Vancouver International Airport as a student
    – 2 years as a private university tutor as a student
    – 5 years with the same company since graduation with demonstrable progression: (1) contracted out as project coordinator and promoted to asst. project manager within 6 months, (2) Functioned as sales manager for 2 years following project, (3) promoted to Business Development Director in late 2010
    – Consultant Expert to US Law firm for damages recovery from previous project experience since June 2011.

    Extracurricular: Limited formal extracurricular involvement but an avid rockclimber that has also allowed me to pursue my desire for travel.

    Target Schools:
    London Business School
    IE Business School

    Post MBA Aspirations:
    – Venture Capitalism
    – Consulting, Strategy and Mergers & Acquisitions.

  • Eddie Pugmire

    Hi John and Sandy,

    Could you give me a quick assessment as well? I’d really appreciate it (don’t know if you still do these)

    Background: British/Chinese Male (US/UK dual citizen), 25, studied abroad in Hong Kong (Hong Kong University of Science and Technology) for a term and in Canada for the other terms

    GMAT: 730, AWA: 5~6

    3.3 GPA from McGill University in Canada (3.5 Major GPA)
    Major in International Business (East Asian Focus) and Concentration in Finance

    Professional ( I did not include undergraduate internships, one which was abroad in Hong Kong where I helped organize a partnership between the Philippines Department of Tourism and Hong Kong Travel Agencies):
    2+ years of work at Bloomberg, one of the head trainers in North America for derivatives and structured notes analysis, portfolio analysis, and fundamental company analysis
    Self taught VBA programming code, designed now permanent templates open to global customers on Bloomberg system (with own initiative)

    Extracurricular: 50+ recorded  hours dedicated (this year alone) to public charities. For which my company donated 5000$ ($100 for each hour) to a charity of my choice.
    10 years pianist

    London Business School
    MIT Sloan

    Thanks very much, also, this is just a sanity check. I literally just got my GMAT scores and can still build my application over the next couple of years so suggestions are always wonderful…

    Really appreciate what you are doing here,

  • Kerry Francis

    So, what is the point of all the MBA schools? Seems like they are targeting the folks who are already skilled in business? What do they teach then if they get the best people already in the industry? If you want to learn, then they won’t take you?

  • Life

    I always wonder that myself but like in undergrad, you don’t go to Princeton to become great, you go there because you were great to begin with

  • Mercedes

    Is UT McCombs considered a near-ivy state school?

  • JohnAByrne

    I would consider UT a public ivy, along with Michigan, UVA, Berkeley, UNC and UCLA.

  • Vikasbarca


    I am thinking about doing an MBA.

    I will have 4 years of work experience (In India) when ill join.

    I have 1 year in a startup
    1 year in a Small to medium enterprise
    and 2 Years in Strategy consulting in KPMG

    I got a BS in Mechnanical Engineering 3.26 GPA (Cum Laude)
    My GMAT is 730 (q 49, v 40)
    What are my chances of getting into


  • Bill

    Dear John and Sandy,

    I would like to apply this Oct to Kellog JD/MBA, MIT, Haas, and Wharton. Any thought you may have would be greatly appreciated.

    GMAT – 690
    Undergrad – Finance, u of Colorado Boulder. 3.4 overall GPA, 3.75 Business
    Work – 4 years insurance underwriting and brokerage of unique tech/media/cyber product. 4 promotions, unique depth of perspective (in addition to being a leader in sales, I also contributed to a 4 person team to re-write our policy forms, worked with actuaries on alternative methods of analysis, significant business travel and public speaking
    Extracurricular – I am an eagle scout, have 2 significant insurance prof. designations, love to travel (speak spanish and some german), volunteer in marketing for a friends natural foods company, and have done volunteer research for energy efficiency projects with various local SF groups.
    Recommendations – direct boss, prior boss, university profs, clients, 3rd party lawyers we work with regularly.

    Goal – I aspire to ge a leader in the industry. Promotion beyond c suite requires advanced degree. CEO’s are nearly all MBA’s, PhD’s with actuary, finance, or consultant background. Its a titanic industry that is driven through the rear view mirror. My work has given me insight into hseek the technical, critical thinking, and decision making skills necessary to lead the industry better adjust to the tempo of todays world and the evolving sorts of risks we face.

  • James P

    What are my chances for W/H/S?

    First-gen college student who went to tier-three school

    Magna Cum Laude, economics medal

    780 GMAT, Q51

    2.5 yrs working in corporate finance at one of the largest investment banks in the world (a feeder), 2 promotions

    Data analysis for charity for 3 years (helping non-profits and small businesses)

  • TooBeFair

    No profile of black males? Here is me:
    -690 GMAT (47Q, 37V, 8IR, 6W)
    -3.3 GPA, Duke University, Psychology (Econ minor)
    -Analyst Dev Program at Capital One, then High Level Government Finance (rec from cabinet secretary), 4 years experience by time of enrollment
    -Black Male

    Any shot at Stanford whatsoever?

  • Already Applied but Curious

    hi there Sandy or John

    if youve the time id love to have my chances reviewed so here goes:
    applying to hbs, wharton, johnson, darden, yale, fuqua & gtown

    – 640 GRE quant [never took GMAT]
    – worked for nasa for 8mo [left for grad school. no gap]
    – phd in bio from lower ivy [last 5 years of my life were phd made up of 2y coursework & 3y research. also govt work is my only nonacademic work]. research moderately heavy in quant stuffs
    – 3.2 grad gpa
    – extraC: VP of largest minority led student program at the grad ivy; taught at prison on & off; fencer since 12 yo
    – 27yo inner city black female
    – career switch. hoping to break into consulting by first doing science or technical consulting then slip into wider range of consulting. looooooooong term goal? govt policy consulting with reference to science initiatives

  • Sud

    Hi Sandy,
    I am looking forward to applying to top 5 MBA schools in the US for the Class of 2015.

    School: Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), India (GPA – 3.3)
    GMAT: 760
    Extra Currics: 2 time student representative of the institute. Founded the Business Club for the school and ran it successfully.

    Work Ex: 2 years + work ex at Seattle based start-up in their Indian office. Joined as Software Developer and got promoted as the youngest Product Manager in the company.
    Internships at India’s largest FMCG firm and a notable educational start-up.

    Do you think I have any chance ??

  • Chamvari


    I would love to assess my chances of getting into Harvard, Stanford, Wharton and LBS.

    – 710 GMAT
    – Undergrad Accounting major (GPA 3.1)

    – Chartered Accountant South Africa as well as England and Wales (ICAEW)
    – Currently Employed as a Finance Manager for a large multinational mining concern
    – 7 years working experience at a managerial level

    – Average Extra curricula activities

  • Oscar Rodríguez DelaVega


    I would love to know the chances I have to enter a top MBA program. My information is:
    -27 Mexican
    -730 GMAT (49Q,41V)
    -4.00 GPA
    -107 TOEFL
    -Bachelor in Business Administration and Finance
    -1.5 years in a small Construction Management Firm, and 3 years in BBVA, the biggest bank in México. I’m currently working as Director or Segmentation and Analysis of Work Forces, being the youngest director in the bank.
    -Extracurriculars: 5 Missions in some of the poorest regions of Mexico. Taking care of children, helping in the organization of religios events and in the construction of a clinic.
    Give a workshop on how to develop a family budget to beneficiaries of social assistance programs in the state of Oaxaca
    -Goals: Work in a consultant firm, specially in corporate strategy in other country appart of Mexico.
    I plan to apply to Harvard, MIT, Chicago and Tuck

    Thanks in advance!

  • Roger Dave

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  • AY14

    – 720 GMAT
    – 3.02 undergrad GPA from a high caliber private school
    – B.S. in chemical engineering
    – work experience in business at multinational corporation in consumer packaged goods

    what are my chances at H/S/W, Booth, Kellogg?

  • Dr. 3

    Hi John/Sandy;

    I am currently applying to top-tier and second-tier business schools. I have a BA in theoretical Mathematics/Physics from Brandeis University but my final GPA was below a 3.0, because I failed to go to my history courses and received an F in 1997. Afterwards, I
    worked for one year on Wall Street and decided that was not my true ambition in life. Thus, I applied to several top business schools on the east coast, and also engineering schools in Colorado and Louisiana. I was declined admission into Yale and Dartmouth Business schools, but was gladly accepted to all engineering schools which I submitted an application.

    I received a scholarship to Tulane University School of Engineering in 1998 and completed my Master’s in Electrical Engineering in 2000 with a gpa of 3.55. In 2000, I worked at UCLA in a Neuroscience lab as a programmer/analyst on MRI and Brain Atlas data. The
    neuroscientist whom I worked for convinced me to get my PhD. I contacted
    Tulane University in 2001 and received a fellowship to complete my
    Doctorate in Engineering.

    This system of events centered around the tragedy of 911, and the CIA, Dept.
    of Defense, and the National Labs were looking for American graduate
    students in engineering and computer science to work on projects related
    to defense. I received an offer from one of the prestigious National Labs on the West Coast in agreement that I would complete my PhD research on fuel cell technology while I also worked on a clean fusion project simultaneously.

    In 2005, I received my PhD from Tulane Univ. and was promoted to Project Manager at the National Lab. My gpa for my PhD was a 3.66. and I received numerous publications on the
    clean fusion project and was a recipient of the R & D 100 Award in 2008.

    During 2008 my ex-wife only got accepted into Med. School in
    Southern California, so I resigned from the National Lab to serve as a
    devoted husband. In the middle of 2008, I received a lucrative offer
    from another government defense agency in Los Angeles, CA.. , as a senior scientist. However after my divorce in 2010, I only to remained at the defense agency until 2011 and moved back to Louisianato be with my mother (whom was very ill) until her death in 2013.

    In May of 2013, I moved back to the east coast to be near extended family.
    However, I knew I did not want to remain as a grunt engineer for the
    duration of my career, particularly being in my mid-thirties. Thus, I
    began going to MIT Sloan Business School library after church on Sundays
    and started reading about cybersecurity. I applied to several cybersecurity Master’s programs on the east coast and was immediately accepted from all of the universities. However, I truly knew in my heart that I wanted to receive an MBA from a top-tier school.

    Since my mother’s death in 2013, a series of events have opened some doors for
    me. The first was I received a book contract based on my dissertation
    research at the National Lab. The second was a publication in digital
    forensics/cybersecurity and the third was another publication in brain
    computer interface technology and the Hadoop Ecosystem. My gpa in the
    cybersecurity program is approximately a 3.5. The reason I wanted to
    pursue a advanced degree in cybersecurity was based on my experience
    working for the government for over a decade. Meaning what good is an
    MBA or law degree if a hacker can easily steal information from a
    company or agency because the executives are too busy being arrogant and
    deciding where to cut the budget when a security breach happens,…
    costing millions of dollars (i.e. Target Breach in 2014).

    Currently, I am almost finished with my second Master’s degree in cybersecurity
    and I am applying to top-tier Ivy league universities for my MBA. Additionally, I also joined the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) to demonstrate I had other extracurricular activities besides going to the gym and attending church.

    Therefore , based upon this post what is my likelihood of being accepted into Harvard or another top-tier business school?

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