Handicapping Your B-School Chances

She concedes that being in a sorority at a Big Ten school didn’t exactly help her grades, but hopes a 720 GMAT score will offset her 3.2 grade point average.

After a two-year stint at Goldman Sachs, he’s now working at a top private equity firm in New York. This gay Stanford grad now wonders if he can get into Harvard Business School.

She surfs, rock climbs, snaps photos, and is currently head of digital marketing for a sustainability-minded natural products company. With a 710 GMAT and a 3.4 GPA, she wants to know if she is Stanford material.

What all of them share in common is the goal to get into one of the world’s best business schools. Do they have the raw stats and experience to get an invite? Or are they likely to end up in Harvard Business School’s reject pile?

For the ninth 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 tough love analysis:

Mr. Derivatives

  • 710 GMAT
  • 3.83 Grade Point Average
  • Undergraduate degree from Brigham Young University-Idaho (current president is former dean of Harvard Business School
  • Work Experience includes a year and one-half at a small derivatives trading firm; two and one-half years starting a derivatives trading and investment management firm.
  • Extracurricular activities include two years service as a missionary in Asia, including positions of leadership for up to 15 individuals, co-captain of intra-collegiate 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.
  • Goal: “I want to get back into trading or investment management (but with a large established firm) utilizing my past experience with derivatives.

Odds of Success

Harvard Business School: 20% to 30%
Stanford: 15% to 20%
Wharton: 25% to 35%
Chicago: 40+%
Kellogg: 40+%

Sandy’s Analysis: Well, if Kim Clark, the former HBS dean and now president of BYU-Idaho wants to spend one of his two or three chips a year on you, you will get into HBS. Of course, I don’t know how many chips he actually has or spends, but you get the idea, if he wants to make it happen, it will happen.

Let’s assume that is not going to be the case: HBS is not going to like this work profile. They have a bias against traders and derivatives is a dirty word over there. Working as a broker at some regular outfit which sells derivatives (as your note stated) is not a typical HBS flight path either. The grades and GMAT are fine, the extras are in line with LDS kids they see, maybe LDS plus one, but that is not going to tip this at HBS.  There, they will take Mormons with better work gigs, and my guess, from BYU-Utah. Does anyone know the record of BYU-Idaho kids into H/S/W? Same analysis at Stanford. I don’t see you getting in there, either. Jobs are second-tier and nothing super driving you in. Wharton takes kids like you, but lots apply, so it is a matter of breaking out of the congestion. You need to execute there in a way that is impressive but doesn’t get too preachy.

Assume Wharton application reader will be a secular humanist. Chances at Booth and Kellogg are in-line, same advice as Wharton, and quite frankly, I’d go light on the derivatives at all those places. Financial engineering or making money out of nothing, is not a winning topic with B-school adcoms these days, despite what faculty and alums might think. You need a new story. You’ll want to use financial experience and transition into advisory role as a consultant or maybe an investment banker. If you say IB, be sure to point out, at schools like Chicago and Kellogg, and also Columbia, that you have spoken to insiders in that field and you have a career path. That way, it is not just daydreaming.

  • This could be the right weblog for anybody who wishes to find out about this topic. You recognize a whole lot it can be practically demanding to argue on hand not that I really would want…HaHa. You certainly put the latest spin on the topic thats been discussing for a long time. Fantastic stuff, just fantastic!

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  • Canadian Banker

    Would appreciate your thoughts, applied to Harvard a year ago and was rejected.

    Thank you,

    GPA:3.7 Business Economics Degree at top 10 Canadian School
    Experience: 3.5 years at Big 5 Canadian Bank as Relationship Manager, 3 promotions.
    25 Years old, Canadian
    Extra: Sporting Activities, Big Brother program.

    -Want to get into consulting, enjoy business analysis.

    Schools: Stanford, Sloan, Booth, Darden, Wharton, Columbia

  • any chances?

    GMAT: 710
    *GPA: 3.3 – BS Chemical and biomolecular Engineering at Cornell University.
    *GPA: 3.7 – Masters in Engineering: Chemical and biomolecular engineering at Cornell university (Major: Energy Engineering and Economics) (got both degrees in 4.5 years)
    *27 year old Asian-American (First generation college grad)
    *Work Experience: Fall/summer co-op term in leading petroleum-additives company. Leading to a full-time offer at same company. process engineer for 2.5 years, team leader for 2.5 years.
    *Extracirricular – Sprint (lightweight) football in college. Mostly church activities [Coach for ladies flag-football team, male flag-football player, weekly volunteering for city kids, Cleaning committee, over-sea mission trip]

    Schools: H/S/W, columbia, cornell, NYU (possibly part time), MIT, Berkeley, umich, Carnegie, USC, vanderbilt

  • Eager and confused

    I’m driving everyone around me insane talking about grad school applications and freaking out that I’m not going to get in anywhere. Any insights and context you can give me on my candidacy would be greatly appreciated! Thank you so much.

    * 680 GMAT (planning to take it again)
    * 3.75 GPA
    * Undergraduate degrees in Marketing and Finance, Minor in Spanish from Top 15 undergrad business school
    * Work experience includes three+ years working in brand management at Capital One (solid career advancement, experience supporting both credit card and banking divisions)
    * Extracurricular involvement: provides marketing strategy help to various non profit organizations, leadership role in department diversity council, initiated and lead onboarding program for new college hires, study abroad experience (summer in Spain, year at London School of Economics, month volunteering at an orphanage in Ghana)
    * 25-year-old female, who is originally from Montreal (Non US citizen, fluent in French), grew up abroad living several different countries in Europe.
    * Reason for getting an MBA: Career advancement in Marketing and transition into CPG industry


  • curious, that explains it

    I’ve tried to look through the profiles in their entirety for someone with a similar situation to mine (and hopefully avoid some embarassment) but havent been successful. I’ll be as specific as possible in hopes of getting the most painfully honest feedback. Thanks in advance if you do choose.

    GMAT: 730
    GPA Undergrad: 3.15

    – Finance and Economics degree from Seattle University
    – Worked at the US Department of Housing and Urban Development for a year in Asset Management support full time while overloading to graduate on time. (succeeded)
    – Currently working for Freddie Mac as an Analyst and have been for six months
    – NCAA Div I track and field for 4 years
    – 22 years old, Afrocaribbean gay male.

  • no idea

    Your comments invited on mine situation :
    GPA 6.93/10(First Class) at IIT

    Works in Business Developement at maturing start up. (2 years)

    Created a new Facebook application,that brings viral marketing, loyalty and social media together. It actually helped few restaurant owners increase their social media presence. still getting offers for seed funding.(6 months)

    While in college Started his own startup , got a professor as a co -founder. Took it to successful beta release stage in few months (9 months).But had to shut it down because of family obligations and go for a regular job.

    Won a paid research intern at a leading embedded systems in France .

    Got a bureaucratic decision at college, modified alone, when my teachers , batch mates and alumni were helpless!

    Worked in a student NGO while in college(15 hours per week for 2 years). Took care of funds management, running education program at one area in Varanasi

    Lead coordinator for alumni funded institute library automation (weekly 5 hours for 2 years)

    Appointed kitchen manager of 100 member of student mess. Managed finances, staff, vendors, procurement, and menu.(weekly 7 hours)

    Appointed departmental library in charge to ensure smooth operations of departmental library, managed procurement, maintenance and operations.

    Do i even stand a chance? Money saved on application will be valuable, considering I get an indian salary

    Have proof of everything in documents and through persons.

  • acos

    Would appreciate your thoughts!

    27 year old Female
    700 GMAT
    3.55 GPA from Public Ivy

    Work Experience:
    -1 year in local/state government. Worked on a state representative campaign and then in the legislative office of the rep once they were elected
    -1.5 years at non-profit think tank focused on progressive policy issues.
    -1.5 years at the White House
    -1 year and counting at The Department of Treasury

    – Much more active during undergrad — Board member of Students for Choice, and co-chair of Women’s Issues Commission. Since undergrad have volunteered on various campaigns, Habitat for Humanity, and local soup kitchens.

    Interested in non-profit and public sector management

    Target schoosl: Berkeley Haas and Yale SOM but interested to know what outlook looks like for Harvard, Duke, Michigan, and UVA

  • bjam2

    720 GMAT
    91.7 Grade Point Average (3.77 Columbia Conversion)
    Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering at Kettering University (Minor in International Studies w/ study abroad)
    Work Experience includes 3 years of Co-op at Automotive/Manufacturing Companies and 3 years full-time at Schlumberger working with safety systems on Deepwater Oil Rigs
    Other activities include extensive travel, vice-president of Fraternity, multiple officer positions in collegiate organizations, mentoring multiple employees in my company, and instructed a class to engineers around the world at one of Schlumberger’s training centers
    Post-MBA Goal: Work in Strategic Development/International Project Management for the Energy Industry

  • – 29 y/o male caucasian
    – GMAT: 750
    – College: Mid-ranked private university in the midwest. Triple major in actuarial science, economics, and statistics
    – GPA: 3.91
    – Work: 7 years as an actuary for a F100 insurance company
    – completed 5 year rotational leadership development program
    – completed all examinations to become fully credentialed (FCAS)
    – Extracurriculars: President of the actuarial science club at my university,
    co-founder of a nonprofit that focuses on getting urban high-schoolers into and through college, significant involvement as a mentor at a local summer business camp
    – Goal is to move into a strategy consulting career
    – Target Schools: Stanford, Haas, Wharton, Kellogg, Cornell, Michigan, Duke

    Thanks so much for any input!

  • Mr. White Ivy Frat Dude

    Thanks for doing this – requesting a sanity check that I am in the ballpark for the schools I’m applying to Rd 1 this fall.


    UPenn undergrad (humanities major w/ econ and finance coursework)
    GPA 3.2 overall / 3.6 in major (low overall entirely due to 3 required spanish courses – not good w/ foreign language)

    Work Experience:
    3 yrs investment banking M&A @ regional bank in DC area (not BB, but well known). Unique experience w/ small team, high exposure to clients and more individual responsibility than typical BB analyst. Primarily focused on defense contracting / homeland security deals.
    1.5 yrs doing two things concurrently: a) working w/ non-profit small biz incubator that helps defense technology start-ups in the DC area, and b) working with a separate start-up consulting practice that is profitable and has doubled in size over the past year (founder and myself are only two ppl working on it)

    GMAT: 760 (82%Q, 99%V)

    ECs: strong in undergrad (student board, fraternity, research assistant for Wharton professor), not as strong since, but I co-own and write for a music blog and volunteer sporadically. Applying for int’l development internships in the spring and currently taking spanish courses.

    Recs: should be strong… one from banking job and second from current director of non-profit where I work part-time

    Concerns: is my undergrad GPA low enough to address, or will it be obvious to them that I just screwed up a few spanish classes and I shouldnt call attention to it? My recent work experience is non-traditional, but if I weave it in a strong story about gaining different work experience away from finance and preparing for career in consulting, do you think it will make sense as my ‘story’? If it makes a difference, I quit the banking job, wasnt fired.

    Reach: Harvard, Wharton
    Target: Columbia, Kellogg, Darden, Yale, NYU


  • Mr Engineer

    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.

    Looking for part time in Haas, Booth, McCombs etc.

    Thanks in advance

  • Mr. what-should-I-do-next?

    I recently chanced upon this wonderful series. Thanks a lot for bringing this in.
    In addition to the regular how-much-chance-do-I-have question, I’m wondering over something else as well. I’ve worked for only a couple of years now. I can probably wait another year or two before I actually apply. Could you please tell me what kind of value additions (in next 1/ 2 years) will be most helpful from the B school perspective?

    *Engineering Bachelor from one of the IITs with a GPA of 8.7/10 (3.48 unitary method). In top 3 of my department (class of 37)
    *College blue and lots of other prestigious college awards (co-curricular)
    *International research internship in a leading Canadian University

    *GMAT 730.

    work experience
    *Couple of years in an international consultancy firm focused on procurement and analytics (only 8 years old firm, but has gathered lot of steam. hires only from the top b schools and grad colleges of India, US, Uk and China. has good number of alums from top US b schools and big 4 consultancies). worked with fortune 20 firms as well as innovative tech start ups. delivered great impacts on bottom-lines. Also involved in a lot of “firm building” activities (recruiting, events, social committee, office mag etc.). Got a much-quicker than usual first promotion. Has international experience

    *has worked as a freelance consultant (part-time) during his college days. worked with a number of small firms from 4 different countries.

    *CFA level 2

    Extra Curricular:
    *won various national and international case study and business plan competitions
    *Ex radio performer
    *written for magazines and newspapers (fiction) in his vernacular as well as English

    *has lead a local NGO that runs a school for underprivileged children.
    *working part time for a social start-up, that helps rural small entrepreneurs to start and run their business.

    believes that a lot of values can be unlocked from the “bottom of the pyramid” using local resources and ingenious ideas. Aspires to be an academic thought leader/ “impact entrepreneur”. Wants to connect with potential partners and learn “all that matters to business”, in a B school

  • Mr. Development

    Thanks for doing these series – super interesting! I haven’t seen anyone with a background similar to mine, so I thought I would give it a go.

    25 y/o Caucasian male
    700 GMAT
    3.1 GPA at top 30 school in quantitative economics (GPA is definitely a low point stemming from 2.5 first year GPA in Electrical Engineering)
    Work Experience: 2.5 years with promotion to management level position at boutique consulting firm (managed two teams), Past 1.5 years in consulting at top nonprofit in Africa including a managerial position (starting a new agribusiness project)
    Extras: Volunteered past two summers in Peru – managing small team, volunteered at a homeless shelter for a year and acted as a mentor to men in recovery program, led a church based small group for 1 year
    Long term goal: Start and manage a Nonprofit management consulting firm
    Target schools: HBS, Stanford, Kellogg, Haas

    Thanks again!

  • NASA Rocketscientist

    -700 GMAT (1st try, little time to study)
    -3.0 GPA
    -3.0 graduate GPA
    Undergraduate and Masters in Aeronautical Engineering from an ivy-league type UK university (also one of top schools in Europe for Aeronautical engineering)
    2nd Masters in Space Sciences from International Space University (highly specialized university known to Aerospace industry)
    -Failed 2nd year of undergraduate due to Personal issues/Immaturity/Partying/. However coursework, and Group Projects grades always outstanding; exam grades problematic due to bad organization, but picked-up in latter 2 years; won 2 significant extra-curricular design awards in undergrad, both of which I was initiator of the idea and team-leader

    -Worked 1.5 years in 2nd biggest German Aerospace company designing Spacecraft Missions
    -Sent as Teaching Assistant for a summer course held at NASA, then hired at NASA because they liked me
    – 2 years working now as Systems Engineer at NASA, designing Spacecraft Missions

    Extra-curricular in undergrad: volunteer work in inner-city neighborhood; “Marketing Officer” of university soaring club; nowadays, focused on me: I like extreme sports, in particular those that involve flying and jumping off airplanes/bridges

    -I find engineering work to be too nitty-gritty and not satisfying. I want to work on project implementation at higher-level: implement projects that will result in tangible ground infrastructure; draft the business plans and set-up the joint-ventures to do so, etc
    Interest in Aerospace waning due to budget cuts and “loss of direction” of industry. Really interested in Energy Sector (particularly renewables), and/or working in Economic Development, in particular in developing countries.

    Age: 28
    Dual US-European citizenship
    Know 2 languages fluently; know the basics of 3 others
    Schools: Haas, Stanford, UCLA, strong interest in West Coast schools given connections with high-tech industry; also interested in other US schools; and European schools (given I only currently have the funds to be able to finance 1 year of schooling)

    Is my professional and hands-on experience in project implementation sufficient to offset my poor GPA and GMAT?

  • havstar

    Thanks for the review! “Mr. Frat Boy” – lol.

    I may need to take you up on your offer when I apply next year.

  • help help help

    John – can you please please please assess my potential???

    -GMAT: 710 (Q percentile is 76% though)
    -GPA: 3.75 Small New England Liberal Arts, Economics Major
    -Work Experience: Electricity Consulting, 2 years will large well respected firm, left to go to smaller firm with less prestige but more opportunity for client interaction and responsibility (1 year).
    -Planning to continue in energy consulting, goal is to address energy future through market design.
    -Recently relocated and volunteered to be Alumni Events coordinator for my city – very active in alumni relations
    -Interested in Haas, Duke, MIT, Kellogg, Booth, Columbia, Yale
    -How will retaking the GMAT change my odds?


  • Value Investing Hopeful

    By the way I would be 27 if i were to matriculate in Fall 2013.

  • Value Investing Hopeful

    GMAT – Taking it in December, will do it as many time as it takes to get a 700+, I’m a fairly good test-taker so it shouldn’t be a problem.

    3.0 GPA from a small public liberal arts school in Virginia. Started off unfocused and unmotivated to be a doctor, had a change of heart and decided to pursue my passion for business. Very strong upward trend afterwards, graduated with Honors in Business, dean’s list, with strong extracurriculars. (side note – didn’t do well in Calculus but will retake it and get an A to show seriousness. However, did my honor’s thesis in a quant subject and my work experience is very quant heavy)

    Work experience – Recruited by a Senior VP to work at Northrop Grumman (top 3 defense contractor) in their business management division. Also did a stretch assignment for the Strategy department. Worked here for a little over 2 years. Left Northrop to join NERA Economic Consulting, will be working here until matriculation in 2013 (2+ years). Total work experience will be approximately 5 years at matriculation.

    Extracurriculars –
    College- Elected President of the Student Government, President and founder of the Boxing Team, Student Senator, Senior Member of the Honor Council (elected), Residence Hall Treasurer, senior member of a non-profit that has grown to become a multi-million dollar enterprise (non-profit has to do with saving an orphanage in Honduras, supporting the local community there to alleviate poverty, and setting up a strong education system), Warren Buffett’s sister Doris is one of our institutional backers.

    Post-college – Still do some work for the non-profit from college (which brings my experience with that project to 7 years at the moment). Serving as trainer and coach to an Amateur Boxing prospect. Spend a lot of time teaching myself about value investing.

    Nationality – Indian-American (born and raised in US)

    I am pursuing an MBA to become a Value investor, and eventually to work for a value investing hedge fund. This makes Columbia my #1 choice by far and i plan on letting them know that by applying early decision. I started consulting at NERA because of the heavy quant focus and the transferrable skills to investing. I’ve noticed that many of the great value investors got their degrees in Economics so that’s why i chose that route. If you don’t think i can get into Columbia i’m curious as to what other top 15 schools you think i’m a good fit for (Booth, Duke, Darden, Wharton, Kellogg, Tuck). I’m not planning on applying to HYP unless you think i’ve got a good shot there…which i doubt.

    Thanks for doing this Sandy, I really appreciate your help.

  • middleeast_dreamer

    Hi Sandy

    Just curious to know if I have enough golddust (in your words) for H or S . Also curious about Sloan, Wharton and Columbia.
    – 730 GMAT
    – 3.86 GPA from top ranked lib arts in Midwest (think Carleton/Grinnell)
    – Economics major, almost physics major too plus coursework in math, with junior year spent studying engineering at ivy. Phi Beta Kappa
    – WE: 3 years in fixed income at an investment management firm in NYC (think Vanguard/PIMCO/AllianceBernstein)
    – Bilingual (Urdu/Hindi + English). speak 3 other South Asian local languages. Trying to self-learn to speak French and Arabic
    -Goal: Move to Middle East (Abu Dhabi/Qatar/Dubai) to work in private equity
    -Non US Citizen male. Lived in Pakistan up to high school
    -E/C – Lots of volunteering in college, esp at a daycare. Hard to continue after job in NYC, but occasional part time volunteering through NY Cares. Founded some clubs in college plus intramural and club soccer.

  • Dual Healthcare MBA (US only)

    GMAT – 640, 640, 710 (M59%, V99%)
    Undergrad – B.Sc. Bio & Biotechnology (2 minors in Econ & Chem), University of Windsor, Canada
    GPA: 3.0 – 3.2 (depending on which conversion scale I use)
    Citizen: India; Age: 26

    Work exp: 2 years advertising industry in India – Senior Client Servicing role;
    last 1.5 yrs – Mckinsey & Co., New Delhi office > US Healthcare Research Analyst.
    Currently getting transferred to Mckinsey’s new Costa Rican office to unofficially team lead new hires there this December (unofficially because I’m too new in the firm for the Team Lead designation). Been asked to defer B-school apps to 2013 by Firm. Will have 5+ years work exp by 2013 fall.

    Extra curricular: regularly participate in chess tournaments, 2011 Mckinsey New Delhi Annual Best Blog award, trying to publish article in magazine on healthcare, week community services (will bolster in Costa Rica)

    Target schools for MBA/ MPH – Ross, Duke Fuqua, Berkeley Haas, Carnegie Tepper, ISB (India). Columbia out of my league? Should I consider good generalist MBA’s (Booth/Yale/Cornell)?

  • -UC Berkeley, Econ major, summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, Global Poverty minor (4.0 in the major, 3.83 overall)
    -GMAT: 740, 6.0 AWA, Age: 28, 1st Generation Bangladeshi American, applying to H/S/W 1st round

    -Witnessed 9/11 as a freshman at UCB; cofounded a pro-USA coalition between the campus Dems and Reps where I was featured in Time, NBC, CBS, and a few other notable publications
    -Bought a Porsche 911 996 and dropped out of UCB a year later after launching a successful biz at 19 yrs old reselling long-distance (crappy industry, I know, but they paid a ton – I was taking home more than newly minted Haas I-Bankers, which was my previous goal)
    -Convinced 9 other UCB/UCLA students to drop out and join me over the next year, grew business to over $1M in revenues
    -Bought a Ferrari 360 Modena and set up branches in San Diego, LA, Riverside, and OC (ran this OC branch out of a $1.2M beach estate that I bought with 3 partners) with 80+ sales associates total (mostly 18-23 yrs old)
    -LD service partner went BK at the end of ’04 (no surprise), revenues went to 0 for a few months because we never thought about diversifying. Most of my top people quit, but a few of us stuck it out, partnered with Sprint, DirecTv, and a few others, and built our rev to over $1.5M by the end of ’08 (had to sell the Ferrari and house though)
    -At the end of ’05, had an epiphany that there was more to life than money at a church seminar my dad made me go to. Went PT in my biz and joined a mission at an SDA church for two years
    -After that, wasn’t too motivated to do ministry or run my small biz, so I came back to school (sum ’08)

  • This article was great – frank and clear-cut! Enjoyed reading it.

    Here is my background:
    * 780 GMAT
    * 3.6 GPA (4.55/5.0)
    * Undergraduate honours degree in engineering from the National University of Singapore
    * Spent one year of undergrad at Stanford on an entrepreneurship program
    * 4.5 years work experience at Barclays Capital as an equities IT analyst
    * Volunteer work: Provided personal finance and leadership training for foreign domestic workers in Singapore. Built a mentorship programme from scratch for a student entrepreneurship organization in California.
    * 26 year old Indian male. Lived in India, Singapore and the US.

  • miss sotheby’s nonprofits

    just wanted to add that i’ve been looking at arts admin and public policy programs prior to trying out for my gmats and decided that they were both too limited for my interests. since i’ve been directly involved in the building and administration of a nationally recognized arts nonprofit, have experience at a big-2 auction house and now work in a tech arts startup, i’m interested in the confluence of tech/business/arts in creating new business models for the cultural sector that aren’t the same old fundraisers/gala scene. i think business school would solidify my understanding of the private sector and give me the much needed ‘hard’ skills that i lack in my current work experience.

  • IT Manager

    Hi Sandy,
    Thanks for providing your valuable input. It is very helpful for everyone and really appreciate your efforts. At a high level below are my details –
    Current designation / Industry: Senior Project Manager in IT
    Overall Experience: 11 Years (12 by the admission time 2012 Fall)
    Company – Infosys Ltd.
    Bachelor Degree: Bachelor of Engineering from National Institute of Technology (NIT) in India (Second Level immediately after IIT) in year 2000
    GPA/Percentage: Honors (Greater than 70%) Marks – Top 10% in my class.
    GMAT Score: 710 (Q51, V35)
    Nationality: Citizen of India (7 year experience in USA)
    Extra activities: Board of Director in $2M Non-profit organization since Last year Sept.
    Can you please let me know my chances in below colleges for full-tim MBA –
    Wharton (Upenn)
    Harvard Business School
    MIT Sloan
    Stern, New York
    Yale, New Haven

    London Business School, UK
    Indian School of Business (ISB)

    IT Manager

  • Mr. Opeartions

    thanks for doing this
    Education: İndustrial and System Engineering – Texas A & M
    GPA: 3.05
    GMAT: 720
    Work Experience: 4.5 years at GE Energy, joined the company as part of the leadership development program (Operation Management Leadership Program)
    Extra Curricular: average, nothing standing out
    Social Background: Arab American, came to USA with my parents after completing high school and now US citizen
    Target school: MİT, Kellog, ROSS, DUKE, Darden
    Goals after MBA: make the transition into management consulting with a M/B/B

  • miss sotheby’s nonprofits

    720 gmat
    3.4 GPA from top 10 research university in art history
    various art-related fellowships and awards

    (3.4 gpa reps wide variances from As to Cs due to an external issue during my time at school that has been noted by the dean and on medical records.)

    work experience: 1 years at auction house, 2 years at business development position at a nonprofit directly responsible for raising $4 mil in new funding for new programs, just started a new job at much-buzzed about arts related tech startup.

    extracirrics: published articles in national magazines, published in auction catalogs, published on academic papers, served as director of development for an inaugural organization in my undergrad years that has since grown to a nationally recognized organization empowering minorities, currently on advisory board of 2 nonprofits, consulting work for nonprofit fundraising and development for other organizations.

    chances at nyu, columbia, sloan, yale? i want to stay on the east coast.

  • Mr Olympian

    Hi Sandy and John,

    I am Mr Olympian from Part VII: Handicapping your MBA odds. Thanks for selecting my profile and providing your succinct and witty feedback, I really appreciate this. My goals are business development and GM with blue chip firm, but I will expand my work with sports foundation in a managerial capacity, hence MBA. Good advice to pick sports role models who make impact in non-profit for essay.

    I fess up to poor taste in music with preference for trashy Europop. Most gyms play soothing tunes for yoga, MTV for treadmills and funky stuff or cardio classes. Sandy, I played your favourite Eagles tracks (Take it easy) at the gym in your honour.

  • Mr. Lowest Grade Possible


    GMAT 750
    TOEFL 110
    6.3/10 GPA (Rank 59/69 in Mechanical engineering)

    IIT Delhi
    Vice Chairman of automotive club at IIT. Made a car went to Africa for rally.
    Co – Founder – Entrepreneurship Cell at IIT.

    Deloitte – 3 months
    P&G – 3 years (Purchasing/Supply Chain Management)

    Marathon, College Military Wing leader

    Education is life long passion
    During college/professional life
    Helping a school gain funding and enable girls study in school in village
    Adopted few students for their educational expense

    Short Term Goal: Supply Chain Consulting
    Future Aim: Start up my own supply chain consulting firm in India.

  • Jana

    Hi, Sandy –

    Please, evaluate my profile:

    -710 GMAT
    -3.68 GPA from large state school, Computer Science degree
    -Russian-American female, immigrated 8 years ago, 27 y.o.
    -Worked through college to support myself, including in a local technology start-up
    -4 years of full-time experience in major bank in IT as of right now, 2 years in tech rotational program, 2 years in application development
    -Volunteer for Boys and Girls club to teach club tech program, also Girls on the Run as assistant coach
    -Schools: Wharton, Columbia, NYU, Yale, MIT
    -Goal: after getting an MBA move into product management in tech company like Apple or Google, then find a position in tech start-up in marketing growth and product management area

    Thank you!

  • golf man

    mr. golf start up

    GMAT – 730
    GPA – 3.1
    Undergrad – public state school, ranked top 50 per US news
    Studied Engineering, minored in business

    27, male, US citizen, chinese american

    work exp:
    *1.5 years as business development engineering at no name tech company, support asia sales and customers
    *1 year working/living in asia for small no name asian company as sales engineer. only non-native born in HQ. support USA sales and customers.
    *1.5 years as account manager for same small no name asian company but moved back to USA. in charge of strategic accounts. VP awarded me “salesman of the year”.
    *1 year. started a golf products company with a partner. i am VP of operations and marketing. we manufacture in asia and import and distribute in USA. product sold in major golf retail shops in usa, canada, mexico, and europe. $1M revenue last year. 2 person company. product featured in magazines.

    extra curricular: started frat in college, elected VP. elected VP of alumni association for frat after graduation. alumni ambassador to local high schools for my college. hold position on committee that fundraises for big brothers big sisters.

    goals: learn business to grow golf business. make it a recognized international brand. if business fails (maybe), go into business strategy for tech companies (google, apple, etc.)

    full time targets: kellogg, tuck, insead, hass, yale, ross.

  • Mike

    About BYU-Idaho kids getting into H/S/W:

    Until 2001, this school was a two-year school that fed students down to BYU-Provo or elsewhere, so I can’t say how many of those former “Ricks College” students who went elsewhere ended up at H/S/W.

    Since 2001, the school made a quick and profound change into a 4-year liberal arts program. Attendance has more than doubled, a lot of things have changed, and this quick and sudden transformation has required great leadership (thus Kim Clark now, David Bednar before). The school saw its first 4-year graduates sometime around 2003, and assuming the typical 4-5 year work path that most take before H/S/W, it’s only been since 2007 that BYU-Idaho graduates have probably been applying. Not that much of a history with H/S/W I would guess.

    I graduated there, so I know the school well. I would assume that few have applied to H/S/W, but more now that the president came from Harvard. Before him, many wouldn’t have even considered that an applicant with a degree from an institution with a humble history would see light of day with some of these big school adcoms.

    Good luck Mr. Derivatives!


    One more thing: I’m a CFA Level III candidate


    I should also include that I’m a 24 year old white male.


    -710 GMAT
    -3.57 GPA
    -Undergrad Business Administration degree from USC
    -Work Experience:

    Internship – 2 summers and part-time during school with ABC Studios (a Disney subsidiary) finance and accounting department; 1 summer with Disney Corporate Operations Planning, includes work on the five year plan, annual operating plan, and total company valuation for Bob Iger, the rest of senior management, and the board of directors

    Full-time: 2 years in private wealth management with U.S. Bank, talking to clients about financial markets and asset allocation, produced presentation for the head of wealth management, earned multiple service awards, was hired into position requesting 5 years of experience straight from college.

    Extracurriculars: tutoring at South Central Los Angeles high school, currently tutoring for homeless children, provided pro-bono consulting to a South Central Los Angeles youth empowerment academy, fund manager with student investment fund, research assistant for a chaired USC finance professor

    Target Schools: Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Chicago, Columbia, MIT, NYU, Haas

  • Mr. Less-than-stellar WE

    780 GMAT
    3.74 GPA
    BA in Economics from UNC-Chapel Hill (with plenty of calculus electives)
    Work experience: Post-graduation internship with investment management firm was rescinded weeks before graduation when the market started tanking. After a couple of temp jobs I reluctantly put my investment dreams on hold and took a job as a mortgage consultant, where I’ve been for 2 years (it will be 3 upon matriculation). I’m well-admired by everyone in the department as a collaborative and precise worker but my loan production is quite average.
    Activities: Traveled all around the world throughout high school (Kenya, India, Jamaica, Botswana, Algeria, and Honduras) on short-term trips. Co-led team of 33 members aged 15-28 on a month-long church-oriented trip to China in 2007. Member of college investment club while enrolled. Currently co-leader of music team at church and lead the services. Member in a small band that plays at occasional weddings. Amateur wine enthusiast and studying for the sommelier certification. Studying for the first exam of the CFA.
    Goal: In the past several years I’ve become more interested in private equity and the role it can play in developing economies in emerging markets and generating attractive returns for investors. The short-term goal would be to work for a private equity firm in the US while I develop modeling experience, with the long-term goal of eventually living overseas in an emerging economy making private equity investments.
    Schools: Columbia, Duke, UNC

  • Ad Agency Background

    690 GMAT (taking it again though)
    3.6 GPA
    Top 12 private school (not Ivy) majoring in Communications and Economics

    Account Executive working at one of the largest US ad agencies since graduation focusing on digital, direct and retail marketing on accounts for major marketing brands (but no international experience and no direct reports). First started on the demanding new business pitch team.

    Good leadership experience:
    -Current President of a Junior Board of a India craft goods social enterprise retail business affecting inner-city women (involved for over 3 years)
    -Former VP and other chair position of small cultural-based national sorority board (2 years)
    -Mentorship Chair on Board of the minority employees resources group with over 250 members (past year); put together mentorship program
    -Art and writing activities

    Asian American Female (US permanent resident), 26

    Want to take my career to broader marketing skills and also in long-run set up a social enterprise using marketing experience. Hoping MBA will help to give me a broader base to reach these goals.

    Schools: Yale, Stanford, Haas, Kellogg, Booth, Michigan, HBS

    Thank you!

  • NY BuySide

    -White / Male / 26 yrs old at matriculation – applying this year
    -700 GMAT
    -3.1 GPA Economics from Fordham – upward trend dean’s list last 2 years
    -3 years experience at “top preforming but unknown outside of industry” hedge fund. Role transitioned over time from client services, to trade allocation/portfolio accounting, to business development/sales. I’ve learned a lot about how the business operates and about the alternative space as a whole. Raised over $25M of revenue.
    -Extracurricular – active leadership role in college alumni organization, member of NYC private club (purpose of both was to expand my network)

    Goal – Gain a client facing position at a bulge bank on the wealth management side of asset management.

    Schools – Tuck, Cornell Johnson, Darden, Texas McCombs, Georgetown, NYU (maybe even part time)

  • Mr Non Target

    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. White / Male / 26 yr old and 3 yr work exp at matriculation
    2. 740 GMAT (86%Q, 95%V)
    3. 3.9 GPA Double major Accounting / Finance from a Top 40 Public university (think southern football school). The accounting program is top 25.
    4. Work 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).
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. 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!

  • Jimmy

    also a 780 GMAT

  • Jimmy

    From Philippines.

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

    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.

  • Mr Corporate Entrepreneur

    Schools: HSB, Standford, Wharton (Lauder), Columbia, Booth, Ross, Berkley
    GMAT: 690
    GPA: 3.4 in Electrical Engineering from UT-Austin and a minor in business.
    29yrs old, Asia American

    Last three years on expatriate assignment in Asia managing through the largest manufacturing operations transfers to Asia in company history for the world’s number one equipment manufacture. Developed, hired, and managed the supplier development and quality department that was a major enabler for the sourcing transition.

    Now that I have experienced the tactical side of a large scope transition and experienced the culture of Asia, I want to get my MBA and focus on International Business and Entrepreneurship. I need a MBA to give me the toolkit to built upon my business foundation because I want to be involved on the business development and strategy side vs just the tactical execution. The idea is that with both the tactical understanding and a strong understanding of business strategy, I can continue to work in Asia and develop new businesses.

    Extracurricular: Lately minimal but did start a basketball and ping pong organization that grew 10x in people and we raised 10k for a local charity a month ago.

    I’m concerned about my average GMAT and GPA (although it was in EE) limiting me but believe my work experience has the necessary “gold dust” for a top MBA program. Also curious if my age will be a factor?

    Want your opinion and also how can people hire you as an interview coach?

  • Canadian in the OC

    Love the series!!!

    Would love for you to handicap my chances…

    Work Experience
    2007-2010: J.P. Morgan fixed income desk managing liability of corporate pension plans (3 yrs as analyst, 1 yr as associate)
    2011-Current: PIMCO Sr. Product Management Associate for the Long Duration Products

    Personal Info:
    27 yrs old Taiwanese-Canadian male

    3.7 GPA from Richard Ivey School of Business in Canada (Undergrad)
    710 GMAT

    -Alumni mentoring programs
    -New analyst mentoring programs
    -Intramural sports

    Applying to Columbia for Early Decision
    -Interested in dual degree program with SIPA (Columbia’s policy school)
    Also applying to Wharton/NYU/HBS/Chicago



  • Shuairanger

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

    28 y/o
    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.

  • pk

    Thanks John for getting Sandy to do this on a public forum. Sandy – dude you rock! Your analyses are the most direct and hilarious I’ve ever read. Just reading through some of these, I can almost see you taking a rip at mine 🙂 But frankly it’s been a real help, I can now view my own profile in black and white.

  • Mr. Ambitious Come-Back Story

    – 25 yr old Taiwanese American, U.S. Citizen. Mandarin conversationally fluent.
    – 750 GMAT
    – 3.00 GPA, B.S. in Materials Science & Engineering from University of Washington

    Work Experience:
    * 3 years in a cleantech start-up, (about 2 yrs as manager with direct reports). This start-up made MIT TechReview’s Top 10 Private Companies to Watch list recently.
    * Hired as employee #6 shortly after a VC Series A round as Research Scientist. Currently, R&D Manager that reports to VP of R&D.
    * Contributed to winning >$20M from DOE Stimulus Bill to build manufacturing plant (opens fall 2011), as well as primary contributor to winning (and currently manages) a funded military research project.
    * First author of patent (pending) for composition of matter to cover company’s first commercially sold product.
    * Spearheaded commercialization of our process and transferred management of a supply chain to the VP of MFG hired after me.
    * Demonstrated management potential and recognized by founders and execs who are GSB alums. Currently manage six employees (~20% of the current company size) with one open position for a phD. Manage the only group with multiple distinct functions (i.e. materials dev., analytical group, lab management)and will soon have multiple levels of direct reports developing these teams and leaders.

    Extracurriculars: I live (work) for a start-up company… what extracurriculars?? Well in college, I devoted my time to students as a resident adviser, did cool materials research, led a successful student employee coup d’etat (we can discuss offline..) and probably partied too hard. In another life, I was also a concert pianist and violinist.

    My story: I came out of college with a fire in my belly looking to prove something to myself and now I’m infected with the entrepreneurial bug. Being in a start-up is about extreme living and it’s a blast. Start-ups are about producing results and winning as the underdog. It’s about fighting everyday alongside a very close-knit group with opportunities to wear many hats in cross-functional and diverse roles. This experience truly accelerates growth. This is hard to explain to people on the outside (especially significant others!), but the start-up experience makes working investment banking hours and being paid a fraction of their salary TOTALLY worth it. I can’t wait to start my own thing.

    Dream school: Stanford, period.

  • Rain city

    Also Caucasian, but am certified 1/8 Cherokee (reservation certificate) That counts for “minority”, but that’s about it, don’t classify myself as a minority.

  • Rain city

    Very unique (read: strange) background.
    – 720 GMAT
    – 2.99 gpa PNW public university, BA in poli sic, BS in biology, minor in chemistry
    – 3 year letter winner, 2 year starter on Varsity football team
    – was on pre-dental path, received MPH from unknown school that is affiliated with a dental school, 3.5 GPA
    – decided that dentistry not fulfilling
    – moved to NY, work for a wall street company in pharmaceutical market research(3 years)
    -looking to get PMP, six sigma (worth it?)
    – want to work in business development for pharmacy company/healthcare org. (basically, non-entrepreneurial. Might as well face facts that’s not my personality.)
    – looking to get into top 10, or top healthcare MBA program
    – 29 years old


  • Mr. High School Teacher

    – 760 GMAT
    – 3.3 GPA in Physics and Applied Mathematics from Top 5 Liberal Arts College
    – 3.9 GPA in Stanford Education Master’s Program

    Work Experience:
    2 years as an inner city high school math teacher – worked with kids from South Central LA and East Palo Alto
    Two national teaching awards
    Started an education software platform for science-math kids who don’t have access to physics classes at their school
    Developed leadership program to train inner city kids as social entrepreneurs, secured funding from California Department of education
    Living and working in inner city communities for the past 3 years

    Born and raised in Dubai, low income urban background
    Goal is to return to Middle East to work in education reform policy and develop an ecosystem for social entrepreneurship

    Target schools are H/S/W and any others that would take social do-gooder types.

    Am I just dreaming, or does b-school actually consider guys like me?

  • careerpivoter

    Hi there!

    – 26 y/o female Asian American
    – GMAT: 720
    – College: Attended top 40 undergrad business school, concentrating in marketing, also in the honors program
    – GPA: 3.5 overall (business concentration GPA was was higher, acknowledged for being in top 10% of my class)
    – Work: 4 years in digital media, web and social analytics (working for large clients at reputable ad agencies)
    – Took a year between jobs to study a language and learn more about the business culture in Asia
    – Extracurriculars: President of the marketing association at my university, a stint with volunteering for a top b-school’s community English program (basically helping int’l grad school students’ spouses learn the language and get familiarized with American culture) which I am hoping to get back into.
    – Why I want to get an MBA: I want to “get out of the weeds” and gain broader business knowledge and perspective beyond digital marketing, and apply my skills to either a management consulting or product marketing position. I’m interested in consumer facing technology/media companies, as well as working with Asian markets. (This is a pretty generic statement, but living in Asia, I realized there’s a TON we can bring to the Asian market, and a TON we can learn from it.)
    – Target Schools: Stanford, Haas, Wharton, Stern, HBS (though I am hesitant about HBS as it seems to skew quite young?)
    – What would my chances be now, or do I need to build a stronger story? I’m also considering waiting until next year to enter the class of 2013.

    Thanks so much in advance!

  • Mr Small School

    Thank you for the evaluation!

  • Big 4

    Like this series

  • ausdenbergen

    Third time’s a charm?

    – 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 (licensed CPA, 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