Handicapping Your B-School Chances

by John A. Byrne on

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.

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  • Canadian Banker

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

    Thank you,

    GMAT:750
    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

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