Your Chances of Getting In

by John A. Byrne on

He’s a Naval officer whose work brought him into intense and sometimes dangerous situations. He grew up in Europe, lived in Japan, and has a working knowledge of Italian.

She’s a first generation grad from a highly ranked liberal arts college who speaks five languages. After spending a couple of years in the Peace Corps, she now works as an economic consultant.

He’s a self-taught computer programmer who launched and ran a failed Internet startup. The top student in his university’s economics department, he also has been published in The New York Times.

A self-styled “do-gooder,” she doubled majored in philosophy and economics at Wellesley and now works as an innovation analyst in the IT department of a large healthcare concern.

She’s a minority business journalist who has worked for magazines and newspapers in New York. She also tutors high school students.

He’s a consultant from India with a 740 score on the GMAT but a 3.2 grade point average from the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology.

Are they long shots or sure things for a Harvard, Stanford, or Wharton? What about Dartmouth, Kellogg, Chicago, or Columbia?

Sanford “Sandy” Kreisberg, founder of MBA admissions consulting firm HBSGuru, is back again to analyze these and a few other profiles of actual MBA applicants who have shared their vital statistics with Poets&Quants.

And this time, Sandy is at his irreverent best, even quoting lyrics from the Eagles’ tune Desperado to describe what he considers the plight of one MBA wannabe who he thinks lacks the right stuff for Harvard and Stanford.

As he has in the past, Kreisberg again handicaps each potential applicant’s odds of getting into a top-ranked business school. If you include your own stats and characteristics in the comments (please add your age and be clear on the sequence of your jobs in relaying work experience), we’ll pick a half dozen or more and have Kreisberg assess your chances in a follow-up feature next week.

Yet another reminder: 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 judgments carry 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 tell-it-like-it-is analysis:

Mr. Tweener (Qoet5)

  • 690 GMAT
  • 3.75 Grade Point Average
  • Undergraduate degree in finance from a non-reputable university
  • Work experience at Google with strong career progression over three and one-half years
  • Led finance club during school and has very strong extracurricular involvement during and after university
  • Odds of Success
    Harvard Business School: 30% to 40%
    Stanford: Less than 30%
    Wharton: 40% to 50%
    Chicago: Better than 50%
    Kellogg: Better than 50%
    Columbia: 40%

    Sandy’s Analysis: Your chances at Wharton are 50/50 given your okay GPA, your lowish GMAT (especially for them), and strong extracurriculars, plus the Google premium. Schools like kids who work at Google because so much case study and entrepreneurship revolves around Google issues. Plus, getting a job there is a coup because it’s so selective.

    Not sure what you mean by non-reputable university, though. Mail order? If you mean a state school, that is okay. The fact you got a job at Google cures a lot of sins, if indeed there was need of a cure in the first place. As for Chicago, Kellogg, Columbia, and the usual B-school totem pole, your chances are good if you convince them you want to come and your goal story and experience jive. Guys like you can also get into Harvard Business School (HBS) if your extracurriculars are really impressive.

    Not sure how many times you took the GMAT, but if you took it again and got a 710, you would really firm up your chances at Wharton and other places. Age might be an issue at Wharton, but they take guys with four and one-half years of work experience at matriculation.

    1 2 3 4 5
    • Love to get a reply!

      25 year old Indian American –
      lived abroad in the United Kingdom for five years
      Fluent in French, Gujarati, Hindi
      Undergraduate degree in Economics from Northwestern (took classes in Microeconomics and Macroeconomics, Statistics, Accounting, Marketing Management, Learning and Organizational Theory and Behavior, Financial Investments, Corporate Finance, Public Finance, Intermediate Composition, etc)
      Overall GPA: 3.51; Econ GPA: 3.55
      GMAT: 710
      Work Experience: 3 years as an Investment Analyst of Structured Securities for a major commercial bank/investment bank that merged; additionally currently working on an online ecommerce website for parent’s technology products business on the weekends
      Extracurricular activities: on the alumni board for my boarding school; worked on the corporate side of my university’s newspaper; volunteered at my company’s pga golf tournament; served as a treasurer and later vice president of my college dormitory; habitat for humanity as well
      want to transition to management consulting
      Applying to:

      Would love to know what schools you may think are the best fit.


      * 760 GMAT
      *AGE :22
      *3.0 GPA (in U.S. terms)
      * Undergraduate degree from mechanical engineering-2011(non-iit)

      * Work experience :1) At age18 started a start up, ranked among top 10 best start ups in year 2009 .

      2)working for a member of parliament and regional party(India) in a separate state formation.(active 2007-2011)

      3) worked as a local organizer for India aviation international for govt of INDIA on behalf of Federation of Indian chambers and commerce in 2008 &10 for 3 straight months.

      4)leadership follower in of the leading non profit organizations in Hyderabad,India.(week ends)

      evaluate chances at:
      University of California at Berkeley: Haas
      University of Michigan: Ross



      sorry for the grammatical mistakes, i’m drunk.

    • Ms.Indian First Gen

      Hi Sandy

      Request you to evaluate my profile!

      First generation Indian female to go to college

      710 GMAT
      Undergrad in business; GPA – 4.0 (Top Indian University)
      Started a small venture creating accessories and gift items, employing women from marginalized and economically backward communities; ran it for two and a half years ( one and a half year during college and one year after college) subsequently closed it due lack of appetite to absorb further losses
      Post Grad in Finance; GPA – 4.0 (Top Indian University)
      Charter holder- CAIA, USA (Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst)
      Pursuing CFA, USA

      3 month Internship at Fortune 500 Conglomerate
      6 month supervised training & project in social infrastructure at Big four Consulting
      Currently working at a Leading Global Credit Rating Agency (2yrs+); Fast career progression; Also working on firm’s strategy with the MD & CEO

      Lead Compere at the various events throughout academic life
      Undergrad – Student Secretary & Festival coordinator
      Post grad – Elected Student Representative, Career Services; Seminar Coordinator; Founder member, Alumni Advisory council
      Volunteered at a small NGO aimed at imparting primary education to girls from economically weaker sections of the society
      Volunteer at CAIA Foundation; entails assisting the foundation in selecting female candidates for scholarships

      Please evaluate my chances for –
      Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Chicago Booth,Tuck, Kellogg, MIT, Columbia


    • Ms. Third World Country – CSR

      Hi Sandy,

      Thanks for evaluating all the different profiles, I think mine is a little different from the ones you have evaluated so far, and would really like your opinion on my chances of getting in..

      Age: 26
      Country: Colombia
      Gender: Female

      GMAT: 700 (first and only try)
      TOEFL: 119/120
      GPA: 3.7

      - Master in Industrial Engineering, from Colombia’s most Prestigious University – received a complete scholarship for being ranked one of Colombia’s Top 10 graduating Industrial Engineers of 2008.
      - Undergrad: Double majored in Economics and Industrial Engineering, from colombia’s most prestigious University

      Work experience:
      - 3,5 years working for a social entrepreneurship which has won several international awards. I started out as a Research Analyst and I am currently General Manager for Colombia.

      I am very interested in Impact Investment and CSR (I am certified in CSR Consulting). And after the MBA I plan to help give a general management perspective to CSR initiatives especially in third world countries.

      Others: I speak Spanish and English and have an intermediate French and Portuguese level. I also mentor first generation college students on choosing career paths and creating a career plan.

      I´m interested in applying to Harvard, Stanford and Wharton (as top choices) I’m also interested in Chicago and Columbia..

      Thank You..

    • SGreen

      Hi John/Sandy,

      Thanks for doing the profile evaluations. Really helpful in revealing where one stands.

      I submitted my profile earlier, but thought I’d provide a few more details if it helps.

      Thanks again!

      - 750 GMAT (48,46)

      - Undergrad: UK Ivy (UCL, LSE, etc)
      Overall 3.2-3.3 GPA (2:1 in UK terms) in Economics, but fluctuating grades (including a F in calculus) largely due to illness. Taking a calculus course now for alternative transcript.
      - 3.5 years co-running a small but international live entertainment (theatre/comedy) production and marketing company (rose from employee to partner).
      - Former male model (not sure if this helps or hinders me!)
      - Age: 28
      - Sex: male.
      - Nationality: British (but mixed British/Indian ethnicity)
      - Extracurricular: regularly do pro bono work and offer internships/mentoring to inner-city school students.
      Looking at:
      and any others you might recommend.

      Ideally looking for some scholarship money to help offset tuition.

    • btown

      Hi Sandy – would appreciate any advice in the below (another startup guy profile)

      24 yr old
      700 GMAT
      Work – 1 yr at mid-tier investment bank, 2 yrs in strategy/corp dev/jack of all trades role for a prominent start up (Zynga, Groupon, Facebook, Gilt Groupe) – work closely with CEO/Founder and would likely get strong recommendations
      School – top 50 school (doesn’t normally send anyone to wall street)
      Little bit of volunteer work on the side, but nothing major

      Aiming for HBS/Dartmouth/Stanford – story for why bschool would be going to VC


    • Impact Investor

      Hi John and Sandy,

      Many thanks for running this series. Super work ! It has become a must read. Offers really helpful insights and “dirty little secrets of the admissions game”.

      I am submitting my profile for your evaluation. Kindly consider.

      29 Years, Indian Male, Studied and worked in India

      720 GMAT

      Undergrad: Indian Non-IIT Engg. College
      -Overall 3.2 GPA (first two years pretty low, last two years very high—Family issues during first two years) Electronics & Communication Engineering
      -Recipient of Best research project award
      -Published in IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineer), USA (This is top Peer reviewed journal)
      - Extracurricular: Political Editor at College Newspaper, Cultural Festival organizer, established photography club, Participated in various college festivals and won numerous awards, Led college cricket team (Cricket is India’s most popular sport)

      Grad: Best Indian University (Masters in Finance)
      -Overall 3.8 GPA
      -Recipient of Best research project award
      -Extracurricular: President, Graduate student board (very successful stint – recognized by Profs and Alums for this), Organized numerous academic seminars, established movie club, Participated in various college festivals and won numerous awards, established relationship of the school with a non-profit.

      Professional Certifications:

      CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst), USA
      CAIA (Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst), USA
      FRM (Financial Risk Manager), USA

      Work Ex:

      - 2 years Investment Banking Analyst with bulge bracket firm (Firm was number 1 in India for those two years)
      - 1 year at the development practice of a Big 4
      - 1.5 years at the private investment arm of World Bank
      - Extracurricular: Involved with a global non-profit focused on education and career awareness for marginalized children
      - Serious non-professional photographer: Multiple exhibitions and awards, covered by the biggest Indian newspaper and many other media outlets, regularly visit schools and colleges to display work (focused on overlooked corners of our heritage), talk to students to raise their awareness and create interest

      Want to work in VC/PE initially and start an impact investment firm in the long run

      Please evaluate my chances for following schools:


      Many thanks for your time and consideration.

    • Mr. Mechanical Engineer

      Mr. Mechanical Engineer

      25 year old, Hispanic Male

      740 GMAT

      BS Mechanical Engineering – USC – GPA: 3.35
      MS Mechanical Engineering – USC – GPA: 3.85

      Licensed Professional Engineer (ME), State of California
      Associate of Society of Actuaries

      Work Experience:
      5 years at Chevron as a facilities engineer

      Please evaluate my chances for following schools:


    • Mr. Resilient

      Dear Sanford,

      The following is an overview of my MBA application. I would be grateful if you could assess my chances of getting to to top programs like Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Chicago booth, Columbia, Insead and LBS.

      28.5 year Indian Male
      GMAT: 720 (49, 39), AWA 5
      Born and brought in India. Studied in Dubai for 2 years. Worked in India and Abu Dhabi for 9 months and 3.5 years respectively.

      Undergraduate GPA 3.8 (BBA from an unknown college in India)
      PGDM (Post graduate diploma in management) 3.5/5 (Well know program ranked among top 10-15 in India)
      CFA – Charted Financial Analyst (US)
      FRM – Financial Risk Manager (US)
      CAIA – Certified Alternative Investment Analyst – Level 1 cleared. One more level to go (US)

      Work Experience
      9 months as a Senior Research Analyst in a subsidiary of S&P group in India
      2 years 3 months as a Financial Analyst in a boutique private equity firm in Abu Dhabi
      1 year 3 months as a Portfolio analyst in a well know family office in Abu Dhabi

      Extra curricular
      Volunteering as a Treasurer at the CFA Emirates Institute in UAE
      Member of Red Crescent
      Played cricket at school and college level

      Reason for MBA: Reach the next level, faster career progress, Networking, Change of location.

      Best regards

    • Mr. BBA

      GMAT: 680
      GPA: 3.7

      BBA (MIS) from a top 10 undergrad business school at reputable state school.

      Member of varsity athletics team during college. Since I was at a big state school in a major conference, this was a huge time/energy commitment.

      5 years WE at Accenture (financial services).

      Leadership positions in local chapter of undergraduate alumni association.

      Plan to study finance.

      McCombs (Texas)
      Darden (Virginia)
      Fuqua (Duke)
      Boothe (Chicago)

    • Mr Peace Corps


      GPA: 4.0
      University of South Carolina Honors College
      #1 ranked international business program
      3 majors and one minor
      Study Abroad
      Virtually no extra curriculars
      Only college graduate in family history (including extended family)

      GMAT: haven’t taken it yet but assume a 710.

      Work Experience:

      1 year as freelance business consultant
      2 years as business advising/economic development volunteer in Peace Corps
      plan to work 1 year in relevant big name non profit or non MBB consulting before applying


      Volunteer consulting for small non-profit
      Volunteered for handicap person
      Junior Achievement Volunteer Instructor & brought program to local community

      Goals: will make firm choice between non profit, foundations, CSR, or non profit consulting as a short term gaol and either social venture capital or social entrepreneurship as a long term goal.

      Recommendations: decent but nothing amazing
      Essays: likely very good with compelling stories including cross cultural, strong desire for making positive impact in the world post mba backed up by previous actions, wilderness survival story
      Interview: assume average

      Would ideally do dual degree with MPA-nonprofit or international development or do lauder program

      Kenan Flagler
      London Business School
      IESE (Spain)

    • nikhil chawla

      Great article as always!

    • Interested to hear your thoughts!

      Here’s my story, very interested to hear your thoughts!!

      Undergrad major in engineering (minor in Economics) from top 10 university.
      Very poor GPA – as in 2.5
      But, wasn’t wasting my time, built and ran a start-up through college (worked with some big companies as clients); as well as ran the two largest student groups on campus. Extensive record of leadership and extra-curricular. Can get recommendation from the engineering school dean itself.

      GMAT is 730.

      Joined one of the world’s largest advertising agencies on graduation (everyone has heard of them) through their entry-level leadership rotation program, and still working there.

      Fastest-rising career progression in the company among peers (work on 10-12 year experience level).

      Asked to move abroad in a newly created role to help bring in new types of revenue in Europe, reporting directly to regional head of the department.

      Can get recommendation from our worldwide CEO.

      Question is – does my extremely poor GPA hold me back from applying to Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Kellogg, Columbia, MIT? Or can my good GMAT score, record of entrepreneurship, leadership, extra-curricular achievement, and now, progression in a big company overlook the low GPA?

      Many thanks for your help.

    • Interested to hear your thoughts!

      Here’s my story, very interested to hear your thoughts!!

      27-year old Indian male (5 years of work experience), brought up half in India/ half in the US.

      Undergrad major in engineering (minor in Economics) from top 10 university.
      Very poor GPA – as in 2.5
      But, wasn’t wasting my time, built and ran a start-up through college (worked with some big companies as clients); as well as ran the two largest student groups on campus. Extensive record of leadership and extra-curricular. Can get recommendation from the engineering school dean itself.

      GMAT is 730.

      Joined one of the world’s largest advertising agencies on graduation (everyone has heard of them) through their entry-level leadership rotation program, and still working there.

      Fastest-rising career progression in the company among peers (work on 10-12 year experience level).

      Asked to move abroad in a newly created role to help bring in new types of revenue in Europe, reporting directly to regional head of the department.

      Can get recommendation from our worldwide CEO.

      Question is – does my extremely poor GPA hold me back from applying to Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Kellogg, Columbia, MIT? Or can my good GMAT score, record of entrepreneurship, leadership, extra-curricular achievement, and now, progression in a big company overlook the low GPA?

      Many thanks for your help.

    • DoGooder

      Wow, with all these people I could build a spaceship and find aliens!

    • CB

      Hi Sandy,

      Thank you for your insight into admissions at top schools. Below are my specifics and I would love to hear what you think of my odds. I always love a good challenge!

      * 700 GMAT
      * 3.9 GPA
      * Undergraduate in Business Administration (Thomas Edison State College of NJ)
      * AGE :29

      * Work experience
      1) Two+ years of volunteer work in disaster relief and aid in the US (recognized on floor of US Senate for service)
      2) Two years in entertainment event management with a start up (had Fortune 500 clients)
      3) Four years work as commercial lender for a community bank

      *Volunteer work includes the two+ years above plus volunteering as a mentor at my city university’s leadership development program for students in business programs.

      *Schools to Apply to:

    • Athlete

      - 25 years old, African American woman
      -Graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in Economics
      -GPA 3.15
      -Competed on the school’s Division I track and field team.
      - GMAT: 700 (Q:48/V:36)
      - Passed all four parts of CPA exam

      Work Experience (Note: My employment history is unique in part due to my goal of making the 2012 Olympic Summer Games):
      -Work for a Big-4 accounting for year then decided to focus on reaching my Olympic dream
      - Worked and volunteers at various LGBT political and non-profit organizations,
      - Currently working in sales as a Certified Personal Trainer (1 year).

      Schools that I will apply to:


    • FromNPOtoMBA

      I am very much interested to hear your thoughts! Following is my profile.

      GMAT: 720

      ToEFL: 112/120

      GPA (US system): 3.6 (BBA); 3.4 (MBA)

      Age: 27

      BBA (4-year) and MBA (1-year)
      Major: Accounting
      From the topmost university in Bangladesh (a country in South Asia) but may not be found to be a top-200/300 universities in the world.

      Work Experience: 1 year as Business Development Analyst in local test-prep company (while pursuing MBA) + 3 years in Non-profits/INGOs like BRAC, one of the largest NGOs of the world, as a Capacity Development Professional (More than 1 year in Afghanistan)

      Demonstrated leadership capacity from college. Decent extra-curricular activities.

      Planning to direct my career towards general management, operations and consultancy.

      Targeted Schools:
      Fuqua (Duke)
      Owen (Vanderbilt) (got Alumni as recommenders)
      Ross (Michigan)
      Darden (Virginia)
      Booth (Chicago)

    • FromNPOtoMBA

      oops! Missed to mention 4 other schools. Sorry!

      Wharton (UPenn)
      Kellogg (Northwestern)

    • BKBK

      GMAT: 750
      GPA: 3.35
      Undergraduate from a Good Engg College but not from IIT(Civil Engineering)
      Working in an Engineering Firm. Involved in Project Estimation and Management
      Extra Circular:
      1) Highly Involved in various Activities throughout College
      2) Have Tutored Poor kids during Weekends
      3) Currently assisting a Group of Poor People (Potters) in obtaining Bank Loans and Loans from Govt. via NGO
      4) Highly Active in College Alumni Affairs
      5) Interest towards Photography and even volunteer with a Club in organizing Workshops for poor kids and newbies in City

      Chances of Making into the following:
      1) Harvard
      2) Tuck
      3) Booth
      4) Darden

    • MBA_Hopeful

      25 year old, Black American male
      Undergrad Institution: HBCU (Howard, Morehouse, etc)
      Undergrad GPA: 3.6 (Finance major)
      GMAT: 690

      Work Experience:
      - 2 years at bulge bracket investment bank
      - 1 year fellowship in healthcare
      - Currently at start-up PE firm

      - Chair junior board of large educational not-for-profit
      - Civic leadership fellowship
      - Volunteer with entrepreneurship-focused not-for-profit
      - Co-founder of not-for-profit focused on inner city youth

      Stanford GSB
      MIT Sloan

    • Optimist

      This is my story in a nutshell, am interested to hear what schools you think would be a fit. Thanks!

      710 GMAT (46Q/41V)
      3.4 GPA
      Undergraduate from top UC school in International Studies, but also took calc, physics and econ
      26 yrs old, female, half jamaican half white
      3.5 yrs in marketing (incl social media) at sustainable “triple bottom line” CPG company
      Volunteer stent in africa post school, pre job
      Homeschooled and self-taught most relevant design programs and basic web languages
      Surfer, rock climber, semi-professional photographer, avid traveler to places like Columbia and South Africa
      Little community service, and side projects remain mostly independent

      Schools of interest:

    • mba_or_bust

      Hi Sandy,
      Thank you for your insight into admissions at top schools. I find your candid feedback very refreshing. I’d love to get your thoughts on my profile
      * 600 GMAT (retaking in August for 700+)
      * 2.8 GPA (graduated with undergraduate degree at age 19)

      * Undergraduate at Big Ten School in Midwest-Journalism major
      * AGE :28
      Minority (US Citizen)

      * Work experience- Interactive marketing (8+ years)

      My career is in field that didn’t exists a decade ago. Because of this lack of structure, my work experience is vast- almost making me a jack of all trades.

      Worked for both corporations and for interactive agencies

      Through my work, I’ve built skills in both being analytical (metrics, budgets, etc) and creative (marketing strategy, design, usability, etc) and everything in between (e-commerce, social media, etc) I am able to switch between as the situation calls for it.

      Trained in interactive account planning by well-respected industry leader (account planning is the process of creating a message from the marketing objectives and the client’s business objectives based on research and from a consumer perspectives)

      Team player, strong leadership exp, and able to get along with a wide variety of personalities

      Volunteer work:
      -Volunteer for community based economic development organization that works to promote Latino (and other minority) small business owners in a formally ailing neighborhood (6+ years)

      -Currently serving on the Board of Directors of a small but well renowned local theatre (1+year)

      Avid traveler (Peru, Middle East, Asia, Europe)

      Schools to Apply to:

    • Yaman

      What about the Indian family business guys?
      My profile::
      Undergrad: B.E. Computer Science from PESIT, Bangalore with 69.2% (University: VTU)
      GMAT: 720
      Internship + 6 months work-ex at Goldman Sachs followed by family business of Two-wheelers (running on my own) & Cement (assisting my father) for 2.5 years now.
      extracurricular : Average (mostly college level computers related)…
      What are my odds?

    • dogooder

      Sandy, thank you so much for your candid feedback. This is really helpful. To clarify, I am a U.S. citizen.

      I now know I need to explain why my social enterprise experience was 1-year stints and make clear how well-established the organizations are.

      Kellogg was on my list of schools to consider, and based on your feedback I’ll take a closer look at Yale as well. Many thanks again!

    • Mr. Visionary Entrepreneur

      Hi John, Mr. Kreisberg,

      Hope you had a great weekend. Great series, thank you for considering my profile.

      720 GMAT (considering retaking to get over 750)
      3.5 GPA in Finance and Economics from top Canadian university
      Sat for L3 CFA exam, results available in August
      1.5 years at a premiere global investment bank
      2 years at a Canadian investment banking boutique
      Recently co-founded and at the moment co-managing a tech start-up
      For the past 6 years actively involved at the executive level in an ethnic identity organization
      For the past 2 years actively involved in a b-school alumni association, currently in an executive role
      Speak 4 languages, white male, Canadian and EU citizenship
      Avid skier, rock climber and traveller

      Schools of interest:

      Your time and help would be much appreciated.

    • roadrunnerz

      Mr. Operations
      780 GMAT
      24 yrs old, Latino-American
      3.71 Grade Point Average
      Undergraduate degree in Industrial Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology.
      Work experience as a manufacturing engineer at top heavy construction machinery manufacturer in the Midwest. Extracurriculars include teaching English and interview coaching with local hispanic population. Involved in local theatre company with lead roles in several performances.
      Looking to transition to operational leadership role with heavy focus on international operations strategy.

    • ryantb55

      Mr. California Dreaming
      - 740 GMAT
      - 26 years old at matriculation (Fall 2012)
      - 3.91 GPA from a top 40 big southern state school. (Think known for football, but also has a top 25 accounting program.)
      - Graduated Summa Cum Laude with two degrees in Finance and Accounting
      - 3 years work experience at matriculation
      I work at Morgan Stanley as a Regulatory Controller in New York. I was promoted to Associate quicker than other analysts in my group, and I am up for manager this year. I lead a global project for finance. I am active in campus recruiting, speak on panels, and mentor new analysts. I’ve created efficiencies for my team that have reduced the amount of time spent on manual processes.

      I helped to launch the recent alumni board at my college of business. I hold the Alumni and Student relations chair. I’ve helped grow our program to improve our alumni network. I hold a couple of positions with volunteer organizations. During school I studied abroad in Spain, held a leadership position with the most prominent student organization in our college of business, tutored senior year, and grew a student to alumni mentoring program from six participants to over fifty.

      I am ready to go back for my MBA and the timing is right. I will have completed rolling out a project I am working on by the time I go back to school and am ready to make a career change. I aspire to break into investment banking and eventually make my way into venture capital. My dream school is Stanford, but here are all the schools I am considering. Please let me know my chances and THANK YOU for writing this piece!


    • ryantb55

      Forgot to mention…white / male ^

    • Aditya Singh

      Hi Sandy,
      GPA-3.3 (Among top 1%)
      Undergraduate degree in Commerce from a normal govt. funded university.
      Master’s in Business Law from top Indian law school (Part-time).
      Holds Associateship of Insurance Institute Of India.

      Work Exp.- 3.5 years
      #Currenty, working in Reserve Bank Of India ( like Federal Reserve U.S.) as
      a lead manager in banking regulatory division for past 1.5 years.
      #One year at a public sector bank in consumer and retail banking as a
      senior manager.
      #8 months as a Program Director in a NGO,responsible in implementing
      mid-day meal schemes for more than 10,000 tribal area school children in
      one of the most backward regions of India.

      -Bagged a scholarship worth 12k $ for leadership potential.(Only to top 5
      among 5000 candidates.
      -Co-founder of NGO aimed at providing basic IT knowledge to
      underprivileged sections of society in India.

      Please rate my chances of admission into INSEAD,Said,Judge.

      Thanks a lot Sandy for your time & consideration.

    • HonestAnswerPlease

      If a person is returning to school after ten plus year experience is the ONLY option an EMBA program from top tier school???? Does the EMBA from tier two or three make any difference after 40??

    • btalg85

      Quote from your analysis of Ms. First Generation Grad (Mghribiva): “If you are a U.S. citizen or North American, INSEAD might like you. Admission there for Americans is in line with these stats.”

      Sandy, note sure I follow your INSEAD comment here – from what I’ve heard they have a very high bar for north american candidates. Don’t let their slightly lower avg gmat fool you… Remember that INSEAD’s class profile stats are for an intake that is ~90% international. i.e more people with english as a second or third language who are disadvantaged on the verbal portion of the gmat. Also, each nationality is capped at 10% of the class, so depending on an applicant’s nationality it could be even more difficult to get in than wharton, etc.

    • govt work experience

      GMAT: 720
      work experience: 2.5 years census bureau, statistician (current)
      2.0 years mutuial fund firm as a financial reporting analyst.
      Also vice president of family business in construction management (4.5 years)
      Education: masters economics from johns Hopkins university, 3.95 gpa focus in econometrics and macro theory. Bs financial economics from state school, gpa 3.65
      Age 28.
      Applying to:
      1. Wharton
      2. Chicago
      3. Nyu
      4. Yale
      5. Uva
      6. Cornell

    • Jan

      Hi Sandy,

      I’d love for you to comment on my profile.
      I’m a female from India.

      GMAT : 740
      Undergraduate GPA : (Biotechnology from India). 4.0
      Graduate GPA : (Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Pittsburgh USA) 4.0
      Performed original research and published an academic paper. Also monitored 3 undergraduates and 1 graduate student to perform research.

      Other work experience
      1 year : National Center for Biological Sciences. As a research assistant, I set up a new lab and helped with staffing.
      Current : Program developer for Agastya International (an educational organization). I develop programs to improve science education in rural india and work with government school teachers and students.

      Extracurriculars : Editor, Departmental Magazine; Stage Manager – Blue Mango Theater (produces plays with a focus on ethnicity neutral casting); Program Manager (Association of India development, Pittsburgh Chapter).

      I intend to apply to places like Stanford with a strong social enterprise/ non profit management concentration.

      Would love to hear your comments on my chances.

      PS : Is it good/bad that my profile is very different from the average Indian (engineering types) profile.

    • UM

      Hi John and Sandy,

      I would love some insight on my chances on getting into Harvard, Wharton, Booth, and Stanford.

      Undergraduate Degree in Finance – Not from a top school
      Overall GPA 3.3
      First 2 years 2.75, 57 credits
      Last 2 years 3.73, 68 credits

      GMAT 720
      Quant 50
      Verbal 38

      CFA charterholder

      Will have 5 years experience before entering program
      5 Years at a Hedge Fund, Current Title is a Vice President, Strategy Specialist
      First 2.5 Years in Operations
      Last 2.5 Years in Business Development
      - My selling point here would be I raised Assets under Management from $50 million to $400 million while shining a light on a hedge fund that was not well known through creating a brand.

      Merrill Lynch & Smith Barney both in wealth management.

      Extracurriculars: I serve on the Advisory Board for a Local High School



    • MJ


      Would love to get your thoughts on my profile and chances of getting into HBS, Wharton, Columbia, Kellogg, and NYU if you have some free time.

      - 24 year old female, Indian. Born in the US, brought up back and forth between India and the US for fourteen years.
      - Will have three years of work experience in investment banking at a bulge bracket firm upon matriculation. Received a third year analyst promotion at work last year.
      - Looking to switch careers and go into strategic development with a focus on emerging markets
      - Two finance internships with bulge brackets previous to fulltime job
      - GMAT: 730 (M: 85% / V: 92% / AWA: 6)
      - Undergraduate: 3.5 GPA. Double major in finance and statistics from Carnegie Mellon University
      - Lots of leadership in college: Resident Assistant for two years, Teaching Assistant for two years, 3 years of Board positions in an undergraduate business club
      - Additionally, I was a teaching assistant for two years (both business and statistics), and have wons awards in case competitions and for research in statistics
      - Some volunteering after college but not too substantial with 80 hour workweeks. I also head analyst recruiting efforts for my group at work

      Thank you so much!

    • Mr. Nonprofit


      Thanks for reading. Please share your thoughts on my profile as I seek entrance into the following MBA programs for nonprofit management: Harvard Business School, Columbia Business School, Yale School of Management, and New York University. Some items are tentative as I plan to apply in about two years.

      - 680 GMAT (tentative)
      - 3.5 GPA
      - Syracuse University, Policy Studies Major
      - 26-year-old African-American male (…did ya see that comin’?)
      - First-generation college graduate
      - 2 years in Teach For America (2nd grade in NOLA)
      - 2 years recruiting new Teach For America teachers (tentative)
      -Interesting story (I was homeless for a year in high school)
      - Extracurriculars:
      (1) Presented benefits of 529 college savings plans to about 800 families
      (2) Led a student organization that taught inner-city high school students how to be competitive in the college selection process and live a healthy campus life (two years)
      (3) Campus ambassador for admitted minority students (all four years)
      (4) Tutored inner-city high school students (two years)
      (5) Experiment with ways to lower health risks associated with regular consumption soul food dishes (less salt and butter, lol)

      Thanks again! Please be brutally honest.

    • Mr. Nonprofit

      ^ Forgot to mention I am currently 23. I plan to matriculate at 25 or 26.

    • http://EagerlyWaitingforyourreply Priyanka Verma

      Hi John and Sandy,

      Thanks a lot for sharing your insight into admissions at top schools .Really appreciated. Can you please evaluate my profile and chances of getting in the following B-Schools :

      * 27 year old female from India
      * GMAT – 690
      * UG – 3.72 ( In top 8% .Only girl among toppers during my U.G )
      ( Engineering in Electronics and communication from Reputed university in India.)
      * Will have 6 years of work-ex in Semiconductor Industry before joining . Working in MNC Freescale Semiconductor since 2006.
      * Always among top raters in office.Filed one US patent , defensive publication and a few white papers in my name.
      * Worked on cutting edge technology in Wireless domain . Currently leading a team as performance analyst.
      *Strong academics throughout.Merit holder in Senior Secondary Examination.Ranked 24th in Punjab state.

      Extracurricular Activities :
      1.) Basketball captain in school . Active member of basketball team in office 2.) Active member of Community relation group (CRG) at office. Working closely with SAHAN school ( NGO for mental challenged students) since last 3 years
      3.) Was Joint Secretary of Organization committee for Inter college fest , Mess secretary , Joint convener of dance committee at college.

      Following are the B-Schools I am planning to apply :

      1.) Kellogg
      2.) Michigan Ross
      3.) Columbia university
      4.) University of Virginia ( Darden)
      5.) Carnegie Mellon University
      6.) University of North Carolina
      7.) UCLA ( Anderson)
      8.) Indiana university
      9.) Georgia Institute of Technology

      What are my chances of getting in the above b-schools ?? and what are chances of getting financial aid/scholarship in these schools??


    • ZZB

      Hi, thank you for reading my post. I am interested in going to HBS, Stanford, Wharton, Booth, Kellogg, MIT, Columbia or Tuck (have not started to apply yet). What are my chances?

      720 GMAT
      3.4 GPA from strong liberal arts school (top 10), accounting and business admin major, philosophy minor
      2 years in Investment Banking at 2nd tear bulge bracket (not JPM, GS or MS)
      2 years in middle-market private equity – $5 billion fund

      Extracurriculars include:
      Finance club (industry group head)
      Leadership position in fraternity
      Active member of school political organization

    • sri


      I would like you to evaluate my profile for the 2+2 program in Harvard and Stanford …

      age – 21(final year Engineering in Electronics and communication from a reputed college in India)
      GRE – 540(verbal)
      work experience – nil
      extra curricular activity : lead compere
      organised many events in my under grad
      captained school volley ball team

    • Joeholloway82

      Please evaluate my profile for admission into some of the top schools: H/S/W, Booth, Sloan, Kellogg, Fuqua, Columbia

      GMAT: 730
      GPA: 3.55
      Age: 30
      Accounting undergrad degree from Top-ranked (Accounting) private school
      Almost 4 years with Big 4
      Left to start small financial services firm, acquiring a couple small firms in the process (ultimately left partnership for family reasons)
      Currently work on Internal Consulting/Business Development team at F500 Steel Processing company
      2-year mission for Church in Chile
      Fluent in Spanish and Portuguese
      3 kids
      Would like to leverage language abilities into international consulting or banking in South America

    • mr. cool

      If you evaluate my changes of getting into Harvard, Booth, Kellogg, INSEAD, Haas, Anderson, Fuqua, Tuck, and Marshall 

      GMAT: 740GPA: 3.2
      Age: 25
      Ethnicity: Korean American from CA
      Ungrad: UC Berkeley, B.A. Economics

      Worked as a commodity trader in Ghana for 3 months; 
      then was stationed in Singapore for a year; 
      currently in Dallas working as cotton trader. 

      Trade derivatives to hedge physical commodity exposures. 
      Been with the company for 3 years now.  

      Company: One of the major commodity trading companies in the world; top player in edible nuts, cotton, cocoa, coffee.  

      Fluent: Korean, English
      Conversational: French

    • Dhruv Chokshi

      Can I give in my profile for assessment by the experts here?

    • Nalin

      Hi Sandy

      My Profile is -
      1) GMAT-710
      2) GPA 3.2 from NIT from India in Computer Engineering
      3) Interned in a startup in fashion industry
      4) Freelanced selling frugal softwares
      5) Worked for 2 years in as Software Engineere in John Deere
      6) Event Manager in a marketing event in college, plays football (european), travels a lot.

      Can you please tell me my chances in Tepper, Ross, Anderson and Yale.
      Which schools will be best for me?

    • Nalin

      Career goal -
      mid-term – Startegy Consultant in Retail
      long-term – start a business in food-retail

    • jathca

      Hi Sandy,

      I’ve very much enjoyed reading through these articles and if you have the time would appreciate feedback on my potential candidacy for an MBA program:

      - 40 yo male
      - Former chef/restaurant manager with approximately 18 years experience
      - Returned to finish my undergraduate degree at Columbia at the age of 37. I stumbled a t bit at first there but have a 3.09 for my last two years.
      - Have yet to take the GMAT
      - Wanting to focus on sustainable agribusiness after (hopefully) getting accepted to a program
      - Looking to find school that focuses on sustainability in relation to environment and agriculture and so far am considering Cornell, Michigan, Washington, and Oregon (any other suggestions would be appreciated).

      I do have a concern that I may be too old but in my current industry I’ve plateaued and don’t want to run restaurants forever. I should also mention that I took a break from the food world while attending Columbia and worked in tech support at the university as well as having a short contract job as a project manager for a small web firm.

      Thank you (and anyone else that comments on this) in advance for your advice.

    • Bhaskar

      Please evaluate my profile for admission into some of the top schools: Harvard, Wharton, Sloan, Stern, Columbia

      GMAT: 690
      Undergrad GPA: 3.6
      Grad GPA: 3.3
      Age: 29
      Engineering degree from a reputed university in India.
      MS in Electrical Engg from a top 50 US school
      Cleared all 3 levels of CFA exams.
      4+ years of experience spread across Engg and Inv banking
      Led the business development initiatives for my Inv bank.
      Closure experience on cross border M&A deals.
      Interacted heavily with bankers from various geographies.
      Would like to go into Corporate Finance/ Finance division of a technological major to leverage my engg and finance background.

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