Getting Through The Elite B-School Screen

If you’ve been unemployed for two years do you have any chance at all of getting into a top business school?

If you were a young woman who is an assistant editor at a national magazine but boasts a GMAT score below 700, would Harvard Business School even look at you?

And if you’re a young Asian who earned three undergraduate degrees and now works for a bulge bracket investment bank, do you have a chance to get into your dream MBA program?

For the eighth consecutive week, we’re turning to Sanford “Sandy” Kreisberg, founder of MBA admissions consulting firm, to answer these questions and give his assessment on 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 tough love analysis:

Mr. Unemployed

  • 710 GMAT
  • 2.94 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in engineering from a big state school
  • Work experience includes three years of entry-level work, but unemployed for two years “due to economy and poor credit”
  • “I will have mediocre recommendations since I haven’t really had major responsibilities in my entry level jobs”

Odds of Success:

Wharton: Zero
Columbia: Zero
Cornell: Zero
UCLA: Zero
Boston University: -20%
Arizona State: -30%
Baruch: 30%

Sandy’s Analysis: I feel your pain, pal, but schools won’t. You are not getting into any top-15 business school with this profile. There is just no compelling reason to take you. Business schools are not in the business of getting jobs for unemployed people. They are in the business of taking wonderfully employed people and making sure they stay that way. Your explaining to them how the MBA will help you excel in the future is the last thing they want to hear. They don’t go for the Lourdes routine.

You don’t enter Harvard, Stanford or Wharton and then throw away your crutches. You enter H/S/W on a motorcycle and leave in a Ferrari.

You really need to look into some regional schools, or night programs. The 710 will go a long way there–although even there, try to present a concrete future plan, based on prior work, and not some miracle story.
Sorry to be even a bit flip. I hope things turn around for you.

  • Seth

    I have a 3.94 GPA, Finance, non-prestigious NY school. Any pointers on finding employment?

  • BigDreams

    Hi Sandy and John,

    Hoping to get evaluated. One of my biggest concerns is my GMAT score and if it is good enough to allow me to focus on other aspects of my application.

    -710 GMAT – 45Q (71%), 41V (92%)
    -3.37 Undergrad GPA in finance from a Southern California private school (worked 30-40 hours a week to put myself through school)

    Work Experience:
    -3.5 years in management consulting at Accenture. (2 yrs Analyst, 1.5 years Consultant). In consideration for early promotion to Manager. 

    Extra-Curricular Activities:
    -Lead roles in planning women and community events at Accenture
    -Pre-MBA Fellow at a top 15 program
    -Recipient of the Accenture Corporate Citizenship Award

    Personal:-25 year old female-Asian American-First generation college graduate

    Target Schools:
    -Harvard, Stanford, Kellogg, Columbia, Sloan, Booth, Tuck, Yale, Ross, Stern

    Post-MBA Goal:
    -Short Term: Transition to a strategy consulting firm, such as M/B/B
    -Long Term: Become a c-level executive for a fortune 500 company
    -Become a professional and community advocate for women and diversity initiatives

    Thank you for your consideration!

  • TrailBlazer

    25 year old Female
    First Generation College Graduate from the United States Naval Academy
    3.2 GPA double major Economics and Political Science (BS)
    2 years on Varsity Crew team (As a Novice moved up to 2V varsity boat, won Patriot League Chapionships)
    President of the Astronomy Club
    Expected GMAT 680 minimum (720 hopefully)

    One out of 18 women chosen to be the first in the history of the United States Navy to break into one of the last male only fields in the country: submarining.

    Graduate of the Navy’s Officer Nuclear Power program.

    4 years work experience as an officer in the United States Navy.

    I plan either starting or becoming largely involved in a charity organization focusing on improving children’s education in the U.S. prior to applying. I also will likely have my real estate license prior to applying.

    I still have a few years to prepare, so any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. H/S/W/INSEAD hopeful.

  • BD_Biotech


    Curious in getting an evaluation:

    Chinese-American (Born in Shanghai, came to U.S. at age of 4)
    GMAT: 710 (47Q/42V 6.0 AWA)
    GPA: 2.7 in Bio at UC San Diego

    Played poker to support self through undergrad to pay for schooling, thus low grades

    Work Experience:
    – 4 years at a mid-cap publically biotech company doing Business Development
    – 2 deals on deal sheet, for ~$144M in upfronts and milestones
    – Transitioned from research scientist on R&D side to Commercial/BD

    Goal: Utilize MBA to get into BD role at Big Pharma, then move back into leading own BD group within Biotech

    – 4 years coaching pop warner footbal
    – 3 years on non-profit research foundation for an uncurable children’s heart disease, host annual fundraiser – raised $150K thus far

    Target Schools:
    H/S/W, Haas (strong west coast preference), Sloan, Duke

  • Consultantforlife

    Hi Sandy, your analysis has been the source of quite a few revelations and has helped me position my essays better. But I’d love if you can evaluate my profile:
    Nationality: Indian
    GMAT: 720 / 6
    GPA: 3.0 (7.5/10)
    IIT B.Tech
    Basketball team – Silver Medalist in inter college tournament
    Student Body Core Team member in organizing the school’s cultural festival
    Worked in a marketing service startup started by a IVY MBA grad in India for 2 years. The firm now runs a groupon equivalent of India and is pretty well known and invested
    Worked in a multinational tier 2 consulting firm for a year and half. Traveled and worked mostly for US based firms.
    Significant amount of team leadership experience and product management experience
    Recos from current managers and CEO of previous firm who I reported to.
    Lived in the middle east while growing up
    Plan to continue consulting after MBA
    Target Schools : HBS, Stan, Wharton, Booth and Insead


  • Ms Aspiring

    Could you please evaluate my profile

    Background : Indian (country of citizenship) female, born and brought up in India, Permanent Resident (Green Card)

    Languages : English, Hindi

    Undergrad : BTech Computer Engineering ; GPA – 9.7/10.00, from top 5 Indian university

    GMAT Score : 710

    TOEFL : 100/120

    Extracurricular activities : Learned Indian classical dance and classical music for 10 years and performed many stage shows.

    Work Experience : 8 years, worked as an Software programmer, Tech lead for one of the top 10 ranked multinational company ranked in Asia. I quit my job in 2010 August to take care of my pregnancy and children.

    Target : I need MBA to progress in my career and manage an IT firm myself down the line 5 years.

    Please let me know if I will be selected in any of top 15 B-schools.

  • Mr Engineer

    Could you please evaluate my profile:

    GMAT : 750

    BS GPA : 4.0/4.0 From Top 10 school in India ( Electrical Engineering )
    MS GPA : 3.9/4.0 From Top 10 US university ( Electrical Engineering )

    Work Experience : 5 years work experience as Engineer in a Fortune 500 company. Good reputation in work place which led to multiple promotions

    Background : Coming from a low income background. Both parents have just high school education. Studied with full scholarship for BS & MS

    Extra : Served as church secretary. Apart from that minor contributions to some charities.

    Thanks in advance

  • pbro

    GMAT: 740
    GPA: 3.7 (3.4 if you take out Japanese classes)
    Undergrad: BBA in Finance from University of Michigan Ross
    Undergrad intern: Corporate Finance at Intel
    Work Experience: 3 years at #2 Japanese investment bank (tech coverage team) in Tokyo, recently promoted to Associate. Job almost entirely in Japanese.
    Extracurriculars: 2 years in AIESEC during undergrad, play soccer in Tokyo amateur adult league
    25 yr old white male
    Target schools: Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Berkeley

  • Jimmy

    From Philippines.

    GPA of 2.3/4.0 BS Chemistry (Worked two jobs, while studying full-time)

    GMAT 780

    Masters in Economics 4.0/4.0

    Master of Mathematics 4.0/4.0

    Diploma in Financial Engineering 4.0/4.0

    First in our family’s history to graduate from college.

    Chinese immigrants to the Philippines.

    Established a top 5 goods-importation business in the Philippines.

    Established a top 5 mining business in the Philippines.

    Established a top 10 real-estate business in the Philippines.

    33 years old.

    Extracurricular activities includes enhancing business ties between China and Philippines. Organizing trade missions between government of China and private companies in the Philippines.



  • Shuairanger

    I have a rather unique profile so curious as to my chances. Goal is H/S/W MIT, Kellogg, or Booth

    GMAT: 720
    GPA: 3.6 from United States Military Academy at West Point.
    Major: Chinese, Environmental Engineering minor.
    Work Experience: 5 years as an airborne ranger infantry officer with combat deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan. Directly led 42 Soldiers in combat operations over 9 months and later as second-in-command of 160-man infantry company conducting combat operations. Later served as a staff officer for 9 months in Afghanistan planning operations.

    Served a two-year LDS mission in Taiwan. Speak Chinese fluently scoring 3/3 on Defense Language Proficiency Test.

    Would serve in National Guard during two-years in school. Not sure if this is even worth mentioning.

    Thanks for taking the time to review and evaluate.

  • Mr. Nuclear

    I love reading this thread and I’d really appreciate it if you could evaluate and make some comments on my profile.

    -Age: 28
    -Race: Asian-American
    -730 GMAT
    -3.0 BS in mechanical engineering from rank 30ish engineering school
    -3.5 MS in mechanical engineering from same school (while working full time)
    -4 years experience working for a fortune 250 engineering consulting firm, on new nuclear plant designs, as well as maintenance of the existing plants.
    –Mentored interns and co-op.
    -Undergrad Co-op in construction management.
    -Extracurricular Activities: Mentor/Tutor high school students. Frequently Volunteer in the community.
    -Held Vice-Chair position of professional organization in nuclear industry for 3 years. Mainly focused on Talent Development.

    Goal: As I start to work more with executive management, my interest in the business aspect of a corporation has gradually grew stronger. My goal of getting a MBA is to switch my career from engineering to corporate management/finance.

    Target Schools: HBS, MIT, Columbia, Northwestern, Chicago, Wharton, Berkeley.

    Recommendation: good recommendations from VPs of the engineering consulting firm.

    I know my GPA is not superb but I would like your read your thoughts on my overall profile, and on how I can improve my application to show I’m serious about making the switch from engineering to business.

    Thank you so much!

  • internalbanker

    Here is my profile:
    – Nationality: Colombian / French (grew up in Colombia and US)
    – Race: Hispanic
    – Wharton undergrad 2007 grad (finance & management concentrations) 2.94 GPA
    – GMAT: 710
    – Work Experience:
    * Fortune 500 Bay-Area Tech Company (think Google, Apple, Microsoft, Oracle, Cisco, eBay, etc.)
    * 2-yr Finance Leadership Development Program Analyst (did very well in the program…top ranked analyst in class, only one in class promoted to sr. analyst, multiple CFO awards, etc.)
    * Divisional Strategy & Corporate Development Manager / promoted from sr. analyst (work for one of our company’s divisions on a team responsible for both strategy and M&A) – 2 years so far (by the time I matriculate it will be 3 years)
    [In total I’ve been promoted 4 times in 4 years; most of the other analysts in my class have only been promoted 1-2]
    * Undergrad internships were all in corporate strategy and corporate development positions (3 internships)
    – Extracurricular Activities: youth soccer coach, treasurer for a non-profit, penn alumni secondary school committee, etc.
    – Recommendations: should be very good (from my former manager in the FLDP, from my manager in Strategy & Corporate Development).

    I am curious as to your thoughts about my prospects at HBS, Stanford, Booth, Kellogg, and MIT. Additionally I wanted to see what you thought about part-time MBA programs and my prospects at Booth or Kellogg’s part time programs. My main concern in applying to both types of programs is my poor GPA (I spent most of my undergrad life partying as opposed to studying). However, I feel like my work experience, URM status, and GMAT, and recommendations make up for it. What are your thoughts particularly around the GPA issue?

  • Non-Prof

    29 y/o white male

    770 gmat
    3.3 GPA from top 10 L.A. College
    4 year Division 1 Athlete
    English major and Mandarin Chinese minor (now a little rusty, but at one point, fluent)
    6 years experience as development officer for higher ed institutions with several promotions and strong references.
    (volunteer) leadership position in college alumni body

    interested in HBS/Tuck/Duke, and perhaps others at your recommendation.


  • Mx dipl

    Hi, I want to thank you for your comments so far and would very much appreciate one for my profile:

    -Mexican female
    -6 years work experience mainly as a diplomat for MX in the US (current)
    -Would like to change career towards Social Entrepreneurship in order to have a more direct impact in society than what can be done through government.
    -Undergrad degree in International Relations in a highly recognized University of Mexico and abroad
    -GMAT 660
    -Lots of volunteer work in the US
    -White, 31 years
    -Targets: Yale, Stanford, Berkeley, NYU, Columbia, Harvard

    Thank you!

  • Miss Marketing

    740 GMAT
    3.4 undergrad GPA (cum laude with the curve at Wharton undergrad)
    Completed BS and BA in 4 years
    3 years boutique consulting experience, primarily on CPG marketing
    White, 25 year old female
    Want to move into operations-based field

    Extracurriculars: Active alumni involvement in business club, some volunteer work, overall sparse.

    Target schools: MIT, Kellogg, Tuck, Texas (and Wharton and Stanford as longshots)

    I’d love to hear your perspective on someone with a marketing/CPG background. And any other suggestions on target schools.


  • Mr. Gay PE

    720 GMAT
    3.8 GPA from Stanford
    Economics major and CS minor
    2 years at Goldman Sachs in investment banking in NY, followed by 2 years at top PE firm in NY (current)
    Gay Asian-American male
    25 years old

    Extracurriculars: Co-president of large ethnic student organization at Stanford, leadership role in GS Asian Professionals Network, occasional LGBT-related volunteer work (phonebanking, event organizing, fundraising, etc.)

    Target schools: Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, MIT, Chicago, Columbia

  • Bob Jones

    Hey Sandy,

    I was unemployed for over a year and got into UCLA Anderson FT! Take that! 😉

  • Charlie

    This is a great series. I’d really appreciate it if you evaluated my profile, as I haven’t seen anything too similar yet in these articles. I graduated from a non-prestigious state school with a 3.97 GPA as a Finance major, and I’ve spent the past two years in a rotational leadership program at a Fortune 40 company. Will be 26 years old and have 3 years of experience upon enrolling. GMAT score is a 710, but I did much better on the qualitative section (99th percentile as opposed to 75ish on the quant). Extracurriculars include leading an undergraduate student investment fund in college during the height of the credit crisis, graduating as an honors scholar, and completing a senior thesis. Won’t have prestigious recommendations since leaving for full-time b-school is frowned upon by my company. Have a lot of Operations experience and am certified in Six Sigma. I am also a first-generation college grad, but non-minority and male. I’m looking for you to evaluate my chances at Columbia, Harvard, Wharton, and UCLA or UT-Austin with NYU part-time as a backup.

  • Egypt

    3.7 GPA from NYU
    3 years at part of the World Bank in Egypt
    white American female
    good extra curriculars in college
    extensive volunteer work in Cairo
    680 GMAT (low quant score)

    Harvard, MIT, Berkely, Stanford, NYU for entrepreneurship

    I’ve seen others with similar stats but I’m mostly wondering how much the international experience will offset a lower GMAT and if how possible it is to be competitive without a super strong quant background…

  • kgirl

    Age: 25, Asian-American, Female

    Work Experience:
    3 years at the HQ of the largest retailer located in Arkansas, focused on developing strategy and operations process. worked on four high profile projects so far. high potential, promoted once in two years. extremely strong recommendations from fairly high levels in organization who have watched my career grow.

    Additional experience in retail (2 years selling clothes to girls who are size zero and I was not), manufacturing, and recruiting (2 years recruiting high school students to study engineering…)

    State school, Industrial Engineering degree, 3.4

    Extracurriculars: passionate about kids in elementary school. volunteer 10+ hours a week. black belt in martial arts.


    Goal: career switch from engineering to social entrepreneurship

    Target schools:

  • vinnie

    BS Electronics and Communications Engineering
    University of the Philippines
    3.0 GPA
    graduated 2006

    Post-graduate Certificate in IT (Embedded Systems), 1 year full-time
    finished 2007

    Software Engineer (Embedded Systems)
    OTSL, Inc.
    Nagoya, Japan
    2007-2009 (2 years)

    (completed 21 out of 31 units) MS Computer Science
    University of the Phillippines
    2009-2010 (spent 1 year on a 2-year program)

    Software Engineer (Embedded Systems)
    Gemalto Pte Ltd
    2010-present (2 years by next year)

    GMAT: 700
    CFA level 1 candidate (Dec 2011)

    Target school: EDHEC, Int. Univ. of Monaco, Nanyang Business School

    goal: career switch to finance

    28 years old

  • 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.

    – Harvard
    – Stanford
    – Wharton
    – MIT
    – Northwestern
    – Chicago
    – Duke

  • Mexicanadian

    Age 27
    GMAT 710
    GPA 3.35
    Major: Business Management (first 3 semesters as Comp. Sci/Comp. Eng. major, hence low GPA; Business Major GPA 3.8)

    Loyola Marymount University
    Minority Male

    Work Experience:
    -3+ years Northrop Grumman Corp. (Fortune 100 – Aerospace/Defense). Selected for and currently in Global Supply Chain Rotational Leadership Program. Previous positions in Procurement, Planning, Business Management.
    -6+ years Real Estate Broker – sales

    -USO fundraising involvement via work
    -Northrop new hire orientation representative for two community service based clubs, one of which is hispanic employee group.
    -Worked and paid for my own college tuition (loans too)
    -First generation American citizen (father from Canada, mother from Mexico; “Mexicanadian”)
    -First generation college graduate
    -Mexican American Alumni Association Scholar in undergrad, post-grad actively involved as a member.

    Goal: Strategy/Management

    Schools: HBS, Stanford, Wharton, Kellogg, Sloan, Haas, Tuck, Yale SOM, UCLA Anderson, Fuqua, Ross, Cornell.

    Any school and/or profile suggestions for Aerospace/Defense types?

    Thanks Sandy!

  • ausdenbergen

    Oh! Add-on – yes, I have my CPA.

  • ausdenbergen

    Hi again! Hoping to make it in this round:

    – 27-year-old caucasian lady, U.S. citizen
    – 730 GMAT without studying, planning to study and re-take and expect a higher score
    – 3.8 GPA from a Midwestern state school; B.S. in Accounting and International Business with a minor in German
    – Native English, fluent German, going back to school to learn French or Spanish (I pick up languages quickly)
    – Work Experience: three years as a Big Four auditor (left as a senior), transitioned to a position doing financial reporting and internal controls for a large U.S.-based civil society NGO that does public health work – I plan on staying here 2-3 more years, and hope to do a 6- to 12-month rotation as a finance manager in one of the countries we serve
    – Extracurriculars: during undergrad, I did jazz band and marching band, held two different executive positions in my sorority, was a leader in the university honors program, was a campus orientation leader, and participated in the accounting honors fraternity. Currently, I volunteer regularly with a women’s health rights organization, and occasionally assist the Girl Scouts of America program in my region with personal finance workshops. I also have continued to play music for personal enjoyment, as well as doing regular running races (maybe a marathon in the future?)

    I want an MBA in order to build the skills necessary and create a support network for taking on a greater managerial or executive role on the administrative side of international development. I’m interested in doing oft-overlooked administrative capacity building for local (in-country) civil society organizations, and can see myself doing so either through an NGO or by starting my own organization.

    Dream programs:
    INSEAD (#1 by a long shot, due to international setting and program compressed into one year)
    HBS joint MBA/MPA with Kennedy School
    Chicago Booth MBA with concurrent A.M. from the School of Social Services
    Berkeley Haas MBA with concurrent MA in International and Area Studies

    Since I plan on applying in 2-3 years, A) what are my chances with my current situation, and B) what can I do in the intervening years to increase my odds?

    Many thanks!
    Ms. Administrative Do-Gooder

  • Ms. Marketer

    Hi John and Sandy,

    First off, thank you so much for running this column – it’s incredibly helpful for MBA wannabes. I’ve seen quite a lot of finance, investment banking, engineering and military profiles, but you haven’t reviewed many marketing profiles. Can you either review mine or someone who has CPG marketing experience?

    GMAT: 710 (V92%/Q75%)
    GPA: 3.4, undergrad degree from top UC school, humanities track -quant is weak in my profile, but I took calculus (B+) and economics (A) in undergrad and passed out of 1 yr of physics using high school AP exam.
    Work experience: 4 years in marketing (and 4 successive positions) at a nationally successful and sustainably minded 10 yr old natural products company (think sold at Whole Foods, costco and every major grocery store). I currently am head of digital marketing, I manage a small team of 5 that executes web and graphic design, social media and content creation and I lead a lot of our partnerships with our larger retailers and likeminded companies. I hope to strengthen existing career track in marketing with MBA.
    Extracurricular: Impressive travel record, active in surfing, rock climbing and photography, just joined the board of directors for a surf film non-profit, but otherwise minimal volunteer work at a local organic farm
    Background: 1/2 jamaican, 26 yrs old, female, homeschooled till high school (is this plus or a minus?)
    Target Schools: Stanford, Haas, MIT(interested in digital business center), Kellogg, Columbia, any suggestions within the top 20?

    Thank you!

  • Great series! Would love to get some feedback on my profile:

    Mr. Military to Business (maybe you can come up with a better title?)
    – 710 GMAT
    – 3.56 GPA
    – Undergraduate degree in business administration from no-name private college
    – Graduate degree in project management from Penn State (3.86 GPA)
    – Work experience includes three years in purchasing with regional chemical manufacturer, year and one-half as a technology consultant with local firm, and the past five years enlisted in the US Army managing logistics with eight direct reports. Stationed in Germany entire time with two deployments to Iraq.
    – Extracurricular involvement as Task Force Chairperson (appointed by BoD) and marketing/events committee member in Young Professionals organization prior to enlisting, and recently appointed to BoD with Afghanistan Water Polo (2016 Olympic hopeful team)
    – 30 years old (31 at matriculation); white male
    – LOR: Army Captain, senior logistics officer in my unit; President of consulting firm, last civilian employer. Both providing strong support.
    – Career goal: management consulting with specialization in strategy or operations (M/B/B, Kearney, Cambridge)

    Target Schools:

    Columbia (ED)

  • Bored CPA

    Sandy, please review my stats when you get a chance:

    – CPA
    – Audit Senior Associate at Big 4 Accounting Firm (promoted twice, once to Senior in Tax, once to Senior in Audit). Will have > 5 years of work experience by Fall 2012. I’ll also be 26.
    – GMAT 670
    – B.S. in Accounting (GPA 3.1) from flagship state-school.
    – M.S. in Finance (GPA 3.7) from private, top-50 business school (completed part-time). I consider this my alternative transcript.
    – Afro-Caribbean/Asian American Male.
    – Extracurricular activities include mentoring minority high-school students with college application process, coaching underrepresented minorities at work and participating in international medical mission.
    – Will use MBA to transition from public accounting to M&A investment banking and later venture capital.

    I’d appreciate your take on my odds of success in being admitted to the following schools:

    – Harvard
    – Stanford
    – Wharton
    – Booth
    – Tuck
    – Columbia
    – Kellogg
    – Haas
    – Stern

  • Ranjit

    Try number 3 ;). I hope third time proves lucky. Here goes :
    Here are my stats:

    Age : 24

    Background : Indian (country of citizenship) male, born and brought up in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Permanent Resident (Green Card)

    Languages : English, Hindi, basic Arabic, rudimentary Mandarin

    Undergrad : BE(Hons), Electrical Engineering ; GPA – 9.7/10.00, from the Dubai branch of a top 5 Indian university [This university is ranked just below the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT’s) nationally in India] ; ranked in top 3% of class ;given 20% scholarship for all four years of study.

    Grad : M.Eng, Electrical Engineering, Cornell University; GPA – 3.5/4.00

    GMAT Score : 760

    TOEFL : 120/120

    Extracurricular activities : Actively involved in a mentoring program for poor kids from rural India, climbed Mount Kilimanjaro with a group of four early this year, involved in a charity where I teach the english language to mexican immigrants, trying to get more involved in social activities here in the US

    Work Experience : 2 years, working as an Electrical Engineer for a Houston-based non-profit (established in 1852) that develops safety standards for the maritime/offshore energy industry. My company is definitely not a feeder firm for top business schools, though, for what its worth, I know that all the top people (Chairman, CEO, COO, Senior VP’s) are graduates of the Advanced Management Program at HBS.

    Target : From what I’ve read so far, I don’t think that I am HBS/Stanford/Wharton material, though I would like to know my chances there. I would like to know my chances at MIT, Columbia, NYU, Kellog, Haas, Booth, UT Austin and Rice. I would like to use the MBA to get in an executive position in an energy company.

  • Mr. EarlyStarter

    haha, nicely stated Sandy

  • In Response to this:


    Dunno, pal, many consultants are biased towards a view that ANYONE CAN GET IN, if only you write great essays, the same BS that most adcoms put out, esp. when they feature outlier acceptance stories, which are often incomplete, and then encourage YOU to apply, knowing full well it is hopeless. If there is any comment of mine among the last 8 weeks of profiles that hints that anyone should hire a consultant, beyond one or two cases, where on the facts stated, I would say, in effect “in your close case, in a crowded cohort, with lots of similar kids just like you, execution might be very important” well, let me know. That remark is way different than your implication, that I (if you are talking about me, hey, you talking to me? you must be talking to me because I am the consultant writing these replies??) am telling peeps they are hopeless unless they use me.
    Dude, I don’t do that. Although I tell many that their case is hopeless, PERIOD. And I believe that that directness, vs. what else is out there from adcoms and others, is the source of whatever popularity I have — along w. my good looks and charm.

  • Mr. EarlyStarter

    Oh, and also. Those internships were served over summers. And the co-op was during the year. This means that I acquired worked for a year instead of attending school.

    This is my career in order:

    I completed my freshman year 2007-2008
    I completed my sophmore year 2008-2009
    TETRA internship for summer of 2009
    I completed my junior year 2009-2010
    Eastman co-op for summer of 2010-fall 2010
    Shell Co-op for spring 2011-summer 2011
    Senior year 2011-2012 (future)

    I am not sure if you are familiar with the engineering co-op procedure but this is not out of the ordinary for the oil and gas industry.

  • Mr. EarlyStarter

    @HBSguru @jbyrne

    First, thank you John for taking my profile and thank you Sandy for reviewing it.

    I am “Mr. Rugby”. To clarify, I am going to be a “college senior” and posted my stats upon graduation which is the cause of the appearing inconsistency. They would be accepting me “fresh out of college”. I should have made that more clear and I apologize. I currently have a 3.88 and am account for a B or two during my senior year by posting a 3.8.

    Also, I am an American citizen but both of my parents were born in Nigeria and came here for college.

    Haha, and I can keep the “assited living centers” part to myself. It is more of an investment that I want to make once I have the degree and the money…

    And if I irritated John, once again I apologize. I just wanted to see a college profile…

    Anyways, thanks for reviewing my profile!

    @HBSGuru Having this new understanding, do my chances remain the same?

  • Gosh


  • ScottB

    I am a 29 year old white male. I’m a first generation college graduate.

    GMAT – 730
    GPA – (85/100) 3.0 in Computer Engineering from Kettering University
    Work – I have been working for 8 years, the first two of which were as a coop, as a civilian for the Army. I started as the lead of my teams software development group. I then moved into consulting other Army programs on how to increase productivity and efficiency. I am currently the Southwest Asia theatre lead engineer for a major Army acquisition program, living on a base in Afghanistan.
    Extracurriculars – Serve as alumni advisor to college fraternity, helping them become recognized as a top chapter in country.

  • ClaireB

    I love this series, I have been following through all parts! Thought I might finally try one out. See what my chances are:

    GMAT: 720
    GPA: 3.2
    Undergrad: Big 10 University, BS Microbiology BA History of Art

    Female, 1/4 Hispanic, first generation Grad School/B-School, 25 years old (27 matriculation)

    Career: Short stint in clinical research understanding children’s inner ear infections, then 3 years working in the food industry

    Extras: board of directors nonprofit throughout college, student gov’t senator, sorority chair, active fundraiser and volunteer for various political organizations and non-profits

    Odds at: Northwestern, NYU, Chicago, Georgetown, Virginia, UT Austin, Michigan

    Also, there may be some questions in those grades (some C’s). Did I mention that I went to a big state school and was in a sorority? Those two facts combined with being 20 never did anyone any good…

  • NotQuiteBlueChip

    Addendum 2 to Almost-but-not-quite blue chip:
    Looking at H/S/W, Chicago, Kellogg, Columbia.

  • NotQuiteBlueChip

    Addendum to Almost-but-not-quite blue chip
    Forgot to mention: Extras include plenty of volunteering for students learning to read, mentoring recent immigrants looking for jobs (people like my dad 30 years ago).

  • NotQuiteBlueChip

    Hey Sandy, try me:

    Mr. Almost-but-not-quite blue chip
    -25 years old, US citizen, Asian but not Chinese/Korean/Japanese
    -Grew up sparingly in a mostly hispanic community
    -760-780 GMAT (95%+ on both sections)
    -3.5-3.6 GPA in a hard science from non-HYP Ivy

    4 years of work exp at matriculation:
    -2 years at top non-MBB consulting firm (boutique company that rivals M/B for the sector we’re in and outpaces the other B by a mile)
    -Prior to that, 2 years at very small consulting firm where I got some rapidly increasing responsibilities by dint of it being so small. The entire company’s got my back re: writing my recommendations and whatnot.

  • Ms. Magazine Journalist

    Thank you very much, Sandy, for assessing my profile! Your valuable advice and comments will help me better position myself for B-School applications.

    Thank you too, John, for running such a great website and writing insightful and interesting articles! I enjoy reading every one of them.

  • Fernando

    Thank you so much, your comments are really insightful. I will put in the work and retake the GMAT but it seems that I have a shot so will apply for sure.

    Many thanks

  • West Coasting

    -Looking at H/S/W and maybe Booth or Columbia
    -Goal is to continue as professional investor but gain “Ivy pedigree” and potentially credibility w/ institutional investors necessary to launch own fund someday

  • West Coasting

    -White male, 24 years old (26 upon matriculation)
    -1.5 years at a prominent boutique i-bank (e.g., works w/ big clients)
    -0.5 years at a multibillion dollar hedge fund (will have 1.5 years when I apply, 2.5 years when I enroll)
    -730 GMAT (95 percentile V, 84 percentile Q)
    -4.0 GPA in finance from honors program at pretty decent large state school
    -Passed CFA exams
    -Mentor 2 disadvantaged youths (one in Bronx, one in current city) through two different programs; in college was in Student Gov’t, frat, study abroad, investment club, etc.

  • DavidM

    Hi John and Sandy,

    Would love for you to review my profile – it’s somewhat unorthodox.

    Male, 29. 1/2 Chinese, 1/2 British (UK born)
    GMAT: 780
    Undergrad: approx 3.3 in PPE (Philosophy, Politics and Economics) from Oxford.
    Subsequently taken calculus course at grade A.
    Qualified ESOL Teacher (done for 1 year in Europe immediately on graduating).
    4 years as partner in NYLON B2B PR startup.
    Extra: Consultant to social enterprise startup (encouraging skills/traditions transfer in the UK Chinese community)
    Want to go into consulting post-MBA.

    +Any recommendations for fit?

    Thanks for the evaluations done thus far – they’ve really been informative and an amazing resource!

  • I know I had my profile evaluated already as Ms. Hospitality (, 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!

  • NonTarget

    Also forgot to mention I’m a white male.

  • Archie

    Hi John/Sandy,
    A request for a profile evaluation, please:

    Academics: Undergraduate GPA of 90.6% in business admin. from a public school(graduated at the top of the class for my major; beta gamma sigma honors). Graduate degree in finance from a top 3 Canadian business school (GPA:3.75/4.0)

    GMAT Score: 710

    Extra curricular: Business Student body VP in undergrad – Initiated and managed student sponsorship program and participation of students in external conferences
    – Took part in several national and international business case competitions; won an award
    – Won several scholarships in undergrad for extra curricular and community involvement
    – Consulting club executive in grad school: initiated a student based case interview prep program and managed the pro bono consulting arm of the club.
    – Continued community involvement through a not for profit that works with new immigrants

    Work Experience: with a no name consulting firm in technology and operations (less than 2 years). Co-Managing a portfolio of 5 clients in the lending and mortgage industry.

    Varsity level fencer (just 2 years)
    Intramural baseball (3 years)

    Please evaluate for the following schools: HBS, Kellogg, Tuck, Ross, and Darden


  • NonTarget

    **I’ll have 3 years work experience at matriculation and I turn 26 fall 2012.

  • NonTarget

    Would absolutely love if you evaluated my prospects, because I’ve hear so much different information that I have no clue what to think. I have a 740 and 3.9 but I went to a non-target school. I have a brand name bulge bracket IB, but I’m a controller. I’m very nervous approaching the application season and wish I could better evaluate which schools to apply to. I mean if I can’t stand out enough to get selected for this article, how am I ever going to get into a top b-school?? PLEASE HELP!

    1. 740 GMAT (86%Q, 95%V)
    2. 3.9 GPA Double major Accounting / Finance from a Top 40 Public university (think southern football school). The accounting program is top 25.
    3. I have three years experience at a top two investment bank working as a Regulatory Controller. I was promoted to associate quicker than other analysts in my group. I help lead global projects for new Finance initiatives according Fed regulations. I am active in recruiting, mentoring, and training new hires. I was awarded the CFO Recognition Award (given to the top teams in Finance).
    4. I helped establish an Alumni Board for my College of Business and hold a leadership position. I hold a leadership position for a professional business fraternity and help students oversee a $500K housing foundation and serve in other various volunteer organizations.
    5. I was active in school: holding a leadership position for a selective club that worked directly with the Dean. I grew a professional mentoring program from a few pairings to over twenty. I served on the school’s student investment fund.
    6. I want to break into IB and eventually VC to pursue funding educational tech companies focusing or revamping and redesigning America’s educational system. Our education infrastructure is out of touch with the changing demands of the twenty first century and we need private companies to lead the way because government is dropping the ball.
    Target Schools –
    Stanford, Harvard, Wharton, Booth, Sloan, Haas, Fuqua or Darden
    Thank you!

  • Small School

    I’ve posted my info in the comments of every one of these evaluation articles. PLEASE evaluate my candidacy in one of your stories.

    29 at matriculation,white male
    GPA: 3.83 at BYU-Idaho (current president is former HBS dean)
    GMAT: 710
    Work Experience: 1 1/2 years at small derivatives trading firm; 2 1/2 years starting a derivatives trading and investment management firm; market volatility necessitated a move to working for a reputable brokerage firm for a steady, predictable income (2 yrs at matriculation).
    Extracurriculars: 2 years service as a missionary (volunteer) in Asia (learning and speaking local language) including positions of leadership of up to 15 individuals, co-captain of intracollegiate basketball team, various church leadership positions(president of congregation’s Sunday School, president of men’s quorum), participation in other clubs. Continued church participation and leadership post-undergrad, church basketball participation.
    Desired industry: I want to get back into trading or investment management (but with a large established firm) utilizing my past experience with derivatives.
    My experience in derivatives is making me strongly consider the two Chicago schools, but am also considering other top schools:
    HBS, Stanford, Wharton, Booth, Kellogg
    Please let me know my chances. Thanks!