Handicapping Your MBA Odds

by John A. Byrne on

With a 750 GMAT and 4.0 grade point average, he was valedictorian of his college class. His goal is to work in healthcare venture capital for the developing markets.

She’s a consultant who scored an impressive 760 on the GMAT and boasts an Ivy League degree. But she has a puny 2.5 GPA to overcome.

He’s an Olympic medalist who spent eight years as a full-time athlete and now co-owns and runs a gym. But he’d like to work in business development or general management.

What these and other MBA candidates want to know is whether they have a chance to get into a top business school. For the seventh consecutive week, we’re turning to Sanford “Sandy” Kreisberg, founder of MBA admissions consulting firm HBSGuru.com, to analyze these and a few other profiles of actual MBA applicants who have shared their vital statistics with Poets&Quants.

As he has in the past, Kreisberg handicaps each potential applicant’s odds of getting in. 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.

Sandy’s take-no-prisoners analysis:

Mr. Coxswain

  • 740 GMAT
  • 3.8 Grade Point Average
  • Undergraduate degree from public Ivy
  • Work experience includes a year in intelligence, a year in carpentry, and now employed by a large international development organization doing stabilization work in Southern Afghanistan.
  • Will probably spend three to four years here unless I leave for the Navy.
  • Extracurriculars include varsity coxswain; biked from Texas to Alaska to raise money for cancer research & started department at university for social innovation
  • Rhodes finalist

Odds of Success:

Harvard Business School: 50% to 60%
Stanford: 50% to 60%
Wharton: 60% to 70%
Tuck: 60% to 70%
Booth: 70+%
Kellogg: 70+%

Sandy’s Analysis: Well, there’s a lot to like including a 3.8 and many ‘manly’ accomplishments such as rower, carpenter, bike rider, Afghan stabilization ninja. Hmmm, only working in ‘intelligence’ doesn’t seem to fit the macho framework :-)

I’m not sure of your age and timeline. If you have been at an international development organization for two-plus years, with this set of accomplishments, you can apply now.

As to joining the Navy, do you have Seal Team 6 fantasies? Well, who can blame you? And schools will wait, even if you flunk Seal Team ocean swim drills and wind up a regular swabby. Military applicants are welcome until about 30 and even older if a pilot with ten-plus years required gig.

That could be important, because while I am no expert, I think Seal Team Six, or DEVGRU as it known to non-experts like me who read the Internet, is not a three-year gig, since you have to fly up from another Seal Team, and that takes time. Of course nothing too shabby about a gig on Seal Teams 1-12 minus 6 either). Anyway, especially with a 720+ GMAT, you got the goods. So it is a matter of just telling your story as per each application’s various nooks and ponds. Guys like you get in all over. In terms of how they don’t get in to Harvard/Stanford/Wharton, well, in rare cases it is a massive execution snafu, where, if military, you just tell war stories and say goals are to make bigger bombs, and if USAID, you just annoy people somehow. Of course, at HBS, and maybe Wharton, there is always “sudden death” by interview so prepare for that when you get there.

Man, you are about as “Tucky” as a guy can get without joining the Village People, and it would just be an issue of convincing them you want to camp out with them for two years while chopping down trees, white water rafting and catching up on course material on your iPod while going up ski lifts (or even going down ski slopes, if you are used to more challenging terrain).

Same deal with Booth and Kellogg. You will need some do-gooder/military goal statement about how the MBA will make you more impactful as a leader in context A, B, and C. But those are easy to generate. Just make sure A, B, and C relate to stuff you have done.

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  • Government Work Experience

    Hey John & Sandy,

    I posted earlier, but didn’t have much detail. Really wanted to get my case reviewed so here’s the whole thing…

    Initially failed out my top state school with a GPA 1.5
    Turned things around:
    Got AA from Community College in Business: GPA 3.7
    Got BS from in Financial Economics from the second best state school in my state: GPA 3.7

    Went on to work for a mutual fund company managing over 20 billion dollars as a Financial Reporting Analyst aka Mutual Fund Accountant. Was really interested in Portfolio Management but after the market crashed the hopes of that were nill (While doing this I was taking math classes at school to strengthen my skills necessary for a financial background)
    Changed jobs, went to the federal government (Census Bureau) to work in the Economic Directorate as a Statistician.
    All the while, did a masters in Economics from Johns Hopkins with a 3.95. Specialized in Econometric methods, Finance and Macroecnomic theory.

    I am also vice president of my family business (construction management) where I have helped negotiate contracts, do budgeting, cost analysis, etc.

    Age: 28
    GMAT: 720
    Gender: Male

    Schools: Wharton, Chicago, NYU, Yale, UVA, Duke, Michigan, Cornell, Georgetown (in order of preference)

    Please review my case!!!! Thanks

  • http://studiobokeh.wordpress.com studiobokeh

    I know I had my profile evaluated already as Ms. Hospitality (http://poetsandquants.com/2011/07/01/part-ii-your-chances-of-getting-in/2/), but my GMAT score was an estimate of what I think I’d score (660) and I took it this week and got a 730.

    And to address Sandy’s questions, my firm doesn’t have a history of sending employees to business school because our core business is design services (which don’t need an MBA). I work in a support function on the corporate level for the world’s largest hospitality design firm. I know it’s not as selective as say, Google, but I would imagine it’s selective for the industry. I don’t know how that plays into things.

    Can you re-evaluate my chances for the same schools? Thank you!

  • havstar

    I’d like to see Sandy’s analysis of someone from a Big 10 public school who – according to a recent article on this site – has no chance of getting into a school like Wharton due purely to prestige.

    23 y/o “Non-Academic Minority” Male
    2 years (3 years upon matriculation) with Samsung in a purchasing – support, supply chain management – role , responsible for $40 million of annual spend.
    750 GMAT
    3.7 from Iowa State in an engineering program with a business specialization (general engineering with calculus), one of two in a class of 30 to graduate with honors
    Extras include leader in the fraternity in college, leader of employee group (200+ members) at work, leader at local american cancer society, leader in mentoring program for disadvantaged youth, bi-lingual in Mandarin, working now on Portuguese (will this even help?)
    I spent 4 years living overseas and studying abroad in Beijing for high school and have traveled overseas to Asia for work as well.

    Schools:
    - Harvard
    - Stanford
    - Wharton
    - MIT
    - Northwestern
    - Chicago
    - Duke

  • 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 (720+) 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?

  • womenentrepreneur

    Ran through all the profile analysis but couldn’t find one close to mine. So hoping you would pick my profile in your next analysis:

    GMAT : 710
    GPA : 3.7 ( from a non IIT engineering college ) BE Computer Science
    Nationality : Indian
    Gender : Female
    Age : 31 ( at Matriculation )
    WE: 6 yrs as a Software Engineer at an MNC
    2 yrs as an entrepreneur running an E-commerce venture ( profitable )
    EC : Head one of the city divisions of a Non-Profit working to promote entrepreneurship in India. Executed various programs under this community.
    Awards : Won various awards as a women entrepreneur, selected for Leadership Programs, covered in multiple online media, have a case study on my entrepreneurial journey covered in a book.

    Planning to apply to H/W/S this fall. Whats your take on my chances??

  • FingersCrossed

    John & Sandy:

    I would very much appreciate an analysis my potential candidacy for Business School. I am hoping to apply to Haas, Columbia, Stanford, and Yale this fall with the intention of tacking on an MPH in Family Planning between Yr 1 and 2 (unless the school has a joint-degree program e.g. Berkley). I’m so excited!

    GMAT: 720
    GPA: approx. 3.5 from Brown (Not calculated officially. Oh Brown.) Public Policy
    Gender: Female
    Age: 25 (at Matriculation)
    WE:
    - 1 + Years at Sport-for-Development (HIV-focused) organization in sub-Saharan Africa as the lead on development (helped secure over $1m) and as a project manager on UN and State Department-funded initiatives (managed over 20+ educators)
    - 2 Years at a large USG-funded International Global Health organization focusing on Pediatric HIV/AIDS as a member of the New Business Development Team
    EC: 4-year NCAA D1 athlete (team sport), CDC Certified HIV Counselor at D.C. Mobile Clinic, Grant writer for D.C.-based sport-for-development organization (HIV)

    Thank you, in advance, for your honesty and help!

  • Mr Engineer

    Forgot to mention interested schools. Also I am thinking about part time.

    1. Haas
    2. Booth
    3. McCombs

  • Alpinist

    I would really like my case reviewed:

    GMAT: 730

    Undergrad GPA: 2.8 – Finance at regionally respected state school

    Cisco Systems Strategic Planning Financial Analyst – 2 years

    Private Capital Underwriting Associate- Distressed Debt, Turnaround Mezzanine Debt, Turnaround / Growth Equity Investments – 3 years

    Extracurricular Activities: Leadership Volunteer for Technical Mountain Rescue / Flight for Life

    Age: 27

    Thanks

  • Alpinist

    - HBS
    - Chicago
    - Wharton
    - Northwestern
    - Stanford
    - Tuck

  • Alpinist

    Also, Lived in Hong Kong for 2 years during undergrad and climbed 7000+m peaks in the Himalaya and Andes Mountain Ranges several times.

  • PatrickA
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