Do You Have What It Takes To Get Into A Great School?

by John A. Byrne on

The most common question MBA-wannabes are asking right now: “What are my chances of getting into a top-ranked business school?”

As would-be applicants pore over the raw stats and acceptance numbers of their dream schools, they’re sizing up their own odds of getting into a Harvard or Stanford, Columbia or Chicago, Kellogg or Tuck. And they’re making the inevitable calculations to answer the question: Should I invest the time and energy to apply this year?

Do you have what might be called “nosebleed stats” likely to open the doors to a top school? Or did you goof off during your undergrad years and worry about whether your work experience offsets your low GPA? And do you work for a “sexy” or “dull” company that is not a feeder into the best business schools?

To handicap the odds for various candidates, we turned to Sanford “Sandy” Kreisberg, founder of MBA admissions consulting firm HBSGuru, and asked him to analyze profiles of typical MBA applicants. He does so with a sense of irreverence, wit and intelligence that makes his assessments compelling and insightful reading. The story became so popular that we turned it into a weekly series.

Learn if you have what it takes to get into a great MBA program.

Handicapping Your MBA Odds–The Entire Series

Part I: Handicapping Your Shot At a Top Business School

Part II: Your Chances of Getting In

Part III: Your Chances of Getting In

Part IV: Handicapping Your Odds of Getting In

Part V: Can You Get Into HBS, Stanford or Wharton?

Part VI: Handicapping Your Dream School Odds

Part VII: Handicapping Your MBA Odds

Part VIII: Getting Through The Elite B-School Screen

Part IX: Handicapping Your B-School Chances

Part X: What Are Your Odds of Getting In?

Part XI: Breaking Through the Elite B-School Screen

Part XII: Handicapping Your B-School Odds

Part XIII: Predicting Your Odds of Getting In

Part XIV: Handicapping Your MBA Odds

Part XV: Assessing Your Odds of Getting In

Part XVI: Handicapping Your Odds of Getting In

Part XVII: What Are Your Odds of Getting In

Part XVIII: Assessing Your Odds of Getting In

Part XIX: Handicapping Your MBA Odds

Part XX: What Are Your Odds Of Getting In

Part XXI: Handicapping Your Odds of Acceptance

Part XXII: Handicapping Your Shot At A Top MBA

Part XXIII: Predicting Your Odds of Getting In

Part XXIV: Do You Have The Right Stuff To Get In

Part XXV: Your Odds of Getting Into A Top MBA Program

Part XXVI: Calculating Your Odds of Getting In

Part XXVII: Breaking Through The Elite MBA Screen

Part XXVIII: Handicapping Your Shot At A Top School

Part XXIX: Can You Get Into A Great B-School

Part XXX: Handicapping Your Odds of Getting In

Part XXXI: Calculating Your Odds of Admission

Part XXXII: Handicapping Your Elite MBA Chances

Part XXXIII: Getting Into Your Dream School

Part XXXIV: Handicapping Your Shot At A Top School

Part XXXV: Calculating Your Odds of Getting In

Part XXXVI: What Are Your Chances Of Getting In

Part XXXVII: Handicapping Your Business School Odds

Part XXXVIII: Assessing Your B-School Odds Of Making It

Part XXXIX: Handicapping MBA Applicant Odds

Part XL: What Are Your Odds of Getting In

Part XLI: Handicapping Your Odds of MBA Success

Part XLII: What Are Your Chances Of Getting In

Part XLIII: Handicapping Your MBA Odds

Part XLIV: Can You Get Into A Top MBA Program

Part XLV: Assessing Your Odds of Getting In

Part XLVI: Handicapping Your Dream School Odds

Part XLVII: Handicapping Your MBA Odds

Part XLVIII: Assessing Your Odds of B-School Success

Part XLIV: Handicapping Your B-School Odds

Part XLV: Your Odds of Getting Into A Great School

Part XLVI: Handicapping Your Shot At A Top MBA

Part XLVII: Your Chances Of Getting Into An Elite School

Part XLVIII: Handicapping Your Personal MBA Odds

Part XLIV: Handicapping Your Elite School Chances

Part XLV: Handicapping Those Tough MBA Odds

Part XLVI: Your Chances Of Getting In

PartXVII: Handicapping Your Elite MBA Odds

PartXVIII: Handicapping Your Shot At An Elite School

Part LXIX: What Are Your Odds Of Getting In?

Part L: Handicapping Your Odds Of Getting In

Part LI: Assessing Your Odds Of Getting In

Part LII: Handicapping Your Business School Chances

Part LIII: Your Chances Of Getting A Top MBA

Part LIV: Handicapping Your Shot At A Top MBA

Part LV: Calculating Your Odds of MBA Admission

Part LVI: Handicapping Your Shot At A Top School

Part LVII: Can You Get Into An Elite MBA Program?

Part LVIII: Handicapping Your Elite B-School Odds

Part LIX: Predicting Your Chances Of Admission

Part LX: Handicapping Your Elite MBA Odds

Part LXI: What Are Your Chances Of Getting In 

Part LXII: Calculating Your Odds Of Getting A Top MBA

  • BschoolBound

    Hi Sandy,

    I am interested in knowing my chances at HBS/Stanford/Wharton/Columbia/MIT/NYU. Here are my Stats:

    Undergrad GPA: 3.95 at UC Irvine, Honors Program in Economics (Econometrics)
    1-year Masters of Accounting (MAcc) from University of Southern California
    GMAT: 690
    Male, 29 years old. HBS legacy and Penn (not Wharton) 3rd generation legacy

    Work Experience:
    - 16 months as M&A Analyst at Boutique IB (same place I interned)
    - 2 years in Private Equity at Oppenheimer & Co. Off-cycle Promotion to Associate Director after developing the team’s most profitable product.
    - Strong recommendations
    - SEC Whistleblower – SEC recovered $3MM from OPCO. Individual responsible barred from securities industry (I have been told business schools would find this interesting/valuable)
    - Left OPCO and raised $5MM to start-up small oil company. Divested interests ~16 months later at $12MM valuation in 2013.
    - Advisory Board Member for 2 small oil companies
    - Advisory Board Member for tech/entertainment start-up founded by GS Banker
    - Advisory Board Member of charity that provides critical surgical and reconstructive care to effect children of conflict regions.

  • Utkarsh Sankrityayan

    Hello everyone.

    I am fresh out-of-college from India with a work ex of 8 months.
    What do you think are my chances of landing a top b-school with the following profile.


    Qualification- Graduate in Mineral Engineering (Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad, India);
    Post Graduate in Mineral Resource Management (Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad, India)

    GPA- 7.53/10 non-relative (translates to 3.05/4; not great, I know) Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad, India

    Work experience- 8 months as a process control engineer. I design and install models for large industries like pulp and paper, power and mining corporations and have been involved in projects in S.America, India and Japan.

    Extra curricular- Dramatics, have acted in and directed many plays and was head of the dramatics club of my college; Cultural Secretary of my college; Coordinated many events.

    GMAT score- Yet to give, will shoot for 710+.

    Please, help me out here and I would also appreciate it if you could give me some pointers on how to improve my profile.

  • John

    Why do you want to do a MBA?

  • Utkarsh Sankrityayan

    Hello John, and thanks for the reply.
    To answer your question, I am a very growth oriented person, with a high inclination towards innovation and change. It have always driven towards making things better, wherever and in whichever organisation I have been.
    I want to get into start-ups and small businesses which have a more positive outlook towards innovation and improvisation and strive to make the world better rather than maintaining a status-quo. However, my graduation is in a highly specialized field in mining engineering which doesn’t give me much latitude to be gainfully employed in other fields,

    I want to learn about business development and entrepreneurship. I have looked into the profiles of entrepreneurship schools like Babson, Harvard, Univ of Michigan and others which have a very high percentage of faculties who are entrepreneurs themselves and I feel that they would be great places to learn.

  • AJ

    Hi, I would welcome some opinion with regards to my chances

    - Indian, 23 (by the time of applications), Male
    - Undergrad – BBA, (One of the better colleges in India)
    - GMAT – 740 (q50, v39, IR 8, expect 5-6 in essay), 1st attempt
    - GPA – 3.06/4 (Better than class average, top GPAs were around 3.55)
    - 2 years in a Financial Advisory Firm. Mainly assisted a big PE firm. Involved in a few of the investments that took place. Killed at work. Received early promotion after the first year (1st time in the firm history), managed small teams after the promotion on projects, got offered another promotion but decided to quit
    - Next 8 months – helped out with family business, was about to launch a venture but ditched plans after a few months of work, travelled some
    - Presently, will be working with Acumen (Social Impact Investment) in a short term role for the next 3-4 months

    Schools I am targeting, in order of preference, are Harvard, Wharton, Booth, and Columbia.

  • Mr. Ivy Engineer

    Hi Sandy and John,

    I hope you chose to review my profile. I would love to know what are my chances of getting into HBS, Wharton, Kellogg, Sloan, Booth, Haas, Tuck, Fuqua, or Stern?

    730 GMAT

    3.1 GPA at an Ivy League (not Harvard, Princeton, or Yale), B.S. in Bioengineering

    Work experience: 3 1/2 years at BlackRock in New York in a product strategy role and promoted to associate. Plan to transition to consulting (possibly healthcare) and want to continue working at a top management consulting company post MBA.

    Extracurriculars: Led a community service mentoring group for kids with specific diseases (cancer, etc…) while an undergraduate. Currently, volunteer at a school in the area tutoring and mentoring. Active participant in recruiting events primarily minority recruiting events for the company. Also have some social advocacy projects in the works for underprivileged youth.

    Goals: In the short term I hope to pursue a management consulting role (possibly healthcare or life sciences post MBA) and then transition to a startup or established healthcare company. I come from a technical background and want to use my MBA to transition into a consulting role.

    26 year old African-American Male

  • Mr Optimizer

    Hello there !

    A brief snapshot of my profile.

    GMAT 750
    GPA 6.5/10 (Non IIT Top 10 Engineering College – India)
    Age: 25 (Male)

    Work Experience: ~ 3 years with Schneider Electric in Business Process Excellence. Majorly working to optimize and improve business operational processes at the country level. I have undertaken multiple internal optimization/improvement projects and executed them to successful completion. Good exposure to Supply Chain Management, Project Management & Quality Management. Certifications in Project Management & Six Sigma. Part of an elite employee fast-track and retention program.

    Extra Curricular:
    Multiple student leadership positions and intensive involvement in organizing events during college which led me to be a recipient of the highest award for Extra Curricular activities. Currently part of a company CSR initiative to teach and train underprivileged technicians. Also, holding the position of Governor – Marketing for a local Division of Toastmasters International (Communication & Leadership development Organization)

    - Avid vocalist & budding photographer.

    Objective for MBA: Get exposed to and trained in a global business environment helping me to broaden my perspective and have a gamut of learning experiences.

    Goal: MBB Consultant or a leader in a fortune 100 company (preferably tech) in the role of general management/business strategy.

    Target schools: (need more recommendations from you)

    Please guide me.
    Thank you !

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